By Paul Homewood

One of the White House Climate Change Information Briefs is this one by Dr William Happer. It does not aim to make new science – it merely gives a layman’s view of the topic:


It has some relevance to David Coe’s recent posting on the subject.

However, there is one section which I want to draw your attention to. What follows is a discussion of some of the implications that arise. They are very much my interpretation, and I may be wrong, so feel free to criticise!

  There are two things I want you to notice:

1) Outgoing thermal radiation peaks at around 200 latitude, the horse latitudes, such as the Sahara, where the air is very dry.

2) Thermal radiation to space exceeds incoming solar energy from around 40latitudes and higher, whilst the opposite is true at lower latitudes.

The Earth is in fact extremely efficient in transferring this surplus energy out to the polar regions, and thus maintain balance and a moderate climate. It does this through a combination of ocean currents, winds and evaporation.

It is assumed that extra CO2 in the atmosphere will reduce the amount of energy, which the planet can radiate to space. However, the above graph suggests that the polar regions are not limited in this way, and are capable of radiating much more energy to space, assuming such energy was present there in the first place.

And, of course, that extra energy is present there. We only have to look at atmospheric temperatures in the Arctic to see that. We often hear how the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, but what happens to that heat? It is radiated to space.

Indeed there is little to keep it back, as there is so little water vapour there. Indeed there is no obvious reason why outgoing radiation at the poles should not be at similar levels to the horse latitudes. The only limitation is the amount of heat at the former in the first place.

A warmer Arctic is not a sign of a warmer planet, it is evidence that the planet is losing more heat to space.

Let’s test this out with a few charts.

Temperature data in Iceland shows that it was just as warm in the 1930s and 40s as now, but there was a long, intensely cold era in between, which lasted about 30 years.

Clearly these temperature trends cannot be explained by CO2, which at best can only be a minor driver of temperatures there.

We do, of course, find exactly the same pattern of temperatures across most of the Arctic.

Annual temperatures trends at Stykkisholmur, Iceland – Icelandic Met Office


Secondly, let’s look at the diurnal temperature variation at Akureyri, which is on Iceland’s north coast. This is the difference between daily max and min temperatures.


As we can see the biggest differences are between April and August. This tells us that as days warm, outgoing radiation at night increases to compensate.

We often hear claims that less sea ice reduces the albedo effect, allowing more solar radiation to enter the ocean. This may be a factor, but in reality in mid summer, when solar radiation is at its maximum, Arctic sea ice extent is still close to full:


When sea ice extent hits minimum in September, solar energy is already rapidly diminishing in the Arctic, and  the loss of heat from the ocean becomes the dominant factor.



January 20, 2021 at 10:24AM