The Curious Case of Dr. Miskolczi

Update May 18 below

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button relates the story of a fictional character who is estranged from the rest of humanity because of a unique personal quality. He alone was born an old man, grew younger as he aged, before dying as an infant. Living in contradiction to all others, he existed as an alien whose relations were always temporary and strained.

Recently I had an interchange with a climatist obsessed with radiation and CO2 as the drivers of climate change. For me it occasioned a look back in time to rediscover how I came to some conclusions about how the atmosphere warms the planet. That process brought up an influencial scientist whose name comes up rarely these days in discussions of global warming/climate change. So I thought a tribute post to be timely.

Dr. Ferenc Mark Miskolczi (feh-rent mish-kol-tsi) was not born estranged, but alienation was forced upon him at the peak of his career as a brilliant astrophysicist. Part of his NASA job was to analyze radiosonde data, and his curiosity led him to find a surprising empirical observation. He published it and continues to hold to it, but his findings happen to cause indigestion among the climate establishment, and also to many skeptics. His writings are dense and filled with math, another reason for some to set him aside.

“I was warned that for every equation in the book, the readership would be halved,
hence it includes only a single equation: E = mc2.”
–Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time

The Back Story

In 2004 Dr Ferenc Miskolczi published a paper ’The greenhouse effect and the spectral decomposition of the clear-sky terrestrial radiation’, in the Quarterly Journal of the Hungarian Meteorological Service (Vol. 108, No. 4, October–December 2004, pp. 209–251.).

Various wavelengths of solar EM radiation penetrate Earth’s atmosphere to various depths. Fortunately for us, all of the high energy X-rays and most UV is filtered out long before it reaches the ground. Much of the infrared radiation is also absorbed by our atmosphere far above our heads. Most radio waves do make it to the ground, along with a narrow “window” of IR, UV, and visible light frequencies. Credit: Image courtesy STCI/JHU/NASA.

The co-author of the article was his boss at NASA Langley Research Center (Martin Mlynczak). Mlynczak put his name to the paper but did no work on it. He thought that it was an important paper, but only in a technical way.

When Miskolczi later informed the group at NASA there that he had more important results, they finally understood the whole story, and tried to withhold Miskolczi’s further material from publication. His boss for example, sat at Ferenc’s computer, logged in with Ferenc`s password, and canceled a recently submitted paper from a high-reputation journal as if Ferenc had withdrawn it himself. That was the reason that Ferenc finally resigned from his ($US 90,000 /year) job.

At the bottom of this post will be links to Miskolczi’s papers, including the latest one in 2014. Perhaps the most accessible introduction to his understanding comes from his interview with Kirk Myers published at Climate Truth.

Climate Truth: Has there been global warming?
Dr. Miskolczi: No one is denying that global warming has taken place, but it has nothing to do with the greenhouse effect or the burning of fossil fuels.

Climate Truth: According to the conventional anthropogenic global warming (AGW) theory, as human-induced CO2 emissions increase, more surface radiation is absorbed by the atmosphere, with part of it re-radiated to the earth’s surface, resulting in global warming. Is that an accurate description of the prevailing theory?
Dr. Miskolczi: Yes, this is the classic concept of the greenhouse effect.

ClimateTruth: Are man-made CO2 emissions the cause of global warming?
Dr. Miskolczi: Apparently not. According to my research, increases in CO2 levels have not increased the global-average absorbing power of the atmosphere.

ClimateTruth: Where does the traditional greenhouse theory make its fundamental mistake?
Dr. Miskolczi: The conventional greenhouse theory does not consider the newly discovered physical relationships involving infrared radiative fluxes. These relationships pose strong energetic constraints on an equilibrium system.

ClimateTruth: Why has this error escaped notice until now?
Dr. Miskolczi: Nobody thought that a 100-year-old theory could be wrong. The original greenhouse formula, developed by an astrophysicist, applies only to the stars, not to finite, semi-transparent planetary atmospheres. New equations had to be formulated.

ClimateTruth: According your theory, the greenhouse effect is self-regulating and stabilizes itself in response to rising CO2 levels. You identified (perhaps discovered) a “greenhouse constant” that keeps the greenhouse effect in equilibrium. Is that a fair assessment of your theory?
Dr. Miskolczi: Yes. Our atmosphere, with its infinite degree of freedom, is able to maintain its global average infrared absorption at an optimal level. In technical terms, this “greenhouse constant” is the total infrared optical thickness of the atmosphere, and its theoretical value is 1.87. Despite the 30 per cent increase of CO2 in the last 61 years, this value has not changed. The atmosphere is not increasing its absorption power as was predicted by the IPCC.

ClimateTruth: You used empirical data, rather than models, to arrive at your conclusion. How was that done?
Dr. Miskolczi: The computations are relatively simple. I collected a large number of radiosonde observations from around the globe and computed the global average infrared absorption. I performed these computations using observations from two large, publicly available datasets known as the TIGR2 and NOAA. The computations involved the processing of 300 radiosonde observations, using a state-of-the-art, line-by-line radiative transfer code. In both datasets, the global average infrared optical thickness turned out to be 1.87, agreeing with theoretical expectations.

Fig. 15 the actual and expected atmospheric absorption trends are compared for the full time period. No change in the IR absorption is detected.

ClimateTruth: Have your mathematical equations been challenged or disproved?
Dr. Miskolczi: No.

ClimateTruth: If your theory stands up to scientific scrutiny, it would collapse the CO2 global warming doctrine and render meaningless its predictions of climate catastrophe. Given its significance, why has your theory been met with silence and, in some instances, dismissal and derision?
Dr. Miskolczi: I can only guess. First of all, nobody likes to admit mistakes. Second, somebody has to explain to the taxpayers why millions of dollars were spent on AGW research. Third, some people are making a lot of money from the carbon trade and energy taxes.

ClimateTruth: A huge industry has arisen out of the study and prevention of man-made global warming. Has the world been fooled?
Dr. Miskolczi: Thanks to censored science and the complicity of the mainstream media, yes, totally.

The Implications

Others have referred to Miskolczi’s work as finding a saturated greenhouse effect (not his terminology). Most people agree that gases have a logarithmic relation to IR absorption. Thus the effect of adding CO2, or H2O to the atmosphere has diminishing impact, like putting on another coat of paint.

Miskolczi’s analysis shows that at present CO2 concentrations, the radiative warming effect is saturated, because the atmospheric heat engine is always striving to maximize the dissipation of surface heat into space. In the present circumstance, any additional input of heat produces a reaction of additional evaporation or convection to restore the energy balance. Radiative equilibrium is not disturbed, as shown by the stability of the optical depth in the upper troposphere.


This graph shows that the relative humidity has been dropping, especially at higher elevations allowing more heat to escape to space. The curve labelled 300 mb is at about 9 km altitude, which is in the middle of the predicted (but missing) tropical troposphere hot-spot. This is the critical elevation as this is where radiation can start to escape without being recaptured. The average annual relative humidity at this altitude has declined by 21.5% from 1948 to 2007.

If Miskolczi is right, then presently the land-sea surface heats the atmosphere only by evaporation, conduction, and subsequent convection, not by radiation. The layer of air in contact with the surface is in radiative equilibrium, so that warming and cooling of the surface is matched by the immediate air. The land-sea surface does not cool by radiation to the atmosphere, nor is it warmed by “back-radiation.”

Above the surface-air boundary, heat exchanges between layers of air do include radiative activity, and at the TOA it is all radiation into space. The climate system makes regulatory adjustment to compensate for changes in CO2 with changes in humidity and clouds, in order to most efficiently convert short wave incoming solar energy, into long wave outgoing energy. With warming and cooling periods, the proportions of H20 and CO2 at the TOA have fluctuated, but the combined optical depth has been stable over the last 60 years.

Credit: Image courtesy NASA’s ERBE (Earth Radiation Budget Experiment) program.

No wonder so much effort is going into a better understanding of cloud effects on climate.  Note in the above estimated energy budget diagram that convection and latent heat combined are twice the estimated surface radiation absorbed in the air.   Note also that the air absorbs more energy directly from the sun than it absorbs from the surface.

Bear in mind that water vapor does more than 90% of all IR activity by gases.  And note that clouds are composed of water droplets (liquid state), and IR activity by clouds (likely underestimated here) is on top of water’s thermal effect as a gas.

Summary: Dr. Ferenc Miskolczi’s  Strange Journey

Miskolczi’s story reads like a book. Looking at a series of differential equations for the greenhouse effect, he noticed the solution — originally done in 1922 by Arthur Milne, but still used by climate researchers today — ignored boundary conditions by assuming an “infinitely thick” atmosphere. Similar assumptions are common when solving differential equations; they simplify the calculations and often result in a result that still very closely matches reality. But not always.

So Miskolczi re-derived the solution, this time using the proper boundary conditions for an atmosphere that is not infinite. His result included a new term, which acts as a negative feedback to counter the positive forcing. At low levels, the new term means a small difference … but as greenhouse gases rise, the negative feedback predominates, forcing values back down.

NASA refused to release the results. Miskolczi believes their motivation is simple. “Money”, he tells DailyTech. Research that contradicts the view of an impending crisis jeopardizes funding, not only for his own atmosphere-monitoring project, but all climate-change research.

Miskolczi resigned in protest, stating in his October 28, 2005 resignation letter, “Unfortunately my working relationship with my NASA supervisors eroded to a level that I am not able to tolerate. My idea of the freedom of science cannot coexist with the recent NASA practice of handling new climate change related scientific results.”

“More than three years ago, I presented to NASA a new view of greenhouse theory and pointed out serious errors in the classical approach to assessing climate sensitivity to greenhouse gas perturbations. Since then my results were not released for publication. Since my new results have far reaching consequences in the general atmospheric radiative transfer, I wish to have no part in withholding the above scientific information from the wider community of scientists and policymakers.”
More at Cornwall Alliance Peer-Reviewed Research Suggests Very Little Warming from CO2

His theory was eventually published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal in his home country of Hungary.
The greenhouse effect and the spectral decomposition of the clear-sky terrestrial radiation

Miskolczi’s latest paper is The Greenhouse Effect and the Infrared Radiative Structure of the Earth’s Atmosphere 2014

Previously in 2010 he published in Energy & Environment The Stable Stationary Value of the Earth’s Global Average Atmospheric Planck-Weighted Greenhouse-Gas Optical Thickness

Dr. Ferenc Mark Miskolczi

Update May 18

Robin Pittwood has done an analysis confirming that recent global warming has been matched by increasing outgoing longwave radiation, such that the equilibrium point has remained stable.  His money graph is this one:

This finding is consistent with Miskolczi’s finding that the atmospheric heat engine adjusts to changes so that energy balance is maintained.  There is more at KiwiThinker: An Empirical Look at Recent Trends in the Greenhouse Effect


  1. Hifast · May 18, 2017

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.


    • stefanthedenier · May 30, 2017

      YOU SHOULD BRUSH UP ON WHAT CLIMATE IS: -”there is no such a thing as ‘’earth’s global climate’’ – there are many INDEPENDENT different MICRO CLIMATES 1] Alpine climate 2] Mediterranean climate, 3] sea- level climate 4] high altitude climate 5] temperate climates 6] subtropical climate, 7] tropical climate 8] desert climate 9] rainforest climates 10] wet climate 11] dry climate, as in desert AND THEY KEEP CHANGING; wet climate gets dry occasionally b] even rains in the desert sometimes and improves. In the tropics is wet and dry -/- in subtropics and temperate climates changes four time a year, WITH EVERY season= migratory birds can tell you that; because they know much more about climate than all the Warmist foot-solders and all climate skeptics combined – on the polar caps climates change twice a year. Leading Warmist know that is no ”global warming” so they encompassed ”climatic changes” to confuse and con the ignorant – so that when is some extreme weather for few days on some corner of the planet, to use it as proof of their phony global warming and ignore that the weather is good simultaneously on the other 97% of the planet, even though is same amount of co2. In other words, they used the trick as: -”if you want to sell that the sun is orbiting around the earth -> you encompass the moon – present proofs that the moon is orbiting around the earth and occasionally insert that: the sun and moon rise from same place and set to the west, proof that the ”sun is orbiting around the earth” AND the trick works, because the Flat-Earthers called ”climate skeptics” are fanatically supporting 90% of the Warmist lies. Bottom line: if somebody doesn’t believe that on the earth climate exist and constantly changes, but is no global warming -> ”climate skeptic” shouldn’t be allowed on the street, unless accompanied by an adult. b] many micro-climates and they keep changing, but no such a thing as ”global climate”



      • Ron Clutz · May 30, 2017

        stephan, thanks for commenting. I need no brushing up on what climate is. It is an human construct defined as patterns in local or regional weather, including as you say microclimates. I have posted several times on this, including a recent study of the Koppen climate zones showing there is little change in them.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Robin Pittwood · May 18, 2017

    Hi Ron, a few years ago I wrote a post along these lines. Thought you might be interested. Cheers from NZ. Here’s the link.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ron Clutz · May 18, 2017

      Thanks Robin, your analysis is interesting and very pertinent to this article. I will add a footnote above with link to your post.


  3. Philip Mulholland · May 21, 2018


    Great article on Ferenc Miskolczi.
    Here is my list of links to his online publications:-

    Miskolczi, F. M. & M. G. Mlynczak (2004) The greenhouse effect and the spectral decomposition of the clear-sky terrestrial radiation IDŐJÁRÁS Quarterly Journal of the Hungarian Meteorological Service, Vol. 108, No. 4, 209-251.

    Click to access IDOJARAS_vol108_No4_01.pdf

    Miskolczi, F. M. (2007) Greenhouse effect in semi-transparent planetary atmospheres IDŐJÁRÁS Quarterly Journal of the Hungarian Meteorological Service Vol. 111, No. 1, January–March 2007, pp. 1–40.

    Click to access IDOJARAS_vol111_No1_01.pdf

    Miskolczi, F. (2010) The Stable Stationary Value of the Earth’s Global Average Atmospheric Planck-Weighted Greenhouse-Gas Optical Thickness Energy & Environment, Vol. 21, No. 4, 243-262.

    Click to access E&E_21_4_2010_08-miskolczi.pdf

    Miskolczi, F. (2011) The stable stationary value of the Earth’s global average atmospheric infrared optical thickness Presented by Miklos Zagoni at the EGU 2011 Vienna.

    Click to access EGU2011_FM_MZ.pdf

    Miskolczi, F. M. (2014) The Greenhouse Effect and the Infrared Radiative Structure of the Earth’s Atmosphere Development in Earth Science, Vol. 2, 31-52.

    He is also on Research Gate at this location:-

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ron Graf · November 19, 2018

    Ron, thanks for this post. Have you made any suggestions to Miskolczi to contact experts who would consider stating an opinion his emissivity constant theory? Richard Lindzen and others come to mind.


    • Ron Clutz · November 19, 2018

      Ron, I have not been in contact with him. He is listed as a contact at The Heartland Institute, as is Lindzen and many other climate skeptics.


  5. oldbrew · June 8, 2019

    Reblogged this on Tallbloke's Talkshop and commented:
    Curious indeed. A case of what can happen when the message becomes more important than the science that is supposed to lead to it.


  6. oldbrew · June 8, 2019

    Note to Ron C: the ‘money graph’ should display if the characters after jpg in its address are deleted.


    • Ron Clutz · June 8, 2019

      Thanks oldbrew, I hadn’t noticed the problem.


  7. erl happ · June 9, 2019

    Ron, Thanks for this post and your continuing efforts to educate..

    I reached the same conclusion as Miskolczi via an examination of the climate record. I posted a proof here:

    I agree with the explanation offered, namely that: ‘The radiative warming effect is saturated, because the atmospheric heat engine is always striving to maximize the dissipation of surface heat into space. In the present circumstance, any additional input of heat produces a reaction of additional evaporation or convection to restore the energy balance.’

    Its a pity that influential people like Richard Lindzen, John Christy, his colleague Roy Spencer, and activists like Lord Monckton have not yet worked out that there is zero impact from the supposed ‘radiative effect’. That said, nobody does a better job than Christy of debunking the notion that CO2 is a problem here:

    Sadly, neither the science or observations of the real world matter a hoot when powerful vested interests get involved. Nobody proselytizes harder than NASA.

    Public opinion is to some extent driven by the media. Unfortunately journalists trust NASA and the UNIPCC and this drives what politicians do in government.

    Ultimately, its up to voters to correct the situation. It seems that in Australia, the tide is turning. The left leaning premier of Queensland realizes that voters have emphatically rejected her governments approach to coal mining, and in particular the Adani project.

    It seems that much the same message is being delivered by voters in the USA.


  8. cognog2Alasdair · June 9, 2019

    Would love to know what a 1.87 optical thickness means. Does it have units? And how is it calculated?


    • Ron Clutz · June 9, 2019

      cognog, I am not sure if this is how Miskoltsi uses the term, but I did read this:
      “Yes, optical depth is defined as the negative natural logarithm of the fraction of radiation (e.g., light) that is not scattered or absorbed on a path. If this fraction is less than about 36.7%, then optical depth is above unity, otherwise it’s below unity.”


      • cognog2Alasdair · June 11, 2019

        Thanks Ron. It seems that this is the coefficient K in the Lambert/Bouguet Equation. Presumably as measured from the top of the atmosphere to give the depth rather than the path.
        A far cry for me from the Shippimg Forcasts!
        I played around with this some years ago and concluded that the maximum energy absorbed by 660m of CO2 was 0.01803 Watts/sq. arrived at asymptotically as the path increased; but have little faith in my very rough calculations.


      • cognog2 · July 3, 2019

        Thanks Ron. I suspect it is the coefficient “k” in the Lambert absorption equation; but just a guess.


    • Interested Observer · July 3, 2019

      It is dimensionless. Means that a long wave photon is on average absorbed and reradiated 1.87 times before it escapes the atmosphere to space.


  9. hunterson7 · June 9, 2019

    Thank you for reposting this important work.
    We are so glad she to the shutdown of free speech and free expression.
    Science has been corrupted so badly.
    Whether correct or not, the suppression of the work discussed in this post is a shameful disturbing story.
    I hope we can dodge a new dark age.


  10. uwe.roland.gross · June 9, 2019

    Reblogged this on Climate- Science.


  11. Jean Bush · June 9, 2019

    Reblogged this on Sandy Hook or by Crook.


  12. tom0mason · June 10, 2019

    Thank-you Ron,
    Empirical data, rather than models! That means REAL science not pie-in-the-sky nonsense such as NASA’s graphic ERBE (Earth Radiation Budget Experiment) program, where life requires no solar input and does not sequester solar energy at every opportunity.
    By NASA’s graphic the 3 times doubling of the human population from around 1 billion in about 1800 to today’s approximate value of 8billion takes no solar energy. I find that unbelievable.
    Life in all it’s abundance converts solar energy to the energy within its newly formed chemical bonds — energy that is often not readily given back. Think trees lasting hundreds of years, to coal, or even the bone fossils that still maintain a structure that is radically different to the mere chemical elements that formed them. Life in action, using basic chemicals (CO2, water, and some minerals) and the energy from solar radiation. Sure it is not a huge amount but it is there, and eventually it will (through entropy) find its way back to an elemental state but eventually is a very, very long time hence (billions of years?).


  13. Dan Paulson · September 21, 2019

    I am not a scientist and can’t make any real statement about this issue. It certainly would be extremely important, if true. Now in the Q&A there was a question about anyone refuting the numbers, which was responded to negatively. However, there is a rebuttal by Dorland and Foster. “Rebuttal of Miskolczi’s alternative greenhouse theory”

    I have not finished reading all of the related papers, so I can’t make an informed reply at this time. I do think, however, that such an important insight should be studied and replicated by numerous interested individuals. Are there studies and inquiries completed to support these CO2 shattering findings?


    • Ron Clutz · September 21, 2019

      Dan, for an overview of lthe case made by Miskolczi, see a post by Clive Best:
      Miskolczi’s theory of a saturated greenhouse effect
      “Mainstream IPCC scientists have all attacked this but direct measurements do really seem to support these assumptions. The pressure distribution of the atmosphere is a function of gravity and temperature P(h)=Po*exp(-mgh/kT). The effective black body radiation emitted by the atmosphere to space by greenhouse gases is a kind of measure of it’s “greenhouse” temperature and hence its kinetic energy, whereas the radiation emitted from the surface is related to the Po the pressure at height zero and hence the gravitational potential energy. I certainly will need to think harder about this one to be convinced, but the theory is very attractive and if true would completely overturn mainstream climate change predictions.”
      For more references see links at end of that post.
      See also webpage at Ed Berry’s blog: Ferenc Miskolczi: The stable stationary value of the Earth’s IR optical thickness


  14. sandorbalogh · January 31, 2020

    Ron, I am writing a book and argue against global warming due to the creation of entropy by weather events, hurricanes, the tides and ocean waves etc., according to the Second Law of thermodynamics. I would like to get in touch with Dr. Miskolczi, a fellow Hungarian, or have an interview with you. How to get in touch with you?
    Dr. Sandor Balogh,.prof. emeritus


  15. Vodor · July 26

    What about these oppositions. I bet that you read it
    (first google search page for “Miskolczi theory”), but you didn’t mentioned them in the article:'s_alternative_greenhouse_theory


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