That pesky stratospheric cooling
We all live in the troposphere -- that part of the atmosphere that stretches from the sea surface upwards for about 10 miles. The next big "sphere" as we go upward is the stratosphere. And even Warmists agree that the stratosphere is COOLING. And "spheres" above the stratosphere are cooling too.
So does that not upset global warming theory? No, say the Warmists. Their whole theory is that various gases in the troposphere "trap" heat rising off the earth. So that heat rising off the earth never reaches the stratosphere or higher. So the more the troposphere traps the rising heat, so the stratosphere will cool. It's a reasonable enough theory given Warmist assumptions.
And the big assumption is to conceive CO2 as forming some sort of blanket around the earth. A blanket would indeed keep the heat in and deny it to the stratosphere. But CO2 is NOT a blanket. It is just lots of separate molecules jiggling away doing their own thing. And ANY heated atmospheric molecule will emanate its radiation in ALL directions -- not just downward towards earth. CO2 molecules don't have little compasses in them telling them in which direction to focus their radiations.
So CO2 is not a blanket at all. It will be just as likely to radiate upwards as downwards. It will be just as likely to warm the stratosphere as the troposphere. So once again Warmism is fundamentally flawed. Their explanations are bunk. One could argue that upward radiation is blocked by that peculiar layer called the tropopause but if we argue that way, what do we need CO2 for? The tropopause already does the blocking job that CO2 is supposed to do. CO2 blocking becomes a surplus explanation that is put to death by Occam's razor.
It is true that stratospheric cooling could be due to the fact that most of the ozone is in the stratosphere. Ozone is that great stuff that soaks up most of the nasty UV radiation put out by the sun. I quote Dr. Jeffrey Masters, Director of Meteorology at Weather Underground: "The main reason for the recent stratospheric cooling is due to the destruction of ozone by human-emitted CFC gases. Ozone absorbs solar UV radiation, which heats the surrounding air in the stratosphere. Loss of ozone means that less UV light gets absorbed, resulting in cooling of the stratosphere"
That seems precisely backwards to me. It implies that CFC levels are rising, when the proud boast of the Greenies is to have cut them back. He is talking about a steady process -- cooling -- and explains it by another steady process -- decreasing ozone. But thanks to the heroic framers of the Montreal protocol, ozone levels should be RISING, not decreasing.
An explanation of cooling in terms of a recovery of ozone might make some sense: CFC chemicals had destroyed a lot of the ozone so less of the UV was being blocked. The stratosphere got warmer than it should be. It wasn't blocking as much UV as it once did. So heroic environmentalists created the Montreal protocol which stopped human beings from manufacturing any more of the evil CFC stuff. So the stratosphere has been cooling down from an abnormal high as CFCs diminish and ozone increases.
I don't like that explanation either but let's concede that some way or another ozone explains stratospheric cooling. The big problem is that if we go further up in the atmosphere, the ozone more or less vanishes but we still find cooling.
So what is the explanation for stratospheric cooling?
Can I say that I don't know? What I do know is that the role of CO2 has been misconceived. CO2 is a red herring. It explains neither tropospheric warming nor stratospheric cooling.
Is a confession of not having all the answers troubling? It shouldn't be. Such a confession is the starting point of all research. I was amused by something Carl Mears said on his RSS site: "Climate models cannot explain this warming if human-caused increases in greenhouse gases are not included as input to the model simulation."
He seemed to think that was a decisive argument. Unexplained warming was anathema to him. We MUST have an explanation, he seems to say. But there is no such must. Chemists once had an explanation for combustion that they thought was pretty good. They thought that it consisted of the release of phlogiston. Problem: There is no such thing as phlogiston. So I think Carl Mears is full of phlogiston
In fact, I think I do know what is happening with ozone and the stratosphere. The key is to leave CFCs out of the picture. But I will leave that for tomorrow -- JR.