New Study: A ‘Thought Model’ Saying There’s A 33 K ‘Natural Greenhouse Effect’ Is ‘Meritless’ Assumption

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The conceptualization of a 33 K warmer Earth due to the presence of water vapor and CO2 (greenhouse gases) in the atmosphere is wholly based on the unobserved and unknown, or assumptions about what an imaginary world with no atmosphere would be like.

It is widely believed that we can determine the effective radiating temperature, a uniformly global temperature, the globally uniform albedo…of a rocky planets simply by conjuring up thought experiments about what a made-up world would be like if it did not have an atmosphere (e.g., no N2, O2, atmospheric pressure, clouds, water vapor…).

This “thought model” has been subjected to critical analysis in a new paper published by four atmospheric physicists.

Image Source: Kramm et al., 2022

The authors use observational measurements from 24 datasets for the moon — which actually is the closest real-world proximity to a rocky planet without an atmosphere — as their testbed. They conclude that the globally averaged surface temperature is necessarily “about 60 K” lower than the effective radiation temperature, rendering the “thought model” presumptions about a 33 K “greenhouse effect” differential for the effective radiating vs. global average temperature (255 vs. 288 K) “meritless.”

Other instances of a disqualifying contrast between observations and modeled assumptions include:

“[I]n the case of the Earth in absence of its atmosphere, [the effective radiating temperature] would only correspond to a globally averaged surface temperature if the surface temperature were uniformly distributed [i.e., the temperature at the poles was the same as in the tropics], which is, by far, not the case.”

“[T]he power law of Stefan and Boltzmann is only valid on a local scale. Applying it on a global scale notably disagrees with the prerequisites and assumptions on which the derivation of this power law is based.”

“The DLRE [moon] data provide observational evidence that the effective radiation temperature must be discarded for planets and their natural satellites.”

‘The assumption of a global albedo of about 0.30, however, is far from reality because this value is related to the entire Earth-atmosphere system. The cloud cover primarily contributes to this value of the global albedo, but a cloud cover cannot exist in the thought model of the Earth in the absence of its atmosphere.”


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40 responses to “New Study: A ‘Thought Model’ Saying There’s A 33 K ‘Natural Greenhouse Effect’ Is ‘Meritless’ Assumption”

  1. davidrussell

    A lot of words, when all you have to do is measure the actual radiation from the moon right now and see how it compares with 1361/4W/M2 adjusted for the moon’s 0.12 albedo.

  2. New Study: A ‘Thought Model’ Saying There’s A 33 K ‘Natural Greenhouse Effect’ Is ‘Meritless’ Assumption - Climate-

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  3. Climate Heretic

    Back of the Envelope calculation that CO2 has no bearing on warming the atmosphere.

    1) Average temperature of Earth 14 or 15 degrees Celsius. Depending on the references used (Wikipedia). 15 degrees is equal to 288K

    2) The effective temperature as measured from space is 255K (around 5 to 6km above Earth)

    3) Adiabiatic Lapse Rate is 6.5 degrees per Km.

    4) Using 5km and 6.5 we get 32.5 degrees. Rounding it up is 33 degrees

    5) 255K + 33 = 288K

    6) Therefore CO2 does not cause the warming of the Earth’s Atmosphere PERIOD.

    Climate Heretic

    1. cementafriend

      The lapse rate means that everywhere in the atmosphere it is colder than the surface below that point. The 2nd law of thermodynamics in a simple form states that heat only flows from hot to cold. So the CO2, H2O(g) and other gases in the atmosphere can not heat the surface. Thus, there are no greenhouse gases. Clouds however are a different matter. When H2O condenses it gives off heat. The water(l&s) can both absorb and radiate heat plus reflect radiation from the sun. Clouds are important for weather and climate. On Titan (a moon of Saturn) CH4(g,l&s) has a similar action to water (g,l&s) on Earth

  4. E. Schaffer

    It is pretty much the same thing they already published in 2017. Since then they have not learned what the GHE is, and what it is not. Apart from quoting Gerlich and Tscheuschner, it is neither very helpful to argue the GHE was larger than the orthodoxy claims, when indeed it is smaller.

    Btw. if the GHE was larger, then you would need to attribute larger contributions to it by the respective GHGs, and you would end up with higher climate sensitivity. This is pretty odd if you want to argue against AGW, which they intend to do.

  5. pochas94

    Too much. I wouldn’t feed this to a class of school children. The greenhouse effect is real and arises mostly from the water on this planet. Carbon dioxide is also a greenhouse gas, but its effects are very small, and it grows things like trees and flowers and food. We wouldn’t be here without it.

    1. Richard Greene

      I would like to figure out why Kenneth Richard despoils this website with so many haphazard or meaningless “studies”. Any study that claims CO2 is unimportant gets his attention like catnip gets my cat’s attention. That anti-co2 bias is not science. It’s conformation bias. The biggest improvement possible for this otherwise fine website would to be to ban future Kenneth Richard articles,

      1. John Brown

        Calling for censorship?
        You could not make your lack of arguments any clearer.

    2. Lit

      In every situation where you have a warm body and you add water to it, the temperature of that body drops massively.

      You say the opposite. Why? Why does water have the opposite effect on the planet as a whole, to the effect it has on all things ON the planet surface?

  6. Ed Bo


    1) The earth’s atmosphere is more transparent to shortwave radiation from the sun than it is to the longwave radiation from the earth’s surface. This is due to the presence of (poorly named) greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This is all known through controlled repeatable laboratory experiments.

    2) Due to this differential, the atmosphere gains thermal energy (“is heated”) primarily from the bottom and loses thermal energy (“cools”) primarily from the top.

    3) This means that the atmosphere is (generally) warmer at the bottom than the top – what we call a negative lapse rate. If the magnitude of this lapse rate is larger than adiabatic, this is known as an unstable lapse rate, and convection starts with the effect of reducing the lapse rate toward adiabatic.

    4) As you note, the “average” effective temperature of the earth where it radiates to space is about 255K, so its outgoing power flux roughly balances the incoming solar power flux.

    5) Due to the lapse rate below this, the earth’s surface is generally warmer than this. But this lapse rate is due to the LW absorption of those “greenhouse gases”, primarily H2O and CO2.

    1. cementafriend

      Ed Bo, the lapse rate is due to expansion of the atmosphere out from the surface. The cooling with expansion is a thermodynamic effect used in refrigeration and liquifying gases such as nitrogen, oxygen and LNG (see Temperature at the surface of planets is due to two factors a) radiation from the sun adjusted for distance b) the pressure of the atmosphere at the surface. The temperature on Venus is due to a very high pressure 95bar or 9624 kPa which comes from a very great depth of atmosphere some 350km and from a relatively heavy molecular composition in comparison to Earth (95% is CO2 and there is some SO2 as H2SO4 and other S compounds which may result in the clouds, it is possible there is some CO2 l&s) CO2 there is not a greenhouse gas as the lapse rate is the adiabatic lapse rate which I think due to slightly lower gravity is 9.5K/1000m.
      At a pressure of 10Pa the temperature in the atmosphere on both Earth and Venus only differs by the ratio of distance from the sun (0.72)

      1. Ed Bo


        The great physicist JC Maxwell figured out in the 19th century that a thermally isolated column of gas in a gravitational field would be isothermal in steady-state conditions – that other temperature profiles would lead to 2nd Law violations.

        In his famed Lectures on Physics, Richard Feynman makes the same point, which he does not consider subtle or difficult. It can be found here:

        About a decade ago, Duke physics professor Robert Brown wrote a post at WUWT using the same argument as Feynman. I read through most of the over 1000 comments, and no one could make a coherent argument as to why a non-zero lapse rate in an isolated column would not lead to a 2nd Law violation. All of the arguments basically amounted to: “If I throw a ball up in the air, it slows down as it gets higher.”

        No, the generally negative lapse rates we see on earth (and other planets) are due to the fact that the atmosphere is mostly “heated” from the bottom and “cooled” from the top. When this is not the case, we get positive lapse rates, aka temperature inversions. The most notable temperature inversion on earth is the one that forms over Antarctica each winter lasting for months, because most “cooling” is from the surface at the bottom of the atmosphere.

        1. John Brown

          Dear Mr. Ed Bo,

          please read again what was written:

          At a pressure of 10Pa the temperature in the atmosphere on both Earth and Venus only differs by the ratio of distance from the sun (0.72)

          Nobody said anything about Isothermal. If any, you seem to suggest that there is no lapse rate. But it certainly exists.

          The lapse rate if looked at from the 10 Pa downwards is positive. Maybe this helps with understanding the above argument.

          1. Ed Bo


            Several of the posters here think that gravity alone creates a negative lapse rate. If this were correct, an isolated column of gas in a gravitational field would have this lapse rate.

            I have simply pointed out, citing Maxwell and Feynman, that this cannot be true, as it would lead to 2nd Law violations.

            My argument is that the lapse rate comes from the opacity of many gases to infrared radiation, causing the atmosphere to be heated from the bottom and cooled from the top.

      2. Ed Bo


        Please re-read the Wikipedia article on lapse rate you cited. It states that without convection, the earth’s surface would be significantly hotter than it is (and implicitly, there would be a negative lapse rate of greater magnitude). So the convection actually reduces the magnitude of the lapse rate, driving it toward adiabatic.

        The fact that lapse rates larger than adiabatic are unstable, combined with the fact that the (poorly named) greenhouse effect is strong enough on all of these planets to create lapse rates greater than adiabatic, means that the observed lapse rates on all of these planets are approximately at adiabatic, and the difference between the temperature at the surface and that of the radiating height (usually ~0.1 bar) is proportional to the surface pressure. But the underlying cause is that the atmosphere is more opaque to longwave IR than to shortwave solar radiation.

        1. cementafriend

          Ed Bo, may be in Feynman’s lecture you missed the following sentence “Suppose that we have a column of gas extending to a great height, and at thermal equilibrium—unlike our atmosphere, which as we know gets colder as we go up.” Do you see the word “unlike”. Our atmosphere is not at equilibrium but thermodynamic facts apply. Maybe you should look up the 5th postulate of Chemical engineering thermodynamics that relates to pressure, temperature and volume (P1V1/T1=P2V2/T2). As the volume increases both the pressure and temperature decrease. Note the 4th Postulate in terms of entropy is usually called the 2nd law of thermodynamics. The reduction of the lapse rate is called the environmental lapse rate and is due to the condensation of water vapour. Read Ned’s articles. This site is worth looking at for explanations on the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

          1. Ed Bo


            You said that ” the lapse rate is due to expansion of the atmosphere out from the surface” and nothing to do with the composition of the atmosphere. For this to be true, gravity ALONE would create the lapse rate, and the lapse rate would be the steady state case for an isolated column of gas in a gravitational field. I cited Maxwell and Feynman to show that this could not be true.

            So I did not “miss” Feynman’s qualification that an isolated column of gas is “unlike our atmosphere”. It was my whole point! The generally negative lapse rate in our atmosphere is due to the FACT that it is not thermodynamically isolated. As the Wikipedia page YOU cited says, the atmosphere is primarily heated from the bottom, creating a large lapse rate that induces convection.

            While it is true that a parcel of rising convective gas expands and cools as it rises, this convection is a RESULT of a negative lapse rate, not a CAUSE. There needs to be a lapse rate larger than adiabatic (known as an “unstable” lapse rate) for convection to occur.

  7. Ned Nikolov

    This new paper by Kramm et al. (2022: only confirms what we found and published 8 years ago, see Volokin & ReLlez (2014:

    The canonical 33 K estimate of the atmospheric “greenhouse” effect is both mathematically and physically wrong, because it’s based on an incorrect application of the S-B law to a sphere.

    I’m puzzled as to why Kramm et al. did not cite our 2014 paper…

  8. Ned Nikolov

    Hi Kenneth,

    Yes, I’m aware that Kramm et al. (2017) discussed our 2014 paper, but they should have also mentioned it in their most recent paper, because our analytical formula before the 0.754 empirical adjustment (or Eq. 10) produces a very close result (200.4 K) to the average bolometric Moon surface temperature derived from Diviner IR measurements (201.1 K). The difference is only 0.7 K!

    Also Kramm et al. (2017) misquoted our 2014 results. Their Eq. 5.3 referring to our Eq. 11a is INCORRECT, because our Tna formula does NOT contain an “effective radiating temperature” term Te as stated by Kramm et al. (2017). That’s a critical MISREPRESENTATION of our findings by these authors. I’m not sure if this was intentional or a result of sloppiness on their part.

  9. Gerhard Kramm

    Dear Ned,

    I beg your pardon, but your statement is inadequate. For the purpose of comparison with the formula of Gerlich & Tscheuschner (2009),

    {Ts} = 2^1.5/5 Te = 0.566 Te

    where {Ts} is the global average of the surface temperature, Ts, and Te is the effective radiation temperature (listed in our paper as Equation (3.7)), we rearranged your Equation (11a) using 4^(1/4). Thus, we obtained

    Tna = 2^1.5/5 Te Phi(eta_e).

    To avoid any confusion, we used Tna = 2/5 Te Phi*(eta_e) because the square root of 2 may also be inserted in the Phi function.

    The paper of Kramm et al. (2022) is, among others, dealing with the evaluation of the simulation results of Kramm et al. (2017). The paper of Nikolov & Zeller (2014) was fairly discussed by Kramm et al. (2017). In that paper, we showed that the difference in the computed global average of Moon’s surface temperature is 0.6 K. Because of the inherent uncertainty, one may state that your results and our results are in substantial agreement. Compared with the global average of 201.1 K +/- 0.6 K derived from the DLRE data, one may conclude that Nikolov & Zeller (2014) and Kramm et al. (2017) did a good job.

    Happy New Year


    1. Ned Nikolov

      Hi Gerhard,

      Yes, I agree that the results from your lunar dynamic temperature model agree with our analytical formula, and that Te is not a kinetic temperature to be compared to any actual measured temperatures at the surface or elsewhere.

      Your explanation above regarding your Eq. 5.3 makes sense. However, this explanation is missing in your 2017 paper. On p. 270 of your paper, you state (

      “By ignoring also Hsl(θ ϕ, ), they (Volokin & ReLlez 2014) finally proposed

      {Ts} = (2/5)*Te*Phi(eta) (5.3)

      But this is NOT what we proposed (derived) in Eq. 11a of our 2014 paper ( I hope you’d agree with this…

      Happy New Year to you and your family!!


      1. cementafriend

        Sorry Ned and Gerhard, I did not get to read your comments before I replied above. I do agree with Ned’s formula. As a Chemical engineer I have been aware of dimensional analysis since my Uni days. In my working life I have often come across formulae which give the wrong results due to not being dimensionally correct. In the use of imperial units the gravity correct factor is often left out. I use SI units.

  10. Neue Studie: Ein „Denkmodell“, das von einem „natürlichen Treibhauseffekt“ von 33 K ausgeht, ist eine „wertlose“ Behauptung | EIKE - Europäisches Institut für Klima & Energie
  11. Neue Studie: Ein „Denkmodell“, das von einem „natürlichen Treibhauseffekt“ von 33 K ausgeht, ist eine „wertlose“ Behauptung – Aktuelle Nachrichten

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