"Man, being the servant and interpreter of Nature, can do and understand so much and so much only as he has observed in fact or in thought of the course of nature. Beyond this he neither knows anything nor can do anything." Francis Bacon 1620 "The New Organon"
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Physical analysis shows CO2 is a coolant for the atmosphere
There is a fallacy dominating the way of our thinking in current climate research that radiative gases such as carbon dioxide and water vapour are regarded greenhouse gases that trap heat and warm up the atmosphere.Physics analysis of carbon dioxide, oxygen and nitrogen molecules, however, tells a different story: carbon dioxide is cooler than, gains heat by molecular collision from, and dissipates heat by radiation for nitrogen and oxygen.Indeed, CO2 is a coolant of the atmosphere, and it is nitrogen and oxygen gases that award the Earth a warm liveable near surface atmosphere.
The physical principle behind the analysis lies in the Kirchhoff’s law of 19th century radiation physics, which can be restated in plain English as: an object that absorbs emits and an object that emits absorbs.Absorption and emission are two inseparable equivalent identities of the same physical essence.Carbon dioxide absorbs infrared therefore it emits as well thermal radiation.Nitrogen and oxygen do not absorb, therefore do not emit.CO2 approaches 0 K because of its emission if there is no radiation source; absorption of the thermal radiation from the earth ground surface rises CO2 temperature from -273.15°C to -78°C only.CO2 gains heat by colliding with warmer nitrogen and oxygen to rise its temperature further, which can be measured by spectroscopy.
We will have a better understanding of the physical principle if one notices that a computer case is often designed black.This is because a black surface emits more heat out so the computer will be cooler.On the other hand, an industrial boiler is usually painted silver to reduce thermal emission to reserve heat.
With this alternative interpretation, we have a better explanation of the temperature-altitude profile of the atmosphere; in particular, a better explanation of the existence of the thermosphere where the molecular temperature of residual oxygen gas is well above 100°C ¾ CO2 gas is sorted out in the thermosphere due to its heavier molecular weight.
A PDF file of the full manuscript entitled “Role of heat reservation of N2 and O2 and the role of heat dissipation of CO2 and water vapour” is available to download if interested.