MARCH 3rd 2011
Vincent Gray - IPCC Expert reviewer


The greenhouse effect is caused by absorption of infra red radiation from the earth by trace gases in the earth's atmosphere (see attachment). A greenhouse (also shown in the diagram) confines only a small part of the atmosphere, so the trace gas absorption is negligible. However, the earth inside can still be heated by the sun and the air can be warmed at its surface, but it cannot  escape, so the atmosphere inside the greenhouse is warmer than the outside, The same effect happens inside a car with closed windows left in the sun.

The greenhouse effect was first clearly identified by John Tyndall (Heat as a Mode of Motion 1863). He showed that several trace gases in the earth's atmosphere absorbed infra red radiation at discrete wavelengths, thus warming the atmosphere, reducing the escaping radiation and increasing the radiation from the atmosphere to the earth, thus causing warming.(attached).

Radiation consists of alternating electric and magnetic  field oscillations as shown in this diagram. It is a form of energy and therefore complies with the First Law of Thermodynamics, the conservation of energy. It is, however, not subject to the Second Law of Thermodynamics which is concerned with the conversion of heat energy into mechanical energy. Heat  consists of kinetic and vibrational energy (measured by temperature) of the molecules of all substances above absolute zero of temperature.  Some of its energy can only be transferred to another substance if that substance is able to take it, which means it must have a lower temperature.

Radiation is quite different. Its energy is given by the Stefan/Boltzmann Law, and it  is proportional to the fourth power of the absolute temperature of the emitter  (except for special systems like fluorescent tubes or lasers) .

When radiation is absorbed it either causes a change of orbit of the electrons in an atom or molecule or it gets dispersed as general kinetic and vibrational heat. In both cases the resulting additional radiation is emitted in all directions. Thus in both cases the radiation absorbed by greenhouse gases is partly re-emitted upwards and partly downwards where it returns to warm the earth

By far the most important greenhouse gas is water vapour. Its concentration is, however, so variable in time and space that we are unable to obtain an accurate average value. but it is roughly  4000 parts  per million .

The minor trace gases are carbon dioxide 380 parts per million, methane   0.00179 parts per million, nitrous oxide 0.0003 parts per million

So in order to find whether the greenhouse effect is increasing or falling it is mainly necessary to study water vapour.

This task is currently impossible. Weather stations routinely measure relative humidity, which is the ratio of concentration to the saturation value.
It is the property important for human comfort. Such measurements are too sporadic and unrepresentative of the earth in general to be much use to find if there is a trend up or down.

A sensible scientist would give up at once. However, climate scientists seem determined to try and pretend humans are harming the planet, so they decided to make an outrageous assumption. They assume that the average concentration of atmospheric water vapor is proportional to the temperature. There is no observational or theoretical evidence for this assumption.  Water vapour can then be called a "feedback" and left out of tables of greenhouse gases. They do not like to tell us that there is no way that they could find the average temperature of the earth, so it only applies to the "temperatures" "projected"  by models.

I attach a profile of water vapour in the atmosphere measured at Lauder in the South island. It shows that most is close to the surface but that some sort of average is impossible. I also attach a NASA map of the "column averages" over time, which shows that water vapour is mainly over warm places (the tropics).

So, having tucked the problem under the carpet we are bombarded with the problems of the second greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, one tenth the concentration of the main gas. It is mainly measured over the sea where they try to argue that it rises steadily. I attach a chart from Imdonesia which shows it is not all that steady, but perhaps is going up. But does it matter? Without more information on water vapour we will never know.


Vincent Gray
Wellington NZ

"To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact"    - Charles Darwin


  1. ,To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact"

  2. Water-vapor climate feedback inferred from climate fluctuations, 2003–2008 – Dessler et al. (2008) “Between 2003 and 2008, the global-average surface temperature of the Earth varied by 0.6°C. We analyze here the response of tropospheric water vapor to these variations. Height-resolved measurements of specific humidity (q) and relative humidity (RH) are obtained from NASA’s satelliteborne Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS). … The water-vapor feedback implied by these observations is strongly positive, with an average magnitude of [lambda]q = 2.04 W/m2/K, similar to that simulated by climate models.”

  3. .

    How Much More Rain Will Global Warming Bring? – Wentz et al. (2007) “Climate models and satellite observations both indicate that the total amount of water in the atmosphere will increase at a rate of 7% per kelvin of surface warming. … Rather, the observations suggest that precipitation and total atmospheric water have increased at about the same rate over the past two decades.” [Full text]

  4. The wisdom of Solomon
    Filed under: Climate Science — gavin @ 29 January 2010
    A quick post for commentary on the new Solomon et al paper in Science express. We’ll try and get around to discussing this over the weekend, but in the meantime I’ve moved some comments over. There is some commentary on this at DotEarth, and some media reports on the story – some good, some not so good. It seems like a topic that is ripe for confusion, and so here are a few quick clarifications that are worth making.

    First of all, this is a paper about internal variability of the climate system in the last decade, not on additional factors that drive climate. Second, this is a discussion about stratospheric water vapour (10 to 15 km above the surface), not water vapour in general. Stratospheric water vapour comes from two sources – the uplift of tropospheric water through the very cold tropical tropopause (both as vapour and as condensate), and the oxidation of methane in the upper stratosphere (CH4+2O2 –> CO2 + 2H2O NB: this is just a schematic, the actual chemical pathways are more complicated). There isn’t very much of it (between 3 and 6 ppmv), and so small changes (~0.5 ppmv) are noticeable.

    The decreases seen in this study are in the lower stratosphere and are likely dominated by a change in the flux of water through the tropopause. A change in stratospheric water vapour because of the increase in methane over the industrial period would be a forcing of the climate (and is one of the indirect effects of methane we discussed last year), but a change in the tropopause flux is a response to other factors in the climate system. These might include El Nino/La Nina events, increases in Asian aerosols, or solar impacts on near-tropopause ozone – but this is not addressed in the paper and will take a little more work to figure out.

  5. Gday Anonymous

    The Dessler paper is dealt with here; note comment 41:

    Wentz here:

    The thing about extra heat and evaporation is that as Stewart Franks found, extra heat heats before it evaporates so slightly elevated atmospheric temperatures need not lead to extra evaporation:

    See this explanation of what Franks is talking about:

    See also:

    In addition for purposes of AGW it is not so much whether there is increased water vapour but where it is; for AGW water vapour must be high where it would block OLR; these papers show that is not the case:

  6. .

    ,However, one study using weather balloon measurements found decreasing humidity (Paltridge et al 2009).

    MARCH 3rd 2011

    "So in order to find whether the greenhouse effect is increasing or falling it is mainly necessary to study water vapour.
    This task is currently impossible"

    MARCH 3rd 2011
    So in order to find whether the greenhouse effect is increasing or falling it is mainly necessary to study water vapour.
    This task is currently impossible

    In addition for purposes of AGW it is not so much whether there is increased water vapour but where it is; for AGW water vapour must be high where it would block OLR; these papers show that is not the case:

    you have just contradicted the post and you could not even see it coming

    have a good day

  8. I guess after that post Bob Carter has been falsified as well

  9. Funny sort of a comment, An. You can't say that without any evidence.

    Why don't you read Pinker:

    And then spell out all the contradictions that you can find; I’m eager to learn, unlike most alarmists.

  10. Vincent Gray has responded to anonymous with a one-line"

    "As I said this is all about unbelievable models and unreliable observations"

  11. So you are not going to post the IPCC AR4 reference to Pinker, what a waste of time ,


  12. "As I said this is all about unbelievable models and unreliable observations"

    except of course for the papers that geoff has posted conrtadicting Vincent but obviously are reliable ,

    your fun geoff,

  13. Here are a few things predicted by unbelievable models
    as you say, you are willing to learn, yer right

    That the globe would warm, and about how fast, and about how much.
    That the troposphere would warm and the stratosphere would cool.
    That nighttime temperatures would increase more than daytime temperatures.
    That winter temperatures would increase more than summer temperatures.

    Polar amplification (greater temperature increase as you move toward the poles).
    That the Arctic would warm faster than the Antarctic.
    The magnitude (0.3 K) and duration (two years) of the cooling from the Mt. Pinatubo eruption.
    They made a retrodiction for Last Glacial Maximum sea surface temperatures which was inconsistent with the paleo evidence, and better paleo evidence showed the models were right.

    They predicted a trend significantly different and differently signed from UAH satellite temperatures, and then a bug was found in the satellite data.
    The amount of water vapor feedback due to ENSO.
    The response of southern ocean winds to the ozone hole.
    The expansion of the Hadley cells.

    The poleward movement of storm tracks.
    The rising of the tropopause and the effective radiating altitude.
    The clear sky super greenhouse effect from increased water vapor in the tropics.
    The near constancy of relative humidity on global average.
    That coastal upwelling of ocean water would increase.

  14. Just playing with your head, Mr Byatt.

  15. No geoff the pinker citation , your playing with something , where are the model predictions post geoff, you shifted the goalposts and i responded,

    i thought that you were complaining that i was banned from JG because you could no longer address the issues there, you had your chance here and blew it,

    waste of time geoff

  16. No, John. I have nothing to do with you being banned on JG. From the moderators, I believe that you were the reason that you were banned on JG.
    As long as you are not abusive, like you are on Mike's "Watching (by) the Deniers" you can post here.

    You had your chance there and blew it. Don't blow it here - and, why hide behind the anonymous tag?
    It's very easy with the button just below here to add your own name or even your cooloolafool nickname. There was an anonymous posting here which said: "Monkeybumface."

    Was that you? You see, anyone can post as anonymous, I will think it is you if you hide (HYDE?) behind anonymous.

    Don't waste my time anonymous!

  17. read that post again geoff , this is your problem, there is no claim that you had anything to do with my being banned at JG,

    now if you do not have the fortitude to put up the IPCC citation and the correct model predictions then you are no different to every other denialist site that censors for a purpose, not done at WTD as you discovered.

    all you have found out over the past few hours is that in an open forum you would be creamed because you are out of your depth ,

    'monkeybumface was probably ADMRICH one of ridleys cohorts trying to cause trouble, they email each other and he often pops up when ridley is on a he did here the other day Google maurice rich ADMRICH

  18. , I believe that you were the reason that you were banned on JG.

    yet even you could not see a reason for that, post the comment that they claimed i was banned through geoff

  19. Last comment banned - Do not call this a denialist site with all the baggage that carries. The people who deny are the followers of the "Let's hide the MWP."

  20. Anonymous is not so gutless on Mike's "Watching by the deniers." He posts under his own name - John Byatt (how come I always want to type Batty?)

    Latest boast:
    Geoff has gone into censorship mode,

    He posted Pinker to strengthen his case and a link to the abstract, having read pinker i just gave him the IPCC AR4 WG1 which cites pinker,

    (Not posted due to unacceptable words, nervous John)

    now moving the goalposts but i will wait awhile, i know that they are a waste of time

    (well, actually John, you and your fellow deniers are the time wasters and are a danger to the future)
    but maybe a post or two now to keep them on their toes , who else can i annoy ?

    John, they will be posted if they are not abusive.

  21. Is Anon that John Byatt? You're such a polite young man John; and so knowledgeable. We are still waiting for you to point out the contradictions between the Soloman and Pierce papers on low stratospheric water vapor and the gist of this post. And we are sure it will be worth waiting for, because, John, everything you do is so interesting.

    As for Pinker; we are sure you know all about Pinker John, because you know everything, or at least everything worth knowing; and Pinker is worth knowing. I am sure you can tell us John, what Pinker found in her observations about TOA LW radiative flux balance and SW received at the surface from 1983 up to 2001, the period of alleged maximum AGW. And, of course, John, clouds depend on water vapor to form, don't they?

    Now, I'm sure a smart, polite young man like yourself can help us all out by explaining these difficult concepts.

    Remember John, we don't deny you are a know-it-all!

  22. Read my comment above - Mr Byatt who cannot be believed interpretted this on Mike's "Watching BY the deniers" site as

    =I just got banned at TCS=

    John, that was a bare-faced lie. I would equate your to our mendacious Prime Minister who along with the Red Green Brown want to kill the future for Australia.

    =i think that ross __B, who comes here got more than denier nonsense from that site, threats..=

    Really, John, is this another lie or can you back it up?

  23. Hi Geogg, there was a wonderful tool on Senator Fielding's blog, an "IGNORE" button, which many of us used to get rid of the nonsense posted by John Byatt (AKA cooloola), Ross Brisbane (AKA DigitalAdvisor/ConcernedCitizen and Spatch. They became known as "the duty dingbats" and "the three stoogies", which is appropriate. Their roll is to disrupt reasoned debate. Best ignored.

    Best wishes, Pete Ridley

  24. PART 1

    There was a wonderful tool on Senator Fielding's blog, an "IGNORE" button, which many of us used to get rid of the nonsense posted by John Byatt (AKA cooloola), Ross Brisbane (AKA DigitalAdvisor/ConcernedCitizen and Spatch. They became known as "the duty dingbats" and "the three stoogies", which is appropriate. Their roll was and still is to disrupt reasoned debate - best ignored.

    Let’s get back to people and things that are worth talking about, such as Vincent Gray, climate change, humans and nature. As you know, Vincent is an inaugural founder of The New Zealand Climate Science Coalition ( which is affiliated with the International Climate Science Coalition ( As the coalition states “ICSC BRINGS A SCIENCE-BASED, NON-PARTISAN APPROACH TO THE CLIMATE DEBATE”, not something that can honestly be claimed by the IPCC.

    Back in April 2007, after reading staunch environmentalist Mark Lynas’s propaganda booklet “Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet” ( – note the cover picture), I was a very concerned about the claimed impacts of our use of fossil fuels on global climates and the lives of my children and grandchildren. It was Vincent, along with Professor Zbigniew Jaworowski (, who started me on my journey to the truth, that it was all politically-inspired scare-mongering.

    Recognising that environmentalists try to capitalise on any natural weather event and blame it on our use of fossil fuels I did a search to see if any scaremongers were linking the horror of the recent Christchurch earthquake with climate change. No intelligent individual would try to do that unless they had some other agenda, because it is well understood that this was only the latest in many such natural recurrences in that region due to its position on the tectonic plate boundary. Of course there were a few trying to make more out of it than a natural event but not many at all, thank goodness (e.g., - If you want to feel really sick google “Christchurch earthquake god”).

    Two sites that I found of interest were:
    - Climate Change Psychology – see note below - (, where Kevin Trenberth, well-known to anyone who has researched the CACC doctrine and Climategate, was caught in the middle of it and offers a first-hand account of the dreadful experience people there had and are still suffering from,
    - The Climate Show ( in which Trenberth appeared on the New Zealand scare-mongering program “The Climate Show #8: Kevin Trenberth and our shaky future”.

    The don’t recall what the first site was about but the latter appears to be a promotional site for New Zealand journalist, photographer and author Gareth Renowden. I wouldn’t want you to waste your time listening to the earlier CACC doctrine propaganda from Gareth and his co-presenter or the later rubbish by John Cook of that “biased-science” blog SkepticalScience but Trenberth starts discussing climate (as opposed to the earthquake) from 29 – 50 minutes. Trenberth made a less-than-perfect but acceptable job of adhering to the philosophy of sadly-departed Professor Stephen Schneider (*), i.e. present scary scenarios without acknowledging the significant uncertainty that underpins the CACC doctrine.

  25. PART 2

    Gareth tried to draw Threnberth into attributing the Australian flooding events this year to our use of fossil fuels. Trenberth turned to those worse-than-useless climate models, acknowledged that they aren’t perfect but still claimed that they were useful enough to indicate a human influence on climate due to warming. Fair enough to that point as no claims regarding how significant a roll that influence might be, so he had left wriggle room available over that response which would allow him in future to blame the models for getting their projections wrong. (Vincent has expresses his opinions about those models in his excellent booklet “The Greenhouse Delusion” -

    Gareth then tried likening increased water vapour to pouring petrol on a fire – well, like death by drowning (, death by fire is very scary. Obviously Gareth too has taken to heart what Scheider said. Again Trenberth was guarded, simply saying that tropical cyclones are affected by moisture content but sub-tropical by temperature gradient. Gareth then tried to link the claimed “hot” 2010 with the extreme flooding weather events in Queensland and elsewhere in the world. Now Trenberth played clever, linking the unusually strong El Niño with the small amount of warming without making clear that there is no way of knowing how much impact the warming (natural plus any human contribution) would have had compared with El Niño.

    Trenberth then tried to steer away from the real problem (poor understanding of the processes and drivers of global climates) and claimed that the problem was not being able to communication with lay people. He also tried to say that due to warming, Australia, previously experiencing serious droughts, was suddenly having extreme flooding because of warming. Considering that there has been virtually no increase in mean global temperatures (no warming) during the past 12 years and the floods have only just happened, that one needs further explanation.

    Gareth then introduced “turning the null hypothesis around” and more politics from Trenberth. “The IPCC said in 2007 that global warming was unequivocal and very likely caused by human activity”, as though the IPCC was the source of truth about the processes and drivers of global climates. Trenberth went on to say “global warming is happening”, not mentioning the “travesty” that warming vitually stopped around 2005 ( despite human activity continuing its upward trend. Trenberth unsurprisingly made it very clear that he is very much in favour of the onus being put on scientists to prove that human influence on global climates is insignificant, knowing full well that with the current high level of scientific uncertainty it cannot be proven either way.

    Trenberth went on to talk about many things that we need to know more about but made no mention of the primary one – the science that describes climate processes and drivers. One thing that I did agree with him about was the need for far better measurement capability but he should have said not only better but over a much longer period (30+ years?) and under tight and independent scrutiny. Such scrutiny is also needed of the statistical manipulations undertaken ion the raw measurement data. The stirling analyses by Steve McIntyre and Ros McKittrick which exposded the dubious manipulations carried out by Michael Mann and his “Hockey Team” testify to that (see “the Hockey Stick Illusion” by Andrew Montford).

  26. PART 3

    Of course the followers of the CACC doctrine commenting on Gareth’s thread don’t agree with me but watch the A/V and make up your own minds.

    * “ .. we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have .. ” ( Schneider, like Veerabhadran Ramanathan, was a bit of a “wind-vane” as far as climate science is concerned.

    Best wishes, Pete Ridley


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