Monday, February 29, 2016

Considering Criminal Mischief and Vandalism of Intellectual Property

It seems to me that scientific studies based on millions of dollars worth of state of the art observational instruments and thousands of man/woman hours - is very much a form of real property.  Intellectual property to use the specific legal term.  This intellectual property exists within a well defined legal code and system.

This legal code is the foundation of our civilization.  One of the reasons our legal codes were established, and are obeyed, is because people needed protection of their personal property from unlawful misappropriation or destruction - a necessity for a society to peacefully function and flourish.  

It really is fundamental, without such communal guidelines and their acceptance by all members of society as the way to conduct our affairs, we'd degenerate into a Lord of the Flies dystopia. 

I bring this up, because one of the fundamental cornerstones of the Republican/libertarian orchestrated PR attacks on serious science is their conviction that lying about what scientific papers are saying is their fundamental free speech right.  When in fact, it is nothing less than wanton vandalism of the intellectual property of legitimate experts.

I've been told "Rights" aren't given, they are demanded and struggled for.  When will we struggle for We The People's right to learn what scientists are saying without vandalism and the interference of the malicious poison of tactical lies and fabricated personal attacks?

Towards that end I'd like to share some food for thought.  A few typical legal codes that deal with Criminal Mischief and wanton vandalism.  Followed by a few sage words of warning from President Eisenhower.  Then a few links to further considerations including Lawrence Torcello's provocative essay at 'The Conversation' - "Is misinformation about the climate criminally negligent?"

Considering Criminal Mischief

Criminal mischief is a crime governed by state laws, which vary by state. It generally involves any damage, defacing, alteration, or destruction of tangible property with criminal intent.
The following is an example of a state law governing criminal mischief:

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Obsessing over global temperatures, example of fraud driven "seepage"

The number one dodge and time waster in our global warming public awareness dialogue is the nonstop obsessing over temperatures, taking them, processing them, matching models.  Every new study is treated as though this were some kind of ball game with armchair quarterbacks right and left.  

Thing is, those temperature numbers are useless information if you don't first grasp the fact of greenhouse gases and how they control our planet's insulation against frigid space.  We know this added heat is being absorbed into our global climate system, there's no where else for it to go undetected.

The physics means that everything under that atmosphere will absorb some of that added warmth.  Period!
Measuring those varied temperatures moving through the global system 100% is impossible, but why would that change the physics of what's going on?

Besides, we do have overwhelming thermometer-independent evidence.

27 -- The evidence for climate change WITHOUT computer models or the IPCC

potholer54  |  Published on May 9, 2013  |  16:02 min

What's hideous is all the people who glibly dismiss the geophysics of greenhouse gases which is clearly known to a high degree of certitude.  And instead pretend that human's ability to measure the actual heat moving through our global heat and moisture distribution engine is the be all and end all of what they need to know.  

With that bit of venting, allow me to introduce you to an excellent primer on how well scientists understand the physics of our atmosphere.  By way of a map to Dr. David Archer's excellent college level course, which is freely available at YouTube.   This I follow with information about "seepage" from the man who coined the term, Dr. Lewandowsky. Finishing with a couple links to Admiral David Titley, and climatologist Gavin Schmidt who explain a bit more about temperatures and climate models.

Dr. David Archer
Global Warming
Understanding the Forecast

Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast is a comprehensive introduction to all aspects of global warming. Written in an accessible way, and assuming no specialist prior knowledge, this book examines the processes that control climate change and climate stability, from the distant past to the distant future.

A look at Scientific Consensus, by Dr. Keith Strong

I like to think I get around YouTube pretty good, until I get reminded of just how narrow my bandwidth is.  Last week while researching some project I stumbled onto the YouTube channel drkstrong and a totally new collection of refreshing climate science enlightening videos and he's been producing a lot of them.  An accomplished scientist himself, he brings that expert's ability for level headed clear explication to these videos.  My kind of roll model for what serious teaching and learning is all about.

He's actually been around for a few years, near as I can tell he joined YouTube 2010, though his first videos were in 2012.  But, it seems like in the past year or so he's refined his technics and caught fire.  With nearly three million views to his credit, I hate admitting I'm late to the party.  I hope to make up for it by featuring some of his videos since they fit right in with what I'm trying to convey with my parade of blog posts.  I follow the video with my usual notes and I finish up with the text of the April 20, 1998 National Academy of Sciences statement regarding Fredrick Seitz's Oregon Petition cover "paper" fraud.   

The scientific method and scientific consensus what's it mean?
Dr. Keith Strong  |  10:24 min  |   Published on Feb 23, 2016

What is the scientific consensus?  

0:25  -  The Scientific Method
A review of the Scientific Method

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Another study in miscommunication - reporting on Karl et al. 2015

I want to make clear that I have a good deal of respect for Jeff Tollefson, on account of how often my searches lead to one of his articles, which are consistently clear and helpful.  I even think this article is fundamentally sound and helpful.  

However, there's one word that's an stellar example of "seepage" whereby scientists and science communicators unconsciously adopt the contrarian meme, rather than getting back to fundamentals and explaining what's happening to our global heat and moisture distribution engine.

Seepage, impacts of a chimera - Lewandowsky, Risbey, Oreskes study

The paragraph had potential for an insightful learning moment, instead it plays right into the Republican campaign of confusion. 

US agency’s updated temperature records suggest that global warming continues apace
Jeff Tollefson  -  June 2015  -

"An apparent pause in global warming (2) might have been a temporary mirage, according to recent analysis. Global average temperatures have continued to rise throughout the first part of the twenty-first century, researchers report on 5 June in Science1.

That finding, which contradicts (1) the 2013 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is based on an update of the global temperature records maintained by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The previous version of the NOAA data set had showed less warming during the first decade of the millennium. ...
(1)  Contradicts what?

Karl had more information at hand then IPCC did.  It's about better information leading to better understanding and more accurate numbers.  

The physical reality is that it is exceedingly difficult to measure Earth's temperature with 100% coverage or accuracy, and while scientists are doing an amazing job and getting amazingly detailed, it'll never be enough for the contrarian hearted.  So, we allow malicious fraudster to rain contempt and slander on respectable professional humans doing their jobs, on account of the difficulty of their task.  It's vicious, mean spirited, and intended to make our public stupid.  While too many communicators unconsciously keep falling in line with their malicious misrepresentations. 

Karl et al. didn't contradict anything, it incorporated new information and offers another step forward in understanding and refinements, and it updates previous understanding, along with raising some new questions.  

NOAA temperature record updates and the ‘hiatus’

Monday, February 22, 2016

Senator Inhofe your "Global Warming Hoax" is a hoax !

This post is an interesting sort of one way collaborative effort.  
You see, over the years I've communicated with a number of scientists and post grads.  Asking straight forward questions and receiving informative replies.  I try not to over do my welcome, after all these are very busy people with more important things to do.

But for this post I sent a grand shout out to a number of my correspondence pals and received more responses than I expected including some informative surprises for me. 

I have taken great liberty slicing and dicing their responses. Rewriting some, leaving other quotes untouched and giving all of it some order.

I mention this because I want to be clear the following List of "CO2 science dependent" modern marvels is not my own cleverness and I want to send out a big Thank You! to my informed anonymous heroes!  

Also see: February 21, 2016
Archive, Hanscom AFB Atmospheric Studies, Cambridge Research Lab

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The increase in atmospheric concentration of CO2 since preindustrial times is a given. Understand that the radiative physics of greenhouse gases are very well-understood.

Consider heat seeking missiles flying through different altitudes searching for a heat source who's signature is changing with altitude.  In order to program the computer, the programmer must know how to accurately compensate for the changing signature.  It requires a complete knowledge of the radiative properties of all the gases in the atmosphere, or all that hardware is for naught.

{Incidentally, there is not one contrarian "theory" or challenge to the physics that hasn't been looked at by informed individuals.  You just have to poke around*, you'll find that contrarian errors, omissions, and falsifications have been clearly explained.      *Or you can check out this resource:

The Republican/libertarian PR machine makes its career out of ignoring all those treasure troves of valuable valid information, because they are scared of it.  It's very human, but cowardly just the same, but I digress.}

You may ask, by what right am I so sure about it? 
It comes down to, down to Earth reality. 
Please consider the real life modern marvels that would be impossible without such understanding:

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Archive, Hanscom AFB Atmospheric Studies, Cambridge Research Lab

This project is inspired by the incredible number of malicious frauds who continue loudly broadcasting that CO2 is failed science and a big hoax.  They deliberately never slow down long enough to think through how utterly ludicrous their paranoid self-certain conviction is.

In this exercise I've combed through the Air Force Cambridge Research Lab's official history, and pulled out what seem to me highlights of their atmospheric research.  It's all frustratingly vague, no hyperlinks here, still it is the official USAF record and offers some tantalizing hints to early Air Force Atmospheric Studies.  

Keep in mind this research took a century's worth of increasing fundamental understanding and evolved it into a thorough understanding of our atmosphere, its components and their physical properties and behavior within our atmosphere's real environment.  

I can be certain of this, even if I'm not an expert, because of all the functioning modern marvels that would have been impossible without that understanding being correct!  Not to mention the insanity of thinking such fundamental nature can be hoaxed away, when thousands are studying it.

I share the following quotes in the hope some may find it a useful tool for digging up more information about early atmospheric studies (Incidentally, such atmospheric research wasn't confined to the USA, Australia, USSR and others, were also solving these fundamental 'mysteries' in order to get on with achieving mastery over weaponry, which they certainly achieved.  

Interestingly, the geophysical understanding developed independently by each nation, totally agreed with each other.  Funny that.)

Chronology From the Cambridge Field Station to the Air Force Geophysics Laboratory 1945 - 1985
Air Force Geohysics Laboratory, Hanscom Air Force Base
Bedford, Massachusetts, USA

Friday, February 19, 2016

{8} Atmospheric Insulation Explained - appreciating our climate engine

In this installment of "Appreciating our Global Heat and Moisture Distribution Engine" I focus on videos about our atmosphere's life sustaining insulating abilities and the molecules that make it possible.  This won't be as pretty as my previous installment, which had those gorgeous NASA data driven animations to look at and ponder.

This is a bit more along the lines of classroom work, particularly my first video featuring the high school teacher Mr. Kemp who does a nice job of describing the various layers of our atmosphere using a cool space station photo of our planet's horizon.  Then a 9 min video by Professor Richard Alley explaining how we know CO2 is responsible for current global warming.  Followed by an 8 min video by PICSClimateInsights reviewing aspects of greenhouse molecules. 

Then comes Ricardo Esplugas's visualization of greenhouse molecules in action, followed by Iain Stewart's demonstrating CO2's infrared capturing abilities and finishing up with Dan Miller demonstrating what 280 ppm looks like.


Layers of the Atmosphere 
Mr. Kemp - MSHS Science  |  Published on Dec 17, 2012  |  13:26 min

0:00 -  Describing the various layers of the atmosphere using a profile picture taken from the Space Station of Earth's atmosphere.
2:00  -  diagram
2:15  -  Stratosphere, Ozone layer, ultra-violet radiation absorption
3:50  -  Troposphere, surface warming
4:50  -  Temperature profile through the atmosphere
5:20  -  Troposphere, mixing layer, air circulation, convection
7:00  -  Stratosphere, temperature gradient, 
7:45  -  ozone absorbing ultraviolet light leading to temperature inversion
8:30  -  Mesosphere, "shooting stars" burn up here
8:45  -  Thermosphere, air very thin, feels cold, but individual atoms extremely hot (high kinetic energy).
10:35  -  Ionosphere, overlaps Mesosphere and Thermosphere, where auroras happen

Check out this power point.  
It could be the best summation for someone at my level I've seen:

Greenhouse Gas and Climate Science Measurements
The SIM Metrology School October 28 – November 1, 2013

James Whetstone
Special Assistant to the Director for Greenhouse Gas Measurements
National Institute of Standards and Technology, USA

Who says it's settled physics?  
Our Air Force, that's who!
Australia's Air Force, that's who!

CO2 & the Atmosphere

Earth: The Operators' Manual  |  Published on Apr 9, 2012  |  9:03 min

Air Force research on missiles and the story of Ice Ages both reveal the effects of carbon dioxide.

(#B) Further dialogues with the disconnected

It wasn't an hour before my pal fired back (If you want to know about the background to this thread, check out the previous post).  

If you're someone who wants to confront climate science contrarian types, this will be worth your time.  I dare say valuable background for your future endeavors.   Others need not waste their time.  

The Global Heat and Moisture Distribution Engine series would be a much better use of your time.  {fixed typos and other edits 2/20/16, 12:45 PM}
Dude writes:
I think you're in the mood for battle. I've read your blog post. Nobody with half a brain, outside of yourself, believes carbon dioxide has historically been the primary global climatic driver. Co2 traps a little heat, but it is not the primary driver. 

ENSO is a massive signal in comparison. Maybe we should say ENSO drives climate? 
CC:  How can you say that considering those were NASAGoddard videos and data, not mine?

"Primary driver", that would be the Sun, but it's been closely observed and it's been very steady for a very long time.

Can you explain the difference between driving weather patterns and the state of the planet's climate regime?

Do you not believe our atmosphere acts as insulation for our planet and the climate system within?

How does ENSO produce or take away heat from the global climate system?

Dude:  Some, and I disagree with these, believe that Co2 drives our current climate. Now comes the easy part. Please provide evidence that Co2 drives climate today, but if you stray from  empiracles... You lose.
That's pretty confusing not sure what you're claiming.  

The whole way you're looking at it seems backwards.  CO2 is an integral part of our atmosphere and is a major regulator of the amount of heat that's held within the global climate system.  The temperature at which our climate engine is running is profoundly tied to the amount of warmth our atmosphere holds, and the way the ocean basins are formed and its waters are circulating, even land masses and plate tectonic behavior, volcanoes, all, and more, interact with our atmosphere.

We are talking about complex systems science that won't submit themselves to your simplistic disingenuous lab bench expectations. 

Where is your empirical evidence showing that experiments establishing CO2's "greenhouse properties" are wrong?

Then perhaps - can you explain why we have dozens of modern marvels that would be impossible without that thorough empirical understanding of how greenhouse gases behave in the atmosphere?

Further dialogues with the disconnected

I left a simple comment at the following YouTube video, basically sharing notes I'd put together.  Next thing I know I wind up in another textbook exchange with a climate science contrarian type, I swear Heartland must have brigades of faithful combing the internet.  Since it turned into another vehicle for explaining my position and exposing the tactics of climate science contrarian pros, I'm going to share it, first the short build up, then I have a closer look at his most recent challenge.  His words are unaltered and in Comic Sans font.  
{sorry about the typos - touch up editing 2/20, 10:30 AM}

CO2 & the Atmosphere
Earth: The Operators' Manual

0:00  -  What CO2 does was confirmed by Air Force atmospheric research.
0:10  -  Studying the physics of the upper atmosphere for communications and heat seeking missiles.
1:00  -  "The air force hadn't set out to study global warming, they just wanted their missiles to work.  But physics is physics.  The atmosphere doesn't care if you are studying it for warring or warming.  Adding CO2 turns up the planet's thermostat."
1:20  -  Works in the other direction also, remove CO2 and planet cools.
1:30  -  Glacier studies
3:00  -  Glacier cross-section, deposition, accumulation, record of the past.
4:30  -  Orbital and rotational variations and their impact on sun's insolation.
5:10  -  Ice ages
6:00  -  Glaciers as earth mover
6:35  -  Time-lapse animation of glacial advance retreat
7:15  -  Orbital/rotational driven insolation variations interaction with Earth's many CO2 reservoirs and cycles.
8:00  -  {eye witness to a disintegrating glacier}
8:50  -  Place thermometers any where on this planet and they show warming.
The evidence is clear, the Earth's climate is warming.

Dude writes:
Co2 was not the driver of climate over the last several thousand years.  The AGW debate today,  centres  around  the  notion  that  carbon  dioxide  drives today's  climate due  to  its  volume.  But  according  to  the  ice  core record,  rising  levels  of  Co2 followed warming by  several  hundreds of  years. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

{7} Our Global Heat and Moisture Distribution Engine, visualized

Before I climb back into the mud pit, I want to share this installment of "Appreciating our Global Heat and Moisture Distribution Engine.  This time I feature four short videos produced by NASA Goddard that do a wonderful job of visualizing various facets of our planet's geophysical reality.  Using state of the art computer graphics based on actual satellite observations they visualize how these varied components seamlessly integrate with each other to create the wonderful planet that we were born into and the climate system we depend on for everything.

The first one is "Dynamic Earth" a 4.5 minute tour starting with our sun and finishing in our oceans, fascinating presentation, (as are all of these YouTube videos).  Then, "The Ocean: A Driving Force for Weather and Climate" is a 6 minutes long grand tour of the oceans.  Following that, the 3 minute "Aquarius: One Year Observing the Salty Seas - Ocean Salinity & Climate" presents the culmination of Aquarius Satellites first full year of data collection.  Finishing with an excellent 6 minute review of "Earth's Water Cycle."  

These visualizations are packed with satellite data and do a wonderfully job rendered our planet as a whole, set against the frigid void of space.  This place we call home is special, nothing else like it in the universe, it's worth getting to know and love and protect.

NASA | Dynamic Earth

0:00  -  Our Sun
0:30  -  Solar winds
0:45  -  Venus exposed to full force of solar wind
1:10  -  Earth's geomagnetic field
1:50  -  Atmosphere, circulation
2:05  -  Solar heating, circulation
2:20  -  Wind currents driving surface ocean currents
2:50  -  Ocean 'river'
3:15  -  {great subsurface current visualization}
3:45  -  Tides, terrain, crosswinds, currents transferring heat
{Behold the components of our Global Heat and Moisture Distribution Engine}

NASA Goddard  | Published on Jun 19, 2012  |  4:26 minutes

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A study in miscommunication - increasing Antarctic ice extent (is no) mystery!

While culling through YouTube videos for a project, I came across a NASA Goddard video that presented a text book example of a well meaning, but overly cautious scientist whose's awkward wording and omissions leads to more confusion than clarity.  It also highlighted one of my pet peeves - the lack of a coherent and memorable narrative to serve as a skeleton upon which to drape the many varied bits and pieces of information being presented.  
(Well look at what I just discovered!  Seems that fraudster and PR spinmeister Lord 1000Folly, Monckton's YouTube clone (who's been flooding YouTube with maliciously fabricated misrepresentations of climate science), also discovered this example of NASA's communication failings and does he have a field-day mocking scientists based on manipulating this very video's gross omissions: "NASA - The Mystery of Antarctic Cooling" (1/26/16) no I'm not linking to it.   2/17/16,1:45 PM)

A unifying concept, such as "Plate Tectonics" which created a real mental visualizing tool onto which the disparate bits and pieces of geologic knowledge fit seamlessly and became a comprehendible whole.  Perhaps a concept along the lines of our "Global Heat and Moisture Distribution Engine" subtitled "It's The Atmospheric Insulation Silly."  

In any event, this quote at 0:55 set me off. - Speaker: "The increase that we're seeing in the Antarctic ice extent is a little bit of a mystery…" 

Poor phrasing indeed.  Particularly since he never brought it back to explaining how scientists have been uncovering the various geophysical phenomena that have driven the increasing sea ice and solved the one time mystery.

Not confronting that meme and explaining why sea ice has been increasing, they reinforce what an unschooled person might assume and what the contrarian PR machine keeps feeding people.  Why, I wonder?  After all, it is a pretty clear and straightforward story.

I follow the short video in question by highlighting the pieces of information I'm familiar with; information that offers a coherent physical explanation for why all that extra sea ice has been forming, and why it's part and parcel of global warming's cascading consequences.  Items that were unjustifiably omitted from the video but that could have been included.  For supporting evidence I link to various splendid short videos and some articles that provide further details to this aspect of our climate engine.   

NASA | The Arctic and the Antarctic Respond in Opposite Ways 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Who says understanding Earth’s Evolution is irrelevant?

Sadly all too many.  

I often hear people, not just the religious with their paper thin understanding, but educated rational people who superficially accept the notion of evolution, but who have never spent anytime really absorbing what Earth's pageant of evolution has been all about, dismissing the need to learn anything about it.  

Its all led to a general apathy that I can't for the life of me comprehend.  Especially considering what an amazingly beautiful, complex, mysterious and absolutely relevant story it is.

This general apathy terrifies me, and compels me to share some of the building blocks that have shaped my own developing basic understanding.  I have a head-start since I've been fascinated by this Creation I was born into since my earliest days.  The wonder of it, and the things I've learned makes me want to share some of my experience and perspectives during what time remains for my own, oh so splendid, journey on this wonderful planet.

Tragically, people who never pondered the reality, (that all we have today is the direct product of four and a half billion years of evolution, unfolding one magnificent day after another), lack the foundation to understand what we are doing to our planet and life support system these days.  It explains why we have so many profoundly ignorant, self-deluded and disconnected politicians and 'masters of the universe' these days.

When I toss out a concept such as, our "Global Heat and Moisture Distribution Engine," it's blank faces all around.  Why?   I'm fearing listeners have no fundamental conception for the intricate interconnections between our evolving Earth, oceans and land masses.  Without that awareness, of course they'll never get it. 

After all, our atmosphere is the direct product of a fantastic evolutionary process that married geology and biology and took billions of years to unfold.  Without understanding how it got here, there's no way one can comprehend what we have,... and what we are doing to "it",... that is, the only life, and economy, support system we have.


January 6, 2016
{1} Our Global Heat and Moisture Distribution Engine

January 9, 2016
{2} Co-evolution of Minerals and Life | Dr Robert Hazen

January 14, 2016
{3} Evolution of Carbon and our biosphere - Professor Hazen focuses on the element Carbon

January 23, 2016
{4} Evolution-Considering Deep Time and a Couple Big Breaks

February 6, 2016
{5a} The Most Beautiful Graph on Earth - A. Hessler

February 7, 2016
{5b} Earth's Earliest Climate - By Angela Hessler

February 14, 2016
{6} Evolution of Earth's Atmosphere - easy version
providence willing, more to follow.

{6} Evolution of Earth's Atmosphere - easy version

My last evolution post, {5b} Earth's Earliest Climate - By Angela Hessler, was fairly weighty stuff, so I'm going to lighten it up a bit in this installment.  First, I have an excellent 5 minute video that though being a cartoon, is the best short summary of our four and a half billion journey I've been able to find on YouTube.  For the intermission I link to Michael Marshall's wonderfully concise list of nearly 70 milestone events along Earth's fantastic evolutionary pageant. 

From there we'll consider our Moon's profound influence on Earth's evolution with another short YouTube video.  Then it's back to school work with the course outline of a University of Michigan's Global Change Courses, section: "Evolution Of The Atmosphere: Composition, Structure And Energy"


History of Earth and the Early Atmosphere

shazmosushi |  5:33

Published on Dec 8, 2013
Short animation covering 4.5 billion years. The animation was download from Unit #4 of The Big History Project.  Checkout the 18 minute introduction video of the project -- available here:

Michael Marshall put together a concise listing of nearly 70 important evolutionary milestone over at along with links that lead to further details.  It's done with clarity and make a perfect quick reference.

Timeline: The evolution of life

By Michael Marshall  |  DAILY NEWS  |  July 14, 2009  


Did the Moon Create Life on Earth?

Science Channel  |  3:26 min

Published on Aug 19, 2015
Without the strong pull of the moon, 
would there have been the massive tidal pools that were the perfect mixing bowl for life?
{not to mention all the rock crushing, pulverizing, mixing and redistribution}

Catch new episodes of HOW THE UNIVERSE WORKS Tuesdays at 10/9c on Science!

The University of Michigan's Global Change Courses, part of the Program in the Environment, offer a modern approach to undergraduate science and social science education.  In interdisciplinary courses the topic of Global Change from physical and human perspectives are examined, and case studies are used to explore scenarios for sustainability. Small, GSI-led group sessions promote critical thinking and analysis. 
The courses are aimed at first and second year students who want to understand the historical and modern aspects of Global Change and Sustainability.  These 4-credit courses include laboratory sections and carry distribution credit.
Evolution Of The Atmosphere: 
      Composition, Structure And Energy

Driving Questions:
  • How did the atmosphere evolve into what it is today?
  • What gases in the atmosphere are important to life and how are they maintained?
  • What natural variations occur in atmospheric constituents and what are the important time scales for change? 
1. The Earliest Atmosphere, Oceans, and Continents
     Oxygen in the Atmosphere
     Early Oceans
     Early Continents

2. Evolution of the Present Atmosphere
The evolution of the atmosphere could be divided into four separate stages:
  1. Origin
  2. Chemical/ pre-biological era
  3. Microbial era, and
  4. Biological era.

The Biological Era - The Formation of Atmospheric Oxygen

Firstly, Eukaryotic metabolism could only have begun once the level of oxygen had built up to about 0.2%, or ~1% of its present abundance. This must have occurred by ~2 billion years ago, according to the fossil record. Thus, the eukaryotes came about as a consequence of the long, steady, but less efficient earlier photosynthesis carried out by Prokaryotes.

Oxygen increased in stages, first through photolysis (Figure 1) of water vapor and carbon dioxide by ultraviolet energy and, possibly, lightning:
H2O -> H + OH
produces a hydroxyl radical (OH) and
CO2 -> CO+ O
produces an atomic oxygen (O). The OH is very reactive and combines with the O
O + OH -> O2 + H

The hydrogen atoms formed in these reactions are light and some small fraction escape to space allowing the O2 to build to a very low concentration, probably yielded only about 1% of the oxygen available today.

Secondly, once sufficient oxygen had accumulated in the stratosphere, it was acted on by sunlight to form ozone, which allowed colonization of the land. The first evidence for vascular plant colonization of the land dates back to ~400 million years ago.

Thirdly, the availability of oxygen enabled a diversification of metabolic pathways, leading to a great increase in efficiency. The bulk of the oxygen formed once life began on the planet, principally through the process of photosynthesis:

6CO2 + 6H2O <--> C6H12O6 + 6O2
where carbon dioxide and water vapor, in the presence of light, produce organics and oxygen. The reaction can go either way as in the case of respiration or decay the organic matter takes up oxygen to form carbon dioxide and water vapor.

Life started to have a major impact on the environment once photosynthetic organisms evolved.
     Banded Iron Formations
     Red Beds
     The Oxygen Concentration Problem.
     The Early Ultraviolet Problem
     Fluctuations in Oxygen    

3. Composition of the Present Atmosphere
        Comparison to Other Planets
        Current Composition
        Greenhouse Gases

Radiative Properties

Sources and Sinks
Greenhouse Gases (apart from water vapor) include:
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
  • Methane
  • Nitrous Oxide
  • Ozone
and each have different sources (emission mechanisms) and sinks (removal mechanisms) as outlined below.

4. Summary
We developed a few useful tools for the study of biogeochemical cycles. These include the concepts of the reservoir, fluxes, and equilibria.
  • Atmospheric evolution progressed in four stages, leading to the current situation. The atmosphere has not always been as it is today - and it will change again in the future. It is closely controlled by life and, in turn, controls life processes. Complex feedback mechanisms are at play that we do not yet understand. 
  • Oxygen became a key atmospheric constituent due entirely to life processes. It built up slowly over time, first oxidizing materials in the oceans and then on land. The current level (20%) is maintained by processes not yet understood. 
  • Sometime just before the Cambrian, atmospheric oxygen reached levels close enough to today's to allow for the rapid evolution of the higher life forms. For the rest of geologic time, the oxygen in the atmosphere has been maintained by the photosynthesis of the green plants of the world, much of it by green algae in the surface waters of the ocean.
  • Selective absorbers in our atmosphere keep the surface of the earth warmer than they would be without an atmosphere.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016
{1} Our Global Heat and Moisture Distribution Engine

Saturday, January 9, 2016
{2} Co-evolution of Minerals and Life | Dr Robert Hazen

Thursday, January 14, 2016
{3} Evolution of Carbon and our biosphere - Professor Hazen focuses on the element Carbon

Saturday, January 23, 2016
{4} Evolution-Considering Deep Time and a Couple Big Breaks

Saturday, February 6, 2016
{5a} The Most Beautiful Graph on Earth - A. Hessler

Sunday, February 7, 2016
{5b} Earth's Earliest Climate - By Angela Hessler

Sunday, February 14, 2016
{6} Evolution of Earth's Atmosphere - easy version

Thursday, February 18, 2016
{7} Our Global Heat and Moisture Distribution Engine, visualized

Friday, February 19, 2016
{8} Atmospheric Insulation Explained - appreciating our climate engine