Monday, October 08, 2018

Eli's Thermo Class Is In Session

Lately Eli has been playing Clarissa, explaining all the thermochaff thrown up against the wall by his friends the confused.  First it was the Green Plate Effect showing how the presence of a colder third body decreases the cooling rate of an externally hotter one.  Then Eli pointed out that all of the heat flows between the sun, the surface, the atmosphere and space balance.  These are, Eli hopes useful cites to others.

Now comes the bunny to deal with a related everygreen, but let Ned Nikolov who is well rated as both confused and certain, state the issue

Somehow, Ned missed the latent heat and convection in his diagram, but let us be generous.  Eli can simplify that diagram

showing the flows into and out of the Surface and the Atmosphere.  Solar irradiation is shown in yellow, IR emission to space in green and the flow between the surface and the atmosphere are shown in brown and red.

Since William Nordhaus has won the Economics Nobel today, let's think of an economic model. Eli has a Savings and a Checking account, and each month he deposits $160 into the Savings account and $80 into the Checking.  He also takes out some percentage (40%) of what is in the checking account to pay Ms. Rabett's yarn bill, and puts another 45% of the Checking balance into the Savings account.  To settle things up at the end of the month the Rabett transfers 6% of the Savings account into the Checking account.  The flows of $ are

If we plot the outflow to expenses, and the interchange between the Savings and Checking accounts as a function of time, what happens?

The flows between the Savings and Checking account reach equilibrium in about 12 years as does the monthly outflow.  The numbers are pretty close to those in the energy balance diagram, but not exact because Eli has simplified stuff.  The percentages were adjusted so the equilibrium outflow is $240 but that was just for giggles. Also interesting is that the Savings and Checking accounts both reach equilibrium.  

Just like the Green Plate Effect, this is not a mystery, simply the result of counting.  The inflow cannot be compared to the flow between the two accounts (reservoir) which is what the Ned's of the world try to do

Conservation of dollars only requires that the flow into the two accounts (reservoirs) be the same as the flow out when a steady state is established.  Until then the flow out is lower, but in the case of the earth that happened millions of years ago.


  1. Emptying the ocean of stupidity is truly a Sisyphean task, no matter how large one's spoon. Perhaps Eli's analogies will help, but I'm not optimistic, especially since it apparently involves understanding my bank accounts - or Eli's.

    I thought I had more or less settled the red plate, green plate question by always ordering my enchiladas green, but these blue plates confuse me.

    I just hope Mr. Nikolic's PhD is not in something like civil engineering of things like bridges that can break and kill me.

    I guess Ned just doesn't understand that conservation of energy requires that all inputs and outputs be counted.

  2. Yep, but at Eli's advanced age abusing bags of wind is the only fun left

  3. @CIP. . .as long as we have Lumo we shall never die

  4. Sad to see that Nikolov hasn't gotten any smarter after all these years. When he first burst onto the scene, with his first manuscript with Zeller that appeared on Anthony Watts' blog among others, they had a cute demonstration of how putting convection in "correctly" in the shell model of the radiative greenhouse effect destroyed the effect. And, sure enough, the way they put it in the model did just that because in their model, they were having the Earth and the "atmospheric shell" exchange energy in such a way that they were being driven to the same temperature. In other words, they neglected the all-important fact that the atmosphere is only unstable to convection when the lapse rate is greater than the adiabatic lapse rate. As far as I know, they never acknowledged this elementary error. (At best, they just stopped using it to focus on the spacious curve fitting exercises.)

    Or maybe he is smarter, but he just knows his intended audience isn't?


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