Re: A picture's worth a thousand words - or - who do you love

Posted by Dale on May 03, 2002 at 12:28

Re: A picture's worth a thousand words - or - who do you love (Natalie L. Smith)

Logical but incorrect. You measure temperatures by the frequency of IR, not the magnitude of the radiation. This is how we can know the temperature of a star that is hundreds of light years away. The hotter an object, the higher the frequency it radiates in IR. A satellite measurement of temperature would be measuring the frequency of IR radiation being emitted from atoms in the subject material. CO2 can block some of that radiation but the frequency can still be measured on any that gets through as long as you don’t swamp the sensor with IR from a different source. For example, you can measure the IR from a star and determine the temperature by observing the frequency of the IR received. But place a piece of glass in front of the sensor and all you measure is the temperature of the atoms in the glass even though the star looks the same.

The satellite data that shows the earth is cooling is just as valid as the surface measurements in selected cities that show a rising trend.

Weather balloons typically measure temperature in the normal way (heat the sensor to the measured temperature). They would also be unaffected by CO2 concentration in measuring what they are measuring. Probably just coincidence that they agree with satellite data better than surface measurements. :)

Actually the CO2 concentration increasing as it obviously is would tend to change the distribution of heat through the atmosphere. We live in a thermodynamic balance between sunlight and molten core adding heat as we radiate heat into space. Adding CO2 (or even better water vapor) acts like adding a blanket. The surface should get warmer until it radiates IR at a higher frequency carrying more energy into space. Since the UV from the sun can get to the surface without being affected by CO2 as it is by water vapor, we would expect CO2 to cause a rise in surface temperature with a subsequent decrease in air temperature. Water vapor, on the other hand, short circuits the process by reflecting sunlight back into space before it can reach the surface. This should cause an increase in air temperature with a decrease in surface temperature. The data seems to show the CO2 phase is more powerful than the water vapor right now.

But the water vapor balance in the atmosphere is a very different process. The hotter it gets the more water vapor there is which acts like a much larger rise in CO2 when it comes to IR and so the hotter it gets. This causes even more water vapor in the atmosphere. The balance is achieved through the UV radiation of the clouds that form. Even though the satellite and balloon data seems to indicate the CO2 level is in control at the moment, the water vapor/cloud cover phase has already started. We can expect the cloud cover in the atmosphere to increase in the next few years causing “global cooling” and, hopefully a significant increase in the global standard of living as we stop sending our money to the “THE END OF THE WORLD IS NEAR!!!” “environmental” groups and start spending the money on things that improve our standard of living rather than just theirs.

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