Sunday, May 07, 2006

Global warming on other planets

Mars, Jupiter, Triton, Neptune, Pluto, and others share the fate of Earth


A new storm and a new red spot on Jupiter hints at climate change, USA TODAY and dozens of other sources explained yesterday. The temperatures are expected to change by as much as 10 Fahrenheit degrees at different places of the globe. At least close to the new spot and to the equator, nothing less than global warming is expected.

New observations of Jupiter's climate change were released in 2008: click the number.


The climate of Neptune - more precisely its reflectivity - was recently changing. Lockwood and Hammel argue in Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 34 (2007) that the trends on Neptune reveal suggestive correlations of brightness of Neptune with the temperature trends on Earth, indicating their common solar origin - although I am not quite sure whether the sign is as expected.

Buy Czech President Václav Klaus' amazing book, "Blue Planet in Green Shackles". (Click.)


Triton is Neptune's largest Moon. Some people believe that it used to be an asteroid. Global warming was detected on Triton. Between 1989 and 1998, the temperature jumped by 5 percent on the absolute (Kelvin) scale. The same relative increase would raise the Earth's temperature by 22 degrees Fahrenheit in 9 years. See thousands of other pages about the global warming on Triton.


Another moon of Saturn's, Enceladus, would be also expected to be frozen and cold. Suddenly, Cassini has informed us that Enceladus generates its own heat. Its high temperatures seem to be incompatible with calculations based on solar energy itself, according to existing models.


Saturn itself has a rather warm southern pole, and the temperatures in that region suddenly jumped by 3-5 Kelvin degrees. Well, it's warm because it's been exposed to sunshine for quite some time but the magnitude of the temperature jumps is not trivial to calculate.


What's going on with Pluto? Well, yes, your guess is right. There is global warming on Pluto. Pluto's atmospheric pressure has tripled in 14 years, and the associated increase of temperature is estimated to be around 3.5 Fahrenheit degrees, despite the motion of Pluto away from the Sun.


Of course, the global warming on Mars is a well-known story. Between 1975 and 2000, Mars warmed up by 0.65 Celsius degrees, much faster than Earth: see Nature 2007. The warming has been used by this blog to discover the Martians. More seriously, we have explained that the dramatic and speedy melting of the Martian icecaps is caused by the greenhouse effect. 95% of "their" atmosphere is made of carbon dioxide; that's slightly more than 0.038% of our atmosphere.

The warming trend on Mars is undeniable. Some people have tried to blame the global warming on NASA's rovers. Such accusations are pretty serious because NASA is already preparing plans to occupy Mars using the greenhouse effect, as ordered by George Bush. ;-)


This planet doesn't belong to this list of planets where recent warming has been demonstrated. But it is interesting to talk about the greenhouse effect there.

Venus, our planet's evil sister, has already been identified as unusable for life because of ... yes, because of the greenhouse effect that occured in the past. Last month, the Venus express gave us some new hints why Venus has such a thick atmosphere that generated global warming.

Venus' distance from the Sun is about 70% of the distance Sun-Earth. Because of the second power, this means that there is twice as much solar radiation per area over there. Because of the fourth power in the Stefan-Boltzmann law, it means that you expect about 20% higher temperatures in comparison with Earth on the Kelvin scale which would mean, if Venus were a black body, that the temperature would still be still below 100 Celsius. But they are about 470 Celsius on Venus.

Venus is clearly not a black body and the greenhouse effect is important for raising its temperature. But you should notice that Venus' atmosphere has 90 times higher pressure than the terrestrial atmosphere and 96% of it is carbon dioxide! The Earth only has 380 parts per million of CO2, and if you divided it by 90 to get the corresponding fraction of the Venus atmosphere, you get about 4 parts per million. There is more than 100,000 times less CO2 density here than on Venus! If you used a linear relationship between the CO2 concentration and temperature boost, you would see that the expected increase of the Earth temperature due to CO2 is 400 Celsius divided by more than 100,000 which is a few millikelvins - a totally negligible amount! The actual strength of the greenhouse effect on Earth will be stronger - because the first molecules matter more - but it won't be exceedingly stronger. At any rate, when numbers are taken into account, you shouldn't expect any substantial influence of CO2 on Earth.

But let us return to the planets that are known to be currently warming.


The Earth is currently experiencing warming, too, although a less dramatic one than the previous examples. However, there is apparently a huge difference. The warming on the previous planets and moons was natural. On the other hand, the warming on Earth couldn't evolve naturally: it is caused by the humankind, evil corporations, and their intelligent design, most left-wing scientists believe. The warming trends can't have anything to do with the Sun whose activity is now highest in the last 1000 years: it is unethical to propose that the Sun plays any role, consensus scientists argue.

A comparison

You may ask the consensus scientists: why is there such a difference between the explanations for the warming of the Earth and the other planets and their moons? It's because the Earth is the center of the Universe, they would answer. You could also ask: why do all these planets and moons indicate warming? Shut up, the consensus scientists would answer.

Some of them would tell you that your paradox is resolved by the anthropic principle: the people on Jupiter, Saturn, Pluto, Mars, Triton, and other celestial bodies cannot complain about the anthropogenic global warming because... because these people don't exist! :-)

The debate is over, Al Gore, our prophet, has announced. Terrestrial global warming, caused by the human sins, is no longer a political issue: it is now a spiritual issue. Now it's time to punish the heretics who deny that the Earth as the center of the Universe is special because of the humans who were created to the image of God - and because of their sins and SUVs.

This looks like a story about some silly priests from the 16th century Catholic Church - a story about the Dark Ages that most of us heard in the basic school. But unfortunately, what we are describing here are influential people in the 21st century such as one who delivers a speech on the picture above.

People who believe, much like the Church in the 15th century, that the divine truth is determined by consensus. People who believe that we should prefer awkward hypotheses if they support our spiritual values. People who believe that questions and independent thinking should be silenced. People who will almost certainly write dozens of unsubstantiated comments below this article.

More seriously, I don't claim that the trends observed on all these celestial bodies prove their solar or cosmic origin although the agreement of the signs is suggestive. But what these trends certainly do is to remind all rational people that there is always natural variability on any celestial body as long as it has any structure or internal dynamics and the only questions are the quantitative ones: how large this natural variability is and what effects are the most important ones in driving it. Denying that there is a lot of natural climate change would be extraordinarily silly.

Other popular climate articles


  1. Dear Lubos,

    That is interesting that you and others are doing these calculations but are getting very different answers to the established consensus. I have an open mind and if the current calculation methods are somehow flawed it would be interesting to hear how, perhaps in one of your own physics blog posts. It is very interesting because it seems to be something that would be attacking the very core of the current AGW theory, something deniers have got a poor record with.

    In reference to your final sentence, perhaps I need to re-phrase this question. I am not asking you to accept that CO2 contributes more to the greenhouse effect as a whole, I am asking if you accept that 280 ppm CO2 contributes to the natural greenhouse effect at all? I also say if you accept that, would you accept that an increase to 380 ppm CO2, or even a doubling of CO2 would produce an enhancement in the greenhouse effect? I can't see why you wouldn't accept this simple scenario unless you have some powerful new empirical evidence as to the nature of CO2's absorption spectra, or even some new method for calculating radiative transfer budgets. Or am I missing something? Is there another reason to totally disregard any warming contribution that CO2 gives us?

    On the subject of the sun's activity, I am definitely in agreement with the theory put forward by Svensmark who shows a direct link between solar cycle and cloud formation on Earth. There are other things occuring apart from irradiance increases, but at the moment I can't see anything else that would produce such dramatic warmings. Perhaps you have some ideas and would like to share them.


  2. Apos,

    The single strongest greenhouse gas is H2O, Water. The absorption spectrum for water is by far broader and by far stronger. The ubiquitious nature of water is also far greater than the simple PPM for CO2. Recent data has shown that the age old correlation of CO2 with temperature has broken down. This sudden surge isn't even reasonablly correlateable with industrial output.

    Too many people assume a corelation is a causal effect. It is not. Neither is consensus.

    CO2 is a bit player in the scheme of things. The effect is negligable compared to water, by many orders of magnitude.


    The lead/lag relationship of temperature in the graph speaks volumes.One thing of note in this graph pair. The temperature rise and fall are much sharper than the CO2 rise and fall. One could equally suppose that the "correlation" has a lead/lag relationship which would dispel the theory that the CO2 levels are the control factor. As the CO2 levels hold their peak, the temperatures have already started to fall.

    For the supposition proposed below the graph, the CO2 would have to lead the temperature in the up cycle and lead it in the down cycle as well. This is not the case. CO2 levels tend to lag strongly as temperature drops.

    I see the temperature spiking, on average, and then returning to some ground floor state, some 5 degrees below the zero reference point. The most recent rise, some 15,000 years ago, cannot be attributed to human intervention. The stability of the temperature in the last 15,000 years also does not follow the sharp rise of the CO2 for this same period.

    The most one can derive here is a lose correlation, but definitely not a causal relationship. Temperatures drop off too quickly to make the assertion that the CO2 levels are the driving factor. A few vertical lines in the peak and valley areas will bring out this "effect". One could as easily suppose the CO2 is behaving like a moderator on the temperature, although this would run counter intuitive to its chemical qualities. The key idea here is intuitive. If this is the "evidence" that everyone is up in arms about, then there is a problem with the interpretation. Why would the temperatures drop off more rapidly than the CO2 levels would dictate?


    Notice that water is thousands of times more prevelant.

    Check out:

    It demonstrates how much of the absorption band is involved with water and how little CO2 plays as a role.

    The dramatic warming as it relates to water is that the ammount of water and its own greenhouse effect amplify the solar occurance.

    Notice water is the major player here.

    The above link proudly proclaims:

    "There are many atmospheric greenhouse gases, some naturally occurring and some resulting from industrial activities, but probably the most important greenhouse gas is water vapor. Water vapor is involved in an important climate feedback loop. As the temperature of the Earth's surface and atmosphere increases, the atmosphere is able to hold more water vapor. The additional water vapor, acting as a greenhouse gas, absorbs energy that would otherwise escape to space and so causes further warming. This basic picture is complicated by important interactions between water vapor, clouds, atmospheric motion, and radiation from both the Sun and the Earth. There are some aspects of the role of water vapor as a greenhouse gas that are not well understood, again mainly because we lack the necessary observations to test theoretical models."

    Don't expect the data to be collected any time soon either. The data isn't what they want to have in the public eye. Most important and most ignored. How good could the "greenhouse models" be since they ignore the most important component.


    If all the moisture in the air were evenly distributed, and then condensed
    out, it would amount to between one and two inches deep on the earth. This
    value is called the "precipitable water" in the atmosphere, and over the
    United States can range as high as 2.5 inches or rarely, a little higher in
    the summertime east of the Rocky Mountains. We have weather charts that
    depict the precipitable water in the atmosphere, and this gives us clues as
    to where precipitation may occur.

    Wendell Bechtold, meteorologist
    Forecaster, National Weather Service
    Weather Forecast Office, St. Louis, MO

    There is too little data available with respect to creating a model that even remotely resembles reality. All the global warming claims are way too premature and based on whimsey. You speak of calculations and there are none. The current calculations are not flawed, they are whimsical and based on false premise.

    Global warming has become a political issue, not a scientific one. The consensus has been bought and paid for by politicians. No one wants to rock the gravey train of funding. Dissent is greated with personal attacks and damaged reputations. This has been turned into big business.

  3. I have addressed this article's claims here.

    Let me also note while I'm here that davec's comment, "CO2 is a bit player in the scheme of things. The effect is negligable compared to water, by many orders of magnitude," is incorrect. CO2's presence in the atmosphere is less by orders of magnitude than H20. CO2's total contribution to the greenhouse effect is about one third that of H2O.

  4. Man--that is the best al gore pic. Ever!

  5. GW apologists can't explain why CO2 levels were five times higher during the Carboniferous, and in the late Jurassic, but temperatures during the latter averaged COOLER.

    A lot of carbonate rocks got formed, too.

  6. Re 16:7 And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments. ....
    Re 16:8 And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. ...
    Re 16:9 And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.

  7. Lubos,

    The Venus story is a bit different. Greenhouse effect is roughly logaritmic, double the concentration to get a constant increase. So on Earth 380 ppmv causes about 8 degrees greenhouse effect according to MODTRAN and each doubling without feedbacks is worth about one degree kelvin.

    Now if we start doubling from 380 ppmv to pass the 92 bars of Venus we need 18 doublings. So if Earth had Venus atmosphere then it would have been 18 degrees warmer or with alleged. but non existing positive feedbacks 54 +/- 18 degrees.

    Alternately apparantly Venus warms about 25 degrees per doubling (450/18). So which theory is wrong?

  8. Great article. I just found your blog today and enjoyed the article on the planets. Keep up the good work.

  9. Rutherford Appleton Laboratory's Professor Mike Lockwood, and the University of Southampton's Claus Fröhlich have analysed the activity of the sun since 1985, to see if any of this "solar climate forcing" is detectable in recent data. They found that although we have witnessed a long period of intense activity, in the last 22 years solar activity has been on the decline, and cannot be used to explain the rapid rise of global temperatures.

    Posted by a none scientist, can you comment.


  10. OK even if y'all said global warming is a solar issue, We still don't want to speed that process up now do we? Even if Carbon dioxide is only 1/3 the cause of H20 , we don't want it to be more. Either way I think both sides are right to their most. Kinda like Enstiens General Law of Relativity, and Quatum Mechanics. Oh link on videos about that

  11. Wow Love The Blog Comment from: Blackpool Hotels I must say am not asking you to accept that CO2 contributes more to the greenhouse effect as a whole, I am asking if you accept that 280 ppm CO2 contributes to the natural greenhouse effect at all? I also say if you accept that, would you accept that an increase to 380 ppm CO2, or even a doubling of CO2 would Thanks Hotels Blackpool

  12. Dear Lubos,
    in your comment about “ Dynamics of greenhouse effect - Saturated confusion of RealClimate.ORG“ you say that CO2 effect is only present in specific spectral lines which become saturated above a given amount of concentration of CO2, and CO2 doesn’t work outside these lines. How these statements are compatible with the CO2 greenhouse effect of Venus?

  13. It is fully consistent on Venus and elsewhere in this Universe, luigi, but you must be just aware that there are simply many spectral lines of CO2.

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  15. A few things ... the relationship between CO_2 and temperature isn't linear, its logarithmic. If you want to compare earth and venus, you need also to take into account that venus is closer to the sun and anything else that changes the model.

    Michael Z. Williamson: where do you get that the late Jurassic was cooler than now? The carboniferous was associated with a big drop in CO_2 and temperatures, to about today's conditions.

    The Jurassic was much warmer, with significantly higher CO_2. If you have evidence to the contrary please edit because it shows the late Jurassic as warming.

    If you go back far enough, aside from Milankovitch cycles, you also need to account for continental drift, changes in the general chemistry of the biosphere and forcings we haven't had in modern times like the Siberian Traps eruptions.

    Let us know when you've included all these in your modeling.

  16. Honestly, what's the worst that can happen if we don't do anything and we end up being wrong? Oh nothing but the end of the world as we know it. Nothing much. Cast the dice and see what happens.

  17. Dear ken, this is just an incredibly silly video. He draws 2x2 boxes assuming that each of them has a probability of 25% - including a destruction of the world with no action being taken - even though the probability is something like 0.00001%.

    This is how people completely incapable to think quantitatively create their conclusions. Precautionary principle ad absurdum. Very sad that people with this gigantic problem with rational reasoning get 2.7 million views.

  18. Ken: So, then I ought to become a Catholic, because the 25% lose result if they are right is eternal Hell.

    Get to mass, sonny ;)

    I watched this video too, and found it unconvincing and slightly demagogic. By this logic, you should follow the advice of whoever has the scariest threats if you don't comply.

    By a similar logic, you should always go for Nigerian email scams-because the 25% win chance is 10 Million bucks!

  19. I have sat by an listened to arguments from all sides about global warming. Is this some sort of conspiracy? What is the truth? And if we knew the truth would we care?
    Well let's play logical scientist.
    The data:
    1) Global warming is on all planets and moons.
    2) Global warming on these planets increases in scope the more distant you get from the sun.
    3) the sun is in a state of "increased activity".
    4) Carbon levels have increased on earth but not other worlds.

    Those are the baseline facts, so lets see if we can explain all these. Come up with a common solution, a therory we can put to the test.

    Global warming exists on all planets. If we look with logic that means there is one common source. We must include that in the hypothesis.

    The Temperature increases the FURTHER we get from the sun. lets take that into account.( ie pluto and titan)

    The Sun is in a state of increases activity. So we have to include that.

    Carbon levels have increased on earth but not on the other worlds. We shall include that.
    So what would explain all this.
    Logically all these points have to con into play.

    I have searched everywhere for theories and facts that are in line with uninfluenced science. Science I believe is unmistakable. If the math is right so is the theory. So with no theory lets "Do the math"

    All planets warming = one source
    Warming increases with distance = Sun is not the source.
    The Sun is in a state of increased activity = Something is affecting it.
    Carbon levels increased on earth but not on other world = Carbon levels not the cause.

    Conclusion? ( Sorry about the run-on sentences)
    Some thing with heat radiating from it is closing the distance towards the sun, causing warming on all planets, the planets closer to this object are warming faster then those not so close to it. This objects magnetic field (or gravitational field) is beginning to "tug" on the sun, and the end result is increased temperatures that warmup all the planets regardless of carbon levels.

    Now, I have never believed that our solar system has a second "Star" but that is what the evidence points at.
    Btw. Armed with this, should I mention the sumerains description of the suns twin that orbits every 3600 years, and the myans ( and the bible and the sumerains and the bablonians and basically every other religion) says is due back DEC 21 2012?

  20. How can anyone argue about figures when none exist?
    I don't believe in global warming due to CO2 in the least bit. I'm 15 and we get this stuff bashed into our brains EVERY science lesson. Political propaganda about this in every textbook you care to look at.

    However, it's easy enough to make a graph of a few figures, isn't it?
    Easy enough for the gw-radical to say 'haHA! look at our graph, this proves that world temperatures are rising!'
    Easy enough for the anti-gw to make up a big graph saying 'haHA! this show they're not!' too, sadly enough.
    Because people just don't like the truth.

  21. The fact is that, despite all the hysteria in the press, there is still no evidence at all that increasing CO2 is causing warming. Furthermore the *real* science - the near saturation of the absorption energy bands of CO2, together with the evidence of the historical climate records - effectively kill off the notion of anthropogenic warming through CO2 emissions. The wonder is that this flawed doctrine has taken root so firmly in the global public psyche. I guess people the world over have a psychological need for soemthing to beat themselves up over.

  22. Things that make me wonder...hmmm?
    It is a fact that Global warming exists on another planets. And to the best of my knowledge there are no human beings on another planets.
    We have global warming on earth, and we have a few "human beings".
    So, I dont think human beings are to blame for earth global warming.
    It's all an act of god.

  23. I think that everyone on this blog knows that one of the ways the governments of the world want to control the co2 issue is through the implementation of a carbon credit system. I can not comment on the government systems in other nations but I can comment on the U.S. Government. It is broken. If those swine had a source of cashflow from carbon credits it would be squandered away just like the majority of our tax money. I heard that the People of the United States would have to drop carbon their carbon footprint to 1920's levels. This means that if every driver in the U.S. drove a Toyota Prius they would have enough carbon credits left to run their water heaters for 6 months.Any other power consumption would require the purchase of cabon credits. What would that cost the average family over the course of a year? If the United States government is serious about this issue why aren't thousands of wind mills in our wind corridor? Wy do we only have 5% renewable energy? Why do we not have mass transit systems like europe? The Fedral government Has not put any money where it's mouth is. Do you know why? Because our government Does not care. It is that simple. All they care about is more control over our lives and taking as much money as they can from it's tax payers. If people want to be good stewards of this planet they must do it on their own. The governments of the world will acomplish nothing. I live in New Orleans Louisiana. I can testify to the total inability of large government grups to acomplish anything. The Federal governments involvment in Katrina and the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was worthless. Wasted money and Corprate theft was rampant. If anyone thinks that giving more of your money to your leaders will help, you have too much money to waste. Save your money so you can install a $25,000.00 Solar pannel system with battery bank for your home. Use mass transit if available.Install windmillsor solar at your home. Buy a super efficient automobile. Lead the way. Write blogs about it. Tell me, What visible change would the world see if four hundred million americans did this. Is there an equation that could prove this? How much co2 would have to be removed from the atmosphere? This whole carbon credit deal stinks to high heaven.

  24. The U.S. government has made no significant changes to allow interested corporations to build renewable energy sources. How hard could it be to get rid of the red tape?

  25. One area that I have not seen addressed in any of the GW scenarios is the ocean temperature and what impact the ever increasingly identified sub-sea volcanoes might have on the overall warming.

  26. I liked the Gore-animation above. Very realistic!

    He is spewing a lot of heat!

  27. globle warming afectes only venus and earth