The Saturated Greenhouse Effect

The new Miskolczi theory describes this missing greenhouse equilibrium mechanism. He shows that the classical theory does not include all the necessary energy constraints. When these constraints are included in a new theory, the strength of the GHE is determined analytically. The result shows that the Earth’s atmosphere is maintained at a nearly saturated greenhouse effect. Detailed calculation show that the greenhouse sensitivity to a doubling CO2 is about 0.24 K.

This greenhouse equilibrium mechanism doesn’t care if an initial increase of greenhouse gases was water vapor or CO2. If somehow we suddenly released an amount of CO2 to the atmosphere equal in GHG effect of the 1998 El Nino water vapor, the temperature effect would be the same. Temperatures would increase by 0.6 Celsius, but would fall within a year to the original temperature, as the greenhouse equilibrium mechanism restores the greenhouse strength to the equilibrium value by raining out the excess greenhouse gases. Adding man-made CO2 to the atmosphere just rains out almost an equivalent amount of water vapor.

Current theory is based on the energy balance assumption that the total out-going long wave-length radiation is equal to the net incoming short wave radiation (net of albedo).
The most important of Miskolczi’s innovations are:

· There is an energy balance between the emission from the ground that is absorbed by the atmosphere and the downward radiation from the atmosphere. He uses Kirchhoff’s law, which is a law concerning thermal equilibrium, not to be confused with radiative equilibrium.

· He applies the Virial Theorem to the atmosphere, which states that the kinetic energy of a system is half of the potential energy. The internal kinetic energy is taken as the upward long wave energy flux at the top of the atmosphere, and the potential energy is the upward radiation flux from the surface. This result is used to determine the fraction of the upward radiation from the surface that is transmitted directly to space (rather than absorbed by the atmosphere), which is 1/6.

He uses Kirchhoff’s law and the two energy balances (ground to lower atmosphere, upper atmosphere to space) to derive the result: The long wave upward radiation from the surface is limited to 1.5 times the short wave downward radiation from the Sun. This limits the temperature to very close to the current temperature. Therefore, Miskolczi concludes that almost all of the global warming of the last century must have been due to changes of the Sun or albedo. The Earth’s atmosphere, satisfying the energy minimum principle, is configured to the most effective cooling of the planet with an equilibrium global average vertical temperature and moisture profile.

The current theory does not assume an energy balance between the surface and the lower atmosphere, and allows the upward radiation from the surface to be twice the short wave downward radiation from the Sun. Also, the current theory gives a large discontinuity between the surface temperature and the air temperature at the surface. This problem is corrected by ad hoc adjustments. The new Miskolczi theory assumes in its formulation that these temperatures are equal.

Miskolczi also provides empirical evidence of the two laws he applies (Krichhoff’s law and Virial Theorum) for both the Earth and Mars.

Physicist Miklos Zagoni says, “It is nonsense to think that a system ‘waits’ for our CO2-emissions to elevate its temperature if otherwise the energetic conditions make possible to rise and the necessary resort (a practically infinite reservoir of greenhouse gases in the form of water vapor in the oceans) is at its hands.”

Adding some greenhouse gases (CO2) to a near infinite supply of greenhouse gases in the form of water vapour available to the atmosphere has negligible effect.

The new theory implies that adding CO2 to the atmosphere would reduce the relative humidity, contrary to climate model assumptions. So, has relative humidity been falling with increasing CO2 concentrations?

Here is a graph of global average annual relative humidity at various elevations in the atmosphere expressed in milli-bars (mb) from 300 mb to 700 mb for the period 1948 to 2007. The data is from the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory here.

Ferenc M. Miskolczi, “Greenhouse Effect in Semi-Transparent Planetary Atmospheres”, Quarterly Journal of the Hungarian Meteorological Journal, Vol. 111, No. 1, January – March 2007.

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