Faulty Hypothesis? NASA ERB Measurements Don’t Show Significant Radiative Budget Differences

NASA earth radiation budget measurement from satellite data don’t support global warming claims.

Analyst blogger Zoe Phin downloaded and analyzed 10 gigabytes of NASA instrumental data on the earth’s radiation budget (ERB) fully covering the years 2003 to 2019 [site] [data].

faulty hypothesis nasa erb measurements dont show significant radiative budget differences

High clouds should be warming the planet, and low clouds cooling it, NASA says. Yet 16 years of their own satellite measurements don’t support the claim. Image: NASA.

The idea is to see the effect of clouds at the surface, especially the so-called Upwelling Longwave Radiation (LW_UP).

High clouds supposedly warm the planet

But first, NASA tells us high clouds are much colder than low clouds and the surface and so they radiate less energy to space than low clouds do. And because high clouds absorb energy so efficiently, they have the potential to raise global temperatures. In a world with high clouds, much of the energy gets captured in the atmosphere. High clouds make the world a warmer place. If more high clouds were to form, more heat energy radiating from the surface and lower atmosphere toward space would be trapped in the atmosphere, and Earth’s average surface temperature would climb.

Low clouds said to cool the planet

NASA also adds that low stratocumulus clouds – on the other hand – act to cool the Earth system because they are much thicker and not as transparent. This means they do not let as much solar energy reach the Earth’s surface. Instead, they reflect much of the solar energy back to space (their cloud albedo forcing is large).

NASA adds that stratocumulus clouds radiate at nearly the same intensity as the surface and do not greatly affect the infrared radiation emitted to space (their cloud greenhouse forcing on a planetary scale is small). The net effect of these clouds is to cool the surface.

But 16 years of satellite measurements tell different story!

Zoe looked at 4 different types of observed LW_UP: All, Clr, AllNoAero, and Pristine. All is normal observed sky. Clr (clear) is no clouds. AllNoAero is All minus aerosols. Pristine is Clr minus aerosols.

Since clouds are said to play an important role in Earth’s supposed greenhouse effect, and this effect leads to a supposed serious warming at the surface, we should see a very large difference between all these 4 scenarios.

Very little difference

But when looking at the results, Zoe finds there is very little difference. The difference in surface LW_UP between a Pristine sky (no clouds, no aerosols) and All sky is just 0.82 W/m², she finds.

“I would even argue it might be ZERO. It’s only not zero because a satellite can’t measure the same scenario in the same place at the same time. They can only measure some place nearby or same place at another time,” reports Zoe. “Even if I’m wrong on this, this value is still very unimpressive.”

Hardly changes outgoing surface radiation

Next the former Wall Street analyst looks at downwelling longwave radiation (LW_DN) and longwave radiation at the top of the atmosphere (TOA_LW):and compares the averages side by side for all 3:

Series Average clr_toa_lw_up 262.503 all_toa_lw_up 237.889 pristine_toa_lw_up 262.979 allnoaero_toa_lw_up 238.168 clr_sfc_lw_dn 317.924 all_sfc_lw_dn 347.329 pristine_sfc_lw_dn 316.207 allnoaero_sfc_lw_dn 346.359 clr_sfc_lw_up 397.445 all_sfc_lw_up 398.167 pristine_sfc_lw_up 397.387 allnoaero_sfc_lw_up 398.129 

“Clearly not the case”

According to the greenhouse gas theory, infrared absorbing gases are supposed to be preventing radiation from reaching space, thus causing warming at the surface.

“Well we clearly see that’s not case. If clouds (water vapor + aerosols) hardly changes outgoing surface radiation, then the whole hypothesis is in error,” Zoe concludes. “Less top-of-atmosphere outgoing radiation doesn’t cause surface heating and thus more radiation from the surface, despite the increase in downwelling radiation.”

See Zoe’s article on this.

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