Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

A misinterpreted claim about a NASA press release, CO2, solar flares, and the thermosphere ......
Watts Up With That? ^ | March 28, 2013 | a by Anthony Watts

Posted on 03/29/2013 11:01:33 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach

I loathe having to write this story because I truly dislike giving any attention to the people who are known as the “slayers” from the “Slaying the Sky Dragon” book. They now operate under the moniker of “Principia Scientific”.

But, somebody has to do it because some really bad mangling of the intent of a NASA press release by the “slayers” group is getting some traction. They have completely misread the NASA study and reinterpreted it for their purpose, claiming in a story titled “New Discovery: NASA Study Proves Carbon Dioxide Cools Atmosphere” :

NASA’s Langley Research Center has collated data proving that “greenhouse gases” actually block up to 95 percent of harmful solar rays from reaching our planet, thus reducing the heating impact of the sun. The data was collected by Sounding of the Atmosphere using Broadband Emission Radiometry, (or SABER). SABER monitors infrared emissions from Earth’s upper atmosphere, in particular from carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitric oxide (NO), two substances thought to be playing a key role in the energy balance of air above our planet’s surface.


The NASA story is  about the thermosphere when it gets hit by solar flares. Here’s the Press release:

Here’s the relevant part from the press release:


“Carbon dioxide and nitric oxide are natural thermostats,” explains James Russell of Hampton University, SABER’s principal investigator.  “When the upper atmosphere (or ‘thermosphere’) heats up, these molecules try as hard as they can to shed that heat back into space.”

That’s what happened on March 8th when a coronal mass ejection (CME) propelled in our direction by an X5-class solar flare hit Earth’s magnetic field.  (On the “Richter Scale of Solar Flares,” X-class flares are the most powerful kind.)  Energetic particles rained down on the upper atmosphere, depositing their energy where they hit.  The action produced spectacular auroras around the poles and significant1 upper atmospheric heating all around the globe.

“The thermosphere lit up like a Christmas tree,” says Russell.  “It began to glow intensely at infrared wavelengths as the thermostat effect kicked in.”

Solar Storms Dumps Gigawatts (Nitric Oxide Spike, 558px))

A surge of infrared radiation from nitric oxide molecules on March 8-10, 2012, signals the biggest upper-atmospheric heating event in seven years. Credit: SABER/TIMED. See also the CO2 data here:

For the three day period, March 8th through 10th, the thermosphere absorbed 26 billion kWh of energy.  Infrared radiation from CO2 and NO, the two most efficient coolants in the thermosphere, re-radiated 95% of that total back into space.

In human terms, this is a lot of energy.  According to the New York City mayor’s office, an average NY household consumes just under 4700 kWh annually. This means the geomagnetic storm dumped enough energy into the atmosphere to power every home in the Big Apple for two years.

“Unfortunately, there’s no practical way to harness this kind of energy,” says Mlynczak.  “It’s so diffuse and out of reach high above Earth’s surface.  Plus, the majority of it has been sent back into space by the action of CO2 and NO.”


The two lines I bolded are what has the “slayers” in a tizzy.

Yes, of course the upper atmosphere is going to deflect and re-radiate the energy of solar storms, that’s why we don’t burn to a cinder when they happen. There’s nothing new here, this is what the upper atmosphere (thermosphere) does. CO2 (and other greenhouse gases – GHG’s) in the lower atmosphere also re-radiates long wave infra red energy (LWIR) as backradiation coming up from the surface of the Earth as it dumps the shortwave solar energy absorbed returns as LWIR (heat) and makes its way to the top of the atmosphere.



I’m writing this for the benefit of some who may have fallen into the trap of thinking the “slayers” interpretation was NASA’s position.

The claim by the “slayers” is the worst form of science misinterpretation I’ve seen in a long time. By itself I would have ignored it, but some of our friends in other blogs have picked up the story, and because of the NASA link, thought it was credible example as the “slayers” framed it.  It isn’t, it is a twisting of the facts in a press release about solar flares and the thermosphere to make it look like the lower atmosphere works the same way. To some extent it does, but the direction of the source of LWIR energy is reversed, and CO2 and other GHG’s impede the transfer of LWIR energy to the top of the atmosphere where it is finally re-radiated into space. Without GHG’s, the lower atmosphere would be very cold.

Because the “slayers” get as irrational in comments as some of the most strident AGW activists, and because it is late and I don’t want to deal with the angry dialog from some of their members who frequent here I know will happen, but would instead prefer a good night’s sleep, I’m not going to enable comments for this post. Maybe tomorrow.

Comments on now

TOPICS: Conspiracy; Science; Weather
KEYWORDS: climatechange; globalwarminghoax; nasa; solar
Full title:

A misinterpreted claim about a NASA press release, CO2, solar flares, and the thermosphere is making the rounds

1 posted on 03/29/2013 11:01:33 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: All

NASA Video at WUWT Website.

2 posted on 03/29/2013 11:13:02 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach ((The Global Warming Hoax was a Criminal Act....where is Al Gore?))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
The incidence of the Sun's radiation on the Earth is an average which includes these solar flares.

So there's no error at all ~ you compute the total gross energy input, take account of any blocking of any part at any time, and you end up with the total net energy input.

Some of it is re-radiated as heat ~ which is bounced back to Earth, and some of it is re-radiated at higher frequencies which bounces into space, or on a cloud, and possibly back and forth several times.

3 posted on 03/29/2013 11:16:52 AM PDT by muawiyah
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: muawiyah
The real issue is the incremental increase in back-radiation, for each increment in CO2 levels. That is decidedly not a linear relationship -- it's logarithmic, and the "greenhouse" effect of CO2 is nearly saturated.

A doubling of atmospheric CO2 (something that even climate alarmists aren't claiming would happen), would increase the back-radiation, greenhouse effect by about 20%. OTOH, halving the CO2 would create an instant ice age.
4 posted on 03/29/2013 11:49:33 AM PDT by USFRIENDINVICTORIA
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]


pret’ near. We should already be backsliding into a period of advancing glaciers but somebody invented agriculture. That increased atmospheric CO2 AND other gases ~ a wide variety of aeromatic hydrocarbons!

5 posted on 03/29/2013 11:55:41 AM PDT by muawiyah
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson