The Kinetic Energy of Air Molecules & Altitude
Written by Herb Rose
Everyone knows that the temperature decreases with an increasing altitude and temperature is defined as the mean kinetic energy of the molecules being measured. However, the hypothesis is supported by the fundamental laws of physics and it is the thermometer that is giving inaccurate information.
The basic laws supporting this theory are:
1: All objects absorb radiated energy.
2: All objects above absolute zero will radiate energy.
3: An object will equalize its energy (radiate an amount of energy equal to the amount it absorbs) with the energy surrounding it.
The sun radiates energy into space and it is that energy which is absorbed by objects in space. In order for energy to be detected it must interact with matter and that energy will then be radiated by the matter.
A black body, where all energy is absorbed, cannot be detected since it emits or reflects no energy and must have a temperature of absolute zero. As energy is added to it, it will cease to be a black body and emit energy according to the laws of thermodynamics.
The sun radiates a broad range of electromagnetic radiation. The molecules in the Earth’s atmosphere do not absorb the electromagnetic energy in the visible spectrum or longer wavelengths but they do absorb radiated energy in the x-ray and ultraviolet spectrum.
These shorter wavelengths contain more energy than the longer wavelengths so while the surface of the Earth is being heated by the visible light the atmosphere is absorbing energy and being heated by shorter wavelengths.
The visible light and longer wavelengths are emitted by the surface of the sun and remain fairly constant. The ultraviolet and x-rays are emitted by the solar flares coming from the sun and vary with sunspot activity.
This means that the surface of the Earth will have a constant source of energy but the energy being absorbed by the gasses in the atmosphere will be variable depending on sunspot activity. When there are a lot of sunspots the atmosphere becomes warmer while fewer sunspots results in cooling.
The energy from any source will decrease with increasing distance from its source as the energy is spread over a larger area, but energy cannot be created or destroyed so the only other way that energy can decrease is if that energy is transferred to another object with less energy (not in equilibrium).
The decrease in the sun’s energy through the atmosphere because of increase in distance to the sun (140000000km vs 140000080km) is negligible and the decreasing of the energy in the atmosphere is due to energy being transferred to matter in the atmosphere, that, when in equilibrium with the energy, will then radiate that energy in all directions.
At an altitude of 80 km the density of the air molecules is .000018 kg/m^3. These molecules will absorb energy coming from the sun and attain equilibrium with that energy, thereby reducing the amount of energy that continues towards the surface of the Earth.
At sea level the density of the air molecules is 1.2 kg/m^3. These molecules will also absorb energy equalizing with the energy coming from the sun.
This means that even if no energy was being lost to the mass of the air molecules between altitudes of 0 km and 80 km (considerable energy is lost to this matter) the kinetic energy of an air molecule at 80 km will be 67,000 times the kinetic energy of the air molecule at 0 km.
Since matter radiates energy, not temperature and the transfer of energy is from objects with greater energy to objects with less energy this means the molecules of air higher in the atmosphere are transferring heat to the molecules lower in the atmosphere.
The visible light energy striking the ground is being distributed to a number of molecules a thousand times the number of molecules in the atmosphere and is not adding energy to the atmosphere. The energy from visible light is being transferred to cooler molecules below the Earth’s surface.
It is the upper atmosphere that is absorbing energy during the day and radiating energy into space at night.
When energy reaches the stratosphere-troposphere border the means of energy transfer switches from radiation to convection. This is where the oxygen atoms created when the energy from the sun exceeds the bond energy of oxygen molecules, collide with oxygen molecules creating ozone. It is not ozone molecules that are absorbing uv light, it is oxygen molecules and ozone is created as oxygen loses energy by transferring energy to more matter.
The current contention that the atmosphere is warmer at lower altitudes because gravity adds energy to descending molecules is pure garbage. It is a result of the thermometer not giving an accurate indication of the kinetic energy of air molecules. To do that you must use the universal gas law, not a thermometer.
If the gas molecules in the atmosphere had little kinetic energy they would be a solid layer on the surface of the Earth. When they absorb energy they convert to a gas and the addition of more energy causes that gas to expand creating the atmosphere. When a molecule descends in the atmosphere it is losing energy, not gaining energy.
Meteorology and climatology will remain fake sciences as long as they ignore the basic laws of physics and remain ignorant of the energy driving these systems.
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