Filling in the Missing Pieces

One of the main aspects on CAGW that we at CO2isLife haven’t been able to adequately explain is what truly happens once a CO2 molecule absorbs a photon of 13 to 18µ LWIR. The conventional wisdom, the wisdom on which all the CAGW theory is based, is that CO2 absorbs the photon and then reradiates it back towards the earth or oceans. That turns out to be correct in 1/1,000,000,000 events…or statistically 0.00.

What happens, in reality, is that a CO2 molecule absorbs a photon and becomes excited exactly like the above graphic. The molecule “bends” and creates a “dipole.”  If enough time passes and nothing collides with the excited molecule, it will re-emit the photon. That, however, takes about 0.2 seconds.

The more likely outcome, by a factor of 1 billion, is that the molecule will collide with another molecule, most likely N2, and transfer that energy to the N2 molecule without re-emitting the photon. The energy is simply converted from EM energy to kinetic energy. Therefore, because CO2 only represents 1 out of every 2,500 molecules in the atmosphere, an excited CO2 molecule can’t really alter the entire energy balance by much.

From:David Burton
Sent: Wednesday, November 12, 2014 10:49 PM
To: William Happer
Subject: Another dumb question from Dave

Dear Prof. Happer,

At your UNC lecture you told us many things which I had not known, but two of them were these:

  1. At low altitudes, the mean time between molecular collisions, through which an excited CO2 molecule can transfer its energy to another gas molecule (usually N2) is on the order of 1nanosecond.
  2. The mean decay time for an excited CO2 molecule to emit an IR photon is on the order of 1second(a billion times as long).

Did I understand that correctly? [YES, PRECISELY.  I ATTACH A PAPER ON RADIATIVE LIFETIMES OF CO2 FROM THE CO2 LASER COMMUNITY. YOU SHOULD LOOK AT THE BENDING-MODE TRANSITIONS, FOR EXAMPLE, 010 – 000. AS I THINK I MAY HAVE INDICATED ON SLIDE 24, THE RADIATIVE DECAY RATES FOR THE BENDING MODE ALSO DEPEND ON VIBRATION AND ROTATIONAL QUANTUM NUMBERS, AND THEY CAN BE A FEW ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE SLOWER THAN 1 S^{-1} FOR HIGHER EXCITED STATES. THIS IS BECAUSE OF SMALL MATRIX ELEMENTS FOR THE TRANSITION MOMENTS.]
You didn’t mention it, but I assume H2O molecules have a similar decay time to emit an IR photon. Is that right, too? [YES.  I CAN’T IMMEDIATELY FIND A SIMILAR PAPER TO THE ONE I ATTACHED ABOUT CO2, BUT THESE TRANSITIONS HAVE BEEN CAREFULLY STUDIED IN CONNECTION WITH INTERSTELLAR MASERS. I ATTACH SOME NICE VIEWGRAPHS THAT SUMMARIZE THE ISSUES, A FEW OF WHICH TOUCH ON H2O, ONE OF THE IMPORTANT INTERSTELLAR MOLECULES.  ALAS, THE SLIDES DO NOT INCLUDE A TABLE OF LIFETIMES. BUT YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO TRACK THEM DOWN FROM REFERENCES ON THE VIEWGRAPHS IF YOU LIKE. ROUGHLY SPEAKING, THE RADIATIVE LIFETIMES OF ELECTRIC DIPOLE MOMENTS SCALE AS THE CUBE OF THE WAVELENTH AND INVERSELY AS THE SQUARE OF THE ELECTRIC DIPOLE MATRIX ELEMENT (FROM BASIC QUANTUM MECHANICS) SO IF AN ATOM HAS A RADIATIVE LIFETIME OF 16 NSEC AT A WAVELENGTH OF 0.6 MIRONS (SODIUM), A CO2 BENDING MODE TRANSITION, WITH A WAVELENGTH OF 15 MICRONS AND ABOUT 1/30 THE MATRIX ELEMENT SHOULD HAVE A LIFETIME OF ORDER 16 (30)^2 (15/.6)^3 NS = 0.2 S.
So, after a CO2 (or H2O) molecule absorbs a 15 micron IR photon, about 99.9999999% of the time it will give up its energy by collision with another gas molecule, not by re-emission of another photon. Is that true (assuming that I counted the right number of nines)? [YES, ABSOLUTELY.]

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3 thoughts on “Filling in the Missing Pieces”

  1. The Troposphere exists because radiative transfer doesn’t work at high density. In the troposphere it is convection and evaporation that take heat up, then condensation releases it at a higher altitude. In the limit case, thunderheads and hurricanes move massive heat to the tropopause (where a hurricane cat 2 wind takes it to the poles – where most heat exits the planet). Above the tropopause, in the Stratosphere, the air is thin enough that radiative heat transfer works and this sends heat out to space. CO2 there is a net radiator. CO2 doesn’t warm the planet, it cools the planet.

    So mostly it is a heat pipe like evaporative cycle with water that runs the troposphere, and then a radiative cycle (with mass flow to the polar vortex and descending on the “cold pole” or “winter pole” mostly – look up Night Jet) in the stratosphere, but only out to space. Heat radiated downward runs smack into those cloud tops and water molecules at the troposphere and stops.

    Liked by 1 person

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