Man-made temperatures

Ex-climatologist Jim Salinger has penned an article for Australia’s The Conversation regarding his 30-year-old version of New Zealand average temperature trends and recent efforts to have the High Court order its removal from NIWA’s official website.


Salinger’s version was initially published in 1980, when he was a student at Victoria University. It relied upon seven geographically representative stations with long-term data (‘Seven-station Series’, or ‘7SS’). The article acknowledged the temperature data had been ‘homogenised’ but offered no details. The graph showed a warming trend of 1.1 °C from 1853 to 1975.

In 1999, 20 years later, Salinger was a principal scientist at NIWA. He then put his old 7SS graph up on NIWA’s official website under a “New Zealand Temperature Record” (NZTR) headline. Ever since, it has been used by the NZ Government as proof that NZ temperatures have increased at a rate of about 1 °C/century since the 1850s.

History of constant national temperature

In about 2006, the NZ Climate Science Coalition became aware that the Dominion Meteorologist had published an official NZTR in 1868 and again in 1920. Both these series clearly showed that the country’s average temperature has remained exceptionally stable ever since records began.

It then became apparent that Salinger’s 1980 “homogenization” of the data was a very big deal. His process hadn’t just tidied things up, but was responsible for the entire alleged warming trend. The Coalition tried in vain to obtain enough details (dates, locations, techniques, values) to allow replication of the adjustments he had made.

In 1999, the Coalition published a paper “Are we feeling warmer yet?”. This graphed the historical temperature data (daily maxima and minima) collected and recorded by hundreds of public servants over 165 years. The temperature trend for this official archive was dead level. The paper contrasted this with the Salinger graph showing a steep warming trend – the unsupported opinion of a single public servant.

By this time, Salinger had been summarily sacked by NIWA and was suing them in the Employment Court. Despite this, NIWA climate manager David Wratt brought him back in as a consultant to defend the use of his NZTR. He attempted to do this by hastily devising the infamous 11SS – but that is a story for another day.

NIWA resists data release

During 2010, the Coalition went all out to obtain the information necessary for replication. As a result of Official Information Act requests, Parliamentary Questions and correspondence with the NIWA Board Chairman, more information was slowly and painfully pieced together. This included:

  • A Schedule of Adjustments devised by NIWA (it took them two months of detective work) showing the dates, locations and values of the Salinger adjustments. This Schedule was tabled in Parliament together with a paper illustrating the adjustment techniques (the “Hokitika Example”).
  • The source of both these key documents was Salinger’s 1981 doctoral thesis. Unfortunately, the Thesis showed outcomes only – the actual calculations of all the adjustments had been lost in a computer mishap at Victoria University in the mid-1980s.
  • The Thesis adjustments had never been checked, reviewed or recalculated by NIWA (or by anybody else). NIWA believed Salinger had applied measurement techniques which were later described in a peer-reviewed paper known as Rhoades & Salinger (1993) (“RS93”).

NIWA’s Minister, recognizing that this mess was indefensible, promised three remedial measures for the 2010-11 Science Plan.

  1. NIWA would recalculate (“the Review”) the 7SS adjustments using internationally recognized techniques. This would involve several months’ work by 5 or 6 scientists.
  2. The recalculations would be externally peer-reviewed by two scientists from NIWA’s sister organization in Australia, the Bureau of Meteorology (“BoM”).
  3. NIWA would describe their adjustment calculations in a scientific paper to be independently peer-reviewed and published in an international science journal.

NIWA thwarts promises

The Minister expected that these three documents would collectively ensure public confidence in the adjustments emerging from the Review. NIWA reneged on all three undertakings.

1. After NIWA’s Review (December 2010) quoted RS93 at least 20 times, the Coalition published an audit (June 2011) showing the RS93 techniques were not correctly applied. Just before the Court hearing in 2012, NIWA finally admitted this was the case. They had used the outdated calculation techniques described in Salinger’s 1981 thesis.

2. When the BoM peer-review report failed to support NIWA’s recalculations, NIWA claimed it was confidential. The Coalition immediately appealed to the Ombudsman under the Official Information Act – but NIWA has succeeded in stalling his decision for over three years.

3. When no scientific paper appeared in 2011, NIWA’s Minister told Parliament it would be submitted by June 2012. That didn’t happen.

Totally frustrated, the Coalition turned to the Courts to hold NIWA accountable. But the Judge was not prepared to adjudicate what he saw as a scientific dispute.

NZTR remains unexplained

Although wholly discredited in the Court of Public Opinion, the 7SS-based NZTR remains stubbornly in place. Its many unexplained features include:

Mystery #1

Random flaws require random adjustments, which should tend to cancel out over time and space. The Salinger adjustments are unique in that all 30 go in the same direction — to create a steady warming trend of 1 °C/century until 1975.

Mystery #2

Almost all of the Salinger-created warming occurred during 1930-55. During this period, which coincided with slight cooling across the globe, no significant increase of global greenhouse gas concentrations can be detected.

Mystery #3

A peer-reviewed journal paper, Hessell (1980), found that no significant warming occurred in New Zealand during 1930-80. Authored by the country’s most senior meteorologist, this paper carries much greater scientific weight than Salinger’s contemporary unpublished student thesis.

Mystery #4

The Hessell (1980) paper demonstrated that the Auckland and Wellington temperature data were seriously contaminated by sheltering trees, while Auckland and other 7SS stations were also impacted by urban heat island (UHI) effects. Yet Salinger made no attempt to test or correct for any of these known pitfalls.

Mystery #5

All of the worldwide surface-based temperature series (HadCRUT, GHCN or GISS) include grid-boxes for New Zealand and surrounding seas. They accept the historical data and are unconvinced by the Salinger adjustments.

Mystery #6

The Salinger-adjusted New Zealand warming trend is almost twice as steep as the IPCC’s official global warming trend of 6.1 °C. Yet NIWA has constantly predicted that future New Zealand warming will be one-third less than the global average.

Mystery #7

The official mean New Zealand-wide temperature in the 1860s was 13.1 °C. Today it is a little lower than that – which is clearly incompatible with Salinger’s story. Perhaps this is why NIWA insists that the 7SS is an “unofficial” series?

You say it’s recognised: so tell us by whom

During the course of the recent Court proceedings, NIWA was endlessly invited to cite some authority for its hollow claim that Salinger’s 1981 measurement technique (used in the Hokitika Example and the Review) is “internationally recognised”. Four important aspects of that technique were rejected by RS93 for the very good reasons spelled out in that seminal paper.

It would be progress if some of these mysteries could be resolved. But the 7SS will never shake off its dodgy reputation until Salinger or NIWA can point to at least one independent statistician who is prepared to endorse its obsolete measurement technique.

Or until NIWA finally provides a reference to the technique in the scientific literature.

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48 Thoughts on “Man-made temperatures

  1. Bob D on 03/02/2014 at 7:53 am said:

    A good summary, Barry.

  2. I agree. It’s the best I’ve seen.

  3. Stamper on 03/02/2014 at 12:59 pm said:

    This is an important summary for NZ’s future scientific endeavors.
    As the CAGW story is exposed it is going to lead to a lot of soul searching and modification of the way in which the discipline progresses in the decades ahead.

    Most people do not believe that such shenanigans could go on within the confines of what was a well respected body such as NIWA.

    NIWA has failed the NZ scientific community and the general public on many fronts, and has covered up its incompetence and mistakes in a classic butt covering exercise. Their inability to admit error, make the changes necessary and become a better organization reminds me of the 1960’s civil service; Sad !

    They have not learnt even yet; today we have a NIWA spokesman saying on National Radio that we can expect more “King Tides” due to “climate change”.
    Head-shaking stuff, but sadly to be expected from an organization which has swapped science and the truth, for politics.

  4. Richard C (NZ) on 03/02/2014 at 1:50 pm said:

    >”Hessell (1980), found that no significant warming occurred in New Zealand during 1930-80″

    I think that should be 1930-70. Hessell (1980) here:

    A very important aspect of that paper is the difference in trend between Hessell’s high quality “B” stations and the non-climatically (UHI/sheltering) influenced “A” stations. Hessel found that B stations invariably exhibited minimal warming (even cooling) but A stations considerable warming. More on that here:

    Among other things, BEST output is not verified by the B station Te Aroha in the Waikato (neither is it verified by NIWA since 1970). On the other hand, and critically, BEST input data (Albert Park after breakpoint analysis) DOES corroborate the NZCSET Auckland series after break adjustments but DOES NOT corroborate NIWA’s Auckland series. More on that here:

    I’m guessing BEST adopts the break adjustment methodology of, or similar to, Menne and Williams (2009) used for the continental USA (CONUS) and BOM’s Australia ACORN-SAT, application of which to NZ would require some variation but not impossible. Given MW09 stipulates neighbouring station comparisons, it is already compatible with the NZCSET Audit implementation of RS93 but not with NIWA’s.

    This places the NIWA 7SS well outside of modern mainstream breakpoint analyses from what I can gather..

    • Richard C (NZ) on 03/02/2014 at 2:35 pm said:

      >”I’m guessing BEST adopts the break adjustment methodology of, or similar to, Menne and Williams (2009)”

      Nope, wrong. They developed their own method. See ‘Homogenization and the scalpel’ page 4 pdf here:

      Quoting p.4:

      All of the existing temperature analysis groups use processes designed to detect various
      discontinuities in a temperature time series and “correct” them
      by introducing adjustments that make the presumptively biased
      time series look more like neighboring time series and/or regional
      averages [12,16,17]. This data correction process is generally called

      Rather than correcting data, we rely on a philosophically different
      approach. Our method has two components:

      1) Break time series into independent fragments at times when
      there is evidence of abrupt discontinuities, and

      2) Adjust the weights within the fitting equations to account for
      differences in reliability.

      The first step, cutting records at times of apparent discontinuities,
      is a natural extension of our fitting procedure that determines the
      relative offsets between stations, expressed via bi, as an intrinsic
      part of our analysis. We call this cutting procedure the scalpel.
      Provided that we can identify appropriate breakpoints, the necessary
      adjustment will be made automatically as part of the fitting process.
      We are able to use the scalpel approach because our analysis method
      can use very short records, whereas the methods employed by other
      groups generally require their time series be long enough to contain a
      significant reference or overlap interval.

      # # #

      [12] referenced is Menne and Williams (2009).

    • RC,

      I think that should be 1930-70.

      The copy we have supports that.

  5. Peter Fraser on 04/02/2014 at 4:47 pm said:

    Indeed a summation that a trained legal mind would be proud of. A shame Venning J. could not get his head around it.

  6. Australis on 05/02/2014 at 5:47 pm said:

    Many aspects of Hessell relate to 1930-70 and so are especially relevant to the period (1930-55) where Salinger harvested his major temperature gains.

    But his conclusion is unambiguous:

    “A systematic analysis of all New Zealand climatological stations with sufficient length of record reveals that no important change in annual mean temperature since 1930 has been found at stations where the above factors are negligible.” (Abstract),

    The paper was submitted for publication in mid-1979, so the words “since 1930” could be narrowly construed to indicate 1930-78.

    Hessell knew of Salinger’s warming hypothesis, which had been presented at a conference in 1977. He deliberately set out to check whether random warming had been caused by changes in the exposures of thermometers – ie “changes in shelter, screenage and/or urbanisation.”

    The Hessell findings are not necessarily inconsistent with Salinger. He shows that there was no meteorological warming rather than contending there was no warming at all. He clearly felt that the raw data was OVER-STATING the warming trend and needed to be adjusted downwards. Salinger adjusted the raw data trend upwards, instead.

  7. Richard C (NZ) on 06/02/2014 at 12:31 pm said:

    Google motto – “Don’t be evil”

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    Your search – “Climate Scientist Who Got It Right Predicts 20 More Years of Global Cooling” – did not match any documents.

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    Best match 1 results

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    Easterbrook’s predictions were “right on the money” seven years before Al Gore and the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for warning that the Earth was facing catastrophic warming …CNS News · 28/01/2014

  8. Richard C (NZ) on 06/02/2014 at 6:22 pm said:

    Interesting snippet from the SMH:

    The WMO bases its calculations largely on three independent datasets, produced by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and a collaboration between the U.K. Met Office and the University of East Anglia. That university said yesterday in a statement that it was making its land-surface air temperature data available via Google Earth.

    “The beauty of using Google Earth is that you can instantly see where the weather stations are, zoom in on specific countries, and see station datasets much more clearly,” Tim Osborn, a scientist at the UEA’s Climatic Research Unit, said in an e-mailed statement. “We wanted to make this key temperature dataset as interactive and user- friendly as possible.”

    Read more:

    Great! I’ve always wondered what NZ stations and data were in CRUTEM3/4 but haven’t done the legwork to find out (involves sifting through a 13.9 MB zip file). This should make it much easier.

    Comparison with other datasets – like the 7SS – should be interesting too.

  9. Brett Keane on 08/02/2014 at 12:47 pm said:

    Good post on ‘Tallbloke’s blog” re Salinger et al from Climategate: “Anti-scientic intimidation of Journal Editors and Publishers by IPCC Authors”. Brett Keane, NZ

  10. Visiting Physicist on 10/02/2014 at 10:33 am said:

    There are no man-made temperatures. Climate models are wrong because they are all based on an assumption of there being isothermal temperatures in a planet’s troposphere in the absence of so-called greenhouse gases.

    Don’t you find it interesting that they say that the greenhouse gas water vapour does most of the warming, perhaps 30 degrees of it, with carbon dioxide helping with the other 3 degrees. Water vapour may well vary in different regions. There may be only a third of the mean in a dry desert area for example, so the IPCC authors are, in effect, telling us that water vapour is raising the temperature by only, say, 10 degrees in a dry desert area. Thus the mean temperature in such a location would be below freezing point.

    I don’t care how many peer-reviewed published papers in respected journals there may be supporting this absurd conjecture, I’m not falling for the bluff. It’s not supported by physics.

    The temperature has already been raised by the gravitationally induced temperature gradient in the troposphere which the Second Law of Thermodynamics tells us must happen as an autonomous result of the spontaneous evolving of thermodynamic equilibrium. It does not happen as a result of any lapsing process. There is no surface at the base of the Uranus troposphere and there is no solar radiation or internally generated thermal energy reaching that layer. Gravity has trapped thermal energy over the life of the planet and the whole temperature plot in the Uranus atmosphere is maintained by gravity, and so too is the case on Earth.

    I am the Australia author of published articles and papers on climate matters, and my new book “Why it’s not carbon dioxide after all” will be available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble by early in March.

  11. Visiting Physicist on 10/02/2014 at 2:25 pm said:

    After thousands of hours of study and thinking about how the laws of physics apply to planets, I have found a clear-cut explanation, backed by evidence, as to why carbon dioxide cools rather than warms, albeit only by an amount probably less than a tenth of a degree. Mankind cannot control temperatures by controlling carbon dioxide emissions. Watch for my book mentioned above.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 10/02/2014 at 2:42 pm said:

      >”…..carbon dioxide cools rather than warms”

      That’s better! I agree with you now. CO2 is a heat transfer medium, a coolant, refrigerant code R744. There is however an initial warming effect on thermalization but that can only be maintained if the molecule is continually intercepted and the thermalization replenished because it is emitting (transferring) all the time it’s energized.

      The thing in this post though (the topic) is that there is a component of warming in national temperature records that is attributable to dodgy adjustments, over-adjustment (overzealous), and UHI, All of which is man-made.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 10/02/2014 at 3:00 pm said:

      Man-made warming as demonstrated by the 2000 – pres RSS-GISTEMP divergence:

    • Visiting Physicist on 10/02/2014 at 11:19 pm said:

      The reason why water vapour and carbon dioxide cool is explained using valid physics in my book. There is also a study therein showing empirically that water vapour cools the surface. On all planets with atmospheres, radiating gases oppose the gravitationally induced temperature gradient and reduce it because of inter-molecular radiation which transfers energy faster than diffusion. That is why the insulating effect of double glazed windows is reduced if the dry air in the gap becomes moist.

    • SimonP on 11/02/2014 at 4:15 pm said:

      Write a paper. Get it peer-reviewed and published. If what you say is true, you could win a Nobel Prize.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 11/02/2014 at 5:34 pm said:

      I don’t think he needs to write a peer-reviewed paper to show water vapour cools the surface, that’s common knowledge e.g.

      “The main mechanism whereby the surface of the Earth cools is not radiation, but evaporation. The heat lost by evaporation is carried deep into the atmosphere by convection and is realized as heat by the atmosphere when water vapor condenses into rain and snow. Much of this heat is released above 6 km.”

      So if he does write a paper he wont get a Nobel prize because that’s only for “the most important discovery”:

      “The said interest shall be divided into five equal parts, which shall be apportioned as follows: /- – -/ one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery or invention within the field of physics …”

      (Excerpt from the will of Alfred Nobel)

      Unfortunately for AGW, increased evaporation from the surface is a necessary feedback to enable tropical hotspot warming via higher WV levels above 6km (the AGW “fingerprint”) but evidence for that is AWOL.

      Meanwhile, CO2 just keeps on doing it’s minor heat transfer role in the troposphere but major role in the thermosphere expelling CME energy – and feeding plants of course.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 11/02/2014 at 6:37 pm said:

      ‘Temperature Gradient Caused by Gravitation’ has already been done too:

      As has “radiating gases oppose the gravitationally induced temperature gradient and reduce it because of inter-molecular radiation which transfers energy faster than diffusion”

    • Richard C (NZ) on 11/02/2014 at 9:13 pm said:

      ‘Role of Carbon Dioxide in Cooling Planetary Thermospheres’ has been done

      Plass did WV alone and CO2 alone cooling the troposphere back in 1956, Ohring and Joseph did combined WV/CO2 cooling the troposphere in 1978

      It would be good in a book though.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 11/02/2014 at 10:00 pm said:

      >”It would be good in a book though.”

      And it is:

      ‘An Introduction to Atmospheric Radiation’

      K. N. Liou

      4.7 Atmospheric Infrared Cooling Rates

  12. Richard C (NZ) on 10/02/2014 at 2:47 pm said:

    >”NIWA insists that the 7SS is an “unofficial” series”

    Unofficial it may be, but CRU inserts it in toto into CRUTEM4.

    As they do with the 11SS.

    • Magoo on 10/02/2014 at 2:56 pm said:

      I wonder if CRU are aware that NIWA’s results are different to the method they say they use. I wonder what CRU would think if confronted with the findings of the NZCSC when they attempted to replicate NIWA’s findings.

  13. Visiting Physicist on 11/02/2014 at 9:13 pm said:

    Richard C

    Yes of course mankind can alter temperatures in a localised area – more black asphalt causing urban crawl for example. But this has very little (if any) effect on worldwide mean temperatures because, in short, more thermal energy in one region can lead to slightly less over a broader surrounding area, thus compensating.

    Of course I am implying that mankind cannot control temperatures by reducing carbon dioxide emissions. My book is entitled “Why it’s not carbon dioxide after all.”

    • Richard C (NZ) on 11/02/2014 at 10:15 pm said:

      >”Yes of course mankind can alter temperatures in a localised area – more black asphalt causing urban crawl for example. But this has very little (if any) effect on worldwide mean temperatures because,…….”

      You’re missing the point Doug (?). But “compensation”? You’ve got to be kidding?

      We’re talking about man-made warming in the observational datasets via built-in UHI from UHI contaminated sites, lack of correction for that, dodgy adjustment methodology. GISS-style revisionism, etc.

      NIWA’s 7SS Auckland series is a classic example of the former three items.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 11/02/2014 at 10:59 pm said:

      >”…more thermal energy in one region can lead to slightly less over a broader surrounding area, thus compensating”

      This is baloney Doug(?). It is landscape sans human habitation vs landscape as humans have modified it.

      Every man-made structure, building, motorway, pavement, roof, airport tarmac, CBD, suburbia, etc is an additional heat-sink that would not be there otherwise. There is no compensation.

      Every car, truck, train, boat (except sail), furnace, air conditioner, space heater, electricity line, etc, producing heat is an additional heat source that would not be there otherwise. There is no compensation.

      Place a thermometer near any of those (and there have been plenty) and you’re measuring man-made heat, not weather or climate.

  14. Visiting Physicist on 11/02/2014 at 11:09 pm said:

    Observational sets we all know to be faulty – sure. That’s why I consider the kind of data that appears on Roy Spencer’s site to be a far more reliable indicator of world climate. There has indeed been slight cooling since the 1998 to 2003 maximum in the 60 year cycle (despite ever increasing carbon dioxide levels) and I archived my predictions over two years ago …

    “From 2003 the effect of El Niño had passed and a slightly declining trend has been observed. This is the net effect of the 60-year cycle starting to decline whilst the 934 year cycle is still rising. By 2014 the decline should be steeper and continue until at least 2027. (This statement was archived 22 August 2011 “

    I would add to this a longer-term prediction of no more than about half a degree of warming before 500 years of cooling sets in, starting in about 50 to 200 years from now.

  15. Visiting Physicist on 11/02/2014 at 11:31 pm said:

    Until you understand the effect of the gravitationally-induced temperature gradient in the temperature plot from the tropopause down through the troposphere, then increasing sharply in the outer crust but tapering off considerably in the mantle (because the specific heat increases) all the way to the core – only when you understand the stabilising effect of all the thermal energy which is trapped by gravity (above and below the surface) because of this temperature gradient (just as on Uranus, Venus etc) you have no concept of what is happening and how outward radiation simply adjusts to compensate on a global basis. There is no evidence of net radiative imbalance at TOA in the last decade or more – but if any were able to be measured accurately enough (which it cannot be with current technology) then there would probably be slightly more total outward flux than inward flux in that period because the world cooled slightly, despite all that has happened in mankind’s industrialised world.

    Anyway, enjoy New Zealand – I’ve had a couple of holidays there. Like Tasmania, New Zealand is a photographer’s paradise.

  16. Visiting Physicist on 16/02/2014 at 4:44 pm said:

    The greenhouse radiative forcing conjecture starts with an assumption that there would be isothermal conditions in a troposphere that was free of radiating (so-called “greenhouse”) gases, including water vapour, or free of direct solar radiation.

    There are similar conditions in the Uranus troposphere where there is very little methane except in a layer in the uppermost regions. Virtually all the very weak solar radiation reaching the planet (nearly 30 times the distance from the Sun that Earth is) is absorbed and re-emitted back to space by this methane layer where the temperature is a very cold 60K or so, that being the radiating temperature of the planet. There is no internal energy generation that can be convincingly detected, yet the core is at about 5,000K and the base of the troposphere (where there is no surface being heated by any direct Solar radiation) is hotter than Earth’s surface.

    The existence of isothermal conditions would be in violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics which says that a state of maximum entropy will evolve spontaneously. Such as state is isentropic, and so the sum of molecular kinetic energy and gravitational potential energy for each molecular has a propensity to be equal at all altitudes. This means that there is a temperature gradient, because temperature depends upon the mean kinetic energy, not the gravitational potential energy.

    If there were isothermal conditions (an impossibility) then what is the sensitivity for each 1% of water vapour in the atmosphere above any region? Perhaps you would say something like at least 10 degrees of warming. Hence you would say in a dry desert (with say 0.5% water vapour) the warming would be 5 degrees, but in a rain forest with 4.5% water vapour it might be 45 degrees, making the rainforest 40 degrees hotter than the dry desert.

    Need I say more about this ludicrous travesty of physics?

    • Bob D on 17/02/2014 at 7:58 am said:

      I think the Uranus example is an interesting one, but I have some questions. If the methane layer alone is responsible for absorbing and re-emitting at 60K, then that basically ‘fixes’ the temperature at a high altitude.

      The temperature at the surface is therefore a simple consequence of the higher density and pressure, the temperature increasing from 60K as the altitude decreases. All well and good.

      But it is dependent on the upper temperature being ‘fixed’ at 60K. What would happen if this methane layer wasn’t there? I doubt the surface temperature would be as high as that on Earth.

    • Bob D on 17/02/2014 at 8:09 am said:

      I’m also confused about your statement that the GH effect assumes isothermal conditions in the troposphere. It seems to me that GH theory assumes that if the atmosphere was free of GHGs, then the temperature at the surface would be the radiating temperature of the planet (i.e. the CEL would be at the surface) and the temperature of the column of atmosphere would decrease with rising altitude, presumably reaching 3K at the very top. But this is not isothermal, it’s isentropic as you say.

      It’s a matter of where the temperature is ‘fixed’. In the case of Uranus, it’s at the top of the atmosphere. In a GHG-free planet, it’s at the surface.

  17. Visiting Physicist on 19/02/2014 at 4:53 pm said:

    Yes, well Bob D, the surface would be the radiating temperature – about 255K. But now you are assuming the very gravity-induced temperature gradient I am talking about. In practice, no atmosphere would be 100% transparent to all solar radiation, and what it can absorb it can also emit. But if you care to argue with Dr Roy Spencer (whose “misunderstandings” article (#6) clearly states the isothermal troposphere assumption) then go to. Neither is right, because the atmosphere would inevitably absorb and radiate some energy, as happens in the thermosphere for example, where it can be far hotter than the surface due to absorption of insolation..

    • Bob D on 19/02/2014 at 10:32 pm said:

      Visiting Physicist,
      Hmm, I have never questioned a gravity-induced temperature gradient, that much is basic physics, but then again I don’t know of anyone who questions this.
      A temperature gradient is fine, but at what actual temperature? It will be determined by what ‘fixes’ it. If it is fixed at the TOA at say, 60K, then the surface will be a lot hotter, especially when the pressure is so high in the case of Uranus. It’s the CEL that determines the ‘fix’, so to speak.
      But if there are no GHGs, then the fix will be much lower down, near the surface. I agree it won’t be exactly at the surface because the radiating system is actually surface + atmosphere, and the atmosphere will radiate at a lower temperature, on average. But you get my point.

  18. Visiting Physicist on 19/02/2014 at 5:01 pm said:

    And, by the way, the atmosphere would not be 3K at the top, because, if it were anywhere near such a temperature it would have solidified long ago and some of it collapsed to the surface. The reduction to, say, half the height would indeed lead to a reduction in surface temperatures, but not below about 270K.

    The only relevant consideration is what happens when existing mean levels of water vapour increase or decrease a little. Well we can see what happens simply by comparing different regions on Earth, and a statistically significant study being published in April this year shows beyond reasonable doubt that water vapour cools. This is the opposite of what IPCC authors claim.

    • Bob D on 19/02/2014 at 10:42 pm said:

      Visiting Physicist,
      I was being a bit tongue-in-cheek about the 3K, since in the extreme case of space I would expect about 3K.
      You state correctly that the reduction to half the height would reduce surface temps. Agreed. But this is exactly the greenhouse effect. The theory of GW states that GHGs raise or lower the CEL, and the surface temp increases or decreases due to the pressure gradient. Lindzen agrees with this, as do most atmospheric physicists.
      However, as to the role of water vapour, I believe you are quite right that its effects are not as simplistic as the general AGW crowd believes. It’s quite possible that water – both in the oceans and in the air, is a powerful net cooling and heat transfer vehicle; and these effects are accomplished without even considering its radiative properties.

  19.  D  C o t t o n  on 19/03/2014 at 12:37 am said:

    There is no physics which says temperature must increase with the pressure gradient. Pressure is proportional to the product of density and temperature. Temperature is an independent variable. It varies when energy is added or removed, not because of pressure. High pressure does not maintain high temperatures. You do not need to use the Ideal Gas Law to calculate the gradient. Pressure is not in the -g/Cp value.

    You cannot explain how the required energy gets into the surface of Venus in order to warm it 5 degrees from 732K to 737K during its 4-month-long day using any GH conjecture. Nor can you explain why the surface temperature of Venus is cooler than it would have been with a pure nitrogen atmosphere instead of over 97% carbon dioxide which absorbs about 97% of the incident solar radiation. Lindzen, Spencer and all GH merchants are wrong in that the assumption of isothermal tropospheres on these planets in the absence of radiating gases is wrong.

    No, water vapour cools because of its radiative properties which reduce the gradient, just like carbon dioxide reduces the gradient in the Venus troposphere, and methane in the Uranus troposphere.

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