Daily Archives: August 27, 2010

Adding up the Greenhouse Effect: Attributing the contributions

For most people who study global warming only casually it is well known that the greenhouse effect acts to increase the surface temperature of the planet (currently) by about 33 K (or 60 F) above the so-called “effective temperature”; this is the temperature value that a planet would need to have in order for the infrared energy it emits to space to balance the energy it absorbs from the sun (assuming the sun is the only important source of energy, which is true enough for Earth and neighboring planets like Venus and Mars). This is simple enough, yet there are still many popular misconceptions out there concerning the relative roles of individual greenhouse gases and the total mean climatology of the greenhouse effect, and some of these confusions have admittedly not been explicitly corrected in the literature very well.

A matter of curiosity from this point is to decide how much of the total greenhouse effect is partitioned between various radiatively active substances in our atmosphere. That is, how much of the natural greenhouse effect is fractionally supported by water vapor, by CO2, etc
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