Debate Magazine

Clouds and Climate Lies

Posted on the 13 August 2021 by Markwadsworth @Mark_Wadsworth

As we hopefully all know by now, the claim that Earth's temperature is higher than it 'should' be is based on sleight of hand - they use two quite distinct definitions of 'surface' and flip back and forth between them depending on what point they are trying to make.
Definition A is 'the surface you can see from space', which is largely the upper surface of clouds and some land/ocean that is not below clouds. Definition B is the land/ocean surface (ignoring clouds).
B is at a lower altitude than A, and hence B is warmer than A because of the gravito-thermal effect. The Alarmists pretend that A and B are inter-changeable, compare the expected temperature of A with the actual temperature of B and then say the reason is 'heat trapping gases'. They might as well blame it on The Seventh Curse of Zog; if you compare the expected and actual temperature of A, there isn't any definite difference and nothing needs to be explained.
The problem with basing a theory on what is basically a Big Fat Lie is that you have to keep making up more lies to explain other phenomena.
From NASA's brainwashing for kids site:
So clouds can have both a cooling effect and a warming effect. When it comes to Earth’s climate, do clouds warm more than they cool, or is it the other way around? Well, that depends on where the clouds are in Earth’s atmosphere. [Actually, this is nonsense. The surprising conclusion is that clouds warm things up overall. But that's for a future post.]
Clouds within a mile or so of Earth’s surface tend to cool more than they warm. These low, thicker clouds mostly reflect the Sun’s heat. This cools Earth’s surface.
Clouds high up in the atmosphere have the opposite effect: They tend to warm Earth more than they cool. High, thin clouds trap some of the Sun’s heat. This warms Earth’s surface.

Clouds and climate lies The observation that it's warmer under high clouds than under low clouds is broadly correct, but the explanation ("trapping the Sun's heat", FFS) is hokum. Two otherwise similar clouds (comparing 'low thick clouds' with 'high thin clouds' is another diagonal comparison) at different altitudes will reflect and absorb the same amount of sunlight and reflect and absorb the same amount of IR from Earth's surface, full stop. Or, comparing like-with-like, thin clouds reflect less sunlight than thick clouds but also reflect less IR from the land/oceans than thick clouds.
They also completely fudged the picture, the Sun is not 'a bit higher than the highest cloud' and can't sneak through the gap. To all intents and purposes, the Sun's rays are parallel. If you redraw the picture with parallel rays arriving directly from above, this would be obvious.
The correct explanation is far simpler and more coherent:
Clouds are primarily warmed by the sun from above!
There, easy. Once you accept that obvious statements, the rest follows.
* The temperature the clouds (are trying to) reach is the same, regardless of altitude (they are getting the same amount of sunlight).
* As a separate issue, the temperature below the clouds rises with decreasing altitude, at (say) 6.5 degrees per km (gravito-thermal effect).
* So the land/ocean surface below the high clouds is warmer.
* It's like two people who walk at the same speed, but one of them (the higher cloud) sets off earlier (higher up) and gets further (warmer) by a given end-time (the surface).
Here's a very simplified diagram to illustrate the point. 255K is the 'effective temperature' of Earth and its clouds - the sunlight hits the clouds first, so 255K is close to the actual temperature of clouds:
Clouds and climate lies i. The effect is quite noticeable. We were on holiday in Yorkshire last weekend and there was more or less constant 100% cloud cover. When the clouds were high up, it was very warm down below; when they were lower, it was cooler. (As an aside, this explains the stupid high temperatures on the hard surface of Venus - their cloud cover is about 70 km up!)
ii. This also neatly explains why it's colder than 255K at higher altitudes. According to Alarmist theory everything must be at least that warm. The top of Everest gets sunshine, there's little cloud cover and there is still plenty of CO2 in the air above it. But it's colder than 255 K, not warmer. ----------------------------------------------
I realize that there is a lot more to all this; I am just addressing the narrow point about high clouds v low clouds.

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