CO2 – An Insignificant Trace Gas? Part Four

The Science of Doom

Recap

Part One opened up the topic and introduced the simple “billiard ball” or zero-dimensional analysis of the earth’s climate system. The sun radiates “shortwave” energy which is absorbed in the atmosphere and the earth’s surface. This heats up the earth’s climate system and it radiates out “longwave” energy.

The longwave energy gets significant absorption from water vapor, CO2 and methane (among other less important gases). This absorption heats up the atmosphere which re-radiates long wave energy both up and back down to the earth’s surface.

It is this re-radiation which keeps the earth’s surface at around +15°C instead of -18°C.

Part Two looked at why different gases absorb and radiate different proportions of energy – what the factors are that determine the relative importance of a “greenhouse” gas. Also why some gases like O2 and N2 absorb almost nothing in the longwave spectrum.

The Part Three introduced Radiative Transfer…

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