Argo and the Ocean Temperature Maximum

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

It has been known for some time that the “Pacific Warm Pool”, the area just northeast of Australia, has a maximum temperature. It never gets much warmer than around 30 – 31°C. This has been borne out by the Argo floats. I discussed this in passing in “Jason and the Argo Notes“, and “Argo Notes Part 2“. I’d like to expand on this a bit. Let me be clear that I am by no means the originator of the claim that there is a thermostat regulating the maximum ocean temperature. See among many others the Central Equatorial Pacific Experiment. I am merely looking at the Argo data with this thermostat in mind.

First, Figure 1 shows the distribution of all of the ~ 700,000 surface temperature measurements taken by Argo floats to date.

Figure 1. A “histogram” shows how many data points fall in each of the 1°C intervals shown along the bottom axis. The maximum is in the interval 28°-29°C.

The number of temperature records peaks around 29°C, and drops quickly for temperatures above 30°C. This clearly establishes the existence of the mechanism limiting the oceanic temperatures.

What else can the Argo data tell us about this phenomenon? Quite a bit, as it turns out.

First, a look at the year by year evolution of the limit, and how it affects the temperatures at different latitudes.

Figure 2. Annual temperature variations measured by all northern hemisphere argo floats that exceeded 30°C. Temperature observations are colored by latitude. Click on image for full-sized graphic.

A couple points of interest. First, the cap clearly affects only the warm parts of the year. Close to the equator, that is most of the year. The further from the equator, the less of the annual cycle is affected.

Second, the majority of the breakthroughs through the ~30° ceiling that do occur are from areas further from the equator, and are short-lived. By and large, nobody exceeds the speed limit, especially those along the equator.

Figure 3 is a closeup of the years since 2005. I chose this starting point because prior to that the numbers are still changing due to limited coverage. To show how the mechanism is cropping the tops of the warmer parts of the year, I have added a Gaussian average (129 point width) in dark gray for each two-degree latitudinal band from 0°-2°N up to 10°-12°N.

Figure 3. Annual temperature variations measured by all northern hemisphere argo floats that exceeded 30°C. Dark lines have been added to highlight the average annual swings of the data by latitude band. Click on image for full-sized graphic.

As you can see, the warm parts of the yearly cycle have their high points cropped off flat, with the amount cropped increasing with increasing average temperatures.

Finally, here is the corresponding plot for the southern hemisphere:

Figure 4. Annual temperature variations measured by all southern hemisphere argo floats that exceeded 30°C. Click on image for full-sized graphic.

Note that there is less of the southern ocean that reaches 30°C, and it is restricted to areas closer to the equator.

Next, where are these areas that are affected by the temperature cap? I had always thought from the descriptions I’d read that the limitation on ocean temperature was only visible in the “Pacific Warm Pool” to the northeast of Australia.  Figure 5 shows the areas which have at some point been over 30°C.

Figure 5. Locations in the ocean which are recorded at some time as having reached or exceeded 30°C.

Figure 5a. A commenter requested a Pacific-centered view of the data. We are nothing if not a full-service website.

Clearly this mechanism operates in a wider variety of oceans and seas than I had realized, not just in the Pacific Warm Pool.

Finally, here is another way to consider the effect of the temperature maximum. Here are the average annual temperature changes by latitude band. I have chosen to look at the northern hemisphere area from 160 to 180 East and from the Equator to 45°N (upper right of Figure 5, outlined in cyan), as it has areas that do and do not reach the ~ 30° maximum.

Figure 6. Average annual temperature swings by latitude band. Two years (the average year , shown twice) are shown for clarity.

Note that at say 40°N, we see the kind of peaked summer high temperatures that we would expect from a T^4 radiation loss plus a T^2 or more evaporative loss. It’s hard to get something warm, and when the heat is turned down it cools off fast. This is why the summer high temperature comes to a point, while the winter low is rounded.

But as the temperature starts to rise towards the ocean maximum, you can see how that sharp peak visible at 40°N starts first to round over, then to flatten out at the top. Curiously, the effect is visible even when the temperatures are well below the maximum ocean temperature.

Speculations on the mechanism

I want to highlight something very important that is often overlooked in discussions of this thermostatic mechanism. It is regulated by temperature, and not by forcing. It is insensitive to excess incoming radiation, whether from CO2 or from the sun. During the part of the year when the incoming radiation would be enough to increase the temperature over ~ 30°, the temperature simply stops rising at 30°. It is no longer a function of the forcing.

This is very important because of the oft-repeated AGW claim that surface temperature is a linear function of forcing, and that when forcing increases (say from CO2) the temperature also has to increase. The ocean proves that this is not true. There is a hard limit on ocean temperature that just doesn’t get exceeded no matter how much the sun shines.

As to the mechanism, to me that is a simple question of the crossing lines. As temperature rises, clouds and thunderstorms increase. This cuts down the incoming energy, as well as cooling the surface in a variety of ways. Next, this same process moves an increasing amount of excess energy polewards. In addition, as temperature rises, parasitic losses (latent and sensible energy transfers from the surface to the atmosphere) also go up.

So … as the amount of total radiation (solar + greenhouse) that is warming any location rises, more and more of the incoming solar radiation is reflected, there are more and more parasitic losses, more cold water and air move from aloft to the surface as cold wind and rain, and a greater and greater percentage of the incoming energy is simply exported out of the area. At some point, those curves have to cross. At some point, losses  have to match gains.

When they do cross, all extra incoming energy above that point is simply transferred to the upper atmosphere and thence to the poles. About 30°C is where the curves cross, it is as hot as this particular natural system can get, given the physics of wind, water, and wave.

I make no overarching claims for this mechanism. It is just one more part of the many interlocking threshold-based thermostatic mechanisms that operate at all temporal and spatial scales, from minutes to millennia and kilometres to planet-wide. The mechanisms include things like the decadal oscillations (PDO, AMO, etc), the several-year Nino/Nina swings, the seasonally opposing effects of clouds (warming the winters and cooling the summers), and the hourly changes in clouds and thunderstorms.

All of these work together to maintain the earth within a fairly narrow temperature band, with a temperature drift on the order of no more than ± 0.2% per century. It is the stability of the earth’s climate system which is impressive, not the slight rise over the last century. Until we understand the reasons for the amazing planetary temperature stability, we have no hope of understanding the slight variations in that stability.

My regards to you all,

w.

UPDATE (by Anthony):

Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. has some praise for this essay here:

http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/on-self-regulation-of-the-climate-system-an-excellent-new-analysis-by-willis-eschenbach/

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563 thoughts on “Argo and the Ocean Temperature Maximum

  1. Try this for size. You can not heat water from above because of surface tension. The only energy entering the ocean is via the sun’s rays which penetrate the surface tension no problem.The sun is relatively stable and so is the temperature.

  2. Well done Willis and thank you, your treatise on the equatorial imput of heat as a constant, thus being our primary heat imput thermostat was very well considered. I had been hoping that you would start looking and analyzing the other thermostats, this is a good start. Myself I am not bright enough, nor versed in the fields necessary to look at the stuff you are analyzing.
    I look forward to your considered out put in the future as the BS we have been fed by the AGW mob is rather grating on the sensibilities of an old engineer.

  3. “”Until we understand the reasons for the amazing planetary temperature stability, we have no hope of understanding the slight variations in that stability.””

    The reason probably resides in the deep cold waters beyond freezing by the force of pressure. A cold bath will attract heat from the atmosphere of the bathroom until equilibrium is reached.

    The oceans have a exponential density of mass to the atmosphere, It is the oceans that takes heat from the atmosphere, the atmosphere doesn’t give heat to the oceans. The oceans are the largest threshold-based thermostatic mechanism.

    Climate science looks from above to below, whereas, the major thermostat is the oceans. The internal motion of Earth derives a cold, as does space. The harmonic balance of Earths climate systems lies beneath the surface of the Earth and her Oceans, not in her atmosphere, not in her Sun.

    It is the the force of gravitational pressure on mass, that has the general effect to render the distribution of heat more uniform. In the ocean and in the lakes, the coldest particles, or rather those whose density is the greatest, are continually tending downwards, it is this mechanism that prevents the internal heat of the globe and the external heat of the Sun from becoming sensible in deep waters.

    Idiot humans looking towards the sky for a God, yet he remains in dust.

  4. Thanx for the interesting investigation. Have you seen anything in the literature on model diagnostics for this? It seems like a good check on the basic model physics. The more model diagnostics the better for the next IPCC report draft review. Even better, if any error can a quantified energy discrepancy.

  5. Martin Lewitt says:
    February 12, 2012 at 1:05 am

    Thanx for the interesting investigation. Have you seen anything in the literature on model diagnostics for this? It seems like a good check on the basic model physics. The more model diagnostics the better for the next IPCC report draft review. Even better, if any error can a quantified energy discrepancy.

    I was thinking about that. Another thing on the long list. The information is available at the CMIP5 site, but it’s a pain to dig out. I’ll look to see what KNMI has.

    w.

  6. There could be a much simpler temperature regulating mechanism at work. The water vapor pressure increases exponential with temperature and thus the water vapor mass transport (mass flux is proportional with the difference between vapor pressure at water surface and partial vapor pressure in the air above) also increases exponential with temperature. Add the high heat of evaporation for water and you have a very powerful mechanism to regulate temperature which works as follows:

    When the energy input into the water increases this energy input is balanced by an increase in water temperature and an increase in evaporation. Energy leaving the water as vapor (= vapor mass flux x heat of evaporation) is very large compared to the other energy flows (sensible heat content of the water and sensible heat loss from the water surface to air is) thus only a small increase in temperature is needed to shed the increased energy input into the atmosphere as water vapor.

    Apart from cloud formation and its effects on the Earth energy balance this primary mechanism of water and water vapor could well be part of the explanation why ocean temperatures seem to be capped at 30 DegC.

  7. Willis your work, which I like, would seem to indicate that the only mechanism avaible to start an ice age is the sun. Why? because the earth would receive enough radiative heat further away from the sun than the limits of the Milankovitz cycles. The clipping would suggest an excess of heat is available at our current orbit.

  8. Even before I took my first climatology class, I suspected the Earth had some form of temperature regulator(s). And to me, clouds and convection have always been the most likely mechanisms. I never bought into the ‘runaway’ warming scenario, as it has no precedent in 4.5 billion years of wildly changing climates.

    Thanks Willis!

  9. I love it every time a relatively simple explanation for temperature regulation comes up. A few years back on these pages someone (may have been Willis) used a kind of time lapse from orbiting satellites to show the formation of thunderstorms along the equator. As the day progressed and the water became hotter storms developed to allow heat to be released through the cloud tops. It looked impressive and as an old farmer I had seen the same thing; hot days followed by cloud building and if humidity was high enough a cooling storm. Maybe Jones and Trenberth should stand outside occasionally and watch nature at work.

  10. The stability of earths temp. is imo mainly because the buffering in the shallow surface layer, including the thermocline. ALL the sun does is warm this surface layer + the atmosphere.
    (heat capacity atmosphere is equivalent to ~3,2 meter of ocean, a small player)
    Variations in TSI, cloudcover etc. make the thermocline layer shrink or expand, both in depth and towards the poles
    Of course it moves N and S with the seasons, allowing freezing of the polar sea in winter.
    If the thermocline layer shrinks too much, this could allow ice at both poles at the same time, so perhaps the start of an ice age? Reason could be a well timed series of vulcano eruptions, less solar, more clouds etc.
    The bulk of the oceans is just above freezing, but still at ~275K, already 20K above the assumed 255K of the greenhouse efect.

  11. Is wind a very important contributor? Equatorial uplift is supplied with cooler air from the subtropics. In the northern hemisphere some of that wind comes from summer heated land so is dry and hotter. This explains the higher latitudes reaching or breaching the limit all being in the northern hemisphere adjacent to large land masses. The dryer air is less likely to form clouds and more likely to push them towards the equator allowing the sea to exceed the limit because of lack of cloud cover.

  12. Long time lurker, first time poster here, with possibly an inane question:

    This seems to show that the ocean temperature “caps out” at the 30-31 degree C area, adding evidence to the ideas that there are plenty of temperature regulating activities that have yet to be fully understood, like the equator storm heat vacuum, etc.

    Given that the Argo floats have only been providing decent coverage for less than a decade now, and that global temperatures have maintained about the same for the same period of time if not longer – doesn’t that make anyone else want to go, “well, duh”? Or is it implied that, given current temperatures, the oceans could certainly warm beyond this temperature cap, as Argo has observed it to do, in some areas, some of the time, briefly, and IN GENERAL, there just exist mechanisms that tend to kick in at the 30C mark that halt further warming? What is special at that particular temperature that happens?

    I guess what I’m really asking is, if we had this kind of data spanning a much longer time period, would this cap fluctuate? What would it be like in the LIA or MWP? It just seems convenient that it’s leveled off because, well, temperatures are leveled off right now. Maybe I missed the boat on something. I just want to know more.

    Anyway, this being my first post, cheers to everyone for their contributions to this amazing site. Largely due to WUWT I am a regretful convert (regretful that I was not always a skeptic)!

  13. The real thermostat is latent heat of evapouration. The higher the surface temperature the higher the evapouration and the more heat extracted for this state change. Heat loss is be convection not radiation, as anyone who has been into the tropics and flown around the region can confirm. Over 4/8ths convective clouds. Convected heat is lost from the cloud tops and through condensing water vapour release of latent heat which will leach out to space eventually.

  14. R.M.B. says:
    “You can not heat water from above because of surface tension”

    I have seen this statement several times on these pages. Can someone explain to me why surface tension should totally inhibit heat transfer from gas to liquid? Is there a vacuum between the air and the sea? Obviously not, so the air molecules are hitting the water molecules, and heat transfer takes place, as far as I can see it.

    Thanks.

  15. A very interesting hypothesis, with astounding consequences for the global warming theory if you are right. Assuming the evaporation of water drives increasing convective cooling and energy transport polewards and subsequent radiation to space (and limitations on insolation through cloudiness), then that would suggest that there is a large NEGATIVE feedback operating in the climate. Given that this even overcomes even peak insolation in summer clipping the temperature rise of the ocean significantly. The mild forcing of CO2 will be no match for a negative feedback of this magnitude.

  16. You have to love the wet fish smack-across-the-face-effect imparted by Figure 1 demonstrating why parametric statistics are not suitable for use with atmospheric or ocean temperatures !!

    We love interesting data presented well. Thanks Willis, very much. Now all you have to do is generate reasonable error bars on those values, ROFL.

  17. The majority of the earth’s surface is water, and here we have evidence that it has a thermostat set to max at 30°. The heat engine has a limiting governor: pump in more heat, it just runs faster, not hotter.

  18. Thanks you for the great analysis. The graphs are just wonderful especially figs. 5 and 6. Does anyone have a calculation of the ratio of heat capacity in the ocean to atmosphere?.

  19. Perhaps the water temperature is effectively capped due to evaporative cooling at that temperature where the lapse rate to the mid-upper troposphere is saturated, about 1.5 degrees C per 1000 meters. This raises the question, why would the mid-upper troposphere altitude be constant at equatorial latitude? Perhaps if it were any higher, water vapor would condense out at the lesser temperature and pressure, and not trap any more long-wave radiation, and the atmosphere would cool by radiation rather than convection, so it would be lower.

  20. Sorry R.M.B but water is warmed from above if the temperature above is higher than the water. Temperature change will be slow due to the relative heat capacities of air and water but it must happen for oceanic waters to have seasonal temperature changes as observed by ARGO.

  21. 1 degree increase in temp gives about 6% increase in partial pressure of water vapour – ie 6% increase in evaporation. That is obviously a brick wall for trying to increase ocean temp, as all that vapour rapidly rises due to low density of steam and then once high enough condenses releasing all that heat to radiate and convect away more easily to space (tropical thunderstorms)

  22. well hard to understand sea surface temperature if you don’t take into account temperature of the air and water vaper and the temperature of water beneath.
    I guess mecanisms in mediterranéan sea or closed like sea or under tropical seas are different.

  23. That histogram is very interesting. Really seems to show there is a limit to maximum temperature. I guess the question then is what happens if the entire temperature distribution shifts towards the maximum (i.e. more ocean locations become 30C).

  24. I’m also interested in why deep ocean waters are close to freezing. How and when did they get so cold? It’s the other end of the cap. Were they always this way, or are deep ocean temperatures part of global energy dynamics as well? Remember that we have had small but omnipresent heat from radioactive decay for millions of years.
    Presumably if ocean waters below the thermocline, that is, the major portion of ocean waters, were at 20 deg C, the surface cap of 30 deg C might be displaced to give rather different outcomes.

  25. Willis has pointed out that this is not a new discovery, only the tools he is using to examine it are new, at least to me. Thanks Willis. The paper which I have only seen quotes from is this. (Newell & Dopplick’s (1979) you may wish to read it if you can find it. The mechanism which I remember from the parts I read were in my comment in the first post . David says: February 11, 2012 at 5:58 am…Is it not apparent that as tropical energy surface insolation increases, an ever higher percentage of the increased energy goes into latent heat of evaporation? Is it not logical that as the rate of evaporation increases so will cloud formation and the speed of conduction? It it not apparent that clouds, especially thunder clouds, plus increased evaporation will reduce surface insolation and T? Is it not clear that all across the tropics the high points will be in that particular geograpical locations summer? If the tropical high points at all the ocean locations quickly fall off upon reaching a certain level, and that level is more smooth and lower than land data, then [there] are limiting factors in the ocean surface T not realised in land data? So, is it not fair to say that above 30C, T in the tropical oceans rapidly increase the rate of evaporation , convection and cloud formation, so that the number of recorded T above 30 C rapidly declines to a very low percentage.

    @ Willis, you stated…”Note that there is less of the southern ocean that reaches 30°C, and it is restricted to areas closer to the equator” This is curious, as in the Southern hemisphere summer, January, surface insolation is about 7% more intense then it is in June. This, and several other factors leads me to think that the southern oceans must be more net abosorbers of solar insolation.

    Tim says:
    February 12, 2012 at 2:35 am
    R.M.B. says:
    “You can not heat water from above because of surface tension”
    I have seen this statement several times on these pages. Can someone explain to me why surface tension should totally inhibit heat transfer from gas to liquid?
    ——————————————————————————
    Hi Tim, just as Willis did not say “oceans cannot exceed 30 C”, likewise RMB should not say ““You can not heat water from above because of surface tension”. The message RMB is trying to convey is that almost 100% of the energy/heat from LWIR is abdsorbed in the top few microns of water, right at the evaporation level of the ocenas top surface, and therfore this energy is used almost exclusively to accelerate evaporation and increase convection and coud formation, further reducing surface insolation, wheras SWR is absorbed over a three D medium of ocean depth up to 900 meters in the clearest part of the oceans. Now the above is true, especialy in the tropics as we near 30C, it is just not quantified. In short, we do not know the relative ability of an equal amount of SWR to heat the oceans, vs an equal (W/M2) LWIR to heat the same ocean, it is just apparent that the SWR does a more effective job. There is much we have to learn.

  26. It is the stability of the earth’s climate system which is impressive, not the slight rise over the last century. Until we understand the reasons for the amazing planetary temperature stability, we have no hope of understanding the slight variations in that stability.

    The two most sensible sentences I’ve seen on climate in twenty years.

  27. Willis!

    I know that your observation is extremely important and interesting. You cought the climatemodels
    who dont explain or have even noticed what you dicovered. According to a growing number of experts on clouds they realized that cloudformation lives its one life unrelated to temperature, The other way around seem more and more plausible. Max surface temperture seems to have other ffactors in play as well. What makes the temperature “roof” so evident clear is a very intresting and raises many questions.
    You are in total lack of prestige Willis and I love you for that. A real genuine explorer who takes nothing for granted. You are free Willis! Congratulations!The nobless of IPCC related science has put them selves in a small cell

  28. “The mechanisms include things like…”. One that is missing and probably deserves more weight than currently given is “where, horizontally and vertically is all the salt”?

    Salt effects th whole hydrological cycle – mostly in a negative way. Salt returns in wto methods, though surface evaporation and though cold brine. The first is immedaite in its effect, The later probably has nautal cycles that stretch into centrurays.

  29. John Marshall

    Temperature change will be slow due to the relative heat capacities of air and water but it must happen for oceanic waters to have seasonal temperature changes as observed by ARGO.

    Aren’t seasons cause by the angle of sun to the planet’s surface? Nothing to do with air/water conduction?

  30. Hi WIllis,

    a very interesting exposition, thank you.

    I do recall that “standard model” AGW expects little warming in the tropics, with the degree of warming increasing as you travel polewards. This seems to be consistent with what you have set out here, i.e. if “new” forcings are added to the system, the excess energy will be dissipated polewards and higher latitudes will experience some degree of warming? The “cap” prevents the tropics from getting very much warmer, but the “flat tops” that you illustrate for the higher latitudes will become broadened as, on average, they get warmer?

  31. Just two questions:

    Imagine an endless ocean and totally clear sky at the equator. What maximum daily temperature would the surface water take eventually? Is there any short term phenomena that could make the water significantly hotter than this temperature?

  32. No alarmist comments yet, presumably because this trashes yet another part of the CAGW cult’s treasured basic beliefs.

    Another limiting factor for peak ocean temperatures could be as sea water heats up it will produce ever stronger convection currents, this will bring in colder water from much deeper areas, thus cooling down the near surface zones. This cannot happen in shallow areas like the Red Sea, the area around the Indonesian archipeligo and parts of the Caribbean, here you will find temperatures rising above the mystical figure 30 degrees C.

  33. Water is at its densest at approx. 4 degrees centigrade which may explain why the temperature at the bottom of the oceans is 4C.

  34. “As to the mechanism, to me that is a simple question of the crossing lines. As temperature rises, clouds and thunderstorms increase. This cuts down the incoming energy, as well as cooling the surface in a variety of ways”

    I would respectfully disagree. One can analyze what happens over the course of a full diurnal cycle. Heat in causes a rise in temperature AND an increase in evaporation. The phase conversion of water in saline to gaseous water transforms the heat into potential energy; Water rises against the gravity well performing work.
    At night there atmosphere and water surface cool. A gas to liquid-solid phase change occurs, releasing IR, pressure drops, water falls down the gravity well.
    The heat of evaporation is banked throughout the diurnal cycle as water lifted against the gravity well.

    • Not quite, the latent heat of evaporation is emitted but the potential energy is converted to kinetic energy as the rain falls and expended against the mass of the planet according to Newtons laws of motion. The energy consumed in raising gigatons of water 2-3km into the air everey day seems to often be forgotten in this debate.

  35. “Pure Water is at its densest at approx. 4 degrees centigrade”. Salty water is denser right upto 0 degrees centigrade (and beyond depeending on the amount of salt).

  36. Peter Miller says:

    February 12, 2012 at 4:55 am
    This cannot happen in shallow areas like the Red Sea, the area around the Indonesian archipeligo and parts of the Caribbean, here you will find temperatures rising above the mystical figure 30 degrees C.

    But the temperature will still be capped by evaporative cooling (EC). This type of cooling is used to reduce liquid O² to N² to H to He.

  37. Great analysis. Now we are talking about what a real climate component actually does.

    Is there a trend in this 30C water over the long term. You know, it actually looks like there is NO trend in the equatorial ocean SST. Between 5N-5S or 10N-10S, almost all datasets have Zero trend going back to 1850. There is a Enso-influenced cycle but no real change over the long-term. Last month, the equatorial ocean SST anomaly was -0.29C.

    Has the 30C limit changed at all over time? It looks like it hasn’t.

  38. Thanks Willis. Excellent work.
    Of course the UN IPCC will never accept this as evidence againt AGW.
    It is their religion. Now that GHGs have being debunked they are switching to
    GEGs [Global Environmental Governance] at Rio.
    Raise a different flag and continue the march toward the NWO.

  39. I did some web searching and calculations to check the 1000 to 1 ratio. I came up with heat capacities in Joules per degree k of 6.2e+24 for the oceans and 5.0e+21 for atmosphere. Then I took 3.7 watts per m^2 as the impact due to CO2 doubling and converted it to a total energy input in one year of 5.8E+22 Joules/year, using 5.1E+8 square kilometers for earth’s surface area.

    Applied to the atmosphere only, 5.8e22 joules yields an 11 or 12 degree increase in one year. Applied to the oceans and the atmosphere it is 0.009 degree increase in one year. Willis is showing us the big swamp cooler in action. That pretty much makes the case for a high degree of coupling between ocean and atmosphere.

  40. There’s another thermostat in operation too. Life!

    Life is a self regulating consumer of excess energy. It transformed the atmosphere from a noxious anaerobic mix to a toxic high oxygen mix. It maintains a prodigious oxygen production factory today by consuming a trace gas. It converts matter in ways that affect constituent ratios.

    IMO it is the single best candidate to explain a 4 billion year history of relative stability in spite of a massive increase in solar radiation over that same period. All those selfish genes might just be at work 24/7 regulating the climate they need to prosper.

    It is what keeps the third rock from becoming just another boring satellite.

  41. GeoffSherrington asks:
    “I’m also interested in why deep ocean waters are close to freezing. How and when did they get so cold?”

    Looking at the long, long picture, the drifting of a land mass over the south pole had tremendous effects. Once South America and Antarctica split apart (forming the Drake Passage) the Antarctic Circumpolar Current started up.

    The second graph here

    shows that the deep ocean temperature was about 12°C some 50 million years ago. It began cooling down as Antarctica and South America split apart in the Eocene. Sea ice freezing at the poles, mostly Antarctica, ‘squeezes out’ salt which makes the surrounding water denser. This dense cold water keeps sinking to the bottom of the ocean as it has for millions of years. The cold abyss has been between 2 and 6 °C for the last 35 million years.

    This long-term cooling as the ocean basins fill with the deep cold has resulted in the growth of ice sheets in east Antarctica (beginning some 30-35 million years ago) west Antarctica (some 10 million years ago) and the northern hemisphere (3 million years ago).

  42. Willis, over the decade you have analysed, global surface temperature has not changed (much). What evidence do you have that the 30C sea surface maximum is a thermostat and is not simply a function of the global surface temperature? In other words, if/when surface temperature rises (or falls), what evidence do you have that the maximum sea surface temperature will not follow it?

  43. It does appear that the limit only shows up in the open ocean. The coastal areas and seas have no problem going over 30°. It may be informative to look only at these areas and see if they have another limiting factor. It could be that ocean circulations, etc. are also involved in maintaining the limit.

    Interestingly, this once again would show that structure is an important factor in determining temperature limits. As I’ve stated previously, I suspect the structure of the atmosphere itself also places a limit on the greenhouse effect.

  44. Marvellously clear demonstration of the self regulation of the ‘system’.

    I live (on a not so idyllic tropical island about 100 km north of the equator), and we rarely see air temperatures over 33 C…. when it gets hot around here, it gets very, very wet. And cools down quickly.

    I forsee a Nobel Prize for Willis for Saving the World from Economic Manipulation by the Filthy Rich. (They do have a prize for that, don’t they?)

  45. If this really is a limit it would seem to throw a lot of cold water over the water vapor feedback theory. If the ocean cannot warm, then there would be no increase in evaporation. The “C” in CAGW would cease to exist.

  46. The 30C maximum means that the whole air column conforms to the adiabatic temperature profile and any temperature increase at any point in the air column will immediately result in convection. Portions of the air column can be cooler than the adiabatic temperature profile and the air column will remain stable as long as the adiabatic lapse rate is not exceeded at any altitude. The flat-top on the equatorial sea-surface temperature is an excellent illustration of the fact that the adiabatic temperature profile determines the maximum surface temperature of the earth (as well as any other planet), as an absolute limit.

    Willis, thank you for bringing these important diagrams to us. They make it crystal clear that these high-temperature hobgoblins raised by the alarmists are mere phantoms of their overheated minds.

  47. There is a maximum temperature for land as well. There is a point where the temperature will not climb any higher.

    Records are seldom broken and then it is usually a local phenomenom. New record new location!

  48. ****
    Jimmy Haigh says:
    February 12, 2012 at 4:56 am

    Water is at its densest at approx. 4 degrees centigrade which may explain why the temperature at the bottom of the oceans is 4C.
    ****

    That’s been explained here more times I can count. SALT water’s density isn’t the same as fresh — it increases down to its freezing point. The cold water is present due to cold, sinking water in the polar regions (which spread out on the bottom globally). The ocean is largely stratified below the mixing zone, so cold water is “preserved” until it upwells. Think of an ocean “thermos bottle” below the mixing zone, w/cold water leaking in and out.

  49. Willis

    One has to be careful not to fall into the trap to which those proffering the cAGW theory fall into, namely that merely because one can see some general pattern(s) in the data that that indicates causation. One must bear in mind that correlation is not necessarily causation.

    First, it is necessary to put forward a physical hypothesis which can be tested against the data. Second, one has to explain exactly what the data set is measuring; in this regard what exactly is ARGO measuring when it provides data on SST? In other words, are we looking at the top millimetres, or top centimetre, the first 5 or 10 centimetre etc. It is very important to be clear on this since this may have a bearing on the extent to which the physical hypothesis can be tested against the data. Third, if there are examples in the data set, even if this is only one example, which contradicts the physical hypothesis then unless that one example (or examples) can be shown to be some anomaly, the physical hypothesis is wrong. When I say wrong, I do not mean that it is necessarily fundamentally flawed, but it does require revision.

    No doubt the majority of those sceptical of the cAGW theory are of the view that there are (or probably are) negative feedbacks which tend to control temperature within a reasonably small band and which make tipping points unlikely.

    I note your tentative mechanism. I am pleased to see that this is stated wider than the mechanism that you proffered a couple of days ago. I still consider that in that mechanism, one should probably include ocean overturning. I also consider that it is probable that the topography of the seabed especially in and around the continental shelf also plays a role.

    Ocean currents are difficult to understand. Not only in their lateral location but also in their vertical profile. As a diver, you will know well how localised water temperature can be, and how matters of metres one way or another both laterally and/or vertically can make a significant difference to the prevailing local temperature. Until the physical mechanisms involved in creating the profiles of currents are well understood, inevitably it will be difficult to understand how ocean temperatures are fully controlled.

    The air temperature above the ocean is (predominantly) governed by the ocean temperature, This can be seen by the small diurnal range over oceans. You may take it from me that it can also be seen in temperature profiles recorded in ship’s logs in circumstances where the ship is sailing in a warm current, air temperature usually closely correlates to the warm localised sea temperature.

    Obviously, oceans at the same latitude in theory receive the same amount of solar irradiance. Given that air temperature is a response to ocean temperature, this begs the question why is the ocean at the same latitude not all at the same temperature?

    DWLWIR has little penetrative effect and therefore it is difficult to envisage a mechanism whereby it directly heats the ocean. To the extent that it has any heating effect, it is likely that this goes to increase the evaporation on the first few microns which in turn is likely to result in a cooling, not a warming of the surface layer (by which I mean the layer at about 1mm and immediately below).

    One cannot efficiently heat a body of liquid, merely by warm air above it. If you place a drink say at 2 degC in a well insulated cup (sides and bottom being well insulated and of material that is not a good conductor) in a room at 20degC, the drink will not tend to warm quickly and to the extent that it does, this is more influenced by short comings with the insulation. Nor will the rate of evaporation be greatly influenced by whether the ambient room temperature and hence the air immediately above the open surface of the drink is at 5 deg C or 20 deg C. That being the case, and not forgetting that the air temperature above the ocean is driven by the temperature of the ocean itself, it is not immediately apparent that evaporation rates are governed by air temperature as opposed to being a feedback to forcing, primarily solar since DWLWIR penetrates only to microns.

    So where is this taking us, apart from the obvious that namely much more thought needs to go into what is driving ocean temperature, how it responds to those forcings and what processes are at play that will naturally place some restrictions on how warm the ocean can get?

    At this moment, I have no great answers and need to give much further thought to this matter. But in the meantime, there needs to be a thorough explanation as to why, for example, the open Indian ocean off both the East and West coast of India and the East Coast of Africa can and does get up to 34 degC, and why the Atlantic ocean off the West coast of Africa around Ghana. Ivory Coast can and does get up to 35 degC..

  50. This would be a great test of a model of sea surface temperatures. Does the model produce W. Eschenbach’s 30° C cap? …. and I don’t mean by fudging, for example:
    100 IF T > 30 THEN LET T = 30 ( as it would be put in BASIC)

  51. All this sort of begs the question of how the great oceanic transport currents are generated and how that heat transport mechanism fluctuates over time. I remember well getting lost one night when crossing the gulf stream from Florida to the Grand Banks near Bimini. I was sailing southbound evidenced by the North star trying to hold position until the night fog bank lifted yet I ended up 20 to 30 miles North of my expected position. That experience taught me to respect the power of the ocean currents.

  52. “Richard M says:
    February 12, 2012 at 5:54 am

    It does appear that the limit only shows up in the open ocean. The coastal areas and seas have no problem going over 30°. It may be informative to look only at these areas and see if they have another limiting factor”

    Salinity. As the evaporation rate increases, salinity increase, and then the rate of evaporation drops. With a fixed heat input the higher the salt content, the higher the temperature and the lower the rate of evaporation.
    Thus, salinity should plot with Tmax.

  53. Willis,

    The facts that you have helpfully set out are not news.

    It has been known for decades that the water at or near the equator never gets much warmer than 28 or 29C.

    Your own thermostat proposals are based on that well established information.

    However you still fail to join the dots.

    It is atmospheric pressure which dictates the limit for the energy content of the air at the surface.Once that limit is reached the global air circulation simply reconfigures itself to maintain system stability.

    All unknowingly you are producing evidence in support of Nikolov, Zeller, Jelbring. myself and various others and evidence against your earlier vigorous attempts at debunking the significance of atmospheric pressure.

    Read this article of mine:

    http://climaterealists.com/index.php?id=7798

    “The Setting And Maintaining Of Earth’s Equilibrium Temperature”

    The rate at which the oceans can release their previously acquired solar energy to the air is dependent on surface atmospheric pressure.

    The rate at which the surface can release energy to space through the atmosphere is dependent on atmospheric surface pressure but is modulated by changes in the surface air pressure distribution when ANY factor tries to divert the atmospheric emperature profile from the dry adiabatic lapse rate set by surface pressure.

    Every aspect of climate is simply the negative system response to destabilising influences and compared to the scale of natural variability our emissions come nowhere.

    The key to it all is the energy budget balancing process provided by variable atmospheric heights in the vertical plane and shifting surface air pressure distribution in the horizontal plane.

    It really is that simple.

    And this article of yours helps to prove the point.

  54. Geoff Sherrington says:
    February 12, 2012 at 4:17 am

    I’m also interested in why deep ocean waters are close to freezing. How and when did they get so cold? It’s the other end of the cap. Were they always this way, or are deep ocean temperatures part of global energy dynamics as well? Remember that we have had small but omnipresent heat from radioactive decay for millions of years.
    Presumably if ocean waters below the thermocline, that is, the major portion of ocean waters, were at 20 deg C, the surface cap of 30 deg C might be displaced to give rather different outcomes.

    Reflect on the fact that life on earth would largely be eliminated except for that fact that ice floats. Were it to sink, the oceans would have filled up with ice long ago, never to turn liquid except for a thin veneer perhaps several tens of meters thick in equatorial regions during the summertime. As one huge block of ice, the “oceans” would have no circulating currents to help distribute massives amounts of thermal energy from equator to the poles. The resulting climate would be harsh, indeed; humans and many other animals would probably not be around.

    Now extend this conceptual example to (near freezing) water, which does indeed sink, where it stays for some time, but it isn’t solid. And that cold water will stay down there until forced to the surface by some impediment like a continental mass, although circulation through mid-oceanic spreading centers does transfer significant amounts of heat, but sinking cold water at the polar regions far offsets this addition.

  55. So it’s “worse that we thought.” The oceans can only absorb so much heat, therefore in the future air temperature warming will be at even faster rates.

    What do the GCMs show when it comes to ocean temps?

  56. Well in spite of my previous post where I had not noticed the graph depicted the Southern Hemisphere, not the Northern, those graphs still confuse me a tad. When I see color coding my mind keeps trying to tell me red means hotter and blue means colder. But in your graphs red means equatorial and blue means polar. Might it be worthwhile to plot the same data with the vertical axis representing latitude and the color coding representing water temperature?

  57. This is very important because of the oft-repeated AGW claim that surface temperature is a linear function of forcing, and that when forcing increases (say from CO2) the temperature also has to increase. The ocean proves that this is not true. There is a hard limit on ocean temperature that just doesn’t get exceeded no matter how much the sun shines.

    Willis, I can’t agree here. The hard limit on ocean temperature is not 30 degrees. It is the maximum heating from the sun (which just happens to be around 30). Increase the energy from the sun and the temperature goes up. Decrease it and the temperature will go down.

    Also if you want to discuss CO2 forcing increases and its effect on temperature you just can’t look at the Argo data. The variation within the time series is too great to extract a small CO2 forcing signal. What I find interesting (thanks to the enormous effort you have invested Willis) is the year over year trends in the troughs of the data. It almost looks like a trend to lower mid-latitude temperatures with time. How does that fit with global warming when the mid-latitude oceans are cooling?

    M.R.B. states you can’t heat water from above. How come my pond gets so hot in the summer? I must have an underground heat leak somewhere.

  58. Reply to Stephan Richards, “The only mechanism available to start an ice age is the sun.” Not so… since the Pleistocene Era c. 2.6-million years-before-present (YBP), geophysical plate-tectonic distribution of landmasses has separated eastern from western hemispheres’ atmospheric/oceanic circulation patterns by interposing North and South American continents.

    Since the Cretaceous/Tertiary (K/T) Boundary c. 65-million YBP, five major geophysical eras have lasted a median 12 – 14+ million years apiece. On this basis, cyclic Pleistocene glaciations should persist another 10-million years or so at minimum.

    Only when plate-tectonic “continental drift” via sea-floor spreading re-disposes continental landmasses will Planet Earth revert to the more stable climatic equilibrium that prevailed –subject to extraterrestrial bombardment and super-volcanic episodes– throughout post-Cambrian times, now totaling near 550-million years.

    Meantime, if not for Earth’s 1,500-year Younger Dryas “cold shock” that ended c. 9,300 YBP (BC 7300), chances are that our current Holocene Interglacial Epoch would have ended coincident with the Roman Warm that preceded a 500-year Dark Age cooling phase from c. AD 450.

  59. @Willis

    Did it not occur to you that 30C is the blackbody temperature for the equator? Calm water has a very low average albedo (i.e. it’s very close to black) and it also varies little between day and night. Thus what this should be telling you is that under optimal conditions of clear equatorial sky and calm water this is the highest average daily temperature that can be acheived. You can add greenhouse gases until the cows come home and it won’t get any higher because the bottom line is that greenhouse gases cannot raise the temperature above the blackbody temperature. Greenhouse gases can help to approach the blackbody temperature in a roundabout way of making the surface appear darker (i.e. absorbs a greater percentage of the incident energy) but in no way can it exceed the maximum which is limited by solar energy through a perfectly clear sky falling on a surface that absorbs 100% of it. Optimal conditions can approach that maximum but my not exceed it. Exceeding it requires a greater amount of energy reaching the surface than the sun provides so unless the sun gets hotter there’s nothing else that can do it.

  60. As I recall from my sailing days, 28C is the ocean surface temperature at which you are at risk for cyclone formation. The ocean surface temperature will not go much above this, because the energy goes into storm formation.

    If upper atmosphere winds are high, the energy is simply carried aloft and from there to other parts of the globe, without a cyclone forming. If upper atmosphere winds are low, then the rising energy gets a chance to organize and start things spinning.

  61. For those who have not followed closely the “Jason and ARGO Notes” post, I consider that it would be beneficial to post a couple of comments I made in relation to that post .

    I did not comment upon the statistical analysis performed by Willis since this is a work in progress. However, one assertion of a scientific nature caught my eye because of the potential consequences it could have on cAGW.

    The scientific assertion was: “No matter how much incoming solar there is, the ocean doesn’t get any warmer than that [30 degC]. This provides a “cap” on how hot the ocean can get. Above that temperature, any extra incoming energy is converted to latent and sensible heat, rather than warming the surface..”

    I considered that assertion incorrect for two reasons. First, open ocean temperatures can and do, in a number of places, exceed 30degC such that the 30degC figure is too low. Second, whilst not disputing that processes are at play which tend to limit ocean temperature, I considered the one mechanism cited by Willis as being not the only process at work. Since then Willis has widened the processes at play which tend to place a limit on ocean temperatures. I consider that to be an improvement but still it fails to take account of other processes which probably contribute in particular ocean overturning and topography.

    There is of course a problem with this. Namely, we know for example the Atlantic ocean off the coast of Ghana and Ivory coast regularly gets to 34 degC if not 35 degC. Why is this and why does the immediately adjacent ocean at same latitude not also get to such temperatures? Is it possible that this area of the Atlantic ocean which gets up to 34 deg C (even 35 degC) to increase in area? If not why not? What are the limiting restrictions on the area involved? These are just some of the issues that arise that need to be considered and explained.

    Ditto, we know that the Indian ocean off the West coast of India (and indeed in places off the East coast of Africa) regularly gets to 32 degC and at times and in places up to 34 degC. Why is this and why does other parts of the ocean at same latitude not get similarly warm? Is it possible that this area of the Indian ocean which gets up to 32 deg C (even 34 degC) to increase in area? If not why not? Again, what are the limiting restrictions on the area involved? These are just some of the issues that arise that need to be considered and explained.

    The above examples are not exhaustive either of the areas of open ocean that regularly exceed 30degC nor of the issues that are involved. Further there are the issues raised in relation to enclosed, semi enclosed and shallower oceans.

    If the reason lies in the hydrological process, why is this different in some parts of the ocean?

    Further we need to consider the historical data. In particular, we need to consider the pre-historic tropical ocean which I understand (without endorsing consensus) is generally accepted to have been warmer than the tropical ocean is today. Why was that? Especially, as solar may well have been less powerful. This of course is difficult given that the then tropical ocean had different topography and we know nothing (or nearly nothing) about currents and heat transport then on going.

    We also need to consider carefully what ARGO is measuring and also what it is not measuring. Putting things in context this is important since it may be that there is some cap of temperature placed on the very top of the ocean surface but the same cap is not necessarily imposed at say 10cm or 20cm or 50cm or 1m (or what have you) below the surface. If that is the case, it may be that whilst the temperature at the surface cannot exceed XdegC, the temperature beneath the surface can exceed X degC or WdegC and the ocean at that point may well nr significantly below WdegC and is presently warming towards WdegC.

    Whilst I am sceptical of cAGW, if there is plenty of temperature headroom lying at a depth a little below the surface and if in that depth the ocean is undergoing warming, there is still the possibility for cAGW.

    So what am I saying? Well really only this, before one offers Willis the Nobel prize (as one commentator suggested) and before we all get too carried away, let’s give some proper thought to this and not simply fire from the hip.

  62. ” Geoff Sherrington says:
    February 12, 2012 at 4:17 am
    I’m also interested in why deep ocean waters are close to freezing. How and when did they get so cold? It’s the other end of the cap. Were they always this way, or are deep ocean temperatures part of global energy dynamics as well? Remember that we have had small but omnipresent heat from radioactive decay for millions of years.
    Presumably if ocean waters below the thermocline, that is, the major portion of ocean waters, were at 20 deg C, the surface cap of 30 deg C might be displaced to give rather different outcomes.”

    The deep ocean has not always been cold. When you think about it is rather odd that it is, since it has warm water on top and hot rocks underneath. The reason it is cold is that it is always the densest water in the ocean that will sink to the bottom. In the present icehouse climate which has lasted for c. 35 million years this is either very cold and salty water which is “frozen out” when sea ice forms around Antarctica or very cold and salty water which is formed by evaporative cooling in subarctic parts of the North Atlantic. In both cases the water is also well oxygenated, consequently the deep ocean is also fairly well oxygenated.
    During periods with hothouse climate (which is most of the time actually) the ocean is warm all the way to the bottom. There is no cold, briny arctic water around, so the heaviest water available is instead warm, briny water created by evaporation in the tropics. This water is much less oxygenated than present-day deep ocean water, both because of temperature and less vigorous mixing at the surface. Periods with hothouse climate therefore also leads to OAE:s (Ocean Anoxic Events), periods when the deep ocean, or at least parts of it becomes stagnant and anoxic. The last time this happened on a large scale was in the mid-Cretaceaous about 100 million years ago, but there have been many such episodes in the past (and each time life in the deep ocean must have been wiped out, and restarted by colonization from shallower areas when deep ocean circulation speeded up again).

  63. Superbe analysis – again!

    Interesting to see how the 31 C wall can hardly be overcome.
    Around 30 C waters simply has to let go of the heat. This also seems to explain why ENSO patterns has such a significant impact on temperatures around the world.
    And this also makes the relation between temperatures in Nino3,4 and global temperature make even more sence:

    From recent article: http://hidethedecline.eu/pages/posts/the-siberian-pacific-climate-pendulum-251.php

    – because: These equatorial waters at 30 C release more heat to the atmosphere that anywhere else, and thus, differences here affects the whole world.

    K.R. Frank

  64. Steve from Rockwood says:
    February 12, 2012 at 8:11 am
    //////////////////////////
    Your pond is heated by solar, not by hot air. Ambient air temperature is important to how much heat is lost at night.

    In Summer, my swimming pool ,regularly reaches 35 to 36 degC and yet the air temperature may be 30 to 33 degC. It is usually able to maintain a night time temperature of 31 to 33 deg C even though night time temperatures may be down to 24 to 25 deg C.

  65. Tim says:
    February 12, 2012 at 2:35 am

    R.M.B. says:
    “You can not heat water from above because of surface tension”
    ————-
    I have seen this statement several times on these pages. Can someone explain to me why surface tension should totally inhibit heat transfer from gas to liquid?
    Thanks.
    ______________
    Tim,
    Simply put, the main reason is that at very short distances from the surface [approx micrometres and less] the forces that produce bulk mixing in the ocean become much less important, and diffusion becomes dominant. This diffusion constraint affects how fast heat can be transferred DOWN from the surface [the "Einstein-Smoluchowski" limit is often how it is taught in Chemistry, where it has an important effect on reaction rates]. You cannot make it go faster by simply stirring with wind/wave/convection. So when the heat cannot be rapidly transferred downwards, then more water evaporates, effectively transferring the heat UPWARDS [as latent heat]. This heat now CAN be transported efficiently by wind and convection. It will later reappear when it condenses back to water somewhere else on the planet, higher in the atmosphere, closer to the poles, etc.
    Now, Infra red radiation is so strongly absorbed by the top micrometres within this surface zone limited by diffusion rates, that a resulting temperature rise [from increased IR radiation] is more easily lost by evaporation than it is transferred to depths. Dave Springer has often posted about this on these blogs, and elsewhere. It has been used to argue than “Trenberth’s missing heat” in the oceans never did enter the oceans.

    Visible light can penetrate much further down into the ocean, allowing it to warm the deeper water rather than evaporate it. This is why changes in the Sun’s spectrum are as important as well as the total amount of radiation received across the spectrum.

    Personally, I find the phrase “penetrating surface tension” a bit misleading because surface tension is a force, not a physical object that can be penetrated ["penetrating gravity" would sound similarly non-physical to me]. Surface tension does, of course, operate at surfaces, but the phenomenum is essentially unrelated to the absorbtion of light or infrared radiation.

  66. richard verney says:
    February 12, 2012 at 8:34 am
    If the reason lies in the hydrological process, why is this different in some parts of the ocean?

    Cyclones (huricane/typhoon) are not distributed evenly around the globe. They tend to affect the east coast of continents more than the west coast. The ocean basins themselves tend to be steeply sloping on the west coasts of the continents and shallow sloping on the east coasts. What effect the rotation of the earth plays in this is an interesting discussion.

  67. “All of these work together to maintain the earth within a fairly narrow temperature band, with a temperature drift on the order of no more than ± 0.2% per century.”

    This may be the case for present conditions when things are relatively stable. However I’m not sure that this is true given the dramatic temperature changes that were seen during the Little Ice Age period; both up and down. Even more so at the beginning and end of the Younger Dryas. It was an interesting time in Nova Scotia where massive storms carried land detritus (spruce needles and cones) out to and deposited them at the edge of the continental shelf. It is a good example of where massive storms were not caused by warming, rather by rapid cooling.

  68. richard verney says:

    ” Putting things in context this is important since it may be that there is some cap of temperature placed on the very top of the ocean surface but the same cap is not necessarily imposed at say 10cm or 20cm or 50cm or 1m (or what have you) below the surface. ”

    Since the density of salt water decreases monotonously with temperature this requires lower-density water to stay put below a thin layer of higher-density water. This is physically implausible to put things mildly.
    The only way this can happen is if the surface layer has a much lower salinity than the deeper layer. This actually does happen in enclosed marginal seas if there is a very large input of fresh water from rivers but has never been observed in the deep ocean.

  69. Willis, these observations are indeed important, and require urgent theoretical explanation and testing. I say urgent, because one can be certain, present climate modality does not have any mechanism or term to limit sea surface temps. Their extrapolations surely project temps above this apparent limit. This in itself would seem to falsify models.

    Irregardless, the climate community must begin to address the argo data and begin the integration of these observations into the hypothesis. The fact that a blog must perform basic analysis is damning for this field and speaks volumes about you and WUWT.

    I would tend to look at surface tension for mechanism simply because it is such a confounding state of water/matter. There are so many odd and difficult phenomenon present.

    I wonder if there is a minimum depth involved in the apparent effect, as well as latitude restrictions. That would be indicative of the actual mechanism. It is all so interesting!
    Thanks again for the cerebral candy. GK

  70. tty says:
    February 12, 2012 at 8:41 am

    When you say “cold” we’re still talking ~275K, 20K above the 255K the GHE theory states the earth would be without atmosphere.
    The hot periods in the oceans live, are they caused by large scale “opening up” of the earths crust?
    Like eg in the period Pangea broke up and the separate continents formed?

  71. Big D in TX says:
    February 12, 2012 at 2:27 am
    /////////////////////////////////////////
    Big D

    Good to see you post. I wish I had seen your post before my post of 08:34 am. In that I mentioned that we need to see the historical data. I fully agree with you that we need more historical data before conclusions can safely be drawn.

    I do not know how warm the ocean was during the Holocene Optimum, and the Minoan, Roman and Medieval warm periods but it would not surprise me if it was significantly warmer than it is today.

    It may be that it could have been a couple or so degrees warmer, or that there were significantly greater areas of the ocean that were warmer than the ’30 deg C capped’ areas that Willis has charted. If so, then that will tell us quite a bit about the effective cap imposed by the hydrological process.

    It is always very important to put things in context particularly historical context and the length of reliable data sets. If one looks only at a short snap shot of time, it is easy to draw the wrong conclusions.

  72. Richard M says:
    February 12, 2012 at 5:54 am

    “It does appear that the limit only shows up in the open ocean. The coastal areas and seas have no problem going over 30°. It may be informative to look only at these areas and see if they have another limiting factor.”

    And they do. Over the open ocean near the equator the wet adiabatic lapse rate governs. Over the adjacent desert zones the air is dry. The dry adiabatic lapse rate governs (which is higher) so surface temperatures can be higher. Also, inland seas in the desert regions can be warmer than 30C if the atmosphere above them is dry. Over most of the earth the effective lapse rate may be somewhere in between so the maximum temperature may not be so strikingly apparent as it is over the equatorial oceans.

  73. richard verney: February 12, 2012 at 9:08 am
    and
    Big D in TX: February 12, 2012 at 2:27 am
    say: ” ……I fully agree with you that we need more historical data before conclusions can safely be drawn……”

    Historical Data. In notoriously short supply. Good luck with that. I see the models and proxy data sets (tree rings for ocean temperature, anyone?) being dragged out again.

    I think this lack of data prompted the whole Argo project.

    Mann has already plotted and published a modelled worldwide chart of temperatures for the MWP, and strangely enough, most areas were far cooler (according to him) than the (very few) proxy data sources which drove the models were. In fact, Mann’s MWP (or MCA, as he renamed it, “Medieval Climate Anomaly”) was markedly cooler than the present.

  74. tty says:
    February 12, 2012 at 8:57 am
    /////////////////////////////////////////////////
    I think that the thrust of the point you make is mistaken.

    The top micron layer of the ocean is cooler than the layer immediately below it. This is because evaporation (and convenction) takes place from the very top micron layer. It therefore is cooled by the latent heat involved.

    There is no significant salinity profile that I am aware of in the first metre or so of the ocean. Are you aware of such a salinity prodike, if so please link it.

    You may not have understood my point. It may be that due to the laent heat etc involved in evaporation that the top surface layer cannot heat to above 30degC. However since evaporation does not take place from the water which is at 5 cm or 10 or 20 cm below the surface, it may be that water at that specific and particular depths can be heated to above 30degC. The ocean is overturned which means that water which is say at 5 cm depth is churned in a circular manner influencing the temperature of the water at a depth of say 4.7cm and at 5.3 cm. This process is on going at various depths. The net effect of this is that if the ocean at say a 5 cm depth can be warmed above 30deg C since it is not directly cooled by the latent heat loss in evaporation taking place at the very top millimetres it can tend to warm the ocean both above and below it. Eventually more heat *energy is being captured.in the ocean and eventually that heat can be released (such as in an El Nino).

  75. Steve from Rockwood says: The hard limit on ocean temperature is not 30 degrees. It is the maximum heating from the sun (which just happens to be around 30). Increase the energy from the sun and the temperature goes up. Decrease it and the temperature will go down.

    Huh? You state it isn’t a hard limit but then say that something in control has hit a maximum. – Make up your mind. If there some sort of ‘maximum heating’ then that is a limit and has to be explained by ~something~.

    Keep turning up the heat under a pot of water and it will eventually start to boil. We all know that if you keep increasing the heat beyond that, the water temperature will stay at 212. If you were observing this per your suggestion above then you would be stating that ~something~ mysteriously begins to limit the heat when the water reaches 212 when in fact nothing is limiting the heat at all, it is evidenced simply by more steam.

    To me it suggests maybe some sort of strong convective ‘tipping point’ going on that entrenched ‘climate scientists’ have been too blind to notice. In the tropics you can almost set your watch by the thunderstorms building up in the afternoon. The hotter it gets, the higher they go, the COLDER the rain falling back to earth. Sounds like a negative feedback…

  76. Tim says:
    February 12, 2012 at 2:35 am

    R.M.B. says:

    “You can not heat water from above because of surface tension”

    I have seen this statement several times on these pages. Can someone explain to me why surface tension should totally inhibit heat transfer from gas to liquid?

    This is part of a wider misunderstanding, which claims that for various reasons the ocean can’t be heated by infrared … I just ignore them, and advise others to do the same. For some reason, the idea that infrared (thermal) radiation can heat anything but water has taken hold with these folks, and there is nothing that will convince them otherwise.

    Ignore them.

    w.

    [edited to add: See my post, "Radiating the Ocean", where many examples of R.M.B.'s kind of foolishness are on display ... w.]

  77. Slight diversion.
    Any comments on the 30-35C summer peaks at mid latitudes in Figure 2? Granted some of this is due to shallower waters but in eyeballing the charts there seems to be a dearth of red points in the summer. Is this due to the Argos being pushed out of the equatorial region by the upwelling and currents?
    Or maybe an issue with which color is displayed with lots of overlapping data points?
    Well, at the least the reds seem to be spread over the 25-30C range in the summer, whereas they are concentrated around 30C in the winter.
    Maybe add some kind of graphical at the bottom of the chart showing the number of buoys for each of the latitude bands over time (weekly/monthly) to see the distribution of data reports?

  78. All very interesting Wills, and certainly, as you point out, is an excellent example of the self-regulatory nature of Earth’s climate system, and in this regard is very similar to the ways in which your own body regulates itself to keep its temperature from going too high, or too cold. What your very specific and narrow SST analysis absolutely does not do is saying anything about of the impact of increasing amounts of CO2 to the ocean as a whole, when looking at all ocean layers, and extending even into the cryosphere and across all latitudes. When a similar analysis is done on this more comprehensive scale and scope, we see a much different story being told. We see a system that is undergoing rapid change. Now it well could be that (just as the human body does when it has a fever), that these changes to the system as a whole will prove the extreme self-regulatory ability of Earth’s climate under increasing external forcing, and that would not surprise me. We know of course that every system does have a point beyond which a sudden or extreme enough shock will forever alter that system– either sending into a whole new mode of operation, or of course, in the extreme case, destroying the system completely. Discovery of exactly how much of a shock (i.e. the sensitivity) to the system the relatively rapid buildup of CO2 and other greenhouse gases is likely to be is the prime focus of much of the ongoing climate research. knowing this is of course vital, as the cost of getting it wrong, and to continue down the same path of massive dumping of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere could be extremely high. The point is, we don’t know for certain, but the answer is probably the most important one we could have.

  79. Buck Smith says:
    February 12, 2012 at 3:23 am

    Thanks you for the great analysis. The graphs are just wonderful especially figs. 5 and 6. Does anyone have a calculation of the ratio of heat capacity in the ocean to atmosphere?.

    From memory, it’s about the same as the top ten feet of the ocean …

    w.

  80. G. Karst says: This in itself would seem to falsify models.

    I’m a bit less reserved, I’d say that if these numbers are right it DOES falsify their models and in a very big way. Hopefully big enough to cause many of them to fold up shop and run away with their tails between their legs.

  81. Jimmy Haigh says:
    February 12, 2012 at 4:56 am

    Water is at its densest at approx. 4 degrees centigrade which may explain why the temperature at the bottom of the oceans is 4C.

    True only for fresh water. Because of the pressure and salinity, at the ocean bottoms ocean water is densest at about freezing.

    w.

  82. Fascinating analysis, Willis. It is at least conceivable that this construction would still allow for ice ages and glacial epochs through low frequency changes in albedo. As for Stephen Wilde and the Pressure folks, I’d be curious how one achieves a glacial epoch, an ice age, and an interglacial from pressure changes. Similarly, if our current climate has a maximum as shown here, despite the fact that we are well below normal temperatures in terms of the earth’s largely ice-free history, that means atmospheric pressure was both higher and lower in the past?

  83. Willis, this is interesting. You will see the areas that can get warmer than 30 C are shallow areas, which leads me to suspect that the deeper areas are controlled by the deeper ocean temperature that will only change slowly with climate. The IPCC AR4 projections have the oceans warming in all areas, implying that the 30 C limit will be raised in the future. This may be perhaps as the warming spreads to deeper layers over time. It just takes a long time to warm hundreds of meters depth of water.

  84. John B says:
    February 12, 2012 at 5:50 am

    Willis, over the decade you have analysed, global surface temperature has not changed (much). What evidence do you have that the 30C sea surface maximum is a thermostat and is not simply a function of the global surface temperature? In other words, if/when surface temperature rises (or falls), what evidence do you have that the maximum sea surface temperature will not follow it?

    Even though every year during part of the year there is excess radiation hitting the area of the ocean that reaches 30°C, it doesn’t go over 30°C.

    This is the evidence you are looking for, that the surface maximum is in fact a thermostat which is unaffected by the level of forcing. If it warmed as the year warmed, we would see it … and since it doesn’t happen during the warmest part of the year, why should it happen during the warmest part of the century?

    w.

  85. Do the Oceans not act as the Earth’s thermostat? The saturation vapour pressure of water follows the Claussius Claperyon equation which is approximately VP = Cexp(-DH/RT) (DH = Latent Enthalpy, R Gas constant, T=Temperature. The water holding capacity of the atmosphere increases by something like an extra 8% for a 1 degree rise in temperature. The ocean surface loses heat through evaporation increasing approximately exponentially with T. Rising moist air packets then condense into clouds at some height (Pressure) where latent heat is released to the atmosphere. This changes the dry adiabatic lapse rate to a moist adiabatic lapse rate. The lapse rate is fundamental to the greenhouse effect because it changes the temperature of the level where heat (via CO2 + H2O) can freely radiate into space. This can effectively short circuit AGW because increases in temperature of CO2 molecules at the critical height offset any increase in the height itself. In the tropics, increases in clouds and  daily thunderstorms transport vast amounts of heat to higher altitudes. Looking at a Skew-T diagram, 30 degrees C at the surface is about where the moist adiabatic becomes vertical, and temperature stops decreasing with height making the atmosphere unstable.

  86. richard verney says:
    February 12, 2012 at 6:38 am

    Willis

    One has to be careful not to fall into the trap to which those proffering the cAGW theory fall into, namely that merely because one can see some general pattern(s) in the data that that indicates causation. One must bear in mind that correlation is not necessarily causation.

    First, it is necessary to put forward a physical hypothesis which can be tested against the data.

    Nonsense. Yours is the trap that the AGW folks have fallen into, of hypothesizing in advance of the data. I’m putting the data out their. Whether or not I have a hypothesis that explains it is immaterial. I’m just looking to establish the extent and structure and nature of the phenomena involved, not provide some overarching theory of why it happens.

    w.

  87. David says:
    February 12, 2012 at 4:36 am
    Tim says:
    February 12, 2012 at 2:35 am
    R.M.B. says:
    “You can not heat water from above because of surface tension”
    I have seen this statement several times on these pages. Can someone explain to me why surface tension should totally inhibit heat transfer from gas to liquid?
    ——————————————————————————
    Hi Tim, just as Willis did not say “oceans cannot exceed 30 C”, likewise RMB should not say ““You can not heat water from above because of surface tension”. The message RMB is trying to convey is that almost 100% of the energy/heat from LWIR is abdsorbed in the top few microns of water, right at the evaporation level of the ocenas top surface, and therfore this energy is used almost exclusively to accelerate evaporation and increase convection and coud formation, further reducing surface insolation, wheras SWR is absorbed over a three D medium of ocean depth up to 900 meters in the clearest part of the oceans. Now the above is true, especialy in the tropics as we near 30C, it is just not quantified. In short, we do not know the relative ability of an equal amount of SWR to heat the oceans, vs an equal (W/M2) LWIR to heat the same ocean, it is just apparent that the SWR does a more effective job. There is much we have to learn.

    Ridiculous. Tim don’t bother with such utter codswallop – the direct heat from the Sun warms the oceans. The direct heat from the Sun is thermal infrared, if this didn’t heat the oceans because it couldn’t penetrate more than a few microns there would be no such thing as swimming in really warm tropical waters – it would be cold water with a thin layer of heat on it! Utter nonsense.

    “Ocean Regions
    Heat from the sun warms the world’s oceans near the Equator. This heat is gradually circulated through the oceans by currents. Since these waters are always being warmed, they maintain high year round temperatures (21° – 30° C, 69.8° – 86° F) and are known as the Tropical Regions of the world’s oceans.” http://oceanofk.org/tag/Tagmigrate/ddisttemp.html

    My bold.

    The heat we feel direct from the Sun is thermal infrared, this is the same radiated heat energy used in countless applications to heat water, including us as in infrared saunas because we are so much water – It penetrates out skin and into the body by inches! And it can’t get past the surface tension of the ocean!?

    Thermal infrared has the ability to move the molecules of water into vibrational resonance, this is kinetic energy, which is also heat. Water has a very high heat capacity, it takes in a lot of heat before it shows temperature changes and it takes longer to heat up than land and so takes longer to lose heat, from this we get the inshore and offshore breezes.

    http://thermalenergy.org/heattransfer.php

    Heat Transfer
    “Thermal energy and heat are often confused. Rightly so because they are physically the same thing. Heat is always the thermal energy of some system. Using the word heat helps physicists to make a distinction relative to the system they are talking about.”

    http://thermalenergy.org/

    Thermal Energy Explained

    “What is thermal energy ?
    Thermal Energy: A specialized term that refers to the part of the internal energy of a system which is the total present kinetic energy resulting from the random movements of atoms and molecules.
    The ultimate source of thermal energy available to mankind is the sun, the huge thermo-nuclear furnace that supplies the earth with the heat and light that are essential to life. The nuclear fusion in the sun increases the sun’s thermal energy. Once the thermal energy leaves the sun (in the form of radiation) it is called heat. Heat is thermal energy in transfer. Thermal energy is part of the overall internal energy of a system.
    At a more basic level, thermal energy comes form the movement of atoms and molecules in matter. It is a form of kinetic energy produced from the random movements of those molecules. Thermal energy of a system can be increased or decreased.
    When you put your hand over a hot stove you can feel the heat. You are feeling thermal energy in transfer.”

    An ordinary incandescent lightbulb produces around 95% heat, and 5% light.

    http://www.commonsensepress.com/GSA-sample_lesson/lesson_ocean.htm

    The direct heat from the Sun, the direct thermal energy of the Sun in transfer, is what heats the oceans.

    NASA: “Far infrared waves are thermal. In other words, we experience this type of infrared radiation every day in the form of heat! The heat that we feel from sunlight, a fire, a radiator or a warm sidewalk is infrared.
    Shorter, near infrared waves are not hot at all – in fact you cannot even feel them. These shorter wavelengths are the ones used by your TV’s remote control.”

    If you can’t stand the heat…

  88. Nice work Willis,

    You may recall my paper at http://icecap.us/images/uploads/CO2vsTMacRae.pdf

    Figure 2 shows the relationship between the rate of change of detrended atmospheric CO2 and the change of detrended average global atmospheric temperature T.

    This can be expressed in the modern data record as:

    dCO2/dt = 4 * dT (CO2 in ppm and T in degrees C).

    The data can be viewed in Excel at http://icecap.us/images/uploads/CO2vsTMacRaeFig5b.xls

    The paper also shows that detrended CO2 lags temperature by ~9 months.

    The reason I repeat this information is because there has been debate here about what heats what.

    I haven’t had my coffee yet, but since dT leads dCO2, and the incremental CO2 is probably coming from ocean exsolution, is it not reasonable to suggest that the Sun heats both the atmosphere and the ocean surface, and as this heat penetrates into the thin ocean surface layer, it releases small amounts of CO2. I am not suggesting there is no heat flow between ocean and atmosphere – I suggest there is, in both directions, from warm to cold.

    I further expect that the above equation is a function of the length of the typical time cycle of warming and cooling, in this case a ~4 year cycle, possibly related to major El Nino’s.

    A much longer time cycle would impact deeper ocean layers and result in a larger multiple (than the 4 ppm/C above) and a longer time delay of CO2 after temperature. We know about the longer time delay (~800 years) in the ice core data, but I’m not convinced we can say much about its magnitude – I speculate that the ice core data is relatively accurate, but not absolutely accurate.

    ____________________________________
    More on ice cores:

    Note the alleged Siple data 83 year time shift – if this is true, the 83-year time shift could constitute remarkable self-delusion!

    http://hidethedecline.eu/pages/posts/co2-carbon-dioxide-concentration-history-of-71.php

    The well known graph for CO2 is based on Ice core data (”Siple”) and direct measurements from Hawaii (Mauna Loa). The Siple data ended with a CO2 concentration of 330 ppm in 1883. 330 ppm CO2 in 1883 is way too high, 330 ppm was first reached by Mauna Loa data around 1960-70. The two graphs (Siple and Mauna Loa) was then united by moving Siple data 83 years forward in time. The argument to do this was, that the atmospheric content of the ice was around 83 years older than the ice. So rather “fresh” atmospheric air should be able to travel down in the snow and ice corresponding to the 83 year old ice? This is perhaps 50 meters down or probably more. And then the fresh air is locked in the 83 year old ice. So a good ventilation down 83 year old ice, and then the ice closes. This hypothesis is still debated – but the classic Siple-Mauna Loa CO2 graph is used widely as solid fact.

  89. Big D in TX says:
    February 12, 2012 at 2:27 am
    “. . . first time poster here, . .

    . . . exist mechanisms that tend to kick in at the 30C mark that halt further warming? What is special at that particular temperature that happens?

    As no one else seems inclined to respond (possibly no one knows the answers), I will say, first, thanks for no-longer-lurking.

    Next, if governments and NGOs had not wasted so much money over the last 25 years more and better science could have been done. Instead we have smart folks (Willis, being just one) using their own money and time. It is amazing.

    Last: An answer to your question (quote, above) might come from something as straightforward as the size and surface composition of Earth. For example, the Equatorial Zone is a certain size and Earth rotates under the direct rays of the Sun at a given speed. These things are what they are – constants, if you like that term. What would happen to this “ocean temperature cap” if any of these constants were to change? Say the circumference of Earth was somewhat longer and it rotated somewhat more slowly, and it had more land and less ocean in the Equatorial Zone. What then? My WAG: no change. What’s yours?

  90. As to the mechanism, to me that is a simple question of the crossing lines. As temperature rises, clouds and thunderstorms increase. This cuts down the incoming energy, as well as cooling the surface in a variety of ways. Next, this same process moves an increasing amount of excess energy polewards. In addition, as temperature rises, parasitic losses (latent and sensible energy transfers from the surface to the atmosphere) also go up.

    There is a way of testing this hypothesis Willis. Look at the cloud coverage as recorded by the Terra and Aqua satellites as well as others to see if the cloud feedback is at work here. You can also look at the water vapor channels on the birds.

    Another possibility that caps the heat is that some of this energy is transferred to cooler deeper regions of the ocean, which at the end of the day results in a longer term form of regulation but I was slightly surprised that you did not mention it.

  91. Stephen Wilde says:
    February 12, 2012 at 7:38 am

    Willis,

    The facts that you have helpfully set out are not news.

    It has been known for decades that the water at or near the equator never gets much warmer than 28 or 29C.

    Your own thermostat proposals are based on that well established information.

    Hang on, that sounds kinda familiar … oh, wait, I said it at the start of the head post, here it is:

    Let me be clear that I am by no means the originator of the claim that there is a thermostat regulating the maximum ocean temperature. See among many others the Central Equatorial Pacific Experiment. I am merely looking at the Argo data with this thermostat in mind.

    Do you always repeat peoples’ ideas back to them? I’d advise giving that up, it’s boring. I said it already, makes you look like a ditto-head.

    However you still fail to join the dots.

    It is atmospheric pressure which dictates the limit for the energy content of the air at the surface.Once that limit is reached the global air circulation simply reconfigures itself to maintain system stability.

    Stephen, if you want to argue for the Nikolov and Zeller nonsense, please do it over at Tallbloke’s Talkshop. There at least they’ll tell you how brilliant you are. Here, I’m just going to point out that you are a fool following the lead of greater fools, so you’ll find the atmosphere at Tallbloke’s much more congenial.

    And no, the N&Z pressure theory isn’t true, it is pseudoscience at its worst and you are revealing your ignorance by backing it. We’re talking about real science here, so lead, follow, or go to tallbloke’s.

    w.

  92. Steve from Rockwood says:
    February 12, 2012 at 8:11 am

    This is very important because of the oft-repeated AGW claim that surface temperature is a linear function of forcing, and that when forcing increases (say from CO2) the temperature also has to increase. The ocean proves that this is not true. There is a hard limit on ocean temperature that just doesn’t get exceeded no matter how much the sun shines.

    Willis, I can’t agree here. The hard limit on ocean temperature is not 30 degrees. It is the maximum heating from the sun (which just happens to be around 30). Increase the energy from the sun and the temperature goes up. Decrease it and the temperature will go down.

    Steve, every year the energy from the sun increases and decreases. Given the sun’s intensity, for part of the year there is plenty of energy from the sun to make many ocean areas reach over 30°C … but they are not getting that warm.

    This is demonstrated by Figure 6, where during the summer the tops of the temperature swings are cut off flat.

    w.

  93. Joules Verne says:
    February 12, 2012 at 8:31 am

    @Willis

    Did it not occur to you that 30C is the blackbody temperature for the equator?

    No, it didn’t occur to me, because it is absolute nonsense. The equivalent blackbody radiation for 30°C is about 480 W/m2. The TAO data shows that the average downwelling radiation 24/7/365 at the equator is about 670 W/m2. So as usual, your claim is rubbish, not just slightly wrong but cataclysmically and stupendously wrong. And also as usual, everything coming out of your electronic pen is worse than useless, it is actively misleading.

    Joules, your content-free rantings are as welcome here as those of Stephen Wilde. You have proven repeatedly that your grasp of science is abysmal. Please go to tallblokes and bother him, here we’re discussing scientific topics.

    w.

  94. High sea water temperature, memories from time spent in the Canadian Navy working in the boiler and engine room of a destroyer pulling into Manzanillo Mexico water temperature reading well into the 80’s, 30c=86f. Got just a little warmer than normal,sarc, in those work spaces. If there is a hell, been there done that. Any other stokers out there?

  95. Maybe I misunderstood the data set.
    Are these graphs only of Argo units that at some point in their lifecycle reported a temperature >30°C?
    “Annual temperature variations measured by all northern hemisphere argo floats that exceeded 30°C. “

  96. Ever heard of a thermal low?Like in southern California when the deserts heat up it creates low clouds and fog in the coastal areas(fogaggedon).Heat rises and and causes low pressure near the surface.Maybe that process(heat rising) also drives ocean temps and currents?What about salt water’s lower freezing point and lower boiling point? Shouldnt that also make it’s evaporation point lower ?Maybe a little off topic,but that what i thought about when i read the article and comments.

  97. Mike M says:
    February 12, 2012 at 9:33 am

    G. Karst says:

    This in itself would seem to falsify models.

    I’m a bit less reserved, I’d say that if these numbers are right it DOES falsify their models and in a very big way. Hopefully big enough to cause many of them to fold up shop and run away with their tails between their legs.

    Guys, I pointed out above where the data to test your ideas resides, it’s at KNMI. I took a look at some model runs. The average of the CMIP5 runs gives about 29°C for the temperature of the gridbox at 0-10°N, 160-180E. This agrees well with Argo data, as well as other observational datasets (HadSST, Reynolds).

    So if you say the result DOES falsify their models, then show us what you are basing this claim on. I couldn’t find any support for your claim when I looked at some model data yesterday, but perhaps you can.

    Look, fantasizing about how this will affect the models is meaningless. Do your homework, run the numbers, and then you can take a stand.

    My guess is that overall they do a reasonable job replicating the 30°C limit, with some doing better than others. But this is not the problem, or even the symptom of the problem, with the models. That’s a whole other topic.

    w.

  98. One thing you are all missing is wind 30 knots will mix down to about 30 ft. At 7.5 knots white caps occure which uis of course is mixing

  99. What is the theoretical maximum sea surface temperature, given the make-up of our atmosphere and other contributing factors? How far above 30C is it?

  100. Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 12, 2012 at 9:45 am
    richard verney says:
    February 12, 2012 at 6:38 am

    “Nonsense. Yours is the trap that the AGW folks have fallen into, of hypothesizing in advance of the data.”
    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    Willis

    Please
    1. set out with full particularity the trap that you allege that I have fallen into; and.
    2.identify with precision the comment and if there be more than one comment the comments that I have made that evidence that I have fallen into the trap that you assert that I have succumbed to.

    Silence from you in response to my rewuest will be taken that you are unable to identify one or more of the above such that your assertions are baseless.

    I look forward to hearing from you so that I may consider the serious merits of your serious allegation

  101. The temperature is set by the atmosphere.
    Less atmosphere means lower air-pressure which means lower vapour pressures which means evaporations starts at a lower temperature.
    Bigger atmosphere means higher air-pressure which means higher vapour pressure which means evaporation starts at a higher temp.

    Brilliant. I am amazed by what we are seeing.

  102. Dennis Ray Wingo said:

    “Another possibility that caps the heat is that some of this energy is transferred to cooler deeper regions of the ocean, which at the end of the day results in a longer term form of regulation but I was slightly surprised that you did not mention it”
    ________

    We know if fact this happens on both a short-term and longer-term basis, depending on how deep the energy is transferred. Right now, for example, there is large subsurface mass of warmer than average (much warmer in some cases) water in the western equatorial Pacific that has been slowly growing and expanding to the east under the surface during the course of the current La Nina. This recharge activity of the Pacific Warm Pool subsurface water is not atypical of the ENSO cycle, and certainly plays a role in the regulation of surface temperatures as some of the warmth from the surface waters has gone down in to the deeper ocean, not up into the atmosphere. Some of the deeper ocean energy will find its way back to the surface to be released dring the next El Nino.

  103. Willis , you have a knack for stating the obvious , and I mean that as a compliment because apparently so few people recognise the obvious until it is pointed out to them, myself included. You take things that appear to be obscure and interpret them in such a manner as to make them obvious. Thanks for what you do. You have ability as a teacher, you reach people with your thoughts.

  104. Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 12, 2012 at 9:57 am
    Steve from Rockwood says:
    February 12, 2012 at 8:11 am

    “Steve, every year the energy from the sun increases and decreases. Given the sun’s intensity, for part of the year there is plenty of energy from the sun to make many ocean areas reach over 30°C … but they are not getting that warm”
    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    Willis

    You may recall that for several years we have been arguing as to whether without DWLWIR, the tropical oceans would freeze. Your position is that the tropical oceans would freeze. I have suggested to you that you are misguided in that you are looking only at average conditions and failing to focus on the conditions that prevail in the equatorial regions and when one focuses on those specific conditions, even without the effects of CO2 DWLWIR,, the tropical ocean would not freeze because there is enough solar in those regions to keep the tropical ocean warm.

    I take it from your comment to Steve that “..there is plenty of energy from the sun to make many ocean areas reach over 30°C…” you will now appreciate that your previously expressed view that the tropical oceans would freeze is very probably misconceived.

  105. Willis: Thanks for this very interesting presentation. It basically shows that the Sun, all 1370 w/m**2 of it, heats the ocean. The latitude band encompassing the Tropic of Cancer (and presumably, the same for the southern hemisphere) merges into the maximum temperature band. All more northerly bands step down to lower average temperatures, as they receive correspondingly less energy the further from the equator. I would guess that the spacing of those bands is geometrically related to their latitudinal position.

    In essence, the full sun (not some “sun/4″) is the heater of the ocean, which then acts to dissipate that heat by flowing, mixing and evaporating. Received LWIR has nothing to do with the ocean’s temperature (or heat content), except that it may heat air in contact with the ocean (if it does anything at all).

  106. I have seen a “thermostat effect” in “determined” global temperature over the past half billion years or so. When CO2 was at 1200 PPMV and there were no major land masses at the poles, global temperature was generally 22 C. With CO2 at 6000 PPMV, global temperature was 22 C. When CO2 was high and there was a major burpout of methane, global temperature hit 23 C. I suspect the reason is that increase of GHGs increases the lapse rate, and the lapse rate feedback (which is negative). Greater lapse rate increases convection.
    Also, according to “determinations” of the past, 23 C occurred less than 100 million years ago and 6,000 PPMV CO2 achieving a limit of 22 C occurred over 300 million years ago, and it is theorized that the sun is slightly increasing its output as it ages.

    As for the 30 C limit of tropical waters: It appears to me that exceeding 30 C is causing convection that transfers heat to cooler parts of the world. Keep in mind that the equatorial tropopause is so cold (due to convection to such high altitude) that significant net loss of heat from radiation appears very unlikely to me. So, I think the heat going there mostly moves onward to less tropical parts of the world before it gets radiated to space.

    In any case, I would expect the tropical ocean temperature limit to vary with the amount of sunlight directed towards Earth, roughly by the 4th root rule. Since solar output directed towards Earth peaked at about 1366.6 W/m^2 in the 1980’s maximum and even an aggressive prediction for a few decades from now calls for a Maunder-like dip around 1359.5 W/m^2, solar output is unlikely to vary by much more than 1/2 of a percent. This means solar variation is unlikely to cause the tropical ocean temperature limit to vary by much more than 1/8 of a percent or about .4 degree K, even with this extreme range of solar variation.

    I do agree with a concept of increase of GHGs causing very little increase in the tropical ocean temperature limit. It appears to me that increase of GHGs warming convection-prone equatorial ocean areas requires albedo change (4th root law applies), or increase of the effective altitude of the level of the atmosphere where GHGs radiate directly to space (and I see the effect there being small).

    GCM forecasts calling for increase in tropical middle and upper troposphere temperature appear to me to include excessive cloud albedo positive feedback. I am expecting the cloud albedo feedback to be positive, as convective clouds increase their efficiency with increased water vapor content and increased lapse rate. However, I expect the cloud albedo feedback to be only a fraction as positive as IPCC did as of AR4.
    Also, I see positive cloud albedo feedback due to increased efficiency of convective clouds being accompanied by decrease in troposphere relative humidity, as more vigorous updrafts cover a smaller percentage of the world and downdrafts occupy a larger percentage. So, I see any positivity in cloud albedo feedback reducing the water vapor positive feedback. I think these explain why the tropical middle and upper troposphere is lacking the predicted hotspot.

  107. “Until we understand the reasons for the amazing planetary temperature stability…”

    Odd. Rumor had it that the UN War on Climate Change was the only possible mechanism for this…

  108. Jim F said:

    “In essence, the full sun (not some “sun/4″) is the heater of the ocean, which then acts to dissipate that heat by flowing, mixing and evaporating. Received LWIR has nothing to do with the ocean’s temperature (or heat content), except that it may heat air in contact with the ocean (if it does anything at all).”
    _____
    You, and others with similar notions are really looking at this quite incorrectly. It is not a question of what heats the ocean or more accurately, transfers energy into the ocean. Certainly the sun is the source of the majority of the energy in the ocean through the deeper and stronger penetration of SW radiation. But the question really is: “Why is the ocean not losing as much energy back to the atmosphere as it is taking up?” In this regard, you need to look at the complete ocean in all layers, and in doing so, of course you’ll find that the ocean heat content has been going up over the past 30+ years, and this is even more strongly indicated the deeper you take the metric.

    Willis’s analysis of the surface temperatures indicates the mechanism whereby a limit is set on the surface temperature of the ocean, and in this regard, is a clue as to why the ocean overall is gaining energy. Sea surface temperatures are a measurement of energy being givien off to the atmospshere. This energy exchange we measure as heat. If there is a cap on the amount of “heat” at the ocean surface it means there is a cap on how rapidly the energy can flow from the ocean to the atmosphere. No doubt determined by atmospheric temperature and pressure. As the overall ocean heat content is rising, it means energy is entering in a larger amount than is leaving, as its exit is capped at a certain rate, as Willis has demonstrated.

  109. There is a small sea area where temperatures exceeding 30 C are common. This is the Red Sea. It is disconnected enough from the global ocean to have less oceanic convection with cooler ocean areas than other tropical sea areas. Also, it is just a little too small to be favorable to formation of tropical cyclones. The southern part has *average* summertime surface temperature of 30 C.

    Its high salinity, due to being in a hot and arid part of the world, accounts for only a fraction of a degree C higher temperature than other sea waters for a given amount of evaporative cooling.

  110. richard verney says:
    February 12, 2012 at 10:39 am

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 12, 2012 at 9:45 am

    richard verney says:
    February 12, 2012 at 6:38 am

    “Nonsense. Yours is the trap that the AGW folks have fallen into, of hypothesizing in advance of the data.”

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    Willis

    Please
    1. set out with full particularity the trap that you allege that I have fallen into; and.

    Glad to. You said:

    First, it is necessary to put forward a physical hypothesis which can be tested against the data.

    This is what the AGW folks did. First they came up with the hypothesis that CO2 causes warming. Then they went out to look at the data. You are doing the same thing, insisting that I come up with a hypothesis before looking at the data. I much prefer not to do that, it warps my thinking if I already have a hypothesis in mind when looking at data I’ve never seen before.

    So I am under no obligation to put forward a hypothesis of any kind, Richard. I have only offered a few comments about causation. Mostly, I’m just looking at the data. Call me crazy, but I like to have a very good handle on the reality under discussion before I start coming up with hypotheses to explain it. Goofy, huh? And that’s the trap you’ve fallen into when you insist that I hypothesize in advance of the data.

    2.identify with precision the comment and if there be more than one comment the comments that I have made that evidence that I have fallen into the trap that you assert that I have succumbed to.

    Silence from you in response to my rewuest will be taken that you are unable to identify one or more of the above such that your assertions are baseless.

    I look forward to hearing from you so that I may consider the serious merits of your serious allegation

    Jeez, what do you think this is, the Spanish Inquisition? You are not a lawyer, and I am not on the witness stand. I am under no obligation to answer you at all, you can’t put me on the rack and force answers out of me, and if I grow silent, my silence may only indicate that your incessant nitpicking and bitching about irrelevant details in a three-page screed has finally gotten to me.

    Richard, I’m not laying out the theoretical underpinnings of a scientific revolution here. I am simply examining some data with an open mind. You should try it, you might like it, and guess what?

    I don’t have to come up with a “physical hypothesis which can be tested” of any kind. I’m just investigating the data, and you don’t make the rules.

    w.

    PS—I finally remembered the apposite quote that has been at the edge of my brain while I’ve been writing this, which comes from Sherlock Holmes.

    “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts.”

    That was the IPCC method, and the method you advised me to follow as well when you say “First, it is necessary to put forward a physical hypothesis …”.

    No, it is not necessary to theorize before one has data, it is a mistake to do so. It is what I described as being the “trap that the AGW folks have fallen into, of hypothesizing in advance of the data.”

  111. richard verney says:
    February 12, 2012 at 11:02 am

    … I take it from your comment to Steve that “..there is plenty of energy from the sun to make many ocean areas reach over 30°C…” you will now appreciate that your previously expressed view that the tropical oceans would freeze is very probably misconceived.

    Richard, truly, I haven’t a clue what you think Steve said, or what you think I said, that has to do with whatever it is that you are talking about. That was the most opaque writing I’ve seen in a while. Clearly you think you’ve scored some massive point in the discussion, but I’m sorry, I simply can’t make heads or tails of it.

    w.

  112. Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 12, 2012 at 10:20 am
    Mike M says:
    February 12, 2012 at 9:33 am

    G. Karst says:

    This in itself would seem to falsify models.

    I’m a bit less reserved, I’d say that if these numbers are right it DOES falsify their models and in a very big way. Hopefully big enough to cause many of them to fold up shop and run away with their tails between their legs.

    …So if you say the result DOES falsify their models, then show us what you are basing this claim on.

    Willis I know you didn’t mean to imply that those were my words, but simply a formatting error in a busy day.

    I cannot speak for anyone else, but the point, I thought, I did make was:

    I am not aware of any component of current models, which would limit SSTs. If there is, in fact, a mechanism which can limit T, then the underlining hypothesis is missing a key function and thereby false. Until this function is understood, validly integrated into the model, it remains falsified… If there is indeed a “cap”. The only thing you quoted from me was: This in itself would seem to falsify models. It is why I also used the word “urgent” as in high priority.

    Hope that clarifies things. Cheers. GK

  113. What this demonstrates is the known issue of the lower to mid troposphere warming and the upper troposphere/lower stratosphere not warming. What drives thunderstorms is the temperature differential between the upper troposphere/lower stratosphere and the surface.

    Once the differential is high enough any instability (hot spot) at the surface that causes upward air movement kicks off a thunderstorm transferring energy to the upper atmosphere. The differential guarantees that the rising air will pass through the dew point and start isothermal expansion (since the water vapor partial pressure is dependent on temperature and exceeding the partial pressure triggers condensation).

    The lack of warming higher in the atmosphere limits how warm the lower atmosphere can get.

  114. mbur says:
    February 12, 2012 at 10:19 am
    Ever heard of a thermal low?Like in southern California when the deserts heat up it creates low clouds and fog in the coastal areas(fogaggedon).

    I’m not sure, but you seem to mean advection fog:

    http://apollo.lsc.vsc.edu/classes/met130/notes/chapter5/advect_fog1.html

    and with photo (same site):

    http://apollo.lsc.vsc.edu/classes/met130/notes/chapter5/advect_fog4.html

    Seems more a result, rather than a cause, of ocean temps and currents.

  115. I call BS. From the data shown in Figures 2, 3, and 4, there are multiple data points with values greater than 30 degrees C. There are data points approaching 35 degrees C.

    As some great scientists noted, only one exception is required to disprove a theory. Here, there are many dozens perhaps hundreds of exceptions to the “30 degrees C maximum.”.

    I suspect, but do not know with certainty, that wind across the ocean surface plays a key role in sea surface temperature regulation.

    As others above also noted, the Argo data does not include shallow areas of the ocean. I suspect that those areas are also greater than 30 degrees C. If I recall correctly, the movie Endless Summer had the stars surfing off the coast of Ghana in water that was very hot, so hot the wax melted off the surfboards.

  116. Interesting.

    You have regions that are sparsely sampled. You find a temperature cap in those regions.
    would you say that the unobserved locations in these regions are best estimated by

    A. the cap temperature
    B. a number higher than the cap
    C. a number lower than the cap.

    Seems like the existence of a cap argues for a more spatially coherent temperature structure
    than some would like to admit. And the more coherent the temperature is spatially, the fewer
    samples one needs to characterize it.

  117. A temperature limit for ocean water appears to me to imply a similar temperature limit for dew point in surface level troposphere. I largely agree with this.

    I have heard of surface level dew point exceeding 30 C in central, east-central, south-central and central-southeast USA. In my experience of hearing about these occurrences, all 3 of these factors apply:

    1) The land is grassland, weedland or agricultural land with high moisture, sometimes by irrigation.

    2) A heatwave associated with a high pressure system is in progress.

    3) Dewpoint exceeds 30 C only before convection dilutes the humid surface-level air with drier air from above the cumulus cloud base level. That level is usually less than 1 km aloft when cumulus clouds start forming. The cumulus cloud base level usually increases to around 1.5 km, sometimes closer to 2 km as convection mixes drier air from aloft with the humid surface layer. The dewpoint typically drops after 10 AM to 1 PM or so in summer heatwave days.

    Even then, dewpoints exceeding 28 C (82 F) are quite rare.

    Stories of temperatures in degrees F and RH simultaneously in the 90’s in USA hot areas are nearly enough entirely from people remembering RH at wake-up time or breakfast time or early in morning commute time, plus usually lag of .25 to 1.5 hours from measurement to reporting, and *falsely assuming* that RH does not have a major decrease as temperature increases during a hot sunny day.

  118. Roger Sowell says on February 12, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    As others above also noted, the Argo data does not include shallow areas of the ocean. I suspect that those areas are also greater than 30 degrees C. If I recall correctly, the movie Endless Summer had the stars surfing off the coast of Ghana in water that was very hot, so hot the wax melted off the surfboards.

    Roger, I advise you not to get your science from Hollywood.

  119. Roger Sowell says:
    February 12, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    As some great scientists noted, only one exception is required to disprove a theory. Here, there are many dozens perhaps hundreds of exceptions to the “30 degrees C maximum.”.

    He was not referring to spurious data points measured electronically, stored, transmitted, etc. etc. Spurious data has many “causes” and is “ever present” in large measurement data bases. GK

  120. Willis Eschenbach said in part in a debate with Richard Verney, and I hope I got that right:
    February 12, 2012 at 11:38 am

    “Nonsense. Yours is the trap that the AGW folks have fallen into, of hypothesizing in advance of the data.”

    I don’t think it’s a big sin to hypothesize in advance of the data. The data can be used to test the hypothesis. I thought the “scientific method” involved getting data after hypothesis to increase or decrease support for the hypothesis, as proposed by experiments designed to test the hypothesis.

    My biggest problems with “warmist side” are what appear to me to be favoring “fudged data”, and “fudged usage of the data”. A few more years of good data should humiliate them into significantly decreasing their favored projections of global temperature and sea level rise. IPCC may start doing so significantly as early as AR5.

  121. Willis, you wrote in the legend, “Two years shown for clarity.” Is that one year (i.e. all points plotted vs day in the year) double-plotted?

    I don’t understand the point of selecting for study those stations that at some time reported a temperature over 30.

    Note that at say 40°N, we see the kind of peaked summer high temperatures that we would expect from a T^4 radiation loss plus a T^2 or more evaporative loss.

    That requires more explication. I think that you might mean “limited summer peak temperatures”, but how exactly the T^4 and T^2 produce that exact limit needs explication. (with total downward radiation as it is, with absorption rate as is, then there is a limit on how high the surface and air temp can be raised, but what is it exactly?) Especially if you are going to claim later that an increase in CO2 can not possibly raise the limit a little by raising total downwelling radiation. I am not saying that isn’t possible, just that it eventually need to be worked out.

    good work, as usual.

  122. richard verney says:
    February 12, 2012 at 9:22 am

    The top micron layer of the ocean is cooler than the layer immediately below it. This is because evaporation (and convenction) takes place from the very top micron layer. It therefore is cooled by the latent heat involved.
    There is no significant salinity profile that I am aware of in the first metre or so of the ocean. Are you aware of such a salinity prodike, if so please link it.
    You may not have understood my point. It may be that due to the laent heat etc involved in evaporation that the top surface layer cannot heat to above 30degC. However since evaporation does not take place from the water which is at 5 cm or 10 or 20 cm below the surface, it may be that water at that specific and particular depths can be heated to above 30degC.

    You seem to believe that the Argo buoys can measure the temperature of the “top micron layer”. They can’t.
    And no, there isn’t any significant salinity profile in the top metre of the ocean. Which is exactly the point I was making.
    I appreciate your effort to find a resting place for Trenberths missing heat but this idea won’t work. It would be better to postulate that the North Atlantic Deep Water and/or the Antarctic Bottom Water has become slightly warmer and simultaneously saltier (and thus equally dense as before). This is physically possible and has the further merit that it takes place in areas where there are no Argo Buoys, and practically no other measurements either, and so can neither be proved or disproved.

  123. Thanks everyone for the replies!

    If you check the link from
    “DocMartyn says:”,
    Page 369, section 8, and corresponding figure 12 on the following page. The math is beyond me, but I’m wondering how it checks out. 30 deg C just feels like an arbitrary number (why not 25? 34? etc).

    The paper says, “For seawater, no formulae appear to be available for the change of latent heat with salinity and temperature.” (The paper then comes up with a few equations.)

    If the incoming energy/heat from the sun stays relatively constant, is it a simple product of being just the right amount of energy/heat once the water has warmed up to ~30 deg C (at the composition of equatorial seawater)? It feels too easy to be algebraic: input variables (composition of seawater, amount of energy required to evaporate said water, amount of energy incoming to water), solve for limit T(emperature) of water, at which point the cloud formation, convection, and everything else takes over to enforce the limit.

    Would this not also help explain why earth’s temperature managed to stay the same over millions of years? If the salinity of the oceans has also stayed relatively the same over time (the last 2.5 billion years or so I think). It would be interesting to see if the “cap” differs in any significant or observable way, however small, depending on salinity – say, the Red Sea, Persian Gulf, or Sargasso Sea versus the Black Sea, Baltic Sea, etc., at comparable latitudes when available.

  124. Willis Eschenbach says: February 12, 2012 at 11:38 am
    No, it is not necessary to theorize before one has data, it is a mistake to do so. It is what I described as being the “trap that the AGW folks have fallen into, of hypothesizing in advance of the data.”

    _______________

    Agree. First look at the data with an open mind.

    I believe there is now, or soon will be, enough good-quality satellite data for us to sort out the main causes and effects of this complex subject.

    What we may are missing in the current satellite data is and inflexion point, such as occurred in ~1945 and ~1975, between a warming cycle and a cooling cycle (or vice-versa).

    I suspect we may be seeing one such inflexion now, or we will soon, and that should tell us a great deal more about the relationship between atmospheric CO2 concentrations, air and ocean temperatures, and the impact of the Sun and planets. In another decade or so, we should have it – maybe less.

    For years, I have suggested to some of the finer minds in this debate that they are focused on the minutiae, and the scientific truth of the big picture in climate science may be right in front of them. It is a very interesting time.

  125. Further data to illustrate the point of the mythical 30 degrees C maximum sea surface temperature, this from NOAA’s National Data Buoy Center at

    http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/view_climplot.php?station=42002&meas=st

    This particular buoy is 42002, and measures sea temperature at one meter below the surface. The average temperature for the hottest month, July, is 30 degrees C with maximum of a bit more than 34 degrees C.

    Buoy 42002 is “W GULF 207 NM East of Brownsville, TX,” translated as in the Western Gulf of Mexico, 207 nautical miles east of Brownsville, Texas, USA. Brownsville is the southern-most city in Texas, on the coast and on the border with Mexico.

    Again, there exists no such limit as 30 degrees C for sea surface temperatures. If there were a limit, then the above data would not exist. I have not strolled through the entire available data on sea surface temperatures, but there are other ocean/bay/gulf locations that are hotter than buoy 42002.

    As skeptics are fond of saying, let’s look at the data, and not cherry-pick one data set and draw universal conclusions.

  126. Looking at the lower temperatures at the 30 degree latitude, it dropped to +10 in 2002 and down to almost 0 in 2007. This would seem to be an incredible range (10 degrees) in a world where climate science is trying to come up with a global average temperature. It is also interesting that the big mid-latitude temperature drop (2007) was occurring at the same time the summer Arctic ice was reaching a minimum. I wonder if there is a correlation between Arctic ice extent and minimum ocean temperatures at mid-latitude in the Northern Hemisphere?

  127. The coldest equatorial part of our world’s oceans, according to your “Figure 5”, seems to be just where El Nińo lives – i.e. around the west coast of South America. I wonder why – -

  128. More hot sea surface temperatures from NOAA’s buoy data base: at Naples, Florida, and Key West, Florida, the average temperatures for July and August are 87 degrees F (30.6 degrees C); thus it is highly likely that the excursions around that average are greater than 31 or 32 degrees C.

    http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/dsdt/cwtg/egof.html

    Those are not the hottest bodies of ocean around, either, merely ones easily found in a few moments’ searching.

  129. “Richard M says:
    February 12, 2012 at 5:54 am

    It does appear that the limit only shows up in the open ocean. The coastal areas and seas have no problem going over 30°. It may be informative to look only at these areas and see if they have another limiting factor”

    Salinity. As the evaporation rate increases, salinity increase, and then the rate of evaporation drops. With a fixed heat input the higher the salt content, the higher the temperature and the lower the rate of evaporation.
    Thus, salinity should plot with Tmax.

    …or at about 30 to 31 C any marginal increase is heat flux is carried back up by evaporation.

  130. How about this –

    The AGW proponents have it totally wrong – the Sun’s radiation warming the Earths’ surface is not the measly 170 W/sq m 24/7 as deceptively stated but wayyyy more during the day.

    The atmosphere and oceans REDUCE the surface temperature during the day to much lower than it would otherwise be – evidence: the day temperature of the Moon with no atmosphere shows the Sun’s radiation could fry us during the day.

    I can never understand the dismissal of this important fact – without an atmosphere and water we’d all be burnt to a crisp by the Sun’s radiation.

    To me it seems likely that CO2 released from warmer ocean waters is the most significant source of increasing atmospheric CO2 and may be a “safety valve” mechanism for a global thermostat providing extra radiative transport for heat to space and actually providing no radiative forcing – not a positive one anyway.

    Wouldn’t that be funny – increased atmospheric CO2 cools the Earth ?

  131. Thanks Willis for an outstanding article. It is great illustration of the Earth’s built-in thermostat. It has great implications for the global warming theory. Evaporation of water drives increasing convective cooling and energy is transported to the poles and radiated to space. Insolation is limited by increasing cloudiness. There is a large negative feedback in the climate and this is part of it. It all overcomes peak insolation in the summers limiting the maximum temperature of the ocean.
    The mild effect of CO2 is a bit player in this action.

  132. Figure 3(a) of this paper (Sea Surface Temperature and it’s Variability in the Indonesian Region, 2005) also show many near-coastal areas with sea surface temperatures greater than 30 degrees C. The mean monthly temperature for August is shown in Figure 3(a), with the highest temperatures at 30.5 to 31 degrees C. When variability is considered, temperatures of 32 to 34 are quite likely – although the paper does not show the raw data.

    http://www.tos.org/oceanography/archive/18-4_qu.pdf

    The paper also states that surface winds are the key factor in sea surface temperatures.

    I note in passing, reference the “Hollywood science” from a commenter above, that none of the paper’s authors are from Hollywood.

  133. G. Karst says:
    February 12, 2012 at 8:59 am

    Willis, these observations are indeed important, and require urgent theoretical explanation and testing. I say urgent, because one can be certain, present climate modality does not have any mechanism or term to limit sea surface temps.

    Yes there certainly IS a mechanism to limit sea surface temperature. It’s called the sun. The blackbody temperature is the theoretical maximum. There needs to be more energy than the sun currently provides to exceed it. The earth of course is a gray body but that can only lower the S-B blackbody temperature not raise it.

    Greenhouse gases work in a way that can be equated with albedo change because in the end they cause the gray body to be a little less gray and a little more black. Average albedo of the earth is between 30 and 40 percent so there’s a lot of room to make it more black and thus raise the surface temperature. But make no mistake there is a maximum and that is the S-B blackbody (not grayt body) temperature.

    There’ s a fair amount of confusion because the infamous 255K temperature of the earth sans greenhouse gases is a gray body number not a black body number. Anything that can effectively lower the albedo will raise the maximum possible average temperature.

  134. “”””” February 12, 2012 at 12:32 am

    Try this for size. You can not heat water from above because of surface tension. The only energy entering the ocean is via the sun’s rays which penetrate the surface tension no problem.The sun is relatively stable and so is the temperature. “””””

    Surface tension has nothing to do with it. The bulk of the solar spectrum (energy) goes deeper than the surface waters (several metres) so it doesn’t directly warm the surface. But radiation in the 1 to 5 micron region which people think of as “heat” (it isn’t) is strongly absorbed in water, particularly at 3 microns, where 10 microns of water absorbs over 99% of the radiant energy, and converts it into “heat” (waste).

    It is the Temperature of the very surface layer of the water that determines if evaporation takes place. The Temperature of the atmosphere has very little to do with evaporation; but it does determine the amount of water vapor the atmosphere can contain.

    A molecule of H2O near the top few molecular layers of the surface, has no knowledge whatsoever of the atmospheric Temperature, or even that the atmosphere exists. It does know the mean binding energy to be overcome to escape from the surface; and only after escape, does the H2O molecule become aware of the atmosphere and its Temperature. Scientists are still researching the question of exactly where the brains of the H2O molecule reside.

    Likewise, evaporation is one of the key elements of the Temperature brick wall that Willis is talking about (Nice presentation Willis). Evaporation not only cools the water surface (look at hurricane tracks) but it transports a lot of latent heat to the immediate atmosphere (590 calories per gram or so). Winds and storms carry off the H2O so they assist the evapration by stopping the accumulation of H2O above the surface.

    As every process chemist knows, a properly designed chemical process, has to remove the reaction products from the interface, to keep the process going, otherwise the bidirectional reaction comes to a screeching halt.

  135. Actually I live on the shore of a deep lake at 30 degrees north (sub-tropics). Max surface temperature record that I know of is just under 32C and average summer max is probably about 30C. It cools off pretty fast with depth because the clarity is far lower than open ocean, there’s little mixing from waves, so the sunlight gets completely absorbed closer to the surface and doesn’t mix downward well.

    I expect there’s something pretty close to a law for deep bodies of water with sufficient mixing so that there’s little diurnal temperature variation where maximum possible temperature is then purely a function of latitude.

  136. The 30C SST limit means the sun (TSI) has no more effect on the Earth’s climate than GHG changes.

    Assuming the 30C limit is caused by the hydrological cycle, and I can’t see another mechanism, the only things which could cause climate change are things that affect the phase changes of water – aerosols, and perhaps GCRs and UV changes.

  137. Outstanding – and a pleasure to read.
    (In all the stuff written on climate, there’s a language fingerprint to look out for – snottiness and arrogance. If it’s there, I usually stop reading.)
    Commenting on ferd berple et al comments on the cyclone sideline :
    “As I recall from my sailing days, 28C is the ocean surface temperature at which you are at risk for cyclone formation. The ocean surface temperature will not go much above this, because the energy goes into storm formation.”
    About right. Here (NE Australia) cyclones tend to form in the South Solomon Sea (eg the hot spot on Willis’ graphs) when there is a thunderstorm and the sea temperature exceeds 24°C. They then tend to track south and west (except when they do something different of course). If the track is into waters below 24°C, the cyclone tends to fizzle.
    “Cyclones (huricane/typhoon) are not distributed evenly around the globe. They tend to affect the east coast of continents more than the west coast. ”
    Not here – north-west coast has higher frequency and strength.

  138. Until we understand the reasons for the amazing planetary temperature stability, we have no hope of understanding the slight variations in that stability
    Then, the question is raised. Though it seems that the answer would imply a change of paradigm.

  139. Roger @12:00pm
    Roger @12:17
    Roger @1:05
    He never said it “didn’t go over” that temp. he said and I quote:
    “It never gets much warmer than around 30 – 31°” The graphs even show many outliers above that point. Really man, pay attention and stop trying to change the subject. The subject being: a possible high limit to oceanic temps and the reasons for that possibility.

  140. R. Gates says:
    February 12, 2012 at 9:32 am

    All very interesting Wills, and certainly, as you point out, is an excellent example of the self-regulatory nature of Earth’s climate system, and in this regard is very similar to the ways in which your own body regulates itself to keep its temperature from going too high, or too cold. What your very specific and narrow SST analysis absolutely does not do is saying anything about of the impact of increasing amounts of CO2 to the ocean as a whole, when looking at all ocean layers, and extending even into the cryosphere and across all latitudes.

    The oceans have a mass of 1.4E24 grams while the CO2 in the atmosphere has a mass of 3.16E18 grams. Dividing one by the other gives a ratio of 2.3E-6 (0.0000023). This shows the mass of the oceans is about 443,000 TIMES that of atmospheric CO2!

    And now, R., you can see why Will has not said “anything about the inpact of increasing amounts of CO2 to the ocean as a whole” as you request.

    Time to dispense with this CO2 kick of yours, R. Time to dispense!

    (Or continue and I’ll be the only sucker pulled in by your attempted thread pirating.)

  141. Sorry…meant to type “WIllis” rather than “Will”. I apologize, Willis. (Great post, by the way–must have the CAGW crowd worried by the looks of some of their responses.)

  142. Water with excess charge shows spontaneous increase in surface area below −9.5 kV, stretching into threads and dividing spontaneously in smaller droplets. Droplet spontaneous deformation or subdivision is aided by surrounding electric fields and its dependence with the field may be assessed by plotting the apparent surface tension measured under a given voltage but decreasing distance to a grounded object, as shown in Figure 4.
    Spontaneous water surface area increase is opposed to the usual minimum area ex- pected under gravity…

    http://www.electrostatics.org/images/I1.pdf

  143. Interesting. Can you centre your world maps opposite Greenwich so that the Pacific isn’t split? That still seems to be where the most interest is.

  144. Willis said:

    “I’m just going to point out that you are a fool following the lead of greater fools, so you’ll find the atmosphere at Tallbloke’s much more congenial.”

    I am following the lead of the Gas Laws which have been settled science for more than 300 years but which you have shown yourself determined to ignore.

    A number of contributors here have pointed out to you that it is atmospheric pressure that determines the rate of energy flow from ocean to air and which puts a lid on the achievable temperature of the sea surfaces at current levels of solar input.

    You, sir, are the fool here.

  145. Second Law Violation insight into atmosphere motions

    Different gases have different lapses (-g/Cp)
    Closed, well insulated tall pipe loop of H2, heat exchangers top and bottom
    Gives perpetual motion — Propeller inside, generate power

    See — ” Modified Feynman Ratchet With
    Velocity-dependent Fluctuations And The Second Law Of Thermodynamics”

    To what extent is random broken, creating circulation patterns,
    Even in an isolated System ?

  146. I think its wrong to conclude that 30 to 32 degrees is a cap/limit for the oceans temperature based on the Argo data. All you could conclude is that the average environmental temperature in the warm zones is about 30 degrees C, which seems about right from Darwin to Singapore in my experience. If you were to increase the solar input I suspect it might raise ocean temps to a new slightly higher average.

  147. G. Karst says: I am not aware of any component of current models, which would limit SSTs.

    Exactly where I am coming from as well. I would be utterly flabbergasted if any climate model used to predict catastrophic warming via amplification from positive feedback from water vapor included any SST limit at all. If such had been included then I just think that by now we would be discussing the difference between some modeled limit and the stark reality that Willis has brought to our attention.

    The alarmists don’t just ‘hide declines’, they’re going to hide anything that threatens their agenda and this revelation certainly qualifies as such a threat. What other explanation is there for their rabid refusals of FOIA requests? (And if they already know or suspect such an SST limit exists perhaps we’ll learn of their intent to keep it hidden when the rest of emails are released?)

  148. There are also some data points in figure 2 above 35C. Surely that would indicate that the ocean max temp cap was broken or the floats sensors were broken? You would have to be able to properly explain those data points to not falsify the max temp theory.

  149. PROJECTION WHETHER TEMPERATURES PREDICTED BY THE OCEAN THERMOSTAT HYPOTHESIS REMAIN STABLE AS CO2 INCREASES NOW IN DOUBT,

    The hypothesis of a Ocean thermostat does not guarantee anything. Singling out just another hypothesis and resting all insurance as prevention of global warming into the future is not as sound as first thought.

    GENUINE SKEPTICS remain such. Holding up a theory and using it as our “bed pillow” to sleep soundly at night is lazy science. Not only that – it falls into the same trap as “blinders” science syndrome – by focusing on one theory to exclusion of all else.

    The same applies to other resting pillows. The low sensitivity hypothesis. That one is yet to be proven false. However Roy Spencer believes with yet another ten years of data the hypothesis of low sensitivity will either be further strengthened or substantially weakened to irrelevance.

    Read on……………..

    http://classic.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54291/

    The theory of ocean thermostats is a controversial one, says lead author Joan Kleypas from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, CO. The theory goes that in the open ocean, increases in surface water temperature lead to more evaporation. The process of evaporation itself cools the water, but the cloud cover that develops also acts as shade, blocking further heating. But this feedback doesn’t function everywhere. “You’ll have evaporation over a swimming pool,” explained Kleypas, “But you’re not going to get cloud formation above it.”

    The authors examined satellite data of surface temperatures from the years 1950-2006 and found a region of particularly warm waters in the western Pacific with temperature increases at half the rate of other areas. They compared the satellite data to a model predicting how surface temperatures, carbon dioxide levels, solar variability and other factors interact.

    Even as other factors changed, the model predicted the same stable temperatures they’d observed in the data, suggesting a mechanism such as the ocean thermostat was at play, Kleypas explained. Comparison with a global dataset of coral bleaching showed that fewer bleaching events had occurred in that ocean region, suggesting that waters that were warmer but more stable might protect against coral bleaching.

    It’s not perfect protection, says Kleypas. Big shifts in temperature, caused by monsoons, for example, could override the thermostat regulation, and corals in this region are actually more vulnerable because they can tolerate a smaller range of temperature shifts. Most corals commonly bleach after water temperature change by 1-2 degrees Celsius. In these corals, bleaching events were observed after a change of 0.2-0.3 degrees.

    The researchers then projected whether the temperatures predicted by the thermostat hypothesis would remain stable as carbon dioxide levels increase. Now for the bad news: They won’t, said Kleypas.

    Read more: Ocean thermostat protects corals? – The Scientist – Magazine of the Life Sciences http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54291/#ixzz1mDRs5QaI

  150. I note that there are some data points at temperatures > 30, but wonder if they all come from the same buoys. Is it possible that most of the buoys are only calibrated to a maximum of 30°C?

  151. TGSG says at February 12, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    “He never said it “didn’t go over” that temp. he said and I quote:
    “It never gets much warmer than around 30 – 31°” The graphs even show many outliers above that point. Really man, pay attention and stop trying to change the subject. The subject being: a possible high limit to oceanic temps and the reasons for that possibility.”

    My reply is directed at TGSG, G. Karst, and Richard Sharpe from above: Please refer to the following quote of the post:

    “During the part of the year when the incoming radiation would be enough to increase the temperature over ~ 30°, the temperature simply stops rising at 30°. It is no longer a function of the forcing.” (bolding mine)

    “There is a hard limit on ocean temperature that just doesn’t get exceeded no matter how much the sun shines.”

    My point is that there is no hard limit on ocean temperature, and that limit is certainly not 30 degrees C. Direct, impartial evidence was supplied to back up my assertion. It is up to you whether to believe the data or not. NOAA’s own data buoys in not-so-hot open ocean shows 34 degrees C. A peer-reviewed paper in the journal Oceanography states that wind is the key factor in limiting high open temperature.

    But, this post has pretty pictures so if you want to go with that, by all means have at it. Don’t let me stop you.

  152. Stephen Wilde says:
    February 12, 2012 at 4:13 pm


    I am following the lead of the Gas Laws which have been settled science for more than 300 years but which you have shown yourself determined to ignore.

    I’m still trying to position your statement against the fact that oxygen (O2) wasn’t discovered until 1773 (or 1774 depending on who gets credit), which was only 238 years ago.

    And your Gas Laws have been “settled science” for more than 300 years? Hmmmmmm…..

  153. As a complete layman I hesitate to add to the professional’s comments here. As a long term resident of the east coast of Australia, a traveller, a sailor and consequently a weather watcher I have observed how the summer prevailing nor-easters keep areas in the south like Sydney cool but humid. In the north coastal Queensland is likewise kept somewhat warmer but still tolerable by the south east trades. In the far west of Queensland in the summer colourful cumulus clouds roll up, more often than not resulting in dry storms sometime starting bush fires by lightening strikes. I find it fantastic to see Willis’s analyses of our great oceans. It seems pretty obvious to a layman that as 70% of the earths surface is covered by substantial layer of water, how it responds to the energy from the sun is rather more meaningful than land energy measurements. One doesn’t find too many temp. recordings being obtained from underground mines or caves. Its always around 16*C I understand. Cheers from soggy Sydney.

  154. sort of O/T cos i can’t open TipsnNotes:

    15 Dec 2011: Australian: AAP: Bill Gates gives tick to carbon tax
    Mr Gates, the founder of Microsoft who’s holidaying in Sydney with his family, said someone had to lead on tough global issues and it had to be hoped that by setting a good example, others would follow.
    “I wish the world at large found it easier to get together on this because a carbon tax is a very important tool to encourage the invention of low-cost energy technologies that don’t emit carbon,” he told ABC Television.
    “To help that happen, a carbon tax really is a key piece.”…

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/breaking-news/bill-gates-gives-tick-to-carbon-tax/story-fn3dxity-1226223361332

    1 Feb 2012: Deutsche Presse-Agentur: Sydney sploshes through a cold, wet summer
    Microsoft founder Bill Gates and other A-listers were in jumpers and raincoats rather than shorts and beach shoes during their Christmas holidays in Sydney…
    The Weather Channel said Wednesday that Australia’s biggest city had its coldest December in more than half a century and its coldest and wettest January in over a decade…
    The Gates family got fed up with Sydney’s weather and, like many of the locals, flew up to Queensland for a bit of southern hemisphere summer comfort.

    http://news.monstersandcritics.com/asiapacific/news/article_1688430.php/Sydney-sploshes-through-a-cold-wet-summer

  155. Oh, and nitrogen wasn’t discovered until approximately 1772. Indeed, this quote is instructive:

    “Gases were poorly understood by chemists until the late 1700s. What is air “made of?” That question is difficult to answer for a number of reasons. ”

    http://www.chemistryexplained.com/elements/L-P/Nitrogen.html

    That “poor understanding” would be, oh, about 210 to 240 years ago. Yet Gas Laws have been “settled science for more than 300 years”?

    What gasses are you referring to, Stephen WIlde?

  156. Tim,
    If you’re still reading, let me add a little more to my earlier explanation [at the risk of provoking the wrath of Willis]. The absorption and penetration depths of IR radiation into the ocean is not contentious [I refer to IR radiation similar to that of S-B black-body radiation at temperatures similar to the Earth, as experienced by the ocean surface].
    Willis mis-characterizes the argument as saying that IR does not heat the ocean, which is not correct. It does, but the simple fact that sea surface temperature are lower than land surfaces refutes his rather simplistic counter arguments, and he also falls into the trap of talking about radiative flux but forgetting the word “NET”. His [self-edited] reply refers back to an earlier piece on WUWT where Dave Springer gave an excellent series of replies to discussions about this, but Willis’ replies repeatedly demonstrate that he missed the point. Many others also find it easy to conceptualize ocean stratification or mixing when it is described in terms of kilometres, metres and millimetres, yet cannot do so when the concept is further extended down to nanometres. i have done so myself.

    I think Dave Springer is probably on-the-money, [even if he has made himself unpopular here by espousing a point that I can't find mentioned on real climate]. Or, at least, I think Springer and others may have hit the nail on the head, if the IPCC models really do assume that there is no difference between the top nanometres and the top millimetre of the ocean. Evaporation of water does not occur from a millimetre below the surface, where diffusion [viscosity] has become less than dominant. The argument, as far as I am concerned, is a quantitative one, not qualitative. Here, Willis appears to ask for quantitative argument rather than “hand waving”, but his inadequate counter arguments listed on the previous blog are also qualitative “hand waving”, so I don’t feel the need to do otherwise. Springer answers most of them very well.

    Yes, TallBloke allows a greater latitude about what’s acceptable to explore on his blog, and I think he is well aware that some discussions are really pushing it. But this argument does not come under the same category of the N&Z hypothesis [which I don't subscribe to].

    Be that as it may, Willis posts a blog here discussing that ocean surface temperatures appear limited, and it’s an interesting point. Eye-balling the data, I can’t see a significant difference between maximum surface temperatures in tropical open oceans in the Northern and Southern hemispheres. Despite the fact that the southern hemisphere receives, I think, about 7 to 9% more insolation, this won’t surprise many people who are already persuaded that the temperature of this planet is ruled primarily by the sun and water, not carbon dioxide.

  157. Rosco says:
    February 12, 2012 at 1:44 pm
    How about this –

    The AGW proponents have it totally wrong – the Sun’s radiation warming the Earths’ surface is not the measly 170 W/sq m 24/7 as deceptively stated but wayyyy more during the day.

    The atmosphere and oceans REDUCE the surface temperature during the day to much lower than it would otherwise be – evidence: the day temperature of the Moon with no atmosphere shows the Sun’s radiation could fry us during the day.

    I can never understand the dismissal of this important fact – without an atmosphere and water we’d all be burnt to a crisp by the Sun’s radiation.

    Well, they’ve taken out all the direct heat, (beamed) thermal energy, from the Sun from their energy budget saying it doesn’t reach the surface, could this have something to do with it?

    To me it seems likely that CO2 released from warmer ocean waters is the most significant source of increasing atmospheric CO2 and may be a “safety valve” mechanism for a global thermostat providing extra radiative transport for heat to space and actually providing no radiative forcing – not a positive one anyway.

    CO2 is part and parcel of the Water Cycle, which has also been taken out of their energy budget, and this brings the temperature down by 52°C to 15°C from the 67°C it would be on an Earth without water, but with its atmosphere of nitrogen and oxygen (and trace). The difference then it appears between the moon and earth from the 67°C and whatever the moon’s, is the difference between with and without dry atmosphere.

    So, how would you calculate what it would be rather than the 170 W/sq m 24/7 ?

  158. Septic Matthew says:
    February 12, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Willis, you wrote in the legend, “Two years shown for clarity.” Is that one year (i.e. all points plotted vs day in the year) double-plotted?

    Yes it is, Matthew, sorry for the lack of clarity.

    w.

  159. PS from E.Thomas. I forgot to mention. On the northwest coast of Australia there are no substantial sea breezes from the Indian Ocean as there are from the Pacific in the east. Consequently coastal land temps are often 10*C hotter than the east. Down south near Perth during the summer afternoons a reliable sea breeze affectionately known as the Fremantle doctor (Fremantle is the port for Perth) kicks in to moderate temperature. Cheers (again)

  160. O H Dahlsveen says:
    February 12, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    The coldest equatorial part of our world’s oceans, according to your “Figure 5”, seems to be just where El Nińo lives – i.e. around the west coast of South America. I wonder why – -

    Upwelling.

    w.

  161. AdolfoGiurfa says:
    February 12, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    Until we understand the reasons for the amazing planetary temperature stability, we have no hope of understanding the slight variations in that stability

    Then, the question is raised. Though it seems that the answer would imply a change of paradigm.

    Indeed it does imply that.

    w.

  162. On topic and off topic at the same time: Willis, you and others on this board do more personal work and analysis than Mann, Hanson, Gore, and the rest of the crowd. They draw huge paychecks while they tell their underlings to do the actual work. There is something terribly wrong with this picture.

  163. Roger Sowell says on February 12, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURE AND ITS VARIABILITY IN THE INDONESIAN REGION

    The paper also states that surface winds are the key factor in sea surface temperatures.

    I note in passing, reference the “Hollywood science” from a commenter above, that none of the paper’s authors are from Hollywood.

    Hey, Roger, I was only being flippant before.

    I notice that the highest temperatures appear to be in the shallow areas next to land …

  164. Willis,
    Interesting post.
    In Figure 6, the shape of the seasonal curves for the mid latitudes (with a sharp summer peak) has a lot to do (I think) with the influence of seasonal heating on the stability of thermal stratification. When the summer sun begins to warm the surface, that produces a rather steep temperature gradient (and so density gradient) which tends to suppress turbulent downmixing, and the greatest warming takes place in a relatively thin layer near the surface. When the solar flux begins falling, the cooling that takes place is at first rapid, because only that relatively thin surface layer, with relatively low heat capacity, cools by convection, but as the cooling continues, convective overturning must increase in depth, so that the heat capacity of the convective layer increases (and the cooling rate slows) the further away from the late summer peak surface temperature.

  165. Roger Sowell says:
    February 12, 2012 at 4:33 pm
    ///////////////////////
    Roger if you haven’t seen my posts on the earlier thread by Willis: Jason and Argo Notes, you may be interested in having a look at them.

    I started off this argument as to what is the theoretical cap on ocean temperatures. I noted that I had reviewed thousands of ship’s logs containing many hundreds of thousands of entires and I could confirm from this review that ocean temperature in many areas often exceed 30 degC and I had seen many examples of 34deg C such that the cap on ocean temperature (no matter how much solar) could not be as low as 30 degC.

    You are quite right to refer to waters in Indonesia and off Durban. There are many warm areas such as in the Atlantic around Ghana/Ivory Coast, in the Indian ocean both off the East coast of Africa and the West coast of India, around the Mexican Gulf, Red Sea. North coast of Egypt around Alexandria and so on

    The idea that there is a cap at 30degC beyond which no matter how much solar there may be is not born out by the data. Obviously the hydrological cycle together with a number of other processes (eg currents, ocean overturning, wind local environmental issues no doubt in some way connected to the local topography) all play a role to keep ocean temperatures down to whatever may balance the energy budget at the particular location under review. All of these factors (together with the local prevailing solar) add up to some unique pachage to create an energy budget for each area and hence the reason why ocean temperatures are different in different areas. . .

  166. Good job Willis Eschenbach !
    Ocean heat content tracking is revealing
    Will be exciting, when the record is long enough to correlate with climate cycles

  167. Roger Sowell says:
    February 12, 2012 at 4:33 pm
    ///////////////////////////////////////
    Roger

    Wilis’s assertion has slightly ameiliorated from the more unequivocal statement he proffered a couple of days ago on the Jason and ARGO Notes thread. So too, the mechanism, that he asserts caps the temperature, has slightly widened.

  168. James of the West says:
    February 12, 2012 at 4:27 pm
    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    Agreed.

    See my post of 06:38am, particularly the third point made in the second paragraph of that post.

  169. tty says:
    February 12, 2012 at 12:29 pm
    //////////////////////////
    I don’t know what the ARGO buoys measure when they report on SST and I have asked Willis to clarify that very point. It is material.

    I myself have a lot of experience with ship’s data. On the Jason and ARGO Notes thread I explained how they sample temperature. Broadly that is at a depth of 10 metres. So when I advise that I have seen numerous empirical data recording temperatures of up to 34 or 35degC this is ocean temperature at a depth of about 10 metres.

    I am most certainly not trying to find a resting place for Trenbeth’s missing heat. I consider that there is no empirical evidence supporting his conjecture.

    However, whilst I do accept that the hydrological cycle plays a role in keeping ocean surface temperature down, I do not accept that that process caps it at a temperature of 30 degC. If I am wrong on that, it does not act so as to cap the ocean temperatire to 30 degC at a depth of about 10 metres; this is a stark fact which can be seen from a review of ship’s logs. My view in this regard is based on the personal review of thousands of ships logs containing many hundreds of thousands of entries involving the major shipping routes through the major oceans.

  170. I believe the stability of the earths climate system as noted by Willis, has everything to do with the physical properties of H2O, in particular the points at which a change of state occurs.

  171. G. Karst says:
    February 12, 2012 at 12:17 pm
    //////////////////////////////
    The example given by Roger is nor Spurious. See for enample one of my posts on the earlier threat in which I cite numerous examples:_.

    richard verney says:
    February 10, 2012 at 7:06 pm
    @Philip Bradley says: February 10, 2012 at 2:40 pm
    Fifth, you then at the end of your response set out a summary of the ARGO data reviewed by you. This summary suggests that nearly 10,000 points/sets of data show a temperature exceeding 30degC. That alone, would indicate that even based upon the data that you yourself have reviewed your assertion of a 30degC cap for surface sea temperature cannot be correct.
    Those greater than 30C temperatures are clustered around 30 to 35 degrees north, which is where the Earth is mostly land and there are enclosed and semi-enclosed seas, the Med, Yellow Sea.
    Without a geographic breakdown, I’ll suggest most of those +3OC temps are close to land.
    30C does appear to be an upper limit for SSTs in the open ocean.
    The cause is likely to be the hydrological cycle limiting the rise in air temps over the ocean.
    And it doesn’t matter how hot your swimming pool gets, its not going to affect the hydrological cycle
    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////
    Philip
    As you will have noted from my post. I have reviewed thousands of ship’s logs containing hundreds of thousands of entries and I can assure you that 30degC is not the upper limit for SSTs whether in enclosed, semi-enclosed or open oceans. Incidentally, the Med only reaches above 30 deg C close to Alexandria and very near to the Northern coast off Egypt.
    Warms seas can be commonly encountered in and around Indonesia, Thailand, off the coast of China and Japan, in the Indian ocean both up the west side of India and the east side of Africa, in the approaches to and through the Red Sea (see my earlier post which referred to a wikipedia entry recording the survey done of Sudan revealling 32 degC temps) the Atlantic ocean around north east Africa, in and around the Gulf of Mexico.
    Just to give you a slight flavour, see the following links:
    Off the coast of UEA, this months water temp 32degc, long term max temp 35degC . See http://www.sea-temperature.com/country_water/united%20arab%20emirates/127
    Off the coast of Ghana, this months maximum temp 34 degC, long term max temp 33 degC (the maximum cited is not the absolute maximum but more the average maximum there will always be examples when a higher figure is unusally observed) . See http://www.sea-temperature.com/country_water/ghana/77
    Indian Ocean say off the coast of India, this month’s maximum 31 deg C, long term max temp 31 degC. See http://www.sea-temperature.com/country_water/india/110 In practice, this is far to general, warmer temperatures are not infrequently recorded off the west coast of India and say off the coast of Madagascar, see http://www.sea-temperature.com/country_water/madagascar/64 .
    Off the coast of Thailand, this months max temp 32degC, long term max temp 32 degC. See http://www.sea-temperature.com/country_water/thailand/119
    In an around Indonesia, eg this month’s max temp 31degC, max long tem temp 31 degC. See http://www.sea-temperature.com/country_water/indonesia/115 and East Timor this months max temp 29 degC, long term max 31degC. See http://www.sea-temperature.com/country_water/east%20timor/114
    In and around Mexico, for example http://www.sea-temperature.com/water/tapachula/536 and Guatemala, see: http://www.sea-temperature.com/country_water/guatemala/49 noting max temps of 31 degC.
    I make no comment upon the distribution of the ARGO buoys, My comments are based upon a review of thousands of logs compiled by ships plying trade through the shipping routes through the major oceans of the world. You will note from the above links (which is by no means an exhaustive list) that the distribution of temperatures above 30degC is not as narrow as you suggest nor is it limited to enclosed and semi-enclosed oceans.
    If you read the third numbered paragraph of my post of 8:12 am you will note that I accept that the hydrological cycle has a role to play but it is not the only process at work.
    The hydrological cycle does not cap SST in open ocean at 30 degC.
    PS. I am not comparing my swimming pool to the open ocean. My observation was meant merely as an indicator upon which many people will have some experience so that they can get a grasp as to general merits of the assertion made by Willis that ‘no matter how much incoming solar there is the process of evaporation caps temperature at 30 degC’ (my paraphrasing). Obviously, not many people will have reviewed thousands of ships logs and will therefore have little feeling for what ships report as prevailing ocean temps

  172. Wow, I am depressed by the nattering that goes on here. I do not believe Willis has stated a Law of Nature that sea surface temperatures are “limited to 30˚C”. He has merely shown a bazillion measurements that show that sea surface temperatures, for some reason(s), tend to maximize at 30˚C +/- a bit. A few of these bazillion measurements are indeed higher, maybe as much as 15% higher, but the tendency is 30˚C.

    Now this paper sheds some real light on the issue in relation to the input of solar energy:
    The Model Atmospheric Greenhouse Effect
    Joseph E. Postma

    http://www.tech-know.eu/uploads/The_Model_Atmosphere.pdf

    “…We hold that the average solar radiative input heating is only over one hemisphere of the Earth, has a temperature equivalent value of +30˚C, with a zenith maximum of +87.5˚C, and that this is not in any physically justifiable manner equivalent to an instantaneous average global heating input of -18˚C…..”

    That is, a chunk of the Earth’s surface, about the size of North America, centered on wherever the Sun is in its north-south seasonal migration, is receiving an instantaneous influx of energy that is the equivalent of 90˚C for part of the day. Much of this huge area necessarily is water – the world ocean. That water accepts this energy, and then all sorts of processes immediately start to remove and dissipate or limit the energy: evaporation, convection, condensation, cloud formation, rainfall, wind, typhoons, nightfall, etc. The summation of these processes tends to limit the water’s temperature to about 30˚C – as shown by a bazillion measurements.

  173. Taking the latitude bands of 5 degrees either side of the Equator, if you gaze for long enough at the graphs, you might see that: 1. The SH band was hotter than the NH band in years 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, & 2006. 2. Then the NH is hotter for 2007, 2008 & 2010, with remaining years being about equal. (This is a visual observation, not a numerical one).
    There is some evidence of feedback, detail not described here. In the NH, over all latitude bands, a hot summer is often followed by a colder winter, e.g the high red peak in mid-2005 is followed by a long blue tail descending in 2006. Ditto 2010-11.
    Maybe it is noise or sampling, or simply by-products of currents, but there seems a hint of opposite symmetry either side of the Equator, additional to that in the first para. There is an equatorial downwards dip in the NH first half 2006, but a rise in the SH at the same time, being of similar shape but different sign.
    This is a complex, multidimensional set of data. Who could possibly make a better conclusion than Willis, “Until we understand the reasons for the amazing planetary temperature stability, we have no hope of understanding the slight variations in that stability.”

  174. Willis,
    Another excellent thought provoking post. I’m continually astounded at how many otherwise intelligent people can’t read and comprehend your initial post – regardless of what post it is.

    Here I seem to see people insisting that there are locations with SSTs over 31 C, you never said anything about all locations, just that most locations… Pointing out that there are places near Durban, or Brownsville, or anywhere else, with SSTs over 31C doesn’t exactly make a huge statement or discussion point. I’m sure I could find relatively deep water off the coast of Hawaii with temperatures well over 40C – they would just happen to be where lava is being extruded into the sea.

    It is nice to see the majority of people are thinking about the data rather than trying to immediately “explain” everything there is to “see” in it. Your thoughtful purusal of data advances my understanding of the phenomena, not to mention being generally a delight to read.

    To understand something, you first have to generally understand the majority of the data, then you can start refining the information by examining the exceptional data for hidden links to the general understanding.

  175. Thank you to DB, RockyRoad, & tty for comments about the cold ocean deeps.

    Here is my problem. The globe is exposed to hot sunshine from outside; and to a very warm interior, albiet one with a slow tranfer of energy outward. Yet, in between, we have the deep oceans at not much more than freezing point.

    Given hot above and hot below, the oceans shold warm steadily unless or until there is an escape route like a phase change, or a radiative, convective or conductive loss to space. Such a loss to space has to ‘connect’ with the deep oceans. The obvious mechanism is oceanic circulation with a vertical component. The rate of loss, if the ocean heat content and solar input remain stable, can only really be controlled by the rate of circulation, with warming happening when the colder waters are bought more often to the sunshine.

    So, Willis, a thought experiment. If ocean circulation was to cease overnight, would your tropical SSTs still be capped? Or, put another way, is the level of the cap dictated by the rate and disposition of ocean movement?

  176. Just an observation
    The 30 C line seems to be a sort of limit, with a few outliers

    I wonder if someone thought about examining just that data above 30, and do some searching/analysis of that portion of the set.
    Look for things like
    1) depth of ocean measured (when above 30C) Was this in shallower water?
    2) Proximity of storms (something that would remove heat), would require weather map correlation.

    The overall data could also be correlated with depth, average ocean depth at each measurement.

  177. Evan Thomas says:
    February 12, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    10*C

    I compose in a text document. Then when pasted into the Word Press window I use these keystrokes to get a degree symbol

    (ALT) 0 1 7 6 That is the Alt key and the digits 0176, no spaces.

    So, putting the above between 10 and C gives: 10°C

  178. R. Gates says:
    February 12, 2012 at 11:27 am “…In this regard, you need to look at the complete ocean in all layers, and in doing so, of course you’ll find that the ocean heat content has been going up over the past 30+ years, and this is even more strongly indicated the deeper you take the metric….

    Do you have a link to back up this statement. I would like to see it. According to the Ocean Page, under the Reference tab here on WUWT, indeed the heat content of the upper 700 meters of the sea has increased since about 1970, although the last decade seems to be a flat spot (little or no increase).

    So what of it? We all agree that the Earth’s carapace – let’s call it the surface-atmosphere ensemble – has warmed by some fraction of a degree over the last 40 years. As a result, the Earth must be shining a little brighter to an observer in space – brighter in that its emission spectrum has shifted a bit to the short wave, and is somewhat more energetic. That’s as can be expected.

    Whether or not there is equilibrium between incoming and outgoing energy I can’t say. The sea is a giant heat sink, filled with the most rapacious heat gatherer known in nature – water. That water can mix and spread the heat in three directional dimensions, and a couple of other physicochemical dimensions. There is a vast amount of heating required to destroy this planet.

    I do not believe that Willis has shown that “…there is a cap on how rapidly the energy can flow from the ocean to the atmosphere…” I think that the processes that occasion this phenomenon – conduction, convection, evaporation, etc. etc. can scale up to match whatever heating input there is, at least within geologic reference. Witness what appears to be a cap on the Earth’s temperature over half a billion years; these processes get heat to the point where it can radiate to space in such a way as to maintain an upper boundary on surficial heating.

  179. Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 12, 2012 at 11:38 am
    ////////////////////////////////////////////////
    Willis

    I would respond to your response, if it actually made some sense.

    I am able to respond to the IPCC point. No they do not have a physical hypothesis. They avoid putting forward this at all cost. For example, they do not explain how DWLWIR which by virtur of its long wavelength can penetrate the ocean by only about 10 microns (most of which is absorbed within 5 microns) can heat the oceans given that the first few microns of the ocean is no more than wind swept spray which in any event is being ‘boiled’ off as part of the process of evaporation. As such, it is difficult to envisage how it gets overturned thereby heating the ocean below.

    Instead they look at some data covering temperatres. They see from this data that it appears to have gotton warmer these past 60 or so years and they are aware that man has been releasing a lot of CO2 and conclude from this that there is a process whereby CO2 drives global temperatures upwards. This is because they can’t think of anything else that may have caused temperatures to rise. They do not look at the data in any detail which detailed scrutiny may reveal inconsitencies with the data led hypothesis. So they do not see that there is in fact no correlation between CO2 levels and temperatures during the instrument periof (the only tome CO2 and temperatures run in tandem is during the late 7-s warming but the rate of warming is no greater than the 1920-40 warming). They do not see that in the geological past, there are periods when temperatures fall although CO2 is rising, there are periods when temperatures increase when CO2 is falling, there are temperaure plateaus when CO2 is either rising or falling and in any event to the extent that there are some broad similarities, CO2 lags temperature and therefore apprears a response not a driver. Inconvenient data is ignored.

    In short, they are over-strecthing the data.

    This, in my opinion, is essentially the approach that you have adopted. You collected the ARGO data, plotted it noted that it peaked at 30degC and immediately read too much into the data. You made a stark and unequivical claim to the effect that ‘no matter how much solar there is, the process of evaporation caps the ocean temperature at 30degC’ (my paraphrase).

    A couple of days ago, I suggested that whilst I accepted that the hydrological procees does act to keep down ocean temperature it is (i) not the only process in play, and (2) the cap is not set at 30degC but rather higher. I recounted my extensive experience of ship log data that confirms that significantly higher temperatures are obtained in many different oceans and I pointed out that even the ARGO data that you collected contained nearly 10000 entries exceeding 30degC.

    As you say at the top of this post, you have not identified any new process. Most people accept that the hydrological process plays a role in restricting ocean temperatures. But there are many other factors involved as well.

    I pointed out that I only need show you one data set exceeding 30degC to establish the temperature cap you claim of 30degC is wrong. I cited nearly 10,000 ARGO temps logs showing this.

    In my opinion, you are over reaching the data. Clearly there are processes involved which all taken together serve to restrict ocean temperature towards an upper level of around 30degC. These processes include the hydrological cycle but also prevailing currents, wind, ocean over turning, topography (and no doubt many others) but these processes do not cap it at 30degC and where local environmental conditions are different one can see ocean temperature rising to 35degC and even beyond. It is all a matter of the interplay of local prevailing environmental conditions. If you alter these, you alter the resultant tempoerature, If you increase solar, eg less clouds (or possibly a stroneger sun), there will be a resultant increase in ocean temperature which the hydrological process will act to some extent to to limit and the increased evaporation may lead to an increase in clouds which in turn may act to restrict temperature until a new equilibrium temperature is reached.

    . ,

  180. Richard Sharpe says:
    February 12, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Roger Sowell says on February 12, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    As others above also noted, the Argo data does not include shallow areas of the ocean. I suspect that those areas are also greater than 30 degrees C. If I recall correctly, the movie Endless Summer had the stars surfing off the coast of Ghana in water that was very hot, so hot the wax melted off the surfboards.

    Roger, I advise you not to get your science from Hollywood.
    ——————————————————————————
    Richard, I advise you not to jump to fact free conclusions. The surf classic ‘The Endless Summer’ was made by independent film-maker Bruce Brown on a shoestring budget. It was rejected by all the Hollywood distributors he approached and opened in a tiny theatre in Witchita, Kansas. It then ran successfully in a New York independent theatre for a year before Hollywood would even touch it. It was a light hearted documentary which Hollywood thought would be of no interest to the public.

    Snark without even a leavening of fact is just pure snark.

    Does anyone know the melting point of board wax?

  181. Geoff Sherrington says:
    February 12, 2012 at 7:49 pm
    //////////////////////////////////
    Not wishing to step on Willis’s toes (I think I have angered him enough already), it is almost certainly the case that they would go far higher as one can see in lagoons where temperatures of about 40degC can be seen. .

  182. I marvel a little at the pedantic in here who have found individual buoys and areas which manage to exceed the (suddenly magical) 30C ‘limit’. Willis’ distribution plot in Fig 1 shows these are very is the exception, and I’d think easy enough to explain in shallower waters.

    More important is probably the remarkable confluence of maximums, such that the range at a latitude of 5 degrees N is perhaps 1C, while at 20 degrees N it is more like 7C (eg). All capped out at (about!) 30C.

    Of course, the converse argument may be very important: in that insolation varies increasingly with the seasonal changes in axial tilt of the earth at more extreme latitudes, whereas at the equator there is little variation at all.

    30C is what you get there now, who is to say what it would be if insolation increased say 20%? A 20% variation at 20 degrees N does not answer the question because the maximum insolation in that case is still less than that at the equator.

  183. I don’t comment much on Mr. Eschenbach’s postings. Also I have not read any of them for quite some time. This one, though, is a good example of the hockey-stick graph problem: Take a single set of data, no matter what other data exists to the contrary, then draw conclusions about the climate from it. Mann used some tree rings, Eschenbach uses Argo temperature data.

    My version of science and valid conclusions doesn’t work that way. Each statement made in a post should be read with the question: is that a true statement? Math should also be carefully checked for accuracy, and more importantly, for validity. Is that particular bit of math appropriate at this point in the analysis? Graphs have the well-known problems of starting and ending points, choosing only the data to support one’s conclusions, and in particular drawing straight line trends through a portion of cyclical data. Is this data any good? Does the data reinforce or contradict previous data? Does this data support the conclusions? Those are just some of the thoughts I use when reading these posts. Others may use different means to question things, or “be skeptical.”

    This post immediately rang the BS meter with the statement that ocean temperatures are limited to 30 degrees C maximum, more or less. I know for a fact there is data that disproves that. Perhaps it is because I grew up on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and have first-hand experience with warm water. I was quite surprised that so few (perhaps nobody?) challenged that point about a hard maximum ocean temperature. Richard Verney joined in later to confirm the bogus 30 degree C limit, from a different data set (ship logs). I am even more surprised that various people criticize my comments here today for pointing out that 30 degrees C (more or less) is not a hard limit on ocean surface temperatures. Is this now an echo chamber? Should we all just shout out “Yes that’s GREAT” on any serving of BS? Pretty graphs do not make good science.

    So now, I expect to be more heavily criticized than before. I really don’t care at this point. The climate science is far too important for BS to be tolerated. My personal view is that we are completely out of time. The Sun has gone quiet and is expected to grow much quieter, the oceans have gone cold or into their cold phase, and all we can do is watch the coming cold-planet-catastrophe unfold. The Russians are on record that the thing of concern is not warming, but cold. I have seen the US West Coast temperatures and they are dropping dramatically. There is no great sunspot cycle this time, though, like there was in 1950 when this happened before. Instead we are facing a weak sunspot cycle. With all due respect to the Solar Scientists, Causation be damned. We know that world temperatures drop every single time the sunspots grow weak or disappear. Ancient men were smart enough to figure out that the Sun always rose in the east (correlation) but had no clue as to causation. Causation is not always necessary. The only good news is that today there is a wide array of scientific instruments in place to monitor and provide data as the cooling commences. We will not be able to stop it, but we will at least see it coming this time.

  184. Guys

    If one wanted to speculate on the main process at play which results in the tropical ocean generally having a temperature not exceeding 30 degC, my money would be on the ocean currents (which in turn drive air currents) that carry the heat away from the tropical ocean polewards, not the latent heat involved in the hydrological process..If it were solely down to the hydrological process it is difficult to envisage why there are great swathes of oceans covering 100s of miles where the ocean temperaure is frequently significantly above 30egC.

    The tropical oceans are the heat pump of the planet. The currents eminating from them are constantly moving warm water generated in the tropics elsewhere. It is the distribution of this heat which is resulting in the relatively low maximum temperatures. If this conveyor belt were to stop, not withstanding the latent heat involved in the hydrological cylcle, the tropical oceans would be far warmer than 30degC .

  185. Johanna, thanks for that on Endless Summer!

    Yes, surf board wax comes in a variety of melting points, so the surfer can use a wax that is most appropriate for the water temperature that day. Cold water can make the wax too hard, and hot water can make the wax far too gooey or thin. So, there are different waxes for the different temperature ranges.

  186. Geoff Sherrington says:
    February 12, 2012 at 7:49 pm “…Given hot above and hot below…”

    I’m not Willis, but I’ll give you a partial answer. The ‘hot below’ – the heat of the Earth’s interior – expresses itself only in the oceanic spreading ridges/continental rifts and in volcanoes.

    The Earth’s interior heat is almost self-contained under a layer of exquisite insulator – the crust itself. However, that heat breaks through in places, for example, at the mid-ocean rifting centers where new oceanic crust is formed as extruded and intruded lavas. This material is hot and therefore less dense, and as a result it stands high (the spreading ridges are topographic ridges).

    As spreading continues, newly formed seafloor rock moves away from the hot central rift zone and cools, losing heat to cold ocean water. After about 750,000 years, the seafloor rock is as cold as that ocean water, notwithstanding that the hot asthenosphere is immediately below it. It becomes so cold and dense that it begins to press down into the asthenosphere (the abyssal plain – the sea floor away from the spreading ridges – is up to hundreds of meters lower in altitude than the spreading ridge). Finally the cold, dense seafloor plunges into the hot asthenosphere, forming a subduction zone . There it will be partially melted and resurface in volcanic eruptions.

    As a result, the ocean gets some heat added to it at volcanic centers and at the ridges. However, the ocean is gigantic, and water has the highest heat capacity of any natural material. As a result, if the interior of the Earth adds even one degree to the ocean, I would be astounded.

  187. Roger Sowell says:
    February 12, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    … This post immediately rang the BS meter with the statement that ocean temperatures are limited to 30 degrees C maximum, more or less. I know for a fact there is data that disproves that. Perhaps it is because I grew up on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and have first-hand experience with warm water. I was quite surprised that so few (perhaps nobody?) challenged that point about a hard maximum ocean temperature.

    If so, take your meter to the shop. I am discussing the Argo data about the open ocean, not someone’s swimming pool or close inshore in the Gulf of Mexico. Look at the data. Look at Figure 1. I don’t care what your history tells you or what you remember about the warm ocean of your childhood. LOOK AT THE DATA IN FIGURE 1. There are 700,000 measurements there. Only 1% of them are over 30°, and only ONE TENTH OF ONE PERCENT OF THEM ARE OVER 31°C

    Now, if that doesn’t spell “hard limit” to your BS meter, return it to the manufacturer.

    w.

  188. Roger Sowell says: February 12, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    says: “….this…. is a good example of the hockey-stick graph problem: Take a single set of data, no matter what other data exists to the contrary, then draw conclusions about the climate from it. Mann used some tree rings, Eschenbach uses Argo temperature data….”

    Gee, Roger, this is the silliest thing I have seen in a long while. Straight from the circus, are we? You apparently have no limit on the hoops you will jump through or the twists you will make to align your argument.

    There is a huge difference between Mann’s interpretation, manipulation, lopping and grafting of data, followed by scientific publication and his subsequent citing by international organisations…

    …..and Willis’ presentation here of some data and a few questions.

  189. Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 12, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    Now that is one incredible map. I’d like to blow it up to wall mural size and hang it on my wall.

    Take a look at the fetch of the equatorial Pacific. All that hot water pushed west to pile up around Indonesia. If it weren’t for Indonesia, Africa would be a roaster oven. Look at that cool water “upwelling” off the western coast of South America. It’s a lava lamp in reverse! Or else, the first skin of the onion has been peeled off and pushed back to good old Indonesia, uncovering an underlying layer of cooler water.

    Is there a contour map of the Earth’s surface that would show how much water is (from time to time) piled up around Indonesia? From Peru, it must look like a small hill, at least. Are there data that show the tidal ranges of both Indonesian ports and Peruvian ports during either El Nino or La Nina?

  190. Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 12, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    O H Dahlsveen says:
    February 12, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    The coldest equatorial part of our world’s oceans, according to your “Figure 5”, seems to be just where El Nińo lives – i.e. around the west coast of South America. I wonder why – –

    Upwelling.

    w.

    With help from some of the Antarctic Circumpolar current moving up the west coast of SA as the Humbolt current.

  191. Geoff Sherrington says:
    February 12, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    Thank you to DB, RockyRoad, & tty for comments about the cold ocean deeps.

    Here is my problem. The globe is exposed to hot sunshine from outside; and to a very warm interior, albiet one with a slow tranfer of energy outward. Yet, in between, we have the deep oceans at not much more than freezing point.

    Given hot above and hot below, the oceans shold warm steadily unless or until there is an escape route like a phase change, or a radiative, convective or conductive loss to space. Such a loss to space has to ‘connect’ with the deep oceans. The obvious mechanism is oceanic circulation with a vertical component. The rate of loss, if the ocean heat content and solar input remain stable, can only really be controlled by the rate of circulation, with warming happening when the colder waters are bought more often to the sunshine.

    Thanks, Geoff. In addition to JimF’s reply, I can add that the geothermal heat is estimated to be on the order of a tenth of a watt per square metre or so. So there is no “heat below” for the ocean other than in limited regions, there is only heat in the top 100 metres or so, the “photic zone”. This is also (not coincidentally) the depth of the upper “mixed layer” of the ocean. It is not a coincidence because it is the heat of the sun which mixes that top layer … but only at night.

    So, Willis, a thought experiment. If ocean circulation was to cease overnight, would your tropical SSTs still be capped? Or, put another way, is the level of the cap dictated by the rate and disposition of ocean movement?

    You are correct to identify vertical circulation as key to the heat exchange of the ocean. It is not generally realized that the atmosphere and ocean have opposite overturning times. The atmosphere overturns during the day, and stratifies at night. The ocean is reversed, it overturns at night, and stratifies during the day.

    This allows the ocean to rid itself of the sun’s heat. Another factor that is not often considered is that by and large, the amount of energy absorbed during the 24 hours of the day is also released during the same 24 hours. During the day, with the ocean stratified, the top surface is very warm. Radiation, evaporation, and conduction/convection are all high. But because of the stratification, warmest on top, energy below the surface is trapped there.

    At night, the surface cools, and the cool water starts to sink. As it does so, the energy which is deeper in the ocean is slowly raised to the surface, where it radiates, evaporates, and convects its heat away and joins the descending columns of cooler water moving downwards from the surface.

    So yes, you are correct that without this vertical convection the temperature balance of the ocean would be very different.

    Thanks for your interesting questions,

    w.

  192. A number of contributors here have pointed out to you that it is atmospheric pressure that determines the rate of energy flow from ocean to air and which puts a lid on the achievable temperature of the sea surfaces at current levels of solar input.

    Stephen, the primary driver of ocean/atmosphere heat flow is the temperature differential, with a secondary contribution from air flow/turbulence.

    Which BTW, likely explains the SST outliers above 30C. In semi-enclosed seas adjacent to large land masses, say the Gulf of Aden, the air above the ocean will be influenced by air masses that originate over land. These air masses will typically be much drier and often warmer than the usual atmosphere over the ocean. The warmer air will reduce the heat flow from the ocean (reduced temperature difference) and the reduced humidity will impede the hydrological feedback (cloud formation). Thus allowing the ocean surface to warm above 30C.

    I am sure Willis will eventually get to a geographic analysis that shows land proximity to these over 30C values.

  193. JimF says:
    February 12, 2012 at 8:13 pm
    R. Gates says:
    February 12, 2012 at 11:27 am “…In this regard, you need to look at the complete ocean in all layers, and in doing so, of course you’ll find that the ocean heat content has been going up over the past 30+ years, and this is even more strongly indicated the deeper you take the metric….

    Do you have a link to back up this statement. I would like to see it. According to the Ocean Page, under the Reference tab here on WUWT, indeed the heat content of the upper 700 meters of the sea has increased since about 1970, although the last decade seems to be a flat spot (little or no increase).

    ———-
    Jim,

    Go here and click between the different depths:

    http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/OC5/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/

    Ocean heat content is probably the best single metric for the energy imbalance of the planet. The amount it has gone up (to as deep as we are currently measuring) over the many decades is impressive. Please note that there has been no flattening at the 2000m mark, and not as much as some skeptics would have you believe down to 700m. Some skeptics seemed puzzled by the warming of the deeper ocean, and are trying to figure out why this would be impossible. After all, how could heat be forced into the deeper ocean? In the regard, it is critical to understand areas such as the Western Pacific, where, on a cyclical basis, warm water piles up, actually forming a dome of water, and underneath this dome, downwelling of warm water occurs, taking very warm water to the deeper ocean. The Mindanao dome, near the Philippines is the prime example of this area of downwelling. Eventually some of this warm water will work its way back to the east and to the surface, but as the ocean heat content has increased, especially down to the 2000m mark, it means that less energy is leaving during cycles such as El Niño, than is entering in downwelling areas all over the worlds ocean. Perhaps this warming of the deeper ocean is in response to increased greenhouse warming of the atmosphere, or perhaps not. If it is a natural cycle, then one would need a mechanism to explain it, and one would also expect it to begin to cycle back down at some point.

  194. Thanks, Geoff. In addition to JimF’s reply, I can add that the geothermal heat is estimated to be on the order of a tenth of a watt per square metre or so. So there is no “heat below” for the ocean other than in limited regions, there is only heat in the top 100 metres or so, the “photic zone”. This is also (not coincidentally) the depth of the upper “mixed layer” of the ocean. It is not a coincidence because it is the heat of the sun which mixes that top layer … but only at night.
    ———————————
    I understand (?) the geothermal heat flux estimate to be from land based borehole meausrements, yet the crust thickness on land is several miles thicker then the mean ocean crust thickness. Also, the mean volcanic heat flow into the oceans may be far greater then realised in the recent past. As the deep layers of the ocean have very little circulation how long do you think this heat energy could accumalate. In other words what is the residence time of the deep ocean volcanic and geothermal heat?

  195. Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 12, 2012 at 11:44 am
    richard verney says:
    February 12, 2012 at 11:02 am

    … I take it from your comment to Steve that “..there is plenty of energy from the sun to make many ocean areas reach over 30°C…” you will now appreciate that your previously expressed view that the tropical oceans would freeze is very probably misconceived.

    Richard, truly, I haven’t a clue what you think Steve said, or what you think I said, that has to do with whatever it is that you are talking about. That was the most opaque writing I’ve seen in a while. Clearly you think you’ve scored some massive point in the discussion, but I’m sorry, I simply can’t make heads or tails
    //////////////////////////////////////////
    As regards what you said, I think you said “..there is plenty of energy from the sun to make many ocean areas reach over 30°C…” which is a quote of something you said in your post of February 12, 2012 at 9:57 am.

    My comment was perhaps a liitle bit of a cheap shot. By way of elucidation, not on this thread but on various other threads posted by you (extending over a period of several years) discussing the effects of DWLWIR from CO2, you and I have exchanged views on whether but for the DWLWIR from CO2 the oceans would freeze. In these exchanges, you claim they would. I claim that even if the DWLWIR from CO2 was not taken into account, there is sufficient solar in equatorial regions which would heat the tropical ocean to a temperature above freezing, ie, the tropical ocean would not freeze.

    As part of the argument on that topic, I have suggested that your view is distorted by you using average figures (ie., average solar average DWLWIR etc which you have done in your posted article) whereas one needs to utilise local prevailing not average figures. Local prevailing solar in the tropics is high.

    I accordingly agree with your statement “..there is plenty of energy from the sun to make many ocean areas reach over 30°C…”. The implications of this are that in local areas where solar is most intense it is in sufficient in amount to prevent the tropical ocean from freezing.

    The reason I made this cheap shot is that on many occassions you have simply side stepped doing the calculation of solar in the tropics and have simply maintained some average figure and referred me to articles I think on the scienceofdoom (I can’t recall with certainty the specific website).

    I do not consider that I am scoring some points over you. But next time we get into an argument on a relevant thread concerning the effects of DWLWIR from CO2 and the impact this has on the ocean and in particular whether the oceans would freeze but for this ‘energy’ remember the strong solar forcing in the tropics.
    .

    PS: Don’t take my earlier post regarding the way in which the IPCC handle data, the wrong way. I was not intending to be rude. It is just that I think that in this particular case, you are rather over strecthing the data. That is intended as a constructive comment upon a data anaysis which is a work in progress.

  196. One horrifying thought, remember when some NASA probe was screwed up because someone failed to convert metric to inches or vice versa? I hope this isn’t some weird artificial result from some idiotic mistake like, for example, a BCD to binary ‘misunderstanding’ between the hardware and software people or “Oops, I thought the other one was the overflow bit? ”

    I assume someone physically tested that ARGO floats behave just as reliably in 40 degree water as they do in 10 degree water?

  197. R. Gates says:
    February 12, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    Thank you. I’ll have to look at those and think a bit, but it’s late here.

    regards

  198. richard verney says:
    February 12, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    … I pointed out that I only need show you one data set exceeding 30degC to establish the temperature cap you claim of 30degC is wrong. I cited nearly 10,000 ARGO temps logs showing this.

    Yes, richard, you pointed that out. Many times. And many times I and others have pointed out that I never said there were no temperatures above 30°. I said there was a hard limit not far above 30°.

    Less than a tenth of a percent of the Argo data is at 31° or above, richard. You can huff and puff all you want about that fact, but it is still a fact. Less than a tenth of a percent is 31° or more.

    I call that a “hard limit”. Nor am I alone. The phenomenon has been noted by a number of others in the past. People have cited some of those references. Here’s another. Then there’s the 1991 paper of Ramanathan and Collins, viz:

    Observations made during the 1987 El Niño show that in the upper range of sea surface temperatures, the greenhouse effect increases with surface temperature at a rate which exceeds the rate at which radiation is being emitted from the surface. In response to this ‘super greenhouse effect’, highly reflective cirrus clouds are produced which act like a thermostat shielding the ocean from solar radiation. The regulatory effect of these cirrus clouds may limit sea surface temperatures to less than 305 K.

    So it is a mystery to me why you pursue me with your inane claim. I didn’t say there were no temperatures in the whole ocean over thirty degrees, that’s just your attempt to nitpick my words. What I wrote were just what I called them, “Argo Notes”, it wasn’t a paper for a journal or even a full-blown post. Jeez, cut me some slack, richard, your endless bitch, bitch, bitch is unseemly. Others know what I meant about the limit on ocean temperatures. I and many people have explained what I meant.

    More to the point, you know what I meant. Stop acting like you don’t, you’re not that stupid. Move on to something less boring, you are embarrassing yourself.

    w.

  199. R. Gates says:
    February 12, 2012 at 9:30 pm
    ///////////////////////
    When I have time, I will look at your link.

    In the meantime, I enquire if it is indeed the case that the deep ocean is warming, is this really a problem? What lenth of time is required for energy stored in the deep ocean to find its way to the to a height where it can significantly affect the temperature of ocean currents distributing temperatures poleward and/or the air temperature above the ocean.

    Is this measured in tens of years or hundreds or even thousands of years. In otherwords, when do you envisage that this *ie, the additional energy you suggest is being stored therein) will come back to bite?

  200. johanna says:
    February 12, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    Richard Sharpe says:
    February 12, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Roger Sowell says on February 12, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    As others above also noted, the Argo data does not include shallow areas of the ocean. I suspect that those areas are also greater than 30 degrees C. If I recall correctly, the movie Endless Summer had the stars surfing off the coast of Ghana in water that was very hot, so hot the wax melted off the surfboards.

    Roger, I advise you not to get your science from Hollywood.

    ——————————————————————————
    Richard, I advise you not to jump to fact free conclusions. The surf classic ‘The Endless Summer’ was made by independent film-maker Bruce Brown on a shoestring budget. It was rejected by all the Hollywood distributors he approached and opened in a tiny theatre in Witchita, Kansas. It then ran successfully in a New York independent theatre for a year before Hollywood would even touch it. It was a light hearted documentary which Hollywood thought would be of no interest to the public.

    Snark without even a leavening of fact is just pure snark.

    Does anyone know the melting point of board wax?

    As a surfer in both tropical and temperate waters, let me chime in to say that these days, you buy your wax to match the water temperature you’ll be using it in. Tropical wax (my favorite kind) doesn’t soften as easily as cold-water wax. And as an aside, the most popular brand, in a triumph of marketing, is called “Dr. Zog’s Sex Wax” … but I digress.

    Back in the day when the endless summer was made, though, we used plain paraffin wax … hang on … OK, various internet sources say 50°C, or 105°F, as the melting point of paraffin. That matches with my experience.

    So I doubt greatly that the water melted the wax. I’ve been in Togo, next door to Ghana, and I suspect it was the hot tropical sun melting the wax …

    My best to all the surfers out there,

    w.

  201. richard verney says:
    February 12, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    G. Karst says:
    February 12, 2012 at 12:17 pm
    //////////////////////////////
    The example given by Roger is nor Spurious. See for enample one of my posts on the earlier threat in which I cite numerous examples:_.

    They are spurious until their deviation from norm can be verified and explained. It is why further investigation as to latitude, water depth, salinity is required urgently. These statistical anomalies may correlate with shallower or deeper water, if shown to be valid temps. Perhaps they occur on the lee side of land masses? Who knows? Until the data is analyzed for such?

    Joules Verne says:
    February 12, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    Yes there certainly IS a mechanism to limit sea surface temperature. It’s called the sun. The blackbody temperature is the theoretical maximum.

    Well yes, I guess, I should have mentioned SB limits but then I should have mentioned the boiling point of seawater, as well. oops…

    Consider the top few microns of water. It is intensely bombarded by photons, fiercely blasted by various particles, undergoing evaporation distillation and complex chemical changes, while constantly exchanging gases. This layer is an energized flux field, resistant to investigation and of tiny volume. Like quantum theory – much is yet possible – not much impossible. Can any of these many factors limit SST? I don’t know… evaporation is certainly affected – but we better find out, if and what, is. That’s all I have to say about that. GK

  202. Willis, I still think your point about the S.H. oceans being cooler was curious, as they receive vastly greater heat flux from a sun which is three million miles closer in January and about 7% more intense as compared to the NH summer. Some of this may be due to ocean currents transporting heat, but could not the self regulating, evaporation, conduction, cloud formation mechanism of the oceans be a factor in this as well? Do you know if the earth’s mean cloud cover increases in January February, as opposed to June and July?

    Overall the earth is considerably cooler when it is closer to the sun. At perihelion we have a permanent loss to space of ? W/2m SWR due to increased albedo and a loss of SWR to the atmosphere, as at perihelion the SWR is falling on far more ocean, where it is absorbed into the oceans for far longer then if that SWR fell on land. Do these balance (unlikely) or is the earth gaining or losing energy during perihelion??? The TOA flux should tell us and climate models should accurately predict the observation. As these immense changes in SWR TSI happen bi-annually, then how much and how rapidly changes in most things we measure in climate, temperature, cloud cover, albedo, SST, OHC, TOA flux incoming and outgoing, must be reflected in these bi-annual changes and analyzing these relative to the bi-annual 7% perihelion/aphelion flux in SWR should give deeper insight relative to heat and energy flux within our earth system.

    BTW Willis, in the very clear deep waters of the tropical ocean sunlight may penetrate deeper and accumalate longer then you think. From 660 to 3,000 feet (200 to 900 meters), only about 1 percent of sunlight penetrates. This layer is known as the dysphotic zone (meaning “bad light”).

    http://www.scienceclarified.com/

  203. Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 12, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    For those claiming that there is some part of the ocean over thirty degrees C … where is it?

    It’s hiding… from Kevin Trenberth :-)))

  204. Geoff Sherrington says:
    February 12, 2012 at 4:17 am

    I’m also interested in why deep ocean waters are close to freezing. How and when did they get so cold?

    It’s just arithmetic, I think Since saline water increases more or less linearly in density with declining temperature, it is inevitable that, given enough depth, the lowest levels would be hovering just above freezing. How “thick” that coldest layer is would perhaps vary over time, and naturally with local water depth.

    I’m curious about what the temp profile looks like in deep trenches in the tropics vs high latitudes.

  205. Keith Minto says:
    February 12, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    Heh. I followed the link to the wikipedia reference. It’s interesting the way the thing is defined. It’s “upwelling” until an ENSO event. In my mind, unless there is some topographic structure that would cause a moving stream of cold, dense water to be pushed or channeled to the surface, somehow pushing aside warm water, the “upwelling” simply is the way things are – the cold current is the normal flow of water along the coast of SA (and it is probably underlain by even colder, denser water).

    Then along comes El Nino – the equatorial trade winds die down (because there aren’t many thunderstorms going off in the equatorial Pacific), the hill of hot water over at Indonesia succumbs to gravity and spreads out over the Pacific (I wonder how fast this tide actually moves), eventually covering the normal cold water of the Humboldt current, and creating a local economic disaster. Is that “Downwelling” or simply a slow tsunami? Finally, the warm surface water is pushed back to Indonesia (La Nina) and “upwelling” (or normalcy) returns.

    Otherwise, dense things rise, and less dense things sink. And that, I don’t believe.

  206. TimTheToolMan says:
    February 12, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    Interesting. Can you centre your world maps opposite Greenwich so that the Pacific isn’t split? That still seems to be where the most interest is.

    I’ve added the following to the head post:

    Regards,

    w.

  207. richard verney says:
    February 12, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    Geoff Sherrington says:
    February 12, 2012 at 7:49 pm
    //////////////////////////////////
    Not wishing to step on Willis’s toes (I think I have angered him enough already), it is almost certainly the case that they would go far higher as one can see in lagoons where temperatures of about 40degC can be seen. .

    I can only agree, richard. Thank you.

    w.

  208. JimF says:
    February 12, 2012 at 7:20 pm
    Wow, I am depressed by the nattering that goes on here. I do not believe Willis has stated a Law of Nature that sea surface temperatures are “limited to 30˚C”. He has merely shown a bazillion measurements that show that sea surface temperatures, for some reason(s), tend to maximize at 30˚C +/- a bit. A few of these bazillion measurements are indeed higher, maybe as much as 15% higher, but the tendency is 30˚C.
    —————————–
    Exactly, or more percisely not exactly I did not read Willis to mean this as 30c is a law, but to show it as a principle to be generally true, and let us discuss the observations. The rest appears pedantic.

  209. Summary of possible factors that could affect maximum ocean temperatures (some were already mentioned):

    1. Depth of ocean. The shallower the ocean, the less distance visible rays have to penetrate to heat the sand so the less diffuse the energy of the photons.
    2. Color of sand where the ocean is. (I believe it was in Tahiti or somewhere that I saw beaches of black sand.)
    3. Length of day. Over 12 hours of sunlight, and only some of it directly overhead, there is only so much time for the ocean to heat up.
    4. Specific heat capacity of ocean water. Related to #3 above, it takes a long time to heat up water, especially if really deep.
    5. Conductivity of water. Water is a poor conductor, but some heat may conduct to the cooler parts below if there is a large temperature difference.
    6. Oil spills. The spill the other year off Mexico caused a good increase in water temperature since evaporation was greatly hindered under the oil.
    7. Cloud cover. The more evaporation, the more clouds.
    8. Winds. If winds blow the clouds away from #7, more sunlight may enter the water.
    9. Solar makeup. With more sunspots and more UV, perhaps more warming.
    10. Proximity to land. Land can get much hotter so this may affect oceans temperatures close to land.
    11. Particles or life in the water. Darker things in the water would warm things more.
    12. Natural ocean currents. If there are none to carry heat away, things could really heat up.

  210. Willis Eschenbach said @ February 12, 2012 at 11:38 am

    I finally remembered the apposite quote that has been at the edge of my brain while I’ve been writing this, which comes from Sherlock Holmes.

    “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts.”

    That was the IPCC method, and the method you advised me to follow as well when you say “First, it is necessary to put forward a physical hypothesis …”.

    No, it is not necessary to theorize before one has data, it is a mistake to do so. It is what I described as being the “trap that the AGW folks have fallen into, of hypothesizing in advance of the data.”

    Willis, if it’s a mistake to theorise before one has data, why do all of our physics teachers teach the exact opposite? Consider the paradigm case of the Law of Falling Objects:

    Aristotle taught that heavy objects fall faster than light objects. This was discounted by John Philoponus (6thC), Jean Buridan (14thC) and finally Galileo a thousand years after Philoponus gets the credit for the disproof by contradiction. If the lighter object falls slower than the heavier object, then when they are tied together, the combined weight must fall even faster. But the smaller object will be slowing the heavier object (like a parachute) so the heavier of the two objects will also be falling slower. Since no object can fall both faster and slower, all objects fall at the same rate. QED

    Now Galileo is supposed to have demonstrated this by dropping a light and a heavy cannonball simultaneously from the tower at Pisa. Both cannonballs supposedly reached the ground simultaneously to the dismay of Galileo’s opponents. Unfortunately, this is a lie made up a century after Galileo’s death. In the actual experiment that Galileo described, his assistant dropped a wooden and an iron cannonball of the same size from a height some 300 feet greater than Pisa’s tower. The wooden ball initially fell faster before being overtaken by the iron ball which arrived at the ground considerably ahead of the wooden ball.

    Now if we say that “it’s a mistake to theorise before one has data” then clearly John Philoponus, Jean Buridan, Galileo and presumably unrecorded and forgotten others were mistaken and Aristotle was correct (though for the wrong reason). Yet we are taught the opposite: Aristotle was wrong and the thought experiment trumps any amount of contrary observation.

    I’m not interested here in why the Law of Falling Objects is true, just that theorising before data acquisition appears to be the norm. Off the top of my head, the only example I can think of where the opposite sequence occurred is Faraday’s motor.

  211. Steve from Rockwood says:
    February 12, 2012 at 8:11 am
    Willis, I can’t agree here. The hard limit on ocean temperature is not 30 degrees. It is the maximum heating from the sun (which just happens to be around 30). Increase the energy from the sun and the temperature goes up. Decrease it and the temperature will go down.

    If what you say is true, then the data should show a “normal” distribution around the maximum (bell shaped). From a first look it doesn’t, thought it is hard to say positively until the maximums are isolated. The very steep upper “edge” to the data implies that there is some sort of physical mechanism that limits the temperature around 30C.

    This is actually quite an important observation. Statistical analysis of the upper limit would be a good topic for a peer reviewed paper.

  212. Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 12, 2012 at 9:53 pm
    //////////////////////////////////
    Willis

    This all started in your previous post when your claim was far more unequivocal. In one of my earlier posts on this thread I acknowleged that you have slightly raised the bar and widened the mechanism you claim imposed the cap.

    Nearly 10,000 ARGO data sets is not an insignificant number. This represents quite some area dispersed over a number of different regions. Claiming that it is 1/10th of a percent is the same ridiculuous argument that some people raise about the percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere. In percentage terms something can be small but nonetheless significant. Again misquoting Einstein 1000 experiments can ‘show’ that I am right but it only needs one to prove that I am wrong. He therefore appreciated that 1/10 of a percent was quite sufficient to demolish a claim. Indeed, he could easily have saud a million experiments can reveal results consistent with my theory but it only takes one that reveals a result inconsistent with my theory to prove me wrong. Frankly, your argument on numbers disappoints.

    Then you resort to consensus. What need I say on that argument?

    Even your own data (the ARGO data) contradicts your claim. Even ignoring my claim with respect to data contained in ship’s logs, the other day, I posted many reference to places which had higher temperatures than the capped temperature.

    One of the problems in this area of science is the certainty with which people put forward claims which claims should be equivocal in nature. People frequently over stretch the data, ignore contadictory data, fail to acknowledge the uncertainty and shortcomings in the data sets relied upon eyc etc. Another problem is that people too quickly get entrenched with a ‘theory’ and refuse to step back when problems are raised and then take a more objective re-evaluatiion. Regretfully I consider that some of these traits are finding their way into this post of yours.

    If this post had been more general in natuire and on whether the hydrological cycle tends to lower ocean temperatures, I would have no gripe with it. It is the speicific claims that I have aproblem with and in particular the claim that no matter how much solar due to the hydrological cycle temps are capped at 30degC (this particular post suggests may be it is about 30 to 31degC and now includes some processes other tha the hydrological cycle).

    I would tentavilely suggest that what we are seeing in the ARGO buoys is that the temperature of the open ocean can get up to about 34 degC but this rarely happens since the currents remove the warming water in the tropics before it gets an opportunity to go above (or much above) 30degC and carries this warm water polewards (it cooling as it goes), there being en route someareas where those currents pool such as off the coast of Ghana where the sea temperature gets up to about 35deg C before the current continues on its Northward journey.

    It is rather akin to a pot of water being placed on a stove. The stove can drive the water in the pot to a temperature of say 50 degC but as soon as it reaches about 30deg someone removes some water and replenishes it with slightly cooler water. This process on goes ad infinitum such that one only sees a 30deg C temp in the pot. If the syphoning off and replenishment were to stop the watter temp would increases.

    What you have done is look at the temperature in the pot, noted that this generally peaks at 30degC and immediately jumped to a knee jerk reaction that it must be due to the latent heat of evaporation without considering other processes involved.

    The ARGO data does not in itself tell you what is capping the temperature and you are over reaching the data in this regard and ignoring inconvenient data within the data set. Thiis is below your usual standard.

    Just consider that your post had been put out by the ‘Team’ under pal review, what would your response have been. I am fairly convinced that you would be jumping on the 10,000 ATGO readings that contradict the claim. You would go off and search other data bases showing higher temperatures in many parts of the ocean. In short you would have a field day and would be right to do so.

    ..

  213. R. Gates says:
    February 12, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    … Ocean heat content is probably the best single metric for the energy imbalance of the planet. The amount it has gone up (to as deep as we are currently measuring) over the many decades is impressive.

    Thanks, R. Gates. Not sure what you call impressive. We’ve been measuring ocean temperature down to 2,000 metres for about half a century. During that time, as best as we can tell, the temperature of the ocean has increased by eight hundredths of a degree.

    Can’t say I’m all that impressed by that myself …

    w.

  214. The Pompous Git: February 12, 2012 at 10:30 pm
    says: “…Willis, if it’s a mistake to theorise before one has data, why do all of our physics teachers teach the exact opposite?….”

    Seems to have become the realm of the pedants around here;

    Sure the usual situation is observation, theory, data collection, test theory, proof.

    In this case, let’s just say Willis’ ‘observation’ is in the data someone else has published.

    We are now therefore at the theorizing stage. We may have to collect some more or different data to proceed further….

  215. David says:
    February 12, 2012 at 9:41 pm “…I understand (?) the geothermal heat flux estimate to be from land based borehole meausrements, yet the crust thickness on land is several miles thicker then the mean ocean crust thickness. Also, the mean volcanic heat flow into the oceans may be far greater then realised in the recent past. As the deep layers of the ocean have very little circulation how long do you think this heat energy could accumalate. In other words what is the residence time of the deep ocean volcanic and geothermal heat?…”

    Look, the seafloor ridges are expanding at about 6 cm a year (or less). The oceanic crust is about 3 kilometers thick. So let’s posit 200,000 miles of oceanic spreading ridges forming a slab of hot basaltic material (1260˚C) that is 6 cm wide X 3 km thick X 320,000 km long. I’ll let you do the math to determine how much heat is contained in that annual dollop of new oceanic crust. When you compare it to the volume of the ocean, filled with the magic potion known as water, you’ll find that this is like the fly on the withers of an ass – inconsequential.

    “…Also, the mean volcanic heat flow into the oceans may be far greater then realised in the recent past….” What do you mean here? The seafloor spreading in the Cretaceous – 100 to 65 million years ago – was dramatic, say about twice the rate outlined above. Four billion years ago, there was enormously more energy being emitted by radioactive elements than today (one totally unstable element, technetium, 43, may no longer exist in nature. However, you may get a dose of it when you go for certain kinds of medical tests, the Tc being all man-made). Three billion years ago, there were lavas being erupted on the surface of the Earth that had to come out at >1500˚C (komatiites), which seems impossible today (common basalt, think Hawaii, is around 1250˚C, and that is THE MOST BASIC rock the Earth can form today). The Earth, and its internal heat, has been winding down for 4.5 billion years. So what happened in the recent past?

  216. The Pompous Git says:
    February 12, 2012 at 10:30 pm
    Willis, if it’s a mistake to theorise before one has data, why do all of our physics teachers teach the exact opposite?

    My physics teachers taught us to collect the data ahead of theory. But that was a different era, before liberal arts majors started teaching physics. Now the norm is to:

    1) identify an area of study for which grants are available.
    2) identify a theory likely to attract a grant
    3) attract the grant
    4) identify data that supports the theory sufficient to get published and justify further grants.
    5) repeat from step 1.

    Sadly modern science isn’t about investigating nature. It is about writing good proposals to attract funding and jobs. The vast majority of scientists will never make a single discovery in their career’s more important than: “you need to go along to get along”.

  217. In the first of these posts, Willis notes: “Like Jason, I proceed into the unknown with my look at the Argo data, and will post random notes as I voyage. I have no great insights at this point, just some interesting results.

    With that as prelude, it seems to be that a few comments have gone off the rails. The word “strident” comes to mind. Oh well. End of rant.

    In these Argo posts, Willis and others, have mentioned ocean currents, specifically off the west coast of S. America. With an understanding of the wind spinning out of the edges of Subtropical High Pressure, the Coriolis Effect, and so on – I was impressed by the white area (lack of data) from this part of the ocean.
    Some years past a plane went into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Peru. As I recall from the MSM it was visible for a short time and then the current carried it away. I believe it was this one: Aeroperú Flight 603;
    Just past midnight in October 1996, a Boeing 757 crashed into the Pacific Ocean about 30 mi off the coast of Lima, Peru.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aeroper%C3%BA_Flight_603

    The Argo floats folks are going to have to find a different method for some parts of the ocean.

  218. The Pompous Git says:
    February 12, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    Willis Eschenbach said @ February 12, 2012 at 11:38 am

    … Sherlock Holmes:

    “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts.”

    No, it is not necessary to theorize before one has data, it is a mistake to do so. It is what I described as being the “trap that the AGW folks have fallen into, of hypothesizing in advance of the data.”

    Willis, if it’s a mistake to theorise before one has data, why do all of our physics teachers teach the exact opposite? Consider the paradigm case of the Law of Falling Objects: …

    I guess that’s the advantage to being an amateur scientist. I’m not bogged down with the prejudices of the physics teachers. I can just let the data lead me wherever it wants to go.

    Seriously, Pompous, investigating a dataset is best done in the spirit of play. You have to get to know the data, you need to mess about with it, simply for the sake and the joy of messing about. You need to notice the oddities, you need to cozen it into revealing the secrets and the anomalies. You need to toss it into the air and see how the wheat separates from the chaff. You need to hold it in your hands, and turn it around and look at it from different angles, try a host of vantage points and discriminant functions.

    If you march in the door all armed with your whiz-bang theory, you won’t notice or see or understand all of that stuff. As the saying goes, “To a man with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.”

    All the best,

    w.

  219. richard verney says:
    February 12, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 12, 2012 at 9:53 pm
    //////////////////////////////////
    Willis

    This all started in your previous post …

    Sorry, buddy. As I’ve been trying to say, I’m done with this trivial, nitpicking subject. Drop it and move on, you are embarrassing yourself.

    w.

  220. Non-linear feedback, which turns negative under saturated conditions,
    Is the governor of local overshoot
    Temperature of evaporation is the root non-linearity cause

  221. There will be a SkepticalScience piece published about this article any day now (written by me), since the topic is rather interesting; as others have pointed out it is also a subject that has generated a number of peer-reviewed articles over the last couple of decades. The SkS article will have a more thorough argument and references, but the main point is that the premise laid out for a ‘maximum SST near 30 C’ is fundamentally wrong (and many of the references cited, for example by Ramanathan and Collins were wrong too). This has been pointed out by a number of papers since the 90s, but evidently has not gained widespread appreciation by the community, at least prior to several years ago. As a quick summary,

    – The apparent cutoff on the histogram at 31 C or so is a consequence of the onset in deep convection in the modern climate, when low air has enough moist static energy to reach the upper troposphere, and becomes buoyant with respect to the upper layers. It has nothing to do with a maximum allowable SST, which instead is determined by (and certainly not independent of) the top of the atmosphere energy balance.

    – In a warming world, the troposphere also warms, and thus the SST threshold for the generation of convection increases too. There are other coordinate systems aside from SST that are more appropriate to envision this problem, such as the entropy difference between the surface and upper troposphere, but I didn’t get into this in the coming article for fear of losing too many people on the web. The key point is that the distribution of SST will also shift to the right in a warming climate. It is also worth noting that a number of studies looking at the most recent paleodata for time periods such as the Eocene show tropical SSTs well above that of the purported maximum threshold of SST.

    – It is not appropriate to think of clouds as thermostats in the modern climate, since the shortwave albedo component nearly cancels the longwave greenhouse component at the top of the atmosphere (in the tropics). The details on how this cancellation plays out in a global warming scenario cuts into the heart of the climate sensitivity issue, which I didn’t really get into, but there is no compelling basis to suggest that clouds inherently buffer SST changes in a forced climate.

  222. Willis Eschenbach said @ February 12, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    I’m not bogged down with the prejudices of the physics teachers. I can just let the data lead me wherever it wants to go.

    Seriously, Pompous, investigating a dataset is best done in the spirit of play. You have to get to know the data, you need to mess about with it, simply for the sake and the joy of messing about. You need to notice the oddities, you need to cozen it into revealing the secrets and the anomalies. You need to toss it into the air and see how the wheat separates from the chaff. You need to hold it in your hands, and turn it around and look at it from different angles, try a host of vantage points and discriminant functions.

    If you march in the door all armed with your whiz-bang theory, you won’t notice or see or understand all of that stuff. As the saying goes, “To a man with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.”

    Willis, I’m not disagreeing with you; it’s how I approached my auto-didactic adventures into ag sci and computing. I was just curious as to whether had any thoughts about why we turn an exciting adventures into something as dull-as-dust in the classroom. And why do we tell so many Lies-to-Children? It seems so counterproductive… and OT I guess.

  223. markx said @ February 12, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    The Pompous Git: February 12, 2012 at 10:30 pm
    says: “…Willis, if it’s a mistake to theorise before one has data, why do all of our physics teachers teach the exact opposite?….”

    Seems to have become the realm of the pedants around here;

    Sure the usual situation is observation, theory, data collection, test theory, proof.

    In this case, let’s just say Willis’ ‘observation’ is in the data someone else has published.

    We are now therefore at the theorizing stage. We may have to collect some more or different data to proceed further….

    Why is it pedantic to ask a legitimate question? And you would seem to have the sequence wrong; it’s usually theory first aka the Plato approach. It was Aristotle, an excellent marine biologist, who put observation first.

    • The Pompous Git: February 12, 2012 at 11:28 pm

      “…Why is it pedantic to ask a legitimate question? And you would seem to have the sequence wrong….”

      Pompous, nothing wrong with the question, just perhaps (to my mind!) in insisting on the ‘correct order of procedure’.

      But really, was ANY theory ever advanced without some sort of observation? ie, noting the sun rises in the east, an apple falls from a tree, etc, THEN attempting an explanation? Then deciding to collect more data?
      Surely we are at the “hey, look at that…. I wonder if….?” stage?

      And now I’M being pedantic…..!

  224. “Stephen, the primary driver of ocean/atmosphere heat flow is the temperature differential, with a secondary contribution from air flow/turbulence.”

    Surface air pressure determines the amount of heat (or rather energy) flow that one gets from a given temperature differential.

    The higher the pressure at the surface the higher the temperature needs to get at the surface to enable convection to overcome the weight of air pressing down on the surface.

    The Gas Laws prevail.

  225. We hold this to be self-evident …
    *(I’ll use ‘heat’ in a wrong physical sense for clarity sometimes).
    As an exploration geochemist (now retired) I’m rather familar with geothermal gradients as measured on land; and after long discussions with people like Prof S Warren Carey, I’ve some idea of plate tectonics, ocean floor spreading and subduction (if it exists). But, my point was that the rock under the deep ocean is not a SINK for heat, it is a source; and that as a constant source, it is an accumulator. Over millions of years it would have added significant heat to the oceans – but it would not have cooled them. I’ve not seen a quantitative global flux measurement that looks feasible, but I’ve not searched exhaustively.

    That’s the view from the bottom up.

    From the top down, the main driver is sunlight. It is commonly asserted that without sunlight, the globe would be cooler. This happens every night to half of it. So there is heat coming in from above and below and in the middle of this sandwich we have a very cold deep ocean. How and why?

    I was simply asking why the ocean stays so cold for so long, when all around there are heat sources. The unstated implication is that it might not have been so long ago, in geological time, that the heating effect of sunlight was much less than now, or the heat removal process much larger than now, perhaps for a long period The essential question relates to the rate of change of heat, which is currently impossible to calculate from historical data.

    Having established, as we all know, that the oceans can get hotter and colder at a rate that cannot be calculated except perhaps for a very brief recent period – like a decade or so – surely we are taking one hell of a gamble blaming poor old CO2.

    The ocean temperature cap that Willis has so elegantly displayed is one of the more refreshing pieces of info that I’ve read for a while. It widens the scope of possible mechanisms for ocean heating and cooling, but constrains some other candidates. It’s long been a fair bet that ocean heat dominates the Global Warming topic, so I for one will be watching this subject much more closely than before.

    Indeed, all scientists interested in the topic should watch it for pea and thimble tricks that have so badly degraded the publics’ exposure to science with land based temperature sets.

    Now, can anyone explain the mechanism for the air temperature at Vostok has been measured as low as minus 89.2 degrees C? There’s heat above, there’s heat below…..

  226. Karl Popper maintained that theory always precedes observation.

    But then observation leads to reprising theory. So its a chicken and egg discussion. A chain of theorizing, observation, theorizing, etc.

  227. JimF says:
    February 12, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    Otherwise, dense things rise, and less dense things sink. And that, I don’t believe.

    I agree, it is a puzzle, but upwelling of cold water, together with the physics of deep salt water is worthy of another story, so as not to distract from Willis’ excellent research.

  228. Back in the day when the endless summer was made, though, we used plain paraffin wax … hang on … OK, various internet sources say 50°C, or 105°F, as the melting point of paraffin. That matches with my experience.

    So I doubt greatly that the water melted the wax. I’ve been in Togo, next door to Ghana, and I suspect it was the hot tropical sun melting the wax …

    My best to all the surfers out there,

    w.
    ————————————————————–
    Thanks. Shows how long it is since this ex surfie chick has been out the back waiting for a set.

    Incidentally, 50 celsius is about 122F, not 105. But I note that some versions of paraffin wax have lower melting points, closer to 105F. It is also worth remembering that the surfers were probably on the continental shelf, which Argo doesn’t measure. I have swum in water off Perth, Western Australia which is blood temperature, so it is conceivable that waters directly off the coast in the tropics get even hotter. There are no hot spots on your map within thousands of kilometres of Perth, but quite a few very close to Ghana.

  229. I will say this Willis. In your first post where you mentioned a “cap” of 30 degrees or so, it was clear to me, since you showed a graph with some data points above 30, that you were speaking approximately. Of course, lots of wanna be dolts, feel like they have caught you in some sort of error. Most of us with 3 digits in the IQ department, knew exactly what you were indicating.

  230. Willis,
    I enjoyed the post and I believe you are correct in suggesting a limit to ocean temperatures. But then I noted in you reply to Stephen Wilde that you again asserted DWLWIR has the same effect over the oceans as it does over land. I would again ask you to consider that you are in error on this point. After your post on “radiating the oceans” I conducted several experiments looking at this issue. I found that Stephen Wilde is correct and that liquid water that can evaporatively cool does not have its cooling rate effected by incident LWIR in the same manner as other materials. Subsequent to that as reported here at WUWT, Schmittner et al 2011 was published indicating that the effects of increasing CO2 may be “multi-modal” ie: different over the oceans.

    I urge you to take the time to conduct you own empirical experiments into this issue. You can use microwave safe cling wrap to restrict evaporative cooling of warm water samples without greatly altering conductive and radiative cooling. Thin film LDPE is largely IR transparent at the relevant frequencies. In urging you to design and conduct your own physical experiments I would remind you that Anthony Watts, the host of this site, started out on his journey with empirical experiments into the effect of changes in white wash to latex paint on Stephenson screens.

  231. Stephen Wilde says:
    February 12, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    … Surface air pressure determines the amount of heat (or rather energy) flow that one gets from a given temperature differential.

    The higher the pressure at the surface the higher the temperature needs to get at the surface to enable convection to overcome the weight of air pressing down on the surface.

    The Gas Laws prevail.

    Anti-scientific hogwash. I’ve asked you before and I ask you again to take your ridiculous pressure theories to Tallbloke’s Talkshop. They have no place in a scientific discussion.

    w.

  232. Stephen Wilde says:
    February 12, 2012 at 11:30 pm “…The higher the pressure at the surface the higher the temperature needs to get at the surface to enable convection to overcome the weight of air pressing down on the surface.,,,”

    It appears the tropics – exactly the area where the maps and floats show having the highest SSTs – are relatively low-pressure regions. They are bounded by higher pressure zones north and south. Are you saying that this contributes to the tropical seas weighing in at around 30˚C, rather than 35˚C?

  233. Chris Colose says:
    February 12, 2012 at 11:16 pm “…There will be a SkepticalScience piece published about this article any day now (written by me),,,” Oh, great. I just hope you write it in English. I’m looking forward particularly to the discussion of “…clouds as thermostats in the modern climate, since the shortwave albedo component nearly cancels the longwave greenhouse component at the top of the atmosphere (in the tropics). The details on how this cancellation plays out in a global warming scenario cuts into the heart of the climate sensitivity issue, which I didn’t really get into, but there is no compelling basis to suggest that clouds inherently buffer SST changes in a forced climate….”

    Use lots of pictures, we’re pretty slow here.

  234. Geoff Sherrington says:
    February 12, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    But, my point was that the rock under the deep ocean is not a SINK for heat, it is a source; and that as a constant source, it is an accumulator. Over millions of years it would have added significant heat to the oceans – but it would not have cooled them. …

    … From the top down, the main driver is sunlight. It is commonly asserted that without sunlight, the globe would be cooler. This happens every night to half of it. So there is heat coming in from above and below and in the middle of this sandwich we have a very cold deep ocean. How and why?

    Geoff, I’m not sure why you think there is “heat coming in from below” in any significant amount.

    For example, in the tropics the 24/7/365 average downwelling radiation (solar plus greenhouse) is about 670 W/m2.

    The heating from below is on the order of only a tenth of a W/m2. Additionally, there is absolutely no reason to assume that it “is an accumulator”. Heat rises, so it can only accumulate at the top of the ocean, never the bottom.

    A constant heating of 0.1 W/m2 will lead to a vertical (and extremely slow) heat flux of 0.1 W/m2 through the ocean, and finally to a corresponding 0.1 W/m2 increase in average ocean surface heat loss … in other words, a very slow heat flow that is not noticeably anywhere.

    As to why the deep ocean is cold, that is a consequence of the giant heat engine we call the climate. It has two working fluids, air and water. The system transfers excess heat from the hot end of the heat engine (tropics) to the cold end (poles). At the poles, both the air and water lose their heat to outer space. Because air and water are denser when they are cold, both of them sink down to the bottom of their respective domains, and there they flow back towards the equator.

    As a result, the deep ocean is constantly being replenished with very cold water sinking at the poles and over hundreds of years slowly circulating back to rise up at the equator and start the cycle over again.

    w.

  235. FYI, I’ve made a comment on the following solar max, SST thread that links back to here, referencing a paper that found the hydrological cycle intensifies at solar maximum, presumably in response to increased solar irradiance.

  236. “It appears the tropics – exactly the area where the maps and floats show having the highest SSTs – are relatively low-pressure regions. They are bounded by higher pressure zones north and south. Are you saying that this contributes to the tropical seas weighing in at around 30˚C, rather than 35˚C?”

    It is global average pressure that counts.

    Regional pressure just reconfigures to ensure that the Adiabatic Lapse Rate is maintained as closely as possible.

    The Tropics are bound to be lower pressure on a regional basis because that is where the ocean surface gets hot enough for convection to overcome the weight of the atmosphere pressing down onto the surface and rising air is associated with lower pressure.

    The higher pressure either side is simply where the Tropical rising air then descends.

    To get the maximum sea surface temperature persistently higher than we currently observe (and yes,there are areas hotter than 30C from time to time) we have to have an increased atmospheric mass or higher solar input to the entire Earth system. Any other variable such as more GHGs just results in an energy redistribution but no change to total system energy content.

    Such a redistribution does have a climate consequence but that from the human contribution would be miniscule compared to natural variability.

    I recommend that you learn about the Gas Laws. There seems to be some sort of aversion to them here.

  237. An interesting point on Willy’s map of temperatures in the Pacific. Notice that there are a number of readings of 30 deg C off Hokkaido (the northernmost of the Japanese islands) and in the Wonsan-Vladivostok area on the mainland side of the Japanese Sea. These are places that regularly have sea-ice in winter. So there actually are places in the ocean which reach 30 degrees in summer and still freezes in winter. Makes the often heard claim that Arctic sea-ice may reach a “point of no return” sound a bit dubious doesn’t it?

  238. markx said @ February 13, 2012 at 12:10 am

    Pompous, nothing wrong with the question, just perhaps (to my mind!) in insisting on the ‘correct order of procedure’.

    But really, was ANY theory ever advanced without some sort of observation? ie, noting the sun rises in the east, an apple falls from a tree, etc, THEN attempting an explanation? Then deciding to collect more data?
    Surely we are at the “hey, look at that…. I wonder if….?” stage?

    And now I’M being pedantic…..!

    Dunno where you got the idea I was “insisting” that there was a “correct order of procedure”. AFAICT I pointed out that there are two distinct approaches to science, the Platonic and the Aristotelian (it’s hardly novel) and asking why we prefer one over the other. Make no mistake, this distinction, and favouritism for one over the other, is behind some of the acrimony following some of Willis’s recent posts.

    An observation from my years learning ag sci: the academics frequently told me that my observations were wrong just because they conflicted with Currently Accepted Theory. One agricultural academic admitted that most of the work he and his colleagues conducted was based on observation made by farmers like The Git. The Git also notes that his farming neighbours adopted some of his practices based on their observation that what The Git was doing actually worked.

    I thoroughly endorse Willis’s approach because it’s fun. And my question as to why academe insists on “unfunning” science remains… unanswered.

  239. Willis. More interesting analysis.

    I don’t think it’s accurate to state there is a hard cap on sea temperatures globally. What you state seems to be true for the tropics, which is where these temperatures occur most often. However, I see small but significant punch though from subtropical and higher latitudes. (yellow and green).

    The amount is small because these regions get less chance to hit that sort of temperature. I don’t think that means you should dismiss it.

    I think what you say is correct for the tropics which has a climate system different from higher latitudes. I would agree that what you say seems to apply to the tropics. I think you are perhaps going beyond the evidence you have shown here is claiming this is a global cap.

    Good to see you’ve fleshed out my suggestion in your other thread that point like sharpening of the positive peaks shows a negative feedback is in play.

    Keep digging.

  240. Very interesting stuff. Because we’re on a sphere, the tropics are exposed to greater incoming solar energy that anywhere else. Whatever manages to reach the surface is essentially driving the climate system on the timescale of days and weeks, through the great convective systems and the westerly windbelts with their instabilities adding to the polewards heat transfers. But of course these mighty convections produce clouds throughout the troposphere and sometimes even punching through the tropopause, and these sure look like negative feedbacks to me. The data indicating an upper bound on SST around 30C and sustained values there for long periods and large areas is interesting, as is the apparent absence of this sort of warm zone between Africa and South and Central America, and in the eastern Pacific.

  241. Now let’s take this insight and go back to Pangea at 265 Mya.

    Temperatures are close to +10C. The Pacific is one-third bigger than today. Gondwana has moved off the South Pole and its glaciers have melted. Ocean currents have open access to the North Pole so there is no sea ice there even in the winter. There is some snow, however, at the South Pole in the winter. Large deserts cover the mid-latitudes where there is more landmass than today. Earth’s Albedo is probably a lot lower at around 0.240 versus 0.298 today, given the land is weighted to the equator and there is no ice.

    The Enso is still operating except it is bigger, having two-thirds the way around the planet to work with now. The western warm pool area is now the relatively enclosed Tethys ocean at the equator.

    How hot did get in the Tethys ocean? Global temperatures are 10C higher than today. Geography should make the Tethys even warmer in relative terms than the warm pool/Indian Ocean is today.

  242. Hello Willis!
    I know this is off topic, but i hope you forgive me.

    I would like to get in contact with you to discuss some thoughs.
    Could you drop me an email or something? :)

    Keep up the good work!

    (mods, if you can direct Willis to this post direct, and not post it in the tread, please do so)

    [Reply: Willis will see it and take action if he wants. ~dbs, mod.]

    [Thanks, dbs. Done. w.]

  243. @Davy12 on February 12, 2012 at 10:54 am

    The temperature is set by the atmosphere.
    Less atmosphere means lower air-pressure which means lower vapour pressures which means evaporations starts at a lower temperature.
    Bigger atmosphere means higher air-pressure which means higher vapour pressure which means evaporation starts at a higher temp.

    Brilliant. I am amazed by what we are seeing.

    @Stephen Wilde on February 12, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    I am following the lead of the Gas Laws which have been settled science for more than 300 years but which you have shown yourself determined to ignore.

    A number of contributors here have pointed out to you that it is atmospheric pressure that determines the rate of energy flow from ocean to air and which puts a lid on the achievable temperature of the sea surfaces at current levels of solar input.

    @Stephen Wilde on February 13, 2012 at 1:29 am

    It is global average pressure that counts. [snip]

    I recommend that you learn about the Gas Laws. There seems to be some sort of aversion to them here.

    I think you all may be mixing up absolute pressures with partial pressures. The comments of Clive Best on February 12, 2012 at 9:45 am, RobL on February 12, 2012 at 3:47 am and Anton on February 12, 2012 at 1:16 am are helpful. Also, google Raoult’s law. Ideally, evaporation is independently governed by the balance between the partial vapor pressures of the substances in solution and the vapor pressures of each substance’s gaseous phase above the solution. So, the absolute pressures don’t tell you whether there will or will not be evaporation of a given substance in solution or how rapidly it will take place (or, therefore, what the equilibrium temperature will be at the surface of the ocean). Nikolov and Zeller didn’t take partial vapor pressures into account when formulating their theory. In this regard, an aqueous planet like the Earth isn’t comparable to rocky planets like Venus or Mars. The fact that 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by a liquid makes Earth’s climate kinda different.

  244. @Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 12, 2012 at 8:50 pm
    That map is a lie: We are at “La Niña”, and the south american west coast seas are not at such temperatures (above 20º), and NEVER have been. Just come and take a bath at the sea.

  245. “So, the absolute pressures don’t tell you whether there will or will not be evaporation of a given substance in solution or how rapidly it will take place ”

    Averaged over the globe absolute pressure fixes a maximum achievable temperature before non radiative processes ramp up to maintain system energy content by removing energy faster to space.. And it isn’t just evaporation but conduction and convection too plus lateral winds all of which are pressure related. In fact the negative system response involves the entire surface air pressure distribution and the relative sizes, positions and intensities of all the permanent climate zones.

    Simply put it is just a global extension of Willis’s own Thermostat Hypothesis.

    If evaporation is slower in one place due to higher humidity (that is where vapour pressure comes in) it will be faster in another place due to lower humidity. Overall global humidity varies hardly at all and that is a pressure based phenomenon too.

  246. Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 12, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    I guess that’s the advantage to being an amateur scientist. I’m not bogged down with the prejudices of the physics teachers. I can just let the data lead me wherever it wants to go.

    Seriously, Pompous, investigating a dataset is best done in the spirit of play. You have to get to know the data, you need to mess about with it, simply for the sake and the joy of messing about. You need to notice the oddities, you need to cozen it into revealing the secrets and the anomalies. You need to toss it into the air and see how the wheat separates from the chaff. You need to hold it in your hands, and turn it around and look at it from different angles, try a host of vantage points and discriminant functions.

    If you march in the door all armed with your whiz-bang theory, you won’t notice or see or understand all of that stuff. As the saying goes, “To a man with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.”

    Does anyone else note that Willis is taking pretty much an opposite position as he did with N&Z? Now, admittedly N&Z took their observations too far. And, I think Willis was correct in attacking some of their suppositions. However, when some of us noted that there may be some interesting observations that should be pursued, Willis had no interest.

    I think some of the folks here that have been arguing about the 30° limit are doing what Willis did with N&Z. It’s been interesting to watch how this has played out.

  247. So the equator won’t heat up much, but the energy will be carried to cooler climes, which will become warmer. Sounds reasonable. Pretty much what the CAGW crowd say.

  248. “I finally remembered the apposite quote that has been at the edge of my brain while I’ve been writing this, which comes from Sherlock Holmes.”

    The problem is, Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character; and its creator, Doyle, believed in all sorts of nonsense. So while it may be a catchy phrase, I wouldn’t base scientific research on it.

  249. ferd berple says:
    February 12, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    Steve from Rockwood says:
    February 12, 2012 at 8:11 am
    Willis, I can’t agree here. The hard limit on ocean temperature is not 30 degrees. It is the maximum heating from the sun (which just happens to be around 30). Increase the energy from the sun and the temperature goes up. Decrease it and the temperature will go down.

    If what you say is true, then the data should show a “normal” distribution around the maximum (bell shaped). From a first look it doesn’t, thought it is hard to say positively until the maximums are isolated. The very steep upper “edge” to the data implies that there is some sort of physical mechanism that limits the temperature around 30C.

    This is actually quite an important observation. Statistical analysis of the upper limit would be a good topic for a peer reviewed paper.

    Ferd, I can accept a “normal” distribution for a measurement if you confine it to a single source – such as peak temperature at the equator. But you shouldn’t expect the Argo measurements to be “normal”. In fact they should have a rather ugly distribution at lower temperatures (because there are many effects reducing temperature, but few to none increasing temperature) with a gradual peak at some maximum temperature (OK 30 degrees C) and then nothing (well maybe a few localized higher bits). The sun can only heat up the ocean to some maximum temperature as an input. Then there are all the causes trying to lower that temperature. So the temperature can go lower, but it can never go higher.

    I’m thinking of a flat aluminum surface suspended in air where the temperature on its surface can be measured at any point. A heat lamp is suspended above and is moved above the surface of the aluminum at a constant distance and speed from one end to the other. This experiment is repeated many times. The temperature histogram from this experiment will not look normal because it is not possible to heat the aluminum above a maximum temperature that is defined by the energy from the heat lamp, its distance away to the aluminum and the composition of the aluminum. As long as these things remain constant (energy from the sun, rotation of the earth, distance from earth to sun, composition of the ocean etc) the peak temperature cannot be exceeded.

    Now add convection, clouds, wind etc. All of these conspire to lower the peak temperature. So the physical mechanism that limits temperature is the maximum output of the sun, the distance from the sun to the earth, the composition of the ocean and the rate at which the ocean can distribute heat.

  250. Stephen Wilde says:
    February 13, 2012 at 1:29 am

    “It appears the tropics – exactly the area where the maps and floats show having the highest SSTs – are relatively low-pressure regions. They are bounded by higher pressure zones north and south. Are you saying that this contributes to the tropical seas weighing in at around 30˚C, rather than 35˚C?”

    It is global average pressure that counts. … [blah, blah, blah, usual pressure-head BS snipped]

    I say again. Your fantasies about global average pressure ruling the temperature are not wanted on any thread of mine. They have absolutely no scientific support. Please take them elsewhere.

    w.

  251. “Does anyone else note that Willis is taking pretty much an opposite position as he did with N&Z?”

    Yes I noticed that. In fact that top limit on sea surface temperature cannot realistically have any cause other than global atmospheric pressure but apparently I am unwelcome here for making the point and my polite, rational points are being censored.

  252. AdolfoGiurfa says:
    February 13, 2012 at 4:58 am

    @Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 12, 2012 at 8:50 pm
    That map is a lie: We are at “La Niña”, and the south american west coast seas are not at such temperatures (above 20º), and NEVER have been. Just come and take a bath at the sea.

    http://weather.unisys.com/surface/sst_anom.gif

    Umm … the map you sent is a map of anomalies, it doesn’t show the actual temperature.

    Also, the coldest part of the upwelling is right along the coast, in a thin band that might not even show up on a global map.

    w.

  253. Konrad says:
    February 13, 2012 at 12:17 am
    //////////////////////////////////
    I have never seen a proper explanation as to how DWLWIR can heat the oceans given the wavelength and its consequential penetrative depth.

    This is doubly problematic with a turbulent body of water (such as open open ocean) where the top micron layers are little more than wind swept spray only rarely contacting with the body below.

    It would appear that the extent that DWLWIR has an effect, this is to simply accelerate the surface evaporation leading to a cooling of the very top surface. How this cooling can heat the body of water below is not sufficiently explained, especially bearing in mind the reality that the top micron layer is in any event all but divorced from the body below.

  254. Richard M said @ February 13, 2012 at 6:10 am

    Does anyone else note that Willis is taking pretty much an opposite position as he did with N&Z? Now, admittedly N&Z took their observations too far. And, I think Willis was correct in attacking some of their suppositions. However, when some of us noted that there may be some interesting observations that should be pursued, Willis had no interest.

    I think some of the folks here that have been arguing about the 30° limit are doing what Willis did with N&Z. It’s been interesting to watch how this has played out.

    Yes, interesting is the correct term. It seems to be the case that one can either engage the Platonic method (internal ideal Forms), or the Aristotelian (external world observations), but not both simultaneously. I also note that what we do to maintain the Platonic view is to either ignore observation, or explain it away. In the paradigm case of falling objects, we say that if it were not for frictional effects then the balls would reach the ground simultaneously.

  255. Phil says:
    February 13, 2012 at 4:39 am

    @Davy12 on February 12, 2012 at 10:54 am

    The temperature is set by the atmosphere. …

    Phil, I fear you misunderstand these folks and what they are saying. I call them “Pressure-heads”. They believe that the greenhouse effect doesn’t exist, GHGs make no difference, and that it is simple pressure that drives the temperature of the earth well above the Stefan-Boltzmann blackbody temperature … yeah, I know, stupid, right?

    This is all despite the fact that I have clearly shown, in “A matter of some gravity” that if there are no GHGs and the atmosphere is transparent, then no pressure or gravity mechanism, or any other method, can raise the surface above the S-B blackbody temperature. If that happens, the surface must radiate to space more than it absorbs, which is a clear impossibility. Duh.

    My advice? I would say DFFT, don’t feed the trolls, but these guys aren’t trolls, they truly believe the nonsense that they are peddling. However, it is a mistake to either disagree or to use logic to try to educate them. Here’s the problem.

    If they could understand and follow simple logic, they wouldn’t believe what they believe …

    w.

  256. Philip Bradley said @ February 12, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    Karl Popper maintained that theory always precedes observation.

    But then observation leads to reprising theory. So its a chicken and egg discussion. A chain of theorizing, observation, theorizing, etc.

    Much as I admire Popper, he was quite prescriptive, rather than descriptive. Michael Faraday’s motor doesn’t appear to fit in at all well with Popper’s prescription:

    http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/practical-physics/faradays-motor

    Faraday built the first motor with no theory in mind and widely circulated a description. Both Faraday and Ampere subsequently formulated different theories about how it worked. Neither theory resembles the current theory.

  257. JimF says:
    February 12, 2012 at 10:57 pm
    ————————————–
    Jim you misunderstood my post from at leaset two perspectives. I asked about the borehole meausrements, which I think are land based near the top of a 11 mile crust where the mean flow of heat through This meausrement was not plate tectonic related. Volcanism is above and beyond that. MY question was about this mean conductive flow through a three mile crust and if that could be meausred or estimated. It is only logical that it would be considerably more then the land measurements. My second point was in regard to the residence time of this energy in the deep oceans. Is todays small flow of energy still there tomorrow, next week, next year, next century. Until the residence time of this energy is known, then we will not know how much ge thermal heat is contained in the world’s oceans.

    My statement about the heat flow being greater then realised in the past was not in regard to an increase in the heat, (which has naturally decreased over millions of years) but an increase in understanding. We are finding ever more evidence of volcanism in the oceans being more active then previousely understood.

  258. Richard M says:
    February 13, 2012 at 6:10 am

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 12, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    I guess that’s the advantage to being an amateur scientist. I’m not bogged down with the prejudices of the physics teachers. I can just let the data lead me wherever it wants to go.

    Seriously, Pompous, investigating a dataset is best done in the spirit of play. You have to get to know the data, you need to mess about with it, simply for the sake and the joy of messing about. You need to notice the oddities, you need to cozen it into revealing the secrets and the anomalies. You need to toss it into the air and see how the wheat separates from the chaff. You need to hold it in your hands, and turn it around and look at it from different angles, try a host of vantage points and discriminant functions.
    If you march in the door all armed with your whiz-bang theory, you won’t notice or see or understand all of that stuff. As the saying goes, “To a man with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.”

    Does anyone else note that Willis is taking pretty much an opposite position as he did with N&Z?

    Say what? Provide a quote where I’m taking the “opposite position” with N&Z. And what is the “opposite position” to the position I took above? It wasn’t N&Z playing with the data that was the problem, It was their drawing of false theoretical conclusions that I took issue with. I would have been happy to see them play with the data. Instead, they tortured it out of recognition.

    Now, admittedly N&Z took their observations too far. And, I think Willis was correct in attacking some of their suppositions. However, when some of us noted that there may be some interesting observations that should be pursued, Willis had no interest.

    Say what? What “interesting observations” did I have no interest in pursuing? N&Z didn’t make a single one nor did anyone else point out any, as far as I knew. This is all a mealy-mouthed, unsubstantiated unpleasant personal attack.

    I think some of the folks here that have been arguing about the 30° limit are doing what Willis did with N&Z. It’s been interesting to watch how this has played out.

    And I think you have your head up your fundamental orifice. You have given us nothing but a slimy character assassination, without a single quotation or citation or fact to back it up. Not one. That’s the action of a cowardly low-down sneak.

    Richard M., you are shaming yourself with these kinds of nasty unsupported allegations. Stick to the science.

    w.

  259. John Brookes says:
    February 13, 2012 at 6:34 am

    So the equator won’t heat up much, but the energy will be carried to cooler climes, which will become warmer. Sounds reasonable. Pretty much what the CAGW crowd say.

    I fear you are not paying attention to what they are actually saying. The CAGW crowd keep saying that the world’s poor, who by and large live in the tropics, will be hit the hardest by global warming.

    w.

  260. Jeff Alberts says:
    February 13, 2012 at 7:37 am

    “I finally remembered the apposite quote that has been at the edge of my brain while I’ve been writing this, which comes from Sherlock Holmes.”

    The problem is, Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character; and its creator, Doyle, believed in all sorts of nonsense. So while it may be a catchy phrase, I wouldn’t base scientific research on it.

    Man, you “ad-hominem” guys never take a break, do you? I don’t care if it was found written on a bathroom wall. If it’s true, then it’s true, and thus it is worth paying attention to, whether Holmes is fictional or not.

    Unless, of course, you are arguing that one should indeed theorize without facts … and in that case, even Sherlock Holmes couldn’t help you.

    w.

  261. What about the science then, what has been written about ocean temperature and its physics during the last 100 years? Surely there must be tons of stuff! I hardly see any reference to any papers in these discussions. Is the wheel being invented anew here? I am not a climatologist or something like that, but I do not see any problems whatsoever with temperatures reaching a roof, that´s plain physics. Global warming is not about oceans reaching 36 C or deserts 57.9 C. The issue is the long term storage of energy in marine systems. Nevertheless, it is very interesting to see some tinkering with that amount of data.

  262. Willis Eschenbach said @ February 13, 2012 at 8:35 am

    My advice? I would say DFFT, don’t feed the trolls, but these guys aren’t trolls, they truly believe the nonsense that they are peddling. However, it is a mistake to either disagree or to use logic to try to educate them. Here’s the problem.

    If they could understand and follow simple logic, they wouldn’t believe what they believe …

    Forgive them Lord, they know not what they do ;-)

    One important study (Clement, 1982) of people’s commonsense conceptions of physical events was conducted by Clement, who reported that most physics students at the time of entering a physics class already have intuitive preconceptions concerning mechanical events. In addition, these preconceptions, though mostly incorrect according to Newtonian mechanics, are highly stable and extremely widespread among students. The particular case he gave is what he called the ‘motion implies force’ conception, in which a continuous motion of an object implies the presence of a force in the same direction as the motion. Clement presented several examples to show the pervasiveness and the diversity of situations in which students use such a conception. Figure 1 shows the typical response of students when they were asked to indicate in a pendulum all the forces on the swinging bob (b) and the correct answer of Newtonian physics (a). The ‘motion implies force’ conception was found to be extremely persistent: even after one semester of Newtonian mechanics, about 50% of science and engineering students still got the pendulum problem wrong.

    Several other researchers also have reported various types of commonsense conceptions which are inconsistent to the concepts of Newtonian mechanics. McCloskey, Caramazza, and Green (McCloskey, Caramazza, and Green,1980) reported that out of the 48 students tested, 36% of them believed that a ball dropped out of a flying airplane would travel straight down to the ground. In another study, about half of the 2000 students tested believed that identical objects which were exactly at the same height but traveling in different directions would have different forces acting on them (Viennot,1979); For at least half of the 26 students tested, a book sitting on a table has no force acting on it besides gravity (Minstrell, 1982); A ball traveling in a curved tube with high speed is believed by 50% of 48 students to continue its curved path after it comes out the tube (McCloskey, 1983); High school students were found to solve dynamic problems utilizing diverse components of their own ideas, rarely consistent to the laws of Newtonian mechanics (White, 1983).

    Halloun and Hestenes, for a period of three years, administered various tests on physics students commonsense beliefs (Halloun and Hestenes, 1984a, 1984b). They found that when it comes to the kinematic concepts, commonsense beliefs are often vague and lack sufficient differentiation; when it comes to dynamic concepts, they found that the students hold views such as motion is always associated with some cause, constant force produces constant velocity, and acceleration is due to increasing force (notice the similarity to the Aristotelian physics!); force can be classified into external force exerted by an agent and internal force (impetus) in the object; Gravity is an intrinsic property of objects to fall to the ground; a resistive force is one to a moving object.

    From: http://www.thecatalyst.org/physics/chapter-two.html

  263. Stephen Wilde says:
    February 13, 2012 at 8:24 am

    “Does anyone else note that Willis is taking pretty much an opposite position as he did with N&Z?”

    Yes I noticed that. In fact that top limit on sea surface temperature cannot realistically have any cause other than global atmospheric pressure but apparently I am unwelcome here for making the point and my polite, rational points are being censored.

    Now you are complaining you are being censored? Hang on … OK, I just checked. Your claim that you are being censored is a LIE. You are LYING about being censored, Stephen, your nattering nonsense is still right there on this very page to mislead the innocent reader.

    I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that a lying pressure-head agrees with Richard M. that I’m being a mean man by not paying attention to N&Z’s oh-so-brilliant fantasies … just go away, Stephen, your lies are not wanted here.

    w.

    PS—I love your asinine certainty, your unshakeable conviction that the “top limit on sea surface temperature cannot realistically have any cause other than global atmospheric pressure” … Richard M, I hope you see the kind of adherents your views draw …

  264. “This is all despite the fact that I have clearly shown, in “A matter of some gravity” that if there are no GHGs and the atmosphere is transparent, then no pressure or gravity mechanism, or any other method, can raise the surface above the S-B blackbody temperature.”

    You did not show that at all. You designed an impossible scenario to screen out all the variables that would apply in a non GHG world and which would have produced a lapse rate as per the Gas Laws.

    Apart from that you keep misrepresenting the views of those who argue that the Gas Laws are relevant and fail to acknowledge the nuances of opinion between such persons.

    I for one do not deny the thermal characteristics of GHGs but aver that they are neutralised by other non radiative processes including the very convection based thermostat that you and many others propose.

    Indeed such a thermostatic process based on convection is integral to a pressure based mechanism. If pressure is not relevant then convection cannot happen. It occurs because a parcel of air through heating and expansion becomes light enough to overcome the weight of the atmosphere above it. That is basic physics.

    Water vapour being lighter than air overcomes the downward pressure more readily.

  265. “Now you are complaining you are being censored? Hang on … OK, I just checked. Your claim that you are being censored is a LIE. You are LYING about being censored, Stephen”

    It appears that I drew an incorrect conclusion from your use of the ‘snip’ term in the portion you quoted.

    So, not a lie, simply a misapprehension. You really must try to avoid paranoia old chap :)

  266. richard verney says:
    February 13, 2012 at 8:30 am

    Konrad says:
    February 13, 2012 at 12:17 am
    //////////////////////////////////

    I have never seen a proper explanation as to how DWLWIR can heat the oceans given the wavelength and its consequential penetrative depth.

    This is doubly problematic with a turbulent body of water (such as open open ocean) where the top micron layers are little more than wind swept spray only rarely contacting with the body below.

    This particular line of nonsense is discussed at length in “Radiating the Ocean“. Short answer? Downwelling long-wave infrared (DWLWIR) can indeed heat the ocean. The proof is in the fact that the ocean receives about 170 W/m2 from the sun, radiates away energy at about 390 W/m2, and loses about 100 W/m2 via evaporation and conduction/convection.

    If the ocean cannot be warmed by downwelling infrared, and it’s gaining 170 W/m2 from the sun and losing about 490 W/m2 through radiation and parasitic losses … then where is the other 320 W/m2 coming from to keep the ocean from freezing?

    Richard, neither you nor anyone else has ever answered that question. As I result, I continue to hold that yes, LWIR is known to heat rocks, trees, kids, houses, and the land in general, and there is no reason that it cannot heat water as well.

    Yes, it is absorbed in the first 10 microns of the water … but the same is true about where it is absorbed in rocks, trees, kids, houses, and the land in general. Nobody thinks that LWIR can’t heat kids because it is absorbed in the first 10 microns of their skin.

    The main question for you “can’t be absorbed” folks to answer, and the one you simply can’t answer is this: if DWLWIR is not absorbed by the ocean … where is the other 390 W/m2 coming from to keep the ocean from freezing?

    w.

  267. John Brookes says:
    February 13, 2012 at 6:34 am

    So the equator won’t heat up much, but the energy will be carried to cooler climes, which will become warmer. Sounds reasonable. Pretty much what the CAGW crowd say.

    No they don’t. They say that CO2 = CAGW should have occurred at both Poles first, that a Tropical Troposhperic Hot Spot should have developed, that measurable Ocean Heat Content should have increased, that the rate of Sea Level Rise should not have decreased, that Accumulated Cyclone Energy and Category 4-5 Hurricanes should not have decreased, that Himalayan glaciers should have shown a net decrease in extent, that stripbark pine tree ring indices should not have decreased, that Atmospheric Water Content and Optical Density should have increased, that by now we should have had 10’s of millions of Climate Refugees, that Malaria should have spread, that Wind and Solar energy should have worked to replace conventional energy sources, that their alleged cure is not much worse than their alleged disease…etc….and that the last 10+ years of Global Mean Temperature should not have flattened.

    But not to worry, John, your legacy as having supported the Greatest Pseudo-Scientific Hoax Evah! is still firmly intact!

  268. Bill Illis says:
    February 13, 2012 at 4:13 am “…Now let’s take this insight and go back to Pangea at 265 Mya….”

    It appears that this hot time handled itself by pushing lots of heat to the poles. Scotese’s paper: Gondwanan Paleogeography and Paleoclimatology, 1998, indicates that the area comprising Antarctica and Australia, while at high latitudes (above 60˚S) were warm, temperate regions, exhibiting coal and kaolinite deposits. According to the text, there are no indicators of glaciation from mid-Permian to mid-Jurassic (ca. 270-175 MYBP) although there’s a lot of landmass at or near the South Pole, at least at the start of the period.

    Looking at 255.jpg, I would tend to think of the China complex acting like Indonesia today, with lots of hot water piled up around it on occasion, and Paleo-Tethys Sea behaving like the Indian Ocean today. Physically, they lay out remarkably the same. The question is: were those seas hotter than 30˚C? I doubt it; the processes that moderate SSTs today worked then, and they worked a lot harder. Scotese refers to a “mega-monsoonal” phenomenon (Parrish, 1993) working there. (I haven’t read that paper or looked into the concept). There is also a suggestion that the Earth’s atmosphere was denser then than now, and I think that could work to increase atmospheric T (and so SST?).

  269. Just to get back to the observations analysis. Has anyone calculated the total volume, of the surface tension layer, of the oceans surface? How much “seawater” are we talking about (1st couple of microns)? GK

  270. “where is the other 320 W/m2 coming from to keep the ocean from freezing?”

    Assuming that figure to be correct then obviously it is coming from a dynamic energy exchange with the atmosphere.

    Anyway, what does Willis’s position on all this boil down to ?

    Apparently Willis contends that the Gas Laws do not apply to an atmosphere that contains no GHGs.

    Good luck with that, as they say. I’d be interested to see some evidence.

  271. “Nobody thinks that LWIR can’t heat kids because it is absorbed in the first 10 microns of their skin.”

    It can’t heat kids whose skin is kept constantly wet.

  272. Nisse said @ February 13, 2012 at 9:00 am

    What about the science then, what has been written about ocean temperature and its physics during the last 100 years? Surely there must be tons of stuff! I hardly see any reference to any papers in these discussions. Is the wheel being invented anew here? I am not a climatologist or something like that, but I do not see any problems whatsoever with temperatures reaching a roof, that´s plain physics. Global warming is not about oceans reaching 36 C or deserts 57.9 C. The issue is the long term storage of energy in marine systems. Nevertheless, it is very interesting to see some tinkering with that amount of data.

    Willis referred to Ramanathan and Collins 1991 & De-Zheng Sun & Zhengyu Liu 2000 early in this thread. Yes there are hundreds of papers that note the relative stability of Earth’s equatorial region and somewhat fewer that propose mechanisms for this. I’m sure that the references in the two papers Willis referred to and a Google Scholar search on those papers will provide many hours of interesting reading :-)

  273. Willis rants on and on and then ends with this beauty:

    And I think you have your head up your fundamental orifice. You have given us nothing but a slimy character assassination, without a single quotation or citation or fact to back it up. Not one. That’s the action of a cowardly low-down sneak.

    Richard M., you are shaming yourself with these kinds of nasty unsupported allegations. Stick to the science.

    Willis, no quotations were needed as all I did was point out the obvious. You weren’t at all interested in N&Z’s observations but now you defend observations without mechanism. It’s also pretty obvious from your ad hom filled response that you also realize at some level what I said is true. I would suggest you step back and look at what I stated logically.

    BTW, I’m not “shaming myself” and others are not “embarrassing themselves” by stating their opinions. One wonders why you can’t argue your points without all the emotion.

  274. Stephen Wilde says:
    February 13, 2012 at 9:07 am

    “Now you are complaining you are being censored? Hang on … OK, I just checked. Your claim that you are being censored is a LIE. You are LYING about being censored, Stephen”

    It appears that I drew an incorrect conclusion from your use of the ‘snip’ term in the portion you quoted.

    So, not a lie, simply a misapprehension. You really must try to avoid paranoia old chap :)

    Stephen, if you are so stupid that when you see the word “snip” in a reply to you that you jump to the conclusion that you are being censored, I fear you are beyond my poor power to help.

    As to paranoia, you’ll have to help me there. I get the distinct feeling I’m being followed from thread to thread by clueless pressure-heads who want to use the prestige of WUWT in order to lend a false luster of believability to their ludicrous ideas.

    Am I being paranoid?

    w.

  275. Richard M says:
    February 13, 2012 at 9:53 am

    Willis rants on and on and then ends with this beauty:

    And I think you have your head up your fundamental orifice. You have given us nothing but a slimy character assassination, without a single quotation or citation or fact to back it up. Not one. That’s the action of a cowardly low-down sneak.

    Richard M., you are shaming yourself with these kinds of nasty unsupported allegations. Stick to the science.

    Willis, no quotations were needed as all I did was point out the obvious.

    No quotations or evidence needed when you attack a man?

    Richard, it’s surprising. Previously, you hadn’t struck me as the kind of sleazy skank who would attack a man’s character, and then when asked for evidence to back up his nasty allegations, would say that no evidence was needed. Don’t know why, but I had a different impression, you seemed like kind of a decent honest guy.

    I guess we can all get fooled. I know I was.

    w.

  276. Stephen Wilde says:
    February 13, 2012 at 9:49 am

    … Apparently Willis contends that the Gas Laws do not apply to an atmosphere that contains no GHGs.

    Cite? As I have said many times, if you disagree with me, QUOTE MY WORDS. I have never said that in my life, Stephen, so in my opinion you are LYING AGAIN.

    Although I’m sure you’ll come back to say it was just an innocent error, you truly thought I had said something of that kind but now you just can’t find the reference blah blah blah …

    I call that kind of action “lying by omission”. You make up something you think I said, and then you omit the crucial step of finding out if I actually said it. That is a deliberate action, and that is what makes your actions a lie rather than the innocent mistake I’m sure you’ll try to blame it on.

    w.

  277. you know willis. there might have been some speck of wisdom in my suggestion ( christmas 2010)
    that WUWT should avoid posting junk science. Like N&Z. On one hand, of course, there is the notion that bad science will die on the battlefield of ideas. That debate will clear away ignorance.
    On the other hand stupidity is contagious, like a virus. It’s a really fine line. But I fear that WUWT is ending up looking like a higher traffic version of the talkshop. There is a big difference between marginal science, that might be correct ( say Christy) and the lunatic fringe that can’t be right. The folks who cannot be right, can never admit that they are wrong.

  278. Well if you do accept that the Gas Laws apply to a non GHG atmosphere then you would have no problem with the concept of a higher temperature at the surface and a pressure induced lapse rate would you ?

  279. Willis Eschenbach said @ February 13, 2012 at 10:06 am

    Richard M says:
    February 13, 2012 at 9:53 am

    Willis rants on and on and then ends with this beauty:

    And I think you have your head up your fundamental orifice. You have given us nothing but a slimy character assassination, without a single quotation or citation or fact to back it up. Not one. That’s the action of a cowardly low-down sneak.

    Richard M., you are shaming yourself with these kinds of nasty unsupported allegations. Stick to the science.

    Willis, no quotations were needed as all I did was point out the obvious.

    No quotations or evidence needed when you attack a man?

    Richard, it’s surprising. Previously, you hadn’t struck me as the kind of sleazy skank who would attack a man’s character, and then when asked for evidence to back up his nasty allegations, would say that no evidence was needed. Don’t know why, but I had a different impression, you seemed like kind of a decent honest guy.

    Geez guys, whatever happened to the Principle of Charity? You’ve turned a spark, into an ember and then a full on bonfire. You make me feel homesick… my father and I were like that when I was a teenager living at home.

  280. Looking at the graphs and aware of the earlier discussion by Willis of the day-night change in water temperature and the formation of thunderstorms in the tropics, it seems to me that the width of the line of the maximum temperature is the diurnal variation in the water temperature at the limit. The ARGO buoys reach the surface at all times of day, send their signals to the satellite and begin their cycle again. Thus the data for the readings must show the surface temperature range of the day-night temperature variation. This range is the evidence of the thermostatic action of the cloud forming processes in the equatorial waters.

  281. Stephen Wilde says:
    February 13, 2012 at 9:05 am

    … Apart from that you keep misrepresenting the views of those who argue that the Gas Laws are relevant and fail to acknowledge the nuances of opinion between such persons. …

    I’m sorry, Stephen. I’ll try to do a better job of acknowledging the nuances of the differing beliefs of the gravity-heads versus the pressure-heads. It’s just difficult keeping them straight. The problem is that it is hard to distinguish between the various kinds and styles of handwaving. I’m not real good at that. For example, in the same email you say:

    If pressure is not relevant then convection cannot happen. It occurs because a parcel of air through heating and expansion becomes light enough to overcome the weight of the atmosphere above it. That is basic physics.

    Water vapour being lighter than air overcomes the downward pressure more readily.

    And that’s where the email ends …

    OK, now we’re getting somewhere. I now know that one of your nuances is that you think water vapor overcomes downward pressure more readily than air. I’ll keep that in mind next time I’m considering how well different things “overcome downward pressure”. I suspect, for example, that rocks have a hard time overcoming downward pressure.

    w.

  282. steven mosher says:
    February 13, 2012 at 10:19 am

    you know willis. there might have been some speck of wisdom in my suggestion ( christmas 2010)
    that WUWT should avoid posting junk science. Like N&Z. On one hand, of course, there is the notion that bad science will die on the battlefield of ideas. That debate will clear away ignorance.
    On the other hand stupidity is contagious, like a virus. It’s a really fine line. But I fear that WUWT is ending up looking like a higher traffic version of the talkshop. There is a big difference between marginal science, that might be correct ( say Christy) and the lunatic fringe that can’t be right. The folks who cannot be right, can never admit that they are wrong.

    Thanks, Steven. I was shocked to the core when Anthony published the N&Z nonsense without a strong disclaimer at the top. I didn’t comment on it. Not once. It turned my stomach. I fervently hoped it would die a natural death and be swallowed in silence like so many of my posts. No such luck.

    Instead, it’s like an infestation of bedbugs, there’s gravity-heads and pressure-heads crawling out of the woodwork to see who can do the best job of hand-waving. They’ll say something they are convinced clearly explains a scientific concept, along the lines of “The Ideal Gas laws make it so that pressure causes the temperature to be more like it is now than it was when I got here”, and wait for the applause, and wonder why I laugh and point instead of picking up on the revealed wisdom.

    I simply plan to continue letting them know they are not welcome to expound their nonsense on my threads. I’m happy to talk real science with anyone, but not drivel. And sure, they’re free to expose their unappreciated idiocy to an uncaring universe, but I’m not happy to see them do it here at WUWT, and I will continue to let them know it. Tallbloke’s Talkshop has appointed itself the center of gravity and pressure, I invite Steven Wilde and others to go there. Here, I’m not buying their nonsense, and I won’t until the Laws of Thermodynamics are overthrown. Might happen someday, but until then …

    w.

  283. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lapse_rate

    “the concept can be extended to any gravitationally supported ball of gas.”

    “Because the atmosphere is warmed by conduction from Earth’s surface, this lapse or reduction in temperature is normal with increasing distance from the conductive source.”

  284. “I suspect, for example, that rocks have a hard time overcoming downward pressure.”

    So you didn’t know that rocks are heavier than air ? Unlike water vapour ?

  285. “I simply plan to continue letting them know they are not welcome to expound their nonsense on my threads.”

    The threads ‘belong’ to Anthony and through Anthony the contributors. You come last.

  286. Stephen Wilde says:
    February 13, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Well if you do accept that the Gas Laws apply to a non GHG atmosphere then you would have no problem with the concept of a higher temperature at the surface and a pressure induced lapse rate would you ?

    Stephen, I truly don’t care in the slightest about your pressure theories. I have no use for them. You yourself seem to be no more able to explain them than N&Z were able to explain Equation 8. I have said many times that fantastic theories that violate basic scientific principles are not welcome here. I have invited you to take them to tallblokes.

    What part of “go away” are you missing? This is a post on Argo, not on your dang cockamamie pressure theories. If you want to discuss them, I’m sure you can find lots of folks at tallblokes to talk them over with. Plus they won’t call you an idiot for believing impossible things, and I definitely will. Plus they understand the nuances that I don’t care about. Heck, Roger might even let you post on your brilliant ideas there.

    w.

  287. The Pompous Git says:
    February 13, 2012 at 10:26 am

    … Geez guys, whatever happened to the Principle of Charity? You’ve turned a spark, into an ember and then a full on bonfire. You make me feel homesick… my father and I were like that when I was a teenager living at home.

    The Principle of Charity doesn’t extend to people trying to trash my reputation and damage my credibility with false allegations.

    Maybe you sit still and smile when someone does that to you, Pompous.

    I don’t.

    w.

  288. “No more discussion of N&Z theory here”

    Ok. But what about lapse rate and the Gas Laws ?

    They predate N & Z by a long way and are directly relevant to convection at the ocean surface and consequent sea surface temperatures.

  289. Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 12, 2012 at 9:30 am

    “I have seen this statement several times on these pages. Can someone explain to me why surface tension should totally inhibit heat transfer from gas to liquid?
    This is part of a wider misunderstanding, which claims that for various reasons the ocean can’t be heated by infrared … I just ignore them, and advise others to do the same. For some reason, the idea that infrared (thermal) radiation can heat anything but water has taken hold with these folks, and there is nothing that will convince them otherwise.
    Ignore them.
    w.
    [edited to add: See my post, "Radiating the Ocean", where many examples of R.M.B.'s kind of foolishness are on display ... w.]”
    ————————————————
    Willis I would say that your explanation as to how longwave infrared heating water just like rock ignores specific properties of water. I find Michael’s explanation closer to reality to what happens at the surface of water in case of longwave infrared heating:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/02/12/argo-and-the-ocean-temperature-maximum/#comment-890843

    michael hart says:
    February 12, 2012 at 8:51 am
    ______________
    Tim,
    Simply put, the main reason is that at very short distances from the surface [approx micrometres and less] the forces that produce bulk mixing in the ocean become much less important, and diffusion becomes dominant. This diffusion constraint affects how fast heat can be transferred DOWN from the surface [the "Einstein-Smoluchowski" limit is often how it is taught in Chemistry, where it has an important effect on reaction rates]. You cannot make it go faster by simply stirring with wind/wave/convection. So when the heat cannot be rapidly transferred downwards, then more water evaporates, effectively transferring the heat UPWARDS [as latent heat]. This heat now CAN be transported efficiently by wind and convection. It will later reappear when it condenses back to water somewhere else on the planet, higher in the atmosphere, closer to the poles, etc.
    Now, Infra red radiation is so strongly absorbed by the top micrometres within this surface zone limited by diffusion rates, that a resulting temperature rise [from increased IR radiation] is more easily lost by evaporation than it is transferred to depths. Dave Springer has often posted about this on these blogs, and elsewhere. It has been used to argue than “Trenberth’s missing heat” in the oceans never did enter the oceans.
    ————————————-
    So longwave infrared may be warming the water but in limited ways controlled by diffusion and evaporation.

    I personally find backradiation does heat anything, but reduces heat loss of the surface which is a different thing even if at first view might look as if having the same effect. In case the oceans are warmer then the air, if, lets say, water radiates 350 W/m2 and the radiation from atmosphere is 250 W/m2 it does not mean that the ocean gets 250 W/m2 extra heat, but the surface of the ocean is having a radiative loss of 350-250=100 W/m2. It is still a loss but smaller. The rest of the heat coming from sun is lost through evaporation.
    One may argue that reducing heat loss (like isolation, like a carpet) has the same effect as adding heat, but I find that giving “backradiation” a value as if it were a heat source is what is creating confusion and wrong calculations.

    ———————————————————
    Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 13, 2012 at 9:14 am
    The proof is in the fact that the ocean receives about 170 W/m2 from the sun, radiates away energy at about 390 W/m2, and loses about 100 W/m2 via evaporation and conduction/convection.

    1) The ocean is frozen there where there is no radiation from the sun – between 15 and 20 million sq km. It does not radiate there – this reduces the energy the oceans radiates away with some 390*17.5 TWatt
    2) In summer ice melts and most incoming radiation enters the ocean when under sun radiation, the 170 W/m2 is calculated considering also the area covered by ice – so for incomming radiation one has to add the area that melts. Also the part still covered by ice is receiving less radiation in average then the rest, so the average of the ocean under sun has a higher Watt value.

  290. Back to the Argo question. As I said above, I don’t know the details of the mechanism. For me, it’s a simple example of where the lines cross. When the losses equal the gains the heating stops. How hard a stop that is, depends on the slope of the lines when they cross. From the fact that almost no Argo temperatures anywhere exceed 31°, I have to assume that at that point losses are climbing quite sharply.

    This is in line with several things.

    1. The rapid rise of evaporation with temperature. Saturation vapor pressure goes up exponentially with temperature.

    2. The rapid rise of evaporation with wind, particularly thunderstorm winds. Evaporation goes up lineally with wind speed, so an increase from one m/sec to 10 m/sec (2 to 22 mph) increases evaporation by a factor of 10.

    3. The T^4 dependence of radiation on temperature. As temperature rises, radiation rises much faster.

    4. The rise of conduction/convection with increased wind. The sensible heat flux also varies linearly with wind speed.

    5. The threshold-based nature of cloud and thunderstorm formation gives very steep rises in albedo, vertical convection, wind, downwards transport of cold rain and wind, and other surface-cooling mechanisms.

    So we have evaporation (rising linearly with wind and exponentially with temperature), radiation (climbing as temperature^4), sensible heat loss through conduction/convection (rising linearly with wind and surface/air temperature difference), and a host of surface-cooling mechanisms (cloud albedo increase, surface albedo increase, cold rain and wind from aloft, etc) which rise linearly with thunderstoms. At some point that is enough to overwhelm the power of the sun plus the greenhouse effect.

    Bear in mind that the combined downwelling radiation (greenhouse plus solar) in the tropics on a 24/7/365 basis is around 670 W/m2 … so it is clear that there is plenty of radiation to push the surface temperature higher. The blackbody radiation of 31°C is 485 W/m2. So it is not lack of energy that is keeping the ocean from warming further.

    Now, I make no claim that that is an exhaustive list of ways that the temperature maximum is maintained. I suspect that there are subtle changes in clouds along the lines of those postulated by Lindzen. The effects of the El Nino are a possible factor.

    My point is simple. At some temperature, all of the incoming energy is lost to a combination of the factors listed above. And when the sun gets hotter than that, any excess energy is shipped to the poles. There is no further temperature rise.

    Finally, in the tropics, a doubling of CO2 represents a change in total forcing of less than one percent … anyone who thinks that a half-percent change will not be swallowed up by a host of compensatory mechanisms underestimates Murphy.

    w.

  291. “And when the sun gets hotter than that, any excess energy is shipped to the poles. There is no further temperature rise.”

    I would say that when the WATER gets hotter than that any excess energy is shipped to the poles but:

    When the SUN gets hotter then the maximum water temperature would rise.

    The difference being that in the first case there is no more energy being added to the system but in the second case more energy is available at the water surface to be redistributed which will force a higher equilibrium temperature at the ocean surface.

    It then follows that because GHGs do not add any extra energy to the system they would not raise the maximum sea surface temperature either. Instead there would just be a faster redistribution as the energy from the GHGs is shifted faster through the system and out to space.

    The rest of that description as to how the maximum sea surface temperature might be maintained looks good to me.

    However we still differ as to WHY all those mechanisms ramp up so much at the point that they do. If you have an alternative suggestion to atmospheric pressure I would be interested to hear it.

    How could you say this:

    “I have to assume that at that point losses are climbing quite sharply.”

    without taking another step and seeing that at that point the turbulence caused by the energy at the surface rapidly overcomes the restraining influence of the weight of the atmosphere ?

  292. Willis: Finally, in the tropics, a doubling of CO2 represents a change in total forcing of less than one percent … anyone who thinks that a half-percent change will not be swallowed up by a host of compensatory mechanisms underestimates Murphy.

    what do you think of the simulations performed on Isaac Held’s blog?

    http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/blog/isaac-held/2011/10/26/19-radiative-convective-equilibrium/

    It looks to me now that this is the approach that best quantifies what you wrote, and that with faster computers they will be able to model the effect of doubling the CO2.

  293. Willis,I noted with some surprise that you responded to Richard Verneys response to my comment, yet ignored the original. In case you missed it I am reposting it for your consideration.

    Original post –

    Willis,
    I enjoyed the post and I believe you are correct in suggesting a limit to ocean temperatures. But then I noted in your reply to Stephen Wilde that you again asserted DWLWIR has the same effect over the oceans as it does over land. I would again ask you to consider that you are in error on this point. After your post on “radiating the oceans” I conducted several experiments looking at this issue. I found that Stephen Wilde is correct and that liquid water that can evaporatively cool does not have its cooling rate effected by incident LWIR in the same manner as other materials. Subsequent to that as reported here at WUWT, Schmittner et al 2011 was published indicating that the effects of increasing CO2 may be “multi-modal” ie: different over the oceans.

    I urge you to take the time to conduct you own empirical experiments into this issue. You can use microwave safe cling wrap to restrict evaporative cooling of warm water samples without greatly altering conductive and radiative cooling. Thin film LDPE is largely IR transparent at the relevant frequencies. In urging you to design and conduct your own physical experiments I would remind you that Anthony Watts, the host of this site, started out on his journey with empirical experiments into the effect of changes in white wash to latex paint on Stephenson screens.

  294. It seems Willis is unassailable. You can’t put words in his mouth, you can’t draw him outside his comfort zone, you can’t question the data accuracy since he rounded out to 1 Celcius degree. His histogram is patently an accurate representation and shows something odd happenning at around 30 Centigrade. If you accuse him of being stupid you discover he is more intelligent than you are, if you accuse him of being wrong you had better keep well within your comfort zone.

    Willis is on a roll and, I suspect, having fun. As a mere mortal I can only stand back, wide eyed and wondering at a thoroughly entertaining show. Please continue.

  295. Richard M: Does anyone else note that Willis is taking pretty much an opposite position as he did with N&Z? Now, admittedly N&Z took their observations too far. And, I think Willis was correct in attacking some of their suppositions. However, when some of us noted that there may be some interesting observations that should be pursued, Willis had no interest.

    I don’t see that at all. If you think that is true, you should support it with actual quotes.

  296. Stephen Wilde: Surface air pressure determines the amount of heat (or rather energy) flow that one gets from a given temperature differential.

    The higher the pressure at the surface the higher the temperature needs to get at the surface to enable convection to overcome the weight of air pressing down on the surface.

    Increased pressure leads to increased density. Does not the increase in density also increase the rate of diffusion of heat?

  297. Willis,

    Even if it is true that the water can’t heat much above 30C, an increase in forcing caused by an increase in CO2 could cause an increase in the global mean temperature by (a) increasing the total area that is at or near the peak or (b) increasing the duration of time that the peak temperature is sustained, or both. So this analysis does not relate directly to any kind of thermostat hypothesis; something else such as increased cloud cover must constitute the thermostat.

    What do you think?

  298. Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 13, 2012 at 10:06 am

    No quotations or evidence needed when you attack a man?

    Richard, it’s surprising. Previously, you hadn’t struck me as the kind of sleazy skank who would attack a man’s character, and then when asked for evidence to back up his nasty allegations, would say that no evidence was needed. Don’t know why, but I had a different impression, you seemed like kind of a decent honest guy.

    Willis, there was no intent on attacking you and I don’t believe I did. I’m sorry if you took it in that vein. I was simply pointing out you had taken different positions on two issues that appeared to conflict to some degree. I did this because I believe you are correct here in trying learn something from observations before discounting them (as some of the commenters have done). But, you really did discount the similarities of the planets without a lot of consideration (at least that is how it appeared to me). I still believe there may be some structural aspects of an atmosphere that put constraints on the GHE. It appeared to me you were dismissing these observations because of the contrived physical mechanism specified. Did I misinterpret your stance? Correct me if I am wrong.

    However, it’s good to see that you are open to observational evidence without the need for a physical explanation. I also think that is important.

    Back to the topic at hand. I think the 30° limit does raise a lot of questions relative to water vapor feedback. Clearly, it doesn’t eliminate it as there are still massive ocean areas that could warm substantially before reaching 30°. However, I would guess the tropics are biggest source of water vapor and I suspect the models don’t limit the amount that could be produced there. So, this raises questions with the models that I’m sure some with a more intimate knowledge of their internals will want to investigate. Who knows, maybe they already factor this into the GCMs. But, it’s worth understanding.

  299. “Increased pressure leads to increased density. Does not the increase in density also increase the rate of diffusion of heat?”

    Yes indeed but only amongst the denser gases where it lingers longer than if the density were less.

    The greater the density the more molecular collisions and the longer it takes the energy to escape.

  300. Septic Matthew says:
    February 13, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    Richard M: Does anyone else note that Willis is taking pretty much an opposite position as he did with N&Z? Now, admittedly N&Z took their observations too far. And, I think Willis was correct in attacking some of their suppositions. However, when some of us noted that there may be some interesting observations that should be pursued, Willis had no interest.

    I don’t see that at all. If you think that is true, you should support it with actual quotes.

    Willis wrote an entire article dismissing equation 8 and the table that applies the equation … the table is essentially an observation. Did you miss it? Do I really need quote something that obvious?

  301. “an increase in CO2 could cause an increase in the global mean temperature by (a) increasing the total area that is at or near the peak or (b) increasing the duration of time that the peak temperature is sustained, or both”

    Not if the ramping up of the non radiative processes amounts to a faster ejection of energy to space.

    GHGs do not add new energy to the system the way a stronger sun would, They just slow down the rate at which it passes through (though there is some debate about that given that they also radiate out to space more effectively than non GHGs) so if something else speeds it up again the net effect would be zero but there would be a small adjustment in the surface pressure distribution. In the example of the ITCZ there would simply be lower pressure under the energised ITCZ and slightly higher pressure either side where the air descends again.

    My own view however is that GHGs probably have a net zero effect anyway.

  302. The Pompous Git says:
    Michael Faraday’s motor doesn’t appear to fit in at all well with Popper’s prescription:

    I’ll state categorically that one can not build anything without a theory of how it will perform or function. Faraday may not have had a theory consistent with the accepted body of science in his time, but he assuredly had a theory of some kind, possibly resulting from some serendipitous discovery of his.

    Although your use of ‘theory’ may well be narrower than mine.

  303. You know you have interesting data when it causes an argument ;)

    The story so far:
    Willis took Argo data and turned it into pretty pictures.
    We look at pretty pictures and go, “Hmm. The temperature seems to “cap off”, or hit a limit, at the 30 deg C mark. WUWT?”
    People begin listing hypotheses, including convection, currents, evaporation/hydrologic cycle, clouds, air pressure, etc…
    People argue about their ideas.
    How about we come up with something testable and run an experiment?

    Me, I can’t get past the number 30. Sure, as some have pointed out, as in every statistical data set, there are outliers, perhaps a statistically significant amount of them. That doesn’t change the fact that this limit is observed for the other 99.9%, and I am equally interested in why most of the ocean can’t break the 30 barrier and why some of it does.

    Is it simply a mathematical product of energy in (sun +?) versus energy out (above hypothesis?), and 30 degrees C is the magic number that makes it balance (99.9% of the time)? At least it is a real number, and not something we plugged into a model to make the picture turn out the way we wanted.

    Goooo (civil) debate!

  304. Stephen Wilde: Not if the ramping up of the non radiative processes amounts to a faster ejection of energy to space.

    That may happen, as I think I have written in comments. However, disputing a “could” with another “might” or “maybe” emphasizes the unknowns.

  305. Richard M. : Do I really need quote something that obvious?

    I thought that you were wrong. If you made an actual case with actual quotes to point out the inconsistency that you claimed, then I might see how you were right. As it stands, you are either wrong or empty.

  306. Willis,

    Thanks for another very interesting post on the Argo data. I found the seasonality displayed in your Fig. 6 quite interesting. As you know, the number of data recordings in the northern part of the sector that you selected in Fig. 5 is very sparse. By my eye, I don’t see any buoys above about 40N. Am I missing something?

  307. Richard M : But, you really did discount the similarities of the planets without a lot of consideration (at least that is how it appeared to me).

    Here is where an exact quote and an explication of your view would help.

    In this post Willis has presented an extensive analysis of much data. In the previous article he was dismissive of a nonlinear model with 4 parameters fit to 8 data points. There is no inconsistency between them. If you were referring to some other inconsistency, point it out with exact quotes.

  308. Philip Bradley said @ February 13, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    I’ll state categorically that one can not build anything without a theory of how it will perform or function. Faraday may not have had a theory consistent with the accepted body of science in his time, but he assuredly had a theory of some kind, possibly resulting from some serendipitous discovery of his.

    Although your use of ‘theory’ may well be narrower than mine.

    Popper’s claim was that observation statements are theory-dependent. When the theory is falsified, then observation statements dependent on that theory can no longer be made. Faraday’s observation statement was that the motor worked. When his, or Ampere’s theories of how electricity works were falsified, then it should have become impossible to make the statement: “Faraday’s motor works”.

  309. Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 12, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    I guess that’s the advantage to being an amateur scientist. I’m not bogged down with the prejudices of the physics teachers. I can just let the data lead me wherever it wants to go.

    The advantage of being a professional scientist is I don’t have to break my concentration by a day job that involves pounding nails. That’s not to say I don’t pound nails. I do. But I do it to relax and get my mind off my day job which is math and science. My carpentry projects are about as amateurish as your attempts at math & science. I’m sure we’re both proud of what we do be we shouldn’t delude ourselves into thinking we excel at things no one will actually pay us to do. No one will hire me as a carpenter, Willis, and no one is going to hire you as a scientiest. I think we both know that but one of us won’t admit it.

  310. Septic Matthew says:
    February 13, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    You have to begin from first principles. In this case a first principle is that nothing except additional incoming energy can raise the temperature of something above its S-B blackbody temperature. The S-B blackbody temperature is an ideal which is impossible to obtain in nature. Things are cooler than S-B blackbody temperature because nothing in nature is a perfect absorber of energy. Nature is populated with gray bodies that can never quite absorb all the energy that falls upon them thus they can never quite attain that ultimate maximum temperature.

    The earth is a gray body and it only absorbs about 60-70% of the energy falling upon it from the sun. Lots of things, things like greenhouse gases for instance, can help it absorb more of that energy but nothing can make it absorb more than 100%.

    Willis, not being a scientist or having any formal science education, I note calls the 255K S-B temperature of the earth it’s blackbody temperature. This is wrong. That is its gray body temperature assuming that the surface, on average, absorbs 70% of the energy coming in from the sun. This 70% figure is a gross estimate and no has yet been able to satisfactorily give it a precision of better than +-3% and no one knows how much it varies from year to year.

    The energy in our climate system is determined in the short and intermediate time scales by the earth’s albedo. Over the long haul it’s determined by where the sun is in its evolution. The sun is about 10% hotter now than it was a few billion years ago (this is called the “faint sun paradox” because it makes us wonder what kept the earth from freezing in the past). A few billion years into the future the sun will turn the earth into a cinder. In the meantime arguing about the effects of anthropogenic CO2 on the climate is about the same as arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

  311. @Willis

    “Yes, it is absorbed in the first 10 microns of the water … but the same is true about where it is absorbed in rocks, trees, kids, houses, and the land in general. Nobody thinks that LWIR can’t heat kids because it is absorbed in the first 10 microns of their skin.”

    Yeah, and not even a kid would to keep cool in the summer heat by spraying themselves with sand. Rocks don’t evaporate under normal circumstances. Water does. Therein lies one of the major differences, among others, in the difference in physical properties between rocks and water.

  312. @Willis

    “Yes, it is absorbed in the first 10 microns of the water … but the same is true about where it is absorbed in rocks, trees, kids, houses, and the land in general. Nobody thinks that LWIR can’t heat kids because it is absorbed in the first 10 microns of their skin.”

    Yeah, and not even a kid would try (more than once) to keep cool in the summer heat by spraying themselves with sand. Rocks don’t evaporate under normal circumstances. Water does. Therein lies a major difference, among other major differences, in the physical properties of rocks and water. Another difference would be why we have steam engines but not rock engines. I could go on but I doubt it would do any good.

  313. Lars P. says:
    February 13, 2012 at 11:15 am

    … Willis I would say that your explanation as to how longwave infrared heating water just like rock ignores specific properties of water. I find Michael’s explanation closer to reality to what happens at the surface of water in case of longwave infrared heating:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/02/12/argo-and-the-ocean-temperature-maximum/#comment-890843

    Lars, that all sounds wonderful until you look at the numbers.

    Michael says that the missing 320 W/m2 needed to balance out the ocean heat budget are going away upwards as evaporation.

    Unfortunately, the amount of evaporation is fairly well constrained, and is known to be on the order of 80 W/m2. What’s happening to the other 240 W/m2?

    In addition, if DLR is not warming the ocean, then WHAT IS.

    We know the ocean on average receives about 170 W/m2 from the sun.

    We know the ocean loses about 100 Wm2 to sensible and latent heat.

    We know the ocean is losing an average of ~ 390 W/m2 through radiation (mental note, I can check that against the Argo data.

    Net losses? Just under half a kilowatt per square metre, 490 W/m2.

    Net gains without DLR? About 170 W/m2.

    So … if DLR isn’t making up the difference, why isn’t the ocean frozen?

    w.

  314. Septic Matthew says:
    February 13, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Willis: Finally, in the tropics, a doubling of CO2 represents a change in total forcing of less than one percent … anyone who thinks that a half-percent change will not be swallowed up by a host of compensatory mechanisms underestimates Murphy.

    what do you think of the simulations performed on Isaac Held’s blog?

    http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/blog/isaac-held/2011/10/26/19-radiative-convective-equilibrium/

    It looks to me now that this is the approach that best quantifies what you wrote, and that with faster computers they will be able to model the effect of doubling the CO2.

    Out-freakin’-standing. That’s exactly the kind of model you need to model the climate. Please, everyone take a look at the temperature regulation going at that link. When a hot spot springs up, clouds and thunderstorms bring cold air and water from aloft to cool it down. See my post about “The Details are in the Devil” for some considerations on analyzing the kind of system shown at Held’s site.

    Can’t thank you enough, Matthew, that’s going in the bookmarks.

    ‘w.

  315. Willis says,

    “Man, you “ad-hominem” guys never take a break, do you? I don’t care if it was found written on a bathroom wall. If it’s true, then it’s true, and thus it is worth paying attention to, whether Holmes is fictional or not.

    Unless, of course, you are arguing that one should indeed theorize without facts … and in that case, even Sherlock Holmes couldn’t help you.”

    As others have pointed out, whether you theorize first or second doesn’t matter, as long as you follow the facts. Who did I ad hom by the way? Doyle? Who cares? It’s true anyway.

  316. Konrad says:
    February 13, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Willis,I noted with some surprise that you responded to Richard Verneys response to my comment, yet ignored the original. In case you missed it I am reposting it for your consideration.

    Konrad, thanks. I’ll pass on the experiments until you can answer my question. If (as you claim) DLR is not providing the missing ~ 320 W/m2 of energy to the ocean, then what is the source of the energy that keeps it from freezing?

    Answer me that, and we can move on.

    w.

  317. Robin Hewitt says:
    February 13, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    It seems Willis is unassailable. You can’t put words in his mouth, you can’t draw him outside his comfort zone, you can’t question the data accuracy since he rounded out to 1 Celcius degree. His histogram is patently an accurate representation and shows something odd happenning at around 30 Centigrade. If you accuse him of being stupid you discover he is more intelligent than you are, if you accuse him of being wrong you had better keep well within your comfort zone.

    Willis is on a roll and, I suspect, having fun. As a mere mortal I can only stand back, wide eyed and wondering at a thoroughly entertaining show. Please continue.

    Oh, dear me, no, I’d love to be that good but I’m not. As my daughter is fond of saying, “In your dreams, dad”.

    However, I am indeed having fun. Glad you are enjoying it.

    w.

  318. Septic Matthew says:
    February 13, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Willis,

    Even if it is true that the water can’t heat much above 30C, an increase in forcing caused by an increase in CO2 could cause an increase in the global mean temperature by (a) increasing the total area that is at or near the peak or (b) increasing the duration of time that the peak temperature is sustained, or both. So this analysis does not relate directly to any kind of thermostat hypothesis; something else such as increased cloud cover must constitute the thermostat.

    What do you think?

    Here’s what I think. The phenomena of interest are taking place on the minute and hour scales, and not on the month or year scales.

    It took me years to realize this. I was looking for something that would control the climate on the scale of millennia. One day I thought … wait a minute. If there is something that keeps the temperature from going over 30° every day, it will mean that the temperature will not go over that in a week, a year, or a millennium. I felt like an idiot.

    It is the cropping of the daily peaks that creates the capping effect on temperature. I have shown in “It’s Not About Feedback” the mechanisms involved. I have provided the evidence for the mechanisms in “The TAO That Can Be Spoken“.

    As you point out, it is still possible for increased forcing to increase average temperature, by increasing the area or the time at or near the peak.

    However, the amount of that increase will be much, much less than it would be in the absence of that mechanism. It’s an uphill fight, and the hill gets steep fast as temperature increases.

    Remember that this is the crossing of curves, not something that kicks in at 30°. The same effects are happening at 29°C, but to a lesser amount. So it’s not like the temperatures lower than 30° are free to rise. They too have to struggle to increase the temperature due to increasing clouds, thunderstorms, albedo, and parasitic losses.

    Thanks for the question,

    w.

  319. hmccard says:
    February 13, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    Willis,

    Thanks for another very interesting post on the Argo data. I found the seasonality displayed in your Fig. 6 quite interesting. As you know, the number of data recordings in the northern part of the sector that you selected in Fig. 5 is very sparse. By my eye, I don’t see any buoys above about 40N. Am I missing something?

    There are hundreds of buoys in that area. The graph only shows those locations that have been above 30°C. All of the data in Figure 6 came from those hundreds of buoys. In the whole area … hang on …

    OK. I just wrote the program to calculate it. The area 0-45°N, 160-180°E shown in Figure 6 has 28,899 observations from a total of 518 different floats over the period of record.

    w.

  320. Joules Verne says:
    February 13, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    … The advantage of being a professional scientist is I don’t have to break my concentration by a day job that involves pounding nails. That’s not to say I don’t pound nails. I do. But I do it to relax and get my mind off my day job which is math and science. My carpentry projects are about as amateurish as your attempts at math & science. I’m sure we’re both proud of what we do be we shouldn’t delude ourselves into thinking we excel at things no one will actually pay us to do. No one will hire me as a carpenter, Willis, and no one is going to hire you as a scientiest. I think we both know that but one of us won’t admit it.

    Joules, I knew you’d show up to attack me. You have nothing to contribute, so you come to claim that I’m no good as a “scientiest”, as you so quaintly put it.

    Funny, Nature magazine thought enough of my scientific worth to publish my “Communications Arising” on Lake Tanganyika. Peer reviewed, don’cha know … have you had anything peer-reviewed and published in Nature?

    And the peer reviewed Blackwell journal “Diversity and Distributions” just published another piece of mine …

    So why should I care what some anonymous troublemaking internet popup jerkwater thinks of my science? Nature and the journals think it’s good enough, and many scientists who (unlike you) are willing to sign their names to their opinions think my work is good, and that’s good enough for me.

    Thanks for showing up to snarl, though, Joules—it’s helpful for people to be reminded that you are only here to cause trouble.

    w.

  321. Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 13, 2012 at 6:27 pm
    Konrad, thanks. I’ll pass on the experiments until you can answer my question. If (as you claim) DLR is not providing the missing ~ 320 W/m2 of energy to the ocean, then what is the source of the energy that keeps it from freezing?
    Answer me that, and we can move on.
    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    Willis,
    I do not claim to know what source of energy other than Luna tidal, geothermal and solar would be heating the oceans. I have little trust in Trenberthian radiation cartoons and cannot be sure that energy is in fact missing. However I do trust empirical results. LWIR has a very limited effect on water that is free to evaporatively cool. If you restrict the evaporative cooling of two warm water samples allowing only conductive and radiative cooling and expose the surface of one sample to LWIR you will notice a distinct divergence in the rate of cooling between the samples. When evaporative cooling is allowed, both samples cool faster yet there is no divergence in their temperatures. Whatever energy is keeping the oceans from freezing, I am sure DWLWIR has little to do with it. The lack of a hypothesis from me about what energy sources keep the ocean liquid should not be a barrier to you conducting this simple experiment to rule out DWLWIR as the energy source.

  322. Willis writes “I’ve added the following to the head post:”
    Thanks Willis. It is an interesting figure and I wonder how it will change over the years as we get more data.

  323. Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 12, 2012 at 10:52 pm
    R. Gates says:
    February 12, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    … Ocean heat content is probably the best single metric for the energy imbalance of the planet. The amount it has gone up (to as deep as we are currently measuring) over the many decades is impressive.

    Thanks, R. Gates. Not sure what you call impressive. We’ve been measuring ocean temperature down to 2,000 metres for about half a century. During that time, as best as we can tell, the temperature of the ocean has increased by eight hundredths of a degree.

    Can’t say I’m all that impressed by that myself …

    w.

    ________
    I won’t quibble with that number as I am not sure where you got it, but based on the actual energy content that the ocean has stored since around 1970, (that we are able to measure – and it’s a “travesty” we can’t measure more accurately even deeper), the ocean down to about 2000 meters has stored roughly 23 x 10^22 Joules of energy. I think your 30C cap on surface temps (with slightly higher temps in a few select locations) offer an interest clue about how the ocean could be taking in energy faster than it can get rid of it. There are undoubtedly multiple factors keeping the peak ocean temps around 30C at the equator, not the least of which is obvious air temperature and pressure, but there is no similar governor or cap on how fast energy can be transferred to the ocean, as we have seen, it continues to go up, and indeed, with the huge heat sink that the ocean is, the funnel for energy into the ocean is far bigger than the smaller funnel for it to escape.

    I’d be interested to see what you know about regions such as the Mindanao Dome near the Philippines. Of course, during La Nina years, such as now this region experiences a large buildup of warm water, and the Ekman transport carries this warm water down to at least 2000 meters, and of coure it is a major recharge point for the Pacific Warm Pool that eventually works back toward the east leading to the next El Nino. There are several points around the world’s oceans where such warm water downwelling from occurs, and so those who argue about LW radiation not being able to warm water deeper than the top surface fail to understand the powerful downwelling that occurs at areas such as the Mindanao Dome, taking down large amounts of warm equatorial water from the surface to deeper layers of the ocean.

  324. Konrad says:
    February 13, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 13, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    Konrad, thanks. I’ll pass on the experiments until you can answer my question. If (as you claim) DLR is not providing the missing ~ 320 W/m2 of energy to the ocean, then what is the source of the energy that keeps it from freezing?
    Answer me that, and we can move on.

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    Willis,
    I do not claim to know what source of energy other than Luna tidal, geothermal and solar would be heating the oceans.

    OK, so your claim is it’s not DLR but you don’t know what it is.

    I rarely refer anyone to RealClimate … but you really should look at the experiment that they describe there. Unlike yours, it’s an experiment done on a real boat (M/V Tangaroa) on a real ocean looking at real variations in downwelling real longwave. They used thermometers good to a tenth of a degree, measured the actual ocean temperature, and guess what?

    They found the ocean does in fact absorb DLR. Hard evidence.

    So until your experiment is more real-world and more precise than that, and given you can’t offer any other reason the ocean isn’t freezing, I’m gonna go with the Tangaroa results. These show the ocean can indeed absorb DLR.

    Sorry,

    w.

  325. Here’s what I think. The phenomena of interest are taking place on the minute and hour scales, and not on the month or year scales.

    And that is the flaw in the Forcings model/theory and why its predicted accumulating heat in the Earth’s climate is in all likelyhood not happening. The heat isn’t ‘missing’. Its long gone to space, transported by fast H2O feedbacks.

  326. Willis: Here’s what I think. The phenomena of interest are taking place on the minute and hour scales, and not on the month or year scales.

    I think you are basically correct, but there is the in-between scale of 1 – 5 days or so. That should not be ruled out, in my opinion.

  327. R. Gates says:
    February 13, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    … I won’t quibble with that number as I am not sure where you got it, but based on the actual energy content that the ocean has stored since around 1970, (that we are able to measure – and it’s a “travesty” we can’t measure more accurately even deeper), the ocean down to about 2000 meters has stored roughly 23 x 10^22 Joules of energy.

    Yes, that’s exactly where I got the number of degrees, 0.08°C, eight hundredths of a degree. Here’s how.

    Take the total joules over the fifty years.

    Divide it by fifty to give joules/yr.

    Divide it by square metres of ocean to give joules/m^2/year.

    Those joules/m2/year are heating 2,000 cubic metres of ocean. Multiply that by say 62/60 to give tonnes per square metre.

    It takes 4 megajoules to heat a tonne of water 1°C.

    SO … 4 megajoules/tonne times 2,066 tonnes means it will take 8,266 megajoules to raise that square metre of water 2,000 metres deep by 1°C.

    We know how many joules/m2/yr it will take to raise the water 1°C.

    We know how many joules/m2/yr we have.

    Divide one into the other, we get 0.08° temperature rise … call me underwhelmed.

    w.

  328. Willis: Can’t thank you enough, Matthew, that’s going in the bookmarks.

    I am glad you like it. I don’t know how much time you want to spend reading articles, but some of the articles referenced in that thread do begin to address the effects of CO2 changes on the time scales that interest you and me.

  329. Joules Verne says:
    February 13, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    I don’t see how that has anything to do with anything that I wrote.

  330. And what about the downwelling areas? As the majority of the energy going into the global ocean is through downwelling, it would seem that any discussion of ocean surface tempertures can’t really be complete without a discussion of downwelling of that surface energy into the much deeper layers of the ocean. This is major part of the recharge cycle of ENSO, as all that downwelling warmer water in the western Pacific, in areas such as the Mindanao dome, is the “battery” that is charged during La Nina, to be released during El Niño. Problem is, it seems the battery is not being fully discharged, and some of the excess is spilling into other ocean basins, and thus, total ocean heat content is going up.

  331. Willis,
    I am well aware of that set of observations and the numerous limitations of the study. At the time of your post on “radiating the oceans” I search extensively for a study conducted in controlled lab conditions. I could not find one and none of the supporters for DWLWIR altering the cooling rate of the oceans could point to one. Only those ship based observations. I ended up conducting my own experiment . I find it fascinating the that given this is such an important issue relating to the effects of CO2 that there are not results for numerous lab experiments into this issue spread wide across the web.

    Do you know of any lab experiments into this issue using controlled LWIR sources, controlled sample sizes, sample temperatures as well as air speed and humidity?

  332. Willis asks “The main question for you “can’t be absorbed” folks to answer, and the one you simply can’t answer is this: if DWLWIR is not absorbed by the ocean … where is the other 390 W/m2 coming from to keep the ocean from freezing?”

    The answer is “from the atmosphere”. The subtle distinction is what is meant by “absorbed”. It IS absorbed but only by the top few molecules of the ocean.Its not something that *directly* heats the ocean. At no time does any of the stated energy of the DLR make it into the bulk of the ocean.

    In fact IMO when considering ocean heating it doesn’t heat the ocean at all. And It serves me best to think of it as a slowing of cooling. But thats just me.

  333. Willies writes about the Minnett experiment “They found the ocean does in fact absorb DLR. Hard evidence.”

    No they didn’t Willis. They absolutely didn’t find hard evidence. You should know better.

  334. Joules Verne says
    No one will hire me as a carpenter, Willis, and no one is going to hire you as a scientiest. I think we both know that but one of us won’t admit it.
    ————–
    Joules, It doesn’t matter that much if Willis is a professional scientist or not. It’s all down to whether he can make original observations and avoid the many traps of mistake and self- delusion in performing the analysis.

    There is a long tradition of amateur science and I am happy to see that tradition continue.

  335. Konrad says
    However I do trust empirical results. LWIR has a very limited effect on water that is free to evaporatively cool. If you restrict the evaporative cooling of two warm water samples allowing only conductive and radiative cooling and expose the surface of one sample to LWIR you will notice a distinct divergence in the rate of cooling between the samples. When evaporative cooling is allowed, both samples cool faster yet there is no divergence in their temperatures.
    ————
    I keep on banging on about the need for people to do simple experiments like this. Looks like Konrad has done it. So Konrad is there a way for this to be explained in more detail with photos and graphs and such? A WUWT article perhaps if it’s not already out there.

  336. “those who argue about LW radiation not being able to warm water deeper than the top surface fail to understand the powerful downwelling that occurs at areas such as the Mindanao Dome, taking down large amounts of warm equatorial water from the surface to deeper layers of the ocean.”

    That energy is from direct solar input up to 200 metres deep. Nothing to do with IR hitting surface molecules to cause more evaporation.

  337. LazyTeenager,
    The experiment was designed to be repeatable by others and a materials list, construction instructions, operation instructions and observed results were hosted by Rog at the Talkshop after the experiment was mentioned here in Willis’ “radiating the oceans thread”.

    I greatly appreciate the effort that Anthony has put into WUWT and all that he and his moderators have achieved. I took the time to see him talk when he made an international visit to my city. However I do not believe WUWT is the appropriate forum for empirical experiments into these issues during the “reign of Willis”.

    Initial experiments as hosted at the Talkshop were based on reflecting LWIR emitted by the water samples back onto the samples (like the real ocean and CO2). However later variants used a constant LWIR source over one sample and a sheet of matt black aluminium cooled to -5C over the other. Given that this required peltier chips, water blocks and water pumps I have not added this to the initial instructions as this is not easily replicated by others.

    While I know you lean toward the CAGW side of things, I would urge you to consider why it is that there are no published lab experiments into this issue. You should not take my word for it, you should design and construct your own experiment. Even lazy teenagers can shrink a coke bottle with a lighter or cut hose pipe to length ;)

  338. DocMartyn says: February 13, 2012 at 5:07 pm “surfactants lower the evaporation rate of water, so would increase temperature.”

    I don’t know that part b follows from part a, because surfactants could increase the ability of water to absorb heat at some incident wavelengths, depending on the particular surfactant.

    That aside, yours is a notworthy comment because it could be quantitatively important; because one could imagine some biota excreting surfactants, with implications for feedbacks; because it seems under-researched in the literature; and because it’s another example that the science is “NOT SETTLED”.

    Just about every topic on WUWT reveals a sub-set of issues that could often be solved with simple experiments. The comparative absence of such simple tests could be due to my incomplete reading, or due to a rush to publish findings that fail to incorporate further, plausible variables.

  339. steven mosher says: February 13, 2012 at 10:19 am “you know willis. there might have been some speck of wisdom in my suggestion ( christmas 2010) that WUWT should avoid posting junk science”.

    Steven, I don’t need to lecture you or Willis on some dangers lurkingg here. For example, Here is a letter I wrote to the President of the Australian Acadamy of Science, with no useful response.(I’ve made some non-relevant deletions). START.
    25 April 2011.The President, Australian Academy of Science,
    Dear Professor Cory, re: Evaluation of Emergent Science.
    In about 1993, I became interested in the use of temperatures used to make a case for Global Warming and later corresponded with Professor P Jones of University of East Anglia, before his name was so prominent in the field. This was an aside from my normal work, but it caused me to look deeper into the topic of how to handle emergent science, as was the work of Professor Jones then. I examined some of it and found it to be incorrect, not by opinion, but by hard numbers.
    I had, since the early 1970s, worked closely with John Elliston AM, a geologist, and Professor S. Warren Carey, who was a motivator of the plate tectonic theory. By now it is fair to deduce that Carey and Elliston were then likely to be more correct with their science about this topic than those I shall call “The Establishment” in a neutral, shorthand way.
    The AAS had an acrimonious relationship with Professor Carey, see science.org.au/fellows/memoirs/carey
    In hindsight, one can name several Australian examples where emerging science clashed with the Establishment view, an outcome that is not unexpected. See, for example, the struggles of Nobel Laureates Warren and Marshall at http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/2005/warren-lecture.html
    A less resolved matter is the toxicity of lead in children, with research by old friends Dr Allen Christophers and Pamela de Silva. http://dnacih.com/SILVA.htm
    Here are some international examples showing difficulties for emergent science: Hans Krebs’s description of the citric acid cycle, which won him the Nobel prize, Solomon Berson’s discovery of radioimmunoassay, which led to a Nobel prize, and Bruce Glick’s identification of B lymphocytes.
    The growth of the web log on the Internet and its impact on the older peer review process is the subject of much current discussion. It would seem by now to be scientifically imprudent to rely on the publication/peer review process as the main indicator of quality; high quality blogs are making a niche.
    These examples indicate that there is interest in the early identification and proper treatment of emergent science. I wish to put this in context with the AAS publication “The Science of Climate Change” of August 2010 at http://www.science.org.au/reports/climatechange2010.pdf
    By late 2010, the “Establishment” view of climate science that was reproduced by the AAS was undergoing critical examination by many scientists whose findings were often at odds with the Establishment view. This emergent science was in easy view, but it was given scarce a mention by the AAS.
    The AAS publication can be regarded as setting the stage for yet another suppression of emergent science. The purpose of this letter is simple. It asks whether the AAS has a series of checks and balances that are used to assess emergent science; what they are; and whether they were used prior to issue of the 2010 report “The Science of Climate Change”. END.

  340. My physics teachers taught us to collect the data ahead of theory. But that was a different era, before liberal arts majors started teaching physics. Now the norm is to:

    1) identify an area of study for which grants are available.
    2) identify a theory likely to attract a grant
    3) attract the grant
    4) identify data that supports the theory sufficient to get published and justify further grants.
    5) repeat from step 1.
    ————————–
    Fred it seems you did not actually listen to your physics teacher. Because you collected absolutely no data before concocting your theory about the “norm” of behavior for researchers.

    As for teaching students how physics is done. Obviously everything is simplified when teaching students.

  341. Guys

    As usual articles posted by Willis generate interesting comments. This one, is no exception and the discussion regarding the role of DWLWIR is very interesting and indeed relevant to Willis’s observation that generally, the tropical ocean does not get above 30degC and his comment that “…there is plenty of energy from the sun to make many ocean areas reach over 30°C…”

    As often is the case in climate science, issues are often placed arse about face and without any physical hypothesis put forward explaining the workings of the phenomena under discussion. The DWLWIR assertion is typical in this regard.

    The starting point is to consider what appears to be reasonably certain facts. These are:

    1. Some oceans do not freeze at any time during the year.

    2. Some oceans do freeze each and every year, in the winter months, some rapidly some only very slowly.

    3. Whilst latitude plays a part in ocean freezing, it is not the sole determinative factor. For example, the Baltic will freeze but the ocean around Iceland at the same latitude will not. There are numerous examples of this.

    4. DWLWIR penetrates only to about 10 microns. Absorption is not linear but logarithmic such that most of the DWLWIR had been absorbed by about 5 to 6 microns.

    5. The oceans are constantly evaporating. This evaporation takes place from the top surface. It takes place from the top 10 micron layer, ie the layer where DWLWIR is almost entirely absorbed. This is an extremely important fact the consequences of which should not be under-estimated..

    6. The top 10 microns (or so) of the ocean is not in fact in contact with the bulk ocean because it is already in the flux state associated with the evaporating process. It is already in the process of being ‘boiled’ off (for want of a better expression) and in the process convected and being carried upwards and away from the bulk ocean.

    7. The rate of evaporation (and convection) is dependent upon the temperature of the ocean. As an ocean cools, it loses less and less energy to evaporation. Ex hypothesis, to the extent that it may be relevant, the amount is radiates also reduces as the ocean cools. .

    Against this background:-

    (i) What is the physical process that enables the DWLWIR to heat the bulk ocean?
    (ii) How does it find its way into the bulk ocean to stop it freezing?

    Those questions are fundamental and need an answer.

    I have several times asked Willis (and others) to explain the physical mechanism involved. They have never been able to put forward an explanation, I have never seen any explanation of the physical process which deals with the above facts and explains how DWLWIR actually heats the oceans. Without a proper explanation we are living in fantasy land and of course, conveniently, the DWLWIR theory cannot be tested with scientific rigour.

    Instead, those promoting the theory take the arse about face route and claim all sorts of figures based upon the radiative theory that they are seeking to establish. One cannot prove a theory by utilising what is conjecture at the very heart of the theory that one is seeking to prove! But notwithstanding that, let us look at the approach adopted.

    A. If one uses the average figures utilised, it means that the oceans never freeze, ie., none of the oceans!.

    B. This demonstrates why considering some notional average inevitably leads to wrong results and hinders one from seeing what is going on in the real world. One has to deal with each local area with its own unique local conditions. One has to consider the energy budget on a local area basis and this will include the input from warm currents and this explains why ocean freezing is not latitude dependent (albeit that latitude plays a major role with respect to the input of solar irradiance). .

    C. The key is the tropical ocean. If this does not freeze then the oceans of the world do not freeze, albeit those in high latitudes will freeze over to some extent during their respective winter months.

    D. The question is therefore: Is there enough solar going in to the tropical ocean? The answer to this is obviously YES as is demonstrated by Willis’s analysis of the ARGO data and his correct comment that “…there is plenty of energy from the sun to make many ocean areas reach over 30°C…” As Willis recognises there is an excess of solar.

    E. In the tropics, there is enough solar to heat a body of water to in excess of 50°C. We know that to be the case since open pools in countries like the UEA get up to at least that temperature. There is in other words at least 20°C of solar over and above the summer temperature of the tropical ocean. It is very important to appreciate that there is an excess of solar in the tropics.

    F. The reason that the tropical ocean does not get up to that temperature [ie., about 50°C] is that warm waters are constantly being routed away from it polewards and replenished with slightly cooler water.

    G. The tropical ocean is therefore not only heating itself but is also heating the vast body of water contained in the major conveyor belts of ocean current circulation. Because it is heating not only itself but in addition the conveyor belt water, it never gets an opportunity to get above about 30°C,

    If someone wanted to run the DWLWIR argument, the starting point would be to calculate how much energy is required to keep a body of water above freezing (using the appropriate figures for evaporative and radiative loss say at 1°C) and then look at which areas of the planet receive enough solar energy to provide the energy required in keeping a body of water above freezing. If that calculation was done, they would find that a body of water does not freeze in the tropics.

    If one gets away from models and starts looking at the physical world, one can get a far better insight into what is going on.

  342. Lazy Teenager: My physics teachers taught us to collect the data ahead of theory. But that was a different era, before liberal arts majors started teaching physics.

    That was too narrow a view. Einstein’s development of the laws of Brownian motion led (at Einstein’s suggestion) to the first method for estimating Avogodro’s constant. The theory of cloud chambers preceded their first use to detect the tracks of atomic particles. Theoretical understanding of the properties of light (interference especially) preceded accurate measurement of the speed of light. Einstein’s general theory of relativity preceded the measurement of the bending of light rays by gravity. There are many other examples in science of theory preceding measurement, just as there are examples of measurements preceding theories.

  343. richard verney says:
    February 14, 2012 at 5:58 am

    Overall a good and accurate summary but there is a query arising.

    The conclusion seems to be that the mechanism which prevents ocean waters going much above 30C is that the energy which would otherwise allow it to happen gets diverted into ocean currents around the world so that further heating in the tropics is prevented.

    Instead what we actually see is a raid ramping up of negative system responses above the water surface as listed by Willis.

    In reality I think that ocean currents certainly do take energy away but that is a slow process. The faster process from convective activity is what keeps the temperature of the water down around 30C even if it only supplements what the oceans are doing in the background.

    Convection is enabled by the slope of the lapse rate which is itself a function of gravity and atmospheric mass causing pressure and a greater atmospheric density at the surface.

    Yet Willis refuses to acknowledge the influence of the slope of the lapse rate whilst getting so much else right. Very odd.

    ["raid" vs "rapid" ? Robt]

  344. @Richard Verney

    What deep body of water gets much above 30C? I happen to live on the shore of a deep inland lake (30 degrees latitude) and it barely reaches 30C at the surface in the summer. It’s got the same temperature limit as the open ocean. This must be explained and it pointedly cannot be explained by the warm water being displaced by cold water from farther north.

    I looked for other deep inland lakes that might get warmer than 30C and found none. Not even Victoria in Africa which straddles the equator. I think this pretty much effectively quashes your idea that something magic happens at 30C which causes warm surface to be displaced by cold water flowing in from the poles as that mechanism is completely absent in deep inland lakes.

    What I proposed and what I still believe to be true is that this 30C number is simply the upper limit in deep water and is set by the amount of energy available from the sun at any given latitude and where conditions do not conspire to retard evaporation for long enough for any more solar heating to happen.

    I’m not sure where this repeated notion that there’s enough energy from the sun to attain far higher temperatures is coming from and I think it’s irresponsible for Willis to have thrown it out there and for you to have uncritically accepted it. In fact the highest average annual temperature of anywhere in the world is 94F or 34C in a salt desert in Ethiopia.

    http://www.weatherexplained.com/Vol-1/Record-Setting-Weather.html

    So I will, once again and this time armed with observations such as the highest known annual average temperature, assert that 30C is simply getting very near the highest possible average temperature determined by S-B temperature of an ideal black body 93 million miles away from a sun with a surface temperature of 5500K.

    Please use actual recorded observations and links to back any refutation you may have for what I’ve just written!

  345. @R. Gates says: February 13, 2012 at 10:56 pm
    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    Mr Gates

    I agree that part of the reason why the ocean surface temperature does not in general get above 30°C is because of ocean over turning. Some of the energy is being used to heat the ocean below the surface and some of this goes into the ‘recharge’ for the ENSO cycle.
    I made this point to Willis in his earlier post (Jason and ARGO Notes) in my post of February 10, 2012 at 8:12 am. You may like to look at that post (if you have not already done so). Numbered paragraph 3 reads:
    “3. Third, I would not disagree that there is an upper cap at which surface sea temperature can obtain. I would accept that the process set out in your assertion plays a part in that cap. However, that process is not the only process in play, and I suspect it is not the dominant process. In particular, surface temperature is kept low because of the amount of solar irradiance penetrating the oceans (angle of incident, wavelength absorption varying with depth, cloudiness etc), ocean currents distributing the warm near surface temperatures to other areas and ocean mixing whereby near surface temperature is overturned with cooler water coming from lower depths. All these processes in which I include yours (and no doubt others as well), act to put a cap on surface temperature.”

    Willis initially focused on far too narrow a component (just evaporation/ hydrological cycle). He has since slightly widened his horizons, but, in my opinion, he is still not looking at the wider and more complete picture of what is going on in the oceans.

    I have recently made a comment on DWLWIR (see my post of today timed at 05:58 am. I would accept that in the descriptions of processes set out in paragraphs G and H of that post, I should include ocean overturning. This to some extent is inherent in the heating going into the currents which flow away in the ocean current conveyor belt, but in addition I agree with you that it forms the pooling of heat recharging the ENSO cycle.

    I expect that you may have some issues with respect to what I say about DWLWIR and you may come back on that. But if you do, if you address in detail the questions posed in paras (i) and (ii) and also the point set out in the penultimate paragraph. A response dealing specifically and in some detail with those points would considerable help the debate.

  346. Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 12, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Joules Verne says:
    February 12, 2012 at 8:31 am

    @Willis

    Did it not occur to you that 30C is the blackbody temperature for the equator?

    No, it didn’t occur to me, because it is absolute nonsense. The equivalent blackbody radiation for 30°C is about 480 W/m2. The TAO data shows that the average downwelling radiation 24/7/365 at the equator is about 670 W/m2. So as usual, your claim is rubbish, not just slightly wrong but cataclysmically and stupendously wrong. And also as usual, everything coming out of your electronic pen is worse than useless, it is actively misleading.

    Joules, your content-free rantings are as welcome here as those of Stephen Wilde. You have proven repeatedly that your grasp of science is abysmal. Please go to tallblokes and bother him, here we’re discussing scientific topics.

    _—————————————————————————–

    Someone whose day job is pounding nails telling someone whose day job is math, science, and engineering that the latter doesn’t understand math science and engineering.

    That’s rich! Good one, Willis! You’re a legend in your own mind, that’s for sure.

    How about you go away instead of me?

  347. Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 13, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    “So why should I care what some anonymous troublemaking internet popup jerkwater thinks of my science? Nature and the journals think it’s good enough, and many scientists who (unlike you) are willing to sign their names to their opinions think my work is good, and that’s good enough for me.”

    I’m banned here under my real name, Willis. An IP block. I’m forced to use an anonymous proxy to get around the IP block and a pen name to get around the black list.

    So much for the claim there’s no censorship here, eh? I’m living proof you people can’t handle the truth.

  348. Good Fritos-chomping reading (albeit using the experience-based mental poster-filter).

    ****
    DocMartyn says: February 13, 2012 at 5:07 pm “surfactants lower the evaporation rate of water, so would increase temperature.”
    ****

    IIRC, automated buoys recorded surface “water” temps of near 100F where oil covered the water during the Gulf oil-spill. The oil reduced the evaporative cooling of the surface quite a bit. But that’s an exceptional & localized event.

  349. Stephen
    I have read your posts here and elsewhere and know that you have been fully persuaded by N&Z. For my part, I remain unsure what to think about N&Z, I have long been thinking about some of the issues raised by N&Z and for several years, I have been posting comments (here and elsewhere) to the effect that perhaps we are failing to sufficiently take account of atmospheric temperature induced by pressure alone. I am rather disappointed by the stance taken by Anthony (although well within his rights) not to post further discussion on that paper since obviously the paper may be wrong, or partially right or nearly correct, but even if only partly correct, there is much to be learnt. The wider participation of the readers of WUWT would have been beneficial. Indeed, it is always possible to learn from things that eventually turn out not to be incorrect. I do wish that people both for and against any ‘theory’ or ‘proposition’ would be civil to one another. There is no excuse for the rudeness that one sees at time adopted.

    Reverting to your point. I agree that air currents and the powering of air currents inevitably plays a part. In an earlier post, I included that. That said, one must not forget the latent heat capacity of water verses air. This is over-whelmingly on the side of water, such that even small temperature differences in water are the result of substantial energy inbalances/distribution. Further whilst convection deals with vertical profiles, I suspect that initial turbulence and hence horizontal currents and profiles are in no small part (at any rate in their initial stage), the result of the horizontal temperature profile of the ocean (which may have some corresponding bearing on the profile of atmospheric pressure above the ocean) . In other words, the ocean currents and pockets of warmer and cooler water help to some extent to give rise to the air currents.
    .

  350. Guiness Book of World Records 1999 pg. 250

    Highest Annual Mean Temperature

    “Between 1960 and 1966, the highest average annual mean temperature in Dallol, Ethiopia was recorded at 94 °F” (34.4 °C) (world)

    ——-

    Deep bodies of water tend to track average temperatures over longer periods of time. The approximate 30C cap that Willis notes in the Argo record is merely a reflection of the highest mean annual temperatures observed on this third rock from the sun.

    It’s not magic, mysterious, or particularly noteworthy unless you had no idea that there’s a maximum temperature that a 5000K star can warm a rotating spherical gray body from a distance of 93 million miles away. There are a great many things that can cause cooling below the theoretical maximum but there’s nothing that can cause the maximum to be exceeded except a hotter sun or a closer orbit.

  351. @Stephen Wilde

    Evaporation and convection has nothing really to do with this apparent temperature cap because, as noted above, the highest annual mean temperature ever observed is in a dry salt desert at the equator where there is virtually no water to evaporate and that highest observed annual mean temperature is 34.4C.

    Unsurprisingly 34.4C is the maximum temperature observed by ARGO under any conditions anywhere while 30C is the usual ceiling under nominal conditions.

    There is nothing to see here unless one had no good prior understanding of basic laws of thermodynamics where one might then find this result rather surprising. *shrug*

  352. @StephenWilde

    The dry adiabatic lapse rate is established by gravity and mass of the atmosphere. The maximum possible mean surface temperature is established by the temperature of the sun and the earth’s distance from it. While there are things that can lower the maximum attainable mean temperature there is nothing except a closer orbit or hotter sun that can exceed it. “Nothing” includes the composition or density of the atmosphere which can only serve to decrease the maximum obtainable surface temperature. Temperatures above the maximum possible established by the S-B blackbody formula are a violation of fundamental laws of physics. It is this fundamental violation of physical law (intuitively reasoned by many and theoretically explained by very few) that dooms the notion that a dense atmosphere can heat a planet higher than the maximum that can be obtained by an ideal black body.

    I agree with Mosher in this instance that the blog owner should exercise more discretion when deciding what is crank science what is not and if he hasn’t sufficient understanding of physics to make such determinations there are many people who can and are willing to volunteer.

    For instance, Svensmark’s hypothesis that solar magnetic field variation modulates cloud formation through throttling up/down cosmic ray penetration which in turn causes more or less high altitude nucleation sites for water vapor condensation is well grounded in principle and while it may be wrong it is not wrong because it’s not physically possible. Nikolov et al’s hypothesis is wrong because it’s not physically possible. Physically impossible hypotheses are justifiably relegated to the crank or pseudo science category and if a science blog wants to be credibly open to new thinking it should IMO be careful to cull the more obvious unpublished crank science. Mosher is right and I don’t say that lightly because I have little respect for Mosher’s literacy in fundamental physics.

  353. In regard to being able to heat water with infrared radiation one might wonder we go to the trouble of using electric immersion heaters for our hot water heaters, aquariums, and (for you Brits) those little electrical dohickies I saw used in London to heat a cup of water up enough to make tea. It would be far safer and easier to simply place the heating element above the water and let the infrared radiation be absorbed that way. In fact that won’t work because the only heating you’re going to get that way is via conduction through the air and since air is a poor conductor we have to immerse the heating element.

    You simply cannot heat an open vessel of water from above with infrared radiation. The physical properties of water flat out prohibit it when there’s a free path for water vapor to carry away the energy in latent heat of vaporization. Period. End of story. No experiment exists showing otherwise because you can’t experimentally demonstrate what’s physically impossible.

  354. By the way, Willis, going out and finding what is the maximum mean annual temperature ever observed anywhere over dry land and to see if that’s consistent with observed maximums in the ARGO record is called, in engineering parlance, a “sanity check”. When you see something in a data set that surprises you the first thing you do, if you can, is look at other tangentially related data sets for approximate presence or absence of the surprising thing. This kind of guidance is indispensible and in this case it quickly confirms that what you’re seeing in ARGO is simply a reflection of the maximum possible mean surface temperature for a rotating spherical gray body with appreciable thermal mass 93 million miles away from a 5000K star.

    Further surprises are in store for you if you bother to google “oceanic heat budget” and read some of the long published literature. The oceanic mixed layer at lower latitudes for instance has long been known to store solar energy in the warm months when evaporation rates are lower and release it in the winter when evaporation rates are higher. This is why there is very little seasonal variation in mean mixed layer temperatures and why there is so much more seasonal variation in temperature in continental interiors. This is is very old knowledge first observed at least 200 years ago when the effect was named “continentality”.

    It is also damning evidence that the ocean can easily shed energy radiatively. If it could do that then it wouldn’t be able to store summer warmth at depth in the mixed layer and release it as latent heat in the winter months. It isn’t rocket science. If evaporation rate over the ocean is retarded by moist air and slower winds while shortwave heating is at its highest the shortwave energy is thermalized at depth where much of if remains until more favorable conditions for evaporation happens. This is all perfectly reasonable and unsurprising once you understand the physical properties of water and electromagnetic radiation sufficiently.

  355. And I resent the owner here placing my handles, as he discovers them, in the black list (which only administrators have access to) in order to stifle my contributions. It’s obvious the moderators he employs have no such willingness to censor me as every time without fail that I change my handle but not the content of my comments all of a sudden they get moderation approval within a couple of minutes instead of the long delay interposed by moderators needing to fish them out of the spam bucket where blacklisted comments go. I’m intimate with the inner workings of WordPress as only a computer scientist that contributes to it can be. Nothing is escaping me. You boys are just lucky I’m not the vindictive type because I could make life a lot more difficult for the moderators if I so choose and I could go very public with the stealth censorship that goes on around here. God only knows how many people have fallen victim to it who don’t have the knowledge or skill that I have to work around it. -ds/jv

    [Reply: Dave (or "George Castanza" or "Joules Verne" or "Just the facts", etc.), sock puppetry is against site Policy. ~dbs, mod.]

  356. @dbs

    re; sock puppetry is against site policy

    Yeah and so is censoring people whom you disagree with. If the owner is willing to abide by site policy then I will too. Let me know when I can start using my real name again and not be subjected to long moderation delays by automatically being shuffled into the spam queue under suspected handles.

  357. Geoff Sherrington said @ February 14, 2012 at 4:32 am

    steven mosher says: February 13, 2012 at 10:19 am “you know willis. there might have been some speck of wisdom in my suggestion ( christmas 2010) that WUWT should avoid posting junk science”.

    Steven, I don’t need to lecture you or Willis on some dangers lurkingg here.

    Not to forget Ted Steele being dismissed for defending academic standards, or Dr Alan Smith’s work on the oxygen/ethylene cycle being largely ignored. I presume you are familiar with Brian Martin’s Suppression Stories.

    http://www.bmartin.cc/dissent/documents/ss/

    As an aside, The Git took first year geology at UTas. Of course Prof Carey’s ideas were not part of the curriculum, but Tunksy organised a lunchtime lecture for anyone interested in learning what we were not allowed to be taught. In his first lecture, he told us that much of what were going to learn would turn out to be incorrect. He also said he was hopeful that some of us in the course would play a part in discovering the better theories that would be discovered. Academic freedom is under threat, but far from dead.

  358. beng says:
    February 14, 2012 at 7:22 am

    I”IRC, automated buoys recorded surface “water” temps of near 100F where oil covered the water during the Gulf oil-spill. The oil reduced the evaporative cooling of the surface quite a bit. But that’s an exceptional & localized event.”

    Exceptional and localized is the key word. The maximum surface energy with clear sky at high noon on the equator is about 1000W/m2. The maximum possible temperature is 365K (92C) under those conditions: http://www.spectralcalc.com/blackbody_calculator/blackbody.php

    On the moon, which gets a full 1367W/m2 and it persists at that level for long enough for the regolith to reach equlibrium the maximum temperature is 130C which is also calculated at the link above (set emissivity to 0.9 to adjust for moon’s albedo) and actually measured on the moon’s surface.

    Our observed maximum mean annual temperature on the earth of 35C corresponds to about 470W/m2 insolation which is just about exactly half the 1000W/m2 daily clear sky peak insolation on the surface at the equator.

    Isn’t it really, really cool when observation matches theory so well? The observed ARGO max temperatures are almost perfectly predictable by the same theory that correctly predicts the maximum temperature on the earth’s moon, on the deep inland lake where I live, on Lake Victoria at the equator, and the salt desert on the equator in Ethiopia.

    Nothing comes as a surprise once you understand the underlying physics well enough and in this case even if you don’t understand if you can manage to use the blackbody calculator I linked to above you can just trust that the programmer who coded in the laws of physics did his job. I LOVE science!

  359. “I have read your posts here and elsewhere and know that you have been fully persuaded by N&Z.”

    Actually Richard that isn’t quite true. I have expressed some cautious reservations as to whether their so called ATE is in fact any different from the concept of the Standard Atmosphere with its Adiabatic Lapse Rate.

    I am awaiting their Part 2 before coming to a conclusion.

    Despite that I think it is useful that they separate out the surface warming aspect from the simple lapse rate concept because it is easier to link such surface warming to the observed climate consequences.

    What I do find puzzling is the apparent resistance here and elsewhere to any proper consideration of the long established Standard Atmosphere concept which is based on the Gas Laws.

    To my mind that is in itself enough to explain observations without needing to invoke radiative physics at all.

    It is all the more puzzling because the lapse rate is what enables convection and Willis relies on convection for his Thermostat Hypothesis. There is a serious disjunction in his logic there.

  360. “Evaporation and convection has nothing really to do with this apparent temperature cap because, as noted above, the highest annual mean temperature ever observed is in a dry salt desert at the equator where there is virtually no water to evaporate and that highest observed annual mean temperature is 34.4C. ”

    That would involve convection but not much evaporation.

    Evaporation makes it easier for the maximum cap to be achieved over the oceans. In continental interiors I suggest that if evaporation doesn’t assist then vertical convection will be stronger with much the same outcome because the air circulation always reconfigures around the lapse rate set by gravity, atmospheric mass, the resultant pressure and solar input. Deserts do have substantial vertical convection via dust devils and larger similar phenomena.The maximimum temperature of deserts is also constrained by air flowing in from outside and such air originates over the oceans so you cannot treat oceans and deserts entirely independently.

    “The dry adiabatic lapse rate is established by gravity and mass of the atmosphere. The maximum possible mean surface temperature is established by the temperature of the sun and the earth’s distance from it. While there are things that can lower the maximum attainable mean temperature there is nothing except a closer orbit or hotter sun that can exceed it.”

    Agreed save that a greater atmospheric mass will raise the maximum attainable mean temperature too.

  361. TimTheToolMan says:
    February 14, 2012 at 12:06 am

    Willies writes about the Minnett experiment “They found the ocean does in fact absorb DLR. Hard evidence.”

    No they didn’t Willis. They absolutely didn’t find hard evidence. You should know better.

    Not sure what you call “hard evidence”, but when the actual observations show that DLR increases and the temperature of the ocean increases, and vice versa … how is that not hard evidence?

    w.

  362. richard verney says:
    February 14, 2012 at 5:58 am

    … I have several times asked Willis (and others) to explain the physical mechanism involved. They have never been able to put forward an explanation, I have never seen any explanation of the physical process which deals with the above facts and explains how DWLWIR actually heats the oceans.

    Bull. Put up a cite showing that I was unable to put forward an explanation, or retract your ad hominem attack. As far as I know, that’s nonsense, and I’m tired of being attacked in roundabout ways. Either substantiate your bull or retract it, richard.

    w.

    PS—You, and many others, seem to think that the top of the ocean is always cooler than the layer immediately below. I, however, have never seen a scientific study that makes that claim. We could start with that … but first, an apology or a retraction is in order.

  363. Stephen Wilde says:
    February 14, 2012 at 6:48 am

    … Yet Willis refuses to acknowledge the influence of the slope of the lapse rate whilst getting so much else right. Very odd.

    Again, bull. You guys want to wave my name around and make claims about what I do and don’t get right? Put a citation next to it backing up your fantasies. You are simply making things up.

    w.

  364. Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 13, 2012 at 5:13 pm
    Lars, that all sounds wonderful until you look at the numbers.
    Michael says that the missing 320 W/m2 needed to balance out the ocean heat budget are going away upwards as evaporation.
    Unfortunately, the amount of evaporation is fairly well constrained, and is known to be on the order of 80 W/m2. What’s happening to the other 240 W/m2?
    In addition, if DLR is not warming the ocean, then WHAT IS.
    We know the ocean on average receives about 170 W/m2 from the sun.
    We know the ocean loses about 100 Wm2 to sensible and latent heat.
    We know the ocean is losing an average of ~ 390 W/m2 through radiation (mental note, I can check that against the Argo data.
    Net losses? Just under half a kilowatt per square metre, 490 W/m2.
    Net gains without DLR? About 170 W/m2.
    So … if DLR isn’t making up the difference, why isn’t the ocean frozen?
    w.
    —————————————–
    Willis, at first, thank you for the post – it is a very interesting subject, an interesting analysis and causes a lot of discussion and helps a lot of people to get a better understanding.

    To your answer above:
    The atmosphere is radiating DLR 320 W/m2. It must then also radiate upwards 320 W/m2. Applying the same logic it would mean it is losing on average 640 W/m2. Where does it come from? With the low heat capacity of the atmosphere how fast would it cool?
    So the ocean does radiate 390 W/m2 but is not losing it, it loses only 390-320=70 W/m2.

    I understand that the net heat flow from the ocean’s surface to the atmosphere considering both as grey body is depending only on the temperature of the 2 bodies and the emissivity of the ocean. It is not depending on the emissivity of the atmosphere, the other grey body.

    http://www.efunda.com/formulae/heat_transfer/radiation/blackbody.cfm

    Grey body comes there at the bottom.
    So if we increase the emissivity of the colder body – so what? It should not change anything to the net heat transfer. Maybe I am wrong would appreciate if you can correct me here.

  365. “Temperatures above the maximum possible established by the S-B blackbody formula are a violation of fundamental laws of physics. It is this fundamental violation of physical law (intuitively reasoned by many and theoretically explained by very few) that dooms the notion that a dense atmosphere can heat a planet higher than the maximum that can be obtained by an ideal black body. ”

    An interesting point there.

    An ideal black body gets very hot under direct insolation but very cold very fast when insolation stops. The average is of course around the mean of the maximum and minimum on a rotating sphere.

    I suggest that 30 to 34C is nowhere near the maximum achievable at the surface if the Earth were an ideal black body so your criticism is ill founded.

    What happens instead is that on any planet with an atmosphere (which should include any surface liquids) both maximum and minimum extremes are ameliorated such that the average remains in between the two extremes but the greater the atmospheric mass the nearer to the maximum the mean temperature becomes at any given level of insolation.

    That is implicit in the Gas Laws and the concept of the Standard Atmosphere but apparently ignored by AGW theory and, oddly, by Willis.

    The density or mass of the atmosphere provides no heating in itself. However more molecules per unit area do react more with incoming radiation than do less molecules per unit area so the former will develop a higher temperature than the latter.

    Since there are more molecules per unit area at the bottom of the atmospheric column there will clearly be a higher temperature at the bottom and that sets the Adiabatic Lapse Rate.

    All well established science expressed by the Gas Laws and that explains the Earth’s surface temperature range with no need to invoke radiative processes at all.

  366. Joules Verne says:
    February 14, 2012 at 6:56 am

    … What I proposed and what I still believe to be true is that this 30C number is simply the upper limit in deep water and is set by the amount of energy available from the sun at any given latitude and where conditions do not conspire to retard evaporation for long enough for any more solar heating to happen.

    Joules, take a look at my post, which I referenced before. It shows the measured, not estimated but measured, downwelling radiation. The 24/7/365 average at the equator in the Pacific Warm Pool is 670 W/m2.

    The blackbody temperature equivalent to that is 56°C.

    So there is plenty of radiation to make it warmer, much, much warmer. Your theory (like just almost everything you write) is nonsense. The temperature of the ocean is not “set by the amount of energy available from the sun”, that’s a childish fantasy about how the world works.

    Why is it that folks like you think you can ignore evidence? The evidence shows lots of energy, but nooooo, Joules knows better, he knows there’s not enough energy …

    w.

  367. “You, and many others, seem to think that the top of the ocean is always cooler than the layer immediately below”

    Er, no. On average globally the ocean skin is cooler than the ocean bulk below. There is no need for it to be so always and everywhere. Everything in nature is variable.

    “Bull. Put up a cite showing that I was unable to put forward an explanation, or retract your ad hominem attack.”

    There is rather a lot of your stuff to search through. Could you kindly post your earlier explanation as to exactly how DWIR heats the oceans ?

    While you are about it please reconcile your earlier acceptance that the Gas Laws apply in a non GHG atmosphere with your implied contention that a non GHG atmosphere would not exhibit a lapse rate with the highest temperature at the surface. Forgive me for not citing your precise words because you have avoided saying that so far despite the fact that it is implicit from your more general utterances.

  368. Joules Verne says:
    February 14, 2012 at 7:19 am

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 13, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    “So why should I care what some anonymous troublemaking internet popup jerkwater thinks of my science? Nature and the journals think it’s good enough, and many scientists who (unlike you) are willing to sign their names to their opinions think my work is good, and that’s good enough for me.”

    I’m banned here under my real name, Willis. An IP block. I’m forced to use an anonymous proxy to get around the IP block and a pen name to get around the black list.

    So much for the claim there’s no censorship here, eh? I’m living proof you people can’t handle the truth.

    No one ever said that idiots, trolls, and troublesome fools don’t get banned here, Joules. You are living proof of that. We can handle the truth just fine, it’s jerkwagons like you that are hard to handle.

    What we don’t do here is ban people for their scientific opinions. But that doesn’t matter in your case, you haven’t expressed a single scientific opinion since you got here.

    And if you were banned, I’m glad to know that. Not only that, I understand why. You are an unpleasant, troublesome, idiot troll, you fit the bill perfectly.

    Anthone, could you please enforce the ban and get rid of this brainless troll?

    w.

  369. JustTheFactsPlease said @ February 14, 2012 at 8:57 am

    …in the warm months when evaporation rates are lower and release it in the winter when evaporation rates are higher.

    Say what? When The Git hangs his washing out to dry, it dries much faster in the summer than in the winter. If the evaporation rate is higher in the winter than summer, the reverse would be true.

  370. “Not sure what you call “hard evidence”, but when the actual observations show that DLR increases and the temperature of the ocean increases, and vice versa … how is that not hard evidence?”

    Atmospheric CO2 continues to increase (presumably DLR along with it) but sea surface temperatures and ocean heat content stopped increasing around 2003 and look likely to be on the way down now.

    The short period during the late 20th century when both were rising seems not to have been useful as evidence.

    Please justify your term ‘vice versa’ because I don’t see it.

  371. JustTheFactsPlease says:
    February 14, 2012 at 8:57 am

    By the way, Willis, going out and finding what is the maximum mean annual temperature ever observed anywhere over dry land and to see if that’s consistent with observed maximums in the ARGO record is called, in engineering parlance, a “sanity check”.

    Gosh, that’s good to know, Just. I would have never known that without your timely intervention. So … we look on land, we find max temps are around 120F or something like that. So it’s not in any way “consistent with observed maximums the Argo record” … and so what? Does that mean we’re all insane?

    Now, having done our “sanity check”, we are clear that … that … that what? That the ocean doesn’t get as hot as land? Gosh, that’s a shocker, all right.

    Perhaps you need to check your sanity in that way, JustTheFacts.

    Me, I knew the max land temperature before I started. I also knew that since ocean ≠ land, the ocean max would be different.

    So how on earth does your “sanity check” make the slightest freakin’ difference of any kind? Suppose I’d found the land max temp to be 122°F or 108°F, how would that have made the even the tiniest difference to what I wrote?

    You really should stick to the facts, Just. Merely because you need a “sanity check” of researching maximum land temperatures doesn’t mean that the rest of us do. Some of us are sane already, and besides, that’s the dumbest suggestion for a “sanity check” I’ve heard in a while.

    w.

  372. Joules Verne said @ February 14, 2012 at 7:19 am

    So much for the claim there’s no censorship here, eh? I’m living proof you people can’t handle the truth.

    Anyone else have no trouble reading the words of those claiming to be censored? Joules, you are the one who can’t handle the truth. We can read your words that you claim we can’t read because you have been censored. You have no grip on reality. Do us all a favour and get competent psychiatric advice.

  373. Stephen Wilde says:
    February 14, 2012 at 11:27 am

    “Evaporation and convection has nothing really to do with this apparent temperature cap because, as noted above, the highest annual mean temperature ever observed is in a dry salt desert at the equator where there is virtually no water to evaporate and that highest observed annual mean temperature is 34.4C. ”

    >That would involve convection but not much evaporation.

    I take your point and wondered as I wrote it if I should qualify it a bit more. Heat convection just doesn’t move anywhere near the amount of energy that is moved by evaporation and rise of water vapor. A pound of water vapor at oh say 30C has about a thousand times more energy in it than a pound of dry air at 30C. Water vapor content over the ocean averages over 3% by weight so multiplied by 1000 that water vapor has 3000% more energy than the same air if it were dry as in our desert example. The whole column just heats evenly without ever exceeding the dry adiabatic lapse rate and remains stable. Pretty boring. Convection of water vapor over the ocean however produces violent storms the size of continents. That’s primarily because the ocean has such a huge heat capacity – storms can keep drawing and drawing and drawing stored energy out of it once they get wound up. There’s only so much heat that can be sucked out of a few inches of hot sand to drive big weather events…

    So convection of dry air probably shouldn’t be discounted but in the big picture it doesn’t have a lot to do with the climate. In the first approximation (the big picture) the sun heats the ocean, the ocean heats the atmosphere, and the cold void of the cosmos cools the atmosphere. At the next approximation the sun evaporates ocean water setting up vertical energy redistribution and unevenly heats it from equator to pole causing horizontal energy redistribution. In the third approximation (at least for me) I bring land masses into the picture. The difference 280ppm CO2 and 390ppm CO2 is quite a ways down the line of successive approximations for me. It’s probably responsible for 0.3C temperature increase over land in higher latitudes if everything else is equal but everything else isn’t equal and there are natural things which cause much more departure from the mean. And it isn’t all CO2. Anthropogenic methane is responsible for good fraction of AGW and anthropogenic soot that darkens the surface of ice and snow is not insignificant either. The CO2 bogeyman is really the CO2-equivalent bogeyman but it’s not polticially correct to blame methane or soot because the United States isn’t the party emitting the soot and methane. That would be the rice growers, the slash and burn agriculturalists, wood (or dung) burning stoves for heating and cooking, domestic transportation using a high percentage of diesel engines, and a lot of other things the United States hasn’t done since passing the Clean Air Act of 1964… but I digress into politics and this is a science thread…

  374. @Stephen Wilde (con’t)

    I forgot to mention that in the desert where there’s very little water vapor to retard heat loss via radiation so the lion’s share of heat loss is radiative. The ocean sheds almost twice as much energy via evaporation (latent) as it does radiation and conduction. In the desert it sheds almost twice as much via radiation as it does evaporation and conduction. Once water vapor is largely gone there’s a big radiative window opened up and, as mentioned, the dry desert atmosphere remains remarkably stable.

    There are global maps here:

    http://oceanworld.tamu.edu/resources/ocng_textbook/chapter05/chapter05_06.htm

    http://oceanworld.tamu.edu/resources/ocng_textbook/chapter05/Images/Fig5-8A.htm

    showing distributions of latent, short and long wave radiative, and conductive mean annual surface figures. You can see over northern Africa where our equatorial desert lies that radiative cooling jumps up into the 200W/m2 annual mean range while over the ocean at the same latitude it averages around 60W/m2.

    Enjoy. There’s a lot of information to digest in those figures if you haven’t yet got a handle on why they are what they are. I took first year oceanography in college (that text) over 30 years ago and got a perfect 4.0 grade in the course. This is really old, really basic stuff for me.

  375. JustTheFactsPlease says:
    February 14, 2012 at 11:05 am

    beng says:
    February 14, 2012 at 7:22 am

    I”IRC, automated buoys recorded surface “water” temps of near 100F where oil covered the water during the Gulf oil-spill. The oil reduced the evaporative cooling of the surface quite a bit. But that’s an exceptional & localized event.”

    Exceptional and localized is the key word. The maximum surface energy with clear sky at high noon on the equator is about 1000W/m2.

    As usual, JustTheFacts, you’ve gotten your facts wrong. My link, cited twice above and given here again for good measure, shows measured downwelling radiation (average, not even maximum) of ~1400 W/m2 in the Pacific Warm Pool … you should use the handle “CheckMyFactsPlease”. You don’t seem to be able to distinguish them from your fantasies.

    w.

  376. @ Willis Eschenbach says: February 14, 2012 at 11:40 am
    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    Willis

    I did not intend my post of to be an ad hominem attack on you, and I am sorry if it was taken that way. Let me rephrase:

    I have several times asked Willis (and others) to explain the physical mechanism involved. Notwithstanding a number of requests having been made of them they have never responded putting forward an explanation of the physical mechanisms involved. I presume that the failure to respond with an explanation of the physical mechanisms involved is because they are unable to detail a reasonable explanation which would overcome the obvious problems caused by the ‘facts’ outlined in numbered paragraphs 4 to 6 above. I hold this view since it is reasonable to expect that a scientist who posts an article which in the subject matter involves discussion of various scientific theories (and in this regard Willis has posted articles in which he specifically discusses the GHE and/or back radiation and/or DWLWIR) and which invites debate upon the article posted, would upon request explain the physical processes involved under-pinning the scientific theories addressed in his article, I have never seen any explanation of the physical process which deals with the above facts and explains how DWLWIR actually heats the oceans.

    I trust that that rephrasing is acceptable to you and removes any notion of an ad hominem. As I say, none is intended.

    We have been having this debate (ie., how does DWLWIR actually heat the ocean) for a number of years (as you will have noted from my post of February 12, 2012 at 11:02 am. and of February 12, 2012 at 9:45 pm.(the latter being prompted by your request to me see Willis Eschenbach says: February 12, 2012 at 11:44 am inviting me to explain what I was referring to in my post of February 12, 2012 at 11:02 am) It looks like it is coming to head so let us knock it on the head once and for all. Let us thrash out the issues.

    Accordingly, I now ask you to read carefully my post of February 14, 2012 at 5:58 am and to respond with your explanation of the physical process involved by which DWLWIR heats the oceans. A response outlining the physical processes involved will take the debate forward. In responding with your explanation as to the physical process whereby DWLWIR heats the ocean, please, in addition, specifically answer the following:

    (i) To what depth do you contend that DWLWIR penetrates water?
    (ii) What percentage of DWLWIR is absorbed in the first 6 microns?
    (iii) What percentage of DWLWIR is absorbed in the first 10 microns?
    (iv) What percentage of DWLWIR is absorbed in the first 20 microns?
    (v) Do you accept that the ocean evaporate? Yes, or No.
    (vi) Do you accept that evaporation takes place from the top surface layer of the ocean? Yes or No. If No, from what depth do you contend that evaporation takes place?
    (vii) Do you accept that evaporation predominately takes place from the top 10 microns of the ocean? Yes or No. If No, from how many microns do you contend that evaporation takes place?
    (viii) What, strength of DWLWIR do you contend gets absorbed in water at a depth lower than the layer of water which is being evaporated away as a consequence of thermal heat content of the ocean itself and incoming solar irradiance?
    (ix) Do you accept that because of wind and/or waves and/or swell that for much of the time the very top microns of the ocean forms little more than a mist of spume and wind swept spray such that it is often divorced from the body of the ocean and due to upward convectional currents which have an upward vertical component it is being taken away from the body of the ocean thereby making overturning of the top microns of the ocean difficult and possibly all but impossible for much of the time? If you challenge this, briefly explain your reasons.

    It will be interesting to see whether you now raise to the challenge and constructively respond, or whether you continue to duck addressing this issue head on.

    Now turning to your request of me. With no disrespect, I am somewhat surprised that you either did not know or otherwise seek to challenge what I understood to be a widely accepted fact, namely that the very top surface layer of the ocean is cooler.

    To assist your understanding in this regard, lick the top of your hand (or otherwise wet it) and then blow on the wetted area. You will note your skin sensing a coolness. This is the latent heat loss (and cooling effect) involved in evaporation (and is the reason why humans sweat in order to aid cooling when the body becomes too hot). The ocean is continually evaporating (heck this is the point you were making in your post) and it is this process that cools the top of the ocean. The evaporation comes from the top 10 microns or so and this is the reason why the top microns layer is cooler.

    I refer you to Wikipedia (with the usual caveats but I consider that it is correct on this uncontentious point). See:

    You will see on the right a plot dealing with the temperature profile of the top surface. The plot starts only at about 5 microns whereafter the ocean warms to a depth of about ½ mm and then the temperature remains fairly stable for the next 5 or 6 metres. One reason why the plot may be starting at 5 microns may be because the top 5 microns are effectively totally lost in evaporation and therefore not easily measurable and/or not really representative of the surface.

    I now look forward to your constructive response explaining the physical process whereby it is alleged that DWLWIR heats the oceans.

  377. Willis writes “Not sure what you call “hard evidence”, but when the actual observations show that DLR increases and the temperature of the ocean increases, and vice versa … how is that not hard evidence?”

    Because the observations didn’t show that DLR increases the temperature of the ocean. The observations show relative temperature differences that can equally well be explained by considering the decreasing DSR due to the clouds.

    Is it any wonder its an article in RC and not a published paper?

  378. JustTheFactsPlease said:

    “I take your point and wondered as I wrote it if I should qualify it a bit more. Heat convection just doesn’t move anywhere near the amount of energy that is moved by evaporation and rise of water vapor”

    The only point I was making was that over deserts convective activity plus inflow from surrounding regions is (from observations) enough to cap temperatures around 35 to 40C whereas over oceans evaporation plus convection tends to cap surface temperatures around 30C.

    The rest of your two posts are pretty much agreed and not really relevant to the specific point I made.

    In all situations it is atmospheric pressure (set by the strength of the gravitational field and the mass of the atmosphere) that sets the slope of the dry adiabatic lapse rate underlying the whole upward energy transfer process so that ultimately it is that atmospheric pressure that determines the temperature cap over land and water, indeed for the entire planet.

    That is not a new unsupported assertion by me. It is a consequence of the scientifically settled Gas Laws as taught to me over 40 years ago.

    I have yet to hear anyone suggest a reason why the Gas Laws do not provide a sufficient description of the observed atmospheric temperature profile without needing to invoke radiative physics at all.

    Atmospheric pressure even determines the energy cost in latent heat terms of a given amount of evaporation and so controls the rate of energy transfer from ocean to air and so in effect controls the temperature of the air too.

  379. I should have added radiation to the list of ways that the desert temperatures are capped. It is higher over deserts due to lower humidity.

  380. richard verney says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    February 14, 2012 at 3:01 pm
    Willis

    Further to my last post, I should have added
    (x) If notwithstanding the point made in (ix) above regarding the difficulties of overturning the very top microns layer of the ocean, if there is some process whereby the top microns layer (say the top 20 to 30 microns) is overturned, do you accept that in view of the temperature profile of the top microns layer this would tend to cool the ocean not warm it? When considering the answer to this, please note that the top 20 to 30 microns is cooler than the ocean below. I provide a link showing how the temperature increases from about 5 microns to about 1/2 mm and thereafter remains fairly constant for the next 5 to 6 metres.

  381. Willis Eschenbach says: February 13, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Willis

    I am not going to comment on the heat loss point since other have already commented upon that.

    I may be mistaken, but is there not an obvious error with the figures you use? Please correct me if I am mistaken.

    My understanding is that the net loss figure of 490 w per m² is taken from your ARGO data covering the buoys between 0° to 30° latitude, or am I mistaken?.

    My understanding of the 170 w per m² is not the incoming solar for the 0° to 30° latitude region of the globe, but instead is some global average, or am I mistaken?.

    If my understanding is correct, you are obviously not comparing apples with apples, nut as I say, I may have misundestood the source of the figures that you use.

  382. Willis Eschenbach says:

    February 13, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    There are hundreds of buoys in that area. The graph only shows those locations that have been above 30°C. All of the data in Figure 6 came from those hundreds of buoys. In the whole area … hang on …

    OK. I just wrote the program to calculate it. The area 0-45°N, 160-180°E shown in Figure 6 has 28,899 observations from a total of 518 different floats over the period of record.
    ———-
    Willis, thanks for the clarification and my apology for failing to realize that Fig. 5 displayed only those locations above 30°C.

  383. all that downwelling warmer water in the western Pacific, in areas such as the Mindanao dome, is the “battery” that is charged during La Nina, to be released during El Niño. Problem is, it seems the battery is not being fully discharged, and some of the excess is spilling into other ocean basins, and thus, total ocean heat content is going up.

    R Gates, the rather obvious error in your argument is that you assume the ‘battery is not being fully discharged’.

    Your conclusion is in fact your initial assumption.

    This is called tautological reasoning.

  384. Stephen Wilde says:
    February 14, 2012 at 11:56 am
    ///////////////////////////////
    Stephen

    I have dealt with the ocean skin point. If you are interested, see my post of 14th February at 2:27pm. It might save you some time in searching for data on that point.

  385. Willis

    I am sure that you have understood my point with respect to the significance of the temperature profile of the very top layer of the ocean.
    At the risk of being a bore, In a nutshell, it is:-
    (i) that warming of the ocean really begins at about the 0.4mm depth downwards and this is at a depth that DWLWIR just cannot and does not penetrate; and
    (ii) above about 0.4mm the ocean is actually losing heat. At most DWLWIR is only reaching the very upper most area where the ocean loses heat; and
    (iii) it is the shorter wavelength of solar irradiance that penetrates the depths from 0.4 mm and below and it is solar, and solar only, that heats the oceans..

  386. Joules Verne says:
    February 14, 2012 at 6:56 am
    /////////////////////////////
    Joules

    You might not have been following the earlier post by Willis, Jason and ARGO Notes. Had you followed that post, you would have noted that I have reviewed thosands of ship;s logs with hundreds of thousannds of entries and I noted that from this empirical data source, I had observed numerous entries above 30degC some going up to 36degC, These cover oceans around many parts of the globe such as in and around the Red Sea (often about 32 to 34 degC), off the East coast of Africa (about 32deg C), off the coast of Ghana/Ivory Coast (often 32 to 35degC), off both the West and East coast of India (often 30 to 33 degC), in and around Indonesia (often 30 to 32 degC), similarly over 30 deg C off the coast of China and Japan, in the Gulf of Mexico (often 30 to 32 degC), off the coast of Guatamal (often 30 to 32degC), in the Med just out of Suez and morth coast of Edypt etc..

    In addition to my own extensive personal experience in this matter, I posted links detailing current sea temperatures over 30 degC, one of which was 35degC. .

  387. richard verney said:
    February 14, 2012 at 5:58 am

    … I have several times asked Willis (and others) to explain the physical mechanism involved.

    I said I thought his claim was untrue, and said put up or shut up, either support his allegation or withdraw it.

    And now, for some unknown reason, Stephen Wilde says:
    February 14, 2012 at 11:56 am


    “Bull. Put up a cite showing that I was unable to put forward an explanation, or retract your ad hominem attack.”

    There is rather a lot of your stuff to search through. Could you kindly post your earlier explanation as to exactly how DWIR heats the oceans ?

    Why are you responding at all, Stephen? Are you a sock puppet for richard or something? You have no standing in this matter.

    I said nothing to or about you. I want Richard to either support or withdraw his allegation. You can’t help him do either one. Stop interfering.

    w.

    PS—Why is the ocean warmer with DLR than without it? I’ll go over it slowly for richard. The downwelling radiation … strikes the ocean and it is … absorbed within the first millimetre.

    There you have it.

    “Absorbed”, of course, means “is converted to thermal energy”. Unless you think that “converted to thermal energy” means “cools the ocean”, we have to assume it leaves the ocean warmer than it would be without that additional thermal energy.

    How does this affect the bulk heat of the ocean? Suppose the ocean is at say 29°C, and it is nightime (for simplicity only, same process occurs all the time).

    The ocean is radiating energy at around 470 W/m2. If there is no DLR, then all of that 470 W/m2 has to come from the ocean. As a result, it cools quickly, because it is constantly losing 470 W/m2 of energy.

    Over the tropical ocean, however, the DLR is often 400 W/m2. So if the ocean is radiating at 470 W/m2 and it is absorbing 400 W/m2 … then the ocean is constantly losing only 70 W/m2 of energy.

    Note that the entire upper ocean ends up warmer from this process, despite the fact that only the top skin absorbs the DLR. The important point is that it is absorbed, it is converted to thermal energy, and as such it slows the cooling of the entire upper ocean.

    Stephen, see my post referred to above, “Radiating the Ocean”. Here is a comment where I’m explaining this very concept in response to … why heck, it’s in response to richard verney. In that post I say:

    I have pointed out a number of times how radiation on the top skin layer of the ocean can affect the bulk temperature of the ocean, regardless of the temperature of the skin surface. It does so by slowing the cooling of the ocean, which increases the temperature of the bulk ocean. It also does so without the need for the DLR to heat the whole.

    So as usual, when richard claims I haven’t explained it, it is as false as the rest of his claims. I explained it directly to him.

    And since I see your name all over that same thread, Stephen … why are you sticking your nose in this again?

  388. Stephen Wilde says:
    February 14, 2012 at 11:56 am

    … While you are about it please reconcile your earlier acceptance that the Gas Laws apply in a non GHG atmosphere with your implied contention that a non GHG atmosphere would not exhibit a lapse rate with the highest temperature at the surface. Forgive me for not citing your precise words because you have avoided saying that so far despite the fact that it is implicit from your more general utterances.

    I’ll do nothing of the sort. I would be mad to respond to such a vague and unformed allegation. Either quote the claim that you think I made or pick another topic.

    I am willing to defend my own words all day long.

    Defending your curious mis-interpretation of my words is something I won’t do at all.

    w.

  389. Stephen Wilde says:February 14, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    “Not sure what you call “hard evidence”, but when the actual observations show that DLR increases and the temperature of the ocean increases, and vice versa … how is that not hard evidence?”

    Atmospheric CO2 continues to increase (presumably DLR along with it) but sea surface temperatures and ocean heat content stopped increasing around 2003 and look likely to be on the way down now.

    The short period during the late 20th century when both were rising seems not to have been useful as evidence.

    Please justify your term ‘vice versa’ because I don’t see it.

    Well, gosh, Stephen, let’s see what you might have read if you’d actually read the comment in context:

    TimTheToolMan says:
    February 14, 2012 at 12:06 am

    Willies writes about the Minnett experiment

    “They found the ocean does in fact absorb DLR. Hard evidence.”

    No they didn’t Willis. They absolutely didn’t find hard evidence. You should know better.

    So while you are babbling on about CO2 rising and the sea surface temps and various unconnected things, everyone else has noticed that we were talking about the Minnett experiment … do try to keep up, there’s a good chap.

    w.

  390. Willis has written an interesting enough piece, and the comments should tend back to that direction. Why do these discussions always have to go back to arguments that question the very fundamentals of thermodynamics and radiation? There’s really no point in rebelling for the sake of rebelling (even if the topic is mildly related to AGW), or pushing science backwards by continuing to debate the well-understood textbook stuff. It’s so self-evident that infrared energy can heat water (and it’s an easy enough experiment to do yourself with a pot of water and an IR lamp) that discussing it is pointless, as are other sorts of “greenhouse effect violates thermodynamics” lines of thought. It’s also misplaced altogether in that adding CO2 does not predominately affect the surface temperature by just radiating more IR energy downward to the surface (especially in the moist tropics when the lower atmosphere is already radiating closely to a blackbody at its temperature). Instead, the whole atmosphere is warming up as a column since the whole planetary budget is out of balance, and the increased temperature of the troposphere couples to the sea surface via increased IR radiation (by increasing T, not just by directly adding CO2) and the other heat fluxes as well.

    My SkS reply should be out tomorrow (I’m finished, but the order in which articles are posted there is up to the mods)

  391. Chris Colose says:
    February 14, 2012 at 6:01 pm
    “ It’s so self-evident that infrared energy can heat water (and it’s an easy enough experiment to do yourself with a pot of water and an IR lamp) that discussing it is pointless”
    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    Heat lamp?!
    Well, there is a lot about SkS that is self evident from that comment…
    If this is the limit of SkS understanding then there is indeed a point in discussing the issue. For a start I have done a number of experiments into the issue of the effect of LWIR on water that is free to evaporatively cool, and I am confidant in stating that you are wrong. Firstly you should not use an IR lamp in any such experiment as a large amount of the radiation produced is far too short wave to be relevant to the CO2 question. Secondly you cannot create any significant heating of a body of water from heating the surface as you claim, as the water due to convection will keep any surface water from significantly heating the water below it. Even scientists who promote AGW only claim that DWLWIR can slow the rate of cooling of water (not heat it) by supposedly altering the thermal gradient across the skin evaporation layer.

    Instead of claiming that discussion is pointless, maybe you could do the actual experiment to measure the real issue – possible alteration of cooling rates of warm water. Make sure to maintain airflow and thereby evaporation over your water samples. Also make sure to use an IR source no hotter than the water samples. Or you could do some research and find some links to repeatable controlled lab experiments in which this has been done.

  392. Chris Colose says:
    February 14, 2012 at 6:01 pm
    ///////////

    I am sure I must be misunderstanding you. You think that CO2 radiation spectrum can heat a body of water???????……….Naw…you can’t think that as that is a physical impossibility.

    You must be talking about SW….right?

  393. @Willis Eschenbach says: February 14, 2012 at 5:43 pm
    //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Willis

    I am not sure whether that response was directed at Stephen or at me. If it was intended to be your detailed explanation of the PHYSICAL PROCESS whereby DWLWIR heats the oceans (as requested in my post of February 14, 2012 at 5:58 am), it would be an understatement to say that I am disappointed.

    I appreciate you going slowly for my benefit (which I take was a dig at my mental faculties) but when we are talking about microns to assert that “ The downwelling radiation … strikes the ocean and it is … absorbed within the first millimetre” is the sort of response that would make a politician proud.

    So let us have a look at that claim I am sure that you are familiar with this. I attach a link to the accepted absorption characteristics of water to DWLWIR. See http://scienceofdoom.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/dlr-absorption-ocean-matlab.png

    For the purposes of this exercise I will use the global average figures that you used in your “Radiating the Ocean Post” of 15th August 2011.

    As I understand matters, you allege (on global average figures) that there is some imbalance between the amount of energy the oceans lose by way of radiation (390 w/m²) and evaporation (70 w/m²) and sensible heat (30 w/m²) totalling some 490 w/m² , and the amount of solar energy they receive of some 170 w/m² such that the oceans require approximately some 320 w/m² to stop them freezing. You argue that the shortfall in required energy of some 320 w/m² to balance the books (and hence to stop the oceans from entering a downward spiral leading to their freezing) is provided by back radiation (DWLWIR) set out in the K&T energy budget (ie., 321 w/m²).

    The issue is quite simple. How much of this alleged 320 w/m² do the oceans actually receive? The answer lies in the absorptive characteristics of water, the details of which are set out in the above link, and the loss of water in evaporation to the atmosphere.. So let us examine the data and see what it reveals.

    (i) You will note from this that 20% of all the available DWLWIR is absorbed in the 1st micron of the ocean. So of the claimed 320 w/m² DWLWIR some 64 w/m² is absorbed and does not find its way to a lower depth.
    (ii) You will note from the absorption data that a further 40% of the available DWLWIR is fully absorbed within the next 3 microns. So of the 320 w/m² DWLWIR some 128 w/m² is absorbed in this layer and does not find its way to a lower depth. This means that in the first 4 microns some 192 w/m² of the available 320 w/m² DWLWIR has been fully absorbed and is contained in the first 4 micron layer and does not find its way to a lower depth.
    (iii) You will note from the absorption data that a further 20% of the available DWLWIR is fully absorbed within the next 4 microns. So of the 320 w/m² some 64 w/m² is absorbed in this layer and does not find its way to a lower depth. This means that in the first 8 microns some 256 w/m² of the available 320 w/m² DWLWIR has been fully absorbed and is contained in the first 8 microns of the ocean and does not find its way to a lower depth.
    (iv) The important point to note is that by the time you get to 10 microns some 84% of all the available DWLWIR has been fully absorbed, ie., some 269 w/m² of the available 320 w/m² has been fully absorbed leaving only about 51 w/m² to penetrate and be absorbed in the slightly deeper environs of the top layer and by the time you get to 20 microns some 88% of all the available DWLWIR has been fully absorbed, ie., some 282 w/m² of the available 320 w/m² has been fully absorbed leaving only about 38 w/m² to penetrate and be absorbed in the slightly deeper environs of the top layer.

    Now herein lies the problem. The oceans are evaporating. I believe that you understand this, since this was the central thrust of your last couple of posts. This evaporation takes place from the top 10 to 20 microns of the ocean. This means that all the DWLWIR energy that was absorbed in the first 10 to 20 microns does not lie in the ocean but is actually in the atmosphere. It is being carried upwards and away with the convective currents!!! Please do not underestimate the significance of that.

    Whilst I do not accept the energy imbalance you claim, even if you are correct, that there is an energy imbalance of some 320 w/m² between what is coming out and what is going into the ocean, it would appear that DWLWIR cannot and does not provide the required amount of energy to fill that gap. As a consequence of ongoing evaporation, at most, there is only about 51 w/m² finding its way to a depth of 90 microns (ie., 0.09mm). I point out that whilst this lies within the first mm it is well short of 1 mm. We are talking of orders of magnitude!!!.

    Thus in summary all the DWLWIR that is absorbed in the top microns of the ocean surface which top microns are evaporated cannot and does not find its way into the oceans in order to heat the oceans. Any and all DWLWIR that is absorbed in the top microns which are evaporated from the ocean lies not in the ocean but in the atmosphere above the ocean. The issue here is that somewhere between 84% to 88% of all DWLWIR absorbed by the oceans lies within the evaporation layer such that it does not find its way into the ocean at all. There is at most only about 12% to 16% of the DWLWIR absorbed by the oceans at a depth below the evaporation layer.

    In practice, it would appear that there is no practical way that DWLWIR can to any significant extent find its way into the ocean so as to provide the oceans with the energy which you allege is missing.

    Willis, there are many people who are frequent commentators on this site who hold similar views to me. In this regard, I am sceptical of the entire GHE theory. I do not dispute that we measure a DWLWIR signal but question precisely what it is we are measuring (and that is not as silly as it may sound) and precisely what this ‘energy’ source is capable of and in particular its capacity to perform sensible work. That said, I can however, see the potential for DWLWIR to have some effect over land. On the other hand, I find it all but incomprehensible to see how DWLWIR can have any significant effect over water. Due to the wavelength of DWLWIR and the absorption characteristics of water, DWLWIR cannot penetrate to any great degree. That would be a significant problem if that were all. However, this problem is compounded by the fact that water evaporates, and evaporation occurs in the very layer wherein DWLWIR is absorbed almost exclusively. The result is that all but no DWLWIR can get past the evaporation layer. That being the case, it cannot and does not contribute any significant amount of energy to the ocean. It would appear that it cannot explain why on the radiative theory the oceans do not freeze. It does not provide the missing energy required by that theory to stop the oceans from freezing. This in itself suggests that there is a fundamental flaw striking at the heart of the radiative energy theory. I consider that those advancing the theory fail to fully appreciate the differences between land and water and in particular the consequences of evaporation. Water is a very special beast.

    If there is anything that you dispute in the above come back with your detailed response describing the PHYSICAL PROCESS whereby the DWLWIR is absorbed by the oceans at a depth below the evaporation layer.

    Let us see whether we can be constructive and shine some light on this very important issue.

    PS. I am pleased that you reviewed your April 2011 Article. You will see that this supports what I contended, namely, that we have been arguing about this for a long time. Your response did not explain the PHYSICAL PROCESS involved as to how DWLWIR which has little penetrative qualities can find its way past the evaporation layer of the ocean. There is a PHYSICAL BARRIER and it gives rise to a fundamental problem, namely that DWLWIR only penetrates to microns and those very microns are the very microns of sea water evaporated away such that any energy entrapped in those microns is contained in molecules which lie in the atmosphere above the ocean not in the ocean itself.

  394. Konrad

    You might be interested in my recent posts addressed to Willis. These posts shed some light on why DWLWIR cannot in practice heat water to any significant effect; approxinately 85% of it is whooly absorbed in the layer of water which is evaporating. Iy seems probable that DWLWIR to the extent that it does anything serves only to increase the rate of evaporatioin. It is even conceivable that it results in a net cooling rather than a warming.

    My posts might help explain why the experiments you conducted suggested that DWLWIR does not heat a body of water.

  395. richard verney says: February 14, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    “Now herein lies the problem. The oceans are evaporating. I believe that you understand this, since this was the central thrust of your last couple of posts. This evaporation takes place from the top 10 to 20 microns of the ocean. This means that all the DWLWIR energy that was absorbed in the first 10 to 20 microns does not lie in the ocean but is actually in the atmosphere. It is being carried upwards and away with the convective currents!!!”

    Well, let’s just do some arithmetic on that. Down IR, global ave 333 W/m2. Latent Heat Evap 2260 KJ/Kg. So if that’s true, a sq m is losing 0.14 gram/sec, or 4.6 tonnes/year. That’s about 4.6 m/year.

    OK, it gets replenished by rain. But where in the ocean does it rain 4.6 m/year?

  396. richard verney: February 14, 2012 at 9:19 pm
    “….. This evaporation takes place from the top 10 to 20 microns of the ocean. This means that all the DWLWIR energy that was absorbed in the first 10 to 20 microns does not lie in the ocean but is actually in the atmosphere…..”

    Richard, I appreciate all the detailed information you bring to the debate, but a question:

    Is there a physical law which makes it necessary that every single water molecule heated by DWLWIR is evaporated off the surface?

  397. Nick Stokes says:
    February 14, 2012 at 9:45 pm
    /////////////////////////////////
    Nick

    I am not claiming that the DWLWIR is driving the evaporation of the oceans (albeit it may be contributing thereto). I am saying that due to the absorption characteristics of water in relation to the the wavelength of DWLWIR, whatever photonic energy there may be in DWLWIR is almost entirely entrapped (as a result of absorption) in whatever quantity of water that is being evaporated from the oceans, such that DWLWIR does not to any significant extent get absorbed by the ocean thereby heating the ocean..

    I am not sure how much rain falls over the ocean. I suspect that there is little realiable data. However, there are some very wet places on land such as the Amazon (100 inches),and Lloro in Colimbia 520 inches, to name but a couple.. I seem to recall that in India one year over 1000 inches fell..

  398. richard verney says:
    February 14, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    @Willis Eschenbach says: February 14, 2012 at 5:43 pm
    //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    Willis

    I am not sure whether that response was directed at Stephen or at me. If it was intended to be your detailed explanation of the PHYSICAL PROCESS whereby DWLWIR heats the oceans (as requested in my post of February 14, 2012 at 5:58 am), it would be an understatement to say that I am disappointed.

    YOU are disappointed? You attack me with false allegations, and now YOU are disappointed? I couldn’t care less if you are disappointed, richard. I’m still waiting for you to apologize. I had said:

    Bull. Put up a cite showing that I was unable to put forward an explanation, or retract your ad hominem attack. As far as I know, that’s nonsense, and I’m tired of being attacked in roundabout ways. Either substantiate your bull or retract it, richard.

    You haven’t had the cojones to do either one. Instead, you’re all disappointed, poor man. You have neither supported your claim that I had not explained my position, nor have you retracted it and apologized for your mistake. I have linked to exactly where I explained it to you directly. Everyone knows that your statement was a false accusation, that your claims were in fact bull as I had said.

    So you can retract your unpleasant claims, and we can talk further. Or not. I don’t much care which, the claims in the rest of your post are laughable in either case. But I’m done with you until you retract your false allegations.

    w.

  399. Folks, as an example of the ridiculous nature of richard’s claims, he says (emphasis mine):

    … by the time you get to 20 microns some 88% of all the available DWLWIR has been fully absorbed, ie., some 282 w/m² of the available 320 w/m² has been fully absorbed leaving only about 38 w/m² to penetrate and be absorbed in the slightly deeper environs of the top layer.
    Now herein lies the problem. The oceans are evaporating. I believe that you understand this, since this was the central thrust of your last couple of posts. This evaporation takes place from the top 10 to 20 microns of the ocean. This means that all the DWLWIR energy that was absorbed in the first 10 to 20 microns does not lie in the ocean but is actually in the atmosphere. It is being carried upwards and away with the convective currents!!! Please do not underestimate the significance of that.

    OK, so he is claiming that in addition to the losses he mentions from latent (70 W/m2) and sensible heat (30 W/m2) loss from the surface, that there is also some 282 W/m2 going upwards as evaporation.

    Here’s why that claim is so foolish. It takes about 75 W/m2 for one year to evaporate a metre of water from the surface. So that means that richard’s 282 W/m2 is evaporating about 4 metres of water.

    This is in addition to the one metre of water already accounted for (the 70 W/m2 latent heat richard discussed in his post).

    Here’s the problem. What goes up must come down. If we’re evaporating 5 metres of water from the surface every year, we must be getting that much rain every year.

    So richard doesn’t realize it, but he is claiming that the global average rainfall is 5 metres (16.5 feet) per year … and if you believe that, you’ll likely have no problem swallowing the rest of richard’s cockamamie theories.

    In fact, global average rainfall is about a metre (39 inches).

    w.

  400. Nick writes “OK, it gets replenished by rain. But where in the ocean does it rain 4.6 m/year?”

    And makes an excellent point. I’m not a “Its all evaporation” believer myself but I do accept the result DLR cant penetrate the ocean.

    So looking at Nick’s suggestion further, the wiki suggests about 1m of global average rainfall and this means approaching 1.5m of ocean evaporation. IMO this means about 1/3 of the energy absorbed in the top few microns is used in evaporation and about 2/3 of the energy is radiated. None goes into the ocean bulk though. If Chris, Willis or anyone wants to suggest how then they’re going to need to suggest a plausible physical mechanism.

  401. “Is there a physical law which makes it necessary that every single water molecule heated by DWLWIR is evaporated off the surface?”

    No, but that is not necessary. All that is necessary is for the timing of evaporation to be brought forward on average. Thus molecules with some extra heat from DWLWIR might not evaporate immediately but would evaporate earlier than they otherwise would have done or would pass on the energy to molecules that do evaporate.

    The clincher though is that the latent heat taken up by the evaporative event is five times the energy required to provoke that evaporation so evaporation is well able to mop up all DWLWIR that is available.

    And, surprise, surprise that 5:1 ratio is set by atmospheric pressure as witness the lower boiling (or evaporating) temperature at the top of Everest.

  402. I just returned to my home on my (not so idyllic) tropical island, 100 km north of the equator, in the midst of a tropical rainstorm. It seem to me droplets are far bigger in these rainstorms, one only needs to get hit by a few to be soaking wet.

    But, that aside, it occurred to me that here was another part of the cooling cycle at work. I took a digital probe thermometer, and I caught some rain in a thin walled plastic container. The temperature was 25.6 degrees C. The ambient (air) temperature at the time was 29.2 degrees C. I don’t know what the ambient air temperature was before the storm, but, mid-afternoon around here, almost certainly it was somewhere between 32 and 33 degrees C.

    I’d guess the temperature of ambient air approaching sea level would relate to both the rate of evaporation from the surface and that from a falling droplet.

    So, here is another part of the cooling mechanism at work. All that water which evaporates from the sea convects upwards, condenses, losing its energy, then falls to earth (or more likely the sea) cooling the surface.

  403. TimTheToolMan: February 15, 2012 at 12:45 am

    “… this means about 1/3 of the energy absorbed in the top few microns is used in evaporation and about 2/3 of the energy is radiated. None goes into the ocean bulk though. …”

    Tim, where does that conclusion come from?

    If some amount of DWLWIR is absorbed in the first few microns, then perhaps some of that is re-radiated, some energy is lost as evaporation, some is passed on by conduction, some is moved by water currents and convection.

    So, if the DWLWIR can heat the first few microns of the ocean, it can heat the ocean.

  404. So, if the DWLWIR can heat the first few microns of the ocean, it can heat the ocean.

    Unless, according to Steven, below, the amount of evaporation ensures a matching amount of energy is immediately lost to evaporation.

    Stephen Wilde: February 15, 2012 at 1:45 am

    “…. the latent heat taken up by the evaporative event is five times the energy required to provoke that evaporation so evaporation is well able to mop up all DWLWIR that is available…..”

    But, how do we quantify such a thing? If (on the above figures) 20 % of the incoming DWLWIR energy is then lost as evaporation, the system remains at eualibirium.

    As it must be on that logic eh? Because if it were more than that, we would be stuck with rapidly cooling oceans.

    But, if it were less than that, we again have DWLWIR warming the oceans.

  405. Really, much of this discussion is around the mechanism itself, but really without explaining the stability of the system, or Willis’ observed ‘ceiling’ sea temperature.

  406. “But, how do we quantify such a thing? If (on the above figures) 20 % of the incoming DWLWIR energy is then lost as evaporation, the system remains at eualibirium.”

    Evaporation takes up whatever is left over after all other processes have taken their slice of the available extra energy so there is no effect on equilibrium temperature, or rather total system energy CONTENT.

    One does however see a change in energy distribution which itself has a climate consequence but too small to measure compared to natural variations from sun and oceans.

    It is part of the mechanism that explains the stability of the system and therefore the observation of a cap on temperature which Willis has correctly brought to our attention.

    The negative system response to ANY influence other than changes in atmospheric mass, the planetary gravitational field or the level of solar input is fast, powerful and variable in three dimensions with the efficiency of evaporation as a net cooling process a primary component.

    And the energy cost of a given amount of evaporation is set by atmospheric pressure.

  407. Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 15, 2012 at 12:22 am

    “OK, so he is claiming that in addition to the losses he mentions from latent (70 W/m2) and sensible heat (30 W/m2) loss from the surface, that there is also some 282 W/m2 going upwards as evaporation.”

    No! Please get past that stupid Trenberth cartoon showing 380W/m2 of downwelling IR. That is a result of 440W/m2 of upwelling IR. It’s like you writing a check to yourself for $10,000 each month drawn out of your own funds then you cash the check and put the proceeds back into the account from which the check was drawn. Then yoyu claim the $10,000/mo. as income. That’s the same voodoo accounting that Trenberth foisted on you with that cartoon and you bought it hook, line, and sinker. It doesn’t work that way in financial metrics and it sure as hell doesn’t work in physics where every last joule is meticulously tracked and accounted for by reality. The NET upwelling IR is all that matters and the net over the ocean is a rather consistent 60W/m2 while evaporative loss is about 100W/m2. This can be found in innumerable studies in far greater detail and in every first year college textbook on oceanography. Calculate the rainfall from 100W/m2 which is the actual mean annual evaporative energy loss. The numbers will work out perfectly with average measured rainfall.

    The first thing to do when you’ve dug yourself into a hole is stop digging. Trenberth messed up your thinking rather badly. Don’t feel bad about it. He confused a helluva large crowd. NASA no longer puts that original cartoon in their propaganda. Even they finally got too embarrassed by it to continue promoting the sham.

  408. “Is there a physical law which makes it necessary that every single water molecule heated by DWLWIR is evaporated off the surface?”

    No. In fact most of them immediately emit an upwelling LWIR photon. The NET transfer is what matters.

    Ultimately the surface cannot radiate more energy than it receives from the sun plus a negligible amount of internal heat leaking out of the molten core of the planet. Over the tropical ocean the mean annual solar energy absorbed is about 180W/m2. The mean annual energy loss broken down by type is 100W/m2 latent (evaporation), 70W/m2 radiative (LWIR), and 10W/m2 conductive (dry air convection).

    Over land the evaporative loss percentage diminishes and radiative loss increases to make up for it. Over a desert it’s almost entirely radiative loss because there’s no water vapor to retard it.

    It works this way because the energy can escape through a number of routes and it takes the easiest one first and foremost even though no path is entirely neglected. Greenhouse gases alter which path is the easiest and force the loss to take a different path.

    Over land where the evaporation path is limited by available surface water the greenhouse gases that make the radiative path more difficult have only the conductive path as the main alternative. Conduction is misearbly slow so what happens is the surface temperature rises which then accelerates the rate at which both radiation and conduction can proceed. Balance is thus restored through a higher surface temperature.

    It doesn’t work that way over the ocean where there is an infinite supply of water at the surface to provide a third path for energy to escape – evaporation. Evaporation is so efficient that it’s the preferred, easiest path to begin with. Thus heat loss from the ocean is dominated by evaporation almost 2:1 over radiation (about 100W/m2 vs. 70W/m2). Additional greenhouse gases that further restrict energy escape via radiation simply funnel more the energy loss over to evaporation which, because of the infinite supply of surface water, is always there.

    This isn’t rationally disputable by anyone familiar with the facts and applicable laws of physics. This is how it works. In point of fact study after study of ocean heat budgets shows that even when evaporation is retarded in the warmer months (it’s actually fastest in the cooler months when RH is reduced) the energy from the warm months is stored at depth and released in the cooler months. This is why there is little seasonal variation in ocean temperature compared to seasonal variation in land temperature at the same latitude. Dirt only stores heat down to about a meter in depth while the ocean stores it to a depth of 100 meters. Thus dirt can’t store enough summer heat to raise air temperature significantly in the winter but the ocean can and does store enough heat to do that.

    But more pointedly to the question posed by this article as to why there’s a nominal cap at 30C in ocean temperature with rarer departures up to 35C that’s simply, as I’ve shown earlier in this thread with references to a black body temperature calculator and reference to the highest observed land-based mean annual temperature 35C is the gray body limit for maximum mean annual surface temperature at the equator. The highest mean annual surface temperature ever rrecorded is a salt desert in Ethiopia and its mean annual temperature was 34.4C which is just about exactly the highest ocean temperature that ARGO ever records. The ocean is just a lot better at closely tracking the annual mean than land is so observations tend to be much closer to the mean most of the time.

    Interestingly the highest recorded annual mean surface temperature is in one of the driest places on the earth – a salt desert on the equator. The most powerful greenhouse gas, water vapor, evidently and obviously isn’t needed to produce the highest annual mean surface temperature. Isn’t that just precious?

  409. I got an idea to maybe help move the debate about atmospheric pressure alone raising surface temperature. The mean annual temperature at Carlsbad National Park is 63F. The mean annual temperature in the deepest part of the cave (>1000 feet) is 68F. The air pressure in the cave is quite a bit higher than at the surface and we can calculate by the saturated adiabatic lapse rate (humidity in the cave is near 100%) what its temperature should be if the lapse rate keeps going. The saturated adiabatic lapse rate is 2.7F/1000ft so we should expect the cave temperature to be about 65.7F. Dry adiabatic lapse rate is 5.4F so that would be 68.4F for the deep cave which is an almost perfect fit.

    That’s interesting. It’s made more interesting by the geothermal lapse rate which is 1F per 70 feet of depth away from tectonic plate boundaries. That would predict our cave temperature at 1000′ should be about 77F and it’s much colder than that!

    I don’t have an explanation offhand but I’m curious. Maybe someone else can work out why it’s the temperature it is in the deepest part of Carlsbad cave. Cold air tends to sink and higher parts of the cave like the main room at 750′ open to the public is 58F year round because cold winter air sinks into it and doesn’t tend to escape because it’s denser so there’s a stratification effect not unlike bodies of water. The deeper parts of the cave, because the openings are much smaller, are not thought to trap cold winter air. But they aren’t the temperature the geothermal lapse rate predicts nor the saturated adiabatic lapse rate. That bugs me.

  410. Willis

    [snip . . this is just way out of line. Get your people to talk to his people if you are serious otherwise don't troll . . kbmod]

  411. TimTheToolMan says:
    February 15, 2012 at 12:45 am

    Nick writes “OK, it gets replenished by rain. But where in the ocean does it rain 4.6 m/year?”

    And makes an excellent point. I’m not a “Its all evaporation” believer myself but I do accept the result DLR cant penetrate the ocean.

    So looking at Nick’s suggestion further, the wiki suggests about 1m of global average rainfall and this means approaching 1.5m of ocean evaporation. IMO this means about 1/3 of the energy absorbed in the top few microns is used in evaporation and about 2/3 of the energy is radiated. None goes into the ocean bulk though. If Chris, Willis or anyone wants to suggest how then they’re going to need to suggest a plausible physical mechanism.

    Tim, now you’re picking up on richard versey’s BS that I have not proposed a mechanism. I’ve laid out the plausible mechanism in my previous thread on the subject. I’ve repeated it in this thread. Do try to keep up. Since it seems you didn’t like my explanation, here’s Stephen Mosher’s (emphasis mine):

    “However, some have insisted that there is a paradox here – how can a forcing driven by longwave absorption and emission impact the ocean below since the infrared radiation does not penetrate more than a few micrometers into the ocean? Resolution of this conundrum is to be found in the recognition that the skin layer temperature gradient not only exists as a result of the ocean-atmosphere temperature difference, but also helps to control the ocean-atmosphere heat flux. (The ‘skin layer‘ is the very thin – up to 1 mm – layer at the top of ocean that is in direct contact with the atmosphere). Reducing the size of the temperature gradient through the skin layer reduces the flux. Thus, if the absorption of the infrared emission from atmospheric greenhouse gases reduces the gradient through the skin layer, the flow of heat from the ocean beneath will be reduced, leaving more of the heat introduced into the bulk of the upper oceanic layer by the absorption of sunlight to remain there to increase water temperature. Experimental evidence for this mechanism can be seen in at-sea measurements of the ocean skin and bulk temperatures.”

    Here’s the thing, Tim. Suppose we have a black stone sitting out in the sun. It gets hot. We paint it white. It cools down.

    My point is that the paint is only affecting the very skin of the object, yet it changes the rate at which the object heats and cools. And as a result of that change just at the skin, the bulk temperature of the stone is different.

    This is the part that seems to mystify people, that something occurring just at the skin can affect the whole. But as I have explained, there’s no mystery. The IR is absorbed in first couple dozen microns of the skin layer. As a result, the absorbed IR makes up part of the total energy radiated by the ocean.

    And because part of the energy is provided by the IR, this in turn means the ocean itself is losing less energy, and thus the entire mixed layer ends up warmer than it would be without the DLR.

    Try to wrap your head around the fact that anything that affects the rate at which the ocean loses energy will affect the entire mixed layer. Doesn’t matter what it is or where it is. If it reduces energy loss from the surface, the whole mixed layer will be warmer than it would be without it. And DLR definitely affects that rate, so it affects the temperature of the whole upper ocean.

    w.

    PS—And folks, don’t buy the kind of ‘it’s going off as evaporation’ nonsense that richard and others are trying to sell. Unless you think there’s an average of 16 feet of rain per year around the world, that amount of evaporation is a joke. RUN THE NUMBERS FIRST, or you will look as foolish as richard for making the ‘it’s going up as evaporation’ claim

  412. Just The Facts Please says:
    February 15, 2012 at 7:10 am

    I got an idea to maybe help move the debate about atmospheric pressure alone raising surface temperature. The mean annual temperature at Carlsbad National Park is 63F. The mean annual temperature in the deepest part of the cave (>1000 feet) is 68F. The air pressure in the cave is quite a bit higher than at the surface and we can calculate by the saturated adiabatic lapse rate (humidity in the cave is near 100%) what its temperature should be if the lapse rate keeps going. The saturated adiabatic lapse rate is 2.7F/1000ft so we should expect the cave temperature to be about 65.7F. Dry adiabatic lapse rate is 5.4F so that would be 68.4F for the deep cave which is an almost perfect fit.

    That’s interesting. It’s made more interesting by the geothermal lapse rate which is 1F per 70 feet of depth away from tectonic plate boundaries. That would predict our cave temperature at 1000′ should be about 77F and it’s much colder than that!

    Interesting question. I think the problem is in the interplay between the geothermal lapse rate and the atmospheric lapse rate. Try these references:

    Clouds in Caves

    This paper considers the different processes that can create vapour pressure above the equilibrium in the cave atmosphere: ascending air parcels, pressure drop behind bottlenecks, mixing of saturated air parcels at different temperatures and water flow fragmentation. These processes are essentially the same as those leading to clouds forming in the open atmosphere, always connected with air movements.

    The difference of adiabatic lapse rates of water and moist air creates temperature imbalance between the flowing fluids in deep underground systems, leading to thermal and water exchanges, in which water flow globally subtracts energy from the system.

    The high purity of caves atmospheres tends to delay condensation. Condensation is concentrated where airflows are in close contact to the cave wall. The rate of aggressive water condensation on the walls is comparable to the external rain and can play a leading role in Speleogenesis.

    as well as Underground drainage systems and geothermal flux

    It is useful to discuss a little more the internal water heating in karst. The reason for water temperature increase during underground fall is the gravitational energy which is converted in thermal (a process that gives a water adiabatic lapse rate -2.34 °C km-1) and, in the case of flowing in vadose conditions, also to thermal exchanges with moist air, always characterised by a different adiabatic lapse rate, around -5 °C km-1. The actual caves’ lapse rates are between these two extremes (Badino, 2000; Luetscher and Jeannin, 2004), a fact that has huge consequences on the caves energetic balances, which nevertheless are outside this work aim; we return briefly to it in the next chapter, but a discussion can be found in (Badino, 2005).

    Turns out, unknown to me, that the geothermal flux as well as the air lapse rate in caves are quite complex and not at all what one might expect. They are affected by a variety of things including the air flow, bottlenecks in the cave, where the air enters and leaves the caves, and of course by our old friend, water, which messes with everything it touches.

    So I suspect the answer is, there is no simple answer.

    Most fascinating question, though.

    w.

  413. Just The Facts Please says:
    February 15, 2012 at 7:10 am

    Dry adiabatic lapse rate is 5.4F so that would be 68.4F for the deep cave which is an almost perfect fit.

    ;———————————————————————————————————————–

    This is a temperature model not a pressure model.

    Although a temperature model is need to compute the pressure, there were no annual pressure measurements or calculations in your post.

    Whatever the debate was regarding pressure, you’ve side stepped the issue.

  414. “Reducing the size of the temperature gradient through the skin layer reduces the flux.”

    Given that evaporation requires 5 times as much energy as is required to provoke it then it is highly unlikely that more evaporation will result in a REDUCTION of the gradient which is what would be required tor a warming effect on the bulk ocean. To achieve that outcome there would need to be surplus energy left over after the increase in evaporation but with the 5:1 ratio it couldn’t happen.

    I’ve seen no evidence that the size (or slope) of that gradient actually changes. One has to measure that average slope across the entire global oceans to a depth of only 1 to 3 mm (there is some disagreement as to the actual depth of that region).

    In fact, some time ago I proposed that slope as a possible diagnostic indicator.

    Last time I reviewed the matter there was no such evidence but proposals were in hand to try to find ways of measuring it. Has there been some progress ?

    I examined the issue in some detail back in October 2009 here:

    http://climaterealists.com/index.php?id=4245

  415. I would like to know if it is even correct to say that down-welling radiation ‘heats the ocean’, or anything else for that matter. Here’s why…..

    My understanding is that heat is defined as the transfer of thermal energy. It is a flow or flux. Now with radiative heat transfer you are not flowing heat, you are flowing energy in the form of photons. Isn’t it true that I can direct a stream of photons from a cold atmosphere into a warmer planet and not heat anything at all?

    It seems to me that as long as there is a larger flow of photons leaving the surface than what is coming in, the surface is cooling despite the incoming stream of energy. The only thing that matters is that the outgoing stream is larger than the incoming one and the surface is cooling.

    What is really happening is that the incoming down-welling radiation reduces the net out flow of photons from the surface which means the surface will be hotter than it would otherwise be (in the absence of down-welling IR). Nothing is being ‘heated’. The entire discussion about back radiation ‘heating’ things up at the surface is, it seems to me, a fundamental misunderstanding about this flow based on our language biases about heat and heating.

    It simply does not matter in the least how far the down-welling radiation is absorbed, or if it is turned into latent heat through evaporation, or even how much is absorbed at all. The only thing that matters is the net energy out-flow. If it’s high the surface cools faster than it does when it is low. Some can be from evaporation. Some can be from radiation, Some can be from conduction. As long as the total out is bigger than the total in the surface cools. Incoming back energy only affects the exit rate.

    This is not to say that back radiation can’t result in a warmer planet in the presence of the sun’s incoming energy. It reduces the net out-flow yes. But it is the sun that is doing the additional heating as the primary energy source. I liken it to filing a leaky swimming pool with a fire hose (the sun) with a bit of the leaking stuff being put back in by little guys with buckets (back radiation). The little guys aren’t (heating) filling the pool. They are changing the rate of leaking. It doesn’t matter what part of the leak they fill their buckets from and it doesn’t matter where they pour it back in. The effect is the same. As long as they do their work the water level will be higher, more leaks will start and a new equilibrium level will be reached.

  416. BTW I fell into the same semantic trap I was railing against in my second paragraph…..

    “Isn’t it true that I can direct a stream of photons from a cold atmosphere into a warmer planet and not heat anything at all?”

    I should have said something like, “Isn’t it true that I can direct a stream of photons from a cold atmosphere into a warmer planet and not raise the energy level or temperature of anything at all?”

  417. Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 15, 2012 at 9:58 am
    PS—And folks, don’t buy the kind of ‘it’s going off as evaporation’ nonsense that richard and others are trying to sell. Unless you think there’s an average of 16 feet of rain per year around the world, that amount of evaporation is a joke. RUN THE NUMBERS FIRST, or you will look as foolish as richard for making the ‘it’s going up as evaporation’ claim

    Indeed, and don’t forget that evaporation is a self inhibiting process once the atmosphere above the ocean surface reaches the appropriate vapor pressure for the surface temperature then evaporation ceases. See Clausius-Clapeyron equation.

  418. “Indeed, and don’t forget that evaporation is a self inhibiting process once the atmosphere above the ocean surface reaches the appropriate vapor pressure for the surface temperature then evaporation ceases. See Clausius-Clapeyron equation.”

    Water vapour being lighter than air the more humid stuff goes straight up or is blown along by wind so it hardly ever actually ceases.

  419. Paul Bahlin says:
    February 15, 2012 at 11:08 am

    I would like to know if it is even correct to say that down-welling radiation ‘heats the ocean’, or anything else for that matter. Here’s why…..

    As far as I am concerned, Paul, that is a meaningless semantic quibble. However, to avoid it, I try to be very careful with my wording. For example, here’s how I worded it above:

    And because part of the energy [lost by the ocean] is provided by the IR, this in turn meansthe ocean itself is losing less energy, and thus the entire mixed layer ends up warmer than it would be without the DLR.

    Now, you want to say that the DLR does not “heat” anything … but the reality is that the ocean (and the planet for that matter) end up warmer when there is DLR than when there is not.

    Since the planet ends up warmer, “heats the planet” makes perfect sense to me. But to you and others, somehow that’s unacceptable, so I use the wording above.

    Either way you cut it … the world ends up warmer because of DLR, and to myself I call that “heating the planet” even though it may not be 100% scientifically accurate.

    But to avoid this exact discussion, I didn’t say that the DLR heated the ocean, instead I said just what I said—that the ocean ends up warmer when there is DLR than when there is not, whether you call that “heating the ocean” or not.

    w

  420. huh? I specifically wrote a response to this article, and you’re censoring it? And the irony of unreliable…

    REPLY: Chis, apolgies not my doing but another moderator, send the link again and I’ll publsh it. Probably got confused with the other story today…been a madhouse.

    Anthony

    • Chris, I sent you an email, and it bounced:

      Your message did not reach some or all of the intended recipients.

      colose@xxx.xxx
      Error Type: SMTP
      Remote server (144.92.197.138) issued an error.
      hMailServer sent: RCPT TO:
      Remote server replied: 550 5.1.1 unknown or illegal alias :

      A valid email address is required to comment on WUWT

  421. Willis:

    Agreed! I was just pushing against the argument people make about the cold[er] atmosphere not being able to ‘heat’ the planet. The reality is that, technically, it doesn’t but that doesn’t mean that you don’t end up with a higher temperature in spite of that.

    Lots and lots of people conflate heat, temperature, and energy and it starts with common usage in language, IMO.

  422. Just to throw a monkey into the wrench, do these Argo’s need occasional calibration ever ?
    Has 1-10% been pulled out and checked for accuracy ?
    Would be cool to see how they are constructed.
    Would be even cooler to see what organisms may have found a new home ?

  423. Has anyone realised that if the extra energy in the air does reduce the flow of energy from ocean to air then the air would be no warmer because less would be coming out of the ocean ?

    Furthermore that due to the huge thermal capacity of the oceans it would be millennia before any warming of the oceans became apparent ?

    Can’t have it both ways. Either it warms the air but not the oceans or it warms the oceans and won’t be a problem for so long that we will have solved our energy problems or be gone for other reasons.

    If it warms the air but not the oceans then the sea/air interaction will ensure that the extra energy in the air is removed to space sooner by a faster water cycle via more evaporation.

  424. Stephen Wilde says:
    February 15, 2012 at 4:00 pm
    //////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    You need to clarify your statement a bit re: energy in the air. Are you talking about photons ‘in the air’? Are you talking about KE in the molecules? Are you talking about PE in the gravitational field? All of these are different ‘energies in the air’ and they all have differing impact on energy leaving the ocean, eh?

    example… You can have warm air that does not impact the radiant energy leaving the ocean any differently than cold air does. You can have warm air that DOES impact the amount of energy leaving the ocean by conduction.

    There are too many things going on to reduce the whole process to ‘you can’t have it both ways’.
    You can, actually.

  425. Chris Colose said:

    “If the troposphere warms, then the SST threshold to kick in convection (and related cloud feedbacks) must also increase.”

    In fact any extra energy in the troposphere will cause the tropopause to rise which makes convection higher and more effective as a heat dissipation process.

    At a point determined by atmospheric pressure via the Gas Laws and the level of solar input the rise in the tropopause will offset the additional energy at the surface by increasing the rates of evaporation and condensation in the deeper/higher tropospheric column sufficiently to prevent any further surface warming but with a slight shift in the surface air pressure distribution instead.

    That point would appear to be around 30C depending on local conditions

    The low pressure region supplying energy to the ITCZ will deepen and the high pressure cells either side will intensify with the effect of widening the tropical air masses. The models do incorporate that process.

    The problem then for AGW theory is that such changes from human CO2 emissions appear to be trivial compared to natural sun and ocean induced changes of a similar nature which gave us MWP, LIA and current warm period.

  426. Stephen– I suppose I expected the reader to connect my statement concerning the adjustment to a moist adiabat to the stability field (not a great assumption on my part). That adjustment has been doubted by some (which relates to the whole ‘hotspot’ issue in the upper troposphere) but was one basis for the independent examination of this by the Johnson and Xie study, and they found that the adjustment is close to theory. To the extent this adjustment approximately holds in a warmer world, then the SST threshold will increase.

  427. Paul Bahlin:

    i) For the purposes of surface temperature one is considering kinetic energy.Only kinetic energy is recorded on sensors.Furthermore, evaporation converts kinetic energy to latent heat which does not record on sensors until released by condensation higher up where it is more readily lost to space.

    ii) The oceans will radiate at the temperature of the ocean surface regardless of the air temperature above.

    iii) If warm air above the ocean affects conduction from sea surface to air so as to warm the sea surface then evaporation will increase. The issue of humidity doesn’t count because we are considering the global average.

    iv) “All of these are different ‘energies in the air’ and they all have differing impact on energy leaving the ocean, eh?”

    They don’t because the rate at which solar shortwave stored in the ocean can leave the ocean is set by atmospheric pressure due to the fact that it is pressure which sets the energy cost for a given amount of evaporation. At 1 bar the energy cost is 5 units converted to latent heat for each 1 unit of energy input. That is why evaporation is a net cooling process.

    It is necessary to completely separate solar energy which gets past the evaporative layer from longwave generated by the components of the Earth system which does not. There are two different sub systems for energy transfer to consider and they appear to operate independently.

    One cannot have it both ways.

  428. “To the extent this adjustment approximately holds in a warmer world, then the SST threshold will increase.”

    Only if one increases solar input, atmospheric mass or the gravitational field.

    Anything else only results in a redistribution of energy between surface and tropopause and between equator and poles.

    During the late 20th century warming period more solar energy entered the oceans due to reduced global cloudiness so there might have been a slight increase. The test is what happens now that global cloudiness has increased assuming the increase lasts a similar period of time to the earlier decrease in cloudiness.

    I don’t expect you to agree given your committment to the issue. We can but wait and watch how the natural world behaves now that we seem to be looking at more useful diagnostic parameters.

  429. I think it helps to realise that temperature changes at the surface or changes in atmospheric energy content for whatever reason are linear increases..

    However a rise in the height of the tropopause results in a geometric increase in the surface area of the tropopause around the globe which causes a geometric increase in the efficiency of the energy transfer processes between surface and tropopause.

    Willis previously referred to curves intersecting which I think is a good way of looking at it.

    With the efficiency of the energy transfer processes increasing geometrically it is very easy for small rises in the height of the tropopause to maintain a cap on temperatures that can only rise in a linear fashion.

    Since we have had liquid oceans for 4 billion years and relatively constant global temperatures despite changes in global atmospheric density and changes in solar insolation since the time of the early faint sun the mechanism is clearly very reliable.

    If human GHGs do add extra energy to the atmosphere (not really proved but never mind for the moment) then as against the system response to natural changes the system response to our puny input would be negligible.

    Remember too that not long ago it was claimed by some that the more zonal and poleward jets of the latye 20th century were a result of human emissions and assumed to be permanent.

    Since then, human CO2 emissions have continued to rise but the current indications are that the jets have moved back to a more meridional/equatorward track.

    It is far more likely that the cause is natural solar and oceanic variability rather than the human influence.

    Can you give figures as to how far our human emissions really did shift the surface pressure distribution and the permanent climate zones now that the trend seems to have reversed from natural causes ?

    Willis is always demanding figures and sound maths. Where is it on that issue ?

  430. Stephen Wilde says:
    February 15, 2012 at 4:00 pm
    Has anyone realised that if the extra energy in the air does reduce the flow of energy from ocean to air then the air would be no warmer because less would be coming out of the ocean ?

    _____
    Yes, I’ve noticed that, as well as several others. The thermal gradient across the skin layer is less steep, meaning of course, heat flux is reduced. That, along with more heat going into the oceans through downwelling, could be just some of the reasons ocean heat content continues to increase. Skeptics want to keep harping on the DWLWR not penetrating the skin layer, but I’m wondering why they don’t examine in detail how that same increased DWLWR might affect the thermal gradient of the skin layer itself. This is damn complicated stuff, as research articles like this:

    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/2009JPO3980.1

    Well illustrates. The bottom line is, DWLWR doesn’t have to penetrate to the skin layer to effect the heat flux across that layer, or, indirectly then, how much warm water gets pumped back down into the deeper ocean through downwelling as less heat has been leaving as the thermal gradient across the skin layer is reduced from that same increase in DWLWR.

  431. Willis and Nick

    I revert on what I shall term the scientific issues arising out of Nick’s post of February 14, 2012 at 9:45 pm and Willis’s (jump on the bandwagon) post of. February 15, 2012 at 12:22 am

    Nick’s post was extremely material and goes to the very heart of the matters raised by the GHE theory and what we know from measurements of the oceans. It is somewhat unfortunate that Willis although right to acknowledge the importance of Nick’s post did not seek to put it in perspective so that the further implications of Nick’s observation can be considered. These further implications are important. Contrary to Willis’s assertion “So richard doesn’t realize it…” I do realize the implications of the factual absorption characteristics of DWLWIR in water, and that is precisely why I am raising the issue and saying that there is a problem here that requires an answer. There may well be a good answer, but to date no one is putting it forward, and instead the issue has been side stepped.

    I am somewhat pressed for time and I will write later on the ethics issue (which does not concern Nick) and I will only relatively briefly deal with the nub of the scientific issues. Before, I comment on the science, I will set out my basic position (since my character appears to be under some assassination)

    My basic stance

    1, I am sceptical of the majority of the issues raised by the GHE theory. That said, I fully accept the behavoir of CO2 in laboratory conditions, and fully accept that we measure a DWLWIR signal. I do however question precisely what that signal is and what, if any, sensible work, ‘energy’ in that signal can perform. I do not dispute the wavelength transmissions and/or absorptions of the various GHGs nor GHLs (Green House Liquids such as water).

    2. Since I am sceptic, I am open to persuasion as to the correctness of any issue. I deny nothing, I just want to see what I consider to be satisfactory proof.

    3. Like the majority of commentators on this blog site, my interest is to get to the truth. In view of that, if I have made a mistake in any thing that I have written, I am happy to put my hand up and accept the errors of my ways. Since I am not dogmatic, I have no problem in dropping a view that I may previously have held if satisfactory evidence is adduced showing the correctness of some contrary position. In view of the complexities of the issues raised, the lack of relevant quality data and experimentation and the many unknowns and not well understood processes, any views I express are only tentative. I fail to understand how there can be any firm views on the majority of the issues raised in this wide debate.

    4. As far as I am concerned, the null hypothesis is that the ocean is in perfect equilibrium. On average figures, and in approximate terms, it receives 170 w/m² solar and loses 70 w/m² latent and 30 w/m² sensible and 70 w/m² radiation., I say perfect ‘equilibrium’ but I mean this loosely since in the Earth’s dynamic system there is never perfect equilibrium. Because I am sceptical, I am open to proof that that is not the appropriate stance.

    5 I do not accept the relevance of any of the figures that I set out below (although I am open to persuasion that they are correct and are material) and use these as these are a ‘standard’ as used by those promoting the GHE theory.

    6. I have no issue with the point that Nick raised in his post of. If we use his figure for DWLWIR, I fully accept the approximate calculation he performed, ie., that it would lead to approximately 4.6m of precipitation. I also appreciate the significance of that point but I consider that it confirms the thrust of the issue I was raising. I will explain below why I hold that view. I am open for Willis to prove that I am mistaken by now addressing the scientific issue which he has declined to address despite have been asked to do so on a number of occasions spanning a number of years. I am unsure whether he has an explanation, but no doubt he will let us know, or he will once again seek to side step the issue. Not intending any slur on Willis’s character, just as a matter of fact, I have lost count of the number of times that he has side stepped these issues (and/or similar issues raised by other commentators).

    THE SCIENCE ISSUES RAISED (and the optical physics point).

    7. Essentially, the GHE is a matter of optical physics and thermodynamics. The optical aspects are at the root. The claim being that the atmosphere is largely transparent to incoming solar but opaque to radiated LWIR which is therefore both absorbed and re- radiated (the latter when Earth bound I refer to as DWLWIR).

    8. The optical aspects of the theory are entirely dependent upon the wavelength of the EMR and the absorption characteristics of the medium through which the EMR is travelling. It applies to both gases and to liquids. Some gases (and liquids) are transparent to certain predominant wavelengths, whereas they are opaque to other predominant wavelengths. We are particularly concerned with the gases and liquids that are opaque to LWIR and/or DWLWIR since these absorb radiation in that wavelength.

    9 The theory is very dependent upon the absorption characteristics of GHGs and GHLs (Green House Liquids). In fact, it stands or falls by these characteristics.

    10. Without dealing with albedo and the absorption of solar in the atmosphere, the GHE theory goes (using standard average figures) as far as the oceans are concerned: that there is on the incoming side of the energy budget, solar of 170 w/m² + DWLWIR of 320 w/m², and on the outgoing side, the oceans lose some 70 w/m² latent and 30 w/m² sensible and radiates 390 w/m². In that manner they are in radiative equilibrium. Fine as a matter of accounting.

    11 .Those proposing the theory stress the absorptive characteristics of the various gases that make up the atmosphere. However much less fanfare is given to the absorption characteristics of water. Of course, the absorption characteristics of water are just as important as the equivalent characteristics of the various gases that make up the atmosphere. In fact. I would suggest that it is more important given the heat capacity of water, the mass of water on the planet, and the energy involved in the various phase changes of water and on our planet water is very dynamic and is constantly (somewhere) changing from one phase to another and back again. Earth is a water world, and water dominates the climate and its responses.

    12. So turning to the optical physics point, it is important to examine the absorptive characteristics of water. How does it handle LWIR? This is important because those proposing the theory claim that it is (on average) constantly being bombarded with 320 w/m² of DWLWIR. That being the case, what happens to that 320 w/m² of DWLWIR and what work can it do?

    13. The answer lies in the absorptive characteristics of water (and the sensible energy contained in DWLWIR). In my earlier post (February 14, 2012 at 9:19 pm), I attached the ‘accepted’ plot of those characteristics. Neither Nick nor Willis sought to challenge the correctness of that plot. Nor did Nick or Willis seek to dispute that 20% of all DWLWIR is fully absorbed by water within the first micron, Nor did Nick or Willis seek to dispute that 60% of all incoming DWLWIR is fully absorbed within the first 4 microns of water. I consider this to be uncontentious and this is factually the position as a matter of basic physics, ie, as a matter of basic optical physics. For convenience, I attach the plot again since it is central to the issue raised by Nick.(although I am not led to understand that there is any dispute as to what I have said on the absorptive characteristics of water).

    14. So what is the implications of this factual absorption? I suggest that this all depends upon whether the DWLWIR signal measured is simply a signal incapable of sensible work, or whether it contains energy capable of doing sensible work (in the environs of Earth).

    15. If DWLWIR is capable of sensible work, then as Nick correctly noted there is so much DWLWIR being fully absorbed by the oceans in their very top micron layers that it would ‘boil’ off so much of the ocean that there would be many metres of precipitation. As I say, I do not dispute Nick’s calculation. I accept that this is the prima facie implication of the absorption characteristics of water to DWLWIR.

    16. This of course was the thrust of the point that I was making in my post of …There is an obvious problem arising out of the optical physics aspect, ie the absorption characteristics of water. Given that, as a matter of fact, 60% of all DWLWIR is fully absorbed within 4 microns, as Nick observes there is so much ‘energy’ inputted therein that it will ‘boil’ off metres of water. So why doesn’t it? I proffer my preliminary view in the post script.

    17. I have been asking Willis for some years to address this problem and explain how DWLWIR can find its way down to the lower depths of the ocean given the absorption characteristics of DWLWIR and the fact that 60% of that is fully absorbed within the first 4 microns which would be evaporated (given the theoretical energy more than 4 microns would be evaporated). This is a fundamental problem striking at the heart as to how the GHE theory works over the oceans.

    18. In short, what is the PHYSICAL PROCRSS involved that prevents this rapid evaporation (resulting from the absorption of the theoretical energy in DWLWIR) and which enables DWLWIR to be transmitted to depths below the depth at which it is fully absorbed? I do not consider that to be a ridiculous question. In fact, I consider this to be one of the very first questions that a student attending a climate science class would ask. The lecturer may have a good answer for the student but I do not consider that the lecturer would consider the question asked to be ridiculous.

    I accept that Willis probably knows far more than I do about this and I am looking up to him as a lecturer and the elucidation he can bring to the table, Accordingly, I now look forward to Willis fully dealing with the optical physics issue and to explain how given the absorption characteristics of water this does not result in many metres of precipitation.

    I look forward to Willis fully explaining the PHYSICAL PROCESS that stops the first micron of water being ‘boiled; off as a consequence of the ‘energy’ it fully absorbs form DWLWIR (ie., the full absorption of 20% of the total DWLWIR being directed at the ocean) and the PHYSICAL PROCESS thereafter which prevents each of the micron layers below from being ‘boiled’ off on a micron by micron layer basis at least down to the first 10 microns..

    I look forward to Willis explaining the PHYSIVAL PROCESS involved whereby DWLWIR can penetrate beyond the depths that it is fully absorbed at and so penetrate before the deeper ocean before it has been ‘boiled; off and carried upwards by convection..

    I do hope that Willis is not going to duck once more dealing with the problems that prima facie arise from the substantial absorption of all available DWLWIR in the first few microns of the oceans, by side stepping rather than addressing the issue head on.

    PS. When I say that I have asked Willis to explain this issue before, I have not posed the question in identical form each and every time, merely the thrust of the issue to explain the physical processes involved that overcome the absorption problem which enables DWLWIR to heat the oceans.

    The problem is more pronounced in the tropics since there is more DLWLIR being absorbed in the first 4 microns (since DWLWIR in the tropics is greater than the average). I haven’t checked the figures but I seem to recall Willis suggesting that it was between 400 to 500 w/m² which is in theory a lot of power.

    For what it is worth, and I do not profess to be a sage, my preliminary view (and as I say, I am open to be persuaded otherwise) is that DWLWIR lacks sensible energy and that is why we are not seeing many metres of the oceans being boiled off.

    For the absorptive characteristics of DWLWIR, see: http://scienceofdoom.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/dlr-absorption-ocean-matlab.png

  432. richard verney says:
    February 15, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    … I look forward to Willis explaining the PHYSIVAL PROCESS involved whereby DWLWIR can …

    And I look forward to your apology and retraction of your slimy remarks. If you expect anything before that happens, including another explanation of the PHYSIVAL PROCESS to add to the many I’ve given you already, you’re dumber than you act.

    w.

  433. Regarding richard verney says:
    February 15, 2012 at 9:28 pm
    ———————-
    Richard, I hope if Willis ever responds to this he will consider some logical assertions in regard to heating the oceans. First of all his own 30 C plus limitation of tropical heating of SST supports the supposition that ADDITIONAL LWIR from increased GHGs can do little to nothing to further heat the tropical oceans. Why? Because, as you point out, the increased energy is absorbed in increased evaporation/convetion from the very thin few mm, where it is all absorbed.

    Two, how do we know what we are measureing coming from the oceans? Are we measuring the radiation from the atmosphere just above the oceans? Are we measuring the upwelling 390 W/m2 R coming from just the skin, with this being the result of all this down dwelling LWR? I truly do not know how the top ocean surface emission is separated from the very similarly emitting GHG filled atmosphere just above it.

    Beyond this, is it not logical that any additional radiation in the tropics is used up in evaporation, conduction and transferr of latent heat high into the atmosphere? Is it also not logical that a similar increase of SWR would result in increased deeper level absorbtion of solar energy, as this energy is not absorbed at the surface and so does not as easily get used up in increased evaporation/conduction/radiation, but instead goes into deeper layers where any change can accumalate for day, weeks months or years, depending on the depth and location of the absorbtion of SWR increases or decreases ?

    Does it not then logicaly follow that SWR increases or decreases have a greater affect on ocean T then LWIR increases or decreases. Why is the debate limited to deciding if LWIR has any affect on ocean T? It appears logical that the debate should be about the relative ocean heating abilties of an equal increase in SWR verses an equal increase in LWIR. And finallly, when considering that an ever higher percentage of the increased GHG LWIR results or is used up in evaporation /conduction and radiation, then if Lindzen and Spencer are correct, this results in greater negative feedback of increased clouds and reduced SWR.

  434. R Gates says “Well illustrates. The bottom line is, DWLWR doesn’t have to penetrate to the skin layer to effect the heat flux across that layer, or, indirectly then, how much warm water gets pumped back down into the deeper ocean through downwelling as less heat has been leaving as the thermal gradient across the skin layer is reduced from that same increase in DWLWR.”

    However,if the increase in DWLWR, especially in the tropics, results in increased evaporation, convection, conduction, and low level cloud formation, the their is reduced SWR heating the water below the surface, cooling it, and restoring or increasing the gradient. So, the summary could be, the intial GHG induced increase in DWLWR is used up, not in producing heat, but in the work required to increase the hydrologic cycle, which then results in negative feedback of increased clouds, which then reduce SWR heating the water below the surface, cooling it, and restoring or even increasing the gradient.

  435. I’d like to see a proved relationship between the amount of DWLWIR that is used up in increased evaporation, radiation convection and conduction and the amount that is allegedly left over to warm the ocean after that process has been completed.

    Given that 1 unit of energy input results in 5 units of energy being shifted to latent heat I cannot see how the evaporative process could fail to mop up anything left over from the other processes.

  436. “The thermal gradient across the skin layer is less steep, meaning of course, heat flux is reduced”

    That has not been demonstrated on a globally averaged basis. It is a mere assumption based on Fourier’s Law ( energy flow across a gradient will be related to the steepness of the gradient) but without taking into account the net cooling effect of the evaporative process.

    Once evaporation is invoked as a means of drawing energy out of the ocean then Fouriers Law ceases to apply.The gradient itself is created and maintained by evaporation (amongst all other available processes).

    Increased evaporation won’t increase the gradient either because when all the DWLWIR is used up the evaporative process stops increasing. Thus the effect of DWLWIR neither adds energy to the ocean nor slows down the background rate of energy flow from the ocean nor increases that flow.

    The net effect on the ocean is zero. The effect is limited to the air and is miniscule compared to natural vraiability unless someone can demonstrate exactly how far the extra CO2 from human sources can shift the jetstreams.

    As far as positive feedback from more humidity is concerned it appears that the data shows that there has been none. Apparently global humidity higher up declined slightly during the late 20th century warming period when AGW theory required it to have increased.

  437. Willis

    ELEVATOR SPEECH:-

    1. The GHE theory works differently over land and over the oceans. This is due to the different characteristics between a solid and a liquid, and in particular the absorption characteristics of LWIR in water and the ability of water to evaporate and the processes involved in the phase changes of water.

    2. It is claimed that DWLWIR must be absorbed by the oceans to prevent the oceans from freezing. This is because without the absorption of DWLWIR, the oceans would be losing substantial energy. In this regard, it is claimed that the oceans are losing some 390 w/m² by way of radiation, and some 70 w/m² latent and some 30 w/m² sensible, equating to a total heat loss of some 490 w/m². Against this heat loss, the oceans are only receiving by way of solar some 170 w/m². Accordingly, to stop the oceans from quickly losing energy and freezing, they must also be receiving some 320 w/m² DWLWIR. This must be absorbed by the oceans to maintain energy equilibrium.

    3. Trenberth is well known for his theory that it is possible for the deep ocean to heat without there being any sign of heating in the upper ocean. Some are sceptical of the merits of that assertion. Those proposing the GHE theory would have one similarly believe that it is possible for DWLWIR to get into the deeper ocean without taking account of the manner in which DWLWIR is absorbed by water and the resultant energy that is absorbed as it penetrates.

    4. It is accepted physics that 20% of LWIR entering water is absorbed within 1 micron. It is accepted physics that 40% of LWIR entering the ocean is absorbed within the next 3 microns such that within the first 4 microns 60% of LWIR entering the ocean has been absorbed. 60% of the claimed DWLWIR is l92 w/m² (in the tropics that figure would be more in the region of 270 w/m² or even possibly higher)

    5. Thus in view of the absorption characteristics of water, the first 4 micron layer of the ocean absorbs and thereby contains not less than some 192 w/m² of energy. This energy cannot quickly migrate downwards because there is heat being transported from below such that conduction and convection current is operating in an upward plane. Ocean overturning cannot dissipate the heat absorbed in the first 4 micron layer at a rate quicker than it is being provided by DWLWIR which is an ongoing 24 hour a day replenishment process. In addition, the first 4 micron layer is also receiving solar energy. However due to the absorption characteristics of SWIR not very much solar is being absorbed in the first 4 micron layer. Solar is being absorbed at deeper depth and this absorption (ie, the absorption of solar at deeper depth) warms the ocean at deeper depths (say particularly 2 to 8 metres) and helps create the upward conduction and convection profile mentioned previously [which profile prevents the energy (from the absorbed DWLWIR) contained in the top 4 micron layer migrating downwards at any significant speed; the heat flux is up not down].

    6. Further to 4 above, the amount of energy which is absorbed in the first 4 micron layer of the ocean from incoming DWLWIR is such that it would result in an evaporation rate of some 3 metres annually, if not more. This conflicts with assessed annual rainfall which is estimated to be about 1m.

    7. It follows from 6 above that there is a problem with the amount of DWLWIR said to be received by the ocean. This problem would suggest that one or more of the following arises:

    (i) DWLWIR does not exist as a real and tangible phenomena
    (ii) There is a significant measurement error as to the amount of DWLWIR being received at the surface.
    (iii) DWLWIR exists but is incapable of performing sensible work
    (iv) The absorption characteristics of water are wrongly assessed.
    (v) There is some presently not known and not understood physical mechanism which enables the about 192 m/w² absorbed by and contained in the first 4 micron layer to be transported downwards against the upward conduction and convection current which current is transporting heat from the ocean below (say from the first 3 to 5 metre layer of the ocean) at a rate faster than DWLWIR is supplying the ocean with DWLWIR.

    8. Until an explanation can be put forward satisfactorily explaining the problem identified in 4 and 6 above and explaining why we are not observing precipitation in the order of 3 metres annually, which one would expect to see if DWLWIR has sensible energy and is of the magnitude claimed by those proposing the GHE theory and is being absorbed by the ocean in accordance with the accepted absorption profile of LWIR in water, the null hypothesis of the oceans being in energy balance in accordance with the budget set out in 9 below should stand

    9. The ocean receives some 170 m/w² of solar energy and loses some 70 m/w² latent plus some 30 m/w² sensible plus some 70 m/w² radiation and is thereby in perfect equilibrium.

    10. It may be no coincidence that those proposing the GHE theory strongly shout about the absorption characteristics of the GHGs to LWIR in the atmosphere but are rather quiet on the absorption characteristics of the watery oceans to LWIR.

  438. “9. The ocean receives some 170 m/w² of solar energy and loses some 70 m/w² latent plus some 30 m/w² sensible plus some 70 m/w² radiation and is thereby in perfect equilibrium.”

    Anything more that the oceans might lose would simply be part of a dynamic equilibrium between the oceans and the atmosphere whereby the amount lost to the atmosphere is matched by the amount received from the atmosphere.

    The exchange with the atmosphere would mean that one does not need to propose some fantastical amount of precipitation. Evaporation simply mops up what is left over after all the other processes have done their work and on that basis the evaporation and precipitation quantities match well enough.

  439. ,
    @Willis Eschenbach says:
    February 15, 2012 at 12:59 pm
    Paul Bahlin says:
    February 15, 2012 at 11:08 am

    I would like to know if it is even correct to say that down-welling radiation ‘heats the ocean’, or anything else for that matter. Here’s why…..

    As far as I am concerned, Paul, that is a meaningless semantic quibble. However, to avoid it, I try to be very careful with my wording. For example, here’s how I worded it above:

    And because part of the energy [lost by the ocean] is provided by the IR, this in turn meansthe ocean itself is losing less energy, and thus the entire mixed layer ends up warmer than it would be without the DLR.

    Now, you want to say that the DLR does not “heat” anything … but the reality is that the ocean (and the planet for that matter) end up warmer when there is DLR than when there is not.

    Since the planet ends up warmer, “heats the planet” makes perfect sense to me. But to you and others, somehow that’s unacceptable, so I use the wording above.

    Either way you cut it … the world ends up warmer because of DLR, and to myself I call that “heating the planet” even though it may not be 100% scientifically accurate.

    But to avoid this exact discussion, I didn’t say that the DLR heated the ocean, instead I said just what I said—that the ocean ends up warmer when there is DLR than when there is not, whether you call that “heating the ocean” or not.
    //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    Willis

    In response to the point raised by Paul you state: “As far as I am concerned, Paul, that is a meaningless semantic quibble”

    With respect it is not a semantic quibble. The GHE is very clear: Unless 320 w/m² from DWLWIR is actually put into the ocean and effectively absorbed by it, the ocean is not in equilibrium balance.

    Consider the classic equation. Ocean kicks out 70 (latent) + 30(sensible) + 390(radiation), totaling some 490 w/m² leaving the ocean. The ocean only receives 170 w/m² from solar, so unless the DWLWIR is actually effectively absorbed into the ocean, the ocean will quickly lose heat going into a death spiral and freeze.

    It is therefore an integral part of the GHE theory to explain how the DWLWIR is effectively absorbed by the ocean and how it effectively heats the bulk ocean.

    It would appear that there are particular problems with this in view of the accepted absorption characteristics of water to DWLWIR. Most of the DWLWIR gets absorbed in the first few microns inputting so much energy into that layer that it would give rise to copious evaporation and beyond the amount of annual rainfall that is observed. Both Nick and you pointed out how much evaporation results from the absorption of DWLWIR in the very top microns layer of the ocean.

    I therefore hope that you can see that the point raised by Paul, is not a semantic quibble but one which strikes at one of the fundamental pillars upon which the GHE theory is based. This issue needs addressing rather than being brushed over, Of course, there may be a good answer as to the physical processes involved.

    PS. In my elevator speech there are a couple of instances where I mis-typed w/m². any reference to m/w² should be read as a reference to w/m²

  440. Willis writes “Reducing the size of the temperature gradient through the skin layer reduces the flux.”

    Which is Minnett’s expected result. You want me to keep up? I’m not one of the people who say that the existance of GHGs dont make the ocean warmer. But I DO say that they dont *directly* warm the ocean. The dont warm the ocean in the sense that any of the back radiation enters the ocean.

    Look at your quote. You’ve just said and believe the same thing!

  441. Stephen Wilde says:
    February 16, 2012 at 3:19 am
    /////////////////////////////////////
    Stephen

    The classical approach does not result in any excessive amount of evaporation and as you say a balance between ocean and atmosphere can be struck equalizing and slight tempory imbalance (say1 to 3 w/m²).
    In the classical approach, the evaporation is coming from the energy in the bulk ocean coming up from below. Say the first 8 to 15 metres of the ocean is at say 25 degC, it is the energy in this which is conducted upwards and when at the very top it evaporates. It would appear that it is not incoming solar exciting the top layer that evaporates. The absorption characteristics of water are such that very little solar is absorbed in the top microns. It therefore does not significantly play a role in energising the molecules in the top microns layer. Instead it penetrates deeper heating the deeper parts of the ocean.Of course, in the end, this is the source of the heat lying in the 8 to 15 metre range (and other depths as well) which is the driving force behind the upward energy flux which is supplying the heat to the top micron layer from below.

    It is like a pot of water on a stove . It is the heat from below that drives the evaporation from the top.

    DWLWIR on the other hand heats from the top down, but effectively only heats the first 10 microns with60% of the total ‘energy; from DWLWIR being absorbed in the first 4 microns. It is because of this absorptive characteristic that if DWLWIR has sensible energy, there is so much energy in the very top few microns that there would be copious amounts of evaporation leading to copious amounts of rainfall. This is the problem which appears to arise as a matter of otical physics. I have repeatedly invited various people to address this apparent problem and explain the phyical process where by DWLWIR can effectively heat the ocean rather than simply promoting evaporation and ending up not in the ocean but in the atmosphere above the ocean.

    You know much more about air currents and jet streams. Much of what you say seems to make sense to me but I do not feel I know enough about jet streams etc to add much to the debate on that. An areas that I must delve into since it is very important and seems fascinating. I need some time, but then we all do.

  442. Willis Eschenbach.

    That’s a good thread.

    To increase curiosity in this debate, I would add a thermostat recently discovered. This is the thermal behavior of trees and plants in general.
    We found that a tree, (manguifera indicates. L.) alters the humidity of the air in their canopy increasing it or decreasing it, remaining neutral between 29 and 30 degrees celsius.
    Maybe It’s explain the temperature control of our planet.

  443. Richard:

    A question for you….

    Isn’t it true that outgoing long wave radiation from the ocean is a surface phenomenon, i.e. the outgoing photons are coming from the water molecules at the interface ONLY? They don’t come from a meter down, right?

    If that is true then it isn’t necessary to hypothesize about the penetration of incoming long wave radiation. It too is a surface phenomena. I maintain that (at the surface) the incoming long wave photons, that don’t get reflected, get absorbed and re-radiated (at the surface), consequently resulting in a deduction from outgoing photons. They don’t ‘heat’ anything. They reduce long wave energy flux out from what it would be in the absence of down-welling long wave.

    I would take issue with this distinction between heating and reducing cooling being reduced to a case of semantics because IMO the ‘semantics’ play nicely into a fundamental understanding of what is going on. This leads people to jump on the mechanism with statements about candles ‘heating’ forest fires. They’re essentially correct, at least in their semantic universe, but this does not mean that the candle can’t result in a hotter fire.

    If you reduce cooling of an object while you pour energy into it, the temperature goes up but you haven’t ‘heated’ anything.

  444. Willis Eschenbach.

    That’s a good thread.

    To increase curiosity in this debate, I would add a thermostat recently discovered. This is the thermal behavior of trees and plants in general.
    We found that a tree, (manguifera indica. L.) alters the humidity of the air in their canopy increasing it or decreasing it, remaining neutral between 29 and 30 degrees celsius.
    Maybe It’s explain the temperature control of our planet.

  445. Stephen Wilde: February 16, 2012 at 12:25 am

    says “….Given that 1 unit of energy input results in 5 units of energy being shifted to latent heat….”

    This statement is still baffling me – are you saying the vaporized H2O is carrying away five times the energy that was required to vaporize it? I may be missing something here and was hoping someone more knowledgeable than I would comment, but….

    Latent heat of evaporation is the energy used to change liquid to vapor. That amount required would seem to match that available (and released) upon condensation.

    From http://www.usatoday.com/weather/wlatent.htm
    • Latent heat of condensation (Lc): Refers to the heat gained by the air when water vapor changes into a liquid. Lc=2500 Joules per gram (J/g) of water.
    • Latent heat of vaporization (Lv): Refers to the heat lost by the air when liquid water changes into vapor. This is also commonly known as the latent heat of evaporation. Lv= -2500 Joules per gram (J/g) of water.

    Now, I know it takes about five times more energy to evaporate a quantity of water than it does to take that same quantity from 0 to 100 degrees C ……

  446. Paul says

    “If you reduce cooling of an object while you pour energy into it, the temperature goes up but you haven’t ‘heated’ anything.”
    ———
    Of course true Paul. However, justlike with CO2 you must look at the feedbacks. In this case increased water vapor, which by it self, clear sky, reduces the radiation reaching the surface, and increased cloud cover, which one must then determine is that feedback positive or negative .The summary could be, the intial GHG induced increase in DWLWR is used up, not in producing heat, but in the work required to increase the hydrologic cycle, which then results in negative feedback of increased clouds, which then in conjuntion with increased W/V reducing SWR reaching the surface, further reduce SWR heating the water below the surface, cooling it, and restoring or even increasing the gradient.

  447. “If you reduce cooling of an object while you pour energy into it, the temperature goes up but you haven’t ‘heated’ anything.”

    The only portion of the ocean that sees a temperature rise from DWLWIR is molecules within the evaporative region that then evaporate earlier than they otherwise would have done and evaporation is a net cooling effect so no sensible temperature rise, merely more energy in latent form which is discharged to space earlier than it otherwise would have been.

    Thus GHGs may slow down energy loss to space but the water cycle speeds it up again for a zero net effect.

  448. “This statement is still baffling me – are you saying the vaporized H2O is carrying away five times the energy that was required to vaporize it? I may be missing something here and was hoping someone more knowledgeable than I would comment, but….”

    Not quite. If it takes 1 extra unit of energy to cause a molecule of water to evaporate into a molecule of water vapour then the evaporative event then draws another 4 units of energy from the surrounding environment thereby removing 5 units to latent heat in all.

    The thing is that since evaporation is constantly occurring even with no DWLWIR at all when humidity is less than 100% (nearly all the time) there are always lots of molecules that need just 1 more unit of energy to convert to vapour.

    So any energy added brings forward the timing of the evaporative event for every molecule affected and the net outcome is cooling i.e. complete removal of all the DWLWIR.

  449. TimTheToolMan says:
    February 16, 2012 at 4:30 am

    Willis writes “Reducing the size of the temperature gradient through the skin layer reduces the flux.”

    Which is Minnett’s expected result. You want me to keep up? I’m not one of the people who say that the existance of GHGs dont make the ocean warmer. But I DO say that they dont *directly* warm the ocean. The dont warm the ocean in the sense that any of the back radiation enters the ocean.

    What part of “the back radiation is absorbed in the top millimetre of the ocean” don’t you understand? The top millimetre is indeed part of the ocean, so contrary to your claim, almost all of the back radiation enters the ocean. You just don’t like where and how it enters the ocean … but it definitely enters the ocean, even you admit that.

    So yes … I do want you to keep up, I want everyone to keep up.

    w.

  450. Paul Bahlin says:
    February 16, 2012 at 6:34 am

    Richard:

    A question for you….

    Paul, richard thinks that there is 16 feet average rainfall around the planet. If you ask him questions, you will surely get wrong information. Up to you if you want to be that foolish, your call …

    w.

  451. markx says:
    February 16, 2012 at 7:06 am

    Stephen Wilde: February 16, 2012 at 12:25 am

    says

    “….Given that 1 unit of energy input results in 5 units of energy being shifted to latent heat….”

    This statement is still baffling me …

    That’s because you expect Steven Wilde to make sense, there’s your problem. Steven is an unending font of wrong facts, nasty comments, and unsubstantiated specious claims. DFTT.

    w.

  452. “That’s because you expect Steven Wilde to make sense, there’s your problem. Steven is an unending font of wrong facts, nasty comments, and unsubstantiated specious claims. DFTT.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_projection

    Psychological projection or projection bias is a psychological defense mechanism where a person subconsciously denies his or her own attributes, thoughts, and emotions, which are then ascribed to the outside world, usually to other people. Thus, projection involves imagining or projecting the belief that others originate those feelings.

    Projection reduces anxiety by allowing the expression of the unwanted unconscious impulses or desires without letting the conscious mind recognize them.

    An example of this behavior might be blaming another for self failure. The mind may avoid the discomfort of consciously admitting personal faults by keeping those feelings unconscious, and by redirecting libidinal satisfaction by attaching, or “projecting,” those same faults onto another person or object.

    The theory was developed by Sigmund Freud – in his letters to Wilhelm Fliess, ‘”Draft H” deals with projection as a mechanism of defence’[2] – and further refined by his daughter Anna Freud; for this reason, it is sometimes referred to as Freudian Projection.[3]

  453. Stephen Wilde says:
    February 16, 2012 at 11:27 am

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_projection

    Psychological projection or projection bias is a psychological defense mechanism where a person subconsciously denies his or her own attributes, thoughts, and emotions, which are then ascribed to the outside world, usually to other people. Thus, projection involves imagining or projecting the belief that others originate those feelings. … [snipped a bunch of stuff where Steven further describes "projection" and his other ongoing psychological issues]

    Steven, thanks, but that’s much more about your personal psychological problems than I ever wanted to know. As my daughter says, “TMI” … I’d say go back to the science, because I greatly doubt whether other folks care about the inner details of your mental mis-wiring and I know I don’t.

    But you never got to science in the first place, and its hard to get back to somewhere you’ve never been.

    Anyone who believes your nonsense deserves all that they get.

    w.

  454. Paul, my thanks, I can only agree with much of what you are saying. However, richard won’t hear you. You do raise interesting points, which I comment on below.

    Paul Bahlin says:
    February 16, 2012 at 6:34 am

    … Isn’t it true that outgoing long wave radiation from the ocean is a surface phenomenon, i.e. the outgoing photons are coming from the water molecules at the interface ONLY? They don’t come from a meter down, right?

    This is key to the understanding, in my opinion. For heat loss, all that matters is the surface layer.
    Whether it is radiation as you discuss or it is conduction/convection or it is evaporation, everything happens at the surface.

    If that is true then it isn’t necessary to hypothesize about the penetration of incoming long wave radiation. It too is a surface phenomena. I maintain that (at the surface) the incoming long wave photons, that don’t get reflected, get absorbed and re-radiated (at the surface), consequently resulting in a deduction from outgoing photons. They don’t ‘heat’ anything. They reduce long wave energy flux out from what it would be in the absence of down-welling long wave.

    Basically I agree with you, but it’s too strong. Some of the absorbed energy must make it down into the deeper ocean. Consider, for example the ocean when there are squalls and storms. There is spray, there is foam, there are breaking waves. In that situation the top “skin” is being constantly and thoroughly mixed with the underlying water.

    I would take issue with this distinction between heating and reducing cooling being reduced to a case of semantics because IMO the ‘semantics’ play nicely into a fundamental understanding of what is going on. This leads people to jump on the mechanism with statements about candles ‘heating’ forest fires. They’re essentially correct, at least in their semantic universe, but this does not mean that the candle can’t result in a hotter fire.

    If you reduce cooling of an object while you pour energy into it, the temperature goes up but you haven’t ‘heated’ anything.

    As I mentioned above, I see this argument as meaningless. I don’t care in the slightest whether it is called “heating” or not when something ends up warmer than it would be in the absence of GHGs. The end result is the same.

    Which is why I was and am careful when discussing it not to say that GHGs “heat” the ocean. It is a red herring. It is the kind of thing that richard uses to divert the discussion from the real issues.

    So when you ask him about it, you’re just playing into his hands. He doesn’t want to talk about things like his claim that the global average rainfall is 16 feet. He’s more than happy to pick semantic nits all day long, with you or anyone else.

    All the best,

    w.

  455. Let me give an example which might clarify how DLR slows the cooling of the entire mixed layer while only penetrating a few microns, and thus leaves the entire upper ocean warmer than it would be without DLR. Consider the following:

    Suppose that we put a bit of oil on the surface of the ocean. A monomolecular layer is enough. What happens is that the evaporation from the water basically goes to zero. It can still radiate, and it can still conduct/convect, but it hardly evaporates at all.

    Of course, this slows the heat loss from the ocean. And as a result, the entire mixed layer will warm up.

    But the oil doesn’t mix with the ocean, it doesn’t penetrate deeply into the ocean, it only affects the very skin layer of the ocean … and yet as a result the entire upper ocean will end up warmer than it would be without the oil.

    The situation is very similar with downwelling longwave radiation. Yes, it is only absorbed in the topmost layer, just as the oil only sits on the topmost layer.

    So what? Both of them leave the ocean warmer than it would be in their absence. This seems to be the part that people have a hard time understanding, but it is quite true—any change in the ocean skin surface can affect the entire mixed layer.

    w.

  456. “There is spray, there is foam, there are breaking waves. In that situation the top “skin” is being constantly and thoroughly mixed with the underlying water.”

    Rough water has a larger surface area which increases evaporation as does wind. Thus the net effect is a faster cooling ocean rather than mixing down of any energy found at the surface.

  457. Willis:

    I was going to write something about how the incoming photons hit some molecules just as they get splashed by rogue micro waves (get it) that twist the molecule such that the photon comes in on the top but can’t get out before it turns over. This causes the little buggers to go off into the deep, never to be heard from again. This of course means they don’t really get absorbed at all, just disappeared.

    As a general rule I always thought it a good idea to agree on first principles applied to pristine conditions before moving onto reality. Now I see that I was wrong.

  458. “But the oil doesn’t mix with the ocean, it doesn’t penetrate deeply into the ocean, it only affects the very skin layer of the ocean … and yet as a result the entire upper ocean will end up warmer than it would be without the oil.”

    Oil doesn’t evaporate with a net cooling effect.

  459. BTW: has anybody given any thought to the spatial distribution of these maxed out hot spots? It seems they occur mostly where there is not easy access to the poles. The biggest one of all is tucked under the Himalayas/Asia and there’s another good one tucked under the left side of Africa. Could it be there is a relationship to perturbed Hadley cells, i.e. the surface features preventing or limiting cool mid latitude return flow….

    Not sure what it means to the ‘thermostat’ at work, but it’s an interesting feature of the data.

  460. Willis

    I revert further to the ethical issues.

    For someone who so vigorously deplores the use of ad hominems, an objective reader of the comments that you have posted in reply to various commentators on this particular post (and for that matter on your posts going back for a number of months) may be some what surprised by the tone of some of your replies and may conclude that there is more than whiff of double standards being applied by you.

    I do not wish to spend much time on this since I consider that the foray into so called ad hominems assertions are somewhat of a waste of time, that we should all have thicker skins, they are a diversion not central to the scientific issues raised and that our time would be better spent on debating the science, However, since it has apparently got you into something of a tissy fit, I will respond.

    Preliminary observation:

    The vast majority of people reading WUWT and/or commenting on articles posted are seekers of the truth. We are all trying to grapple with a complex and not well understood physical science on which regrettably, despite the hundreds of billions of dollars of public money thrown at it, there is a dearth of good quality and reliable empirical data collected from observation and/or experimentation. The task facing us is therefore a difficult one.

    If there is any prospect of relatively quickly gaining an understanding of the complex physical science involved, it requires people to engage in an open and honest debate and to deal properly with complex issues raised and not seek to belittle points or deal in prevaricate with a view to side stepping the issue raised. If a point is so obviously bad, it will no doubt have a simple direct answer. There should be no need to revert to some tangential issue, which does not address the issue raised by the bad point.

    Of course, I accept that it is human nature to seek to take the easy way out. We are all hot wired to seek to put off dealing with complex and awkward issues, preferring instead to adopt what we perceive to be the easy solution. To stay within our comfort zone. That approach, unfortunately, is often a dangerous game and the ultimate penalty is regretfully often high.

    Your complaint.

    1. As I understand the exchanges, you were concerned about a comment that I made in my post of February 14 at 05:58am.

    2. This prompted you to respond (Willis Eschenbach says:February 14, 2012 at 11:40 am)
    richard verney says:
    February 14, 2012 at 5:58 am
    … I have several times asked Willis (and others) to explain the physical mechanism involved. They have never been able to put forward an explanation, I have never seen any explanation of the physical process which deals with the above facts and explains how DWLWIR actually heats the oceans.
    Bull. Put up a cite showing that I was unable to put forward an explanation, or retract your ad hominem attack. As far as I know, that’s nonsense, and I’m tired of being attacked in roundabout ways. Either substantiate your bull or retract it, richard.
    …………………………………………………………………………..
    3. Subsequently, you posted a comment (Willis Eschenbach says: February 14, 2012 at 5:43 pm)
    richard verney said:
    February 14, 2012 at 5:58 am
    … I have several times asked Willis (and others) to explain the physical mechanism involved.
    I said I thought his claim was untrue, and said put up or shut up, either support his allegation or withdraw it.
    And now, for some unknown reason, Stephen Wilde says:
    February 14, 2012 at 11:56 am

    “Bull. Put up a cite showing that I was unable to put forward an explanation, or retract your ad hominem attack.”

    Why are you responding at all, Stephen? Are you a sock puppet for richard or something? You have no standing in this matter.
    I said nothing to or about you. I want Richard to either support or withdraw his allegation. You can’t help him do either one. Stop interfering
    ……………………………………………………………..

    4. Subsequently, you posted a comment Willis Eschenbach says: February 14, 2012 at 11:59 pm
    richard verney says:
    February 14, 2012 at 9:19 pm
    @Willis Eschenbach says: February 14, 2012 at 5:43 pm
    //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    Willis
    I am not sure whether that response was directed at Stephen or at me. If it was intended to be your detailed explanation of the PHYSICAL PROCESS whereby DWLWIR heats the oceans (as requested in my post of February 14, 2012 at 5:58 am), it would be an understatement to say that I am disappointed.
    YOU are disappointed? You attack me with false allegations, and now YOU are disappointed? I couldn’t care less if you are disappointed, richard. I’m still waiting for you to apologize. I had said:
    Bull. Put up a cite showing that I was unable to put forward an explanation, or retract your ad hominem attack. As far as I know, that’s nonsense, and I’m tired of being attacked in roundabout ways. Either substantiate your bull or retract it, richard.
    You haven’t had the cojones to do either one. Instead, you’re all disappointed, poor man. You have neither supported your claim that I had not explained my position, nor have you retracted it and apologized for your mistake. I have linked to exactly where I explained it to you directly. Everyone knows that your statement was a false accusation, that your claims were in fact bull as I had said.
    So you can retract your unpleasant claims, and we can talk further. Or not. I don’t much care which, the claims in the rest of your post are laughable in either case. But I’m done with you until you retract your false allegations”
    ……………………………………………………………
    5. Subsequently, you posted a comment (Willis Eschenbach says: February 15, 2012 at 11:26 pm)
    richard verney says:
    February 15, 2012 at 9:28 pm
    … I look forward to Willis explaining the PHYSIVAL PROCESS involved whereby DWLWIR can …
    And I look forward to your apology and retraction of your slimy remarks. If you expect anything before that happens, including another explanation of the PHYSIVAL PROCESS to add to the many I’ve given you already, you’re dumber than you act.
    …………………………………

    My Position

    6. Consider the language that you have used in your posts. You talk about false allegations, unpleasant claims, posts are laughable, slimy remarks, you’re dumber than you act. I chose to ignore these comments, and some of the other outrageous remarks that you made about me in some of your other posts which were aimed at belittling me. You even sought to suggest what I was claiming and then sought to suggest that that claim that you yourself had invented was stupid!

    7. I had until now ignored your posts detailed in paras 3 to 5 above. I know that your writing style is rather vitriolic and it appears that you enjoy treating people with contempt. Fine, that appears your style so I did not raise to the bait.

    8. However, it does appear to me that your comments detailed in paragraphs 3 to 5 are completely unfounded in view of my post of February 14 2:27 pm. wherein I not only retracted my comment but I also apologized to you (richard verney says: February 14, 2012 at 2:27 pm
    @ Willis Eschenbach says: February 14, 2012 at 11:40 am
    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    Willis
    “I did not intend my post of to be an ad hominem attack on you, and I am sorry if it was taken that way. Let me rephrase: …I trust that that rephrasing is acceptable to you and removes any notion of an ad hominem. As I say, none is intended…..”
    9. So why you repeatedly ask me to retract and apologize is a complete and utter mystery to me. I did exactly what you requested and it is I who should be complaining at your repeated incorrect assertions which assertions ignored the fact that I had made a retraction and given an apology!
    10. I would have hoped that you would accept my word when I say that we have been arguing about these core points for more than a year. I am not suggesting that you have never responded to me and that you have simply ignored me. I am saying that you have never put forward an explanation as to how given the problems raised with absorption at the relevant wavelength, DWLWIR is absorbed by the oceans. You have not explained the physical processes involved which enable this to be done. You merely assert that it is done. That is something rather different.
    11. It is obvious that we have a very different yardstick as to what amounts to an explanation of the physical processes involved. Quite often your ‘explanation’ has amounted to nothing more than a re-statement of case. You just repeat the classical GHE energy budget (K&T) and sometimes in addition suggest we know that that budget is right because the oceans do not freeze and they would freeze, if you remove the DWLWIR component. That is neither an explanation still less proof. We all know what is outlined in the K&T budget. We all know that if that budget is correct, and if you remove one component then there will be an imbalance. You cannot use the assumptions made in a theory as evidence of the correctness of those very assumptions. This is why CGMs are no proof at all; they merely demonstrate the run out of the assumptions programmed into the model by the programmer. This is exactly what you are doing when you argue that if DWLWIR were to be removed, the oceans would freeze. IF, and I emphasise IF, the GHE theory is correct that is one implication of it (although I am far from convinced that the tropical ocean would completely freeze and in this regard you know how much solar is going in and it appears that there is an excess of solar in the tropics but much would depend upon albedo and whether there would be less clouds over the equator and tropics). Sometimes when challenged as to whether DWLWIR can find its way into the ocean, you revert by claiming that you do not necessarily mean heat the oceans, but rather that the ocean does not cool as quickly as would be the case were there to be no DWLWIR such that the ocean is warmer than it would otherwise be. There are a number of problems with that assertion, First, it relies upon the assumptions underpinning the GHE theory being correct to prove the correctness of those very assumptions. Second, and more significantly, in this scenario you are effectively accepting that the DWLWIR does not find its way into the ocean and in which case the K&T energy budget is out of balance, the oceans are losing more energy than they are receiving! Third, the oceans would be out of balance unless you accept that the oceans are only radiating 70 w/m² and not 390 w/m². However, that is a major problems since if you accept that the oceans are only radiating 70 w/m² then the oceans are in energy balance, but then you are accepting the old classical thermo energy budget with outgoings from the ocean of 70 w/m² (latent) plus 30 w/m² (sensible) plus 70 w/m² (radiation) balanced by the input of 170 w/m² (solar). So that establishes that there is no need for the GHE theory to explain anything. Underpinning this debate on absorption is given the absorption characteristics of water to LWIR, what happens to the 20% of the DWLWIR absorbed in the first micron and the 60% absorbed by the first 4 microns? We have bucket loads of energy in that very small depth that is going ‘boil’ off in evaporation AND not find its way into the ocean. Even if by some quirk, it wanted to flow downwards rather than upwards, this would appear to be all but impossible since the temperature flux is operating upwards not downwards since the warmer waters at the 10mm and below layer are moving upwards and powering the evaporation un the classical thermo energy budget. Theoretical problems, problems, problems. Willis it is these issues that requires an explanation of the physical explanation possibly at molecular level and no explanation has been put forward. I would not be asking you these questions if I knew the answers myself.

    12 Reverting to the ethical issues, it is worth having a look at your post of February 15, 2012 at 12:22 am “Folks, as an example of the ridiculous nature of richard’s claims, he says (emphasis mine):
    … by the time you get to 20 microns some 88% of all the available DWLWIR has been fully absorbed, ie., some 282 w/m² of the available 320 w/m² has been fully absorbed leaving only about 38 w/m² to penetrate and be absorbed in the slightly deeper environs of the top layer.
    Now herein lies the problem. The oceans are evaporating. I believe that you understand this, since this was the central thrust of your last couple of posts. This evaporation takes place from the top 10 to 20 microns of the ocean. This means that all the DWLWIR energy that was absorbed in the first 10 to 20 microns does not lie in the ocean but is actually in the atmosphere. It is being carried upwards and away with the convective currents!!! Please do not underestimate the significance of that.
    OK, so he is claiming that in addition to the losses he mentions from latent (70 W/m2) and sensible heat (30 W/m2) loss from the surface, that there is also some 282 W/m2 going upwards as evaporation.
    Here’s why that claim is so foolish. It takes about 75 W/m2 for one year to evaporate a metre of water from the surface. So that means that richard’s 282 W/m2 is evaporating about 4 metres of water.
    This is in addition to the one metre of water already accounted for (the 70 W/m2 latent heat richard discussed in his post).
    Here’s the problem. What goes up must come down. If we’re evaporating 5 metres of water from the surface every year, we must be getting that much rain every year.
    So richard doesn’t realize it, but he is claiming that the global average rainfall is 5 metres (16.5 feet) per year … and if you believe that, you’ll likely have no problem swallowing the rest of richard’s cockamamie theories.
    In fact, global average rainfall is about a metre (39 inches).”
    …………………….
    13. First of all that is not what I was claiming as is readily apparent from my post of… February 14, 2012 at 9:19 pm. What I said in that post (and I paraphrase) is that IF and I emphasise IF, you utilize the accepted figure for DWLWIR and IF (again I emphasise the word IF) you utilize the accepted absorption characteristics of LWIR in water then “…some 192 w/m² of the available 320 w/m² DWLWIR has been fully absorbed and is contained in the first 4 micron layer and does not find its way to a lower depth… [and]. by the time you get to 10 microns some 84% of all the available DWLWIR has been fully absorbed, ie., some 269 w/m² of the available 320 w/m² has been fully absorbed” I was pointing out that there was a problem. This is why I said (but you failed to emphasis this) “Now herein lies the problem.”
    14. So you have constructed a claim that I did not make and then suggested that the claim was ridiculous. In practice I was doing some thing rather different, I was saying if we assume the GHE claims what happens is that we get lots and lots of energy in the top microns of the ocean which would lead to lots and lots of evaporation AND as a consequence of that in any event most of the energy from DWLWIR would end up in the atmosphere, not in the ocean. I was pointing out that this is a problem. At least you understand that what I say gives rise to a potential problem. You have understood my point that it is a theoretical problem, so that is a step in the right direction. Having understood that it was a potential problem, a more preferable response from you would have been to explain why the energy from the amount of DWLWIR claimed to exist is not in fact absorbed in the first 4 microns in accordance with the accepted absorption characteristics of water or to try and explain how not withstanding that absorption and the energy entrapped in the first 4 microns, the energy does not fuel evaporation but somehow works against the direction of energy flux and makes its way downward. If that was going to be the claim, what is the physics behind the claim? How does it work in the real world? Etc.
    15. Then you suggest “So richard doesn’t realize it, but he is claiming…” When you recently posted your CV, it did not state that you were clairvoyant or a mind reader. That being the case, how do you know what I realize? Then once again you distort my claim, you put out what you think I am claiming, not what I was actually claiming (you would be saying read my words) . Of course, I realized since I was pointing out the problem with all the theoretical evaporation that would arise IF DWLWIR is of the order claimed in the GHE theory, and IF LWIR is absorbed by water in accordance with the accepted absorption characteristics of water. I can envisage that if this had been the other way around, you would have reverted ‘I am highlighting the problem duh!’ or idiot or some other derogatory expression.
    16. If you do not understand what I am claiming, please do not put words in my mouth (you know how frustrating that is as you are often complaining that people do that to you) and ask me to clarify. When I put forward a point which is conditional upon principles contained in a theory being correct and when I note that if those principles are correct there is a problem with the theory, I do that with a view to showing that the claimed principles appear wrong.
    17. I do not, at least at this stage, intend upon commenting upon the many derogatory comments of a personal nature that you have made against me in a good number of your posts. The tone adopted does not take the debate forward and for my part, I have better things to do than to be affronted by the vitriolic style that is your want. My interest is to discuss the science. Lets act like adults and not feign upset when none is really sustained.
    Come back in detail on the scientific issues raised and hopefully we can take the debate forward and shed a little bit of further light on this murky and not well understood discipline of science.

  461. richard verney says:
    February 16, 2012 at 4:23 pm
    Willis

    I revert further to the ethical issues.

    No, you don’t. You revert to whining about how your bull is being received here, trying to justify your position, and repeating your lies.

    You claim that you apologized by saying:

    I did not intend my post of to be an ad hominem attack on you, and I am sorry if it was taken that way. Let me rephrase: …I trust that that rephrasing is acceptable to you and removes any notion of an ad hominem. As I say, none is intended…..”

    But your damned “rephrase” is nearly identical to your previous claim, and contains the same false statement— you have changed nothing, you are trying to slip the same claim by me while butter wouldn’t melt in your mouth. Now you say (emphasis mine)

    I have several times asked Willis (and others) to explain the physical mechanism involved. Notwithstanding a number of requests having been made of them they have never responded putting forward an explanation of the physical mechanisms involved. I presume that the failure to respond with an explanation of the physical mechanisms involved is because they are unable to detail a reasonable explanation which would overcome the obvious problems caused by the ‘facts’ outlined in numbered paragraphs 4 to 6 above.

    I described this as a “false accusation”, and I linked exactly where I had given you that explanation of the physical mechanisms the very first time you asked. And I have repeated it a number of times.

    In response, you’ve gone all flannel-mouthed, and you say your statement was not an ad hominem. I know that, fool, I never said it was an ad hominem. Of course it’s not an ad-hom, I said it was a false statement. So your claim that it is not an ad hominem is just another sneaky way for you to seem to be apologizing, while doing nothing of the sort.

    But at this point, richard, you’ve repeated your false claim that I never explained the mechanism. And that makes it a lie.

    So no, richard, that’s not an apology and a retraction. That’s a pathetic attempt at self-justification while repeating the same lie as before.

    Look, my friend, it’s not that tough. You screwed up. You accused me of something I didn’t do. I proved it never happened. Everyone knows your accusation was false. Not a good position to be in.

    Anyone with any courage would have said “Ooops, I forgot about you explaining the mechanism to me back when I first asked, my bad, I take it back”, and gone on to talk about the science.

    Come back when you have found the courage somewhere to actually apologize. As I said before, richard, until then you can wither on the vine for all I care. Because before, I just thought you were in error.

    But now, you’ve proven that you quite willing to lie to convince people you are right …

    w.

  462. Paul Bahlin says:
    February 16, 2012 at 6:34 am
    Richard:
    A question for you….
    Isn’t it true that outgoing long wave radiation from the ocean is a surface phenomenon, i.e. the outgoing photons are coming from the water molecules at the interface ONLY? They don’t come from a meter down, right?
    If that is true then it isn’t necessary to hypothesize about the penetration of incoming long wave radiation. It too is a surface phenomena. I maintain that (at the surface) the incoming long wave photons, that don’t get reflected, get absorbed and re-radiated (at the surface), consequently resulting in a deduction from outgoing photons. They don’t ‘heat’ anything. They reduce long wave energy flux out from what it would be in the absence of down-welling long wave.
    I would take issue with this distinction between heating and reducing cooling being reduced to a case of semantics because IMO the ‘semantics’ play nicely into a fundamental understanding of what is going on. This leads people to jump on the mechanism with statements about candles ‘heating’ forest fires. They’re essentially correct, at least in their semantic universe, but this does not mean that the candle can’t result in a hotter fire.
    If you reduce cooling of an object while you pour energy into it, the temperature goes up but you haven’t ‘heated’ anything
    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    Paul
    An interesting comment.
    I agree with paragraphs 1, 3 and 4. I can see the point that you make in your second paragraph, but I am not sure that I agree with it.
    Isn’t the fact that you can measure absorption of various wavelength a facet that the photons from the wavelength transmitter are penetrating the medium in which they are being absorbed, i.e., it is not just a surface layer phenomena?
    If it is just a surface layer phenomena, what precisely are we measuring at depth when we say that 10% of X is absorbed at 10 mm, 20% at 16mm?
    In the above question, are we not saying that at a depth of 17mm we can still see the photons being emitted by X?

  463. Stephen Wilde: February 16, 2012 at 9:30 am
    said: “….Not quite. If it takes 1 extra unit of energy to cause a molecule of water to evaporate into a molecule of water vapour then the evaporative event then draws another 4 units of energy from the surrounding environment thereby removing 5 units to latent heat in all….”

    I can’t quite understand which physical laws will ensure exactly 100% of energy absorbed as only 1 particular type (DWLWIR) must be instantly lost back to the atmosphere (by evaporation and/or radiation).

    Why is none lost in any other direction/manner?

    Won’t atmospheric pressure, wind speed, atmospheric temperature, water temperature, water currents all have an effect on this?

    If you had a cold ocean, and the vast majority of water molecules had only reached the level of having 3 units of energy, but needing (say) 5 units to evaporate, would not adding an extra unit of energy lift our molecule only closer to the threshold, ie, warm it?

  464. Willis writes “What part of “the back radiation is absorbed in the top millimetre of the ocean” don’t you understand? The top millimetre is indeed part of the ocean, so contrary to your claim, almost all of the back radiation enters the ocean.”

    Right. Except you’re out by a few orders of magnitude. The DLR is absorbed in microns not millimeters. It makes a huge difference Willis. The absorbed IR is absorbed EXACTLY where the radiation and evaporation is happening.

    Your approximation makes your argument valid. Except your approximation is invalid and hence makes your argument invalid.

  465. I”f you had a cold ocean, and the vast majority of water molecules had only reached the level of having 3 units of energy, but needing (say) 5 units to evaporate, would not adding an extra unit of energy lift our molecule only closer to the threshold, ie, warm it?”

    Good question but no, because evaporation occurs constantly without adding any units at all as long as the water is unfrozen.

    Thus there is a constant rate of energy loss that must always be replaced by more incoming energy if equilibrium is to be maintained.

    So at equilibrium an incoming 2 plus the existing 3 are always needed for the temperature to stay at equilibrium.

    At any given moment the water is a mix of molecules that require a further 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 units to provoke evaporation when 5 units is achieved.

    So if one adds 1 unit and it gets to a molecule carrying 4 units that extra unit provokes evaporation and all 5 units vanish into latent heat. Adding one unit has effectively cooled the water by 5 units.

    If one adds 4 units to a molecule carrying 1 unit then again 5 units vanish for another net cooling event.

    However much extra energy one adds the effect of the extra evaporation will always use up ALL the extra enery coming in as long as atmospheric pressure does not change because it is atmospheric pressure that fixes the 5:1 ratio.Only when ALL the extra energy coming in has been used up will the baseline rate of evaporation be restored.

    If the extra energy keeps coming in then one gets a constant enhancement of the baseline rate and it can ramp up all the way to boiling pont without heating the bulk ocean below.

    The boiling point itself being set by atmospheric pressure.

  466. Willis.

    Reviewing that histogram (Fig-1) we observed a discontinuous function, which is inconsistent with the functions found in nature inert. This suggests a biological response (enzymatic) for this phenomenon.

  467. Hi Willis,
    a thought here. in all the discussion of what transpires at the ocean surface WRT energy entering or not by light waves, maybe I missed it, but would not some energy be transferred to the oceans by H2O condensation from the atmosphere where the air is warmer than the ocean. I don’t mean to imply the atmosphere is heating the ocean per se, rather this may be a portion of energy transference that is overlooked since everyone seems to be focused on evaporation, but I would think where the air is warmer than the water the air is drying.

  468. “but I would think where the air is warmer than the water the air is drying.”

    Quite the opposite. Warm air above cool water draws moisture out of the water by increasing evaporation.

    As the air becomes more humid evaporation slows down but usually wind and upward convection move the more humid air on to maintain the process.

    If there is no air movement (very rare) then the cool water will reduce the air temperature to the water temperature which may be below the dew point in which case sea fog develops. That represents virtually 100% humidity so further evaporation stops locally where the fog is present.

    Any falling of fog droplets into the water are then at the same temperature as the water so no energy transfer there.

    In any event the energy content of air (thermal capacity) is so small compared to that of water that any flow of energy from air to water would be infinitesimal compared to the exchanges involved in evaporation and solar input.

  469. Richard, let me take another swing….

    I claim that outgoing and incoming radiation are surface phenomena for the following reasons. A flux of photons hitting a liquid surface can result in three things; some get reflected, some get thermalized and reradiated at the surface, some penetrate the surface. The first two things are surface phenomena, the latter is not (immediately). Here’s why.

    The penetrating photons are where we are seeing things differently. Two things can happen to photons that penetrates the surface; they can either run around missing all the liquid molecules, eventually leaving the liquid at the surface, or they can be absorbed (thermalized) by a liquid molecule. You might even be able to detect some of these guys inside the liquid.

    I maintain that it really doesn’t matter, in a radiation sense, with these little penetrators which of these things happen because once inside (they are no longer surface phenomena) they both represent a little packet of energy inside the liquid and they can both result in a photon leaving the surface at some point in time. It can either leave untouched or it can have a surrogate leave as a result of it adding KE to the liquid. When they leave, each represents energy radiating from the liquid and it matters not a wit what happened to it while it was cohabitating with the liquid. At such time as a photon or its surrogate leaves it returns to being a surface phenomena.

    If you put a photon detector above the surface of the liquid you won’t have any way to distinguish the origins of the photons. They all look alike and they all leave the SURFACE. All of the mixing and mashing that happens inside the liquid does not change this radiative mathematics. It can all be described as a surface effect on a liquid mass with some energy in it.

  470. Stephen Wilde says: February 17, 2012 at 5:48 am
    Thanks for your answer, it seems counter-intuitive to have a cooler water molecule condense in warmer air… must be something about phase change of water that I’m not thinking of correctly.

  471. “it seems counter-intuitive to have a cooler water molecule condense in warmer air”

    The water molecule in the air is NOT cooler than the air.It is the same temperature as the air which is the same temperature as the water

    What happens is that the water surface below the air COOLS THE AIR to below the dew point of the air so that the water molecule condenses out.

    The reason being that the thermal capacity of water is magnitudes greater than that of air so the water temperature always controls the air temperature.

    This was settled science 50 years ago but no one seems to have been taught it for decades past. That lack of education has left the field open for the potty theories about radiative gases.

  472. TimTheToolMan says:
    February 17, 2012 at 12:53 am

    Willis writes

    “What part of “the back radiation is absorbed in the top millimetre of the ocean” don’t you understand? The top millimetre is indeed part of the ocean, so contrary to your claim, almost all of the back radiation enters the ocean.”

    Right. Except you’re out by a few orders of magnitude. The DLR is absorbed in microns not millimeters.

    Great. What part of “the back radiation is absorbed in the top microns of the ocean” don’t you understand? The top microns are indeed part of the ocean, so contrary to your claim, almost all of the back radiation enters the ocean.

    Unless, of course, you think the top microns of the ocean are not really the top microns of the ocean, but are really the bottom microns of the atmosphere as you appear to be claiming in your post.

    Butt then why do you, Tim, and all the scientists call them “the top 20 microns of the ocean“? Gosh, could it be because they are part of the ocean? And thus when the IR is absorbed, it is absorbed BY THE OCEAN. Not by vapor. Not by some handwaving fantasy middle state.

    They are absorbed by the ocean, Tim, and all of your nitpicking about microns can’t change the fact that 20 microns below the surface of the ocean is ocean. Not air. Not land. Not handwaving. Ocean.

    And as a result, the IR is in fact absorbed by the ocean.

    w.

  473. Steve Keohane says:
    February 17, 2012 at 5:29 am

    Hi Willis,
    a thought here. in all the discussion of what transpires at the ocean surface WRT energy entering or not by light waves, maybe I missed it, but would not some energy be transferred to the oceans by H2O condensation from the atmosphere where the air is warmer than the ocean. I don’t mean to imply the atmosphere is heating the ocean per se, rather this may be a portion of energy transference that is overlooked since everyone seems to be focused on evaporation, but I would think where the air is warmer than the water the air is drying.

    Steve, you are correct that because the opposite effect of evaporation is condensation, it also has to be a part of the equation. Generally, this occurs in the form of mist and fog. We get this here on the California coast from the air coming off the warmer offshore ocean, and then running across the cooler nearshore upwelling ocean.

    And, as you point out, this must warm the local area, because when water condenses it gives off heat.

    In most of the ocean, however, I haven’t observed this as a daily phenomenon. This may be because it is happening right directly at the surface, something akin to the formation of dew on the surface of the grass, and thus may not be all that visible. Or the conditions may not generally be favorable for condensation to occur.

    I do note that dew usually forms on grass, metal, or other things that end up much cooler than the local ambient temperature … and I’m not sure that the ocean surface usually falls into that category.

    Always more to learn …

    w.

  474. Have you ever noticed that dew never forms underneath awnings? On very calm mornings when dew forms all around it, my awning covers completely dry surfaces. I never thought too much about this but it must be back radiation from the awning preventing the surfaces from cooling enough to condense out any water vapor. It’s very noticeable on boats at anchor.

    It doesn’t seem to matter how high the awning is either. I’ve seen this at 12 feet of separation and 2 feet. It would seem that the drenched top of the awning is a decent reflector.

    Could it be that non-existent back radiation has bounced around my deck, chasing away the water vapor?

  475. This might be a track too far or something but I’ve two questions that comes to mind when thinking about radiant energy…..

    question 1:

    Is it possible to increase the energy in a black body by a single source of radiation? It seems to me that, by definition, if the black body is a perfect absorber then it is also a perfect emitter and with no radiation difference it is impossible to increase the energy at all with a single source of radiation.

    question 2:

    If you claim the ocean can not absorb ‘cooler’ radiation, doesn’t this have to lead to the conclusion that the cool stuff has to be reflected? And, if the answer to that is yes, then don’t you also have to say that if the ocean can’t absorb at this ‘cooler’ frequency then it also can’t emit there? If I’m not missing something here then it should be simple to measure the long wave spectrum exiting the ocean and find holes in the emission spectrum to substantiate the claim.

  476. “Tim, and all of your nitpicking about microns can’t change the fact that 20 microns below the surface of the ocean is ocean. Not air. Not land. Not handwaving. Ocean.”

    Actually, it is neither ocean nor air.

    The region involved in evaporation is a haze of interacting individual air and water molecules with air molecules and water molecules intermingling.

    IR from the warm air above the surface doesn’t get past that haze and so doesn’t warm the ocean bulk or reduce the upward energy flow from the ocean bulk.

    It it did get past that region and into the ocean then the thermal capacity of the ocean would ensure an unmeasurable effect for millennia with no apparent warming of either ocean or air.

  477. “Could it be that non-existent back radiation has bounced around my deck, chasing away the water vapor?”

    The warmth from your house (which includes the awning) keeps the temperature of the air below the awning above the dew point.

  478. How about the awning on my pergola out in my yard? Same thing happens. It also happens underneath my picnic table. It happened above the deck of my sailboat sitting in very cold water in the Gulf of Maine. It happened on my sailboat sitting in the very warm water of Melbourne Florida too.

    In fact, to my admittedly hazy memory, it has happened anywhere I witnessed an elevated surface covering anything in contact with the surface on a calm morning.

    And, BTW, would that ‘warmth’ from my house be the radiation coming through my very cool siding?

  479. Paul

    I am thinking about your various comments and I think the points raised to be very interesting. I shall revert on them once I have thought a little more.

    As regards the dew point, could this be a convection issue? It may be that there is a certain amount of trapping of warmer air below the awning (a semi ‘classical’ greenhouse effect arising from the reduction in convection).

    As I say, I will come back on the photon point which is very interesting since if you are correct then this would potentially allay one of the problems I consider potentially arises if DWKWIR is absorbed in the micron layer of the ocean (the amount of energy theoretically being absorbed in the first 4 microns being such that there would be copious amounts of evaporation that we are not observing).

  480. Richard: re convection under the awning.

    I’m going hmmmmm here because when this happens it is always very calm morning air, i.e. very little convection. In fact I would go so far as to say very stable atmosphere and NO convection happening.

    I’ve also given some thought to heating from adjacent ‘mass’ but another observation sort of kills that too…. On my sailboats at anchor I always put up an awning on the main boom that extended down to the life lines on either side of the boat. During the day with a nice sea breeze the foredeck, exposed to the sun, gets so hot you can’t walk on it in your bare feet. Under the awning the deck stays nice and cool. In the morning, the hot forward parts of the boat are awash in dew while the part under the awning is bone dry (as long as there are no leaks in the awning).

    There’s no way my entire 40 foot boat gets warmed up from end to end at night by the hot foredeck. It’s far more likely that all the decks are radiating, with the foredeck more successful than the rest. The exposed decks cool down to the lowest temperature and they start out as the hottest.

    Glad you enjoy my mutterings.