Trenberth on Tracking Earth’s energy: A key to climate variability and change

Discussion in 'Environment' started by Matthew, Jul 12, 2011.

  1. Matthew
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    Matthew Blue dog all the way!

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    Trenberth on Tracking Earth’s energy: A key to climate variability and change
    Posted on 12 July 2011 by Kevin Trenberth
    Energy and Climate

    Climate change is very much involved with energy, most commonly in the form of heat but other forms of energy are also important. Radiation comes in from the sun (solar radiation at short wavelengths), and every body radiates according to its temperature (proportional to the fourth power of absolute temperature), so that on Earth we, and the surface and atmosphere radiate at infrared wavelengths.

    Weather and climate on Earth are determined by the amount and distribution of incoming radiation from the sun. For an equilibrium climate, global mean outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) necessarily balances the incoming absorbed solar radiation (ASR), but with redistributions of energy within the climate system to enable this to happen on a global basis. Incoming radiant energy may be scattered and reflected by clouds and aerosols (dust and pollution) or absorbed in the atmosphere. The transmitted radiation is then either absorbed or reflected at the Earth’s surface. Radiant solar (shortwave) energy is transformed into sensible heat (related to temperature), latent energy (involving different water states), potential energy (involving gravity and altitude) and kinetic energy (involving motion) before being emitted as longwave infrared radiant energy. Energy may be stored, transported in various forms, and converted among the different types, giving rise to a rich variety of weather or turbulent phenomena in the atmosphere and ocean. Moreover the energy balance can be upset in various ways, changing the climate and associated weather

    Hence the incoming radiation may warm up the ground or any object it hits, or it may just go into drying up surface water. After it rains and the sun comes out, the puddles largely dry up before the temperature goes up. If energy is absorbed it raises the temperature. The surface of the body then radiates but also loses heat by transfer through cooler winds or by evaporative cooling. Some energy gets converted into motion as warm air rises and cold air sinks, and this creates winds and thus kinetic energy, which gets dissipated by friction. Over oceans the winds drive ocean currents.

    The differential between incoming and outgoing radiation: the net radiation is generally balanced by moving air of different temperature and moisture content around. Air temperature affects density as warmer air expands and thus it takes up more room, displacing cooler air, thereby changing the air in a column whose weight determines the surface pressure. Consequently, this sets up pressure differences that in turn cause winds, which tend to blow in such a way as to try to offset the temperature differences. The Earth’s rotation modifies this simple picture. A result is that southerlies are warm in the northern hemisphere and northerlies are cold. And so we get weather with clouds and rain in all of its wondrous complexity.

    The changing seasons illustrate what happens as the sun apparently moves across the equator into the other hemisphere. In summer some excess heat goes into the ocean, which warms up reaching peak values about the equinox, and in winter the land cools off but heat comes out of the oceans and this is carried onto land, and so oceans moderate the seasonal climate variations. Much of the exchange involves water evaporating and precipitating out, and thus the hydrological cycle.

    The same can happen from year to year: heat can accumulate in the ocean and then later be released, leading to warmer spells and cooler spells. This commonly happens in the tropical Pacific and gives rise to the El Niño phenomenon. El Niño is the warm phase in the tropical Pacific while La Niña is the cool phase. During and following an El Niño there is a mini global warming as heat comes out of the ocean, while during La Niña, heat tends to get stored in the ocean. The El Niño cycle is irregular but has a preferred time scale of 3 to 7 years.

    Ocean heat storage can last longer: for decades or centuries and inevitably involves ocean currents and the much deeper ocean. In the North Atlantic, cold waters sink and move equatorward at depth while the Gulf Stream at the surface takes warmer waters polewards, creating an overturning circulation that can also involve density changes in the ocean associated with both temperature and salt (the thermohaline circulation). Salty water is denser. Nonetheless, much of the ocean overturning circulation is wind driven. The overturning may involve the ocean down to several kilometers and can take many centuries to complete a cycle.

    As well as the ocean taking up heat, heat can be lost by forming ice, as glaciers, ice caps, or major ice sheets (Greenland and Antarctica) on land, or as sea ice. Extra heat can melt this ice and may contribute to sea level rise if land ice melts. Surface land can also absorb a small amount of heat but not much and not to great depths as it relies on conduction to move heat through the land unless water is flowing. Land energy variations occur mostly in the form of water or its absence, as heat goes to evaporate surface water. Highest temperatures and heat waves typically occur in droughts or deserts.

    The atmosphere can not hold much heat and is dependent for its temperature on links to the underlying surface through conduction and thermals, convection, and radiation, as well as the wind in moving it around.

    The global energy budget
    In the past, we (Kiehl and Trenberth 1997) provided estimates of the global mean flow of energy through the climate system and presented a best-estimate of the energy budget based on various measurements and models, by taking advantage of the fact that energy is conserved. We also performed a number of radiative computations to examine the spectral features of the incoming and outgoing radiation and determined the role of clouds and various greenhouse gases in the overall radiative energy flows. At the top-of-atmosphere (TOA) values relied heavily on observations from the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) from 1985 to 1989, when the TOA values were approximately in balance.

    Values are given in terms of Watts per square meter. The incoming radiation is about 342 W m-2. But there are about 5.1x1014 square meters for the surface area and so the total incoming energy is about 174 PetaWatts (=1015 watts, and so 174 with 15 zeros after it or 174 million billion). About 30% is reflected back to space and so about 122 PW flows through the climate system. For comparison, the biggest electric power plants are of order 1000 MegaWatts, and so the natural flow of energy is 122 million of these power plants. If we add up all of the electric energy generated and add in the other energy used by humans through burning etc, it comes to about 1/9000th of the natural energy flow. Hence the direct effects of human space heating and energy use are small compared with the sun, although they can become important very locally in cities where they contribute to the urban heat island effect.

    New observations from space have enabled improved analyses of the energy flows. Trenberth et al. (2009) have updated the earlier global energy flow diagram (Fig. 1) based on measurements from March 2000 to November 2005, which include a number of improvements. We deduced the TOA energy imbalance to be 0.9 W m-2, where the error bars are ±0.5 W m-2 based on a number of estimates from both observations and models.

    [​IMG]

    Read more-> Trenberth on Tracking Earth
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2011
  2. wirebender
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    wirebender Senior Member

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    I wouild like for someone to explain how a surface that, is nothing like a perfect reflector and receives only 161 watts per square meter from its ONLY energy source can radiate 356 watts per square meter. Explain it within the context of the law of conservation of energy and show me your math.

    Then tell me that you believe that you could place any number of reflectors around an electric heater with an output of 1000 watts and increase that output by even one watt. Tell me you believe that by using reflectors around an electric heater that you can get a single joule of energy out of that heater that you don't have to pay the electric company for. Or tell me that you believe that if you put a light bulb inside a sphere such as a mirror, and feed it a watt, or 5 watts of energy, that eventually it will be radiating 1000 watts. If that sort of thing were possible, we could be generating amazing amounts of energy by following the simple formula of confine, wait, and collect.

    And if you believe such magic is possible, tell me why we aren't applying such technology today because it would solve all of our energy problems if we could simply use reflectors to multiply energy output.

    Conservation of energy is not just a phrase to be tossed about. It actually means something.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2011
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    Further thoughts on Trenberth's energy "budget".

    Trenberth has made a very fundamental error in devising his energy budget. His budget divides the solar energy input by 4 (P/4) by turning the earth into a flat disk that is constantly irradiated to the magnitude of a sort of twilight. Right off the bat, he deviates from reality and therefore everything that comes after comes from and represents an imagined reality that does not exist.

    You can use that sort of formula on stars which look, and radiate the same from every angle (blackbody) but attempting to use it on earth is a foundational error. The earth is not a 3D, 360 degree self illuminating body. The earth is, in reality (as far as energy input goes) a 3D, 180 degree, illuminated hemisphere where the actual daily input from the sun should be expressed as P/2, not P2.

    His energy budget assumes that the solar input over the 12 hours of daylight is the same as the satellite measured output over 24 hours. If you calculate the solar input over the 12 hours that it actually occurs, you don't need a greenhouse effect to make the earth 33 degrees warmer than it should be.

    If you calculate solar input as it exists in reality, you actually find that the hemisphere that is receiving the solar input is slightly cooler than it should be. This, as I have stated before is due to the fact that CO2 by absorbing and emitting IR in multiple directions serves to scatter IR which, in effect, aids in dissipating the energy more efficiently.

    At night, the cooling down is slowed by the presence of water vapor, not CO2 or any other so called greenhouse gas.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2011
  4. konradv
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    konradv Gold Member

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    If water can be a greenhouse, why not other molecules? What's the magic formula that shows only H2O has those properties?
     
  5. wirebender
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    wirebender Senior Member

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    I have explained this to you in detail before konradv. It is because water vapor, unlike other so called greenhouse gasses, actually does have the ability to trap and retain heat within the molecule. It is the only substance known to man that can do this trick in the open atmosphere. It can do this because it can change phases (solid, liquid, gas) in the open atmosphere. Other substances (CO2 for example) can trap or retain energy when undergoing a phase change, but CO2 can't change to its various phases in the open atmosphere. In order to make it a liquid, you must pressurize it to at least 5.1 atmospheres and in order to make it solid, you must take it down to -108 degrees F.

    flacalten loves to point at dry ice and say that CO2 can absorb and retain energy but dry ice does not occur naturally in the open atmosphere and if it did, global warming would be the least of your problems. It can not absorb and hold, retain, or trap energy in its gaseous state.

    When I explained it to you the first time, I gave you an experiment which you can perform in your own kitchen so that you can actually see water absorbing energy but not becoming warmer.

    Here is a link to the first time I explained this to you and to the experiment by which you can prove it to yourself.

    http://www.usmessageboard.com/3528156-post96.html

    Water vapor can absorb and actually retain energy. It doesn't necessarily absorb and immediately emit the same amount of energy it absorbs. All other so called greenhouse gasses absorb energy and then emit precisely the same amount they absorbed. There is no retention, or trapping of energy by the molecule. It absorbs and emits and because doesn't necesarily emit in the same direction in which it absorbed, it serves to scatter the IR that it absorbs. It doesn't take a PhD to recognize that by scattering IR, you are going to have a cooling effect rather than a warming effect.

    I asked you before how long you thought it might take a "packet" of IR to radiate from the surface of the earth to cold space. It was a serious question. How long do you think radiated IR remains in the atmosphere before it is gone?
     
  6. Matthew
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    Matthew Blue dog all the way!

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    I would like you to go debate the people at Skeptical science and make them looks like idiots---Like you're making most of the warmers here. That would do some good as they're the more hard core knowledgeable ones. I will be reading of course.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/

    If you win there then no one here can even start to touch your theories...Next you should go up against hansen and friends. Face to face.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2011
  7. wirebender
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    wirebender Senior Member

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    To much hostility at skeptical science for me. I have been there and entered into discussions and not enjoyed the exchange at all. I will say that I never had a point disproven, nor did anyone ever point out and then prove a misapplied law of physics. Like I said, I can do the math, but in no way enjoy it. A discussion at skeptical science involves much debunking of mathematical sleight of hand. It just takes to much time and isn't worth the effort because as you said, they are hard core believers and if God himself came down from the sky riding a fiery charriot and told them that they were wrong, they would ask for proof that he was God.

    I am not looking for any sort of fame. I am just a guy (and not the only one by the way) who has done the math and seen for myself that the hypotheses put forward by warmists fail at the most fundamental level.
     
  8. wirebender
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    wirebender Senior Member

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    I fogot to mention; over at climate skeptics, when you are winning a discussion on the skeptical side, the board administration censors your posts.
     
  9. konradv
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    konradv Gold Member

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    If CO2 scatters IR, wouldn't that mean photons heading for space could be absorbed and then re-emitted back towards earth, thereby adding to energy on earth? They were previously heading out, a minus,and now they're headsing in, a plus.

    I also have a bone to pick with you over the staement that GHGs " absorb energy and emit precisely the same amount they absorbed". You've also said that the wavelength changes, so ithe photon couldn't be absorbed by another CO2. That doesn't make sense, when you consider your penchant for extolling the math. The energy of a photon is determined by the equation, E=hv, where 'v' is the wavelength and 'h' is a constant. Therefore, one of your theses ihas to be wrong. Either the 'E' and 'v' change or the 'E' and 'v' don't change. Saying the 'E' doesn't change, but the 'v' does, just bolsters my contention that you live in a world where normal physical laws don't apply!!!
     
  10. konradv
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    konradv Gold Member

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    Are you sure it isn't because the board rules insist on scientific truth, instead of the fantasy physics you extol? I mean, even the skeptics I argue with all the time don't seem to have your back when it comes to explaining the physics and math of the situation. What you call "censorship" is probably a case of moderators cleaning up useless SPAM.
     

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