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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Greenhouses and the Greenhouse Effect

In a discussion on Dr. Curry's site Climate Etc. I brought up how conduction was not properly considered in the Global warming debate. This is something I have mentioned for quite a while, with quite a bit of chuckles in response. It is really a very simple concept though.

To maximize the performance of a greenhouse, you want to maximize retention of radiant energy, maximize surface energy influx and minimize thermal loss to the environment. In other words, you want to let in and retain the most heat while allowing in the most sunlight for plant growth.

In climate, two dimensional reasoning seems to dominate. Thermals or convection due to surface warming is well considered. In weather conditions were surface winds are held constant, the climate two dimensional view of the Greenhouse Effect holds true. That is not one of the things that remains constant though. Surface winds change quite regularly. With more heat retained at the surface, these winds easily transport more heat from the surface. There is nothing linear about surface heat transfer in three dimensions.

If CO2 caused a linear shift in the thermal reservoirs that corresponded with the increase in retained energy due to CO2 increase, the theory of Greenhouse Forcing would be on solid ground. The Tropopause with its near constant thermal sink and the Antarctic region, also with a near constant thermal sink, require the atmospheric greenhouse theory to be reconsidered. An increase in surface temperature with little change in the historic thermal sink capacities means more rapid loss of stored energy with changes in surface wind velocities. The Earth can
have larger temperature drops than normal because it has more energy it can release more efficiently. That in a nutshell is what is not properly considered about the conductive flux impact on climate.

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