Comment on "Radiative forcings for 28 potential Archean greenhouse gases" by Byrne and Goldblatt (2014)
Abstract. In the recent article by Byrne and Goldblatt, "Radiative forcing for 28 potential Archean greenhouse gases", Clim. Past. 10, 1779–1801 (2014), the authors employ the HITRAN2012 spectroscopic database to evaluate the radiative forcing of 28 Archean gases. As part of the evaluation of the status of the spectroscopy of these gases in the selected spectral region (50–1800 cm−1), the cross sections generated from the HITRAN line-by-line parameters were compared with those of the PNNL database of experimental cross sections recorded at moderate resolution. The authors claimed that for NO2, HNO3, H2CO, H2O2, HCOOH, C2H4, CH3OH and CH3Br there exist large or sometimes severe disagreements between the databases. In this work we show that for only three of these eight gases a modest discrepancy does exist between the two databases and we explain the origin of the differences. For the other five gases, the disagreements are not nearly at the scale suggested by the authors, while we explain some of the differences that do exist. In summary, the agreement between the HITRAN and PNNL databases is very good, although not perfect. Typically differences do not exceed 10 %, provided that HITRAN data exist for the bands/wavelengths of interest. It appears that a molecule-dependent combination of errors has affected the conclusions of the authors. In at least one case it appears that they did not take the correct file from PNNL (N2O4 (dimer)+ NO2 was used in place of the monomer). Finally, cross sections of HO2 from HITRAN (which do not have a PNNL counterpart) were not calculated correctly in BG, while in the case of HF misleading discussion was presented there based on the confusion by foreign or noise features in the experimental PNNL spectra.