Greenhouse Effect – Reality Check

Greenhouse Effect - Reality Check

The debate over quantifying a Greenhouse Effect for the planet Earth rumbles on.

Consensus climate scientists contend that the GHE (Greenhouse Effect) amounts to 33°C.

In an earlier post the theories of respectable climate scientists such as Scott Denning were compared to the theories mavericks such as Nikolov & Zeller.

The two sides agree that Earth’s average temperature is ~288 Kelvin.

However they can’t agree about the temperature of an airless Earth, so one says the GHE is 33 Kelvin while the other says 134 Kelvin.

Thanks to the CE-1 and Diviner missions we now know that the Moon’s average temperature is ~197 Kelvin.

It is plausible that the temperature of an airless Earth would be the same, so the Greenhouse Effect is 288 – 197 = 91 Kelvin.

Challenging Arrhenius Again

Sadly, the Earth Sciences have invented [out of thin air] the Greenhouse Effect paradigm which [in the case of planetary atmospheres] is non-existent because:

Firstly, to understand the physics behind this definition it is important to remind ourselves of the Second Law of Thermodynamics which basically states that “heat can never pass from a colder to a warmer body”

Secondly, it is important to remind ourselves that up to 100 kilometres the air temperatures are below the Earth’s surface air temperature. Therefore, the colder air [up to 100 kilometres] cannot transfer heat down to the warmer surface air.

The myth of the Greenhouse Effect was first used to explain the warming effect encountered in glass greenhouses. However, the reality is that the glass roof of the greenhouse simply traps warm air [heated by the sun] and prevents it from escaping.

If back-radiation [via CO2] was a reality then the “greenhouse gases” would cause higher surface temperatures than those directly attributable to real-time insolation. Unfortunately [for the alarmists] it has been clearly demonstrated that this additional surface heating is NOT a reality.

Inventions and Deceptions – The Greenhouse Effect

However, in a more constructive vain, it is possible to perform a basic reality check that highlights how misleading global averages are in the Earth Sciences.

Additionally, as you critically assess this reality check note down your objections so that you can subsequently evaluate whether your own approach adequately addresses these objections.

The starting point of the reality check is the lunar thermal environment as defined by the Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment.

The Lunar Thermal Environment

The two real world [if that’s the right term] data points of interest are the maximum and minimum surface temperatures for the Moon:

Minumum temperature (K) ~25K (Hermite Crater)
Maximum Temperature (K) ~410K (small equatorial craters)

The Diviner site [very unhelpfully] compares lunar surface temperatures with air temperatures on Earth.

However, through the wonders of the NASA Earth Observatory, comparable surface temperatures are available for planet Earth: -93.2ºC / 179.95ºK and 70.7°C / 343.85°K.

Lut Desert in Iran - 6 July 1999 - Landsat 7

In five of the seven years -2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2009- the highest surface temperature on Earth was found in the Lut Desert.

The single highest LST recorded in any year, in any region, occurred there in 2005, when MODIS recorded a temperature of 70.7°C (159.3°F) – more than 12°C (22°F) warmer than the official air temperature record from Libya.

The University of Montana team found that the location of the world’s hottest spot can change from year to year, though the conditions don’t.

Think dry, rocky, and dark-colored lands.

Coldest Place Records

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Scientists recently recorded the lowest temperatures on Earth at a desolate and remote ice plateau in East Antarctica, trumping a record set in 1983 and uncovering a new puzzle about the ice-covered continent.

Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), and his team found temperatures from −92 to −94 degrees Celsius (−134 to −137 degrees Fahrenheit) in a 1,000-kilometer long swath on the highest section of the East Antarctic ice divide.

The measurements were made between 2003 and 2013 by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor on board NASA’s Aqua satellite and during the 2013 Southern Hemisphere winter by Landsat 8, a new satellite launched early this year by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Press Release: Landsat 8 helps unveil the coldest place on Earth

Therefore, this reality check finds:

1) The minimum surface temperature is 154.95 K warmer on Earth than the Moon.

2) The maximum surface temperature is 66.15 K cooler on Earth than the Moon.

Thus, is can be said [in Earth Science terms] that the dynamic Greenhouse Effect varies between minus 66.15 K and plus 154.95 K.

Surface Temperature Extremes

Obviously, the bickering can now begin regarding whether adjustments to these gross figures should be made to account for differences in [for example] altitude, latitude and albedo.

However, I hope this reality check has clearly illustrated that:

i) The surface temperatures on Earth are moderated and that the [so called] Greenhouse Effect swings both-ways over a range of [around] 221.10 K.

ii) Averaging the surface temperatures for Earth [even if it was possible to simultaneously measure the fractal surface of the planet] would provide a very misleading impression of the Earth’s dynamic temperature control systems.


The Lunar Sourcebook: A User’s Guide to the Moon provides a detailed statement of our understanding of the lunar environment in 1991.

Near-surface atmosphere at the Apollo 14 landing site

Physical comparison of the Moon and Earth

Gas abundances in the lunar atmosphere

Lunar Sourcebook: A User’s Guide to the Moon
Edited by: Grant Heiken, David Vaniman, Bevan M. French
Cambridge University Press – 1991

A Discussion on the Absence of a Measurable Greenhouse Effect references surface temperature measurements made in Arizona during 2012 that are 1.65 K higher than the maximum recorded by satellite over the Lut Desert.

Carl Brehmer has constructed his own climate monitoring station near Chino Valley,
Arizona, at latitude 34.80 N, longitude 112.50 W, at an elevation of 4701 ft.

Data set for 21st June 2012

A Discussion on the Absence of a Measurable Greenhouse Effect
Joseph E Postma, M.Sc. Astronomy – October 22, 2012

The differences in albedo are probably very minor [“Think dry, rocky, and dark-colored lands”].

Bare soil 0.17

Albedo 0.136

If the Lut Desert temperature was taken at latitude 30° N then [based upon pixel counting the Diviner graphic above] the maximum lunar surface temperature of the “small equatorial craters” may [possibly] be reduced by about 13.64 K [if they were moved to 30° N on the Moon].

31°36′46″N 55°24′38″E
Elevation 990 m (3,250 ft)
Bafq is a city in and the capital of Bafq County, Yazd Province, Iran.

If the Lut Desert temperature was at an altitude of 1,000 metres then [arguably] that temperature could be increased by 10°K to reflect temperatures at sea level.

If the Antarctic temperature was at an altitude of 4,000 metres then [arguably] that temperature could be increased by around 25.6° K to reflect temperatures at sea level.

Although the actual atmospheric lapse rate varies, under normal atmospheric conditions the average atmospheric lapse rate results in a temperature decrease of 3.5°F/1,000 ft (6.4°C/km) of altitude.

A dry lapse rate of 5.5°F/1,000 ft (10°C/km) is often used to calculate temperature changes in air not at 100% relative humidity.

A wet lapse rate of 3°F/1,000 ft (5.5°C/km) is used to calculate the temperature changes in air that is saturated (i.e., air at 100% relative humidity).

However, applying adjustments is problematical because the temperatures would then morph from real world temperatures to hypothetical [imaginary] temperatures and would probably introduce more issues than they resolve.

Personally, I prefer real world data because it reflects the reality of the situation.

Related Posting
Standard Atmosphere Supplements 1966

Gallery | This entry was posted in Atmospheric Science, Earth, Inventions and Deceptions, Moon, Science. Bookmark the permalink.

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