A CO2 puzzle – completed with it?

Guest contribution by Willis Eschenbach

Already in 1987 V. Ramanathan noticed that we can measure the very poorly named “greenhouse effect”. This effect has nothing to do with greenhouses. Instead, part of the rising long-wave radiation is absorbed by the surface of “greenhouse gases” in the atmosphere, mainly CO2 and H2O. This absorbed energy is of course added to the thermal energy in the atmosphere, which is then re-radiated, with about half going to space and about half going back to the ground.

What Ramanathan found is that to calculate the magnitude of the “greenhouse effect” one simply subtracts the long waves that are emitted into space at the top of the atmosphere (TOA) from the long waves that are emitted upwards at the surface. Here is Ramanathan’s drawing of the concept:

Figure 1. Drawing by Ramanathan showing an ascending surface long wave of 398.6 watts per square meter (W / m2), a TOA radiation into space of 267.5 W / m2 and an atmospheric absorption (greenhouse effect) of 131.1 W. / m2 shows. Note that Ramanathan also calculated the absorption as a fraction of the surface radiation (0.334 or 33.4% of the absorbed radiation).

Using a percentage to measure the “greenhouse effect” eliminates one of the variables. Where it is warmer, the ground emits more radiation, so naturally more is absorbed by the atmosphere. That is, if we want to compare different areas of the world, we have to use percentages instead of absolute values. Below are two graphs showing the percentage of ascending longwave surface radiation that is absorbed by the atmosphere from two opposite sides of the planet.

Figure 2. Percentage of ascending long waves absorbed by the atmosphere, Pacific-centered and Atlantic-centered.

There are some interesting things here. First, where it is very cold, almost no ascending long wave is absorbed by the atmosphere. Second, around half of the rising radiation is absorbed in the cloudy areas around the equator. Third, you can see the Gulf Stream along the east coast of the USA …

Climate alarmists make a lot of money by increasing the percentage of ascending surface radiation that is absorbed by the atmosphere. It does show that the greenhouse effect is real … but it doesn’t say anything about whether it will affect temperature. Figure 3 shows the rate of increase.

Figure 3. Change in absorbed ascending surface radiation from March 2000 to February 2021.

Now I have titled this post “A CO2 Puzzle” and, true to my word, it is here. The increase in absorbed ascending radiation is believed to be due to the increase in CO2 … but in fact the increase in absorbed long wave ascending radiation is a little less than half what we would expect from CO2. And that without the alleged increases in absorption through methane and other smaller greenhouse gases, through “water vapor feedback” and “cloud feedback”, all of which are supposed to increase the tendency of the absorption trend.

Figure 4. As in Figure 3, but also shows the expected trend of the increase in CO2 over the period.

So there is the secret. Between CO2, methane and smaller greenhouse gases, water vapor and cloud feedback, the percentage absorbed should increase much faster than it actually is … why not?

And what is the answer to the riddle? I don’t know, other than, as I’ve pointed out in a number of contexts, emerging climate phenomena help minimize factors that tend to warm the earth. However, I have no idea what exactly is going on here, any suggestions are welcome.

I am in Florida with my beautiful ex-fiancée and enjoy the rain, the sun and the nice and friendly people here. Our deepest thanks go to the most interesting and friendliest WUWT people who entertained, taught and entertained us on our hike. You know who you are, much appreciated.

My best to everyone from the land of oranges and bikinis …


PS: Two things. First of all, I beg you not to make this a discussion of whether a cold object can heat a hot object or whether the greenhouse effect is real. There are many places you can have these discussions. This is not one of those places, and I’ll cut off comments that go over the line. And please, if you are circumcised, don’t complain about censorship or anything like that. It is just my endeavor to focus the conversation on the topic of the post. You have been urged to stay away from these topics, and if not, it’s on your head, not mine. Oh, and please, get rid of politics … there’s enough disagreement in the climate world, no need to add politics to it.

Second, as always, I ask you to quote the exact words you are talking about so that we can all understand who and what you are referring to.

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