Thermal Process that Maintains the Earth’s Atmosphere Warm.

By Nasif S. Nahle
University Professor, Scientist and Director of Scientific Researches in Biology Cabinet®.
1 September 2010.


Nahle Sabag, N. Thermal Process that Maintains Earth’s Atmosphere Warm. 1 of September of 2010. Biology Cabinet-Journal on Line. San Nicolas de los Garza, N.  L.


Through diverse calculations applying formulas with experimental bases that cannot be misrepresented ad arbitrium, I here in demonstrate that the greenhouse effect formerly attributed to the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere does not exist.

Through careful studies of the greenhouse effect whereby the total mixture of air is considered, I have discovered that the greenhouse effect is due to the gap between the density of the energy and the sensible heat flux following a trajectory beginning from the Earth’s surface and extending approximately 4500 ms in altitude.

I have also obtained the thermal differential considering the variation of the density of the air with respect to altitude, the temperature of the Earth's surface at a specified moment in time and the difference of temperature between the surface and the air at that specified moment in time.

Sensible Heat flux in the Terrestrial Atmosphere:

On 8 July 2010, at 22:00 hrs UT (16: 00 hrs local time), at San Nicolas de los Garza, N.  L., Mexico, coordinates 25° 48´ 19 N lat and 100°' W long, at 513 m ASL (meters above sea level), with a ground temperature of 67 °C (340.15 K). The average temperature of the air from the ground surface up to 1000 m of altitude was 36 °C (309.15 K).

I calculated the sensible thermal energy flux, under the conditions described in the previous paragraph, by means of the following formula:

q = δ * h * Cp air * (ΔT) * v

where δ is the density of the air (Kg/m^3), h is height (in meters), ΔT is the difference between the temperature of the air at 1 m above the ground and the average temperature at a specific altitude of the atmosphere, and v is the average wind speed in the troposphere from the ground surface up to an altitude of 10000 m (v = 7.37 m/s). The following graph illustrates the results that I have obtained for the sensible heat flux through the atmosphere up to 20000 m of altitude:

As we can appreciate from the graph, the exchange of sensible heat flux through the atmosphere increases up to 6000 m of altitude. From that height on, the sensible heat flux then decreases until it becomes essentially quasi-stable at an altitude of 18000 m. However, the temperature of the air starts to stabilize starting at an altitude of 11000 m.

The profile of the sensible heat flux in the terrestrial atmosphere reveals a Gaussian distribution which permits us to conclude that  the activity of heat exchange is limited by the altitude, the temperature and the density of the air.

On the other hand, the sensible heat flux clearly denotes that the atmosphere—far from warming  the surface up—actually cools it down. This process is understandable as the physics shows that the main mechanism of heat transfer in the boundary layer between the surface and the atmosphere is conduction, and that the thermal energy absorbed by the atmosphere is transported from the surface towards other layers or volumes of the atmosphere by means of heat transfer by convection, which is illustrated perfectly in the following comparative graph:
The numbers in the graph above are real measurements made during the specified period on the date bar. We can see that the temperature of the surface is always higher than the temperature of the air. In addition, we can see from the graph that the temperature of the air is equal to or higher than the temperature of the soil only after rainfall, to be precise, when water saturates the soil.

Density of the Energy in the Earth’s Atmosphere:

Because the density of the air in the terrestrial atmosphere diminishes as its altitude increases, the temperature of the air also diminishes along the height of the air column. This decrease of temperature leads us to think immediately of two natural processes for the loss of thermal energy, the process of heat transfer by radiation towards deep space and the adiabatic process; the adiabatic process is an observable fact that is governed by the decrease of the effective pressure exerted by the molecules on any given surface as a result of the dilution of the gases that make up the atmosphere (thinning of the atmosphere) and by very small fluctuations of the terrestrial gravity on altitude. It is possible to indicate that the process of adiabatic loss of thermal energy does not imply energy transfer by the known processes of heat transfer (conduction, convection and radiation).

We can calculate the density of the energy if we know the change of temperature in a system after it absorbs thermal energy from another system whose energy density is higher. For example, if one system has an energy density of 100 J/m^3 and another given system bordering to the first system has 50 J/m^3, the thermal energy will always flow from the system that has an energy density of 100 J/m^3 towards the system with an energy density of 50 J/m^3.

The observations and measurements made by instruments on meteorological balloons, airplanes and satellites accurately demonstrate that the density of energy in the atmosphere decreases with height. However, we can theoretically know the density of energy at each height of the atmosphere by means of the following formula:

ρE = ΔT * (ρair/altitude) * Cair

Where ΔT is the difference of temperature between a surface and the air at any altitude considered in the calculation, ρair/altitude is the density of the air with respect to height, and Cair is the heat capacity of the air.

The heat capacity of a substance is influenced by the temperature and the density of that substance. In the case of the air, given that its temperature and density decrease with height, its heat capacity also decreases with height such that the air at an altitude of 7000 m will have a heat capacity lower than the air at a lower altitude. For example, the air at 300 K and with a density of 1.2 Kg/m^3 has a heat capacity (C) of 1005.7 J/Kg K, whereas the air at 223 K with density of 0.6 Kg/m^3 has a C of 411.71 J/Kg K.

After applying the formula to obtain the density of the energy in J/m^3 during a cloudless day, I obtained a reliable database from which I drafted the following graph that eloquently reveals the real cause of the greenhouse effect on Earth:
We notice on the graph that the greenhouse effect, which I will refer to from now on as “warmhouse”, happens solely in the atmospheric layer extending from the surface (zero meter) up to an altitude of 1700 m; the effect goes into reverse beyond the 1700 m mark, from where the sensible heat flux also decreases with altitude.

Therefore, the warmhouse effect adheres to the trajectory of the sensible heat flux in the terrestrial atmosphere with respect to the density of energy. Or, in other words, when the density of the energy diminishes and the sensible heat flux increases, the amount of thermal energy also increases and the warmhouse effect takes place. As the sensible heat flux reverses and the amount of energy transferred decreases, the warmhouse effect terminates.

Given the circumstances detailed in the previous paragraphs, the hypothesis of an increase of the greenhouse effect due to an increase of the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide, without considering the incident solar energy on the surface, is erroneous.

The water vapor, with a heat capacity of 2060 J/Kg K, which is greater than the heat capacity of the air, modifies this circumstance by causing the energy density in the atmosphere to fall thus permitting the energy to be retained by the atmosphere for longer periods, and also allowing the energy to remain within quasi-stable density parameters at altitudes even higher than 3000 meters.

Carbon dioxide does not have this thermal capacity because it emits the absorbed thermal energy instantaneously (in microseconds).


Conclusion: The warmhouse effect, or “greenhouse” effect, is not caused by the gases composing the atmosphere, but by the inversion of the decline of sensible heat flux with respect to the decline of the thermal energy density in the atmosphere. As the sensible heat flux increases as the energy density diminishes, the warmhouse effect happens. Conversely, as the sensible heat flux decreases simultaneously with a decrease of the energy density, the warmhouse effect terminates. Therefore, any increase of the sensible heat flux in the atmosphere follows from an increase in the incident solar energy on the Earth's surface; consequently, any increase of the incident solar radiation on the Earth’s surface implies an increase of the energy density of any mass of air. Otherwise, the warmhouse effect, or “greenhouse” effect, would be impossible since energy is neither created nor destroyed, but only transformed.


1. Engel, Thomas and Reid, Philip. Thermodynamics, Statistical, Thermodynamics & Kinetics. 2006. Pearson Education, Inc.

2. Modest, Michael F. Radiative Heat Transfer-Second Edition. 2003. Elsevier Science, USA and Academic Press, UK.

3. Pidwirny, M. (2006). "The Layered Atmosphere". Fundamentals of Physical Geography, 2nd Edition. Date Viewed.

4. Pitts, Donald and Sissom, Leighton. Heat Transfer. 1998. McGraw-Hill.

5. Wilson, Jerry D. College Physics-2nd Edition. Prentice Hall Inc. 1994.

6. Nahle, Nasif S. Heat Stored by Greenhouse Gases. Biology Cabinet. 27 April 2007.  Accessed: 24 July 2010.


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