First presentation at ICCC7 in Chicago, May 2012
On Monday evening, after a long day of lectures, I was given a chance to introduce the Fireworks concept to a few highly respected climate sientists, four of which were conference speakers.
Attendees: Prof. Dr Tom Segalstad (Univ. of Oslo), Prof. Dr Larry Gould (Univ. of Hartford), Prof Dr Fred Singer (NIPCC), Prof. Dr Sebastian Lüning ( co-author of Die Kalte Sonne, geologist), Dr Thomas P. Sheahen (Western Technology) and Prof. Dr Jeffrey Foss (Univ. of Victoria BC)
Not on the picture: John Kehr (author of The Inconvenient Sceptic)
Because it had been a very tiring day, I tried to be brief and to the point, concentrating on the Fireworks simulation. But the calculation of the emission of latent heat of the Hadley Cell to space, based on the simulation, certainly met with a lot of interest too.
Most of the attendants did not see the radiation theory as their core competence and were careful in formulating their reaction, but in general my feeling was that the theory was considered to be promising. Continue reading Fireworks concept presented at ICCC7 and ICCC10
Welcome to ClimateTheory.net, the forum about my attempt to model climate in a completely new way, aiming to – eventually – calculate the real climate sensitivity of CO2.
This site was hastily and somewhat prematurely constructed in May 2012 in an attempt to present my thoughts about the mechanisms behind our climate to researchers that I planned to meet at the Heartland ICCC7 meeting in Chicago.
One year earlier, in 2011, I became as excited as astonished when the new approach of modelling climate that I tried, appeared to give remarkably accurate and plausible results. I decided that, with such a good outcome, I should try to have real climate scientists have a look at it.
In the first five chapters, I explain my theory and the modelling that I did. In the next four chapters I am proposing thoughts that I am working on, while trying to get a grasp at the feed back mechanisms of an increase in CO2 concentration. In the last two chapters I present two cases in which I use the Fireworks calculations to provide new insight in the radiative aspects of the Hadley Cell and the so called “Missing Tropical Hot Spot”.
I realise that the core of my model (the so called Fireworks simulation) is so different from the calculations that every climate scientist has based all his or her scientific work on, that this site will only appeal to those of you who are prepared to really think outside the box. Continue reading Introduction
The innovation that is the core of the www.climatetheory.net site is “The Fireworks atmospheric radiation simulation”.
It is an easy to understand Excel spreadsheet that can calculate exactly how much radiation is emitted into space and how much is absorbed by the earth surface, by using one very simple formula only.
It can do so, not only based on the radiation that is emitted from the surface, but also based on the IR energy that is absorbed from the solar irradiation, or released by condensation of water vapour, containing latent heat.
This formula is simply adding two numbers and dividing the outcome by two. There is no temperature, pressure or wavelength involved.
The great trick that enables this enormous simplification is to divide the atmosphere into layers, the height of which is defined as the average free path of greenhouse gas sensitive wave lengths. This definition incorporates all parameters that determine the free path, such as temperature, pressure and wave length. As soon as you have established the number of layers, and the layer into which the energy is absorbed or inserted by condensation, the calculation is extremely accurate.
The problem is of course moved to the determination of the number of layers, and the place where the energy is inserted. But that problem too can be solved rather easily, be it so far a lot less accurately. I am convinced that climate scientists wil be able to do this in a very accurate way, at least accurate enough to use the simulation to achieve greater insight, and for a lot of other purposes.
The first five chapters are explaining the simulation and the energy balance that is necessary to incorporate the other influences such as clouds and albedo in the Fireworks model, based on the simulation.
The next four chapters contain the first building blocks for quantifying the influence of greenhouse gases on convection. These chapters too contain a number of innovative new ideas that contradict generally accepted assumptions, both in sceptical and alarmist circles, about convection and the greenhouse effect.
The chapters 10 and 11 show how the Fireworks calculation can provide new insights on the radiative aspects of the Hadley cell and may even explain the so called “Missing Tropical Hot Spot”.
1. The Fireworks Theory for greenhouse gases
Explains how it is possible to describe the atmosphere by layers, defined by the average optical free path of greenhouse sensitive IR wavelengths.
This takes temperature and pressure out of the equations and enables very accurate but simple radiation calculations.
2. The Fireworks atmospheric simulation
Describes a simulation spreadsheet that calculates all radiation transfer through the atmosphere.
3. The Fireworks simulation: Layer determination
Explains the way the layer thickness and the number of layers have been calculated so far.
4. The Fireworks simulation: Climate sensitivity
Full shape present-best simulation, in an attempt to quantify the radiative aspect of a CO2 doubling.
Full size demo included for the die-hards!
5. The Fireworks balance sheet: Climate sensitivity of CO2, including clouds
Energy balance sheet, implementing the radiative data from the Fireworks simulation, and including all other climate variables. The outcome is interesting, but for now quantitatively very questionable.
6. Convection and the thermohaline circulation
Some finger exercises for chapter 7: convection in fluids, i.c. the ocean conveyor belt
7. Convection: the cooling feed back of CO2
Shows how a CO2 increase must have a cooling effect through driving convection and latent heat, apart from the radiative heating effect that was quantified in the Fireworks theory, and the cooling feed back as a result of increased evaporation.
8. CO2 does not – directly – heat up the atmosphere
Describes how greenhouse gases can warm the earth’s surface, but do not directly heat up the atmosphere.
9. The standard greenhouse theory reconsidered – radiation
Discusses the simplified standard representation of the greenhouse effect
10. Analysing the Hadley Cell
Quantifies the emission to space during the Hadley Cycle and the influence of a CO2 doubling.
Studies the powering of the Hadley Cell
11. Analysing The (Missing?) Tropical Hot Spot
Explains why there is no need for a tropical hotspot to exist, despite the adiabatic lapse rate. The analysis is based on the calculations of chapter 10 and denies the statements made by the mainstream scientists defending the physical necessity of the hot spot.
IR radiation behaviour
I started with imagining how IR radiation would behave when radiated from the earth’s surface.
Of course some wavelengths will radiate directly into space through the IR window.
All the rest would at a certain point be absorbed by a greenhouse gas (GHG) molecule.
Once absorbed, in an equilibrium situation, the same amount of energy would be re-radiated
evenly in all directions by the molecule.
Note: in the equilibrium situation, the frequency of the absorbed IR energy is “lost”, since
we assume all GHG molecules in a certain volume to have the same temperature, and they all
will radiate out energy in their own spectrum. So the spectrum of the re-radiation is only
related to the concentration of the different GHG at that particular place, not related to the
Since we are only interested in the vertical energy transport by radiation, we assume that only
the vertical component of all that radiation is effective, so effectively 50% of the energy radiated
from that molecule ends up going upwards, and 50% going downwards.
Note: since the earth is a sphere, some radiation that is downwards but very close to
horizontal, will still escape into space. This effect should be calculated to increase the accuracy
of the model.
This radiation in its turn will be absorbed by other GHG molecules, which in their turn will reradiate
into all directions. The graphic representation of that mechanism looks like fireworks, thus providing a
suitable name for my theory.
Impression of IR radiation and greenhouse gas molecules
Continue reading 1. The Fireworks Theory for greenhouse gases
Once absorbed by a GHG molecule, the GhIR energy will be re-radiated and absorbed very many times before it will be radiated out into space or be absorbed by the surface.
Describing this process quantitatively in formulas seemed to be impossible, at least for my mathematics skills. And as far as I know, even very skilled mathematicians have never been able to describe more than 7 layers in a mathematical model of the atmosphere. So I invented another way to calculate a large number of layers accurately, using an iteration approach.
Let me first show the layer definition image of the first chapter:
If I tilt the blue arrows a bit, a new image appears, that can clarify the formulas that I based my simulation on:
You see that Su is divided equally in Ed1 and Eu1.
Ed1 looses 50% to the surface, and Eu1 looses 50% to layer 3, so half of Ed1 and Eu1 (twice 25% of Su) will be re-radiated back to the top of layer 1. Continue reading 2. The Fireworks atmospheric simulation
I mentioned earlier that the simulation is extremely rational and accurate, but that all problems have been shifted to the determination of the number of layers.
First we have to address a basic problem: I am simulating the earth’s atmosphere by averaging very different situations. In the humid tropical regions, water vapour will be dominant, and present up to quite high in the atmosphere. In arctic regions or in deserts, there will be hardly any water vapour. The number of layers in a humid environment is several times higher than in dry regions. Averaging it all is an interesting exercise, which can help understand the way the greenhouse effect works, but cannot do more than that.
That was my goal at first, so I was happy that I managed to construct such an average that worked nicely and certainly provided great insight.
But if we use a method that is able to determine the number of layers accurately at a certain place, for instance by using pyrgiometer measurements, it is possible to differentiate in different regions, or use the same approach as the existing climate models, i.c. divide the world into quadrants, calculate the radiation in each one of them, and just add up the results. I will leave that up to the real experts, if they agree that the Fireworks simulation might be a good tool.
I managed to do a first, data based calculation to establish a number of layers. But I welcome any effort by experts to increase the accuracy of this calculation.
Due to the rather continuous distribution of GHG in the atmosphere, and the many different sensitivities of the different wavelengths of GhIR for different GHG molecules, it is reasonable to assume that the height at which the GhIR is in average absorbed, coincides with the height where 50% of the GhIR has actually been absorbed.
The absorption is a statistic process, in which the absorption rate is linearly correlated with the number of GHG molecules, as long as there is no wavelength saturation.
First layer assessment based on GAT data
With these assumptions, it is easy to determine the layer thickness from measurements (pyrgiometer), or from simulations like HARTCODE from GAT data, as in this graph:
Continue reading 3. The Fireworks simulation: Layer determination
All this is of course primarily intended for the purpose of establishing the climate sensitivity of CO2.
So let’s assume that we manage to get an accurate representation of the number of layers, by using physics or empirical data. Then it is easy to double the number of layers that are attributed to CO2, and see what happens with the radiation, and hence with the energy balance of the earth.
In the last chapter we calculated that the number of layers is app. 100. Assuming that CO2 contributes app. 14% to the greenhouse effect, it provides app 14 layers of the 100. So a doubling of CO2 would increase the number of layers to 114.
First the 100 layer simulation with Surface Upward radiation (Su), and rather randomly Latent Heat (LH), convection and solar IR (SIR) included (double click to enlarge):
It turns out that with 100 layers, the downwards radiation Ed is 369,19 W/m2 (72.1%) vs a radiation to space of 142.81 W/m2 (27.9%) Continue reading 4. The Fireworks simulation: Climate sensitivity
So far we only spoke about the radiation mechanisms.
Of course we need to include clouds, albedo and so on.
In fact, that was what I actually started with, and that is how I found out that I needed a radiation simulation.
I put every significant climate aspect I knew in a spreadsheet, and made an energy balance of it in the way Kiehl/Trenberth did.
I did this by dividing the radiative spectrum in sections with a specific behaviour, and calculated the energy flow for each of them. Combined they seemed to give quite good results.
Once again the basis is very simple and easy to understand, and everybody can vary all parameters to create his own preferred atmosphere.
In this scheme you can see the output of the 25 layer model I experimented a lot with:
The hardest parameters to estimate were the radiative mechanisms that divide the absorbed IR energy in OLR and Ed. Continue reading 5. The Fireworks balance sheet: Climate sensitivity of CO2, including clouds
As an “entrée” for the next chapter, I wanted to share some thoughts about oceanic convection.
I got to think about this topic, when discussing atmospheric convection with an oceanographer. It seemed better to talk to him about his field of expertise, so I tried to apply my ideas to the oceans, and the result was enlightening at least.
I think there are two basic laws of thermal convection:
- Convection in a fluid or gas can only occur when there is a heat source that is positioned beneath a heat sink
- The convection is restricted to the area between those two points
The picture shows heat sources A and B, and heat sinks C and D.
Basic convection in a fluid
According to the basic laws, the convection will be “trapped” between levels E and F, determined by high heat sink C and low heat source A.
Heat source B will only heat up the water above level F, as heat sink D will only cool it below level E. Both don’t contribute to convection in any way.
Continue reading 6. Convection and the thermohaline circulation
After building my simulation and energy balance program, I was quite satisfied that they seemed to describe climate accurately, and showed all relations between the parameters, so I could experiment with them.
Just one question was left to answer: how can we quantify the feedbacks that are active in climate, i.c. those of temperature and CO2 concentration. If these feed backs were quantified, the model would be able to tell a lot more about the climate sensitivity of CO2.
So I tried to understand the drivers of the energy flows in the atmosphere.
The most important one is convection: not only is it the cause of wind, it also determines the height of the tropopause, and the temperatures in the atmosphere through the adiabatic laps rate.
But most of all: it drives latent heat transport, and even amplifies it because of the increased evaporation as a result of wind.
Convection is by far the greatest contributor to the Eu, and thus responsible for most of the cooling of the earth.
So convection is the great driver of climate.
Which leads to the next question: Continue reading 7. Convection: the cooling feed back of CO2
In almost all explanations of the greenhouse effect, it is somehow claimed that greenhouse gases (GHG) absorb IR radiation and therefore must heat up the atmosphere. Then, because of the heating up, the atmosphere will also radiate back more energy to the surface and heat it up.
I think that is a wrong representation of what happens.
Radiation effect of GHG
Let’s consider a volume of air that receives radiation from the earth’s surface, which has reached thermal equilibrium state. The temperature has reached a value (Teq) at which all absorbed energy is radiated out again, of course in all directions.
If we now double the amount of GHG in the volume, the added molecules will receive the same amount of radiation, so they will also end up at Teq, at which they emit as much energy as they absorb. Increasing the GHG concentration does not affect Teq.
It does increase back radiation, so when the volume is close to the surface, it will heat up that surface, as we have easily quantified in our simulation. But the air temperature will remain the same, i.c. Teq. So there is no warming of the volume.
When the GHG concentration reaches GHG sensitive IR saturation levels, an increase of GHG no longer increases the amount of absorbed IR, while the emission still increases linearly. This disturbs the equilibrium, so the temperature has to drop.
Therefore increasing GHG concentration does not heat up the atmosphere directly. If GH gases change temperature at all, they cool it down. But they still do warm the surface by an increase of re-radiation, even if they cool down the air. Continue reading 8. CO2 does not – directly – heat up the atmosphere
In order to explain the physics of the greenhouse effect, it is often proposed that it works in the following way:
Standard greenhouse physics
Because, with an increase in CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, there are more CO2 greenhouse molecules in the tropopause, they will radiate into space from a higher level (from Ze to Ze + ΔZe). Because of the adiabatic lapse rate, it will be colder there, so they will radiate (a lot!) less energy to space.
This disturbs the equilibrium, so in order to restore that, the earth surface has to heat up (from Ts to Ts + ΔTs), so the adiabatic lapse rate (ALR) will move upwards and warm the tropopause, until the radiation into space is the same as before the CO2 increase. In the drawings this theory is always illustrated with beautifully straight lines.
This explanation seems quite logical, and many adhere to it. But I think I can prove that the logic behind it is flawed.
The flaw of the theory is that it contains a hidden assumption that is not correct.
It assumes that the energy that is absorbed at the surface, is transported to the tropopause by the rising air folowing the lapse rate, and is emitted to space from there. Continue reading 9. The standard greenhouse theory reconsidered
One of the assumptions about the way latent heat is radiated into space, is “deep convection”. Like the standard greenhouse theory that was described in chapter 9, this suggests that the main radiation into space is from high in the atmosphere, near or even above the tropopause.
I have always had my doubts about that. As discussed in chapter 9 there is hardly any water vapour and a very low concentration of CO2 at that height, and temperatures are extremely low. With radiation decreasing with the 4th power of the temperature, how can so much energy be disposed of, with so few GHG molecules, at so low temperatures?
I expected that lower parts of the atmosphere would be more important, even for the emission of the energy from deep convection to space. But it was not easy to quantify that without modelling the Hadley Cycle, which is powering most of the latent heat transport (LHT). Still I decided to give it a try, as a showcase of what my Fireworks simulation could do, if provided with the right data by experts.
The Hadley Cells: the worlds cooling engine
As Willis Eschenbach explained so clearly in his presentation at the ICCC4 in 2010, the earth might have a powerful thermostat, consisting of the tenthousands of daily tropical thunderstorms.
They are part of the Hadley cells and transport enormous amounts of latent heat to the tropopause. In the theory of Eschenbach they compensate the radiative effects of greenhouse gas concentration changes, and probably have done so for billions of years.
But how does this Hadley cell actually work? What really drives it, and how does that relate to the standard explanation of the greenhouse effect? Continue reading 10. Analysing the Hadley Cell
What is the hot spot debate about?
Already for over a decade, all climate models have been predicting a significantly (100%) higher warming in the higher part of the troposphere than at the surface in the tropics. This is called “the tropical hot spot”.
All this time, balloon nor satellite measurements managed to find this hot spot, so it is now by sceptical scientists normally referred to as “the missing tropical hot spot”.
It is by many presented as the most convincing proof of the unreliability of the climate models.
Tropical hot spot: model outcome vs observations
Mainstrean scientists have not shown much interest in the case. They claim that the hot spot is a simple physical phenomenon, and has nothing to do with greenhouse gasses. Any warming at the surface will double at tropopause altitude. So obviously the measurements must be wrong. Continue reading 11. Analysing The (Missing?) Tropical Hot Spot