Wednesday, 21 April 2021

CO2 and the effective emitting altitude (2)

The 'top of atmosphere' theory of global warming is based on two actual facts:
a) The gravito-thermal effect exists (as adjusted for latent heat of evaporation/condensation), which is why temperatures fall by ~6.6 degrees/km as you go up through the troposphere (agreed).
b) Atmospheric density falls as you go up; so the amount of CO2 per cubic metre falls as you go up (agreed).

The theory says that a significant amount of radiation emitted below the 'effective emitting altitude' (at which CO2/m3 is a certain critical value) cannot escape to space; the 'thick' CO2 blocks it. Only as much radiation makes it past the 'effective emitting altitude' (above which CO2 is 'thin' enough to allow it through) as a planet receives from the sun, so they balance out and surface temperatures stabilise (all this is probably correct as well, by definition).

The theory also assumes that the temperature at the 'effective emitting altitude' is constant, which is circular logic. The 'effective emitting altitude' is just whatever altitude happens to be the same temperature as the planet's effective temperature, which in turn is only a ball-park estimate of actual surface temperatures. And radiation does not have a temperature anwyay - compare a 2,000 Watt electric fire with a 2,000 Watt radio transmitter. But hey.

THEREFORE, the theory concludes, IF overall CO2 levels increase, the effective emitting altitude goes up (you have to go higher up before CO2/m3 drops below the critical level) AND as a result of that, surface temperatures must go up - you are adding more km altitude x 6.6 degrees/km to a constant to work back down to the surface temperature.

The theory is intellectually appealing and it's difficult to prove or disprove the logic just using logic. All we can do is test the theory against 'real life'.

In the first test, we established that CO2/m3 at Earth's effective emitting altitude (~ 5km up) is ~0.5 g/m3. If the theory holds, the effective emitting altitude pre-1880 would have been ~3km up ≈2 km lower than now and surface temperatures would have been ~13 degrees lower than now. Surface temperatures (at the end of the Little Ice Age, natch) were only ~1.3 degrees lower than now, one-tenth of what the theory predicts, so the theory looks flawed to say the least.

I have given this some more thought and there's another way of testing the theory; we can apply the same logic to Venus, Earth and Mars and see if CO2/m3 levels at each planet's effective emitting altitude are similar. If they are, then that backs up the theory.

We find that the CO2/m3 level at the effective emitting altitude is ~3,500 g/m3 on Venus; ~0.5 g/m3 on Earth and ~18 g/m3 on Mars. The calculations are tortuous and took me all yesterday evening, so I won't bore you with them. The three planet's effective temperatures are quite similar (~230K, ~255K and ~205K) so I see no need to adjust for that. These CO2/m3 figures are so far out of line (whatever the margin of error in my workings) as to be meaningless.

So the theory fails this test even worse that it failed the first test. Having scored 10% on the first test (epic fail), it's not even trying to pass the second one. It's like handing in an essay about the Brontë Sisters at the end of a metalwork practical session.


James Higham said...

And your overall position on 'climate change', in just a few words?

Mark Wadsworth said...

JH, how about "it's endless layers of lies and you have to battle your way through each one"

A K Haart said...

Interesting - I haven't seen the effective emitting altitude tackled like that before. It's certainly a killer analysis, so much so that it isn't easy to see how a true believer would reply to it.

Mark Wadsworth said...

AKH, thanks. And they won't.