Monday, February 24, 2014

Three new papers challenge understanding of the physics of the atmosphere, AGW

A family of scientists have submitted for open peer review 3 new papers which propose a radical rethink of the physics of the atmosphere. The papers are based on weather balloon observations, theory, and laboratory experiments, and support the position of some skeptics that the entire 33K "greenhouse effect" is explainable solely on the basis of the natural lapse rate alone, with unmeasurable influence from CO2. The papers collectively demonstrate man-made greenhouse gases have a trivial, unmeasurable effect on global temperatures.

In addition, the papers have implications for a number of important phenomena related to the atmosphere, e.g., ozone formation, the locations of the jet streams, and how tropical cyclones form.

The three papers are receiving a hostile reception from the alarmist community, but are being well defended by the authors in the comment sections. 

Summary: “The physics of the Earth’s atmosphere” Papers 1-3

Our papers
For two of our papers, we analysed the temperatures at different heights in the atmosphere using measurements from weather balloons, similar to this one. 
In this essay, we will briefly summarise the analysis in our three “Physics of the Earth’s atmosphere” papers, which we have submitted for peer review at the Open Peer Review Journal.

In Paper 1, we developed new analytical techniques for studying weather balloon data. Using these techniques, we found that we were able to accurately describe the changes in temperature with height by just accounting for changes in water content and the existence of a previously unreported phase change. This shows that the temperatures at each height are completely independent of the greenhouse gas concentrations.

This disproves the greenhouse effect theory. It also disproves the man-made global warming theory, which is based on the greenhouse effect theory.

In Paper 2, we suggest that the phase change we identified in Paper 1 involves the “multimerization” of oxygen and/or nitrogen in the air above the “troposphere” (the lower part of the atmosphere). This has important implications for a number of important phenomena related to the atmosphere, e.g., ozone formation, the locations of the jet streams, and how tropical cyclones form.

In Paper 3, we identify a mechanism by which energy is transmitted throughout the atmosphere, which we call “pervection”. This mechanism is not considered in the greenhouse effect theory, or in the current climate models. We carried out laboratory experiments to measure the rates of pervection in air, and find that it ismuch faster than radiation, convection and conduction.

This explains why the greenhouse effect theory doesn’t work.

1. Introduction
2. The atmospheric temperature profile
3. Crash course in thermodynamics & radiative physics: All you need to know
4. Paper 1: Phase change associated with tropopause
5. Paper 2: Multimerization of atmospheric gases above the troposphere
6. Paper 3: Pervective power
7. Applying the scientific method to the greenhouse effect theory
8. Conclusions

1. Introduction

We have written a series of three papers discussing the physics of the Earth’s atmosphere, and we have submitted these for peer review at the Open Peer Review Journal:

The physics of the Earth’s atmosphere I. Phase change associated with the tropopause – Michael Connolly & Ronan Connolly, 2014a
The physics of the Earth’s atmosphere II. Multimerization of atmospheric gases above the troposphere – Michael Connolly & Ronan Connolly, 2014b
The physics of the Earth’s atmosphere III. Pervective power – Michael Connolly & Ronan Connolly, 2014c

In these papers, we show that carbon dioxide does not influence the atmospheric temperatures. This directly contradicts the greenhouse effect theory, which predicts that carbon dioxide should increase the temperature in the lower atmosphere (the “troposphere”), and decrease the temperature in the middle atmosphere (the “stratosphere”).

It also contradicts the man-made global warming theory, since the the basis for man-made global warming theory is that increasing the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will cause global warming by increasing the greenhouse effect. If the greenhouse effect doesn’t exist, then man-made global warming theory doesn’t work.

Aside from this, the results in our papers also offer new insights into why the jet streams exist, why tropical cyclones form, weather prediction and a new theory for how ozone forms in the ozone layer, amongst many other things.

In this essay, we will try to summarise some of these findings and results. We will also try to summarise the greenhouse effect theory, and what is wrong with it.

However, unfortunately, atmospheric physics is quite a technical subject. So, before we can discuss our findings and their significance, there are some tricky concepts and terminology about the atmosphere, thermodynamics and energy transmission mechanisms that we will need to introduce.

As a result, this essay is a bit more technical than some of our other ones. We have tried to explain these concepts in a fairly clear, and straightforward manner, but if you haven’t studied physics before, it might take a couple of read-throughs to fully figure them out.

Anyway, in Section 2, we will describe the different regions of the atmosphere, and how temperatures vary throughout these regions. In Section 3, we will provide a basic overview of some of the key physics concepts you’ll need to understand our results. We will also summarise the greenhouse effect theory. Then, in Sections 4-6, we will outline the main results of each of the three papers. In Section 7, we will discuss what the scientific method tells us about the greenhouse effect. Finally, we will offer some concluding remarks in Section 8.

2. The atmospheric temperature profile

As you travel up in the atmosphere, the air temperature generally cools down, at a rate of roughly -6.5°C per kilometre (-3.5°F per 1,000 feet). This is why we get snow at the tops of mountains, even if it’s warm at sea level. The reason the air cools down with height is that the thermal energy (“heat”) of the air gets converted into “potential energy” to counteract the gravitational energy pulling the air back to ground. At first, it might seem hard to visualise this gravitational cooling, but it is actually quite a strong effect. After all, it takes a lot of energy to hold an object up in the air without letting it fall, doesn’t it?

This rate of change of temperature with height (or altitude) is called the “environmental lapse rate”.

Surprisingly, when you go up in the air high enough, you can find regions of the atmosphere where the temperature increases with altitude!

Figure 1. Schematic illustration of the changes in temperature with increasing altitude. Temperatures are given in degrees Kelvin (100K = -175°C or -280°F, while 300K = 25°C or 80°F), and are determined from the 1976 version of the U.S. Standard Atmosphere. Click on image to enlarge.For this reason, atmospheric scientists and meteorologists give the different parts of the Earth’s atmosphere different names. The average temperature profile for the first 120 kilometres and the names given to these regions are shown in Figure 1.

By the way, in this essay we will mostly be using the Kelvin scale to describe temperatures. This is a temperature scale that is commonly used by scientists, but is not as common in everyday use. If you’re unfamiliar with it, 200 K is roughly -75°C or -100°F, while 300 K is roughly +25°C or +80°F.

At any rate, the scientific name for the part of the atmosphere closest to the ground is the “troposphere”. In the troposphere, temperatures decrease with height at the environmental lapse rate we mentioned above, i.e., -6.5°C per kilometre (-3.5°F per 1,000 feet).

Above the troposphere, there is a region where the temperature stops decreasing (or “pauses”) with height, and this region is called the “tropopause”. Transatlantic airplanes sometimes fly just belowthe tropopause.

As we travel up higher, we reach a region where temperatures increase with height. If everything else is equal, hot air is lighter than cold air. So, when this region was first noticed, scientists suggested that the hotter air would be unable to sink below the colder air and the air in this region wouldn’t be able to mix properly. They suggested that the air would become “stratified” into different layers, and this led to the name for this region, the “stratosphere”. This also led to the name for the troposphere, which comes from the Greek word, tropos, which means “to turn, mix”, i.e., the troposphere was considered a region where mixing of the air takes place.

To get an idea of these altitudes, when Felix Baumgartner broke the world record for the highest skydive on October 14, 2012, he was jumping from 39 kilometres (24 miles). This is a few kilometres above where the current weather balloons reach, i.e., in the middle of the stratosphere:

At the moment, most weather balloons burst before reaching about 30-35 kilometres (18-22 miles). Much of our analysis is based on weather balloon data. So, for our analysis, we only consider the first three regions of the atmosphere, the troposphere, tropopause and stratosphere.

You can see from Figure 1 that there are also several other regions at higher altitudes. These other regions are beyond the scope of this essay, i.e., the “stratopause”, the “mesosphere” and the“mesopause”.

Still, you might be interested to know about the “Kármán line”. Although the atmosphere technically stretches out thousands of kilometres into space, the density of the atmosphere is so small in the upper parts of the atmosphere that most people choose an arbitrary value of 100 kilometres as the boundary between the atmosphere and space. This is called the Kármán line. If you ever have watched a meteor shower or seen a “shooting star”, then you probably were looking just below this line, at an altitude of about 75-100 kilometres, which is the “meteor zone”.

Figure 2. Atmospheric temperature profiles at different latitudes. Temperatures were downloaded from the Public Domain Aeronautical Software website. Click to enlarge.The temperature profile in Figure 1 is the average profile for a mid-latitude atmosphere. But, obviously, the climate is different in the tropics and at the poles. It also changes with the seasons. Just like ground temperatures are different at the equator than they are in the Arctic, the atmospheric temperature profiles also change with latitude. Typical temperature profiles for a tropical climate and a polar climate are compared to the “standard” mid-latitude climate in Figure 2, up to a height of 30 kilometres (19 miles).

One more term you may find important is the “boundary layer”. This is the first kilometre or two of the troposphere, starting at ground level. We all live in the boundary layer, so this is the part of the atmosphere we are most familiar with. Weather in the boundary layer is quite similar to the rest of the troposphere, but it’s generally windier (more “turbulent”) and the air tends to have more water content.

3. Crash course in thermodynamics & radiative physics: All you need to know

Understanding energy and energy equilibrium

All molecules contain energy, but the amount of energy the molecules have and the way in which it is stored can vary. In this essay, we will consider a few different types of energy. We already mentioned in the previous section the difference between two of these types, i.e., thermal energy and potential energy.

Broadly speaking, we can divide molecular energy into two categories:
Internal energy – the energy that molecules possess by themselves
External energy – the energy that molecules have relative to their surroundings. We refer to external energy as mechanical energy.

This distinction might seem a bit confusing, at first, but should become a bit clearer when we give some examples, in a moment.

These two categories can themselves be sub-divided into sub-categories.

We consider two types of internal energy:

Thermal energy – the internal energy which causes molecules to randomly move about. Thetemperature of a substance refers to the average thermal energy of the molecules in the substance. “Hot” substances have a lot of thermal energy, while “cold” substances don’t have much
Latent energy – the internal energy that molecules have due to their molecular structure, e.g., the energy stored in chemical bonds. It is called latent (meaning “hidden”), because when you increase or decrease the latent energy of a substance, its temperature doesn’t change.

When latent energy was first discovered in the 18th century, it wasn’t known that molecules contained atoms and bonds. So, nobody knew what latent energy did, or why it existed, and the energy just seemed to be mysteriously “hidden” away somehow.

We also consider two types of mechanical energy:

Potential energy – the energy that a substance has as a result of where it is. For instance, as we mentioned in the previous section, if a substance is lifted up into the air, its potential energy increases because it is higher in the Earth’s gravitational field.
Kinetic energy – the energy that a substance has when it’s moving in a particular direction.

Energy can be converted between the different types.

Figure 3. When you are cycling downhill you will speed up, even if you don't pedal ('freewheeling'), because potential energy is being converted into kinetic energy. Animated gif via from user 'adr82' on the cycling forum. Click on image to enlarge.For instance, if a boulder is resting at the top of a hill, it has a lot of potential energy, but very little kinetic energy. If the boulder starts to roll down the hill, its potential energy will start decreasing, but its kinetic energy will start increasing, as it picks up speed.

As another example, in Section 2, we mentioned how the air in the troposphere cools as you travel up through the atmosphere, and that this was because thermal energy was being converted into potential energy.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, some scientists began trying to understand in detail when and how these energy conversions could take place. In particular, there was a lot of interest in figuring out how to improve the efficiency of the steam engine, which had just been invented.

Figure 4. Experimental apparatus used by James Joule in 1845 to show how mechanical energy could be converted into thermal energy. Illustration taken from Wikimedia Commons. Click on image to enlarge.Steam engines were able to convert thermal energy into mechanical energy, e.g., causing a train to move. Similarly,James Joule had shown that mechanical energy could be converted into thermal energy.

The study of these energy interconversions became known as “thermodynamics”, because it was looking at how thermal energy and “dynamical” (or mechanical” energy were related.

One of the main realisations in thermodynamics is thelaw of conservation of energy. This is sometimes referred to as the “First Law of Thermodynamics”:

The total energy of an isolated system cannot change. Energy can change from one type to another, but the total amount of energy in the system remains constant.

The total energy of a substance will include the thermal energy of the substance, its latent energy, its potential energy, and its kinetic energy:

Total energy = thermal energy + latent energy + potential energy + kinetic energy

So, in our example of the boulder rolling down a hill, when the potential energy decreases as it gets closer to the bottom, its kinetic energy increases, and the total energy remains constant.

Similarly, when the air in the troposphere rises up in the atmosphere, its thermal energy decreases (i.e., it gets colder!), but its potential energy increases, and the total energy remains constant!

This is a very important concept to remember for this essay. Normally, when one substance is colder than another we might think that it is lower in energy. However, this is not necessarily the case – if the colder substance has more latent, potential or kinetic energy then its total energy might actually be the same as that of the hotter substance. The colder substance might even have more total energy.

Another key concept for this essay is that of “energy equilibrium”:
We say that a system is in energy equilibrium if the average total energy of the molecules in the system is the same throughout the system.

The technical term for energy equilibrium is “thermodynamic equilibrium”.

For a system in energy equilibrium, if one part of the system loses energy and starts to become unusually low in energy, energy flows from another part of the system to keep the average constant. Similarly, if one part of the system gains energy, this extra energy is rapidly redistributed throughout the system.

Is the atmosphere in energy equilibrium? That is a good question.

According to the greenhouse effect theory, the answer is no.

The greenhouse effect theory explicitly assumes that the atmosphere is only in local energy equilibrium.

If a system is only in local energy equilibrium then different parts of the system can have different amounts of energy.

As we will see later, the greenhouse effect theory fundamentally requires that the atmosphere is only in local energy equilibrium. This is because the theory predicts that greenhouse gases will cause some parts of the atmosphere to become more energetic than other parts. For instance, the greenhouse effect is supposed to increase temperatures in the troposphere, causing global warming.

However, this assumption that the atmosphere is only in local energy equilibrium was never experimentally proven.

In our papers, we experimentally show that the atmosphere is actually in complete energy equilibrium – at least over the distances from the bottom of the troposphere to the top of the stratosphere, which the greenhouse effect theory is concerned with.

Twitter exchange with "There's Physics" proprietor of the Wott's Up with That blog, now called "And Then There's Physics":

  1. How would an atmosphere without GHGs do that? I think you may be mistaken.
  2. The lapse rate alone, per ideal gas formula gravity compresses adiabatic gases to increase temp, process continually recycles
  3. Yes, but the lapse rate is just the temperature gradient. The actual temperature is set by the GHGs.
  4. We're just going in circles. I've already shown gravity > pressure > lapse rate > 33K GHE. More GHGs decrease LR > cooling
  5. You see, you haven't shown that. You've asserted that. You're right tho, we are going in circles.
  6. Haven't shown what specifically? More GHGs increase Cp which decreases LR=-g/Cp. Decreased LR=cooling


  1. The manuscripts were submitted to a new journal that is owned by the authors of the manuscripts. They could also simply have written a blog post.

    1. They make that very clear, and I for one think it's fantastic they have created an open peer review journal that's free for scientists to submit papers and is open access to both peer-review and viewing. Fabulous & the way science really should be done without gatekeepers, pal-review, and the expense to authors to publish an open-access article.

  2. They make that clear on their blog. However, people visiting their journal and reading their manuscripts are not informed that the authors, editors and owners are all the same.

    We have seen in the scandal around the journal "Pattern Recogntion in Physics" that some of your folks find that an ideal situation. I am with Anthony Watts, Steven Mosher and PopTech and see this as pal review and as a big problem for publishing controversial papers.

    For other people publishing in such a journal may be a nice service.

    There is, by the way, already an open review and open access journal in climatology: Climate of the Past.

    1. 1. They link to their website on the first page of the scientific paper, which is very open about the ownership. This is adequate notice for anyone who wishes to investigate ownership, which is irrelevant to scientific merit.

      2. The papers are all still open for anyone peer-review, which is the exact opposite of pal-review and gate-keeping, so if you have a specific problem with the scientific claims, you should comment there, rather than ad homs & criticizing a completely open, genuine scientific effort.

      Climate of the Past is for the Past. BTW do you have to be a member of the EGU to publish in that Journal, and is there a charge to the authors to publish an open access article?

    2. Everything but the content is irrelevant for the scientific merit. However, such questions are important for the credibility of the article, when it is published. As it stands these articles in this journal would have the same credibility as a blog post, where also the author himself decides whether it is worth publishing. Then one has to wonder, why they go through all that effort to make it look like a scientific journal. I would thus advice the Connolly's to publish there work elsewhere. Anthony Watts can publish his manuscript in Open Peer Review Journal.

      Peer review is more than just asking for reactions. Imagine what would happen in case several scientists would review an article and would come to the conclusion that there are too many fundamental mistakes and that the manuscripts should not be published. The authors, as editors then make a decision whether to ignore these reviews and publish anyway or not. That is where the pal-review comes in, where pal is quite an understatement. The editorial decision should be independent, at least if you want to build a credible scientific journal.

      I have written some comments there, they are also welcome to comment at my blog.

      Maybe you should have a look at the definition of an ad hom. Wikipedia writes: "a general category of fallacies in which a claim or argument is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the author of or the person presenting the claim or argument". For the fairness of the editorial decisions, it makes a difference whether the editor is also the author. I have trouble seeing that as irrelevant. For my comments on the science, I do not recall using some fact about the authors as argument. Could you provide an example?

      In the scientific community, an honest appraisal of the situation and criticism is valued as part of making things better. I find it very strange, that someone here calls for less criticism.

      Everyone can publish in Climate of the Past. There is a publishing fee to support the journal. Someone has to do the work and the readers do not pay for that. For people unable to pay this fee can be annulled. This is typically used for authors from poor countries. I have no experience with that, but would expect that also citizen scientists can use this option. Just ask.

    3. Well, let's have a look at some of your ad homs:

      "P.S. Can I have your bets on whether Anthony Watts will report on this family of Dragon Slayers?"

      "I am afraid that this is a typical idea among climate ostriches, but that is not the way science works."

      "Unfortunately for the Connolly family the most likely explanation is that their empirical analysis is not able to find the relationship because it is not designed in a way that it could find the relationship. I did not read the paper yet..." LOLOL " the method is thus wrong."

      "we should ask the Connolly family, why it in not freaking cold on Earth? How do they explain the warm surface temperature on Earth?"

      and here's one about me:

      "I have no hope that HockeySchtick will admit this, but I am very curious what our local host and writer of 3 manuscripts on the greenhouse effect, Ronan Connolly, thinks of this adventurous Hockey idea."

      I have nothing to "admit." Unlike you, I've documented all my assertions and have nothing to hide nor "admit."

      So, what specific scientific objections do you have to the following post?:

  3. Victor,

    Your latest comment will not be published as it is full of ad homs, and frankly, you should be ashamed of your hostile and derogatory comments towards the Connolly family and their scientific method, made PRIOR to even reading their paper! That is pathetic, arrogant, anti-scientific and evidence that you are an ostrich practitioner of the CAGW religion. Bye

  4. HS, there is definitely a connection between the planetary radiative flux measured from space and the temperature gradient between the solid planetary surface and the atmospheric level through which this final flux is going. I say 'final', because the measured flux is a total flux, accumulated upward from the surface through all atmospheric layers, all making their small contributions, until we reach ToA, which is above the convection top, or the tropopause.

    This goes for all planets.

    However, there is NO connection between the theoretical BB emission temperature calculated for the planet from the measured final flux and the physical temperature of this atmospheric layer.

    For instance, on Earth, the mean global tropopause temperature (at an average of ~12 km) is around 210K. If you track the lapse rate going downward from this you will reach the surface at 288K, quite naturally. The tropopause is still Earth's 'radiative surface' to space. Because only from this level on ALL energy is transported outward through radiation. THIS is where we reach the 239 W/m^2. Below it, the radiative flux would be less intense. At the surface it is only 50-60 W/m^2.

    So why is there no connection between the flux-calculated BB temperature of a planet and the physical temperature of its actual 'radiative surface', its ToA?

    Because the atmosphere is a gas, a volume of gas. It doesn't radiate from ONE particular solid surface (like a proper BB) according to the temperature of this particular surface. The Stefan-Boltzmann law doesn't work on a volume of gas.

    So how come, then, we can so predictably find the surface temperature of the Earth by just knowing the temperature of the 'radiating surface' (ToA) and the lapse rate? The answer really is, it couldn't be otherwise.

    The surface temperature is set FIRST. The surface is where the heating from the Sun originally takes place. From here the heat is then propagated upwards through the atmospheric column by way of convection along the lapse rate-established temperature gradient/profile. Until we reach the convection top and gravity finally overcomes the buoyancy from the original surface heating.

    The tropopause is at 210K because the surface is at 288K, not the other way around. The lapse rate does not work downwards, just as little as heat propagates downwards.

    The 288K value, then, must be set by something else. One part is the solar input. The other part is the atmospheric weight on the surface. Gravity + mass.

    It works, however, in a different way than you might think ...

  5. Thanks, HS. I think my argument is better stated (especially the first sentence here doesn't seem to make much sense as I'm reading it now :p) on Joe Postma's site. But the gist is the same ...