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Highlighted Article: The Greenhouse Effect, A Summary of Wijngaarden and Happer

Posted On:
Oct 7, 2021 at 7:00 AM
Climate Change


From: Watts Up With That

By: Andy May

Date: September 21, 2021


The Greenhouse Effect, A Summary of Wijngaarden and Happer


"The phrase “greenhouse effect,” often abbreviated as “GHE,” is very ambiguous. It applies to Earth’s surface temperature, and has never been observed or measured, only modeled. To make matters worse, it has numerous possible components, and the relative contributions of the possible components are unknown. Basic physics suggests that Earth’s surface is warmer than it would be with a transparent atmosphere, that is no greenhouse gases (GHGs), clouds, or oceans. If we assume Earth is a blackbody, then subtract the solar energy reflected, from the hypothetically non-existent clouds, atmosphere, land, ice, and oceans; we can calculate a surface temperature of 254K or -19°C. The actual average temperature today is about 288.7K or roughly 15.5°C. This modeled difference of 35°C is often called the overall greenhouse effect.

A blackbody is usually defined as a perfectly black cavity kept at a constant temperature. All energy that enters the cavity is absorbed by the cavity walls, and they emit exactly the same amount of energy, but the wavelength of the emitted radiation is not the same as the energy captured. Instead, the emitted radiation has a wavelength determined by the cavity temperature, which is held constant. The Earth is nothing like this. It isn’t black and both the atmosphere and the oceans absorb and redistribute solar energy, often the absorbed energy is circulated for a long time, even centuries or millennia, before it is reemitted. A blackbody absorbs and reemits energy with a delay of less than a second. Earth’s surface temperature is not constant, like a blackbody’s temperature, it varies a lot by latitude, altitude, season, and/or ocean depth. The Moon has a calculated blackbody temperature of 270K, no atmosphere or oceans, and an average temperature, at the equator and low latitudes, of around 215K, so even the" ...


The Greenhouse Effect, A Summary of Wijngaarden and Happer