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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