Fizzy Sky IR Spectrum Is???

You know, that whole “settled science” thing is looking more and more like a giant albatross…

And, This Just In: You can have stable gas phase carbonic acid.

It was widely believed to be impossible, but it has been studied at temperatures rather like those found in our atmosphere. Cold, but known to exist.

Now, riddle me this Bat Man: What happens to the CO2 IR Spectrum when it gets turned into Carbonic Acid? What happens to the water IR Spectrum when it gets turned into Carbonic Acid? All we can say for sure right now is “it changes”…

We’re still in the ‘finding out’ stage about little things, like, oh, what is the spectrum for Carbonic Acid anyway? Once we’ve done that, we might actually start looking for it and see how common, or uncommon, it might be.

So here we sit, with THE 2 most dominant species of “greenhouse gasses” per the IPCC that just might decide to combine and turn into something else with an unknown IR blocking profile. Golly. Wonder if that might matter?


International first: Gas-phase carbonic acid isolated
Science Centric | 11 January 2011 17:56 G

Notice that date? 11 January 2011.

A team of chemists headed by Thomas Loerting from the University of Innsbruck and Hinrich Grothe from the Vienna University of Technology (TU Wien) in Austria have prepared and isolated gas-phase carbonic acid and have succeeded in characterising the gas-phase molecules by using infrared spectroscopy. The results were published in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

In textbooks and other media the widespread belief still prevails that stable carbonic acid cannot be produced in pure form and is practically non-existent as it immediately decomposes to carbon dioxide and water.
However, Innsbruck chemists headed by Erwin Mayer (Institute of General, Inorganic and Theoretical Chemistry) refuted this persistent dogma in chemistry several years ago. They belong to only a handful of scientists who have prepared pure solid carbonic acid experimentally. In an international first, the scientists have now produced gas-phase carbonic acid and, together with a research group headed by Hinrich Grothe at the Vienna University of Technology, they have also succeeded in proofing the existence of these molecules. ‘Carbonic acid vapour is composed of at least three different species in the gas-phase: a cyclic dimer consisting of two molecules and two different types of monomers,’ explains Thomas Loerting (Institute of Physical Chemistry) the result of the comprehensive study.

For this experiment the researchers prepared carbonic acid in the laboratory in Innsbruck. It was then stored in liquid nitrogen and transported to Vienna by PhD student Juergen Bernard. At the Institute of Materials Chemistry at the TU Wien the solid carbonic acid was warmed to minus 30 degrees Celsius. ‘During this process the carbonic acid molecules entered the gas-phase,’ says Loerting. This is a surprising result because many experts in the field believed that carbonic acid immediately decomposes to carbon dioxide and water. The Austrian scientists trapped the carbonic acid vapour in a solid matrix of the inert gas argon and cooled it down. ‘This produced a frozen image of the carbonic acid vapour, which we analysed by using high-resolution infrared spectroscopy at the TU Wien,’ says Hinrich Grothe. ‘The spectrum we produced is extremely precise and we were able to assign the spectral bands to the vibration of each single molecule.’ For more than a decade, the chemists have been supported in their experimental research by Klaus Liedl from the Institute of Theoretical Chemistry in Innsbruck. His team of scientists has helped to interpret the experimental data with computational models. Additional calculations have been performed by Oscar Galvez from CSIC Madrid (Spanish National Research Council).

This experiment not only is of high importance for basic research but also for astronomy. The identification of gas-phase carbonic acid in the atmosphere of celestial bodies may be facilitated by the detailed spectra of gas-phase carbonic acid described in this study. ‘Conditions in space environments suggest that gas-phase carbonic acid may be found in the coma of comets or the poles of Mars,’ says Thomas Loerting. ‘However, infrared spectra currently measured in extraterrestrial environments are still too imprecise to be comparable to the results produced in our laboratory.’

Like maybe the Earth? Like maybe over OUR poles? Or even Minnesota? …


The same story, different angle.

Until recently, the molecule has resisted all attempts at isolation and direct detection. However, a few scientists have been able to produce carbonic acid in the solid state. It is also assumed to be present in cirrus clouds in Earth’s atmosphere and in space.

The Austrian researchers have now demonstrated that carbonic acid can exist in the gas phase and that it is stable at temperatures up to –30 °C. For these experiments, solid carbonic acid was formed by means of acid-base reactions at very low temperatures and then warmed to –30 °C. The evaporating molecules were trapped in a matrix of the noble gas argon and then immediately cooled again. This resulted in a kind of frozen “image” of the gas-phase carbonic acid, which the researchers were able to study by infrared spectrometry.

The spectra showed that gas-phase carbonic acid exists in three different forms. The scientists found two monomers that differ in their conformation – the spatial arrangement of their atoms – as well as a dimer made from two molecules bound through hydrogen bonds.

No, I have no idea if this will happen in enough concentration to make any difference at all to the whole CO2 as IR “trapping” argument. And neither does anyone else. And that’s the whole point…

“Settle Science” my Asstrononomy…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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20 Responses to Fizzy Sky IR Spectrum Is???

  1. You are exactly right.

    “Settled science” is a commodity of “village idiots”.

    Both terms are repugnant to anyone who has experienced “truthing” . . . searching for a better explanation and knowing full well that you will never have the whole truth.

    In my own career, “truthing” was like this:

    a.) In 1976, we had strong empirical evidence that the Sun exploded, without mixing in the equatorial plane, and formed the Solar System out of heterogeneous supernova debris, but we did not know how that could happen

    b.) In 1983, we had strong empirical evidence that the Sun contained far more iron (Fe) than hydrogen (H), but we did not know how an iron-rich Sun could shine.

    [In 1987, we observed a possible explanation for a.) in the debris of Supernova 1987A.]

    c.) In 2001, we had strong empirical evidence that neutron repulsion powers the Sun and the cosmos, but by that time I had been labelled as “crazy” by the “sane” scientists who were marching in lock-step to the music of Al Gore and the blind belief that Earth’s climate is totally independent of its heat source – the Sun.

    These two papers document some of the joy of “truthing”:

    1. “Earth’s Heat Source – The Sun”

    2. “Neutron Repulsion”

  2. H.R. says:

    Hmmm… would it be safe to say that carbonic acid is not in the models?

  3. In the discussions about CO2-induced global warming, I have never heard any mention of the fluid CO2 that is stored at the crust/mantle boundary – and sometimes released explosively.

  4. Ian W says:

    Just as a little exercise someone could calculate the surface area of all the water droplets in clouds world wide. It will be orders of magnitude larger than the surface area of the oceans.

    The ‘just formed’ droplets will be pure very cold water. According to Henry’s law CO2 will rapidly dissolve into these droplets and they become carbonic acid droplets some of which will freeze. Rather than fall as rain or snow some of the cloud ice crystals will sublimate back to vapor in the sunlight.

    Seems to me that gas phase carbonic acid could be more common in the atmosphere than anyone suspects.

  5. Malaga View says:

    @ Oliver K. Manuel
    Thank you for your amazing Neutron Repulsion paper… so many things are now falling into place.

    I particularly like your description of the sun:
    Excited neutrons are emitted from the solar core and decay into hydrogen that glows in the photosphere like a frosted light bulb.

    But it is more that just hydrogen that is produced:
    Beneath the photosphere, neutrons from the Sun’s compact energetic core became atoms of hydrogen and helium with a ~1015 fold increase in volume.

    By introducing Fusion we get additional elements:
    Fusion of three or four nuclei of helium (4He) produced the most abundant isotopes of carbon (12C) and oxygen (16O)

    And then you introduce the two competing forces:
    Dynamic competition between gravitational attraction and neutron repulsion sustains our dynamic universe, the Sun, and life on planet Earth.

    So here are my questions:

    or to put it another way:

    Perhaps the Sun’s gravity cause most of the carbon and oxygen to be retained within the solar body… while gravity on Earth might allow carbon and oxygen to be released out from the core…. so that planets are just small stars that do not glow…. especially as this is supported the Expanding Earth and Abiogenic observational theories.

  6. E.M.Smith:
    LOL! : “Settle Science” my Asstrononomy…
    As the famous Professor Fred Flintstone would say: The universe is composed of a chaotic and random arrangement of pebbles of different sizes, where the only acting force is our most holy gravity, discovered by Saint Newton, when it fell upon his head an apple (though, to be true, he never realized the apple tree which grew upwards, contradicting his most appreciated universal law)
    It all began when our great, great ancestor, immortal Big Fred smashed two flints making the first Sun/spark to appear, ….and there was light…..

  7. KevinM says:

    Off today’s topic.

    A 10 LED replacement for 60-watt, dimmable, same size and shape as a standard bulb: 80 lumens/Watt.

  8. @KevinM
    As far as I know, LEDS, being semiconductors that have the particular wavelength of an element, are of a single wave length. I wonder if there have been conducted research on their probable consequences on sight and/or health.

  9. E.M.Smith says:


    That’s pretty darned good news! It will require a dimmer replacement, though, for folks with older 600 W rated dimmers like mine. But would work well for me in just about everywhere I’ve got a lower power CFL at present… minus low range dimmers (2) and 3-Way lamps (4).

    Still, it’s going to be on my shopping list (at least for ‘quantity one’…)


    On this PAR 30 (Parabolic Aliminized Reflector) spec page you will find a CRI (Color Rendering Index) listed of 84 or 87. It’s not a single color (like low pressure sodium) as the LED just makes UV light that is used to pump a mix of phospores that give a ‘close to white’ light. (Incandescents are CRI 100 and lousy lamps are below 70 CRI. IIRC sodium lamps are CRI about 30 ).

    Click to access RETRO027R2.e8e4583e-0051-48d2-9bd2-68cd2c375ae5.pdf

    There is a bunch of magic that goes into phosphore design to get things that look more or less white and of various color temperatures. The CFLs are able to use exotic phosphors as they are so small so use very little. Same thing for this LED bulb… but it still ‘has issues’ with not being CRI 100.

    These are espectially important in food presentation and photography – or – watch out for ‘green eggs and ham’ ;-) I’m probably more sensitive to this than most folks; as I grew up in a restaurant and we had the old style 1″ diameter 4 foot long fluorescents with even worse CRI “Warm White” and “Cool White”; so at an early age I became aware of the effect. Dad preferred a mix of the two even though the lights ended up with alternating “pink” and “bluish” as that gave a better look to the food…

    The “classic” issue is that the ‘standard tube’ cool white is extraordinarily defficient in red (so food like red apples just look somehow dead) and often rich in greenish (so those “green eggs”). For photography with chemical film, the partucular red chosen (since there was so little) was one that the human eye more easily detected. Film not so much. So you got pictures that were VERY green, even greener than you saw with the eye.

    While these isses are reduced with CFL and LED (due to the small quantity of phosphor needed so cost issues reduced) and especially for LED (where you can hide an added $4 of exotic phosphores more easily in the $40 price) they are not fully gone.

    But that UV via phosphor ‘trick’ was what let LED lighting happen. The making of the UV LED was the key. Prior to that it was all single color RED or YELLOW LEDs. Eventually GREEN and then BLUE.

    But to your question directly: There is little evidence of any impact on life or sight from monochromatic visible light other than that it makes your food, photos, and friends look lousy.

    FWIW, we have a “lizard lamp” that is a CFL with a phosphor mix that makes a bunch of white light and SOME UV (as lizards need it or they die). This is effective, with a 20 minute or so treatment, at curing SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and getting measured low vitamin D levels up for one family member… It also gives an OK tan after a while and eventually gives a modest sun burn ( so no 2 hour exposures… please… you are NOT a lizzard… ;-)

    The stuff the doctor prescribed – oral Vit D – was not cutting it. Perhaps an absorbtion issue, but who kows. The light fixes it… So there is an existence proof that quality of light DOES influence quality of life for some folks.

    @Ian W:

    I’ve pondered all the carbonic acid and simple dissolved CO2 in rain for years.

    We are told it is so much as to dissolve away mountains and make caverns the world over. The sink holes in the Karst topography from Kentucky to Florida is testimony to that.

    Then we ignore that maybe variations in precipitation could influence the percentage of CO2 in the air?

    So it’s going to be interesting to see what happens as this intensely rainy cycle starts doing more ‘water stripping’ of the air…

    That it might also freeze out is a very interesting thing as well.

    Not yet discussed:

    What happens to all those ice core CO2 calculations if you have to start allowing for Carbonic Acid (vapor or solid) preferentially precipitating (or preferentially NOT) at some temperatures?

    Do we get CO2 depletion at the margin of Antarctica (where it calves off and does not end up sequestered nor measured in the cores that are further inland)?

    Do we get CO2 enhancement as carbonic acid is deposited in a particularly cold band where it is stable?

    I suspect that this explains the often reported effect that the ‘snow’ at the south pole will ‘fizz’ when you put it in your mouth. This has been attributed to “Dry Ice” or CO2 “snow”; but it’s much more likely IMHO to be “Carbonated water ice”. And if that is so, what does that imply for the ice core CO2 record? And how does carbonic ice handle the yearly solar input cycling? And does that vary with depth of snow? Temperature extremes? Is carbonic acid more mobile in the ice than CO2 gas? Or less mobile? Do we get preferential enhancement of CO2 in the record from carbonic acid being more stable, or depletion as it can migrate through water in solution where an air bubble does not?

    There are a lot of assumptions about what CO2 / water does when mixed that now get to be revisited…

  10. Jason Calley says:

    @ E.M. “I’ve pondered all the carbonic acid and simple dissolved CO2 in rain for years.
    We are told it is so much as to dissolve away mountains and make caverns the world over. The sink holes in the Karst topography from Kentucky to Florida is testimony to that.”

    Just a quick side comment re karst, caves and CO2. You are absolutely correct that most caves are formed by the action of CO2 dissolved in water percolating and flowing through carbonates. This is just a wild guess, but I would think that maybe 95% or more are from CO2 — but some of the largest and prettiest are formed by sulfuric acid, not carbonic. Either oxidation of sulphate minerals or upwelling hydrogen sulfide from petroleum deposits can combine with water to make sulfuric acid which does GREAT at dissolving limestone. Ever wonder why the SE corner of New Mexico has wonderful caves like Carslsbad and Lechuguilla with those enormous rooms and fantastic formations? There they are, sitting almost on top of all that petroleum in the Delaware Basin…

    Click to access v62n2-Jagnow.pdf

  11. Adrian Vance says:

    CO2 is already a very poor IR absorber compared to water vapor by 1/7 molecule for molecule and H2O has 80 times as many molecules in air making 560 times the heating effect.

    CO2 has one “s” electron bonded oxygen that can roll around the molecule. About 1/3rd of the time it is in a configuration to absorb IR as does water with two “p” bonded hydrogens giving it the “tuning fork” shape resonant to IR. As solid carbonic acid the shape will be nothing like that and it will not be an IR absorber.

    All of this talk of ozone and CO2 “shields” is nonsense as gases cannot form surfaces. That is a property of liguids and solids. Ozone is formed at all levels of the atmosphere and it is oxygen that traps hard UV to make atomic oxygen, [O] that we colloquially call “ozone.” Each one of these atoms last about 1/5,000,000th second, i.e. until it hits the next molecule, likely a nitrogen and makes the brown haze we see in the air. It is just that simple.

  12. pyromancer76 says:

    Wonderful questions. A lot can happen when scientific minds are able to detach from the current mythologies. Is further investigation of the stable gas phase carbonic acid the primary bailiwick of chemists?

    This is OT, but an AGW issue. Do you have any thoughts about the current physics of GW as attempted by Willis in his most recent post on WUWT. Physicist-commenters (I assume) seem to be offering fundamental critiques. How does what Willis is attempting relate to your own attempts at formula(s)?

  13. E.M.Smith says:


    IMHO, Willis has it ‘exacty right’. There are some more things that could be added that make the warming case even worse, but yes, he’s ‘onto something’.

    I tend to look at “what is happening and does it match” while he tends to look at “what is the theory and does it have holes”. We sometimes end up at the sampe place from opposite ends. This is (partially) one of them.

    Heat confounded with temperatures. Just wrong. Willis finds that via the equations, I find it from simply observing the reality and the nature of heat and temperatures.

    Yeah, some physicists will undoubtely critique ( I’ve not read all the comments yet) as they are all wound up in “Special Cases” and assuming things that let you connect two things (like “assume the mass is constant” or “assume there is no phase change”) and that’s all well and good. It lets you learn the basic rules of nature. But in nature those assumptions do not apply, and you must deal with what is, in all it’s complexity…

    What Willis has done is show that a couple of key assumptions for simplification are just flat out wrong.

  14. Juice says:

    Gaseous carbonic acid couldn’t be present in anything but trace quantities, could it? If it’s present as a trace gas, it probably has a negligible effect on the IR spectrum of the atmosphere.

  15. kuhnkat says:


    CO2 and all the other GHG’s except h2o are trace also!!

    I would point out you only need to get to between 15,000 and 25,000 feet to see less than -30c in the atmosphere. That puts it in the middle of areas important to the IPCC AGW fantasy, upper trop, tropopause, and stratosphere.

  16. Tim Channon says:

    A strange thing happened today, stay with me, only some is humour.

    The sun was shining, yep, very strange this is England, we go for weeks with white/grey or black sky. Didn’t last long.

    Maybe that is what the henges were about, predicting when a shining orb will materialise.

    I happened to have my back to the sun, looked up and this was double double take time.

    What I had glanced at was a window. This just looked off white, reflected sky but across that was a streaming white thing.

    Thinks, oh I know what that is, look at the horizontal balanced flue furnace outlet, nothing.

    Look back, plume. Huh?

    I hazard a guess given the geometry the skylight was being further polorised by the window.

    Direct sight, no water vapour. Indirect, visible.

    New one on me.

    Air temperature would have been around 1C, not ice. Humidity was fairly low.

  17. E.M.Smith says:

    @Tim Channon:

    Nice of ol sol to pay you a visit, even if brief.

    I’d guess you had crossed polarazations. Vapor one way, window the other, giving gray interference.

  18. Slacko says:

    Adrian Vance says:

    “Ozone is formed at all levels of the atmosphere and it is oxygen that traps hard UV to make atomic oxygen, [O] that we colloquially call “ozone.” “

    Actually, ozone is the triatomic O3, not O.

    “Each one of these atoms last about 1/5,000,000th second, i.e. until it hits the next molecule, likely a nitrogen and makes the brown haze we see in the air. It is just that simple.

    Isn’t it ozone that’s generated by an electric discharge in air? If not, what is the sweet smell? If ozone only lasts a few hundred nanoseconds, how do you account for the supposed layer of it (complete with a supposed CFC hole) about 40 miles up?

  19. Adrian Vance says:

    There is no “ozone layer.” That is a myth promoted by Molina and Rowland to get a $60,000 grant and a Nobel Prize for a reaction that has never been seen in nature or accomplished in a lab.

    Molina is at MIT trying for over 20 years to make the reaction work and failed. The “Ozone Hole” is another myth for money and science fraud like “anthropogenic global warming,” the evils of DDT, Hansen’s “forcing,” and Vitalism plus many more.

    Ozone is a product of hard UV hitting O2’s, splitting them into atomic oxygen, [O] which then combines with the next molecule it hits which is very likely a nitrogen, but it may hit an oxygen and form a temporary O3 which will last long enough to show up on a Dobson apparatus as a unique absorption line.

    We have a full generation of “scientists” that are poorly prepared, incapable of reading and interpreting absorption charts or doing the math to sort out the “global warming” controversy with skills that should be taught in high school. Today, every physical science lecture at Stanford begins with a five to 15 minute indoctrination in environmental BS. We have marched into an age of darkness far deeper and more profound than “1984” or “Brave New World.”

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