Rationalizing Trenberth’s missing heat

By Dr. Roger Pielke Sr.
Additional Information On The “Ocean’s Missing Heat” By Katsman and van Oldenborgh 2011

I discussed the papers

C. A. Katsman and G. J. van Oldenborgh, 2011: Tracing the upper ocean’s ‘missing heat’. Geophysical Research Letters (in press).

Palmer, M. D., D. J. McNeall, and N. J. Dunstone (2011), Importance of the deep ocean for estimating decadal changes in Earth’s radiation balance, Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L13707, doi:10.1029/2011GL047835.

in my posts

2011 Update Of The Comparison Of Upper Ocean Heat Content Changes With The GISS Model Predictions

New Paper “Importance Of The Deep Ocean For Estimating Decadal Changes In Earth’s Radiation Balance” By Palmer Et Al 2011

I have been sent a summary article from Klimaat wereld on this subject that was published on July 28 2011  [h/t/ Erik].

This Klimaat wereld summary article is titled

Tracing the upper ocean’s ‘missing heat’

by Caroline Katsman and Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, KNMI.  Although, as discussed below, I have several issues with their interpretations and  conclusions, the authors should be commended for publishing a significant new contribution to our understanding of the climate system.  This is an effective paper which can be built on to improve our knowledge of the science of climate.

The abstract reads

“Against expectations, the upper ocean (from 0 to 700 meter depth) has not warmed since 2003. A recent KNMI study shows that an eight-year interruption of the rise expected from global warming is not exceptional. It can be explained by natural variability of the climate, in particular the climate oscillation El Niño in the Pacific Ocean and changes in ocean currents in the North Atlantic Ocean. Recent observations point to an upcoming resumption of the heating of the upper ocean.”

I have extracted several parts of the text of this article [and highlighted text] and comment on them.

First

Observations of the sea water temperature show that the upper ocean has not warmed since 2003. This is remarkable as it is expected the ocean would store that the lion’s share of the extra heat retained by the Earth due to the increased concentrations of greenhouse gases. The observation that the upper 700 meter of the world ocean have not warmed for the last eight years gives rise to two fundamental questions:

  1. What is the probability that the upper ocean does not warm for eight years as greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise?
  2. As the heat has not been not stored in the upper ocean over the last eight years, where did it go instead?

These question cannot be answered using observations alone, as the available time series are too short and the data not accurate enough. We therefore used climate model output generated in the ESSENCE project, a collaboration of KNMI and Utrecht University that generated 17 simulations of the climate with the ECHAM5/MPI-OM model to sample the natural variability of the climate system. When compared to the available observations, the model describes the ocean temperature rise and variability well.”

My Comment: If the “question cannot be answered using observations alone“, how can it be stated that “When compared to the available observations, the model describes the ocean temperature rise and variability well“?  This is a circular argument.  Models themselves are hypotheses, and the more accurate statement by the authors would be that the available observations do not falsify the model as replicating reality.

The next extract reads

“Observations of the temperature of the upper few hundred meters of the ocean go back to the 1960s. Up to ten years ago most measurements were taken by simple thermometers that were thrown overboard and sent back the temperature as they fell down through a wire (expandable bathythermographs, XBTs). Since about ten years these have been superseded by fully automatised ARGO floats that measure temperature down to 2000 m depth and send the data home every ten days. Starting from these raw observations the global temperature distribution down to 700 meter is reconstructed, filling in the gaps in the coverage. Using the heat capacity of water this enables the estimation of the amount of heat stored in the world ocean.”

My Comment:  This is a succinct summary of why we need to focus on the observations and model comparisons over the last ten years. Prior to this time period, the values of the ocean heat content are much less certain.

They further write

“In the model, the fraction of negative eight-year trends decrease as the warming trend accelerates, but between 1990 and 2020 (31 years around 2005) 3% of the trends still is negative. This implies a one in three chance of at least one eight-year period with a negative trend in these 31 years. An eight-year pause in the rise of the upper ocean heat content is therefore not at all rare, even in a warming climate.”

My Comment:  If the ocean heat warming pauses, this part of the climate system is not warming.

Next, they provide an effective summary of the importance of the ocean as the reservoir for heating and cooling of the climate system.

“Where does the heat go?

The amounts of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are steadily increasing. The increased absorption of thermal radiation by these gases causes the radiation to space to emanate from higher in the atmosphere on average, where it is colder. The colder air emits less thermal radiation, so that the incoming solar energy is no longer balanced by outgoing radiation. The excess heat is absorbed by the ocean, slowly warming the water from the top down.

If the upper ocean does not warm for a few years the excess heat from the imbalance between incoming and outgoing radiation has to go elsewhere. The ocean temperature has only risen 0.02 ºC less than expected, but due to the size of the ocean and the large heat capacity of water this represents a huge amount of heat. If this heat would have been used to heat the atmosphere, the air temperature would have increased by 5 ºC. This obviously did not happen, so the heat was not stored in the atmosphere. The ground has a larger heat capacity, but heat penetrates only slowly down. Storing the heat missing from the upper ocean in the ground would have raised its temperature by about 1.5 ºC. This also was not observed, so we can conclude that the bulk of the heat did not go into the ground. If the heat would have been absorbed by land or sea ice it would also have had large consequences that have not been detected, for example a sea level rise of 20 cm if the heat would have been used to melt land ice.

By elimination, only two possibilities remain. Either the Earth radiates more energy to space during these periods of no increase in upper ocean heat content or the heat content of the deep ocean (below 700 meter) increases temporarily. Both possibilities were found to play a role in the climate model.”

My Comment: The authors use the “climate model” to explain where the heat goes. However, in the real world, heat that is transported to deeper levels should be seen in the ARGO observations.  A  further comparison of this tranport, as predicted in the models, with the observations is needed. Moreover, even if there is heat transported to deeper ocean depths, this would mute subsequent atmospheric heating (and, therefore, effects of weather), as the disperion of this heat at depth would be expected to result at most in only a slow transfer back to the surface. The resulting heating of the atmosphere would be muted.

They next write

The model shows that during periods that the upper layers of the ocean do not heat, the deeper layers show a stronger increase in temperature. This vertical seesaw is strongest in the North Atlantic Ocean south of Greenland. In this area the surface waters cool each winter due to cold winds from Canada. As it gets heavier than the slightly warmer but more salty water at depth the surface water sinks and the warmer water rises. This exchange therefore cools the deeper ocean. In winters with little mixing the upper ocean stays colder and the deeper layers stay warmer.”

My Comment:  There is a problem with their statement that The model shows that during periods that the upper layers of the ocean do not heat, the deeper layers show a stronger increase in temperature”.  If the upper layers do not show heating, how does heat transfer (even in the model) to deeper layers?  The Joules of heat cannot just appear below the upper 700m if the reason for the assumed heating is from added greenhouse gas forcing in the atmosphere.

They next provide (to their credit) a forecast

Outlook for the coming years

Since two years ago El Niño has been replaced by a series of La Niña events that should cause a heating trend in the upper ocean. The heat exchange between the upper and deep ocean in the Labrador Sea has also started again recentIy. We therefore expect that the upper ocean heat content will soon resume its upward trend.”

My Comment:  First, what is the observational basis to conclude that the “The heat exchange between the upper and deep ocean in the Labrador Sea has also started again recentIy”.  Nonetheless, their expectation (forecast) that the upper ocean heat content will resume its upward trend is a hypothesis that can be tested over the next few years [unlike the IPCC type forecasts of weather patterns decades from now!].   As of the most recent upper ocean data analysis, however, the heating has not yet restarted; i.e. see from NODC

Global Ocean Heat Content 1955-present

It is also important to realize in interpreting this data that for the period before the establishement of the Argo network, the quantitative accuracy of the analyses is less. The data are actually constructed by merging two distinct methods to observe the ocean heat content. The jump seen in the data in the first years after 2000 might have occured due to the temporal inhomogenity of the data analysis.

Finally, they write at the end of their article

“Because of these natural fluctuations a short trend in the upper ocean heat content is not a good indicator of enhanced greenhouse warming, only the long-term trend is.”

My Comment: This is a recognition of the increasingly better recognized importance of “natural climate variations”.  However, the authors did not include in their original paper, nor in their Klimaat wereld article how many years of a lack of warming would have to occur before they would reject their models as being skillful replicators of the climate system’s changes in upper ocean heat content.

source of image

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60 thoughts on “Rationalizing Trenberth’s missing heat

  1. The money quote:

    “By elimination, only two possibilities remain. Either the Earth radiates more energy to space during these periods of no increase in upper ocean heat content or the heat content of the deep ocean (below 700 meter) increases temporarily. Both possibilities were found to play a role in the climate model.”

    Hasn’t Roy Spencer just shown that the Earth DOES radiate more energy? No need to find ways in which the deep ocean can warm without the upper layers warming.

  2. “By elimination, only two possibilities remain. Either the Earth radiates more energy to space during these periods of no increase in upper ocean heat content or the heat content of the deep ocean (below 700 meter) increases temporarily. Both possibilities were found to play a role in the climate model.”

    There is another possibility which in my view is far more likely.

    An increase in global cloudiness with a higher global albedo is reducing the amount of solar shortwave entering the oceans.

    I have set out the precise mechanism in some detail elsewhere. In summary, solar and oceanic variability each change the surface air pressure distribution to move all the climate zones latitudinally. A poleward shift reduces global cloudiness by moving the mid latitude jets poleward to widen the subtropical high pressure cells allowing more sunlight into the oceans.An equatorward shift does the opposite.

    During the late 20th century warming spell more sunlight entered the oceans. Since 2000 less sunlight has been entering the oceans.

  3. “In the model, the fraction of negative eight-year trends decrease as the warming trend accelerates, but between 1990 and 2020 (31 years around 2005) 3% of the trends still is negative. This implies a one in three chance of at least one eight-year period with a negative trend in these 31 years. An eight-year pause in the rise of the upper ocean heat content is therefore not at all rare, even in a warming climate.”

    How does a 3% chance that the trend will be negative in one or more years translate to a 33% chance that there will be a negative trend lasting eight years during the 31 year interval? I think his probability calculations need to be shown.

  4. Stephen Wilde says: “There is another possibility which in my view is far more likely…”

    And there’s another one as well, and that is that downward longwave radiation from Anthropogeanic Greenhouse Gases has little impact on OHC.

  5. In court cases the benefit of the doubt goes towards that side most injured by an error in judgement. In scientific debates the benefit of doubt goes towards whatever the researcher believes to be truth, as the “most injured” status is the scientist’s conception of the world. Invoking a ghost mechanism for heat transfer from the atmosphere to > 700m subsea – somewhere in the world not observed, by the way – without an intermediary is these scientists’ “benefit of the doubt”. The note that the Labrador Sea is now warming at surface again uses another ghost mechanism – the heat coming from an unknown place rising to the shallow depths without, again, passing through the intermediate depths first.

    The scientific method should be about preserving the “old” view until new knowledge overwhelms and replaces the old. Age is, of course, relative. Perhaps “old” knowledge now is anything we thought five years ago; anything prior to your current driver’s licence is wrong by definition.

    It takes decades of life and experience to accept within your outlook that popular understanding, that authority figures, that specialists studying narrowly are not just often wrong but ALWAYS wrong to some extent. And humans have a perception bias towards that what we seek: you think about extreme weather and discover it everywhere, just as you think about buying a new Jeep and see them being driven everywhere.

    Climate change arguments position warmists on one side who use conditional, subjective and speculative worlds like “could”, “may”, “might”, “should” and “possibly”, against skeptics who use words like “doesn’t”, “won’t” and “no indication”. In your earlier years the future is open with many possibilities of change; in your later years you realise, through reflection, that the future is pretty much an extension of the recent past. If there is a train about to run you down you can be very assured you’ll see it coming. In youth we feel we live in ‘special’ times (thus making us ‘special’, also). In maturity we see we just living in different times.

    Ten years from now a lot of climate change researchers will be looking uneasily back to their earlier work with its alarm, failed predictions and exaggerated self-importance. Those on the podium gain distinction (careers and large sums of cash by the Hansen/Gore examples) for being the whistleblowing Cassandras of their times. We herald the lone rider who races in to the fort warning of a buildup of Sioux warriors nearby, and distrust the recon team who say that the Indians are moving their village. One invites action and excitement, the other change without significance. We want to be excited and significant.

    None of the alarmist rhetoric will become tamped down until somehow the warmists are forced to say not “may” happen but what “will” happen, with a date for the happening and a time for reconciling what did and did not happen. As with the case of Himalaya-gate, attempts to bring reality into focus will be difficult; one’s personal worldview is highly prized (and supported by the benefit-of-doubt bias noted earlier). Our social lives, freedoms and economics depend on the skeptic maintaining a firm and continual resistance to the warmists desire to live loud, lively and with their hearts on their sleeves.

    On mature reflection a few years from now many climate change students and researchers will cringe at the fullness of their cries. They might even think that some mistook the smell of backyard BBQ on the clothes of their neighbours for smoke in the crowded theatre. There is only so long that you can worry someone with the fearful shape on the horizon that you say is drawing closer. It it doesn’t actually arrive or at least be noticeably bigger, he is going to suspect that that evil presence is actually just the shape of clouds …. weather, not climate.

  6. I was just getting ready to post about this as a funny realization I had on he way in to work this morning.

    Trenberth could never find the missing heat because it was literally light years away from where he was looking.

  7. I’ve seen witch doctors with more rigorus scientific method than these clowns …

    magically the heat energy at the surface manages to reach (modeled not observed) the deep ocean but manages to miss the water in between the surface and the deep ocean …

    What are we talking about here … some sort of quantum physics teleportation ?

  8. Bob Tisdale says:
    July 29, 2011 at 9:13 am

    “downward longwave radiation from Anthropogeanic Greenhouse Gases has little impact on OHC”

    Quite right but I took that as read.

    There is minor proviso though. In so far as downward radiation from human emissions has an effect it does contribute to the total energy content of the air and thus contributes to a redistribution of surface air pressure systems. However the contribution is miniscule compared to what the solar and oceanic variations are doing all the time.

  9. And, of course, another way of rationalizing the “missing heat” (and the greater radiation to space shown by Spencer) is the absence of an “atmospheric greenhouse effect.”

  10. Latitude,
    “…or the warmer something gets, the more energy/heat it takes to keep warming it”
    I am assuming from this quote that you are saying that it takes more units of energy to increase the temperature of a given volume when the temperature of the volume is higher than when the temperature is lower. This is incorrect. It takes the same amount of heat to raise a volume of water one degree C whether the water is initially at 10C or 20C.

  11. Something else to point out, I think, regarding the desperate hunt for the missing heat, is the simple fact that as you go deeper into the oceans you are actually talking about far less water mass the lower you set the bar. So in assuming that this missing heat could be stored at depths under 700m is actually an assumption that this missing heat is actually stored in far less water than previously assumed, and a higher concentration of heat. This is counter intuitive.

    Granted, you also have to assume the heat teleported there as well… so you are already making some rather irrational assumptions.

  12. jae says:
    July 29, 2011 at 10:30 am

    “And, of course, another way of rationalizing the “missing heat” (and the greater radiation to space shown by Spencer) is the absence of an “atmospheric greenhouse effect.”

    Unfortunately I think that is a step too far. However one can defuse it as suggested here:

    http://www.irishweatheronline.com/news/climate-news/greenhouse-confusion-resolved/28837.html

    “The atmospheric Greenhouse Effect is continually overridden as a result of the size of the constant interlinked changes in both the solar energy input to the oceans and the oceanic heat inputs to the atmosphere. It is wholly swamped by those far more powerful influences acting via a variable speed for the water cycle which acts via changes in the surface pressure distribution and subtle shifting to and fro of the climate zones.

    The atmospheric Greenhouse Effect is a flea on the back of an oceanic elephant and the influence of CO2 but a microbe on the back of the flea and the influence of anthropogenic CO2 but a molecule on the back of the microbe.”

  13. Joseph Ryan says:
    July 29, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Granted, you also have to assume the heat teleported there as well… so you are already making some rather irrational assumptions.

    Nah. Imaginary or phantom heat can do that, easy!

  14. “The model shows that during periods that the upper layers of the ocean do not heat, the deeper layers show a stronger increase in temperature. This vertical seesaw is strongest in the North Atlantic Ocean south of Greenland. In this area the surface waters cool each winter due to cold winds from Canada. As it gets heavier than the slightly warmer but more salty water at depth the surface water sinks and the warmer water rises. This exchange therefore cools the deeper ocean. In winters with little mixing the upper ocean stays colder and the deeper layers stay warmer.”

    With respect to the august institutions, but this model is preposterous as are the modellers.

    The physics of this is clearly impossible. A warmer body of water cannot be overlaid by a colder one, because warmer water is more buoyant. The only way to get a warm water to sink into a colder one is to apply a force to the warm water – or perhaps the Arctic Ocean sucks?

    This is the sort of crap that Kevin Trenberth comes out with – its simply unphysical nonsense.

  15. Katsman and van Oldenborgh 2011 is a nice effort, far above average for this area. It will be interesting to see if answers become available for the questions raised here.

  16. So in models the heat goes into the deep ocean, and some out to space, when there is little upper ocean warming…in reality, however, it is likely that the bulk of the heat is being lost to space.

  17. John A says:
    July 29, 2011 at 11:18 am
    The physics of this is clearly impossible. A warmer body of water cannot be overlaid by a colder one, because warmer water is more buoyant.

    You forget about salinity affecting density. Melt waters, both from land and sea ice, significantly cool and reduce the density of polar seas, which then do float over the denser warm oceanic water.

    The corrollary is that when sea freezes, salt is poorly incorporated into sea ice and a cold dense brine is formed which then sinks.

    If you were to ask me about the balance of these two effects, spatially and temporally, I’d have to go and look it up (again). The old brain only partially retains information these days.

  18. This is incorrect. It takes the same amount of heat to raise a volume of water one degree C whether the water is initially at 10C or 20C.

    Assuming the object in question is not losing heat to anything, of course you’re correct. It’s a good thing that objects in the real world never gain nor lose heat to anything except the immediate input you’re modelling.

  19. I bet that no alarmist has ever tried to measure the ocean getting warmed by ‘back radiation’ from a warmer sky. There’s an inconvenient water-vapor boundary layer just above the water’s surface, which ought to absorb all that IR before it gets to the water. Thus the null hypothesis is that 70% of the Earth’s surface will not be warmed at all by CO2, and it’s up to the warmistas to proove otherwise. Proove with measurements, that is, not government-funded computerized hand-waving.

  20. They seem to me (as a non scientist) to be true believers in AGW casting around for an explanation for the AGW heat build-up they know is there but cannot locate. The thought that the heat may not be there will never enter their minds. Anyway I think that Gavin Schmidt is giving 15 years of no atmospheric heat increase as being the “tipping point” where AGW is sunk. Maybe in 7 years time these Dutch scientists will throw in the towel and admit the heat does not exist.

  21. Pause in OHC rise related to the same causes as the pause in global temps, though not exactly the same. Less SW radiation reaching both the land and oceans over the past 10 years. Higher amounts of sulfur emitted by both multiple volcanic eruptions and Chinese industry and coal plants have been keeping global atmosphere and ocean temps somewhat in check over the period of 2000-2009 (even though, as a decade, it was still the warmest on modern record). Downside: Carbon Dioxide has also been increasing in annual output during this time frame and will stay in the atmosphere far longer than the sulfates. So pay now or pay later, as greenhouse gases never sleep.

  22. I dont think its back radiation that is attributed as the problem. Rather the height at which thermal equilibrium with outer space is attained theoretically rises with increased GHG, and this indirectly heats the surface by raising the temperature at which convection kicks in to transport heat from the surface to this equilibrium layer.
    The oceans warm from solar input, until they reach a temperature sufficient to overcome this enhanced surface temperature in order to induce the normal amount of heat transfer.
    Unfortunately neither upper atmosphere nor oceans appear to be increasing in temperature, I believe.

  23. R. Gates says:
    July 29, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    Greenhouse gases work as you describe: in a Greenhouse.
    If Earth was truly a Greenhouse with CO2 as the glass, then why would anyone bother constructing the darn expensive things? I’d really like to add on to my wife’s Greenhouse, using only the wood and leaving the rest up to atmospheric CO2 rise.

  24. The average T of the oceans is 3DegC
    The average T of the atmosphere is 14-15DegC
    It’s been 11,000 years since the last ice age. If the atmosphere could have warmed the oceans, it would have done so long ago.

    There is no way warm surface water will find it’s way to the deep and nor is there any substantial way so called back radiation will warm the ocean other than a minisucle amount via mixing by wave action.

    The only surface water that reaches the depths is very cold surface water. This occurs at the poles only.

  25. John Peter says: “They seem to me (as a non scientist) to be true believers in AGW casting around for an explanation for the AGW heat build-up they know is there but cannot locate. The thought that the heat may not be there will never enter their minds.

    Nicely put. So let us look at the three possibilities, their two plus yours: (1) the extra heat is going out into space, (2) the extra heat is going into the deep ocean, and (3) there is no extra heat.

    If (1) is the case, then there is no dangerous global warming.
    If (2) is the case, then we will run out of fossil fuels long before the oceans (which are a massive heat body) warm up by any noticeable amount. In other words, there is no dangerous global warming.
    If (3) is the case, then there is no dangerous global warming.

    The Katsman & Oldenborgh actually claims (1) and (2) in combination, but the arguments are the same.

    Now, coming back to the Katsman & Oldenborgh paper : The Katsman & Oldenborgh paper is based on the period 1950-2010, which is a very short period. (K&O actually claim it is based on the period 1950-2100, but I am not convinced that there is reliable data for the last 90 years). K&O are not entitled to draw any conclusions from modelling such a short time period, given that they have no confirmed mechanism for what is actually happening, ie. it is all guesswork. It is doubly suspicious that they claim that what will happen next is opposite to what was observed in the base period. In essence, K&O are trying to find an explanation for the AGW heat build-up they know is there but cannot locate ….. uhoh, haven’t I heard that before somewhere …..

  26. Stephen Wilde says:
    July 29, 2011 at 8:54 am

    “During the late 20th century warming spell more sunlight entered the oceans. Since 2000 less sunlight has been entering the oceans.”

    So what I hear you saying is that the crazy sun is what determines the warmth of the oceans, moderated, of course, by cloud cover that’s likely controlled by cosmic rays. Svensmark would be proud.

  27. R. Gates says:
    July 29, 2011 at 2:03 pm


    So pay now or pay later, as greenhouse gases never sleep.

    Aye, that they do, although they eventually die as they’re recycled.

    However, whether they have much additional impact on the overall temperature of the earth or act as a thermal blanket as they increase is another question altogether. And if they’ve disappointed many in that ability so far, as NASA indicates, with increased concentration the impact they have will be even smaller.

    Or are you saying there’s some cumulative heat of enthalpy building up somewhere that’s undetectable, unmeasurable, and undefinable? (If you do, it will foreve remain undetected, unmeasured, and undefined and won’t be a worry to anybody.) It’s all a circular theoretical argument with no application to reality.

  28. 5km deep in the ocean, the Celsius temperature is ~3 degrees. 10km up in the atmosphere, it’s ~45 degrees colder. Space is a whopping 273 degrees colder. Anyone with any grasp of the different heat permeabilty of air vs. water and the principle of entropy maximization will harbor no illusions about which way thermal energy flows. It’s gobsmacking to see grown men inventing aphysical excuses for the patent failure of their modeling fiats. Even a smart schoolboy would hesitate to claim: “My goldfish, Abyss, ate my homework.”

  29. “Since about ten years these have been superseded by fully automatised ARGO floats that measure temperature down to 2000 m depth and send the data home every ten days. Starting from these raw observations the global temperature distribution down to 700 meter is reconstructed, filling in the gaps in the coverage.”

    I cannot figure out if they compared ARGO measurements with the thermometer method, found a consistent difference and then adjusted the the thermometer dataset.

  30. RockyRoad said:
    “So what I hear you saying is that the crazy sun is what determines the warmth of the oceans, moderated, of course, by cloud cover that’s likely controlled by cosmic rays. Svensmark would be proud.”

    Yes but I don’t think more or less cosmic rays are the cause of more or less clouds.
    Instead I think that the changes in the mix of particles and wavelengths from the sun result in changes in the relative proportions of different chemical reactions in the upper atmosphere involving ozone so as to alter the vertical temperature profile of the atmosphere, shift the surface air pressure distribution latitudinally thereby changing cloudiness and global albedo by (primarily) altering the the latitudinal position and/or zonality of the mid latitude jets.

    The crucial test is whether the stratosphere continues to warm whilst the sun remains inactive.
    Full description here:

    http://www.irishweatheronline.com/features-2/wilde-weather/the-sun-could-control-earths-temperature/290.html

  31. Mike Jonas says:
    July 29, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    “If (1) is the case, then there is no dangerous global warming.
    If (2) is the case, then we will run out of fossil fuels long before the oceans (which are a massive heat body) warm up by any noticeable amount. In other words, there is no dangerous global warming.
    If (3) is the case, then there is no dangerous global warming.”

    Correct. I’ve been saying for some time that warmists cannot have it both ways. If the extra energy stays in the air then it goes out to space more quickly from a faster water cycle. If it goes into the oceans the buffer is so huge we have no problem for millennia.

    I think that in fact the faster water cycle is the answer because downward IR just causes more evaporation for no effect either on the temperature of the ocean bulk or the background rate of energy flow from the ocean bulk. See here:

    http://www.irishweatheronline.com/features-2/wilde-weather/setting-and-maintaining-of-earth%e2%80%99s-equilibrium-temperature/18931.html

  32. Storing the heat missing from the upper ocean in the ground would have raised its temperature by about 1.5 ºC. This also was not observed, so we can conclude that the bulk of the heat did not go into the ground
    ————
    Is this evidence of idiocy or is it just very badly expressed?

    How on earth is any of the excess heat absorbed by the oceans going to be trasferred to the land?

  33. RP analyses
    ———
    The Joules of heat cannot just appear below the upper 700m if the reason for the assumed heating is from added greenhouse gas forcing in the atmosphere.
    ———–
    I agree with this. The models are physics-based. They tell you not only what happens, they also tell you how it happens. Either the paper authors are not bothering to analyze the model output or their software is not providing the output and so the software needs some new features.

    Just naively presenting model output without analyzing why it gave that output is junk science.

  34. Jae said;

    “And, of course, another way of rationalizing the “missing heat” (and the greater radiation to space shown by Spencer) is the absence of an “atmospheric greenhouse effect.””

    I believe that the problem is not the ”absence of an atmospheric greenhouse effect” but rather a misunderstanding of the results of this effect.

    Yes indeed some IR radiation leaving the surface of the Earth is absorbed and remitted backwards towards the surface.

    However due to the speeds at which this “heat” travels as IR radiation it only changes the response time of the gases to changes in the energy source (i.e. sunrise and sunset).

    Let’s follow a “day in the life of a global warming photon”;

    1) A visible photon arrives at the surface, some of it is reflected
    2) The photon is absorbed and ceases to exist
    3) The surface warms by an amount equal to the energy in the photon
    4) The surface then emits an IR photon (which travels at the speed of light)
    5) The surface cools by an amount equal to the energy released
    6) The IR photon MAY be absorbed by a “GHG” and ceases to exist
    7) The “GHG” warms by an amount equal to the energy in the photon
    8) The “GHG” emits something less than 50% back towards the surface (fixed by the geometry of a sphere)
    9) The “GHG” cools by an amount equal to the energy released
    10) The photon travels to the surface (at the speed of light)
    11) Return to step 2 and repeat steps 2-10 ad-infinitium

    It seems clear that after just a few “bounces” as backradiation the energy in the photon is dissipated. If the photon is unfortunate enough to be absorbed by a “GHG” ten times it results in a remaining amount of energy < 0.5^10 = 0.00097 = 0.097 % of the original energy arriving from the Sun.

    So the “missing heat” is actually alternating between residing in the “GHG” as heat and residing in the IR photon as electromagnetic radiation. However it quickly dissipates after it arrives from the Sun. At the speed of light the IR photon travels to the top of the atmosphere in at most a few milliseconds. And the absorptions / emissions take place in less than a microsecond.

    So the “missing heat” is actually there, but since it moves so fast it cannot cause a “higher equilibrium” temperature to exist. If the heat moved through the system in something more like 12-24 hours then it might actually result in some of yesterday’s heat being leftover this morning which would result in a “higher equilibrium” temperature going forward. Kind of like if you banked your campfire properly last night you can start today’s campfire quickly with yesterdays coals.

    Yes, I know that a photon is the smallest single unit of optical radiation and ½ of a photon makes no sense, but the logic reads more clearly this way. If this concerns you please feel free to do a find-replace and change photon with 1 microjoule (or BTU or calorie, etc. etc.)

    Cheers, Kevin.

  35. While the increased CO2 does increase the amount of surface heat kept in the system, it also works to increase the amount of radiation out of the atmosphere (as Spencer has measured). Physics works both ways.

  36. “If it goes into the oceans the buffer is so huge we have no problem for millennia.” And what should we expect to happen climactically over the next few millenia? A return of the glacial climate of the current ice age, of course. So CO2 emissions might actually temper the brutal cold to some extent? Has anyone any idea of how much the biosphere contracts during the glacial climate?

  37. In the last year or two there appears to be quite a striking downturn in global sea level. If one accepts the expansion narrative, this should signify a reduction in OHC.

  38. @KevinK

    In quantumm mechanics half a photon makes perfect sense. A photon can be simultaneously absorben and not absorbed, or reflected and not reflected. Observing the photon, such as with one of Roy Spencer’s sattelites, forces the photon to choose or “crystallise” into one of the two states.

    The issue that you address, the real life photon’s multiple absorptions and re-emissions, is the central question concerning whether CAGW is real, and whether as some have calculated, the CO2 effect saturates with less than 50 ppm or alternatively after the first few hundred meters of atmosphere.

  39. By elimination, only two possibilities remain.

    Hubris in the extreme.

    What about all of the other possibilities that they have not thought of? Will there never be another possibility? Can all research stop now that they have declared that there cannot be another possibility?

    One of the best parts of Anthony’s Australian visit is the saying on promotional media of Carbon Really Aint Pollution, the acronym being useful for all manner of topics

  40. Phlogiston wrote some very interesting stuff regarding ½ of a photon;

    Thanks, as an engineer we usually stop at the photon/electron level. This is just a practical consideration since the final outcome changes very little if an individual half of a photon “decides” to be absorbed or reflected.

    I still posit that the 50% or less relationship of “backradiation” relative the the incoming radiation determines the “lifetime”, “decay time”, “storage time” or in general the “speed of heat” of the energy. This slight change in the “speed of heat” through the system relative to the 24 hour cyclical nature of the energy input dictates that no “higher equilibrium” temperature can exist.

    I do not claim to be a quantum mechanic, but I did burn out a clutch once doing a paradigm shift.

    Cheers, Kevin.

  41. KevinK – your explanation sounds reasonable, but I think there might be a flaw in your logic. We do all accept, I think, that GHGs (not just the manmade variety) keep the ocean, atmospheric and surface temperatures at a higher level than would be the case without GHGs. Under your logic, this could hardly be the case. Maybe the flaw is in steps 5 and 9 – the amount of energy released may be slightly smaller than the amount of energy acquired originally. Just thinking aloud.

  42. Mike Jonas wrote;

    “We do all accept, I think, that GHGs (not just the manmade variety) keep the ocean, atmospheric and surface temperatures at a higher level than would be the case without GHGs.”

    With respect, I do not accept this explanation. Just to be clear, I believe that the temperature of the oceans, rocks, and atmosphere of the components of the Earth are determined by; 1) the energy content of that component, and 2) the thermal capacity of that component.

    These are, In my opinion the only factors that determine the temperature of the components of the Earth. I fully accept that this “fly’s in the face” of the Greenhouse Effect consensus, but I am confident that this is the case.

    Just to summarize your objections to the steps in the process;

    5) The surface cools by an amount equal to the energy released – this is basic physics, if something releases energy, it WILL COOL by an amount EQUAL to the released energy.

    9) The “GHG” cools by an amount equal to the energy released – again, this is basic physics, if something releases energy, it WILL COOL by an amount EQUAL to the released energy.

    Sorry if we disagree, but in my opinion the “Greenhouse Effect” in the Earth’s atmosphere only changes the response time of the gases in the atmosphere.

    Cheers, Kevin.

  43. KevinK – I wasn’t arguing that the cooling wasn’t equal to the energy released – obviously it has to be – but that maybe the amount of energy released is not quite as much as the amount of energy takin in in the first place. I’m not talking a single photon, just generally.

  44. There seems to be a lot of tooing and froing here about whether there is such a thing as a green house. My take in that a planetary body without atmosphere is going to get bloody cold at night.
    Observations of other planetary bodies indicate that it is the density of the atmosphere and not its composition that determines the surface temperature of that body. Rather than calling it a green house I would equate it to a blanket, the thicker the blanket the warmer you are.

  45. Dr. trenberth just doesn’t get it does he. This heat is not missing it just is not there. His heat is model estimated so is not real. The models are WRONG Kevin get used to it!

  46. “Has anyone any idea of how much the biosphere contracts during the glacial climate?”

    Do you mean ice cover? There’s also an increase in land area by sea level dropping. Overall a rise in sea level of around 330 feet from the beginning of this interglacial, but not all at once and subject to local conditions. Two of the melt events where quite dramatic around the british islands, the Irish Sea formed in the first and the North Sea and separation of England from mainland Europe in the second.

    Latest idea is that the warming began first in the Antarctic and not in the north.

    http://web.me.com/uriarte/Earths_Climate/10._Deglaciation.html

  47. Mike Jonas wrote;

    “KevinK – I wasn’t arguing that the cooling wasn’t equal to the energy released – obviously it has to be – but that maybe the amount of energy released is not quite as much as the amount of energy takin in in the first place. I’m not talking a single photon, just generally.”

    Mike, heat flows continuously through a system from the warmest location (the Sun) to the coldest location (the Universe). Various natural and manmade (i.e. insulation) phenomena change the speed at which this heat flows through a system. But the heat never stops flowing. If the amount of heat released was less that that absorbed it would indicate that some of the heat decided to take a rest for a while in its current location. This has never been observed.

    All items radiate thermal energy all the time. They do this without regard to their surroundings; an ice cube radiates thermal energy (not very much) just as a red hot coal radiates thermal energy (quite a bit). They both do this without regard to the surroundings, i.e. a blast furnace, or the arctic.

    Cheers, Kevin.

  48. KevinK – in your original sequence of events, step 5 was clearly referring to energy released upwards, because in step 6 the photon met GHGs, so my comment wrt step 5 should be read as “… maybe the amount of energy released upwards is not quite as much …”. ie, maybe some of it is released downwards.

    I am a bit mystified by your statement that heat has never been observed to take a rest for a while at its current location. It seems to say that nothing can ever warm up.

  49. Mike Jonas wrote;

    “KevinK – in your original sequence of events, step 5 was clearly referring to energy released upwards, because in step 6 the photon met GHGs, so my comment wrt step 5 should be read as “… maybe the amount of energy released upwards is not quite as much …”. ie, maybe some of it is released downwards.”

    Yes some may flow downwards or even sideways, but if 90% is released as IR radiation the surface molecules cool by an amount equal to that 90% released. The other 10% will be released as IR later. It is only a question of how much later, seconds, days, years..

    Mike also wrote;

    “I am a bit mystified by your statement that heat has never been observed to take a rest for a while at its current location. It seems to say that nothing can ever warm up.”

    Yes the flow of heat never stops, in net it is continuously flowing from warmer to colder locales. All surfaces radiate IR radiation all of the time. Any item can warm (or remain at a fixed temperature) if the heat flowing into it exceeds the heat flowing away from it. But the flow never stops……….

    Cheers, Kevin.

  50. Slight correction please;

    Please replace the text:

    “Any item can warm (or remain at a fixed temperature) if the heat flowing into it exceeds the heat flowing away from it. But the flow never stops……….”

    With:

    “Any item can warm if the heat flowing into it exceeds the heat flowing away from it. Any item can stay at a fixed temperature if the heat flowing into it exactly matches the heat flowing away from it. But the flow of heat never stops………”

    Or just publish this post after the inexact one.

    Thanks, Kevin.

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