Researching the Earth’s Atmosphere is a curious occupation because so many intriguing threads end up being parked on the back burner waiting for inspiration or the arrival of [as in accidentally stumble across] further information.
Atmospheric Science, like so many areas of science, appears to apply Mushroom Management techniques.
Mushroom management is a term used to describe a situation where management does not communicate properly with staff members, either purposefully or accidentally.
The term alludes to management treating their staff like mushrooms in that they “keep them in the dark, feed them dung, watch them grow“.
This phenomenon is an anti-pattern most commonly found in organizations which have a strict hierarchy and barriers to cross-organizational communication (especially those with a stovepipe organization) but can be found in any organization.
Wikipedia primarily associates Mushroom Management techniques with Stovepipe Organizations.
A stovepipe organization has a structure which largely or entirely restricts the flow of information within the organisation to up-down through lines of control, inhibiting or preventing cross-organisational communication.
Many traditional, large (especially governmental or transnational) organisations have, or risk falling into having, a stovepipe pattern.
Intelligence organisations may deliberately adopt a stovepipe pattern so that a breach or compromise in one area cannot easily spread to others.
A famous example of this is Bletchley Park (an allied forces Second World War codebreaking centre where messages encrypted by the Enigma machine were decrypted) where people working in one hut would not know what the people in any other hut did.
The Wikipedia article on Stovepipe Organizations neatly avoids mentioning science or academia.
However, academia increasing exhibits stovepipe characteristics.
This is especially true in scientific disciplines where peer review is employed to strictly enforce quality control upon their manufactured settled science [which is frequently made to order for public consumption] so they can maximise their government funding [which may be channelled through NGOs].
Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people of similar competence to the producers of the work (peers). It constitutes a form of self-regulation by qualified members of a profession within the relevant field. Peer review methods are employed to maintain standards of quality, improve performance, and provide credibility. In academia peer review is often used to determine an academic paper’s suitability for publication.
“The science is settled” is a slogan attributed by opponents of the Kyoto Protocol and global warming theory to supporters notably in the Clinton administration. There are no known examples of its use outside the skeptic press, though some of the statements that were made have similar implications. The slogan itself has therefore become a detail in the political debate.
In the arena of Atmospheric Science there are many famous examples of Mushroom Management where the public has been fed various grades of academic dung [such as the ozone hole, the greenhouse effect, back radiation and catastrophic anthropomorphic global warming] or been deliberately misled [for example: the mainstream banishing the photodissociation of water vapour and carbon dioxide to outer space].
Therefore fact checking is always advisable when it comes to Atmospheric Science [as in every other branch of science].
However, fact checking is not always easy and in many instances it is impossible.
Even fact checking the basics is fraught with problems.
Wikipedia provides a wonderful example of Mushroom Management with their “major constituents of dry air, by volume” table.
The first problem with this table is that it’s very misleading because it suggests the “major constituents” of the Earth’s Atmosphere are evenly distributed in fixed proportions.
This misdirection is achieved by excluding water vapour from their table.
The concentration of water vapor (a greenhouse gas) varies significantly from around 10 ppmv in the coldest portions of the atmosphere to as much as 5% by volume in hot, humid air masses…
Because the Earth’s Atmosphere contains water vapour “from around 10 ppmv” to as much as 50,000 ppmv [5%] then the proportions of all the other atmospheric constituents must also vary.
Notice how Wikipedia curiously switches from ppmv to percent when it quotes the range for water vapour in the Earth’s Atmosphere.
Evidently, Wikipedia would prefer the public didn’t realise that 5% water vapour equates to 50,000 ppmv whilst the demonised carbon dioxide only clocks in at 397 ppmv [in dry air].
Regardless of the games played by Wikipedia the bottom line is that the constituents of the Earth’s Atmosphere dynamically vary.
In chemistry and physics, the dimensionless mixing ratio is defined as the abundance of one component of a mixture relative to that of all other components. The term can refer either to mole ratio or mass ratio.
In atmospheric chemistry, mixing ratio usually refers to the mole ratio, which is defined as the amount of a constituent divided by the total amount of all other constituents in a mixture…
Amount of substance is a standards-defined quantity that measures the size of an ensemble of elementary entities, such as atoms, molecules, electrons, and other particles.
It is a macroscopic property and it is sometimes referred to as chemical amount.
The International System of Units (SI) defines the amount of substance to be proportional to the number of elementary entities present.
The SI unit for amount of substance is the mole.
It has the unit symbol mol.
The mole is defined as the amount of substance that contains an equal number of elementary entities as there are atoms in 12g of the isotope carbon-12.
Methane and Carbon Monoxide in the Troposphere
Atmospheric Physics Group, University of Toronto
These figures also illustrate how O+ dominates the plasma at altitudes from about 150 km to about 600 km, while H+ dominates above about 1000 km. This difference can be important; for instance, the space shuttle encounters primarily an O+ e- plasma at its altitude ~ 300 km permitting collisional charge-exchange with water outgassing from the shuttle and causing the shuttle’s plasma environment to be filled with H2O+ pickup ions and associated plasma waves.
Earth’s Atmosphere – School of Physics, University of Sydney
However, the mainstream’s most grievous misdirection is when they imply the “major constituents” of the Earth’s Atmosphere are static and do not change.
The reality is that the Earth’s Atmosphere varies significantly with altitude so that, for example, atomic oxygen [O] is the dominate constituent of the Earth’s Atmosphere between [about] 200 and 900 kilometres.
Atomic spectra – Institut für Theoretische Physik, Universität Hannover
Sadly, I have yet to find a source that provides a detailed analysis of the Earth’s Atmosphere at ground level or a detailed analysis of how the constituents change with altitude.
Atmospheric Science is compartmentalised and littered with selectivity [and half-truths].
Atmospheric Science is most definitely not holistic.
Evidently, there has been a lot of detailed research and prodigious amounts of data have been collected during the satellite age.
However, it is equally evident that the scientific establishment prefers to keep the public unenlightened by feeding them various grades of academic dung.
Tragically, given the mainstream preference for the three Ms [Mathematics, Modelling and Manipulation] it is doubtful there are many practitioners of the Scientific Method left in Atmospheric Science.
The more you dig the stranger it gets…
Wikipedia has an extended list of constituents of air in their Density of Air article.