# Regarding Thermodynamics and Heat Transfer (Why Al Gore’s Comments to Bill O’Reilly at Fox News Are Wrong)

Guest post by Chuck Wiese
Meteorologist
Weatherwise, Incorporated
Portland, Oregon

From a meteorologist’s perspective, nothing is worse than to see atmospheric science trashed by the likes of Al Gore, who is a self proclaimed expert in this area, but has had no formal training from any accredited university and constantly makes incorrect and un-provable assertions about “human caused” climate change.

The latest revelation came on February 2, 2011, when Mr. Gore eagerly answered a questioning of the accuracy of Gore’s past claims about climate from Bill O’Reilly from the Fox News Channel since much of the central and east coast of the US have had a cold and snowy winter. Gore told O’Reilly that the snowstorms of this winter were part of the pattern of changing climate expected by scientists and result from the warming earth airmasses with more moisture were running into a patch of cold air.

Gore claimed:

“ These warmer air masses ( which Gore claims result from human carbon emissions that create atmospheric CO2 ) act like a sponge to moisture and soak it up until they hit a patch of cold air.”

Gore then claims that this “extra moisture” contained in the warmer air causes more intense precipitation and thus heavier snowfall, and is all consistent with a warming earth.

These statements by Gore are sheer nonsense. While it is true that warmer air can hold more moisture than cold air, the temperature of the air has nothing to do with how much water vapor will ultimately be evaporated ( or as Gore puts it “soaked up” ) into it. That is determined solely by what is called the vapor pressure gradient that exists
between a sample of air that may overly a plane of water. To examine this, we need to introduce the physical concept of vapor pressure.

The equation that governs this is called the Clausius-Clapeyron equation for the vapor pressure of water and was named after the two chemists that derived it. It is a first order differential equation, and in differential form, it is:

Dp/p = Lv/Ru ( DT/T2 )

In this form, p is the vapor pressure of water, Lv is the molar heat of vaporization of water, Ru is the universal gas constant of 8.314Jmol-1K-1, and T is the temperature of the water in Kelvin degrees. Using this equation, the vapor pressure is defined physically as the amount of heat energy required to vaporize one mole of water at 100 degrees centigrade at one earth atmospheric pressure. With this definition we can easily integrate this equation with respect to pressure and temperature and define the summation limits:

Pwa(T) = Pae –K(1/Tdw -1/373)

In final form for the examples in this paper, this integrated form of Clausius-Clapeyron states that the vapor pressure of the water or air as a function of temperature is now equal to the atmospheric pressure multiplied by the natural base e raised to the minus power of the quantities indicated. Those are K, the molar vaporization coefficient in Kelvins, multiplied by the reciprocal of the difference in either the dew point temperature of the air (for the vapor pressure of the air) or water temperature (for the vapor pressure of water) and that of the boiling temperature of water at one atmosphere in Kelvin degrees. For accuracy, K is preferred over the quotient Lv/Ru because the latent heats of vaporization are different depending on the temperatures. I looked these up in the Handbook of Physics and Chemistry, 30th edition at the various temperatures we are interested in to make the relevant points.

Using these to compute K, we have 5397,5348,5343,5265 and 5261 Kelvins for -20F, 32F both at 5397, then 50F,52F,80F and 82F for the other Kelvins respectively. The various vapor pressures at the indicated temperatures were then computed to be used in the examples below:

In the example above, I took a hot continental air mass that is typically found in the summer months in the US at a temperature of 100 deg F. If the dew point of this hot air mass was 50 deg F ( which it typically is in summer ) this would be VERY DRY air relative to its temperature of 100 deg F, having a relative humidity of only 19%. This is the kind of airmass that Al Gore claims would “soak up moisture” because it is so warm. So what happens if we moved it out over the Pacific Ocean so it could “soak up” some of Al Gore’s moisture? We see from the vapor pressures involved that this hot airmass is not going to do any such thing. Why? Because the vapor pressure of the ocean is the same as the vapor pressure of Mr. Gore’s hot air mass! Both the ocean and air have the SAME vapor pressure with the temperature of the water and dew point temperature of the air being equal which equals a vapor pressure 10.75 millibars in both from the Clapeyron equation. The vapor pressure gradient is zero in this case.

This means that there would be NO NET EVAPORATIVE GAIN OF WATER VAPOR into this HOT air mass at all. As this HOT air moves into the “patch” of colder ocean, it will simply begin to cool to towards

its dew point temperature, raising the relative humidity of the air but leaving little or no change in the absolute humidity because the ocean will easily take up the extra heat energy without raising its own temperature, which determines its vapor pressure( which determines actual water vapor content ) which defines that “sponge” Mr. Gore was talking about.

So in what scenario would we find an airmass acting like a “sponge” and “soaking up moisture” as Mr. Gore claims happens with a warm airmass? If you’re laughing about now and guessing the opposite of what Gore claims you would be correct! The best example I could give regarding an airmass “soaking up moisture” would be from one that produces lake effect snowstorms, and that would be a source of COLD continental arctic air. Let’s examine the physics of that in the illustration below:

In this scenario, we start with a COLD airmass, whose temperature at the north shore of lake Michigan is -15 degF, with a dew point temperature of -20 degF. Using the Clapeyron equation again, we find the vapor pressure in such a COLD airmass is very low. The value is only .49 millibars. But when we compute the vapor pressure of Lake
Michigan, even with a temperature of 32 degF we find it to be much higher at 5.11 millibars. This creates a whopping vapor pressure gradient INTO the COLD airmass of 4.62 millibars! The effect this will have is unmistakable. As this COLD airmass travels over the warmer lake surface, it will be heated rapidly by the lake surface, but as it heats, the vapor pressure gradient will constantly feed a stream of moisture from the lake into the warming airmass and continually re-saturate it. Notice on the diagram that as the air is heated from underneath by the lake that the temperature difference between the air near the lake and higher up gets larger.

This eventually causes this warmer and saturated surface air to overturn, causing a deep convective current to ensue, that depending on the 5 and 10 thousand foot temperatures will allow the air to overturn to these altitudes. This process continues to allow the COLDER air to lose and re-saturate moisture as long as we maintain the positive vapor pressure INTO the COLD air, which we do. As the cloud columns form and build from this process, precipitation begins to fall from them and continues on the south side of the lake as long as the wind fetch and supply of COLD arctic air remains on the north side.

Ask people who live Chicago Illinois and Buffalo New York about lake effect storms. They will tell you they observe on a frequent basis, snowfall totals that range anywhere from half a foot to several feet of snow depending on how long the COLD wind fetch across the lake persists. This COLD airmass would have started with a water vapor content of around .2gKg-1 (grams of water vapor per kilogram of dry air ) and end up with approximately 3.2gKg-1 by the time it nears the south shore of the lake fully saturated because of the vapor pressure gradient. Yet that water vapor content is only 16% of what is found in one of those juicy tropical airmasses Al Gore claims “soak up moisture”. It is COLD, not warm air that “soaks up water vapor” from a water surface, and it is precisely because that air has a VERY LOW vapor pressure compared to any source of warmer water that it over runs.

So what happens with one of those juicy tropical airmasses that Al Gore claims are the vacuum cleaner to water vapor? Let’s look at that problem briefly. To do this I need to introduce another concept in thermodynamics called the wet bulb temperature. To use that concept we need to convert our calculated vapor pressures into mixing ratios, in other words, given the vapor pressure, what is the amount of water vapor in grams
found in a kilogram of dry air? We can easily perform that operation with the use of the ideal gas law:

Pw mw/RuTdw= m/V

This gives us the density of water vapor in gm-3 ( grams per cubic meter ) if we multiply the vapor pressure by the molecular weight of water and divide by the product of the universal gas constant and absolute temperature ( Kelvin degrees ) . If we take a tropical airmass that is loaded with moisture and fully saturated at 80 degF, it would have a wet bulb and dew point temperature equal to that of the air and the relative humidity would be 100% . We know this because the vapor pressure of the air would be equal to its saturation vapor pressure. Relative humidity is defined by e/es (100 ), that is, vapor pressure divided by saturation vapor pressure multiplied by 100.

The vapor pressure and saturation vapor pressure of the air at 80 degF from the Clapeyron equation is 31.37 millibars. So 31.37/31.37 (100) = 100%. Notice that the relative humidity DOES NOT show us how much water vapor is actually in the air. It only shows us the ratio of vapor pressure with respect to saturation vapor pressure. But we know from the Clapeyron equation that vapor pressure is a function of temperature, therefore higher dew point temperatures contain higher vapor pressures at any range of temperature they are associated with. In our example above, if this air is saturated, it is loaded with water vapor at a high dew point temperature of 80 degF.

Using the ideal gas law, we find that a vapor pressure of 31.37 millibars has a density of 22.66 gm-3 (22.66 grams of water per cubic meter). If we divide this number by a kilogram of dry air that occupies the same volume, we get a mixing ratio of 22.66 gKg-1 , that is, 22.66 grams of water vapor for every kilogram of dry air.

In the last example, I showed you how easily COLD air soaks up water vapor from a warmer water source and creates lake effect snow. But if we wanted to add more vapor to an air mass already loaded with it such as this tropical one, how much heat must be supplied to do this? In other words, with our saturated air mass at 80 degF, how much heat must we add to raise the dew point temperature another 2 degF to 82 degF and thus re-saturate it like we did with lake effect warming?

To determine this we set the wet bulb depression (the difference in the dry air temperature and wet bulb temperature ) equal to the difference in the mixing ratio of the wet bulb and dry bulb temperatures, w and w0, multiply by the latent heat of vaporization of water, L, and dived by the sum of the specific heat of dry air at constant pressure, Cp with the product of the dry air mixing ratio, w0 , and the specific heat of water vapor at constant pressure, Cpv. .

The expression is written as:

T – Tw = (w – w0)L / Cp + Cpvw0

Notice that the latent heat of vaporization of water is constant at 597.3 calg-1 (calories per gram) in this expression verses the variable amounts in the Clapeyron equation. The reason for this is because the amounts of water vapor contained in any mixing ratio of one kilogram of dry air are small regardless of the airmass type. Therefore, we find that the value at 0 degC is satisfactory for any values we plug in with the earth range of water vapor concentration.

The values of Cp and Cpv are .240 cal g-1 oC-1 (calories per gram per degree centigrade) and .441 cal g-1 oC-1 respectively. With the ideal gas law, we can now convert vapor
pressures at both 80 and 82 degF to mixing ratios for our expression above. They
are 22.66 gkg
-1 and 23.95gkg-1 respectively. The answer is that T – Tw = 3.08 degC or 5.54 degF.

This shows us that if an external source of energy were to raise the temperature of the tropical ocean by I degC or 1.8 degF , it would take an additional 5.54 degF of sensible heat energy to raise the dew point temperature of the air 1.8 degF thus re- saturating it like it did in the lake effect snow example above. Since ocean and air temperatures track nearly perfectly because of waters much higher specific heat, the 1.8 deg F increase would be an insufficient amount of heat energy from the air to re-saturate such a warm, moist airmass.

But raising the ocean temperature over the dew point temperature of the air does create a vapor pressure gradient into this airmass, so the heat energy must be supplied from the ocean itself to neutralize this pressure gradient.

We know from the heat required of the air to vaporize this increased pressure, that it takes 739.2 calories to neutralize the vapor pressure gradient. With the specific heat of sea water being .951 cal g-1 oC-1, then 739 cal / 951 cal oC-1 = .78 degC. In other words, if 951 calories of energy were added to this sea water to raise the mass of one kilogram 1 degC, then 739 calories of that external energy source must be used to evaporate water rather than raise the temperature, leaving only 212 calories left which equals a real temperature increase of .22 degC rather than a full degree. That is only 22% of the energy put into the water!

We can dial in the numbers for cooler oceans such as the North Pacific Ocean, which runs near 50 degF near 45 degrees latitude. The respective vapor pressures converted to mixing ratios are w = 8.68 gkg-1 and w0 = 8.22 gkg-1 . We find from these values that T – Tw = 1.13 degC or 2.03 degF. In this case, we almost have enough energy that can be supplied from the air to neutralize a vapor pressure gradient from the water, we are short only .13 deg C or .23 degF. With the same analogy, we have 271.2 cal / 951 cal o C-1 = .29 degC. So in this case, the sea and air temperature could rise .71 degC or 1.28 degF and neutralize a vapor pressure gradient through re- saturation, with 951 calories of energy added from an external source.

Much has been said by Mr. Gore and other climate alarmists about rising ocean temperatures and sea levels as a result of rising CO2. If there is anything you can conclude about the tropical oceans from these calculations is that if external energy is supplied to the warmer oceans and air, most of it is expended evaporating water rather than raising the temperature. It is very difficult to raise the ocean temperatures in the tropics because of the much higher vapor pressures involved with the higher temperatures. And because the Clapeyron equation makes the vapor pressure rise as a function of an exponential increase in the reciprocal of temperature, it becomes a very powerful brake in mitigating a warming temperature by adding energy from any external source.

This also demonstrates well that Mr. Gore is wrong again concerning warmer air “soaking up water vapor like a sponge”. Instead of soaking it up, we find it actually takes a considerable amount of external energy to either vaporize water or increase its temperature in a tropical airmass. This energy comes from a constant bathing of solar energy received at the ocean surface by the sun. Climate alarmists and modelers use this increased evaporation of water to amplify water vapors infrared radiation absorption and create “water vapor feedback” loops that keep adding more energy to the ocean as water vapor is increased.

But there is no proof of this in the actual record of observations, and we actually find that increasing the vapor concentration makes the precipitation rates go up, not allow a greater optical depth of the vapor. Since adding more CO2 would have an effect to cool the upper troposphere, as well as from the wavelengths of water vapor above 17 microns, the radiation effects from CO2 are mitigated either entirely or considerably by the hydrological cycle itself. Keep in mind, that my calculations are based upon mass equivalents of one kilogram. In reality, the mean depth of the mixed ocean is around 200 meters, which makes the masses involved far greater. But this does NOT change the physical meaning of what is really happening at all, it merely reduces the actual changes in temperature and vapor pressures responding to a small amount of energy used in the examples.

If we run warmer, more moist air into a “patch” of colder air like Al Gore uses in his explanations of the world to Bill O’Reilly, do we get increased snowfall from that? To answer that question we first need to understand that warm and cold air masses don’t just “run into” each other. They are LIFTED over and under each other to produce the cooling effect needed to condense the moisture contained within them that would produce precipitation. This means that it does not matter how warm a sample of air actually is if it is or was heated by any form of external energy as Al Gore claims. What matters is that there must be a source of COLD air nearby to create the dynamic lift to cool and precipitate water vapor, and the COLDER the adjacent source of air is, the more the dynamic lift and the GREATER THE PRECIPITATION RELATIVE TO THE WARM AIR’S MOISTURE CONTENT, be it rain or snow, as the dynamic lift is potential energy converted to kinetic energy by the atmosphere from the earth’s gravitational field. This is the opposite of what Al Gore and AGW advocate scientists claim.

To illustrate this, I will use the same temperature and moisture characteristics of the air samples in the previous examples.

In order to determine the potential energy of these air samples, you would first need to determine the thickness of a sample of air subject to a mean temperature of its layers between two pressure surfaces. It is common practice in synoptic weather analysis to use the pressures of 1000 and 500 millibars respectively. Then we use the hydrostatic equation below, solving for pressure and geopotential height:
dp/dz = – (rho) g, where p is pressure, z is geopotential height and (rho) is density.

When I did this for the respective temperatures of -15 degF , 50degF and 80degF, I used an ICAO international standard earth atmosphere and ISA +0 for the 850,700 and 500 millibar pressures to get a mean temperature, T. The geopotential thickness using that method for the 1000/500 millibar layers for each temperature was computed as: 563 decameters for 80degF, 534 decameters for 50 degF and 525 decameters for -15degF.

Below is a bar plot of the respective thicknesses of this layer of atmosphere because of the difference in temperature in each airmass:

We notice immediately in plotting the bar graphs that the thickness of the pressure layers decreases markedly with decreasing temperature. The reason for this is simple. Cold air contracts and shrinks, while the warmer air expands and widens as more heat is added, thus, at lower levels near ground, the density or mass per unit volume is decreasing, while with colder air, the opposite is true, the mass per unit volume is increasing causing the air density to become larger.

This difference in density is precisely what causes buoyancy forces to create lift as a warm and cold airmass interact with each other, and the lifting or vertical motions begin to generate our global weather systems. Also take note in the graph of the triangular area at the top. This is the potential energy envelope. The area in the triangle changes as the slope of the inverted hypotenuse changes. Notice that the slope depends upon the difference or gradient in how much the temperature changes across the latitude lines that make the thickness values change.

This graph to the observer is a vertical slice of atmosphere with altitude increasing towards the top and looking into the picture is looking west, while looking north is to the right, where, as we would expect, it gets colder.

The airmasses are arranged so that the warmest is farthest south and the coldest farthest north with the slope gradually decreasing across 600 miles of ground. But now see how the slope of the potential energy envelope would change if we switch the coldest air with the intermediate air at 50 deg F and generate a storm from this from the redistributed temperature changes in the second graphic above.

As you can see, by placing COLDER air next to Al Gore’s warm, moist air, the area of the energy envelope is increased substantially, meaning there is much more available energy to be used for lift, wind and precipitation as a new storm develops. This is precisely what was happening during the many episodes of this winter’s blistering snowstorms and cold weather on the east coast. The intrusion of COLD, continental arctic air was advancing and far reaching to southerly latitudes, increasing available potential energy for storm generation and snow. It had absolutely nothing to do with “warmer, more moist air hitting a patch of cold” from “global warming” as Al Gore and other climate alarmists state.

How would we calculate what the potential energy is to compare these graphings? To do this we are looking for the area of the potential energy envelope that is drawn with the above graphings. The slope is a straight line that has the equation of a simple linear expression:

Z(x) = mx, where Z(x) is the geopotential height as a function of x, or cross sectional distance and m is the slope.

Differentiating Z with respect to x and integrating with respect to Z and x gives us:
Z-Z0 = m/Δx ∫ xdx = (m/Δx) 1/2x2

This is a solution that is equivalent to the formula for the area of a triangle. From atmospheric science we know that gravitational potential energy per unit mass is just:
PE = g ∫dZ = g(Z-Z0)

Substituting for dZ, we now get PE = g( [m/Δx] 1/2x2).

In the first example, comparing the potential energy of the 80 degF airmass with the 50 degF air mass the potential energy from this equation is:

(9.8 ms-2)(3.030 x 10-4) ( 2.33098 x 1011 m2) / 4.82803 x 105m = 1,433 JKg-1 or 1,433 Joules per kilogram.

In the second example, we then take the much colder airmass and place it next to Al Gore’s warm air that “soaks up” the moisture:

(9.8ms-2)(3.921 x 10-4)(2.33098 x 1011m2) / 4.82803 x 105m = 1,855 Jkg-1

which is a 23% increase in available potential energy per unit mass just by making it COLDER next to Al Gore’s warmer airmass.

These numbers don’t sound large, but they are misleading in that regard. If we sum the total available energy by adding a third dimension and integrating backward or forward through this cross section of atmosphere, i.e., westward or eastward along the frontal boundary to sum the mass involvement, one need only look at the areas involved in the computations above to see that the amount of mass would increase rapidly for reach meter we create of volume summing westward or eastward. In a very short order, the difference between either number would escalate rapidly into trillions of Joules of energy along the frontal boundary. The comparisons would be nowhere close to each other.

For example, if we took just 100 miles of additional space computed from the total area of the triangle) either side of our computation, the new “area” is now a volume of 1.11364 x 1012 m3 or 39.32263 x 1012 ft3 , or approximately 39.3 trillion cubic feet. At 500 millibars of atmospheric pressure in an ISA atmosphere, the air density is .69Kgm-3, which is the multiplier to the volumes I just calculated to get the atmospheric mass involved along a short 100 miles of the frontal boundaries for the TOTAL available potential energy.

Now the difference is elevated in terms of total energy to 1.454 x 1015J – 1.124 x 1015J = 330 TRILLION Joules of additional potential energy available for storm development and precipitation if we take the COLDER air mass ( -15 degF ) in our example and place it next to Al Gore’s warm, moist, “soaks up moisture like a sponge” airmass and sum along a path of 100 miles of the frontal boundary.

CONCLUSIONS
The claims made by Al Gore and other “climate scientists” that state this year’s heavy snowstorms in the USA and across the world were caused by warmer ( and thus the claim of more moist ) air “colliding” with cold air ( and according to the claims are “proof” of human caused ,CO2 induced ) are proven here to be false.

In every example used, it is the amount of COLD air placed adjacent to a source of warm air that is the true catalyst in generating precipitation anywhere on the earth, and the amount of precipitation generated is relative to the absolute humidity of the warmer airmass LIFTED by the adjacent source of cold air. So in this regard, it does not matter if an external source of energy added more water vapor to a warm airmass or not. The only exception to this is at tropical latitudes where the precipitation process is induced by COOLING the air ABOVE the ground rather than adjacent to it.

Precipitation rates and storm snow or rainfall totals at most latitudes of earth are dependent upon the DIFFERENCE in temperature of two bordering air masses, which is what determines the amount of potential energy available for lifting an airmass vertically against gravity, thus cooling it and causing a certain amount of precipitation that is based upon that amount of lifting and cooling, not cooling the warmer air by “running it into colder air.”

The fallacy of Gore’s comments can further be demonstrated by noting that there is a significant difference in the density of the sample of warm air at 80 degF, which would be 1.17 kgm-3 versus 1.42 kgm-3 for the -15 degF sample. Volume to volume, it is clear that the COLD air has more mass. If we imagined a cube of this warm and cold air being a solid rather than a gas, and ran the samples into each other at a combined speed of 10ms-1 as Gore claims happens, the COLD air would push harder against Gore’s warm air upon collision, and from Newton’s Third Law, F = -F, the recoil force, a part of -F, would send the warmer air BACKWARDS at a speed of 2.14 ms-1. In reality, this means that warmer air does not push colder air out of the way in lateral space on a one to one basis, it is not dense enough to do this. It is always COLD air that impinges on warm and causes displacement, and in the case of warm air, displacement of cold must include significant vertical motion by the warm air because of the relevant viscosities of the air. Not only does the cold air have this density advantage over warm, it also has the advantage of advancing southward from the polar regions with a decreasing Coriolis force causing the air to accelerate with a static pressure gradient. This creates frontogenesis or the accumulation of temperature difference across a smaller and smaller distance. This is what generates the accumulation of potential energy as I have already shown.

If it were true that global warming was causing increased snowfalls as Gore and other “climate scientists” are claiming, then in order for there to be increased precipitation along the frontal boundaries we have shown here, the COLDER air source would have to remain static or become COLDER with respect to time in order precipitate more water vapor. So the increased precipitation would tell us that the earth is either not warming at all, or it is cooling since it is demonstrated here that in the tropical latitudes, most of the external energy input is used to vaporize water rather than raise the temperature of the air, so if you are increasing precipitation, you are EXPENDING and using up tropical heat energy stored as latent heat, and further, that latent heat is being released back to the atmosphere at high altitudes where it is effectively radiated as a perfect Planck emitter off of the cloud tops to space and at a much decreased optical depth!

If Gores scenarios were true, the earth would not respond by increasing snowfalls or precipitation rates. If CO2 infrared radiation was capable of causing climate change, (and this author does not believe it does ) the first response we would see is a reduction in the potency of high latitude continental arctic air masses, because theoretically speaking, if you lessen water vapor concentration with a CONSTANT SURFACE TEMPERATURE ( adding more CO2 would have a greater effect, but the problem here is that temperatures and water vapor are ANYTHING but constant! ) That response would weaken the southward penetrating capability of these COLD air masses and cause the butting frontal boundaries to migrate farther and farther north. Precipitation would then decrease world wide as a result of the northward jet stream migration and cause problematic drought, not increased precipitation! Again, the EXACT OPPOSITE of what Gore and the alarmists state. These recent heavy snows reaching far south from average are an indication that the earth is cooling based upon the laws of physics, and if you examine the US NCDC temperature record for the continental US, that is precisely what we find, a decrease in temperature during the last decade that trended downward by .67 degF or .37 degC. GLOBAL temperatures remain static, with no statistically significant change and that is attributable to the thermal inertia of the oceans that have been receiving a higher amount of solar radiation from the sun during the last period of high solar activity that terminated after the peak of solar cycle 23 back in the year 2000.

Below, are the surface LAND based records of the continental USA for the last 10 years, COOLING at the rate indicated:

Annual 2000-2010 Data Values: Annual 2010: 53.75 DegF Rank: 3
Annual 1895 – 2000 Average = 52.76 degF
Annual 2000 – 2010 Trend = -0.67 degF / Decade

Mr. Gore and any other scientists are wrong when they claim warm air masses “soak up moisture like a sponge” as we determined that the differential vapor pressure between the air and a body of water are what determines evaporation, and larger differential vapor pressure is NOT generated in the tropical environment as Gore seems to think. It is actually generated with COLD and very dry continental arctic air overrunning a body of warmer water, such as when arctic air spills out over the ocean or when it runs over the Great Lakes and produces lake effect snow.

We also found from thermodynamics of heat transfer between air and water that it is much more difficult to evaporate water from the ocean with a body of nearly saturated air in a tropical region without adding a great deal of external energy, and most of any increased external energy is then used up evaporating sea water rather than raising its temperature which is at direct odds with Gore and the alarmists who claim another consequence of their perceived scenarios is sea level rise and inundation of coastal areas. “Climate scientists” and alarmists are also wrong when they claim that any perceived external energy added from a source such as CO2 blocking extra lines of Infrared radiation from the ground can warm the troposphere and increase the optical depth of water vapor.

This cannot be true in light of the fact that adding more of a greenhouse gas such as CO2 COOLS the troposphere in exchange for the higher emission altitude that creates a warming effect at the ground. That cooling of the troposphere would act to limit water vapors presence higher up and easily mitigate or terminate CO2’s effects. The only way such theory works with CO2 is in atmospheres that do not have a hydrological cycle with a greenhouse gas like water vapor, which ultimately controls the earth’s nocturnal radiation not only because it is much more powerful than CO2 in absorbing infrared radiation, but because it can change phase, which allows it to change the optical depths, which become self correcting to maintain a mean optical depth that cannot be changed without adding a source of external energy from the sun. Walter Elsasser’s work in atmospheric radiation from Harvard University established the controlling effect of water vapor on the earth’s surface infrared radiation back in 1942 after Einstein had quantasized it through relativity. To study more of this, I encourage the reader to see Dr. Ferenc Miskolczi’s paper entitled “The Greenhouse Effect in Semi Transparent Atmospheres”.

I have been involved with operational meteorology, weather forecasting and weather instrumentation for 30 years. Never in my career have I ever run up against such utter incompetence and lack of understanding of basic principles as I have in reading or discussing climate with advocates who are promoting human induced global climate change. In most every scenario or explanation, total error or seriously flawed logic is presented but needed to tout the human caused warming claims. Gore and his sycophants ( including James Hansen from NASA who professes the earth is at a catastrophic tipping point with CO2 levels ) are playing fast and loose with physics to create frightening and false scenarios that could never happen in reality, but are being used to attempt to flog and beat the public into a mental submission of “taxing and regulating” a solution that comes from the proclaimed “climate emergency”.

More tragic is the general acceptance of this trashing of science in public education of today’s youth. From my perspective, this problem was created by involving politics in science which has led to deliberate distortion and alarmist propaganda for the purpose of proposing a solution of taxing and regulating carbon emissions which will accomplish nothing except to enrich the special interests promoting the claims. Those special interests include government agencies themselves, academia and “green” energy companies, consultants and “carbon traders” like Mr. Gore, who aspires to be the first carbon billionaire selling “carbon offsets”. And since the public will receive no perceivable benefit by these insane proposals of taxing carbon, the entire idea amounts to nothing more than a wealth redistribution scheme mandated by government and collectivists to redistribute wealth for self enrichment. That is nothing short of stealing from the public at large.

Since the United States is now in a financial crisis of its own and the newly elected Congress needs to find cost saving measures, I would suggest it is time to look at higher education. Most of the alarmist thinking is emanating from there, and it is apparent that the AGW mindset chases federally funded grant money. These institutions have pillaged the taxpayers for nearly 100 billion dollars for “climate research” that has proven nothing in relation to CO2 causing climate change but has falsely claimed a causation relationship of CO2 to rising global temperatures that stopped warming over a decade ago, but yet the CO2 levels have continued upward.

Higher educational institutions are being used by academics to promote the dogma of human caused global warming and being given a false sense of credibility under the Ph.D. “union card” to promote more taxation that feeds the research trough. The AGW dogma is being used to brainwash youth at the K1-12 levels to condition youth to accept it without questioning as the youth grow older and are able to reason and analyze better.

A multitude of expansion of federal agencies as well as new ones have also been created that are supposed to deal with a “problem” that has not even been proven to exist!

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(Note: This document was given to me as a PDF, which makes converting it to web format pretty much a train wreck, as few converters handle the nuances of the quantity of math subscript/superscript in this document well. I spent about an hour hand coding the math section because Mr. Wiese could not provide a word or HTML document. I make no promises as to the accuracy of formatting in the mathematics sections. Word to the wise, if you want to have something published on this blog, please don’t send me a PDF – Anthony)

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## 159 thoughts on “Regarding Thermodynamics and Heat Transfer (Why Al Gore’s Comments to Bill O’Reilly at Fox News Are Wrong)”

1. Michael says:

OT Anthony, but please oblige me on this one.

[snip – put it in tips and notes then – Anthony]

2. BCC says:

6000+ words to push Miskolczi again? Good gravy.

3. Dishman says:

Al Gore isn’t a physicist.

To be honest, I’m not real impressed with Hansen and company, either.

4. Magnus says:

Gore says: Alright already, I get the Idea! Stop, stop, stop. I only repeated the talking points Hansen gave me. They said something about “warm spounge”. He repeated this many times: “remember to talk about warm spounges, Al! And don’t start talking about temperature records, it’s the warm spounge that will suck up all the moisture… and suck up all those big fat carbon dollars we live on!”.

5. Diego Cruz says:

WOW!

6. xyzlatin says:

I cannot verify the maths, but what I do like about this post, is that yet another person of long experience in weather forecasting, has come out and challenged the warmists, with more “bread and butter” basic science.
Thank you Anthony for “translating” and thank you Chuck Wiese.
Brick by brick, this AGW edifice will be torn down, because the truth will eventually come out.

7. Jimbo says:

Al Gore
Al Gore – Guardian interview – 2009
“They’re seeing the complete disappearance of the polar ice caps right before their eyes in just a few years,” he says.”

Al Gore purchsed a \$8,875,000 beach front villa in 2010 despite sea level rise of the future!
http://www.usatoday.com/communities/greenhouse/post/2010/05/how-green-is-al-gores-9-million-montecito-ocean-front-villa/1

I want to know what Gore would tell Gavin Schmidt et al?
Warmer Northern Hemisphere winters
Colder Northern Hemisphere winters

8. Pete Olson says:

5th paragraph or so, starting with “These statements by Gore…”: ‘overly’ should be ‘overlie’.

9. PJB says:

While this article reminded me of undergraduate lectures from back in the day, the points raised and the conclusions drawn were straightforward and precise.
Science beats agenda, every time.
Many thanks for the exposition.

10. Alexander K says:

Similar nonsense to that which Gore is spouting keeps popping up in Australia and the UK to explain heavy rain events. The frustrating thing about this particular nonsense is that the science that proves it wrong does not come in easy sound bites that can handily be used to refute the nonsense.
Roger Black, George Monbiot and Louise Gray are all promoting similar nonsense drawn from two new papers in Nature which are in themselves nothing but the results from tiresome and silly modelling runs.

11. Seppie says:

Phoe phoe…it’s hard to read such a lot of info

12. Charles Nelson says:

So there!

13. CPT. Charles says:

A beautifully written piece, to be sure…

But I deem it a tad wordy for, “algore…you’re an idiot.”

You can fix thermodynamic ignorance (the piece above did that well enough…), but you CAN’T fix stupid.

There aren’t enough words in the Oxford Unabridged Dictionary for that.

14. Fergus T. Ambrose says:

15. John Marshall says:

As a geoligist I know that past atmospheric CO2 levels have been far higher than today but climate has never followed. 8000ppmv CO2 400 million years ago and there was a severe ice age. Another of Gore’s global warmings.

16. John Marshall says:

Any chance of a copy of this pdf file Anthony?

17. Brian H says:

The Wrongness of Gore is an infinite resource …

And as the article concludes, the Qui Bono? question puts paid to the presumption of incompetence over malice.

18. Magnus says:

Some say models fail because “garbage in=garbage out”.

Since Gore’s input comes from Hansen, the Hockey Team and similar groups… could we just view mr. Gore as another flawed climate model? I’d like to see this photoshoped with the fire being replaced by garbage :-D

19. Peter H says:

I must remember not to try to make hay next time we have a hot dry airmass.

20. Another Ian says:

Does Al’s explanation allow extended flight by sailplane or not?

21. Ian W says:

Congressional Staffers

If it hasn’t already this post needs to be passed to all the Congressional staffers in each Congressman’s office. This is precisely what they need at the moment in their ‘work’ with the EPA budget.

22. John Brookes says:

I know you must be right, and everything, but I used to live in a house with a swimming pool.

We had no pool cover, so I got used to seeing just how much water evaporated. In winter (min around 5 C and max around 20C, water – bloody cold), there was very little evaporation. In summer (min around 20C max around 30C – water around 25C) there was moderate evaporation on a still day, and high evaporation on a windy day. So somehow the combination of warmer water and warmer air did lead to greater evaporation, notwithstanding whether it should have or not. Wind, which I guess ensured a constant supply of dry air over the water surface, was the real killer. Sometimes I swore the pool had a leak!

BTW, probably worth splitting this into several posts – a bit long to digest in one go.

23. ThomasU says:

Another great article. The fog which rises from a river in the morning is an example of cold air “soaking up” water, isn´t it?

I really enjoy articles like the one here. They demonstrate that there is a lot more to the picture than meets the eye. The fact that so many believers in AGW do not see the less obvious details of the picture in the first place is bad enough. That they even refuse to take notice when things are pointed out to them: That is really terrible. All the progress we made during the last 200 years was only possible because researchers, scientists, engineers, craftsmen took notice of the details and were prepared to correct themselves. “The science is settled” – this dogma will not take us into a brighter future!

24. Les Francis says:

Activist Canada Suzuki arrived in Melbourne Australia a few hours ago. He rushed from the airport to a talkback interview.

He insisted that the term was now Climate Catastrophe. The interviewer – an AGW skeptic couldn’t wait to get rid of him – I don’t know why he bothered to interview Suzuki in the first place.

25. Leg says:

Meteorology and Climatology are outside my scientific discipline, so I really appreciate these basic scientific explanations of your discipline. That was easy to follow for a scientist. Thanks. Now take this, cut out the jargon and equations, then take it to the non-scientists of this world. Years ago when this whole AGW thing started up, I intuitively knew the science was garbage. Even without the discipline’s basics, I would read journals and be stunned at how bad the science was that I could follow. Even when the science appeared to be good, worse were the conclusions that the authors would leap to. Frequently there would be a total disconnect between the study’s results and the authors’ conclusions. What has amazed me is how many scientists have gone along with the notion of AGW when all they have to do is look at the basic science like you have shown here. Have too many scientists become corrupt, or were they pooly educated in the first place? Of course the whole thing became political, and we all know the corruption level of politicians.

26. Metryq says:

Just think, if he hadn’t invented the Internet, he wouldn’t have to worry about sites like WUWT now. /sarc

27. Darren Potter says:

Have the accuracy of the numbers in the first example been verified?
Perhaps there are different meteorological formulas used for the calculations, over the general ones?

To get a vapor pressure of 10.75, the dew point would have to be closer to 46.5 F. And to get the relative humidity of 19% at the dew-point of 46.5F, the air temperature would need to be 95.2 F.

28. AlSoBored says:

Posted this on realclimate.org

As I’m sure it will be deleted I’m posting it here too. I’m a newly turned climate SCIENCE skeptic after having been censored too many times at rc.

dhogaza 156,

I’m sorry, I may have had you confused with Didactylos. It’s been a while.

Thanks for the support, guys, I appreciate it. For the record, I am both sick AND demoralized at the moment. We have the science right, but the bad guys are going to win. Actually, they pretty much won in 2010.

[Response: Making the most noise and spewing the most nonsense and stupidity does not constitute winning anything. Never has and never will. Demoralization is sometimes the painful price of caring–Jim]

______________________________________________

Good vs. bad? Caring vs. not? Evil vs. good science? Are people supposed to feel bad for you?

I think a first step towards winning would be to face actual criticisms of uncertainties and modelling methods. Not by ad hominems or ridicule, but in a respectful manner. If people, the public, are skeptical of your work, calling them idiots who are anti-science just alienates the public further. By doing this you are not being “good” or “caring”, but arrogant, rude and stupid.

Other branches of science does not have an IPCC who divides science into good and bad. Max Weber is turning over in his grave over this. The public does not care if “you care” or are such “good people”. People want the facts and the truth and that always takes grappeling with uncertainties and criticisms.

To prove my point further, I’ll probably be boreholed for this even if I’m not a “denier”.

29. RichieP says:

Brian H says:
February 17, 2011 at 2:02 am
“And as the article concludes, the Qui Bono? question puts paid to the presumption of incompetence over malice.”

Pedantically but grammatically correctly, I think you mean ‘cui bono?’. Your version means “who is Bono?”, not a pretty question, even in Latin.

30. Roger Longstaff says:

It reminds me of my undergraduate physics from 40 years ago – with exactly the same conclusions, if I remember correctly.

Concerning the BBC TV reports yesterday, mentioned above, the team from Oxford university used GIGO AGW modelling to explain floods in 2000 that were “the worst for 200 years”, and stated that the only explanation they could think of was anthropogenic CO2. The irony that similar (or worse) floods happened 200 years ago seems to have escaped them! The intellectual standards at Oxford seem to have sunk to the same level as those at East Anglia.

31. Steve C says:

Excellent post, sir. An easy to read, clear exposition of scientific fact. Thank you.

Sadly, Ian (first comment) is right. We have a vast choir of “gores” in the UK, but no Anthony Watts or Jo Nova to harass them, so they continue to bamboozle the public. Will any climate scientist in the UK please stand up …

32. Oedt says:

It was great to re-visit a fine exposition of the 1st year (U.K.) Physics Undergradute lectures that I attended over 60 years ago.
But Hey, Al Gore g0t his sound bite anyway and as our beloved(?) HRH Prince Charles
would say, ” Who wants to read anything produced by a (horror-struck look on face) CLIMATE DENIER”.

33. Don Keiller says:

Algore is good for proving one scientific fact- that light travels faster than sound.

Thus he appears bright until you hear him speak.

I guess that’s why they also call celebrities (who almost invariably buy into Climate change and other pseudo-scientific fads)
“Stars”!

34. Since all oceans around US were pretty much colder than some average during the blizzard, the whole moisture theory is BS. I especially like “warm humid atmosphere running into a patch of cold air”.
Someone also showed here chart of precipitable atmospheric water at that time, and it was under average around US as well.

35. Theo Goodwin says:

Wonderful lecture, artfully done. Yet another reason that this is the best website on the internet.

36. Viv Evans says:

Using science to make sense of natural phenomena one actually observes or observed brings forth an essay as the one above.

Making up computer models, be they ever so sophisticated and choc-a-bloc full with science, but which do not reflect observed natural phenomena, brings forth cAGW.

37. KGuy says:

Refuting Al Gore’s theory of the link between global warming and more severe snowstorms in the USA using Science and Mathematics is like proving to a 4 year old that Santa Claus doesn’t exist by providing photographic evidence that his mother sneaked into his bedroom at midnight on Christmas Eve and left the presents.

38. Michael O says:

I am even less of a scientist than Al Gore. I know that concept is difficult to comprehend, but it is true. Nevertheless, I try to keep up with postings such as this one. I often struggle. I’m sure that there are many like me who would appreciate an “executive summary” of articles such as this one. It would be an onerous task and would require scrupulous honesty on the part of the summariser. But the results would be (1) an easier life for me, and (2) the prospect that “environmental journalists”, many of whom have even less scientific nous than I do, might be tempted to report occasionally from the dark side.

39. Paul R says:

Great post, even I understood most of it. Wasted on the likes of Gore who was only doing an invitational sound byte on fox.
This fox.

40. Dr. John Ware says:

Fine article, but “verses” are like stanzas of a hymn. The word meaning “against” or “in contrast to” is “versus,” abbreviated vs. or v.

41. Mark Wagner says:

I just hate it when facts collide with reality.

42. Bigdinny says:

While all the math for me is incomprehensible, ThomasU’s analogy regarding fog on the river sums things up pretty nicely, as do the charts in the paper. I do have one question: Was this “peer” reviewed on RC before being posted here? I think I know the answer. :)
/Sarc

43. Mr Wiese. Thank you for taking the trouble to provide such an excellent explanation.

44. frederik wisse says:

Thank you Mr. Chuck Wiese for such an excellent article and Anthony for giving real scientists a stage to comment at the sometimes ludicrous claims of politicians . Since these politicians are propagating an agenda and their basic knowledge of physics is miniscule , they are capable to any foolishness as long as in their own mindset it serves their purpose . I think there is no other way to stop this nonsense than to make politicians accountable for their statements and outright lies whether through innocuousness or deliberately created should be punished with some time in jail so people will be given an opportunity to think before they talk . Anyway to me this well thought over story equals throwing precious stones at a pig ……..

45. wws says:

how dare anyone write a paper like this when we all KNOW that The Science is Settled!
That means no more papers!

46. Just The Facts says:

The more snow in January because of more moisture in the atmosphere and thus more precipitation meme seems to have been erroneous from multiple angles. Per the maps below, much of the central and east coast of US experienced below average precipitation in January:

January 2011 US Precipitation % Variance:

It seems quite clear that the reason for increased snowfall was due to the temperature:

January 2011 US Temperature % Variance:

47. PSU-EMS-Alum says:

While it is true that warmer air can hold more moisture than cold air

Ugh. Can you please rephrase this? Starting a condemnation of another person’s ignorance with an equally ignorant statement does not engender confidence in the rest of your analysis.

Your description is equivalent to saying that you can reduce the fraction “19/95″ by canceling the 9s; it gives you the right answer in this specific case, but demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the fundamentals.

48. Cliff says:

Well this doesn’t change the fact that warm air holds more moisture, right? All the warmists are saying is that all other things equal, the warmer air will be able to take on more water. Period. And then when precipitation occurs, there will be more precipitation. So sure there are other factors about evaporation and so on. But the temperature of the air is less limiting – it can take on more water. Not a ton more, I think they’ve said 4%. Then you get more rain. I don’t see anything here that changes this

49. Harold Pierce Jr says:

Attn: Chuck

It not ncessary to drag out the C-C equation and do calculations when you can look up the data re water humidity, vapor pressure, etc as function of temperature in standard ref tables and charts. For example check out Universal Industrial Gases Inc.’s website at: http://www.uigi.com and http://www.uigi.com/air.html

Wind speed is an important factor that determines the rate of transport of water vapor from a region, e.g. the ocean or large lake to another such as the land. Is not the amount of snow deposited by the “lake effect” due in part to wind speed?

Warm air can “soak up” enormous amounts of water vapor if the pressure of the moving air mass drops as it moves such as occurs in tropical cyclones. A hurricane is gigantic flash rotary evaporator sucking up water vapor as moves across the ocean and toward the land where it can dump huge quantities of the evaporated water as rain.

RE:
Annual 2000-2010 Data Values: Annual 2010: 53.75 DegF Rank: 3
Annual 1895 – 2000 Average = 52.76 degF
Annual 2000 – 2010 Trend = -0.67 degF / Decade

should be:
Annual 2000-2010 Data Values: Annual 2010: 54 +/- ? Deg F Rank: ?
Annual 1895 – 2000 Average = 53 +/- ? deg F
Annual 2000 – 2010 Trend = -1 +/- ? deg F / Decade

I have determined a preliminary value of “?” to be 3 deg F. I did a multdecadal analysis of the mean Feb temperature for Utah from 1900-2100. I first rounded temp data to the nearest deg F. For each decade I computed mean and _the classical average deviation (AD)_ from the mean. I propose that the AD contains a measure of “weather noise” I then averaged the decadal means and AD’s and obtained 31 +/- 3 deg F. Since measurement error is 1 deg F, weather noise is 2 deg F.

I did a similar analysis of temperature data from the weather station at Quatsino BC
for the sample interval Sept 16-26 for years 1895-2010. For both Tmax and Tmin the mean AD was 1.5 deg C, i.e., ca 3 deg F. By using a short sample interval of 11 days sunlight decreases by ca only 30 minutes. Since measurement error is +/- 0.5 deg C, weather noise is 1 deg C or ca 2 deg F. This is an A-Mazing result!

If you guys buy my method of computing “weather noise”, then there is no global warming. The sample interval for computing weather noise should be short like 30 days max and should be done for each month for Tmax and Tmin just in case there are seasonal efffects.

Note that Utah and Quatsino are “remote sites”.

50. It is not about being right; it is about sounding right. Al Gore knows this well. Most people aren’t going to do the research, so if something sounds right, they will accept it.

51. Cliff says:

Another thing, if you are serious about rebutting the claim that AGW increases the likelihood of more severe precipitation events, why not take on the scientific papers. Going after a nontechnical statement on a news show is kinda lame. Obviously stuff gets dumbed down and garbled somewhat on a news show. Read the papers, rebut those. Until you do that, you’ve proved nothing. This guy doesn’t rebut any real scientific papers in this piece.

52. Keith Battye says:

Thanks boss,

Straightforward and precise. Even the maths were understandable and i have now added a big chunk to my knowledge.

The quanta of energy in our atmosphere is immense which makes one wonder just exactly who do we think we are claiming to effect it so? Talk about delusions of adequacy.

53. cal says:

Perhaps Chuck could answer a question that has been bugging me for some time. I have always assumed that “extreme weather” was the result of extreme pressure and temperature differences. Since the frozen poles and direct sunlight in the tropics are the drivers of this difference should not warmer poles and a higher proportion of more globally distributed downward IR reduce these differences? In which case should not global warming due to greenhouse gases lead to less extreme weather? It is an embarrassingly handwaving argument, which is why I have never voiced it before, but I thought I would take this opportunity to get it settled one way or the other.

54. Fred from Canuckistan says:

You poor boy . . . you just don’t get it . . . .Al Gore is using Climate Scientology as the basis for his claims and in Climate Scientology, anything he needs to happen to justify his ideas is possible.

Silly you, thinking Al Gore was actually using real science to back his ideas.

55. E Philipp says:

I live in Panama, at 9 degrees latitude. Most people believe it must be unbearably hot here.
” So the increased precipitation would tell us that the earth is either not warming at all, or it is cooling since it is demonstrated here that in the tropical latitudes, most of the external energy input is used to vaporize water rather than raise the temperature of the air, so if you are increasing precipitation, you are EXPENDING and using up tropical heat energy ”

This is beautifully illustrated by our weather (I think) Most of the year, our air temps are in the mid 80’sF with high humidity. It is during our dry season that it gets really hot. The humidity is low but air temps…wow.

56. Tom in Florida says:

“This difference in density is precisely what causes buoyancy forces”

This is why Guinness floats on top of Harp in a Black and Tan.

57. David Larsen says:

I got a printer function off the web free called cutePDF. When you go to print command you specify cutePDF and then it converts to pdf and you can save the file to your hard drive.

58. beng says:

*****
Article says:
The intrusion of COLD, continental arctic air was advancing and far reaching to southerly latitudes, increasing available potential energy for storm generation and snow. It had absolutely nothing to do with “warmer, more moist air hitting a patch of cold” from “global warming” as Al Gore and other climate alarmists state.
*****

Excellent statement — it should be required reading by some of the trolls. If they can’t understand it, they shouldn’t be involved in rational discussion of these issues.

In general, heavier snowstorms are almost exclusively caused by colder than avg air masses interacting w/warm masses. The moisture source of the US east snowstorms is the Gulf & SE coast Atlantic waters, which had consistently below average temps.

59. This is a great blog. If models were based on thermodynamics and kinetics instead of correlation fudge factors, you would find that CO2 is not a “forcing” agent controlling a global average temperature, but is just going along for the ride that the processes of evaporation/condensation and freeze/thaw is giving it. Dew point is a much better measure of the amount of energy in the atmosphere. http://www.kidswincom.net/CO2OLR.pdf

60. Magnus says:

Michael says:
February 17, 2011 at 12:23 am
OT Anthony, but please oblige me on this one.

FOX News Deception CPAC Official Uncut Announcements 2010 Vs 2011

_____________________________________________

I’m sorry for being ignorant about american politics. I know Ron Paul from the last election and before. Is he really a favourite to win the Republican nomination? Daayyyuuuum. What happened and is this good for climate science? Is it the limiting of government funded science we are cheering for?

61. H.R. says:

Al got some scientificky-like fact… wrong!?! I’m shocked!

I guess the Eco-Savior-Of-The-World has feet of clay.
;o)

62. Elizabeth says:

The only numbers Gore is any good at computing are his finances.

63. pyromancer76 says:

Invaluable science vetted (now or later) by other physicists, meteorologists, “climatologists” here. I am so grateful to have the basics to learn, to the extent that I am capable of learning, so that I can translate the science into language with which I can talk to other non-scientists. Now, I will be studying and studying, and if the long exposition is accurate (see how much I trust the critics here; you can be brutal), it is a major transformation in the way I can understand “weather” and the “hydrological cycle”. I admit I went “whew” many times as I kept reading to the end.

I recognize that it is dangerous (a little knowledge….) for someone like me to attempt to translate. Therefore I encourage Anthony, Chuck Wiese, other colleagues to help in this regard. I agree with the sentiments of Leg, but would ask for translation in a more kindly manner. It was not easy, I repeat not easy, for me to follow, but I can imagine how much time, energy, expertise went into composing this post with such clarity. I think it is a milestone.

“Leg says (February 17, 2011 at 2:23 am)
Meteorology and Climatology are outside my scientific discipline, so I really appreciate these basic scientific explanations of your discipline. That was easy to follow for a scientist. Thanks. Now take this, cut out the jargon and equations, then take it to the non-scientists of this world.”

64. Ben says:

What does a CPAC video clip have to do with Thermodynamics, CO2, water vapor and precipitation?

Please remove the first post and it’s video. Was this some sort of bait and switch tactic by the poster?

REPLY: One of our overnight moderators approved it, I’ve removed it. “Michael” tends to thread bomb a lot of this rubbish, hence with this one, he’s being assigned to the troll bin – Anthony

65. red432 says:

Who are you to question revealed truth? Next you will claim the earth is round and moves about the sun.

66. Janice says:

John Brookes says: “So somehow the combination of warmer water and warmer air did lead to greater evaporation, notwithstanding whether it should have or not. Wind, which I guess ensured a constant supply of dry air over the water surface, was the real killer. Sometimes I swore the pool had a leak!”

I dehydrate a lot of jerky. Even though heating the air around the drying meat does seem to speed things along, it is actually the fans in my cabinet that are doing the drying. A constant influx of fresh air, slight warming of the meat, pushing out the warm moist air, and having the air move is the best combination.

With a pool, you are looking at a number of factors, the important ones being: water temperature, air temperature, air flow (wind), and level of water below the rim of the pool. If you had a barrier/wall which you could put all around the rim of the pool, thus effectively lowering the level of water below the rim (top of the barrier), you would reduce the amount of evaporation, though a pool cover would probably be easier to use. In addition, the wind usually blows more during the summer than during the winter.

67. Douglas DC says:

I’ve met and followed Chuck’s career over the years. It isn’t just his weather expertise.
It’s his experience as an Airline Captain and professional pilot that gives more credence
to his writing. As I can attest, every time you punch a Pacific cold front over the
Cascades(the world’s airframe icing factory,btw) you tend to take mental notes at least.
(as your Beech 99/Piper Navajo/400 seires Cessna twin is slowly turned into an Ice Sculpture.)
There were times in my Airfreight days, that the only reason you check weather
is to see how scared you are gong to get..

68. Tony:

This post is thermodynamically illiterate, and does nothing to enhance the scientific quality of your blog. Mr. Wiese may well have gotten a degree in meteorology, but he couldn’t pass my freshman chemistry class with this stuff.

Gerard S Harbison
Professor of Chemistry

69. C. Bruce Richardson Jr. says:

I like to save articles such as this as pdf files. Could you provide a link to the original pdf? Converting it from pdf to html and them back to pdf is the hard way. :)

BTW, I have used a utility that I purchased some years ago to convert to pdf files. It just looks like a printer. One thing that I like is that I can print several different things to the same pdf file. It is called pdfFactory Pro.

70. Magnus says:

Gerard Harbison says:
February 17, 2011 at 7:14 am
Tony:

This post is thermodynamically illiterate, and does nothing to enhance the scientific quality of your blog. Mr. Wiese may well have gotten a degree in meteorology, but he couldn’t pass my freshman chemistry class with this stuff.

Gerard S Harbison
Professor of Chemistry
_________________________________________

Please be more specific. There are many people here trying to learn, and if you find factual errors it would be most helpful if you could explain them or, at least, point them out.

Thanks

71. Todd says:

[snip wayyy off topic]

72. gcb says:

@John Brookes says:
February 17, 2011 at 2:18 am
I know you must be right, and everything, but I used to live in a house with a swimming pool.

The pool is a very small body of water, and thus the temperature is always relatively close to that of the air. That probably at least partly explains what you saw.

73. fp says:

A comment of the form “this post is completely wrong and here’s my credentials to prove it”, without specific criticisms, adds very little to the conversation.

74. carbon-based life form says:

“…sample of air that may overly a plane of water…” should be “overlie”.

75. Frank K. says:

Gerard Harbison says:
February 17, 2011 at 7:14 am

“This post is thermodynamically illiterate…”

OK. Which part(s) specifically do you object to? Again, please be specific and let Anthony know what corrections are required. Thanks.

76. Gerard Harbison says:
February 17, 2011 at 7:14 am
Tony:

This post is thermodynamically illiterate, and does nothing to enhance the scientific quality of your blog. Mr. Wiese may well have gotten a degree in meteorology, but he couldn’t pass my freshman chemistry class with this stuff.

Gerard S Harbison
Professor of Chemistry

This is just my opinion, Jerry, but unless you tell us exactly what you find incorrect about the topic post, your post does nothing to enhance the scientific quality of your viewpoint.

77. Alan Clark of Dirty Oil-berta says:

More nonsense in support of algore:

Heavier rainfalls linked to human-caused global warming: study

VANCOUVER – When it comes to global warming, apparently when it rains, it pours.

A study by Environment Canada research scientists suggests global warming brought on by human activity may be the cause of increasingly heavy precipitation across North America and Eurasia over the past several decades.

The study, to be published Thursday in the journal Nature, looks at statistical techniques and climate models to make the connection.

Co-author Francis Zwiers, of the University of Victoria’s Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium, says rainfall became increasingly more extreme between 1951 and 1999, at the same time greenhouse gases were on the rise.

He says recent flooding in the B.C. central coast town of Bella Coola, considered a 100-year event, and torrential rains that swept away a whole shopping centre in Quebec in 1996 fit into the study’s pattern of intensified rain.

Environmental groups have previously asserted a link between changing rain patterns and global warming, but the study authors say their findings mathematically explain the science behind the claim.

78. Jeremy says:

Michael says:
February 17, 2011 at 12:23 am

Neither of those videos is from FOX. One is CNN, one is C-span.

Also, that is terrifically off-topic, I’m surprised the mods are allowing it given the post.

79. Latitude says:

John Brookes says:
February 17, 2011 at 2:18 am
. So somehow the combination of warmer water and warmer air did lead to greater evaporation, notwithstanding whether it should have or not.
=======================================
John, don’t let it fool you…
12 – 24 inches of snow, on average, is only 1 – 2 inches of rain.
Would they be claiming “more moisture” if that’s all the rain those areas had all winter?

No, they would be saying the drought is consistent with their predictions of global warming.

It’s not the moisture is the air, it’s the cold air.
If the air had been warmer, it would have been rain, not snow….

…and that small amount of rain, would have been drought

80. JJB MKI says:

@Gerard Harbison
February 17, 2011 at 7:14 am

By failing to cite a single point you object to in Weise’s article, and instead dropping a casually smug and slightly jealous sounding comment designed to impress the reader purely on the basis of your seat in academia, you haven’t exactly got me convinced you have anything to say.

81. Fred Souder says:

Chuck,
Good stuff. You did indeed refute Al. However, you do downplay the role of vertical water vapor gradients. The ITCZ’s produce most of Earth’s precipitation by mass, and there are no cold air pockets adjacent. I understand that you are mainly talking about Al Gore’s assertion that the snows are from a warming world, and all your points are valid. Good Work.

82. You want me to fix the whole thing? Yikes.

OK, here’s the first major issue. A vapor pressure is not what Mr. Wiese thinks it is. A vapor pressure is an equilibrium property of a system containing a liquid and a gas. In this specific case (water/air) it is the pressure of water vapor in air in equilibrium with water at the same temperature as the air.

Obviously, the dry 100 F air is not at equilibrium with water at 100 F, and the pressure of water vapor it carries is only 19% of the actual vapor pressure. In fact, a relative humidity is exactly the pressure of water vapor, as a percentage of what the pressure would be if the system were at equilibrium.

So, when we introduce to this non-equilibrium system yet another non-equilibrium element — ocean water at 50 F — any attempt to use thermodynamic arguments will go out the window. What will happen is that a gradient of temperature will set up at the water surface. The air near the surface will be cooled, and the water near the surface will warm. Water will transfer into the air, because the water at the actual surface is no longer at 50 F. And, indeed, the warmer the air is, the more water will transfer to the vapor phase.

This still oversimplifies a very complicated situation.

83. Crispin in Waterloo says:

I apologize to all Australians on behalf of all Canadians for the unscientific, populist pronouncements of Dr Suzuki. You can send him home anytime – we are used to ignoring him.

The real ‘climate catastrophe’ is the collapsing of the unstable edifice that is CAGW, thankfully taking its carbon markets with it.

Nature published and the MSM today are touting a paper from an Environment Canada lady who used a computer model of the climate programmed to include a strong CO2 contribution to precipitation. Lo and behold, when the CO2 component is lowered, it models lower precipitation! Amazing! This ‘outcome’ underlies her claim that human-sourced CO2 causes more frequent heavy snowfall and rainfall.

If only the actual number of heavy rainfall and snow events would keep up with the claims being made about them! Absent any meaningful correlation between these events and CO2 or global temperature, she was reduced to using a climate model that imagined the desired outcome. Poor dear. Note that it went straight into Nature, and of course the CBC (Climate Bull for Canadians).

Being in a lake effect zone, I am aware of the effect of wind on water. It is not well explained in the article that the vertical mixing of the air mass over the water is important. At higher wind speeds a much larger portion of the air column is loaded/saturated. At low wind speeds the lower, cooler portion is affected (loaded) by the warmer water. Higher wind speeds circulate a much larger volume of air past the water surface leading to much large total loading of the whole air column. The colder the air is to start with the less moisture there is in it, and the more it can pick up when reaching any given final temperature, the windier it is, the more air volume is affected.

84. Richard Day says:

@xyzlatin, I have to correct you. This AGW edifice is being torn down, card by card.

85. Gerard Harbison says:
February 17, 2011 at 7:14 am
Tony:

This post is thermodynamically illiterate, and does nothing to enhance the scientific quality of your blog. Mr. Wiese may well have gotten a degree in meteorology, but he couldn’t pass my freshman chemistry class with this stuff.

Gerard S Harbison
Professor of Chemistry

I disagree with you. He is certainly not lacking in the ability to understand what is going on in the atmosphere with respect to the basics of thermodynamics. He is working on a global macro- scale and doesn’t need knowledge of micro-scale quantum mechanics. If he has made mistakes in his analysis, show us where with your superior knowledge.

86. Juraj V. says: “Since all oceans around US were pretty much colder than some average during the blizzard, the whole moisture theory is BS.”

For January 2011, U.S. coastal SST anomalies (20N-50N, 130W-65W) were at record lows (approx -1.0 deg C) for the Reynolds OI.v2 SST dataset (which started in 1982). The weekly data shows them reaching a minimum anomaly of about -1.2 deg C about a month ago.

87. Gary Krause says:

Odd, but where are those papers related to weather and climate? I give Weisse an A+ for content and organization, and an A+ for ease of read.

Prof. Harbison papers:

X. Zhao, G. S. Harbison (2006) ‘Deuterium quadrupolar tensors of L-histidine hydrochloride monohydrate-d7′ J. Phys. Chem. B, 110, 25059-25065
J. Persons, G. S. Harbison (2007) ‘Sample turning Reveals Enormous Anisotropic Quadrupolar Interactions’ J. Magn. Reson., 186, 347-351

J. Persons, G. S. Harbison (2007) ‘The 14N quadrupole coupling in hexamethylenetriperoxidediamine (HMTD)’ Magn. Reson. Chem., 45, 905-908

M. Shortridge, K. A. Mercier, D. S. Hage, G. S. Harbison, R. Powers (2007) ‘High-Throughput Method for Measuring Protein Dissociation Constants (KD) using 1D 1H NMR’ J. Combi. Chem. , 10, 948-958

A. S. Lipton, R. W. Heck, A. R. Gao, G. S. Harbison, P. D. Ellis (2009) ‘The Low Temperature 65Cu NMR Spectroscopy of the Cu+ Site in Azurin’ J. Am. Chem. Soc., 131, 13992-13999

M. N. Kinde-Carson, C. Ferguson, N. A. Oyler, G. S. Harbison, G. A. Meints (2010) ‘Solid State 2H NMR Analysis of Furanose Ring Dynamics in DNA Containing Uracil.’ J. Phys. Chem. B, 114, 3285-3293

88. PaulH says:

If you were to explain the physics to Gore and his followers, I’m sure they would clamp their hands over their ears and go, “LA LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU LA LA LA”. ;->

89. BCC says:
February 17, 2011 at 12:38 am (Edit)

6000+ words to push Miskolczi again? Good gravy.

Still haven’t seen a convincing refutation so why not?

90. James Sexton says:

CPT. Charles says:
February 17, 2011 at 1:46 am

A beautifully written piece, to be sure…

But I deem it a tad wordy for, “algore…you’re an idiot.”

You can fix thermodynamic ignorance (the piece above did that well enough…), but you CAN’T fix stupid.
=======================================================

Well stated, but I prefer to say “You can’t slap smart into stupid.”
As to the verbosity, I’ve bookmarked this page. The wording was clear(with only few exceptions) as were the maths. And a detailed explanation as to why this latest meme is simply more blathering from the alarmists. But you’re right, for Gore, it seems a waste of intellectual exercise. One could have easily asked why this didn’t happen in 1998 or 2002 or 2007.

91. c1ue says:

Interesting post.

The points raised are worth consideration, but one point I think was not emphasized enough:

If CO2 is supposed to ‘retain’ heat better via re-radiation – the base under the CO2 multiplier effect (the other being net feedback is positive), then would this not raise all temperatures equally?

Or put another way: snowfall/precipitation is a function of moisture due to vapor pressure in hot/cold masses of air, but perhaps the relative temperatures and vapor pressures should all be scaled equally from CO2 ‘amplification’?

92. James Sexton says:

Magnus says:
February 17, 2011 at 6:06 am

I’m sorry for being ignorant about american politics. I know Ron Paul from the last election and before. Is he really a favourite to win the Republican nomination?
========================================================
No, libertarians manipulated the poll. While I hope Paul remains active in the various political discussions, he hasn’t a prayer of winning the Republican nomination. I’d go into more detail, but it is a bit OT and space requirements for the discussion would be great.

93. Thomas Dolby says:

You’ve blinded Al with *gasp* Science!!

94. tom t says:

I have listened to people who claimed to expert engineers in field of pool installing, water systems, and air conditioners, try to explain what factors determined evaporation. Everyone of them got it wrong. I am not a scientist but I did take physics and meteorology classes, I knew right away there were wrong. How is it that a layperson like me can know this while people who work in fields where evaporation comes in play don’t know it.
Why on earth does anyone listen to Al Gore, not only is he not a scientist almost every thing he says has been proven wrong. In some cases spectacularly wrong (like the earth’s core is million of degrees).

95. ferd berple says:

>>Posted this on realclimate.org
As I’m sure it will be deleted I’m posting it here too. I’m a newly turned climate SCIENCE skeptic after having been censored too many times at rc.<<

Welcome to the club. I went to RC after reading the ClimateGate emails. My background isn't climate, it is computers and math. I went to RC because I had never posted anything about climate and that appeared to be the top climate site.

I started asking questions and was immediately BLASTED for asking. I was astounded actually, because a poster named "Gavin" appeared to be the worst, and apparently he was somehow involved in ClimateGate. When I tried to reply and ask questions, my postings were deleted.

Now I'm not a climate scientist, but I have a degree in mathematics and computers. I learned the scientific method and I was taught logic. What I was see at RC wasn't a discussion by scientists about science. It reminded me of high school and university, where people haven't had any experience in the business world and learned proper procedures.

I was astounded to find that the exact same people were responsible for data collection, quality control and analysis. In the business world this is a BIG NO NO. You always split the responsibilities, otherwise people have a strong temptation to re-write the facts to make it look like they are doing a better job than they actually are.

Unless you split the responsibilities the company is wide open to internal fraud and embezzlement. For example, if the same folks run the warehouse and do the month end inventory stock counts, it is a simple matter for them to falsify the counts to hide inventory diversion.

Similarly, if you data analysis is at odds with the raw data, there is a strong temptation to use the data analysis result as feedback into your data cleaning routines. Looking at the GISS temperature adjustments, this appears to be exactly what was going on. The models were predicting that these were errors in the past data, so the past data was adjusted, which made the models look better.

When I tried to question this at RC you would have thought I shot a cannon up Gavin's backside. I was simply trying to question why there was not proper separation of duties as would be standard in business. From what I could see there was evidence that data manipulation was taking place due to improper feedback in the design of the data cleaning procedures, based on comments from Gavin's former executive management.

This convinced me that there was something rotten in the science of climate, that they were not following the most basic of data collection safeguards, and from that I became skeptical of the conclusions that were being drawn from that data. Garbage in, garbage out.

Theon declared “climate models are useless.” “My own belief concerning anthropogenic climate change is that the models do not realistically simulate the climate system because there are many very important sub-grid scale processes that the models either replicate poorly or completely omit,” Theon explained. “Furthermore, some scientists have manipulated the observed data to justify their model results. In doing so, they neither explain what they have modified in the observations, nor explain how they did it. They have resisted making their work transparent so that it can be replicated independently by other scientists. This is clearly contrary to how science should be done. Thus there is no rational justification for using climate model forecasts to determine public policy,” he added.

96. In Burrito says:

Cliff says:
February 17, 2011 at 5:29 am
Another thing, if you are serious about rebutting the claim that AGW increases the likelihood of more severe precipitation events, why not take on the scientific papers. Going after a nontechnical statement on a news show is kinda lame. Obviously stuff gets dumbed down and garbled somewhat on a news show. Read the papers, rebut those. Until you do that, you’ve proved nothing. This guy doesn’t rebut any real scientific papers in this piece.

Cliff,

A key point that the author is making is that cold air masses are necessary to create precipitation. If *everything* is warmer, then yeah there is more water vapor in the air. But you still need a cold air mass to drive condensation, so you can’t just say “higher absolute humidity means more precipitation.” I think the author indirectly states that water temperatures, not air temperatures drive evaporation, in which a correlation of SSTs with precipitation would have been useful.

A second (what I think is significant) point is that according to global warming theory, the temperature decreases more with altitude (“insulating” effect of CO2 requires a greater deltaT to drive heat back out to space). Think about this…a higher water vapor content generated by theoretically warmer oceans, thereby more buoyant (H2O molecular weight vs. O2 or N2), rising to a colder upper atmosphere. Increased convention of water vapor into a colder upper atmosphere increases the driving force for condensation and clouds (which increase albedo).

I haven’t made up my mind about the frequency and magnitude of precipitation events, but I don’t think it’s important in the grand scheme of things. The critical contradiction in global warming alarmism is the simultaneous claims of runaway global warming via positive feedbacks and increased precipitation from clouds (which reflect incoming sunlight). These contradict each other.

97. DD More says:

If temperatures are the controlling factor for evaporation into the air, why does the Annual Class A Pan Evaporation map of the US look like this?

http://www.grow.arizona.edu/Grow–GrowResources.php?ResourceId=208
Or is Gore telling us that Jacksonville, FL and Sheridan WY the same temperature.

Also think about ‘wet seasons’ around the country. Most of Pacific coast region it is the winter.

98. My post was about equilibrium — equilibrium understood at the freshman chemistry level. That’s a thermodynamic concept. Meteorologists ought to understand it, but obviously some of them don’t.

And actually, if y’all read some of the papers Krause referenced, in fact you’ll see several are about chemical equilibrium.

I’m a conservative and have no time for Al Gore. But scientifically specious arguments don’t help one’s case; they just get one labeled a crank.

99. Mark H says:

WRT the climate change is causing extreme weather meme, coupled with the temperature records showing general warming over the last century +, wouldn’t there be a demonstrated trend of more extreme rain, snow, floods etc over the entire period of warming? I don’t know the answer, but it seems like if both of those statements are true the rain, snow, flood records should correlate with the temperature record in some fashion that can be demonstrated.

100. Ian says:
February 17, 2011 at 12:34 am
We have our own Al Gores in the UK. Check this out:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12484314

As soon as I got to the bit about “based on computer models” I knew the research wasn’t worth a dime.
In any case when they say it proves co2 emmissions increase the chance of flooding surely they mean it proves increased temps increase the risk of flooding. They have made the same old erroneous assumption that increases in co2 automatically leads to a rise in temps. Even just a cursory glance at the data of co2 vs temps will disprove that.

101. D. Patterson says:

Gerard Harbison says:
February 17, 2011 at 9:35 am

How would you apply thermodynamics to an evaluation of Al Gore’s comments on the Bill O’Reilly show?

Gerard Harbison says:
February 17, 2011 at 8:06 am

You want me to fix the whole thing? Yikes.

OK, here’s the first major issue. A vapor pressure is not what Mr. Wiese thinks it is. A vapor pressure is an equilibrium property of a system containing a liquid and a gas. In this specific case (water/air) it is the pressure of water vapor in air in equilibrium with water at the same temperature as the air.

And earlier you said:

This post is thermodynamically illiterate, and does nothing to enhance the scientific quality of your blog. Mr. Wiese may well have gotten a degree in meteorology, but he couldn’t pass my freshman chemistry class with this stuff.

Gerard S Harbison
Professor of Chemistry

Well, I’m certainly glad I’m not taking a freshman chemistry class from you, sir. You see, you made a terrible assumption–that Chuck meant “equilibrium vapor pressure” when he actually said “vapor pressure”. For there is yet another “vapor pressure”–that of “partial vapor pressure”. Your assumption of equilibrium is unfounded, for it is seldom realized in nature, especially in weather events.

103. Cary boyce says:

Gerald, can you give me your opinion concerning Al Gores statement. Do you believe his statement is accurate, partially accurate, or baloney.

This is the nub of this post.

Thx

104. Dan in California says:

This is a bit pedantic, but I think it may help explain the disagreement about the thermodynamics. That is, air doesn’t “hold” water vapor any more than nitrogen (78% of air) “holds” oxygen (21%) or argon (1%) or CO2, etc. It just happens to be convenient to use this statement because the other constituents of air act as a carrier gas for momentum transfer, and there is heat transfer between the gasses. H2O is unique in that it is a liquid near its boiling temperature, and significant gaseous vapor exists above the liquid surface. 100% relative humidity is the *equilibrium* amount at that particular temperature. %RH is the fraction of water vapor compared to that equilibrium amount.

105. jorgekafkazar says:

Anyone who believes that warm causes snow is certifiable and will believe absolutely anything.

106. Chuck Wiese says:

Professor Harbison: I believe this article addreses your concern and I stated in the article that the vapor pressure of the water that involves the OCEAN will not respond to the heat energy of the air like it would in a chemistry lab with much smaller masses. If you believe you can measure the change in ocean temperature that would result from moving a hot airmass at 100degF on a particular day like the Pacific Ocean, I got a bridge to sell you in Philly. You are technically correct, but macroscopically wrong, and it is YOUR argument that is doing science no favor as it incorrectly is describing these processes with such large amounts of mass involved such as a minimum 200 meter mixing depth of the ocean. Because of that fact, there is LITTLE additional increase in absolute humidity of this cooling 100 degF airmass that I used as an example. The heat from the air is EASILY taken up by the ocean and you would need the airmass to stay in place for weeks if not months to make a difference in the absolute humidity.

107. Tommy says:

I like hot showers, and notice a big difference when the bathroom air is hot vs cold.

When the bathroom air is warm, I get some condensation on the mirror and the air stays clear.

When the bathroom air is cold, I get more condenation on the mirror and the air becomes very cloudy.

108. mkelly says:

“Walter Elsasser’s work in atmospheric radiation from Harvard University established the controlling effect of water vapor on the earth’s surface infrared radiation back in 1942 after Einstein had quantasized it through relativity.”

Here is a limk to Dr. Elsasser’s paper. ref pg 23 of paper.

109. Andrew Piccirillo says:

Al Gore being an idiot again and embarrassing science..

Of course what is not mentioned in this blog post is that the oceans have also warmed which via the Clausius-Clapeyron equation translates into higher atmospheric water vapor. Unsurprisingly, global measurements of atmospheric water vapor confirm this expectation.

110. A G Foster says:

Quatasized? I’ve heard of quantized and quantified. But I see lots of substandard grammar in the article and comments–the sort I would expect more of from the Warmers and journalists. (“In general it always…” –comment) I guess it was written in a hurry. –AGF

111. Michael H Anderson says:

We all know Al Gore isn’t a scientist. but what exactly IS he? I always enjoy sharing, so:

1) he is a very, very rich man with multiple mansions and a private jet
2) he is a venture capitalist in “green” enterprises
3) he is a partner in carbon cap-and-trade enterprises
4) he is holder of a B.A. in “Government”
5) he is a speechmaker at \$175K a pop – speeches about the urgency of implementing exactly the kinds of enterprises he has a personal stake in.

I’m sure there are plenty of other things we can actually say about the man that indicate his primary occupation is really social control for profit, but that’s all from me.

112. Steve says:

Gerard Harbison “What will happen is that a gradient of temperature will set up at the water surface. The air near the surface will be cooled, and the water near the surface will warm. Water will transfer into the air, because the water at the actual surface is no longer at 50 F. And, indeed, the warmer the air is, the more water will transfer to the vapor phase.”

While I disagree with the main post’s premise (that Gore is an idiot for suggesting that warm air holds more water, leading to increased precipitation when that air cools) the situation you describe isn’t really countering what the main post claims. A gradient within a few feet of the air/sea contact point isn’t going to translate into more water vapor for rain and snow. It will be short lived (as in more water vapor for fog) because the cool water is both transferring water vapor into the air and absorbing heat from the air (thus a higher relative humidity in that narrow gradient). The bulk of the air mass will not pick up water vapor as it passes over. But as you say, it’s complicated. More wind can pull more water vapor out of that narrow gradient, higher up into the atmosphere.

A warmer atmosphere does have the potential for higher precipitation by way of holding more water vapor. But as meteorologists point out, if the entire system is warmer then there’s no increase in precipitation, just a global increase in the ratio of water vapor to other gases.

And still, even that’s complicated during the decades it takes for the warming to diffuse through the system. The entire climate system isn’t being heated equally – the system goes all the way to the ocean depths. When deep ocean water rises to meet a warmer, more humid atmosphere, expect more precipitation than in prior years. La Nina, anyone?
http://www.srh.noaa.gov/jetstream//tropics/enso_patterns.htm

113. Chuck Wiese says:

Mr. Potter: I’m not sure exactly why there is a difference in the online calculator you used for vapor pressure and relative humidity, but I can tell you that such calculators may use a smoothing algorithm such as NOAA does for a quickie calculation. I took the time to compute vapor pressures by looking up the coefficients in a handbook, but that publication is old, printed in 1947, and was given to me by an older colleague. Are there any newer ones that more accurately measured the heats of vaporization? Possibly, but I wasn’t going to go as far as buying one to see. Unless my numbers are outdated, they are probably more accurate, but again, I would have to see the online algorithm to be sure. Thanks for the heads up!

114. Jim Higson says:

AGW’ers think that if you have a sealed kitchen that opening the refrigerator will make the room colder.

115. mkelly says:

Andrew Piccirillo says:
February 17, 2011 at 11:29 am
Al Gore being an idiot again and embarrassing science..

Of course what is not mentioned in this blog post is that the oceans have also warmed which via the Clausius-Clapeyron equation translates into higher atmospheric water vapor. Unsurprisingly, global measurements of atmospheric water vapor confirm this expectation.

Here is a link for checking water vapor and it shows a decrease not an increase in water vapor.

116. GAZ says:

Phew.
I am no meteorologist, but I alway sort-of knew that cold air brings snow.

I was getting a bit worried when Al Gore et al where telling me how foolish I was. It is WARM air that brings snow!

Thank Chuck for restoring my confidence in common sense.

117. The best treatise on weather-climate I have seen todate. Well done and thank you.

118. 3x2 says:

Cliff says:
February 17, 2011 at 5:18 am

Well this doesn’t change the fact that warm air holds more moisture, right? All the warmists are saying is that all other things equal, the warmer air will be able to take on more water. Period.

A better question might be – exactly what is “warm” air anyway?

119. JPeden says:

Cliff says:
February 17, 2011 at 5:29 am

Another thing, if you are serious about rebutting the claim that AGW increases the likelihood of more severe precipitation events, why not take on the scientific papers.

Cliff, in the realm of real science with real predictions and subsequent “observed” empirical data, you’ve got things backwards. Instead, it’s up to the “scientific papers” – and especially those claiming CO2=CAGW, one would think – to at least show that there has in fact been an increase in the frequency of “more severe precipitation events” over the time period of the alleged [A]GW effect. Right?

But, because essentially none of Climate Science’s CO2=CAGW allegedly distinctive predictions have materialized over time in the real world, including some that would have falsified a real scientific hypothesis, all Climate Science’s “method” has been now for some time is to simply declare any “severe” weather event to be proof of CO2=CAGW; then maybe think up some allegedly plausible AGW mechanism, like Gore’s or Krugman’s, but without actually offering any contemporaneous data to back it up!

And all the while, using these unscientific tactics despite the devastating fact that the weather events cited always turn out to be within the scope of the natural historical climate variation; and within the scope of whatever explains the natural climate, without a critical role, or perhaps even any role, necessary for increasing fossil fuel CO2 contributions!

No, the critical fact that Climate Science itself needs to rebut/explain in scientific papers, is that, while its CO2=CAGW “science” can’t explain/postdict the alleged GMT record without using CO2 levels, it can’t seem to make any successful predictions with atmospheric CO2 levels.

Therefore, why don’t Climate Science’s own “scientific papers” try to analyze that obvious critical defect?

Instead of doing such things as rotely trying to gin up a “quality” laden Post Normal Science panic in its place?

Don’t know what to say other than my intuition says warm air on top of cold water = more evaporation. This is very confusing. Maybe someone can explain it more clearly to a layman like me. Sorry I don’t understand, Mr. Wiese.

121. George E. Smith says:

“”””” Gerard Harbison says:
February 17, 2011 at 9:35 am
My post was about equilibrium — equilibrium understood at the freshman chemistry level. That’s a thermodynamic concept. Meteorologists ought to understand it, but obviously some of them don’t. “””””

If the Relative Humidity is 19%, then it seems to me that by definition, the system is NOT in equilibrium. That has always bothered me; why isn’t the relative humidity always 100% ?

I have presumed that one reason is that the “reaction” if you can call it that, is being “gummed up” by a failure to remove the reaction products. In other words; the product of this evaporation “reaction”, is the escape of higher energy surface molecules into the nearby air layer in contact with the surface. If those extra water molecules are not able to quickly diffuse away from the phase interface; they will provide an excessive concentration of H2O molecules in the vicinity of the surface, that will shut off the further escape, by providing a higher concentration in the air at the interface.
So I presume that in quiet air conditions, the rate of diffusion of water molecules away from the surface, has the effect of limiting the evaporation “reaction”, and as a result the bulk of the atmosphere above the surface remains unsaturated. That would explain why wind speed play such a role in evaporation; by removing the reaction products from the scene of the action.

It’s been a while since I did a derivation of the C-C equation. Does it establish the equilibrium amount of water vapor in an air sample at a particular Temperature, (which presumably would not involve the water Temperature.) or does it require the presence of the liquid interface, and a common Temperature for air and water. My inclination is towards the former; but then as I said it has been a long while so I could be wrong on that.

122. sky says:

Chuck Wiese says:
February 17, 2011 at 11:18 am

Academic chemists do have a penchant for being correct in the microscopic sense, while perhaps missing the big picture. The first example that you give is very close to the scenario of a winter high parked over the Great Basin that drives katabatically heated high-desert air over coastal Southern California. Only the ocean surface is closer to 60F rather than 50F. Such “Santa Ana”episodes almost always produce an offshore fog bank within a few days .

Clausius-Clapeyron provides a good approximation within the limits of its assumptions. It does not entirely explain, however, why high entropy photons from solar irradiance are required to make water molecules jump into the air as vapor. In the case of pan evaporation rates, those are always highest in the hotest, dryest places–the world’s deserts. But you are entirely correct that capacity is not the same as content. In the absence large bodies of wtaer, the specific humidity will remain low no matter what the temperature. It’s the vapor pressure differential that ultimately governs the transfer rate.

123. Oliver Ramsay says:

February 17, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Don’t know what to say other than my intuition says warm air on top of cold water = more evaporation. This is very confusing. Maybe someone can explain it more clearly to a layman like me. Sorry I don’t understand, Mr. Wiese.
——————————————-
Tad, what would it take to convince those cold water molecules to jump up into the air when they had been disinclined to do so before?

124. Chuck Wiese says:

Tad: The differential vapor pressure between the water and air determine the evaporation, not the temperature of the air. The temperature of the air is proportional to the saturation vapor pressure, which tells us how much vapor can be held at that temperature. The professor of chemistry is complaining because I stated that as the air temperature cools, there is no net evaporation into it. In the macro sense of the amount of water in 200 meters of ocean depth compared to the nearby layer of air a meter thick, that is mostly true, beacuse the water can hold so much heat energy compared to the air, the air is not able to deliver enough heat back to it to raise the water temperature by a measurable amount that would really increase the vapor pressure of the water much. He is technically correct that if you gave heat back to the water, you are increasing vaporization from it, but, what I stated was that in a single case of this, the effect is negligible with that deep of ocean.

February 17, 2011 at 4:31 pm
Don’t know what to say other than my intuition says warm air on top of cold water = more evaporation. This is very confusing. Maybe someone can explain it more clearly to a layman like me. Sorry I don’t understand, Mr. Wiese.

This is how it works. A mass of air at 100 degrees F at 19% relative humidity moves over a large body of water at 50 degrees F. That mass of air would be saturated at that temperature so heat is transferred to the water without raising the water temperature by evaporating some water. This occurs at the boundary layer between air and water and a small amount of evaporation can take a lot of heat out of a thin boundary layer. In a no wind condition, that thin layer of air will rapidly cool to a new dew point that is only slightly higher than 50F and evaporation will stop. With wind you have a thicker turbulant boundary layer and more evaporation is required to cool the greater amount of air. Still there is a limit as to how much evaporation is needed to cool that much air. The lake effect snows result from warm water evaporating into cold dry air without significantly changing the temperature of the air. When it becomes saturated, it snows.

126. rbateman says:

Uncle Gore wants you for the Carbon Army.
He also wants all of your money.

127. Chuck Wiese says:

Fred: It is important to remember that under no circumstances can we use very much of the airs heat energy to evaporate water in this case. You cannot raise the wet bulb temperature of the air above the temperature of the water. In such a condition you would be creating a positive vapor pressure back into the water and the vapor “bubble” at the boundary you are talking about will collapse back into the water. The only way to vaporize more water with a new equilibrium is to put enough heat energy back into the ocean from this hot airmass to increase the ocean temperature so as to increase its vapor pressure. That is VERY difficult to do in the case of the deep ocean. So in this regard, the “gradient” of temperature the chemistry professor talks about is meaningless. It only means that a very large part of the heat loss by the air is trying to warm the water, not evaporate it. And that is why I state and stand by my assertion that the chemmistry professor is wrong on the macroscale level. The increase in humidity as this air cools will be far more relative to temperature rather than absolute humidity.

128. savethesharks says:

One of the best apologias yet.

I have repeated part of the conclusion here for effect.

=============================

“I have been involved with operational meteorology, weather forecasting and weather instrumentation for 30 years. Never in my career have I ever run up against such utter incompetence and lack of understanding of basic principles as I have in reading or discussing climate with advocates who are promoting human induced global climate change. In most every scenario or explanation, total error or seriously flawed logic is presented but needed to tout the human caused warming claims. Gore and his sycophants ( including James Hansen from NASA who professes the earth is at a catastrophic tipping point with CO2 levels ) are playing fast and loose with physics to create frightening and false scenarios that could never happen in reality, but are being used to attempt to flog and beat the public into a mental submission of “taxing and regulating” a solution that comes from the proclaimed “climate emergency”.”

“More tragic is the general acceptance of this trashing of science in public education of today’s youth. From my perspective, this problem was created by involving politics in science which has led to deliberate distortion and alarmist propaganda for the purpose of proposing a solution of taxing and regulating carbon emissions which will accomplish nothing except to enrich the special interests promoting the claims. Those special interests include government agencies themselves, academia and “green” energy companies, consultants and “carbon traders” like Mr. Gore, who aspires to be the first carbon billionaire selling “carbon offsets”. And since the public will receive no perceivable benefit by these insane proposals of taxing carbon, the entire idea amounts to nothing more than a wealth redistribution scheme mandated by government and collectivists to redistribute wealth for self enrichment. That is nothing short of stealing from the public at large.”

=======================

Wow. These words need to find themselves in every editorial page in the free world.

Mr. Weiss, as a layperson I could not follow all of the physics but I COULD follow your logic, which is impeccable.

Nothing like the laws of physics and the truth…which go together, hand in hand.

It is a shame more REAL scientists like this guy (as opposed to ideologue/activist sham scientists like Hansen) are not the ones who shape policy in this country.

Chris
Norfolk, VA, USA

129. martin mason says:

@Gerard Harbison
February 17, 2011 at 7:14 am

I didn’t actually see much chemistry in the post and your responses show perhaps that what little there was you don’t completely understand. I think you have been well and truly “owned”

130. Leg says:

Hey all: I’ve been visiting Gerald Harbison’s web site for a number of years now. He bills himself as the Right-Wing Professor. Although he mostly deals with things in Nebraska, I have seen enough things on his site that make me think he is a fairly good professor. Whether he is right or wrong above, let’s not debase him but invite him in; I think he would be fun and add to knowledge base that Anthony and all of us have developed here. On his web site he can be blunt and brusque, but he tones it down when someone gets reasonable with him.

Gerald: I’ve been closely following WUWT since about 6 months after Anthony got it started. This is the first time I’ve seen you post to WUWT, although I may have missed you. I occasionally read your web site and it is clear you have no trouble speaking your mind, and too funny sometimes. There are a lot of really good scientists contributing to WUWT, and I’ve learned so much about other disciplines. There are plenty of us that could learn more about your discipline (chemistry) especially as it may apply to the climate and changes that occur.

I’d say “Go Big Red” but I am really P.O.’d that they moved to the small 12.

131. coturnix19 says:

You’ve been talking here about frontal precipitation, but how about convective? Will it go up with warming? It gotta, or at least gotta not change. Con sider that most precipitation is convective in tropics, as well as in summer midlatitudes.

132. P.G. Sharrow says:

This posting and all the comments tell me that the foundation of climate/ weather, the water cycle is poorly understood or explained. The key is in the chemistry physics and thermodynamics of water in our oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere and oceans. Professor Gerald Harbison, can you create an explainatory posting? In people talk that everyone can understand. pg

133. Oliver Ramsay says:

February 17, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Don’t know what to say other than my intuition says warm air on top of cold water = more evaporation. This is very confusing. Maybe someone can explain it more clearly to a layman like me. Sorry I don’t understand, Mr. Wiese.
———————————-
I wouldn’t want to presume too much but, in case you need a tip for making sense of Chuck’s answer, I can give you a hint. I’m really not the one to do it, but …
Water molecules are bouncing around in the air because they, individually, have enough energy to do so. The less energy they have, the less elbow-room they create between one another. At some point, as they cool, they might become so lethargic that a (large) number of molecules will bunch together because, actually, they are sort of attracted to one another. Gravity has its way with these droplets, buoyancy is overwhelmed and down they go.
Over and over, people talk about how the air can “hold” so much water and it is a very confusing turn of phrase. “The air” has limited say in how many water molecules get to be a part of it. It is essentially determined by whether there is a body of water around, how warm that water is, how warm the air above the water is and how many water molecules are already in that parcel of air. The temperature of the air is significant only because that will determine the temperature of the air-borne water molecules. It is the temperature (and pressure)(and availability) of the water vapour that decides how much of it there will be.
So, it turns out that, in a warm body of air, there have to be a lot of water molecules present before they will get together as droplets, because their energy outstrips their attraction but, in cold air, they will do so much more readily. But, of course, if the liquid water lacks heat, then not many molecules will be jumping in the first place.
By the way, think of the pressure as how frequently the molecules crash into one another. The more, the merrier.

134. cal says:

I am not convinced that Professor Harbison’s objection makes sense even on a micro level. If hot air passes over a cold body, the water in the air will tend to condense out as long as temperature of the colder body is below the dew point. The fact that the air COULD hold more water and the “cold body” is a source of water molecules which COULD be absorbed by the air is irrelevant unless their is a source of energy sufficient to provide the huge latent heat required to remove them from the water at a faster rate than they are condensing. Conversely if the water is hot and the air is cold evaporation will always take place even if the air is at the dew point (100% saturated) since the air will warm during the process. Of course the air will tend to saturate again and evaporation will slow but convection will tend to remove the warmer moister boundary layer and wind will do this even more effectively such that in practice evaporation will continue.

135. Arizona CJ says:

One if the first things I noticed when I learned how to drive was how the defroster works.

Most people assume that hot air defogs a window faster. Being young, dumb, and obstinate, and thus prone to rebelling against “the conventional wisdom” and testing it, I soon discovered that blowing cold air from the AC on the windshield defogged it a lot faster in most cases, especially in high humidity situations.

Why? The AC coil condenses a little of the water out of the air (lowering vapor pressure by drying it) and that cool, dry air clears the windshield fast, much faster than the heater’s warm, humid air. (I had no idea about vapor pressure back then, but I could see what worked.)

I’ve told a lot of people over the years about this, and not one has ever believed me. I now only do so when there’s means at hand (fogged windows) to prove it.

Caveat: I was mainly dealing with warm, rainy days.

136. coturnix19 says:

February 17, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Don’t know what to say other than my intuition says warm air on top of cold water = more evaporation. This is very confusing. Maybe someone can explain it more clearly to a layman like me. Sorry I don’t understand, Mr. Wiese.
===============================

Water consists of molecules, clamped together by some molecular forces, vapor consists of the same molecules (afaik, it contains both single molecules and small clusters of 2-3 molecule) that although interact, fly relatively freely in space. The total energy of water molecules in liquid is much less than in vapor at the same temperature, and there exists a step in potential energy between liquid and vapor. To get out of liquid, molecule must be fat enough to get through it. Most molecules in liquid are slow so they sit together, but there is always some fast enough to fly away into space. If the space is empty, or contains (totally dry) air only, there will always be a net outflow of molecules – evaporation. But if there are already molecules in space above liquid surface, some will bump back into liquid and keep stuck to it. Whether the whole process is net evaporation or precipitation depends on how many more molecules bump and stuck or escape liquid surface.
If you take liquid and allow it to evaporate for as long as it wishes into small closed space, eventually density of vapor in space will rise high enough so that they will bump back as fast they escape it, liquid and vapor are at equilibrium, and vapor pressure here is called saturated vapor pressure (at given temperature). So saturated vapor pressure defines at given temperature how rapidly molecules escape liquid. If actual vapor pressure outside if higher than would-be vapor pressure in equilibrium with liquid, more molecules would bump into liquid and there would be net condensation. Saturated vapor pressure depends only (i think) on temperature and much less on air pressure. The total air pressure varies little at the sea surface, so we can disregard that. For water it approximately doubles for every 11C increase in temp. Therefore, air at 30C and 30% humidity has the vapor pressure of water at around 11C (i think). If it flows over water that is colder that this, it will have more molecules of water bumping into water that fleeing water, and net condensation. Remember – vapor condenses on cold surfaces, and water surface is no different at all. conversely, if air is very cold, and water is relatively warmer, more molecules would escape water than bump into it and get stuck, which macroscopically manifests as the water’s would-be saturated vapor pressure being higher than the actual w. vapor pressure of the air above it.

137. Chuck,

I agree that because of good thermal conductivity and a 300 meter or more mixing layer of water you are not going to increase the vapor pressure in this bulk in any measurable amount. Any temperature increase will be confined to the boundary layer of the water and that will produce some evaporation. It takes very little evaporation to saturate a thin boundary layer at this slightly higher temperature and evaporation stops. If you have wind and turbulence it gets more complicated. Consider what happens to ocean spray. The heat it takes up from the air has no where to go so it evaporates and raises the humidity in the air. Even here, there is a limit to how much evaporation. Think in terms of the difference in magnitude in the heat of vaporization of water and heat capacity of air. How much vaporization do you need to cool some volume of air from a given temperature to a new dew point?

138. Steve says:

Tad says “Don’t know what to say other than my intuition says warm air on top of cold water = more evaporation. This is very confusing. Maybe someone can explain it more clearly to a layman like me. Sorry I don’t understand, Mr. Wiese.”

Keep in mind that the post is talking about saturated air. The warm air passing over the cold water is already assumed to be holding as much water vapor as it can at it’s present temperature. Passing over cold water isn’t going to change that (if anything, the air will get colder and water will drop out).

Now if you have a choice between two air masses devoid of any water vapor passing over a body of water, obviously the warmer air mass is going to leave with more water vapor than the cold air mass.

Note that if you take the warm air mass with vapor pressure of 10.75 millibars from the first example, and move that air mass over Lake Michigan in the second example (5.11 millibars), you get an air mass that is dumping it’s water out instead of “soaking it up”.

139. Michael H Anderson says:

This certainly is a lengthy debate over the self-serving ravings of a non-scientist multimilionaire celebrity.

140. Steve says:

Doh! My previous statement about “full saturation” was all wrong (yes, relative humidity confuses me). That warm air is NOT fully saturated. But it does have enough water vapor to prevent it from drawing any more while passing over the sea.

I think a clearer rebuttal to Gore would simply drop the comparison of Example 1 (warm air over warm sea) to Example 2 (cold air over cold lake). The post is demonstrating two nice real world scenarios, but it is comparing apples to mangoes. Despite Gore’s idiotic “million degrees” statement, I don’t think he believes that this winter’s snows were caused by 100 degree air blowing in from the arctic circle.

For an apples to apples comparison that goes toe to toe with Gore, stick to Example 2. Show how air at the same humidity, but at -13 degrees (2 degrees warmer), isn’t going to “soak up” more moisture as it passes over Lake Michigan than the air at -15 degrees.

141. I’ve actually posted here occasionally in the past.

Thermodynamics is all about careful definitions. Let me quote from the freshman text I’m using at the moment (Petrucci).

“The pressure exerted by a vapor in dynamic equilibrium with its liquid is called the vapor pressure.”

‘Equilibrium vapor pressure’ is therefore redundant.

In general, trying to ‘intuit’ thermodynamics is a mistake unless you are really experienced. And very little weather falls within the bailiwick of thermodynamics anyway; it’s too far from equilibrium, in most cases.

A far stronger argument against Gore is that AGW is most pronounced at the poles, where evaporation is much less important a phenomenon than in the tropics. If you want to get lots and lots of water into the atmosphere, warm the tropical oceans, not the Arctic.

142. Chuck Wiese says:

Mike: It is far more than that. This rot has found its way into and become seated in public education and it is wrong. It is also being used by these special interest groups in education to help government to tax and regulate carbon. The public will get no benefit from this, in fact, this is very damaging to the US economy and is leading us down a path of disaster with energy policy. This is the main reason why I am speaking out.

143. Steve says:

Gerard Harbison says:
“Thermodynamics is all about careful definitions. Let me quote from the freshman text I’m using at the moment (Petrucci). -The pressure exerted by a vapor in dynamic equilibrium with its liquid is called the vapor pressure.- ‘Equilibrium vapor pressure’ is therefore redundant.”

You’re going to end up just as confused about meteorology as I was (my degree is in biochem). In meteorology, saturation is not chemical saturation, precipitation is not a chemical precipitate, and as for vapor pressure… (from Wikipedia)

“In meteorology, the term vapor pressure is used to mean the partial pressure of water vapor in the atmosphere, even if it is not in equilibrium, and the equilibrium vapor pressure is specified as such. Meteorologists also use the term saturation vapor pressure to refer to the equilibrium vapor pressure of water or brine above a flat surface, to distinguish it from equilibrium vapor pressure which takes into account the shape and size of water droplets and particulates in the atmosphere.”

144. Cary B says:

Here’s a definition from wikipedia

Meaning in meteorology
In meteorology, the term vapor pressure is used to mean the partial pressure of water vapor in the atmosphere, even if it is not in equilibrium,[6] and the equilibrium vapor pressure is specified as such. Meteorologists also use the term saturation vapor pressure to refer to the equilibrium vapor pressure of water or brine above a flat surface, to distinguish it from equilibrium vapor pressure which takes into account the shape and size of water droplets and particulates in the atmosphere.[7]

145. Gerard,

To expand on your comment. Evidence of GW is most pronounced in the Arctic where the frost point takes nearly all of the mosture out of the air. It has been warming because currents have been delivering warmer water to the area. If there is an appreciable CAGW effect, it should show up in a reduction of OLR in the Arctic winter when there is very little moisture in the air. There has been no reduction in OLR in the arctic while CO2 concentrations have been climbing for over fifty years.

146. Douglas DC says:

Chuck-one of my friends has a Senior in high school-La Grande Oregon. His social studies class has a “Climate Change ” Section in it’s text.In that it depicts a crowded
life boat. -It implies that we have to off load the lifeboat. This isn’t science, of course,
but it is’t clear who gets jettisoned. It is taught as fact-and we have to: DO SOMETHING
broke or not.

147. Jim D says:

Given that the relative humidity is what stays constant as the ocean temperature rises (an observable fact), Gore is correct to say that the air above warm water holds more moisture. For each degree, you get about 7% more moisture in the boundary layer of the atmosphere above it. That is just from Clausius-Clapeyron.
The argument from C. Wiese is that the water doesn’t have enough energy to warm and moisten the air, but he considers only a kg of water, which is only the top millimeter. This is an error, because the ocean is warmer over a much deeper layer, and effectively has more than enough energy to keep the atmosphere in equilibrium.

148. Chuck Wiese says:

Jim ( Diamond ? ): You got it wrong. This was never my argument. Of course warmer air above a plane of water can hold more moisture! I stated that air and sea temperatures track nearly perfectly because of the specific heats. As the ocean warms, so will the air and the absolute humidity relative to the OCEAN temperature will increase. The RELATIVE humidity will then depend upon the mixing of that layer of air nearest the water, which may or may not, depending upon the mixing, allow further evaporation. But absent of that, relative humidity stays constant with the ocean temperature rise as you state.

The point was, that for EVERY DEGREE of ocean temperature RISE, it takes MORE EXTERNAL ENERGY to cause that effect, and CO2 radiation doesn’t cut it in a long shot, not without these absurd “feedbacks” that imply energy is appearing from nowhere to continue evaporation, not only to ridiculous levels, but not changing albedo or precipitation to keep up with evaporation on the false assumption the troposphere is warming from this.

The tropical airmasses Gore refers to ARE NOT “soaking up” moisture like a “sponge” They are already saturated from the maximum permissible solar energy from the tropics and CANNOT release more precipitation or at an increased rate like Gore or other “scientists” claim without a static or decreasing atmospheric temperature at higher latitude where the rubber meets the road.

I also don’t know where you’re coming from when you talk about ocean depth in relation to the mass of water, but using my example of a kilogram actually strengthens YOUR argument, not mine. If you want to consider a deeper depth of ocean and much larger mass, you are merely falling back to the same points I have made already that prove you wrong. If you increase ocean mass, you require MORE heat from the air to increase the vapor presure of water, not the other way around. That MUST come from the sun. And the ocean temperature DECREASES with depth with the thermocline to the “thermopause’, where the mixing ceases, not increases as you seem to imply. There can be no other source of energy than solar, other than the already established radiative forcing from water vapor that results from the solar evaporation of water, and the optical limit of the vapor is determined by the solar forcing as well, which also determines the extent to which the troposphere is warmed. Gravity will change that depth depending on the solar input. Co2 is only along for the ride.

149. John Brookes says:

Gerard Harbison is correct on vapour pressure etc. Hot air evaporates water, which falls as rain or snow when the air cools. Its pretty trivial.

Here in Perth Western Australia, evaporative air conditioners are pretty common. For most of our summer they work pretty well, warm outside air being cooled by evaporation and fed into the house. You leave a few doors or windows open to allow the air to flow out again. Inside the house you have cooler moist air. If the hot air didn’t evaporate water, these air conditioners wouldn’t work.

Its worth noting that on hot humid days, these air conditioners are ineffective, presumably because the air already holds all the moisture it can.

Trying to apply well known basic physics to real world situations, as in this article, is fraught with danger, and requires great care. It is too easy to make simple mistakes and come to erroneous conclusions.

150. izen says:

So the recent floods in Australia were a ‘cold air over warm lake effect’ although in this case the ‘lake’ was the W Pacific?

tallbloke says:
February 17, 2011 at 8:29 am
“Still haven’t seen a convincing refutation so why not?”

You were not convinced by –

http://bartonpaullevenson.com/Miskolczi.html

“…The observed ratio of U to K, therefore, is (3.210 x 1026) / (4.696 x 1023) or about 684. This is substantially different from 2. Increasing the resolution of the atmosphere model or using local saturated lapse rates for each level makes no substantial difference to this conclusion.

It is therefore impossible not to conclude that the model proposed in Miskolczi [2007] is fatally flawed, and thus so is its conclusion of startlingly low climate sensitivity to a doubling of atmospheric CO2.”

Or perhaps you hadvent seen that refutation….

151. cal says:

John Brookes says:
February 19, 2011 at 2:52 am
Gerard Harbison is correct on vapour pressure etc. Hot air evaporates water, which falls as rain or snow when the air cools. Its pretty trivial.

Here in Perth Western Australia, evaporative air conditioners are pretty common. For most of our summer they work pretty well, warm outside air being cooled by evaporation and fed into the house. You leave a few doors or windows open to allow the air to flow out again. Inside the house you have cooler moist air. If the hot air didn’t evaporate water, these air conditioners wouldn’t work.

Its worth noting that on hot humid days, these air conditioners are ineffective, presumably because the air already holds all the moisture it can.

Trying to apply well known basic physics to real world situations, as in this article, is fraught with danger, and requires great care. It is too easy to make simple mistakes and come to erroneous conclusions.

I entirely agree but it sounds like this is exactly what you have done.

I have not come across evaporative coolers so I may have this wrong, but my guess is that the water starts at ambient temperature and you allow the wind to blow across the surface. The air will not cool as a result of this process because it will merely be absorbing the highly energetic water molecules that randomly leave the surface. However because the latent heat carried by these molecules will deprive the remaining water molecules of that energy the water will cool. In other words it is the exact opposite to your description where the air cools (and presumeably the water warms?).

I suspect you are missing a piece in the system. My guess is that the air that cools the water is allowed to escape and release its energy as rain somewhere else. If the water is in contact with some sort of simple heat exchanger the air you blow across this will cool. The energy taken from the air will then warm the water back to ambient and you can start all over again. As long as the air is not saturated this should work. I do not know if this is how your coolers work but it must be something like it. I certainly do not think it can work in the way you seem to think.

Yes the air you blow pass through the heat exchanger will be moist as you describe since it will contain the same amount of water but at a lower temperature.

I do not believe that any of this is in contradiction to the points Chuck has made. You need a source of energy to energise the water molecules. In the case of the Oceans it comes from the Oceans and in the case of the air coolers it comes from the cooler reservoir. Unsaturated air is simply a vehicle by which energy is taken from one place and released in another place.

152. Oliver Ramsay says:

John Brookes says:
February 19, 2011 at 2:52 am

Gerard Harbison is correct on vapour pressure etc. Hot air evaporates water, which falls as rain or snow when the air cools. Its pretty trivial.
——————————
I think we’ve moved beyond banal declarations like this.
Hot, dry air? Hot, moist air? Hot air, period?
The heat needs to be in the water to evaporate it, it needs to be in the air for it to stay evaporated.
As for your “evaporative air conditioner”, here, they’re known as swamp coolers and my experience of them has been the opposite of yours.
If you succeed in cooling your air 3 or 4 degrees from 35C but you increase the relative humidity as you do that, by adding water and raising the dew point (by lowering the temperature), you’re not going to feel a whole lot more comfortable. It might be a little more effective at 25C, since you won’t be perspiring much at that ambient temperature, but who needs a noisy fan blowing mold-spores through your living room. The ones I know of have a screen of poplar shavings that provides the evaporative surface.

153. Chuck Wiese says:

@izen: The reference you give that attempts to refute Miskolczi is not convincing. Mr. Levenson admits he screwed up the calculation of this ratio you cite above of 684 and when he used the correct R, he got .784 That was pointed out to him by “smart ass deniers” as he wrote in making the correction. But then, he drops the ball there and claims Miskolczi has to be wrong just because his answer doesn’t come out to 2.

I noticed in his calculation, the total Ek value was integrated to TOA. Miskolczi addresses radiation pressure from the grounds infrared flux compared to Ep. Some of the suns energy flux across the atmosphere is intercepted inward and absorbed by molecules in the layers Levenson used to get his kinetic energies. I am betting that is why his ratio of Ep/Ek is too small. Just because he doesn’t get 2 doesn’t mean Miskolczi is wrong, it means Levenson’s calculations could be and very likely are wrong the way he compared the energies.

154. Colin Parkinson says:

I cannot follow the math, but as I live with lake effect snow every year I offer a simple explanation of the more snow, global warming thing.

In you illustration you have cold dry arctic air blowing across Lake Michigan and snowing in Chicago, you see the problem is that the lake is still liquid.
The longer a lake remains unfrozen the more lake effect snow you get. Global warming has resulted in the lake getting just a little warmer and thus stay liquid for longer, result more snow. Simple eh?

155. citizenschallenge says:

John Marshall says:
February 17, 2011 at 1:56 am

As a geologist I know that past atmospheric CO2 levels have been far higher than today but climate has never followed. 8000ppmv CO2 400 million years ago and there was a severe ice age. Another of Gore’s global warmings.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

You are resting on some ancient ideas there. To get up to date with what scientists have learned about CO2 and temperature during previous geologic eons check out this lecture:
Professor Richard Alley Ph.D.
“The Biggest Control Know
Carbon Dioxide in Earth’s Climate History”

http://www.agu.org/meetings/fm09/lectures/lecture_videos/A23A.shtml

It really is fascinating what those folks have been learning these past decades. The problem is it demands a good faith effort to expose oneself to this information, and that seems to be missing. Politics has over run what should be a learning process.

156. Chuck Wiese says:

citizenschallenge: No, these are not ancient ideas. They are still valid concepts used in modern meteorology.

If ANYTHING can be said about Alley’s presentation is that is disengenuous at best to ignore the founding work in atmospheric radiation from Walt Elsasser at Harvard, and then “paint” over it with climate models which are demonstrated artifacts of science that have failed miserably and did not establish ANYTHING Alley claims in his presentation. If anything, it is Alley and “modern” day scientists who have failed in the learning curve of properly dealing with established science, which, is, if your theory is at odds with it to provide a refutation. NOBODY, including Alley has done this.

The “faint sun” history is also riddled with inadequate explanation and scientific fallacy as to claiming CO2 got us out of it. It is not believable that with the earth’s vast amount of ocean, even if there was ice covering a lot of it at the begining, as the sun became stronger, it EASILY vaporizes more water and the effect of that overpowers any CO2 drivel by a long shot. One need only look at the MANY more spectral lines in H2O absorption vs. CO2. And even with any icy ocean, the vapor pressure of water is NOT ZERO! Co2 WAS NOT NEEDED to logically explain how the earth could come out of a faint sun paradox, for the suns increasing radiation near the equator would easily explain this, CO2 CANNOT explain it by a long shot. A 15 micron absorber that only gets 18% of the surface IR spectrum compared to water vapors 70-80%? You have GOT TO BE JOKING! Take out the water vapor and THAT is what makes the earth a frozen piece of tundra!

After watching Alley’s presentation I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. It eludes me how someone with this claimed expertise could passively ignore the real physics and claim CO2 has ANY regulating effect on the earth’s nocturnal radiation flux from the ground with the hydrological cycle. And as usual, the presentation is absent of any factual measurements that could ever back up these ridiculous claims of Alley.

157. Ken Hall says:

“Gerard Harbison says:
February 17, 2011 at 7:14 am
Tony:

This post is thermodynamically illiterate, and does nothing to enhance the scientific quality of your blog. Mr. Wiese may well have gotten a degree in meteorology, but he couldn’t pass my freshman chemistry class with this stuff.

Gerard S Harbison
Professor of Chemistry