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NASA study finds that carbon dioxide may help to cool the planet

May 23rd, 2013 at 09:12am

For quite some time now, whenever someone has felt the need to explain the basics of the theory of anthropogenic global warming to me (the theory that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere prevents heat from escaping Earth by reflecting it back towards Earth) I have felt compelled to pose the question “but if carbon dioxide reflects heat, would it not also reflect heat from the sun back in to space, negating any excessive reflective action it may have on heat which is already on Earth?”. This usually results in me being scoffed at and told that I just don’t understand the science.

How interesting it is then that a recent NASA study (and remember, NASA has been one of the main proponents of the theory of man-made warming) seems to prove me right.

A recent flurry of eruptions on the sun did more than spark pretty auroras around the poles. NASA-funded researchers say the solar storms of March 8th through 10th dumped enough energy in Earth’s upper atmosphere to power every residence in New York City for two years.

“This was the biggest dose of heat we’ve received from a solar storm since 2005,” says Martin Mlynczak of NASA Langley Research Center. “It was a big event, and shows how solar activity can directly affect our planet.”

Mlynczak is the associate principal investigator for the SABER instrument onboard NASA’s TIMED satellite. SABER monitors infrared emissions from Earth’s upper atmosphere, in particular from carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitric oxide (NO), two substances that play a key role in the energy balance of air hundreds of km above our planet’s surface.

“Carbon dioxide and nitric oxide are natural thermostats,” explains James Russell of Hampton University, SABER’s principal investigator. “When the upper atmosphere (or ‘thermosphere’) heats up, these molecules try as hard as they can to shed that heat back into space.”
For the three day period, March 8th through 10th, the thermosphere absorbed 26 billion kWh of energy. Infrared radiation from CO2 and NO, the two most efficient coolants in the thermosphere, re-radiated 95% of that total back into space.
“This is a new frontier in the sun-Earth connection,” says Mlynczak, “and the data we’re collecting are unprecedented.”

5% of the energy which was received from the sun made its way through to the planet’s surface. This is to be expected as we obviously receive enough energy from the sun at ground level to keep warm and to see sunlight etc, but 95% of the energy was absorbed and sent back out in to space through a process of temporary heating of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere. Surface heat making its way up to the atmosphere could very easily have a similar effect in that it heats up the atmosphere, causing the majority of the heat to be radiated back out in to space while a small amount (5% based on this study) to stay on Earth.

Principia Scientific International’s Alan Siddons concurs with this.

Over at Principia Scientific International (PSI) greenhouse gas effect (GHE) critic, Alan Siddons is hailing the findings. Siddons and his colleagues have been winning support from hundreds of independent scientists for their GHE studies carried out over the last seven years. PSI has proved that the numbers fed into computer models by [NASA’s chief climatologist, Dr James] Hansen and others were based on a faulty interpretation of the laws of thermodynamics. PSI also recently uncovered long overlooked evidence from the American Meteorological Society (AMS) that shows it was widely known the GHE was discredited prior to 1951.
As PSI’s own space scientists have confirmed, as solar energy penetrates deeper into our atmosphere, even more of its energy will end up being sent straight back out to space, thus preventing it heating up the surface of our earth. The NASA Langley Research Center report agrees with PSI
To those independent scientists and engineers at Principia Scientific International this is not news. The “natural thermostat” effect of CO2 has long been known by applied scientists and engineers how have exploited it’s remarkable properties in the manufacturer of refrigerators and air conditioning systems. The fledgling independent science body has repeatedly shown in it’s openly peer reviewed papers that atmospheric carbon dioxide does not cause global warming nor climate change.

The findings of this study show that carbon dioxide is less of a heater and more of a cooler, although it could also point to carbon dioxide not really being a heater or a cooler, but a regulator. Either way it shows that the sun’s cycles have more to do with the earth’s temperature and climate than carbon dioxide levels, especially given that despite consistent increases in carbon dioxide levels over the last few decades, we have not seen any statistically significant warming of the planet in the last 17 years.

The links between the sun and the climate becomes even more clear when historical records of solar activity are checked against temperature records as there is a remarkable correlation between the two. Perhaps now we are starting to understand the science behind the link. I look forward to more research in to this link in the future.


Entry Filed under: Global Warming

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  • 1. nbrettoner  |  May 23rd, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    Hi Samuel,

    May I share this article (the link) on facebook please?

    Thanks, :)

  • 2. Samuel  |  May 23rd, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    Of course you may Noel. Please feel free to share anything from this blog on Facebook or Twitter.

  • 3. nbrettoner  |  May 23rd, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    Thanks Samuel :)

  • 4. frank83  |  May 29th, 2013 at 6:54 am

    <iSurface heat making its way up to the atmosphere could very easily have a similar effect in that it heats up the atmosphere, causing the majority of the heat to be radiated back out in to space while a small amount (5% based on this study) to stay on Earth.

    This is really wrong and suggests a basic ignorance of the “greenhouse effect”. Heat from the sun reaches Earth by travelling across the vacuum of space as electromagnetic radiation. Since the Sun is so hot it is relatively high frequency. Once it reaches the Earth’s surface and warms it, the Earth in turn begins to radiate electromagnetic radiation; namely infrared and low frequency since the Earth is relatively cooler. This low frequency radiation is more effectively reflected by carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

    The frequency of the radiation sees it behave completely different with respect to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, hence your assertion that surface heat might have the same effect is entirely incorrect.

  • 5. Samuel  |  May 29th, 2013 at 7:42 am

    I believe I used the word “similar”, not the word “same” in regards to the effect surface heat has on the atmosphere compared to the effect solar heat has on the atmosphere, but that’s nitpicking and not entirely the point.

    The study found that as more heat is pumped in to the atmosphere, more is radiated out in to space. Obviously the exact behaviour depends on the intensity of that heat.

    The important difference here is that you are telling me about the greenhouse effect as it applies to the theory of anthropogenic global warming, whereas this study is talking about a theory where carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide act as a regulator of temperature. These two theories are mostly incompatible, so while it is interesting to point out that based on one theory, a certain aspect of another theory is impossible, it is not particularly productive.

    What is productive is to see how the theories stack up against empirical evidence.

    The “carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide as a regulator” theory has been formed based on measurements. It needs further study over longer periods of time to determine what the general heat keep/discard ratio actually is and how different amounts of solar activity and different atmospheric compositions affect it, but if it continues to work in a similar manner to that which was observed, the it tends to fit reasonably well with historical records of temperature and solar activity…although I would like to see how it fits with future observations.

    The anthropogenic global warming theory on the other hands works on the basis that as atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide increase, so should temperature. We have recently exceeded 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide, and yet temperatures have been roughly stagnant for about 15 – 17 years…far from increasing at greater rates as the theory posits it should. Assuming a continuation of this trend, this matches geological evidence which shows that, historically, carbon dioxide levels have followed temperature, not led it, which in turn could (I stress the word “could”) show that carbon dioxide is a rather slow-working temperature regulator battling multiple temperature influencing sources, of which the sun is probably the most influential.


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