Severe mistake in physics in a lately revealed GRL paper Loeb et al. in regards to the “unprecedented warmth storage” of the earth – watts with it?

Submitted to Geophysical Research Letters, 06/21/21. Published here at the request of the author.

Howard C. Hayden 1

1Prof. Physics Emeritus, UConn, now in Pueblo West, Colorado (

1 Introduction

A recent GRL paper by Loeb et al [1] contains a serious flaw in physics which is exacerbated by some extreme exaggerations in the press and in another GRL paper [2].

2. Basic physics

With frequent but small, short-lived exceptions, the radiant heat a planet gives off into space is equal to the heat absorbed by the sun. This applies to the earth within 0.3 percent [1]. For the earth, the incoming and outgoing heat rate is around 240 W / m2, averaged over the surface; for Venus only 156 W / m2 due to its high 76% albedo

The surface of the planet emits IR according to the Stefan-Boltzmann radiation law. The earth’s surface at 288 K emits 390 W / m2, around 150 W / m2 more than the earth emits into space. This 150 W / m2 heat storage is the cause of the 33 ºC temperature rise above the non-GHG earth with the same albedo. Venus at 737 K emits 16,730 W / m2 from its surface, but only 156 W / m2 into space. The difference of 16,574 W / m2, due to the composition of the extremely dense atmosphere of Venus, determines the climate of Venus: 511 ° C hotter than the hypothetical Venus with the same albedo, but without the greenhouse effect.

2.1 The mistake in physics

The grave scientific error of Loeb and colleagues is contained in this literally quoted sentence:

“The climate is determined by how much of the solar energy the earth absorbs and how much energy the earth emits through the emission of thermal infrared radiation.”

The climate is determined by the very large difference between surface radiation and planetary radiation and is definitely not determined by smaller positive and negative imbalances between absorbed solar energy and radiated IR.

2.2 Unjustified Claim

Mr. Loeb is quoted in numerous news articles (Washington Post, CNN, and others) as saying, based on about 15 years of CERES data, that the minor imbalances between incoming and outgoing heat flows are “unprecedented”. The same claim is made in the title of a GRL article by Mr. Loeb. set up [2]. Perhaps it can provide us with data from the last 4.6 billion years of Earth’s history to support this claim.

[1] Norman G. Loeb, Gregory C. Johnson, Tyler J. Thorsen, John M. Lyman, Fred G. Rose and Seiji Kato, “Satellite and Ocean Data Show Significant Rise in Earth Warming, Geophysical Research Letters, https: // [2] Loeb, NG, H. Wang, RP Allan, T. Andrews, K. Armor, JNS Cole, et al., 2020: A new generation of climate models tracks the recent unprecedented changes in the Earth’s radiation budget observed by CERES. Geophysics. Res. Lett., 47, e2019GL086705. doi: 10.1029 / 2019GL086705, ci


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