An Alternative View of the physics of the Earth’s atmosphere

Written by Michael Connolly & Ronan Connolly

Abstract

 Atmospheric profiles in North America during the period 2010-2011, obtained from archived weather balloon radiosonde measurements, were analysed in terms of changes of molar density (D) with pressure (P). This revealed a pronounced phase change at the tropopause. The air above the troposphere (i.e., in the tropopause/stratosphere) adopted a “heavy phase”, distinct from the conventional “light phase” found in the troposphere. This heavy phase was also found in the lower troposphere for cold, Arctic winter radiosondes. Reasonable fits for the complete barometric temperature profiles of all of the considered radiosondes could be obtained by just accounting for these phase changes and for changes in humidity. This suggests that the well-known changes in temperature lapse rates associated with the tropopause/stratosphere regions are related to the phase change, and not “ozone heating”, which had been the previous explanation. Possible correlations between solar ultraviolet variability and climate change have previously been explained in terms of changes in ozone heating influencing stratospheric weather. These explanations may have to be revisited, but the correlations might still be valid, e.g., if it transpires that solar variability influences the formation of the heavy phase, or if the changes in incoming ultraviolet radiation are redistributed throughout the atmosphere, after absorption in the stratosphere. The fits for the barometric temperature profiles did not require any consideration of the composition of atmospheric trace gases, such as carbon dioxide, ozone or methane. This contradicts the predictions of current atmospheric models, which assume the temperature profiles are strongly influenced by greenhouse gas concentrations. This suggests that the greenhouse effect plays a much smaller role in barometric temperature profiles than previously assumed.

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1 Introduction

 In this paper (Paper I), together with two companion papers (henceforth, Paper II and Paper III), we develop a new approach for describing and explaining the temperature and energy profiles of the atmosphere. This approach highlights a number of flaws in the conventional approaches, and appears to yield simpler and more accurate predictions. In the current paper (Paper I), we will analyse weather balloon data taken from public archives, in terms of changes of molar density with pressure, and related variables. By doing so, we discover a phase change associated with the troposphere-tropopause transition, which also occurs in the lower troposphere under cold, polar winter conditions. We find that when this phase change is considered, the changes in temperature with atmospheric pressure (the barometric temperature profiles) can be described in relatively simple terms. These descriptions do not match the radiative physics-based infra-red cooling/radiative heating explanations used by current models. We present theoretical explanations of these simple descriptions from thermodynamic principles.

In Paper II, we will argue that this previously overlooked phase change is due to partial multimerization of the main atmospheric gases, and therefore is a phase change which has not been considered by the current climate models. If this theory is correct, then this offers new insight into the formation of jet streams, tropical cyclones, polar vortices, and more generally, cyclonic and anti-cyclonic conditions. It also offers a new mechanism for the formation of ozone in the ozone layer, and a mechanism for radiative loss from the atmosphere which has been neglected until now. In Paper III, we identify a mechanism for mechanical energy transmission that is not considered by current atmospheric models, which we call “pervection”. We carry out laboratory experiments which reveal that pervection can be several orders of magnitude faster than the three conventional heat transmission mechanisms of conduction, convection and radiation. This could be fast enough to keep the atmosphere in thermodynamic equilibrium over the distances from the troposphere to the stratosphere, thereby contradicting the conventional assumption that the lower atmosphere is only in local thermodynamic equilibrium. The format of the current paper is as follows. In Section 2 we will briefly review the conventional descriptions and explanations for the atmospheric temperature and energy profiles. In Section 3 we present our analysis of the atmospheric temperature profiles in terms of molar density. In Section 4, we will consider the implications of our findings. Finally, in Section 5, we offer some concluding remarks.

2 Conventional explanations for the atmospheric temperature and energy profiles

 2.1 The atmospheric “layers”

 Traditionally the atmosphere has been schematically divided into a number of layers or “spheres” surrounding the earth. The schematic divisions are allocated on the basis of the temperature profiles in each region. The three lowest spheres (the “troposphere”, “tropopause” and “stratosphere”) contain more than 99% of the atmosphere by mass. Since, the weather balloons which we analyse in this paper only reach the stratosphere before bursting, our discussion will be mostly confined to these three lower layers. The name troposphere is derived from the Greek word “tropos”, meaning to mix or stir. According to the US Standard Atmosphere (Figure 1), for every kilometre travelled upwards from the ground through the troposphere, the temperature drops by about 6.5K. This is due to thermal energy being converted into gravitational potential energy. The troposphere varies in thickness from about 15 km at the Equator to half that thickness at the Poles (see Figure 2). The lowest one or two kilometres of the troposphere (where most rain and clouds occur) is sometimes called the “boundary layer”.  In the tropopause the temperature does not change with height, hence the suffix “–pause”. The thickness of the tropopause also changes from the Equator to the Poles, but in the opposite direction to that of the troposphere, i.e. it is thickest at the Poles and thinnest at the Equator (see Figure 2). In the stratosphere the temperature increases with height. It is often assumed that hot air is always less dense than cold air. This assumption leads to the incorrect conclusion that warm air has to float above cold air. For this reason, mixing of air between different layers is assumed to be rare, leading to the belief that the air in the region is essentially stratified (hence the prefix “strato–”). Some researchers have disputed this assumption, e.g., Brewer, 1949, but the name has stuck. As a consequence, there is a general perception that the stratosphere is mostly isolated from the troposphere, except for some complex circulation patterns confined to specific areas, e.g., the tropical tropopause layer or the Brewer-Dobson circulation in the Arctic.

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5 Final remarks

 By applying new approaches to analysing the atmospheric profile measurements of weather balloon  radiosondes, we were able to identify a previously overlooked phase change which appears to be responsible for the change in temperature behaviour associated with the transition from the troposphere to the tropopause/stratosphere. This phase change also seems to occur in the lower troposphere during Arctic winters. We refer to the tropopause/stratosphere phase as the “heavy phase” and the conventional (non-Arctic winter) tropospheric phase as the “light phase”. Our analysis also highlighted serious problems with two of the radiative physics-based theories currently  used by global climate models – the ozone heating explanation for the tropopause/stratosphere temperature behaviour and the greenhouse effect theory. In a series of companion papers, we investigate these issues further. In Paper II, we consider the identity of the heavy phase, and suggest that it involves the partial multimerization of the oxygen (and possibly nitrogen) in the air. In Paper III, we identify a mechanism for mechanical energy transmission in the atmosphere which does not appear to have been considered. We refer to this mechanism as “pervection” (in contrast to convection). Our laboratory measurements of pervection show that it can be considerably faster than radiation, convection or conduction. This could explain why the radiative-convective models which currently comprise the core physics of the global climate models are inadequate. Our findings seem to have a large number of significant implications, which we have attempted to summarise in Section 4. In terms of the current understanding of climate science, a considerable portion of the literature may now need to be revisited (see the 2007 reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for a detailed review of the current literature). In particular, the problems we have identified with the current global climate models appear serious enough to require re-development “from scratch” (see Edwards, 2011 for a good review of the development of the current climate models and Neelin, 2011 for a good introductory textbook on how they work). Nonetheless, we believe that our new approaches to understanding the physics of the Earth’s atmosphere provide more insight, and ultimately should improve attempts at weather prediction and our understanding of climate change.

Read the full paper at oprj.net

Comments (14)

  • Avatar

    Rosco

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    “I’m not here to defend my hypothesis pertaining to temperatures and heat transfer mechanisms in atmospheres, crusts, mantles and cores of all planets and satellite moons: ”

    Come on Doug – that is ALL you are EVER hear for !!

    Maybe someone will listen when you stop promoting the crap you ALWAYS write as you do Ad nauseum :-

    “or implies a low flux of 180W/m^2 somehow still supports the mean surface temperature of Earth. ”

    Obviously you deliberately ignore the reality the Sun heats Earth’s surfaces to significantly higher temperatures than the “average”, that the atmosphere absorbs energy and during the night both the surface cool.

    You deliberately ignore well documented physical characteristics of materials and thermal energy transfer. And you seem to ignore time.

    Next you’ll be as dumb as those who compare Earth to the Moon or the “greenhouse effect” of Venus !

    Oh wait – YOU DO !!

    No one – including you – has any clue as to what is occurring on Venus other than we know the atmosphere has a huge mass compared to Earth’s. Beyond that no-one has any clue – admit it !

    To use Venus to support an argument about Earth’s atmospheric conditions is akin to stupidity.

    Get real Doug – none of us have any respect left for you and we don’t give a damn about your stupid aliases and the way you have used several fake commentators to give the impression anyone other than you has any interest in endlessly seeing your inane comments repeated ad-nauseum.

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    Jef Reynen

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    Doug you write:
    ” Now Jef Reynen’s PROM paper (claiming just 79 W/m^2 of solar radiation into the surface…..)”

    It seems you do not read carefully my paper, which in the global and annual mean budget says explicitly that from the average incoming 180 W/m^2 SW radiation of the Sun on the surface of the planet, only 79 W/m^2 leaves the surface by LW radiation: 60 through the window and only 19 LW from the surface to be absorbed by the atmosphere.
    (see figure 4 in http://www.tech-know-group.com/papers/Sensitivity_overview.pdf)

    Another problem with you is that you do not understand that the gravity cause of the atmospheric effect in the atmosphere is well known , but it is a past station.
    It was known by Laplace or Fourier or Poisson when they eliminated one of the three parameters (p,rho,T) in the ideal gas law by the use of Newtons law (dp = -rho*g*dz ).
    The famous meteorolgist Joan Simpson, known for her work on so called “hot towers” used it, not graphically by means of a lapse rate but with expressions like pv^gamma =constant or pT^kappa =constant. In fact the late Joan Simpson, who, around her retirement age, was stationed at Goddard, was one of the first sceptics. She did not agree with her boss at Goddard, James Hanssen.
    The atmosphere is not exactly an ideal gas, mainly because of watervapor and phase changes.The gravity issue is correct but you cannot determine at each point of the surface of the planet earth the weight of the air collumn:
    integral( rho(z)*g(z)*dz) from z = zero to infinity.

    For that reason the very true gravity issue is a past station, and Hans Jelbring knows it.
    He is not disturbing the blogosphere like you, by yelling again and again that
    “I, Doug Cotton, has the solution”.
    It is much more efficient to take the measured environmental lapse rate, ELR = -6.5 K/km, and the standard atmosphere temperature profiles for the polar, mid-altitude and tropical altitude regions as given in figure 2 of the Conolly paper above.

    Doug, stop your ridiculous efforts to try to sell the gravity argument, it is a past station!
    The measured ELR takes care of it and of other phenomena due to phase changes.

    To be honest with you Doug, the only good argument which you forward is the response you give to the back-radiation people (warmists and luke warmers alike) who claim that back-rdiation is not a crime against the 2nd Law, because the upward radiation and the back-radiation have to be considered together.
    Your answer is scientifically excellent, by saying that two claimed radiation of heat processes, up and down, interrupted by an absorption mechanism, should each satisfy the 2nd Law, for the two legs separately.

  • Avatar

    Jim McGinn

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    DC: And now we have the Connollys’ inventing a new rapid heat transfer mechanism
    JM: Not heat, kinetic energy. As I understand it, the apparatus in their demonstration was to explicate the concept. Although they do not agree, when you see a storm you are actually seeing the end result of that process occurring naturally in the atmosphere, the apparatus thereof being jet streams and tributaries thereof. Do you have any refutation of this, Doug. Or would you rather continue to obsess about something nobody cares about?

    • Avatar

      Jim McGinn

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      Kinetic energy can be directed thermal energy cannot, that being the point we were discussing, you pedantic twit. Think.

      • Avatar

        Jim McGinn

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        DC: . . . may also be referred to as . . .
        JM: That they are the same in some ways doesn’t mean they are the same in all ways. Right? Answer the question Doug and show us you are not completely inane.

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      Jim McGinn

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      I guess when your only tool is a hammer every problem looks like a nail. Here is a problem that can’t be solved with your hammer. We can reasonably assume that the energy of jet streams comes from differential pressure. But science currently lacks an explanation for how it gets concentrated to form jet streams. Its a reversal of entropy–from disorderly (air pressure) to orderly stream flow and there is no obvious mechanism facilitating this. Why don’t you show us your physics prowess Doug, try to answer this question, and take a break from spamming?

  • Avatar

    Jim McGinn

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    The connelly’s and myself have a similar problem. We are trying to solve problems in a discipline that has convinced the public that there is no problem, a discipline that alienates anybody that says there is a problem, a discipline that uses the same political tactics of the global warming alarmists but that doesn’t have to contend with all the baggage that goes along with it. Climatologists don’t debate because they have the upper hand and can only lose. Meteorologists don’t debate because they are clergy.
    https://groups.google.com/d/msg/sci.physics/yiEi2SDTruY/gGSv0X_kCQAJ

    • Avatar

      Jim McGinn

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      DC: What I explain in my paper and my hypothesis is my choice.
      JM: Right. You explain things that anybody can look up in a textbook. The problem is there is not a lot of market for things that anybody can look up in a textbook. You are finding that out. Postma is finding the out. And PSI is finding that out. By the way, I think you did Roy Spencer a favor.

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    Jim McGinn

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    DC:
    If their rapid “pervection” process could exist then the temperature “hump” in the stratosphere of every planet would flatten out

    JM:
    Well, their point is that it does flatten out to some degree. IOW, their point, as I understand it, is that there appears to be a higher degree of equilibrium than is predicted so there must be some mechanism achieving this. I think that mechanism is the jet streams and the low pressure of storms is the proximate mechanism thereof. It’s an imperfect process and, therefore, there is no reason to assume it is instantaneous, as you seem to be suggesting.

    Connelly, it seems, envisions pervection as being more esoteric, which I think is a mistaken. As I see it, there must be some means of achieving isolation from the friction of the atmosphere:
    https://groups.google.com/d/msg/sci.physics/HEVdYw177Ho/IoPdq4PjQpgJ

  • Avatar

    Jim McGinn

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    Jet streams are the pervective apparatus of the atmosphere. The jet stream are composed of a water-based plasma that occurs along wind shear boundaries and is itself a consequence of the fact that windshear boundaries cause microdroplets of water to spin, elongate, maximizing surface area and, thereby, maximizing surface tension, producing a kind of plasma that give structure to jet steams and their tributaries, vortices. The low pressure energy of storms is pervectively delivered through jet streams.

    Convection plays almost no role at all.

    Alternative to Spiritualistic Thinking in the Atmospheric Sciences

  • Avatar

    Jim McGinn

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    “The air above the troposphere (i.e., in the tropopause/stratosphere) adopted a “heavy phase”, distinct from the conventional “light phase” found in the troposphere. This heavy phase was also found in the lower troposphere for cold, Arctic winter radiosondes. Reasonable fits for the complete barometric temperature profiles of all of the considered radiosondes could be obtained by just accounting for these phase changes and for changes in humidity.”

    I think I might know what it is you detected. My guess is that this was detected more strongly in the vicinity of wind shear–jet streams. If so, I think you may have detected polymers of H2O spinning rapidly. The spinning is a consequence of water droplets in a moist layer of air being bombarded with side-glancing impacts from a dry layer of air going a different direction–moist/dry wind shear. Thus it only occurs under moist/dry windshear conditions like we find associated with the tropopause, especially the jet streams.

    Another aspect of this theory is that the polymerization of H2O maximized it’s surface area and, thereby, maximizes its surface tension, effectuating a plasma or plasma-like gas that itself forms the basis for the structure witnessed in tornadoes and jet streams. (Actually these polymerized H2O are like spinning polymers of ice.)

    One way to test this is to see if these radiosonde detect the same thing in the context of severe weather–tornadoes.

Comments are closed