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Thread: Some interesting experiments relevant to AGW-CO2-catastrophe theory

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    Default Some interesting experiments relevant to AGW-CO2-catastrophe theory

    As Diarmuid and Alexander Cockburn (Counterpunch.org) pointed out, there is a paper out which attacks the foundations of AGW-CO2-catastrophe (ACC) theory.

    http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/...707.1161v4.pdf

    The paper itself I am still examining and will report as/if any conclusions come forward, but already there is an interesting experiment of note.

    Specifically: one of the tenets of ACC theory is that CO2 acts as a greenhouse layer around the earth thus raising temperatures.

    Looking closer (and has been noted by santafe2 and others), what this really translates to is the theory that sunlight hitting the earth is converted to heat and/or infrared light, which in turn is absorbed and re-radiated by CO2 - because CO2 absorbs those frequencies associated with infrared light.

    'denier' counterpoint has stated that greenhouses in fact work on convection, not re-radiation.

    Others like Lindzen and Spencer note that if re-radiation were a reality, then ERBE satellite measurements of energy radiating from the earth out into space should be increasing. This is because increased CO2 should increase outward radiation as well since a radiating CO2 molecule should radiate in all directions, thus the increase of atmospheric temperature is because less of the 'ground' heat is radiated to space due to CO2.

    ERBE measurements in fact are not rising; existing measurements showing a fall were at least partially disrupted by satellite positioning issues.

    These positions don't seem to directly contradict, but the paper in question brings up a past experiment which clearly shows the relationship:

    R.W. Wood, "Note on the Theory of the Greenhouse", Philosophical magazine 17 319-320 (1909)

    The experiment used for this paper was to create 2 greenhouses: 1 with glass as the transparent insulator and the other with rock salt crystal as the transparent insulator. The theory behind this is that if the primary mechanism for greenhouse functioning is the trapping of light via the mechanism of:

    (all spectrum light) going through transparent insulator, striking ground, getting converted to heat (infrared light) then getting trapped by the transparent insulator.

    The mechanics of the trapping process could theoretically be either due to the different transparencies (refractiveness) of the insulators or the insulator itself absorbing much/more of the reflected infrared light.

    The experiment in question notes that the transparent insulator itself is never hot - definitely less hot than the interior of the greenhouse and in fact is equal to outside temperature. Thus re-radiation is not the mechanism for actual greenhouses.

    Similarly for ACC theory - there is NO measurable increase in temperatures at various atmospheric layers (Lindzen). This matter because while CO2 is fairly well distributed as viewed from overhead, CO2 is not evenly distributed as viewed from a cross section of the atmosphere; certain layers of the atmosphere - particularly the troposphere - have a relatively larger abundance of CO2. Thus re-radiation seems problematic since the effects of such a mechanism are undetectable so far.

    In the second case: blocking of reflected infrared light due to the refractive properties of the transparent insulator, the experiment in question should show a different internal temperature because the refractive properties of rock salt crystal are different than glass. Or in other words, some light which would be refracted/reflected by glass would not be refracted/reflected by the rock salt crystal.

    The experiment showed no such internal temperature difference.

    Thus at least from this experiment, greenhouses indeed so work primarily by blocking convection (i.e. air heated by heat reflected off the ground not being allowed to escape and mix with outside air) as opposed to via the transparent insulator preventing the escape (from the greenhouse) of infrared light reflected from the ground either via re-radiation or frequency blocking.

    For ACC - re-radiation by CO2 is also problematic as noted above. The stance now is frequency blocking by CO2, but again frequency blocking by CO2 as a dominant factor must also be proven - and the greenhouse example shows that there are in fact other forces which can dominate actual behavior.

    The earth in particular has an identical convection process - the overall atmosphere itself acts as a transparent insulator since molecules of atmosphere do not generally escape into space. The earth and its atmosphere also contain a lot of water vapor which itself is both much more abundant and retains much more heat that CO2.

    This does suggest an interesting experiment:

    Take the above, and add 3 more variables: nitrogen, water vapor and CO2.

    If indeed CO2 is a re-radiator or frequency blocker, then there should be discernible differences between the 6 greenhouses composed of:

    1) glass insulator, nitrogen atmosphere
    2) glass insulator, water vapor atmosphere
    3) glass insulator, CO2 atmosphere
    4) rock salt insulator, nitrogen atmosphere
    5) rock salt insulator, water vapor atmosphere
    6) rock salt insulator, CO2 atmosphere

    The nitrogen experiments act as 'controls' since nitrogen is neither a GHG nor a particular infrared heat absorber/blocker

    The water vapor vs. CO2 is to see if there is indeed no relationship between the GHG properties of the 2 gases

    The different insulator types would show differences between GHGs if indeed frequency blocking is any type of factor
    Last edited by c1ue; 12-25-09 at 12:12 PM.

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