Faulty Hypothesis? NASA ERB Measurements Don’t Show Significant Radiative Budget Differences

NASA earth radiation budget measurement from satellite data don’t support global warming claims.

Analyst blogger Zoe Phin downloaded and analyzed 10 gigabytes of NASA instrumental data on the earth’s radiation budget (ERB) fully covering the years 2003 to 2019 [site] [data].

High clouds should be warming the planet, and low clouds cooling it, NASA says. Yet 16 years of their own satellite measurements don’t support the claim. Image: NASA.

The idea is to see the effect of clouds at the surface, especially the so-called Upwelling Longwave Radiation (LW_UP).

High clouds supposedly warm the planet

But first, NASA tells us high clouds are much colder than low clouds and the surface and so they radiate less energy to space than low clouds do. And because high clouds absorb energy so efficiently, they have the potential to raise global temperatures. In a world with high clouds, much of the energy gets captured in the atmosphere. High clouds make the world a warmer place. If more high clouds were to form, more heat energy radiating from the surface and lower atmosphere toward space would be trapped in the atmosphere, and Earth’s average surface temperature would climb.

Low clouds said to cool the planet

NASA also adds that low stratocumulus clouds – on the other hand – act to cool the Earth system because they are much thicker and not as transparent. This means they do not let as much solar energy reach the Earth’s surface. Instead, they reflect much of the solar energy back to space (their cloud albedo forcing is large).

NASA adds that stratocumulus clouds radiate at nearly the same intensity as the surface and do not greatly affect the infrared radiation emitted to space (their cloud greenhouse forcing on a planetary scale is small). The net effect of these clouds is to cool the surface.

But 16 years of satellite measurements tell different story!

Zoe looked at 4 different types of observed LW_UP: All, Clr, AllNoAero, and Pristine. All is normal observed sky. Clr (clear) is no clouds. AllNoAero is All minus aerosols. Pristine is Clr minus aerosols.

Since clouds are said to play an important role in Earth’s supposed greenhouse effect, and this effect leads to a supposed serious warming at the surface, we should see a very large difference between all these 4 scenarios.

Very little difference

But when looking at the results, Zoe finds there is very little difference. The difference in surface LW_UP between a Pristine sky (no clouds, no aerosols) and All sky is just 0.82 W/m², she finds.

“I would even argue it might be ZERO. It’s only not zero because a satellite can’t measure the same scenario in the same place at the same time. They can only measure some place nearby or same place at another time,” reports Zoe. “Even if I’m wrong on this, this value is still very unimpressive.”

Hardly changes outgoing surface radiation

Next the former Wall Street analyst looks at downwelling longwave radiation (LW_DN) and longwave radiation at the top of the atmosphere (TOA_LW):and compares the averages side by side for all 3:

Series               Average

clr_toa_lw_up        262.503
all_toa_lw_up        237.889
pristine_toa_lw_up   262.979
allnoaero_toa_lw_up  238.168

clr_sfc_lw_dn        317.924
all_sfc_lw_dn        347.329
pristine_sfc_lw_dn   316.207
allnoaero_sfc_lw_dn  346.359

clr_sfc_lw_up        397.445
all_sfc_lw_up        398.167
pristine_sfc_lw_up   397.387
allnoaero_sfc_lw_up  398.129

“Clearly not the case”

According to the greenhouse gas theory, infrared absorbing gases are supposed to be preventing radiation from reaching space, thus causing warming at the surface.

“Well we clearly see that’s not case. If clouds (water vapor + aerosols) hardly changes outgoing surface radiation, then the whole hypothesis is in error,” Zoe concludes. “Less top-of-atmosphere outgoing radiation doesn’t cause surface heating and thus more radiation from the surface, despite the increase in downwelling radiation.”

See Zoe’s article on this.

80 responses to “Faulty Hypothesis? NASA ERB Measurements Don’t Show Significant Radiative Budget Differences”

  1. Willis Eschenbach

    I don’t see the problem here.

    Consider the tropical ocean. It’s often clear in the morning, and cloudy in the afternoon.

    Now, what is the temperature difference between the clear and the cloudy times? Not much, despite the fact that there’s about a 30 W/m2 difference between downwelling longwave in clear and cloudy hours.

    In part, this is because the ocean has immense thermal mass. It takes more than a few hours of sun or of cloud to change the temperature much.

    And in part this is because LW is only half of the story … when the cloud comes over, longwave radiation goes up as Zoe points out. But what she doesn’t point out is, shortwave radiation goes down …

    So … suppose the temperature of the ocean surface goes from a sunny 26°C to a cloudy 26.2°C from morning to afternoon, as is typical in the ocean … this changes the upwelling LW by a watt and a quarter.

    Zoe finds this a disproof of prevailing theory. I find it an expected result.

    In addition, the action of clouds is complex. Where it is cold, they warm the surface, and where it’s warm they cool the surface.

    So using global averages, as Zoe does, is very misleading.

    TL;DR? I’m sorry, but although sometimes Zoe does most excellent work, other times she misses the mark entirely … and this is one of those latter times.

    Regards to all, including my friend Zoe.


    1. Zoe Phin

      The tiny difference in LW_UP is most likely due to error. The manual says that there’s ~4 W/m^2 error margin. I happen to agree with that because when I look at various latitudes many times a pristine sky is WARMER than all sky. You have an explanation for that?

      Not only does ocean have thermal mass, so does land. In fact the thermal mass doesn’t stop at some arbitrary point, it goes down all the way to Earth’s center.

      If I got a result of 0 W/m^2 difference between Pristine and All, your excuse would be that it’s not really zero, but actually 0.0000000000001 W/m^2 and the thermal mass of the entire earth is the explanation.

      I would still disagree with you, but even so, a warming by 0.0000000000001 W/m^2 is pretty pitiful, no?

  2. RoHa

    Seems to my amateur eye that this finding meshes well with Lindzen And Choi 2011.

  3. Willis Eschenbach

    Pierre, WTF happened to my comment? I posted it. It said that it was awaiting moderation. Now it has disappeared.

    PLEASE tell me you haven’t censored it …


  4. pochas94

    It’s important to realize that with infrared radiation the atmosphere is opaque in most wavelengths. It is like you are standing in a dense fog. The clouds are invisible and the temperature depends mostly on the surface temperature and the objects around you. The presence or absence of clouds is largely irrelevant.

    1. Zoe Phin

      Pochas, yes, exactly!
      I even wanted to write an article “Confusing Fog for Warming”.

      This fog creates a pseudo layer. Viewed from below, the sky seems warmer, viewed from above surface seems colder. Nothing actually changes thermally.

      It’s like soaking up water with a sponge. It looks like there’s less water on the floor, but it’s in the sponge. Same amount of water.

  5. Zoe Phin

    Willis, this site is called No TRICKS Zone.
    The ocean may have a lot of thermal mass, but we are talking about the skin “cooling to space” at a rate of ~T^4, while conductively heated by ~T.

    You can go to here: https://cloudsgate2.larc.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/fuliou/runfl.cgi

    And play with many many scenarios, and LW_UP doesn’t change.

    Try Urban.

  6. Zoe Phin

    Isn’t it funny that Willis doesn’t have a problem with any average except LW_UP ?

    Has no issue with SW_UP, SW_DN (not shown).

    Has no issue with LW_DN

    Has no issue with TOA_LW_UP

    Somehow I think, Willis will not be pouring over the 10 GB of data I downloaded, because he already knows the answer he wants.

  7. Zoe Phin

    Willis likes to promote his steel greenhouse idea:


    Funny that he’s only concerned with skin radiation here and never takes into account the thermal mass of his core.

    How would his armchair philosophy work if a 30 W/m^2 difference creates a 0.82 W/m^2 difference (0 I would argue) ?

  8. Willis Eschenbach

    Zoe, stuff your comments about “airchair philosophy” where the sun don’t shine.

    Come back when you have found a scientific error in my “Steel Greenhouse” post and we can discuss it. And your article “The Steel Greenhouse Ruse” ain’t it, and if you can’t see that … well, that’s no surprise.

    In that post you NEVER said what you think the equilibrium condition of the steel greenhouse setup is. Give us a diagram of that condition complete with all energy flows, and we can discuss it.

    And no, I’m not “only concerned with skin radiation”. That was just the most obvious of the issues.

    I’ve gone out of my way to promote the good analyses you’ve done, and in response I called an “armchair philosopher”?

    Sorry … not interested.


    1. Zoe Phin

      ‘Zoe, stuff your comments about “airchair philosophy” where the sun don’t shine.’

      Be more specific. I have plenty of places where the sun don’t shine.

      Please address:

      1) Your nuclear core still produces 235, but the skin of your core emits 470. Please address ensuing conduction from the skin inwards.

      2) The heat transfer equation is (e=1):
      q = sT_hot^4 – sT_cold^4

      YOUR heat transfer equation from core to shell is:

      q = sT_hot^4 – 0.5*sT_cold^4

      The first is empirical science.

      Don’t be offended. Armchair philosopher Immanuel Kant came up with the nebular accretion hypothesis.

      Kind regards, -Z

      1. Ed Bo


        I will address your questions.

        1) With the nuclear core producing 235 Watts of thermal energy per m2 of surface area, then there must be 235 W/m2 of conductive heat flux density from the interior TO the surface layer in order for there to be steady state conditions. This should be “obvious by inspection”, as my professors used to say, for anyone familiar with the 1st Law.

        2) In Willis’ solution to the Steel Greenhouse thought experiment, he gets a temperature of 302K for the planet and 254K for the shell. Plugging those values into the equation YOU say he should use to calculate the (net) radiative transfer between planet and shell, we get:

        q = 5.67E-8 (302^4 – 254^4) = 235 W/m2 (from planet to shell)

        This is enough for the planet to radiate away the power produced by the nuclear core, resulting in steady state conditions.

        So he is using the equations you say are proper, his results check out.

        1. Zoe Phin

          1) The nuclear core does not provide the necessary flux or temperature. You can’t magically get more out of Uranium, Thorium, etc.

          2) The view factor of space is not 1. It’s zero.

          1. Ed Bo


            1) In both cases – with shell and without – the flux from the core is the same. Resulting temperatures are dependent on other conditions. I do a lot of thermal testing of electronics. With constant thermal flux from the active devices, temperatures are highly dependent on external conditions. No magic!

            2) Astronomers have done very detailed measurements of the radiation from space. In all directions, the magnitude and spectrum of this radiation behaves exactly as a blackbody at 2.725 +/- 0.001 K. (Cosmologists are interested in the +/- 0.001.) The view factor is indeed 1.0.

            Satellites that need to get rid of waste heat deliberately radiate it toward deep space for maximum transfer. According to you, this would not work — but it does!

          2. Zoe Phin

            1) The nuclear core doesn’t generate 470 W/m^2 and its corresponding temperature.

            2) That 2.725 K (0.0000031 W/m^2) is from hotter objects (stars, galaxies, etc) radiating to US. The sun sends us 1361 W/m^2, but that’s not what we radiate to it, genius.

            3) Temperatures from sunshields on Spitzer and new Webb space telescopes debunk your junk science. Give it up.

          3. Ed Bo

            Zoe: Do you purposely try to get everything completely wrong?

            1) I repeatedly emphasize that in both cases of the steel greenhouse, the flux from the core is 235 W/m2. You say it’s not 470. WTF?

            2) It’s called the Cosmic MICROWAVE Background radiation for a reason. It has a completely different spectrum from the shortwave radiation stars emit.

            If you had the slightest familiarity with even the basics of these topics, you wouldn’t make such ridiculous claims. But you obviously don’t, so you keep embarrassing yourself. The amusement factor gets old quickly.

          4. Zoe Phin

            You said the conductive flux from the core was 235 W/m^2. So what’s the temperature (or radiative equivalent) in the center?

            You can assume k = L = A = 1 for simplicity. It’s an abstract core.

          5. Zoe Phin

            You still don’t get it? A nuclear reaction generate fixed energy. 1 g of uranium will produce ~1 MW. That’s your inner core.

            You can conduct this through an outer core to a radiating surface.

            Willis claims the result is ~254 Kelvin emitting ~235 W/m^2 at the very outset.

            That’s it. Your nuclear core will NEVER create 302K at the outer core surface BECAUSE of a passive shell.


          6. Ed Bo

            Zoe: If you had ever done any thermal design or testing, you would never make such a foolish claim. As I said upthread, I do extensive thermal design and testing of electronics. We must verify that they work in a wide range of ambient conditions.

            With carefully more monitored input power held constant, the surface temperature, measured continuously by thermocouples, varies significantly with changing ambient conditions.

            In the decades I have been in this field, I have never seen a single person surprised by these results.

          7. Zoe Phin

            You’re dancing around the question. You don’t want to acknowledge that uranium fuel yields fixed result. You’re only concerned with conversion efficiency now. We can set efficiency to 100%.

          8. Ed Bo

            No Zoe, I am dancing around nothing. You have a very fundamental confusion about the relationship between heat flow and temperature. It’s the kind of confusion a weak student has at the start of an introductory course. And if they don’t overcome it quickly, they wash out of the course.

            It’s analogous to confusing current and voltage in an electrical system, or fluid flow and pressure in a hydraulic system. I gave you a specific example from my real world experience because in my teaching experience in these fields that is what the weaker students need to start to comprehend.

            Real world examples like the one I gave you show that your analysis cannot possibly be true. And you don’t need any fancy analysis or instrumentation to show that if you impede heat loss from a constantly powered object, it ends up hotter.

            Oh, and you have NO idea what thermodynamic efficiency means. Hint: it has nothing to do with any “conversion” from flux to temperature.

        2. Brian G Valentine

          In fact

          q = (sigma)[(T1^4)A1 – (T2^4)A2]

          where A1 = 4(pi)(r1)^2 , A2 = 4(pi)(r2)^2, r1 < r2

          Assuming the emissivities = 1

          I'm not on board with anybody's "radiation greenhouse" idea

          1. Ed Bo


            In the case of the earth, your r1 is about 6400km (6,400,000m). And the effective r2 is about about 6.4km greater, so 6,406,400m. This is 1.001 times larger, so the area is 1.001^2 = 1.002 times greater. Plug the numbers in, and you will see it makes no noticeable difference.

            But without any IR radiatively active (“greenhouse”) gases, the surface can radiate directly to deep space, and T2 is only 3K. In our atmosphere, the effective T2 is about 250K. That makes a huge difference.

            (When I formally studied radiative heat transfer in the 1970s, we were taught to use as a rule of thumb that the effective radiating temperature of the clear night sky in temperate regions was about -20C (253K) for the purposes of our radiative calculations.)

      2. Yonason

        By now you are probably aware, Zoe, that Eschenbach is always right, especially when he’s wrong. 😉

        (He at times gets the right answer, but not always for the right reasons; and is rarely if ever pleasant when corrected.)

  9. NASA ERB Satellite Measurements Don’t Support Global Warming Claims – Menopausal Mother Nature

    […] Read rest at No Tricks Zone […]

  10. Brian G Valentine

    I have seen the equivalent temperature of the “night sky” for radiation heat transfer calculations taken anywhere from about 200 K to 15 k difference between ambient air and “sky.” Experimentally it is difficult to ascertain because differences between apparent fourth powers of temperature are taken and possible errors are thus magnified; it is equally justified to say that the apparent emissivity of the participating atmosphere is a strong function of the temperature.

    Whatever the case such measurements are not strongly influenced by apparent relative humidity of the ambient air of a “clear” sky, and I think it must be the case that any apparent radiation not transferred to a 3 K blackbody would ultimately be lost to space at longer wavelengths still.

  11. Ed Bo


    You may be interested in this paper:


    It shows that the water vapor content in the atmosphere can be well measured by a pointing a simple kitchen infrared thermometer straight up at the clear night sky.

    The lower the water vapor content, the lower the reported temperature. This is because more of the downward IR comes from the higher, colder levels of the atmosphere when the humidity is low.

    As to your final point, you are completely missing the significance of the “steel greenhouse” thought experiment — which atmospheric physics textbooks call the “single shell model”. All of the 235 W/m2 * Area generated in the core IS transferred to space, with or without the shell. But the core surface temperature is higher with the shell between it and space.

  12. Brian G Valentine

    I have seen that, but data from a desert didn’t correlate too well with rh at low rh anyway.

    I have no objection to a “shell” that reflects heat to a “core” and raises the temperature of the “core.”

    But I (and Gerlich and Tscheuschner) do object to an “atmospheric greenhouse” that apparently raises the temperature of the lower atmosphere – and simultaneously lowers the temperature of the upper atmosphere. This is indistinguishable from a Deus ex Machina that transfers heat from a cool reservoir to a warm reservoir without expending work. There are no counter arguments to sway me

  13. Ed Bo

    The fundamental principle of the “atmospheric greenhouse” effect is no different from the “steel greenhouse”, which you accept.

    It does NOT lower the temperature of the upper atmosphere, and the (net) heat transfer is always from the warmer lower elevations to the cooler upper elevations. No deus ex machina, no 2nd Law violation.

    1. Kenneth Richard

      Ed Bo: “the ‘atmospheric greenhouse’ effect…does NOT lower the temperature of the upper atmosphere”

      Does it raise the temperature of the top-to-bottom ocean? If so, by how much? What do the real-world measurements show?

      1. Ed Bo

        “What do the real-world measurements show?”

        The real-world measurements show that there is downwelling longwave infrared radiation with a flux density on the order of 300 W/m2 hitting the surface. Most surface materials, including ocean water, absorb about 95% of this.

        The real-world measurements also show that the surface layer of ocean water emits upwelling longwave infrared radiation with a flux density on the order of 400 W/m2. So the radiative power balance of the surface layer is around +100 W/m2. This is a 75% reduction from what it would be without the downwelling — and a transparent atmosphere would have no downwelling LWIR.

        Since we don’t have another earth without “greenhouse gases”, we have to calculate the what-if, and you can get into pointless arguments about the nature of this imaginary alternate world. But if the only radiation reaching the surface is from the sun, steady-state conditions would be well below freezing over virtually the entire earth, as simple energy balance calculations show.

        1. Kenneth Richard

          “The real-world measurements show that there is downwelling longwave infrared radiation with a flux density on the order of 300 W/m2 hitting the surface.”

          Apparently up to 200 W/m² of that is from cloud LW forcing. In contrast, it’s taken 270 years for the CO2 surface impact to reach a total accumulated difference of 1.82 W/m².

          For the ocean, it’s even worse.

          Per Wong and Minnett (2018), CO2 must rise to 1,071 ppm (3 x 356.9 ppm) to have a radiative impact that “only gives ~500 mW m−² sr−¹” at the surface. That 500 milliwatts, or 0.5 W/m² sr−¹, is the total impact CO2 can have on the the first 0.01 mm of the global ocean’s thermal skin layer after surpassing 1,000 ppm. The greenhouse effect of cloud forcing is 18 times larger (9 W/m² sr−¹) than the forcing associated with a 1,071 ppm CO2 concentration (0.5 W/m² sr−¹) at the ocean surface. So even if CO2 rises by the 1,000s of ppm, the CO2 impact would still not be capable of exceeding the influence of clouds.

          So there is a magnitude problem associated with the belief that CO2 forcing is what drives changes in ocean heat content. And this doesn’t even consider the annual uncertainty in surface LW forcing that reaches 18 W/m². This uncertainty is 900x larger than the yearly LW surface forcing associated with the ppm increase in CO2 (0.02 W/m²).

          So why are you a believer that human CO2 drives OHC changes (i.e., global warming) instead of a skeptic, Ed?

          1. Ed Bo


            You mistake my arguments. There are multiple commenters here who don’t believe there is any greenhouse effect at all. They are profoundly mistaken, as some very simple energy balance calculations can show. That is what I have been attempting to demonstrate to them.

            That is a very different question from evaluating the effect of small changes in the concentration of some of these gases. As you point out, these potential effects are much smaller, and difficult if not impossible to distinguish from natural variation and measurement uncertainty.

            I argue against those here who claim that there is no “greenhouse effect” at all because they discredit valid skeptical arguments. Many visitors to the site will look at their claims and think that all skeptics are scientific illiterates. It works against all the wonderful hard work you do.

            You ask: “So why are you a believer that human CO2 drives OHC changes (i.e., global warming) instead of a skeptic, Ed?”

            I have never said that human CO2 is the driver of these changes, and for the record, I am very skeptical that they have a significant effect.

          2. Kenneth Richard

            So you do or don’t believe that 7.2K of the 33K greenhouse effect is from CO2 when at a concentration of 358 ppm? If you do believe that, where in the real world is air observed to be warmer by 7.2K with the introduction of 358 ppm CO2?

            Do you agree with scientists who assess the Earth’s surface temperature would increase by 10K (23K in the Arctic, melting all the sea ice) if the atmospheric pressure was raised from 1.0 to 2.0 bar?

            Since this conclusion is no less hypothetical and thought-experiment-ish than the claim that CO2 heats up air by 7.2K in the 33K greenhouse effect, why should those of us who are skeptical of the 7.2K CO2 contribution be shamed into agreeing that it is Truth?

          3. Brian G Valentine

            Gerlich and Tscheuschner show that these “33 K” are physically meaningless, by showing that the average of fourth roots of incident radiation over a disc is much different quantity than the fourth root of the average, there is no justification to prefer one result to the other.

            “Climatology” has has become a pseudo-scientific jumble of arcane variables that are circularly defined, it is unfortunate that this sophistry is frequently applied to prescribe policy

          4. Ed Bo

            Traveling now so it’s difficult to reply well. Up front I want to make sure we are distinguishing between the natural existence of a greenhouse effect and the possible augmentation of this effect by added CO2 above pre-industrial levels.

            We have real satellite measurements that show that emissions in the 14-16 micron range come from cold high elevations in the atmosphere. This is direct confirmation of the greenhouse effect. There is no other plausible explanation.

            This “bite” out of the earth’s outgoing radiation curve reduces the output for a given surface temperature level compared to NO CO2. The difference could easily amount to multiple degrees.

            Now for the possible augmentation. I refer you to recent papers by Wijngaarden and Happer, which are easily found. They show how little the size of the bite is increased even with CO2 levels of 800ppm.

          5. Kenneth Richard

            distinguishing between the natural existence of a greenhouse effect and the possible augmentation of this effect by added CO2 above pre-industrial levels.

            I referred to the claim that 7.2K of the 33K greenhouse effect is from CO2. I asked if you agreed with this value, and, more pointedly, I asked where in the real world it has been observed that 358 ppm CO2 keeps air 7.2K warmer. This would need to be validated observationally so as to affirm the “natural existence of a greenhouse effect”, as you put it. Do you have any measurements to verify this 7.2K “reality”? If not, wouldn’t that be a requisite to get CO2 skeptics on board and agree with you that this is scientific reality and not a model-induced thought experiment?

            I also asked about the studies that indicate the Earth’s temperature rises by 10K with a 1 bar pressure increase alone, regardless of the gaseous composition. So if you could address that question that would demonstrate theoretical consistency vs. inconsistency regarding thought experiments and planetary temperature.

          6. Ed Bo

            Will be on the road for the next week with poor connectivity. But briefly, every surface temperature measurement we have cannot be explained with solar input alone. They require the additional IR flux from radiative gases.

          7. Kenneth Richard

            “every surface temperature measurement we have cannot be explained with solar input alone”

            Are you referring to planetary temperature without the 33K greenhouse effect here? Assuming you are, I have asked you to provide observational validation to the claim that 7.2K of the 33K GHE comes from CO2-warming. Cite the real-world measurements showing air stays 7.2K warmer with 358 ppm CO2 vs. 0 ppm CO2 so that we can verify this is more than just an assumptive thought experiment.

          8. Brian G Valentine

            “But briefly, every surface temperature measurement we have cannot be explained with solar input alone. They require the additional IR flux from radiative gases.”

            I defy you to separate out separate heat from ocean and sun and greenhouse gas contribution to surface temperatures.

            Let’s face it, it’s computer program fiction to try.

          9. Ed Bo

            Brian: 99+% of solar radiation has wavelengths less than 4 microns. We have good measurements of its magnitude and spectrum.

            99+% of terrestrial thermal radiation has wavelengths greater than 4 microns. Again, we have good measurements of magnitude and spectrum.

            It’s very easy to distinguish between these. No computers necessary.

  14. Brian G Valentine

    vielen Dank.

  15. Ed Bo

    Kenneth: I have already cited the real world measurements from satellites of earth’s outgoing radiation with the large “bite” from the Planck distribution in the 14-14-16 micron range, which is due to CO2. This bite is about a quarter of the area of the total area below what the surface would radiate directly. So about 7K is certainly not unreasonable from these direct measurements.

    1. Kenneth Richard

      “real world measurements from satellites of earth’s outgoing radiation”

      I’m not referring to radiation measurements, as these are largely determined by temperature, and not the other way around, when it comes to LW/GHE forcing. That’s why the CO2 GHE is ~0 W/m² at the poles vs. 20 W/m² in the tropics, for example. Temperature determines the CO2 forcing value.

      Instead of temperature-determined radiation estimates, I’ve been asking you for REAL-WORLD controlled experiment results that show with cause-effect precision how much warmer air is when it has 358 ppm CO2 in it as opposed to 0 ppm CO2 in it. The claim (that you obviously believe in without a hint of skepticism) says that 358 ppm keeps air 7.2K warmer. The physics for this cause-effect phenomenon should be observable at the surface. So I’ve asked you to produce the evidence for this 358-ppm-CO2-keeps-air-7.2K-warmer belief you defend. So far you haven’t been able to produce this evidence. So why should anyone just believe CO2 does what has not been observed?

    2. Zoe Phin

      HITRAN demands I put in temperature and pressure to determine absorption. It doesn’t adjust the temperature (or pressure) due to absorption. Why not? Because it obviously doesn’t happen.

      1. John Brown

        HITRAN uses the standard atmosphere for calculation of the temperature change with height.

        If you was to fix the HITRAN calculation to TOA, an increase in height would yield the same results of increase in temperature and absorption behavior.

        If you then further fix the skin radiation to the TOA and apply the planetary effective temperature there, it becomes obvious, that the temperature at the surface is at large only dependent on the height of TOA.

        This in turn depends, for the same composition and solar flux, only on the atmospheric mass.

        Your observation that HITRAN does not provide the solution is correct, since the solution is the Standard Atmosphere and the calculation of the increase of temperature with more height.

  16. Ed Bo

    Kenneth: To someone with experience in analyzing thermal systems, the evidence I have presented is direct. It shows that there is no other explanation.

    Let’s try a similar system that may be more familiar. With a domestic water heater, if you feel the temperature of the outside surface, you can tell how well insulated it is. The cooler the outside is, the more thermal resistance there is. With thermostatic control, the less power is required to maintain a given temperature. But with a constant power input, the higher the steady state temperature.

    So it is with the warm earth in the cold ambient of space. The colder the temperature from which power is actually transmitted to space, the better insulated the earth is, and the higher its temperature for a given power input.

    For radiative transfer, we have to examine by wavelength. In the 14-16 micron band we know from laboratory measurements comes from CO2, satellite measurements show that it is emitted from a very cold high level of the atmosphere (above where there is any real water vapor), directly showing its insulating properties, and significant warming effect.

    1. Zoe Phin

      Why do you believe space is a heat sink?

      1. Ed Bo

        Because it is the only possible sink for the earth to lose the energy sourced from the sun.

        Because spacecraft whose thermal designs are completely dependent on using space as a heat sink work as intended.

        1. Zoe Phin

          The correct answer is space is not empty. It’s got ~5 molecules per m^3.

          1. Ed Bo

            Irrelevant. The vast majority of radiation emitted to space will never be absorbed by anything.

          2. Zoe Phin

            How can you say that?

            5 molecules /m^3 can overlay a central radial view and create a “surface”, not unlike what is done for GHGs. Just less dense, so requires more distance.

          3. Ed Bo

            How can I say that? Because we know that EM radiation can travel billions of light years through space without being absorbed.

            Because we know that the radiative cooling systems on spacecraft work immediately.

            Because we know that the hydrogen and helium that form the great majority of these 5 molecules / m^3 are virtually completely radiatively inactive.

          4. Yonason

            …we know that the radiative cooling systems on spacecraft work immediately.

            The Station’s outstretched radiators are made of honeycomb aluminum panels. There are 14 panels, each measuring 6 by 10 feet (1.8 by 3 meters), for a total of 1680 square feet (156 square meters) of ammonia-tubing-filled heat exchange area. Compare that majestic radiator with the 3-square-foot grid of coils found in typical home air conditioners and you can begin to appreciate the scope and challenge of doing “routine” things in space.

            Define “immediately”

          5. Ed Bo

            Zoe claims that the output of radiation does not result in energy loss until that radiation is absorbed by some other object, which is completely ridiculous. These cooling systems would not work at all if that were true.

            By “immediate”, I mean that at the very moment the radiation is emitted, the energy level of the emitting object is reduced by the amount of energy in the radiation.

          6. Yonason

            By “immediate”, I mean that at the very moment the radiation is emitted, the energy level of the emitting object is reduced by the amount of energy in the radiation.

            That’s always the case, whether in space or on earth, in the absence of a replacement source.

            Chapter 15, ECE 309, Spring 2016. 1.Chapter 15: Radiation Heat Transfer differs from Conduction and Convection heat transfer mechanisms, in the sense that it does not require the presence of a material medium to occur. Energy transfer by radiation occurs at the speed of light and suffers no attenuation in vacuum.

            Also, I wish you guys would take a page from Kenneth’s book, and support your arguments with references. E.g., you write “I refer you to recent papers by Wijngaarden and Happer, which are easily found.” If they are “easily found” (for you), why is it so difficult for you to share links to them, if links exist. And, if the links don’t exist, or they are behind pay-walls, then for most of us they are not “easily found.”

          7. Ed Bo


            Yes, that is the very basic textbook physics I am citing. I’m trying to convince Zoe of this.

            I had explained upthread to Kenneth that I would be traveling without good internet access, so posting would be iffy. I was on a boat without Wifi and lucky if I got one bar cell service. So I was trying to post from my phone alone, with no good way of providing actual links.

            Now that I’m back on land with my computer, here is one of those links:


    2. Kenneth Richard

      “there is no other explanation”

      Once again, I am not asking you for an explanation. I’m asking you for a real world measurement of the cause-effect relationship between the CO2 ppm amount and the resultant temperature change – here claimed to be 7.2K. Obviously, since you cannot produce this evidence, you know this is not a real-world observation. It’s a calculation based on assumptions. That you cannot acknowledge this only exposes a close-mindedness that I have recalled you have denied on previous occasions.

      Identify a real-world experiment that shows air warms by 7.2K when 358 ppm CO2 is added. You can’t, of course. Because it doesn’t happen in the real world. It happens in models and thought experiments. You just deny this.

      Here’s one. Pro-AGWists performed an experiment in which they showed a balloon with 1,000,000 ppm CO2 kept air 1.3K warmer after 6.5 minutes than a balloon with ambient (~500 ppm) CO2 in it.


      This would not appear to support your belief that 358 ppm CO2 keeps air 7.2K warmer.

      Here’s another. An outdoor experiment (mesocosm) showed that air with 16,900 ppm CO2 in it is colder than air with 480 ppm CO2 in it.


      Again, this would not appear to support your belief that 358 ppm CO2 keeps air 7.2K warmer.

      This is not about your credentials or work experiences. If you’re going to make the claim that your beliefs are rooted in observational evidence, then you are obliged to produce this evidence. You haven’t. And, I suspect, you can’t. The fact that you continue to claim CO2 heats air by 7.2K despite having no observational evidence to support it should be a problem for someone who refers to himself as a skeptic.

      1. Ed Bo

        Kenneth: Please identify a real world experiment that confirms that a solar body 1.4 million km in diameter can heat a planet 150 million km away to 288K. I don’t want an explanation – I want a controlled laboratory experiment. And if you can’t provide one, I want to know why you are not completely skeptical of the claim.

        1. Kenneth Richard

          Please identify a real world experiment that confirms that a solar body 1.4 million km in diameter can heat a planet 150 million km away to 288K

          You’re not getting this. I can’t provide a real world experiment for this thought experiment calculation of a 33K greenhouse effect …because it’s a thought experiment calculation.

          I have simply asked you to provide evidence that CO2 ppm concentrations of 358 ppm heat air to a temperature of 7.2K as claimed. You obviously cannot produce this evidence. So why should I or anyone believe it occurs kilometers high in the atmosphere where it can’t be observed if it’s not been observed to occur here at the surface?

          Do you agree with the science that says Earth would warm 10K and the Arctic would warm 23K, melting all the ice, if the Earth’s atmospheric pressure was raised from 1.0 to 2.0 bar? I ask because this change is said to occur regardless of the GHG concentration. If you disagree, explain why.

          “if you can’t provide one, I want to know why you are not completely skeptical of the claim”

          What specific claim would you say I should be skeptical of…since you’re the one making up a claim?

    3. Kenneth Richard

      Ed: “emitted from a very cold high level of the atmosphere (above where there is any real water vapor), directly showing its insulating properties, and significant warming effect”

      How does this “significant warming effect” from a “very cold high level of the atmosphere” manage to significantly heat the ocean? After all, ocean warming is the 93% manifestation of the energy budget changes to the Earth system. Just 1% is atmospheric. So explain how this very cold air heats the much warmer ocean.

      1. Ed Bo

        Kenneth: Explain how your jacket, which is colder than your body and has less than 1% of your body’s mass, can keep it warm. By your logic, it would not be possible.

        1. Kenneth Richard

          “Kenneth: Explain how your jacket, which is colder than your body and has less than 1% of your body’s mass, can keep it warm. By your logic, it would not be possible.”

          Why are you now making up claims of faux “logic” and attributing them to me? When did I ever write that it “would not be possible” for a jacket to reduce convective heat loss?

          1. Ed Bo

            Kenneth: You are obviously very dubious of the idea that radiatively active gases in the high cold atmosphere can lead to temperatures at the warmer surface higher than they would be without these gases.

            I was comparing that to the thermodynamically similar case of a jacket around a warm body. You say that the jacket reduces convective heat loss, and I agree. But equivalently, the IR absorbing gases reduce radiative heat loss. It’s really the same principle.

          2. Kenneth Richard

            “IR absorbing gases reduce radiative heat loss. It’s really the same principle [as what a jacket does].”

            I understand that that’s the “principle” of the hypothetical processes kilometers high in the atmosphere. What I’ve been asking for is validation of this principle of CO2-keeps-air-7.2K-warmer with measurements from the real world. I’d like a demonstration that CO2 ACTUALLY DOES keep/heat air 7.2K warmer at 358 ppm. But this demonstration doesn’t exist. It’s not been observed in the real world. You believe it happens somewhere out there where we can’t measure it without providing observational validation. Why isn’t this a problem for someone who claims to be a skeptic?

            And, I’ll ask again: How is it that this very cold air at the TOA keeps the temperatures of the much warmer ocean warmer? Colder temperatures warm warmer temperatures in what branch of physics?

          3. Ed Bo

            Kenneth: These processes are not hypothetical. The US Air Force has spent decades and millions of dollars to measure the IR absorption/emission properties of the atmosphere under a wide variety of temperatures, densities, humidities, etc.

            We also have over a century’s worth of controlled laboratory spectroscopic measurements of these properties at varying concentrations. Engineering heat transfer textbooks have whole chapters on the implications of absorbing gases for heat transfer. All of these results have been uses for successful thermal designs for a very long time and are not in the least controversial.

            You are hung up on the concept of a cold body “warming” a hotter body even though you acknowledge this is what your jacket does. So let’s speak a little more carefully. The ocean gains thermal energy from the sun. Absorbing gases in the atmosphere reduce the (net) radiative losses to space for a given surface temperature. The resulting temperature must be higher to be in balance or even close to it.

            But it is important to understand that the net heat transfer is always from the warmer to colder. No contradiction of the laws of physics.

          4. Kenneth Richard

            “These processes are not hypothetical…[we can] measure the IR absorption/emission properties of the atmosphere”

            And yet this still has nothing to do with the question posed to you over and over again that you keep evading: where is there an experiment that shows air with 358 ppm CO2 in it is 7.2K warmer than air with 0 ppm CO2 in it? Answer: it doesn’t exist. That’s because it’s a non-observed calculation that air is 7.2K warmer with 358 ppm CO2 in it. This temperature differential doesn’t occur in the real world despite your insistence that it does. In real experiments, air is COLDER with 16,900 ppm CO2 in it than it is with 480 ppm CO2. Instead of ignoring these specific points about real-world experiments not supporting the narrative, why not finally address them with something other than “But the US Air Force measured IR absorption”?

            And, again, the W/m² properties for CO2 are dependent on temperature. That’s why CO2 forcing is ~0 W/m² at the poles, ~10 W/m² at the mid-highs, and ~20 W/m² in the tropics despite the same CO2 concentration at each location. CO2 isn’t causing the temperature. Temperature is causing the W/m² forcing gradient.

          5. Kenneth Richard

            “The ocean gains thermal energy from the sun. Absorbing gases in the atmosphere reduce the (net) radiative losses to space for a given surface temperature.”

            The capacity for CO2 to radiatively reduce the ocean’s heat losses is so small it can’t be measured or assessed observationally. Models say CO2 must rise to 1,071 ppm to even have a 0.5 W/m² radiative effect on the first 0.01 mm of the 4000-meter deep ocean. The 0.01 mm “layer” is where evaporative cooling occurs.

            And CO2 must heat the ocean to more than a negligible degree because the heat flux in the climate system is ocean-to-air, and the heat capacity of the oceans is something like 1,100 times greater than the atmosphere’s. For CO2 to heat the atmosphere by 7.2K, as you believe it does (without supporting evidence), CO2 would need to heat the ocean by orders of magnitude more than the air is heated. You have the directionality exactly backwards.

          6. Ed Bo


            Finally back to where I have a computer and reliable internet. I will try one more time, although it looks pretty pointless now.

            The type of laboratory experiments you cite have NOTHING to do with the existence or non-existence of a radiative greenhouse effect. (This includes Bill Nye’s ridiculous attempts to demonstrate it.) The radiative greenhouse effect is due to IR absorbing gases between the warm planet surface and (very) cold space. Those experiments do not test the idea.

            Now the challenge is how to evaluate the idea that these absorbing gases lead to significantly increased surface temperature levels than would exist without this absorption. What you keep demanding for this evaluation is a second planet, identical to ours except without IR absorbing gases. You have made it obvious that anything less is to be dismissed completely, which is frankly ridiculous.

            So in the absence of a second earth, how do we evaluate this idea? What evidence do we have? (And your claim that I do not provide any supporting evidence is pure and insulting BS!)

            First, we have had repeatable laboratory experiments for over a century now that gases such as H2O and CO2 are significant absorbers of longwave infrared radiation, and so absorb the energy in this radiation.

            Second, we have good field measurements of incoming shortwave solar radiation and longwave terrestrial radiation. They show that the surface outputs power at a rate over twice what the earth and its atmosphere absorb from the sun. Yet not even the worst alarmist thinks the earth/atmosphere system is more than a tiny fraction of 1% out of balance. This discrepancy is FAR greater than any possible errors or uncertainties in the measurements. How do we possibly explain this gap consistent with conservation of energy?

            Third, we now have very good measurements of longwave infrared radiation, magnitude and frequency, both upwelling and downwelling. As I have stated, the downwelling longwave radiation to the surface is on the order of 300 W/m2 (which is greater than the time-averaged solar radiation intensity). A significant fraction of this comes from CO2.

            Fourth, we have over a century of successful engineering designs based on these principles of IR absorption and emission. If the analysis were wrong, as you think, these designs would fail completely, but they do not. Please get an engineering heat transfer text and consult the chapters on radiative heat transfer of gases.

            You claim that “the capacity for CO2 to radiatively reduce the ocean’s heat losses is so small it can’t be measured or assessed observationally.” Hogwash! The very fact that the magnitude and spectrum of this radiation can be measured, and the knowledge that most solid and liquid substances absorb over 95% of this radiation, means that it is measured and assessed observationally.

            You obviously have never done the most basic energy-balance calculations on any thermodynamics systems, or you would not make such foolish claims. And you keep confusing the existence of a greenhouse effect with its possible changes from changing concentrations — a very different issue.

            You keep saying CO2 cannot have any significant effect, but do you feel the same about water vapor?

            By the way, the “anti-greenhouse” effect that occurs in polar winters when there is no solar input, and very little water vapor, so the atmosphere cools primarily from the bottom, yielding a positive lapse rate, in no way argues against the presence of a “greenhouse” effect over the large majority of the planet a large majority of the time, where the atmosphere gains energy largely from the bottom and loses energy largely from the top, yielding a negative lapse rate.

            I know I won’t convince you here, but it would do you a lot of good to familiarize yourself with basic principles of thermodynamics and radiative heat transfer, even from an engineering perspective.

          7. Kenneth Richard

            “What you keep demanding for this evaluation is a second planet, identical to ours except without IR absorbing gases”

            No, all I’m “demanding” is an observation showing that CO2 keeps air 7.2K warmer at 358 ppm – which is the claim you believe in without providing this cause-effect evidence. You don’t need another planet to demonstrate this. A mofette field has 750,000 ppm CO2 hovering above it. The temperature there above a mofette field is no warmer than it is 50 yards away where it’s 410 ppm. This observation would NOT support your belief that the presence or absence of CO2 causes an identifiable temperature change. So one must believe it occurs outside of our capacity to observe it. Like faith.

            “gases such as H2O and CO2 are significant absorbers of longwave infrared radiation”

            N2 and O2 – 99% of the atmosphere – also absorb IR (albeit less strongly than CO2 does). These molecules can be heated to nearly the same limiting temperature as CO2 can. So can Argon.

            And because of their abundance in the atmosphere relative to CO2, the greenhouse effect of N2 and O2 become “radiatively important”. N2 and O2 together have 1.3 times the greenhouse effect properties as CH4 does – and CH4 is said to be 84x more potent than CO2.

            In other words, there is nothing even remotely “special” about CO2 relative to other gases in the atmosphere. This can also be shown to be true in lab experiments, where the temperature effect of CO2 is not decipherable from Argon’s temperature effect. The physics don’t change way up there in the troposphere either.

            What you’re “observing” with these measurements of longwave radiation you’re so excited about is the effect of temperature. Temperature determines longwave forcing values…and CO2 forcing gradients. That’s why CO2’s greenhouse effect is “measured” to be around 0 W/m² at the poles and 20 W/m² in the tropics. I keep pointing this out to you and you keep on ignoring this science. You’re too far wedded to your beliefs to see it any differently.

            “Please get an engineering heat transfer text and consult the chapters on radiative heat transfer of gases”

            Here’s one. It shows that greenhouse gases have a “negligible” effect on water temperatures. Experiments are used to demonstrate this. And since the heat flux is ocean-to-air, and 93% of the heat in the Earth system’s energy balance is manifested in the ocean and just 1% in the atmosphere, there is a problem with the belief you have that the CO2 gas and water gas in the air are heating up the water solid (ocean) by 33K more than it would otherwise be.

            “the magnitude and spectrum of this [CO2] radiation can be measured”

            It’s been measured to be -2.9 to 1 W/m² for Antarctica and it’s “comparatively weak” (slightly above 0 W/m²) for Greenland. You agree with these measurements of (temperature-determined) CO2 GHE forcing, right?

          8. Ed Bo


            If you had any experience with analysis of thermal systems, you would realize that none of your examples is remotely comparable to the planetary greenhouse effect.

            The planetary GHE concerns kilometers of radiatively active gases over the entire planet between a surface near 300K and an ambient of 3K (-270C) where there is only radiative heat transfer.

            You keep bringing up examples of small-scale volumes of these gases between a surface and only a slightly cooler ambient, and with conductive and convective transfer mechanisms (horizontal and vertical) as well as radiative ones.

            All these differences mean that your examples are utterly irrelevant to the question of the planetary GHE. It’s like arguing that experiments that show a thin cotton glove keeps your hand comfortable touching things are room temperature, that thin cotton is all you need to protect yourself when completely surrounded by dry ice.

            When you claim “there is nothing even remotely ‘special’ about CO2 relative to other gases in the atmosphere”, you just show that you are completely ignorant of a century’s worth of spectroscopic analysis (done completely independent of climate science). And the sources you cite do not support you ar all. (And most of the screen caps you provide are barely legible, even when zoomed in on.)

            Another thing: you perpetually confuse the total GH , and the “incremental” change in the GHE from changes in concentration of IR active gases. You cite a source that is talking about the incremental effect being slight, and you mistakenly infer that it is talking about the total effect.

            It’s really pointless to go further, because you don’t have the basic context to analyze these systems properly.

          9. Kenneth Richard

            “your examples are utterly irrelevant to the question of the planetary GHE”

            Right, because you maintain the belief that 358 ppm CO2 keeps air 7.2K warmer up there somewhere where it can’t be validated or observed, whereas I’m the one asking questions about why you believe this in the first place since it hasn’t been observed to occur anywhere in the surface atmosphere.

            Keep on believing in your Truth, Ed.

          10. Ed Bo

            Kenneth: You say “[warming] has not been observed to occur anywhere in the surface atmosphere.”

            WRONG! It is observed every single day! Surface temperatures are at a level that CANNOT be explained by measured solar (and geothermal) alone. They are at a level that CAN be explained by including the MEASURED downwelling longwave infrared radiation.

            As to your demand for a controlled laboratory experiment for a planetary effect, I challenged you long ago to provide such an experiment to” demonstrate the warming effect of the sun. I note you didn’t even try. So by your own standards, it hasn’t been observed to occur anywhere in the surface atmosphere.”

            Keep on believing in your Truth, Kenneth.

          11. Kenneth Richard

            “Kenneth: You say ‘[warming] has not been observed to occur anywhere in the surface atmosphere'”

            No, that’s not what I wrote, of course. Why am I not surprised that you have purposely misrepresented what actually wrote?

            I wrote the calculation of a 7.2°C warming from adding 358 ppm CO2 to a volume of air has not been observed (cause-effect) anywhere in a real-world experiment here in the surface atmosphere. If you believe there has been such an experiment showing such a cause-effect observation, please cite it.

            “It is observed every single day!”

            Great! So you should have no problem citing the real-world experiment that shows air warms up by 7.2°C as a consequence of adding 358 ppm CO2 (or whatever other ppm quantity you wish to use).

            Do you agree that the surface temperature of a planet is primarily determined by its atmospheric pressure gradient? For example, do you agree Earth would warm by 10°C if its AP was increased from 1.0 to 2.0 bar?

            Do you agree with scientists that doubling the N2 in the atmosphere results in a radiative forcing of 12.2 W/m² and warms the surface by 4.4°C even though N2 is not considered a GHG?

            Do you agree that the greenhouse effect on Mars is about 0 degrees Celsius even though its atmosphere has 953,200 ppm CO2 in it?

            Also, please cite an observational experiment that quantifies how much a body of water warms when the CO2 in the air above it changes by 100 ppm. Is it closer to 0.00000000000001K or 0.00000000000000000000000000000000000000001K? We need to have the quantification to determine whether the CO2 water-warming effect is significant or negligible.

        2. Zoe Phin

          Hi, Ed, I explain how blankets don’t warm you here:

  17. Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #445 – Watts Up With That?

    […] Faulty Hypothesis? NASA ERB Measurements Don’t Show Significant Radiative Budget Differences […]

  18. Brian G Valentine

    “In the 14-16 micron band we know from laboratory measurements comes from CO2, satellite measurements show that it is emitted from a very cold high level of the atmosphere (above where there is any real water vapor), directly showing its insulating properties, and significant warming effect.”

    I thought we agreed that the surface heat effect of participating media such as CO2 in the atmosphere was re-radiated to space at longer wavelengths still.

    1. Ed Bo

      Brian: Gaseous CO2 is not a broadband emitter like most solids and liquids. It does not have significant emission bands at wavelengths longer than 16 microns. So at colder temperatures you mainly see less flux in the 14-16 micron band.

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