Optical Depth of CO2 Explained

Here is a treat for those following the discussion of Miskolczi’s new theory of greenhouse warming. Noor van Andel has sent a simplified explanation of Miskolczi’s theory, put on Wikichecks here. Noor is actually in the greenhouse business!

Noor’s letter below refers to a history of the debate between Noor and another prominent scientist in the Netherlands Dr. Rob van Dorland. Rob has also graciously responded with explanations of the Cabauw data he collected, and a link to his thesis, in the previous post in this series.

I would like to remind people to remain calm in your discussions of this and other topics here.

Dear David,

My excuses; I was some weeks out of the running because the government of Curaçao had invited me & other experts into their Island to advise them on the possibilities to convert to sustainable energy.

In the attachment, that you are free to put on your web site [blog], you find the measurements you asked for. Please note that the measurements up to 200 m height, made from the radio transmitter tower at Lopik [Cabauw] in the Netherlands, are measurements made by Dr. Rob van Dorland, published in his PhD thesis. Rob is the major atmospheric IR radiation expert in the Royal Institute of Meteorology in the Netherlands, and a fervent and active supporter of the IPCC hypothesis of man-made global warming through CO2 emission.

I tried to maintain an e-mail discussion with him about Miskolczi’s radically different theory, but did not succeed. His emotional revulsion was so strong, that he was not able to think rationally about FM’s theory.

Now, I must confess that I cannot follow FM in his terms “radiation pressure”, his “Virial theorem” or his “Kirchhoff law”. But he is, in my opinion, right in his Hartcode results that all along the atmospheric height, there is Local Thermodynamic Equilibrium in that the absorbed part of the upward IR radiation is always equal to the downward IR radiation. This follows from the fact that the mean free path of the photons that interact with atmospheric components is so short that there are no appreciable temperature differences along this path [order of meters]. Not even higher up in the stratosphere. So almost all heat transfer [save direct IR radiation through the atmospheric window] from surface upwards is by vertical convection, with or without water condensation. This means a very efficient negative feedback of water vapor on surface temperature. When it is warm and therefor humid, the adiabatic temperature lapse is 5 K/km; when it is cold or dry, it is 10 K/km. So, over those parts of the Earth surface that are wet, sea or plant canopy, there is a factor of two increase in heat transfer upwards when you go from say 10 °C to 25°C. It is this thermostatic effect on our watery planet, that regulates its surface temperature. Low clouds amplify this effect even more by reflecting visible light. There is no effect of CO2 concentration in the troposphere. And the effective height from which the OLR radiates, lies well under the tropopause.

CO2 plays a role in the stratosphere, where water vapor is very low. And there, we see in radiosonde stratospheric humidity measurements that indeed, as CO2 rises, that water vapor decreases, just keeping the OLR at its maximum, as follows from FM’s solution of Eddington’s radiation equation in a bounded, semi-transparant atmosphere.


dr. ir. E. van Andel, Fiwihex BV, Wierdensestraat 74, NL 7604 BK Almelo, tel. +31 [0]546491106, fax +31[0]546491107, gsm +31[0]653286574,

Regression Conclusion

Is Kirchhoff’s rule in atmosphere proven by the Cabauw measurements, or not? I had earlier received a note on calculations by Noor van Andel claiming, yes, Kirchoff’s relationship as used in Miskolczi’s theory was confirmed by the linear regression of Ed (longwave down radiation) and Su(1-Ta) (longwave surface up, without transmitted longwave). Miskolczi also confirmed this result, using older results in a the previous post in this series.

However, I just received an email from Rob van Dorland who took the actual measurements claiming this is not the case. In Rob’s opinion:

The calculations show “Kirchhoff’s rule” cannot be obtained using my measurements. These measurements consist of downward radiation at the surface and the mixing ratio’s of water vapor at the surface (that is what I sent to Noor van Andel). From this you cannot compute the atmospheric LW transparency (Ta), like Noor van Andel did, because you need information on profiles of temperature, water vapor and of other greenhouse gases. Of course, I used this profile information to compute the downward radiation at the surface and compare these computed values with the observed ones (see attachment).

From Thesis Rob van Dorland, 1999.

I think the computation of Kirchhoff’s rule by Noor illustrates very well that assumptions (which are not a standard part of radiative transfer calculations) are put into the model of Noor (and probably also in Ferenc’s model). In turn these assumptions result to my opinion in wrong conclusions such as the optimum optical depth for the present Earth’s atmosphere and the very low sensitivity to CO2 changes, stated in Ferenc paper.

Rob mentions for background information you can download the pdf of chapter 3 of his thesis. Click on “deel 2” at the end of this page after the reference to the thesis.

I must admit I thought Noor’s results were based on profile measurements at the 200m high Cabauw tower, near Lopik, the Netherlands. Unfortunately I have been unable to contact Noor to gain his approval to publish the findings on the web.

Update: Rob has sent details of the data and the data itself he sent to Noor. I think it clears up the profile issue, as I (mis)understood Noor’s note to read that he calculated the profiles. The data sent by Rob is here, and email below.

Dear David
See my brief response below

David Stockwell wrote:

>Dear Rob,

>Thanks very much. It takes a disagreement to provoke discussion on the web, you are right!
>Still I think we learn more in an interesting way when that happens.
>I am interested in your statement that you did not send Noor temperature and water
>vapor profile information, as he says clearly in his note that the calculations of
>Ta are based on profile information sent by you. I am just a bit confused.

Noor only got the surface values. please ask him. I send you the same file as I did in May to Noor.
column 3: 2m temperature
column 4: 2m humidity
column 5: Longwave downward measured at the surface
column 6: Longwave downward calculated at the surface


>”The 200 m high radio broadcast transmitter in Cabauw, near Lopik, the Netherlands,
>can be used, like a weather balloon, to measure atmosphere profiles,
>albeit only until 200 m high. Rob van Dorland has measured these profiles. ”

I actually combined the 200 m tower measurements with the balloon measurements. So I got profiles of temperature and humidity up til a height of 25 to 30 km. Further details of my comparison can be read in paragraph 3.5 of my thesis.

Submission 1: Australian Meteorological Magazine (AMM)

The venue for more formal debate on controversial topics is the scientific journals. As part of my trek into the desert of drought predictions in Australia, I submitted a review of the Drought Exceptional Circumstances report (abstract below) two days ago to the Australian Meteorological Magazine. To date I have not received an acknowledgement of its receipt.

The reasons I selected the AMM: it publishes all its papers on the web, has emphasis on the meteorology of the Australian region and the southern hemisphere, and would have a readership familiar with the DECR.

I am hoping at some point to engage climate scientists in the issues that have been raised about the interpretation of drought data in the DECR report. For example, Ferenc Miskolczi has very graciously engaged a number of people here who were interested in understanding his theory of semi-transparent atmosphere in more detail.

I would like to know what validation was used to justify the use of climate models for modelling drought, and how the conclusion that droughts are likely to increase in frequency and severity can be reconciled with the data, which shows drought frequency and severity declining, can be justified.

So far, no luck. I submitted a manuscript with the following abstract to the AMM two days ago. So far I have not even received acknowledgement of its receipt.

Review of projections of frequency and severity of exceptionally low rainfall in the Drought Exceptional Circumstances Report
David R.B. Stockwell
September 20, 2008


The 2008 Drought Exceptional Circumstances Report (DECR) makes a number of bold claims in its assessment of likely changes in the frequency and severity of severe rainfall deficiencies over the next 20-30 years. This review presents an analysis which brings into question whether these claims can be sustained by the data. Taking into account the poor performance of climate models, as evidenced by simulations of area of exceptionally low rainfall trending in the opposite direction to observations, a more valid interpretation of the results would be for drought frequency and severity in Australia to remain largely unchanged in the future, with no expectation of a change in the climatological basis for
EC declarations.

Experimental Verification of Kirchhoff Law in Atmosphere

While contributors Barton, Jan, Neal and Nick have been grilling Ferenc Miskolczi on another thread, and been doing a fantastic job of clarifying for average readers the use of the Virial Theorem in Miskolczi’s paper, Ferenc has sent some results pertaining to the use of Kirchhoff’s Law, which was another source of contention.

I don’t have a lot of time to go through this right away, so I will just post the links for now. It includes a scan of a paper from 1992 dealing with estimation of long wave down radiation, E_D in Miskolczi’s paper.

KL checked for isothermal atmosphere, where it should hold in any case.

An earlier article in the JAOT with real radiosonde observations and real Ed measurements with pyrgeometers

A JQSRT article where similar isothermal LBL computations were done.

Simple Statistical Model Using Recent Droughts

Changes in the exceptionally dry years (droughts) have been estimated in the Drought Exceptional Circumstances Report (DECR) in two ways: (a) a statistical modification of the observed rainfall data (Box 3); and (b) analysis of simulations from 13 climate models. Up until now I have been looking at the modeling in approach (b). Today I started to look at approach (a). As mean rainfall declines the probability of exceptionally low rainfall increases. This is graphed in Box 3 (see also Table 6).

The parameters used in this simple extrapolation exercise have curious inconsistencies with their source. The DECR report says:

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Trade Practices Act

Any claims or representations made by a business must be accurate and truthful. If a business has been dishonest, exaggerated the truth, or created a misleading impression, then there is a very broad provision in the Trade Practices Act to prohibit such conduct by a corporation.

For example, the ACCC webpage on misleading and deceptive conduct gives an example of a business predicting the health benefits of a therapeutic device or health product but having no proof that such benefits can be attained. Note that there is no need to show that the product has no benefit in fact, rather it is misleading to make a claim when there is no proof. In general:

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Recent Article on Controversial Topic – Drought and AGW

Stewart Franks, a hydroclimatologist at the University of Newcastle School of Engineering has spoken out, that the Murray Darling Basin drought was caused by an entirely natural phenomenon, the 2002 El Nino event, and there is no evidence that CO2 has had any significant role. He goes on:

Numerous politicians, environmentalists and especially scientists have made spectacular leaps of faith in their adherence to the doctrine of climate change over recent years, too many to document here.

And in a clear reference to the recent Drought Exceptional Circumstances Report (DECR), the subject of two critical articles by Ian Castles, former Australian Statistician, and a report that I have reviewed, written letters about, and now possibly starting an FOI request he says:

However, the most literally fantastic claim on climate change must go to Kevin Rudd, who has guaranteed that rainfall will decline over coming decades; one can only assume he’s based his view on deficient climate models and bad advice.

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Getting Advantage for Analysts from Policy

Below my reply to the letter here from Andrew Ash, Director of the Climate Adaptation Flagship. Concerning the Drought Exceptional Circumstances Report (DECR) there was an earlier more technical draft that could have contained validation information, but was returned by the client (DAFF) because it was unsuitable for stakeholder policy work. What does that mean? The earlier report should show what/if validation was performed to determine if the models had skill at predicting drought, and what changes were made to the report to make it palatable for the policy wonks, that is, sounding more like a disaster movie.

10 Sep. 08

Andrew Ash (Director, CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship)
Gary Foley (Acting Director, Australian Bureau of Meteorology)

Dear Sirs,

Re: Request a copy of first draft of DECR

Thank you for your prompt consideration of my letter of 3 Sep. expressing my concern with the validity of key claims in the Drought Exceptional Circumstances Report (DECR).

I strongly share your sentiment “as you know we value constructive criticism as it often helps to tighten up that science, which is vital in issues which matter so much to the future of our planet.” This leads me to believe you would be amenable to providing a copy of the first (more technical) draft of the report, in order to provide constructive criticism of the validation performed on the models used in the DECR.

We also seem to be in substantial agreement on the difficulty of modelling exceptionally low rainfall years – the substance of my critique:

1. Kevin Hennessy stated as much in the CSIROpod interview of 15 Jul.

(1.20m) There’s not been a clear indication of changes in exceptionally low rainfall years, and that’s because there’s lots of variability between decades …
(1.40m)But in terms of a long term trend its not very clear in terms of exceptional low rainfall years.

2. This is the basis of my claim in the previously supplied “Tests of Regional Climate Model Validity in the Drought Exceptional Circumstances Report”.

3. You do not dispute this point in your letter of 9 Sep.

However, I respectfully submit it is not the case that my critique concerns only a narrow component of the report:

1. Under the terms of reference the BoM and CSIRO were requested (DECR Appendix 1), on the basis of current knowledge of climate change science, to assess: (points 2 and 4 of 4 points):

2. Likely changes in the nature and frequency of severe rainfall deficiencies over the next 20-30 years, in comparison to severe rainfall deficiencies defined by the available instrument records. Severe rainfall deficiency is defined as an event in the lowest 5th percentile of historical records persisting for prolonged periods and over significantly sized regions.

4. The place of past exceptional climatic events in the context of the likely frequency and severity of future climatic events.

2. Projections of exceptionally low rainfall using models constitute roughly one third of the substance of the report, along with temperature and soil moisture.

3. The dictionary definition of drought is: a shortage of rainfall. If my concerns are as narrow as to not affect the overall report, then I would respectfully suggest the report is misnamed, the word “Drought” should be dropped and replaced with “Temperature Extreme Circumstances”, or something similar. This would be consistent with the summary of the findings at the CSIROpod interview site, which only mentions exceptionally hot years, and omits claims of exceptionally low rainfall.

4. The claims at issue were quoted by the Prime Minister, the client DAFF, and in the media.

I submit that in a report whose terms of reference were to determine “likely changes in the nature and frequency of severe rainfall deficiencies over the next 20-30 years”, my critique of a major part of the summary regarding the likelihood of exceptionally low rainfall does address the main thrust of the report.

Kevin Hennessy in an email of 11 Jul. (excerpt below) mentioned the existence of a draft of their report with a great deal more technical information.

Thirdly, the Terms of Reference (Appendix 1) state that “it will be presented in a form that will enable it to be used in future drought policy discussions, including stakeholder consultation”. Our first draft of the report was considered too technical by the client (DAFF), since the target audience is for lay-people, so we had to spend considerable time simplifying the language, diagrams and tables. Therefore, statistical tests and results from individual climate models were not presented.

Kevin indicated in an email of 25 Sep. that:

… we are satisfied with the model evaluation done prior to publication.

I request a copy of the first draft of the DECR, commercial-in-confidence if necessary.


David R.B. Stockwell PhD

10 September 2008

Modelization Prediction

Below is the reply received from Andrew Ash, Director of the Climate Adaptation Flagship, to my letter to CSIRO here, concerning the Drought Exceptional Circumstances Report (DECR). There are a number of unsubstantiated statements here (as in the DECR), to which I reply in another letter. Is the reliance on climate models with no predictive value in the DECR so narrow as not to affect the conclusions? Note also the desire to ‘move on’.

Tue, Sep 9, 2008 at 1:32 PM
subject Drought Exceptional Circumstances Report
mailed-by csiro.au
signed-by csiro.au

Dear Dr Stockwell,

Your letter regarding the Drought Exceptional Circumstances Report to Dr Greg Ayers and Geoff Love has been passed to us.

We will not be withdrawing this report; your critique concerns only a narrow component of the report, and the overall conclusions of the report to our client flow from many lines of evidence.

Furthermore, our initial analysis of your critique suggests it suffers deficiencies even with regard to this narrow component. Our understanding is that your report on this is still in draft form on your website, but once we have a final version (perhaps the attached dated September 3?) we will of course check this assessment.

Meanwhile, thanks for your continued attention to our work; as you know we value constructive criticism as it often helps to tighten up that science, which is vital in issues which matter so much to the future of our planet. Your analysis has helped show that the science is robust and improving, which strengthens the case for acting on climate change. The authors are submitting a more technical version of the report to a scientific journal, which will include more detail on model evaluation.

Kind regards,

Andrew Ash (Director, CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship)
Gary Foley (Acting Director, Australian Bureau of Meteorology)

Prediction of Effects of Global Warming (not!)

Here is an email from Hennessy about the CSIRO/BoM Drought Exceptional Circumstances Report. He raises some classic chestnuts that are easily dispatched:

date Mon, Aug 25, 2008 at 9:26 AM
subject RE: climate model evaluation
mailed-by csiro.au
signed-by csiro.au

Thanks David.

We are not withdrawing the DEC report because we are satisfied with the model evaluation done prior to publication.
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