Ground Measurements Don’t Implicate CO2; Climate Scientists are Using the Wrong Data Sets for Their Models


Ignoring the fact that the system for measuring ground temperatures is a complete and utter joke, there is a far better way to address the conclusions reached using the climate models. All ground measurements are located near the ground, that is why they are called ground measurements. Most, if not all the alarmist climate science is done using the ground measurement data from NASA GISS, NOAA or HadCRU. These are the datasets subject to frequent post-publication “adjustments” and locations involved in the Climategate emails. There is an extremely incestuous relationship between the global temperature data organizations, so even though there are multiple organizations they basically act as one, and their data largely confirm each other, and that is how we get these nice global temperature graphs.

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While the “adjustments” and other scientific malfeasance involved in the construction of those charts is always a focus of climate skeptics, their efforts are largely misguided. Ground measurements are irrelevant to defining the relationship between CO2 and atmospheric temperatures. Bickering over the construction is a huge win for the climate alarmists because it distracts from the real issue, ground measurements aren’t impacted by CO2. H2O dominates the temperature in the lower atmosphere. CO2’s contribution is analogous to taking an aspirin to stop pain AFTER getting a megadose shot of morphine. After the morphine shot, there is no pain left for the aspirin to cure. When H2O is in the air, CO2’s impact is immaterial.


Don’t believe me? Fine, you don’t have to. The computer program MODTRAN makes this case, I only interpret the data. To understand why you must first understand the underlying physics of the GHG effect. CO2’s only defined mechanism by which to affect climate change is by thermalizing LWIR between 13 and 18µ. That is it. There are no other defined mechanisms by which CO2 can influence the climate. That is why global warming, not climate change, is the most appropriate name for the GHG effect. The GHG effect has no mechanism by which to cause cooling. Problem is, H2O also absorbs LWIR between 13 and 18µ and a whole lot more of the IR spectrum. To the lower atmosphere, H2O is like morphine, and CO2 is like an aspirin.

This fact is settled science, and it is provable by using the MODTRAN program. If you use the setting for 400 ppm CO2 and looking down from 0.1 km, you will isolate the layer of the atmosphere where all the ground measurements are taken. Here is the result of that atmospheric model.


As you can see CO2 of 400 ppm was used, Altitude was 0.1 km, “Looking Down” and “midlatitude summer” were selected, and the most important output is the Upward IR Heat Flux of 417.306 W/m^2. The other important observation is what is happening around wavenumber 667 on the graph. There are no visible dips in the graph. The CO2 signature is an absorption spike at that wave number. Now let’s double the CO2 to 800 ppm.


Changing only CO2 from 400 ppm to 800 ppm, you get the above results. Note, there is 0.00 change in the UpWard IR Heat Flux. CO2 was doubled, and the outgoing IR remained at 417.306 W/m^2. Literally doubling CO2 did absolutely nothing to the energy balance of the lower atmosphere. That layer of the atmosphere where all ground measurements are located. That is why using ground measurements to measure the impact of CO2 on the climate is futile. Ground measurements measure the impact of H2O on the climate, not CO2. That isn’t my opinion, that is hardcoded in MODTRAN.

To prove this theory, one only needs to alter MODTRAN to remove H2O from the atmosphere. 273°K is 0°C or the freezing point of water. According to MODTRAN, the atmosphere is 273°K at an altitude of 4km, so there should be no material H2O in the atmosphere above that level. The following is a graph generated for 3 km up “Looking Down” and it is the first evidence of a “CO2 signature.” The “CO2 Signature” is the dip in the curve around the wave number 667.


As we go higher in the atmosphere, where there is no H2O, the CO2 signature increases dramatically. The following chart is a graphic “Looking Down” from 70 km. You can see the CO2 signature is prominently displayed.


To demonstrate the impact CO2 has on the overall atmosphere, up to 70 km, we can double the CO2 to 800 ppm. The net result in a whopping 3.01 W/m^2 distributed over the entire atmosphere, mostly above 4 km.


The whole CAGW theory is based on that minuscule 3.01 W/m^2, barely a 1% difference in the total energy balance of the atmosphere. Why do I say minuscule? Because adding a simple cloud layer to MODTRAN alters the energy balance by almost 10x that of doubling CO2. Mother Nature easily handles the energy variation caused by clouds which is 10x that caused by doubling CO2, and yet we are to believe that 1/10th the impact of a cloud layer is going to have catastrophic consequences. Sorry, that simply doesn’t pass the stink test.


Most importantly, no matter how much CO2 I add to the atmosphere, it will never penetrate the 200°K line, and in fact, won’t even reach the 220°K line. The reason for that is because the blackbody temperature of LWIR between 13 and 18µ is between -50 and -110°C, with a peak of -80°C. CO2 doesn’t really warm the atmosphere, what it does in prevent it from cooling below -80°C, or about 200°K. Here is a graphic with 10,000 ppm CO2, and you can see the energy balance changes by less than 1/2 that of a cloud layer, and the 667 wavenumber spike never reaches the 220°K graph. In other words, the thermalization of LWIR between 13 and 18µ simply keeps the upper atmosphere from falling below 200°K. That is the documented impact of CO2. BTW, there are no glaciers up 70 km, they are all mostly located in the lower 3 km of the atmosphere, the layer where CO2 has no impact.


Don’t take my word for any of this, go test it yourself using MODTRAN. MODTRAN is the greatest took for debunking the climate alarmists, and that is why you never hear them mention it, or refer to it in their defense. The more people know about MODTRAN, the less they believe in CAGW. CO2 simply doesn’t impact the temperature of the oceans and lower atmosphere, its impact is almost exclusively expressed above 3km, and it largely puts in a temperature floor, a floor well below freezing and not in danger of melting ice or glaciers.

Even if you use ground measurements, and control for H2O and the Urban Heat Island Effect, they still don’t implicate CO2. Using Antarctica as a control for H2O, isolating the impact of CO2, the result is that a large increase in CO2 has done nothing to warm Antarctica. The only way you implicate CO2 by using ground measurements is by “adjusting” the data and including data sets that are saturated with H2O, the Urban Heat Island Effect and other anomalies that have nothing to do with CO2.

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18 thoughts on “Ground Measurements Don’t Implicate CO2; Climate Scientists are Using the Wrong Data Sets for Their Models”

  1. Not long ago, when I discovered your blog, I had asked you in a comment where I could find sources that would help me in understanding what I had called “CO2 saturation” (or shall we better say: “the physics of CO2’s true relevance for global temperature and climate”). You recommended that I should search your blog for pertinent material. I did, and CO2 is Life tuned out to be the best source for learning more about “CO2 saturation”, and many other vital facts relevant in assessing “global warming”: sound, intelligible, illuminating, well-written and putting things in the right context. I still wonder why skeptics make so little use of the physics of CO2 to show, as you do, that in focussing on CO2 alarmists are barking up the wrong tree. Many thanks for your most useful efforts.


  2. Which means the surface temperature of the planet Venus has nothing to do with it’s CO2 concentration. That the observed 462C is caused by a different mechanism than a “runaway Greenhouse Effect”.

    Once that other mechanism is acknowledged then it becomes clear that there is no room for any so called greenhouse gasses in calculating of predicting temperatures of planetary atmospheres. That wavelength signatures in spectroscopy as seen from space are an effect of temperature on gasses not a cause of gasses on temperature.


    1. Certainly, our atmosphere cuts out a lot of the incoming harmful warming visible and UV radiation. The atmosphere of Venus is largely CO2 which is transparent to to most incoming radiation. Great point.


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