Reflection of sunlight from cloud at 5-8km in elevation (Cirrus).


The EPIC data also helped confirm that the flashes are coming from a high altitude, not simply water on the ground. Two channels on the instrument are designed to measure the height of clouds. According to the observations, high cirrus clouds—5 to 8 kilometers (3 to 5 miles) up in the atmosphere—appeared wherever the glints were located.

“The source of the flashes is definitely not on the ground,” Marshak said. “It is definitely ice, and most likely solar reflection off of horizontally oriented particles.”

Marshak is now investigating how common these horizontal ice particles are, and whether they are common enough to have a measurable impact on how much sunlight passes through the atmosphere. If so, it is a feature that would need to be incorporated into computer models of how much heat is reaching and leaving Earth.

Perhaps we should admit that it will take time to get ‘the science’ properly settled.

There is a notion in IPCC  ‘climate science’ that high altitude cloud has a warming influence on the surface.    A manurial notion if ever there was one.

As to whether there will be ice cloud at elevation or not….then the ozone content of the air will be a factor of importance because ozone absorption of infrared from the Earth itself determines air temperature and therefore relative humidity and the degree and extent of precipitation.

26 thoughts on “Reflection of sunlight from cloud at 5-8km in elevation (Cirrus).

  1. Hi Erl, I read this with interest too. With regards to theory of ozone raising air temp via radiation (light) from earth, I still struggle how it can do that when overall Intensity (ev) leaving earth is only about 0.1 eV and ozone only absorbs in one tiny fraction of that spectrum. Compare that to IR of about 1ev and visible 3eV. Both these hardly felt on our skin let alone influencing water. Seems too dilute, like trying to get a tan at night or from under an umbrella. I prefer the physical pressure induced driver of temperature than earth IR. note. Since radiation has no temperaure until it hits matter (mass) and is thermalised. Then convection and conduction takes over and the rest of your theory holds.

    Ps. Hope all is well with your building project and health. Cheers. Macha


    1. eV is joules – or energy – it really doesn’t tell you anything.

      It’s the Wattsr/meter^2 – or the flux – at a specific frequency which counts – but the most important parameter is the frequency.

      It’s possible to have 1000 Watts/meter^2 of IR and not excite a single CO2 molecule.


  2. Hi Macha, thanks for the comment but I am afraid I cannot agree.

    Lets acknowledge that radiation comes to the Earth over a wide variety of specta. It returns to space primarily in the infrared spectra. The most abundant energy (considering ingoing and outgoing together) is available smack bang around the 9-10um wavelength where ozone absorbs.

    But for the absorption of energy by ozone there would be no ‘stratosphere’. The absorption of outgoing infrared energy by ozone and the resulting, instantaneous, continuous, day and night warming of all adjacent molecules is responsible for the reversal of the decline of temperature with elevation.

    Do you want to deny the existence of the stratosphere?


  3. We are in agrement until the end..the line of questioning was along the lines “is it enough?” rather than “does it occur”.
    Btw. There is no need to be disingenuous by asking that last question because we both know we read fairly widely and try to think- deeply rather than simply accept mainstream.


  4. We are in agreement until the end. Let’s be more specific…..what’s the point of disagreement?

    The question at the end of my reply is candid and sincere so not disingenuous at all. It poses the question: Why is the stratosphere, (ozonosphere) warm? What is the agency of the warming? It is a counter to your assertion that ‘With regards to theory of ozone raising air temp via radiation (light) from earth, I still struggle how it can do that’.

    By the way, infrared is not ‘light’. Light is defined in Wikipedia… ‘Visible light is usually defined as having wavelengths in the range of 400–700 nanometres (nm), or 4.00 × 10−7 to 7.00 × 10−7 m, between the infrared (with longer wavelengths) and the ultraviolet (with shorter wavelengths).


  5. Am going to leave this thread Erl. You know I am a degree chemistry science background and a process engineering modeler, yet you (again) disingenuiously pick on my wavelength of light (all the spectrum frequencies move in the same way) by quoting wiki back to me. I am amazed you know could not follow the intended theme. Same goes for knowing when and where the stratosphere is warmest, from either vertical or horizontal global slice. You know I have followed this site since chapter1 and read counter views on others. Is this back-tracking for the benefit of other followers/readers? If so, sorry I missed the cue.
    Ps. Check out a site called. Thunderbolts. Interesting stuff on electrical atmosphere and cosmos. Unlikely to help grow grapes though. Bye.


  6. Hi Erl,

    You might like to slip on over to Tallblokes Talkshop. They are discussing a new paper on: the Foundations of Greenhouse Theory Challenged by New Analysis of Solar System Observations. Interesting stuff.

    Cheers, RobR


    1. Thanks Rob,
      The thesis represents common sense. The denser the medium the greater its capacity to store energy, the slower will be its radiative and convective escape.

      The more blankets one puts on the bed the warmer it is between the sheets.

      The closer one gets to the fire, the more the energy is absorbed.

      Meanwhile Clive James, in a potent attack on climate alarmists like Tim Flannery says:
      “I still hear the wombat in the night and wake shaking,” he writes. “As my retirement changed to illness and then to dotage, I would have preferred to sit back and write poems than to be known for taking a position in what is, despite the colossal scale of its foolish waste, a very petty quarrel. But it was time to stand up and fight.

      And so introducing a trenchantly effective piece of writing that appears in the weekend Australian that you might (if they let you without subscribing ) find by searching on: ‘Western climate alarmists wont admit they were wrong’.


  7. Clive James has had a whole career of being similtaneously wise and funny. He makes some very insightful comments.


  8. Erl,
    Over at wattsupwiththat there is a new interesting guest article on the temperature of the upper atmosphere. There are some interesting issues to resolve. I couldn’t help wondering if changes in ozone distribution might be part of the solution.


  9. Erl,


    Over at Tallblokes Talkshop there is a new guest article by Stephen Wilde on the temperature effect of atmospheric mass.


  10. Posts by cinaed and Macha and Erl remind me that we have not settled the questions of mechanism and energetics yet. Weak IR is caused by work being done to matter (here below for instance). If it can induce kinetic vibrations in stratospheric ozone, should the -ve 4th power rule apply? What would the result be, compared to what is?. Also, what about the incoming UV and indeed the pile of solar IR?


    1. I think you referring to the Stefan–Boltzmann law which relates the energy flux through a surface to the T^4 assuming black body radiation. And sometimes the surface isn’t where you think it is. The only true black body radiators are ones which are black – otherwise they only behave like black body radiators for a small range of frequencies.

      And if you estimate the temperature of a surface using the Stefan–Boltzmann law, you still have to measure it to ensure it’s correct.

      The atmospheric gases – with the exception of ozone and water – are radiative gases , i.e., they absorb a photon and then emit a lower energy photon – or one with a longer wavelength – where the difference in energy goes into kinetic and rotational energy of the molecule. Ozone and water in addition to be radiatiive and also trap heat .


      1. Hi all, its been a while. I was hoping Erl had added another blog chapter. Ah well. Live in hope. But I could not let this pass. Gases do not “trap heat”, which has too much association with a greenhouse for my liking and that is nothing like our “open” air blanket. At best, some gases might slow the rate of cooling to space. moreover, an increasing presence of water in the atmosphere is to lower temperature not raise it. Hence dry desert air achieves higher temperatures than in humid equatorial air climes. Semantics maybe, but so be it. So our atmospheric temperature is at the mercy of our oceans, which covers 70% of the global surface area and is predominantly less than 15C. It slows the heating during the day and warms it at night. Observations beat modeling.


    1. erl happ says:
      July 3, 2017 at 7:24 am: In thinking of radiation, we need to realise it is a RESULT of work done to matter which increases, in this case, the vibrations of atoms in their magnetic fields. As with a generator, flux ensues, EMF in this case rather than electrons. It is not the CAUSE of heat and temperature merely measures kinetic energy flow from hotter to cooler. Where it can be felt as sensible heat as molecules bang our skin. Any heating it may cause on other matter is incidental to some of it resonating with matter. Until you reach Gamma radiation, it is all photonic, ie it is ‘light’ whether we see it or not. Birds, especially seabirds, can see much of it. This has very little mass, essentially zero (correct me here, cinead?) hence the -ve 4th power. And that only, IIRC, when radiating to zero Kelvin, Yes, we understand where the real surface is for that. If the source, by the way, is cooler than the sink the quantum oscillators ignore it, so the basis of AGW is totally negated, wrecked, nullified. ( What warmists measure as spectral radiancxe and call as potential kinetic energy heat, is merely spectral exittance, ghostly indeed.

      This is all a bit tricky, and I may have tripped myself up too. But it is why I ask for physical proof.
      Your demonstration on nullschool of descending warmer ‘air’ into a low pressure vortex as a start to uplift of colder air does make me think it could be possibly caused by ozone as you say. So I am open to being convinced, and Ren’s work with SSWs and their violent ‘pressure bump’ effects adds to that. Caleb showed me the DMI near real time simulation of Arctic uplift, more common now maybe with the ‘Quiet sun’ of higher solar wind effects on Earth. Like nullschool, these are still simulation however, and cannot be proof, yet. Cheers from NZ, now under governance again, mores the pity. better an anarchy like Oz. At least I voted for Winston…..


  11. At WUWT there is a new post titled “Review and Summary of three Important Atmospheric Physics Papers” which is worthy of a good read. Discusses atmospheric temperature profiles, density profiles, phase changes and ozone formation.


    1. RobR. What seems to be overlooked in the papers and indeed the discussion is the long wave energy that is emitted by the Earth and its atmosphere that is intercepted by ozone and instantaneously transmitted to adjacent molecules via conduction. This is manifest in change in the height of the tropopause according to total column ozone. The more ozone, the lower is the tropopause. The highest wind speeds (jet streams) are associated with steep changes in atmospheric density in the lateral dimension. Density is related to ozone composition.

      It’s a pity the authors didn’t look at atmospheric temperature profiles as they vary with latitude. The strongest lateral movement of the air is found in the stratosphere. Its west to east, rotating with the earth but faster. The direction of movement reverses over the poles in summer as the vertical temperature profile changes. In winter the lapse rate that is characteristic of the troposphere extends to the highest reaches of the stratosphere. The polar atmosphere in winter is devoid of ozone. Its mesospheric in origin.

      Pity the chemists and physicists done get out of their lab more.


  12. The whole darn mare’s nest comes from confusiing the actions and effects of energy, matter, its phases, and radiation. Sometimes deliberately.


  13. News from WUWT:

    ” Effectiveness of this mechanism depends on geomagnetic field intensity.

    “In this paper we show that bi-decadal variability of solar magnetic field, modulating the intensity of galactic cosmic ray (GCR) at the outer boundary of heliosphere, could be easily tracked down to the Earth’s surface. The mediator of this influence is the lower stratospheric ozone, while the mechanism of signal translation consists of: (i) GCR impact on the lower stratospheric ozone balance; (ii) modulation of temperature and humidity near the tropopause by the ozone variations; (iii) increase or decrease of the greenhouse effect, depending on the sign of the humidity changes. The efficiency of such a mechanism depends critically on the level of maximum secondary ionisation created by GCR (i.e. the Pfotzer maximum) − determined in turn by heterogeneous Earth’s magnetic field…” “


  14. Thanks Brett. Its pretty plain that GCR are influential in determining ozone levels in high latitudes but its rare to find this proposition put forward in the annals of climate science.

    Unfortunately, the role of ozone in the generation of polar cyclones and Jet stream phenomena is as yet not appreciated. Ozone contrast between air parcels is the driver of the intensity of the global circulation of the air.

    The correlation with water vapour seems to have a six year lag….bit hard to understand that.

    If there is an effect on relative humidity of extra ozone its likely to be very direct via the heating of the air containing a relatively invariable level of water vapour directly reducing upper air ice cloud cover and allowing more solar radiation to reach the surface of the Earth. But, this effect on cloud cover is not appreciated in practitioners of climate science who think only in terms of greenhouse theory and back radiation.

    There is no lag between ozone increase and surface temperature increase. The direct effects of ozone on cloud cover are strongest above 500 hPa. This is inferred by comparing the much larger temperature increase that occurs at 200 hPa to the simultaneous surface temperature increase at the surface….greater by a factor of three.


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