Tiny bubbles…in the brine…affects the climate…all the time

URI bubble physicist counts bubbles in the ocean to answer questions about climate, sound, light

Ocean bubbles - Image: Woods Hole

From a University of Rhode Island press release

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. – January 21, 2010 – The bubbles in your champagne that appear to jump out of your glass and tickle your nose are exhibiting a behavior quite similar to the tiny bubbles found throughout the world’s oceans, according to bubble physicist Helen Czerski.

But while the champagne bubbles are likely to raise your spirits, those in the ocean can cause clouds to form and affect the climate.

“Bubbles are little packets of gases that rise or fall and can be carried around as if they’re on little conveyor belts,” said Czerski, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography. “They carry carbon dioxide and oxygen from the atmosphere down into the ocean, and then when they go back up again they pop and sulfur compounds from marine plants are sent upward, forming particles in the air that lead to the formation of clouds.”

Czerski is studying how to detect and count ocean bubbles of different sizes to help scientists in other disciplines create more accurate models. She said that scientists have found it difficult to judge the effect of bubbles on their data for years and usually have had to add a “fudge factor” to account for them.

“For instance, bubbles ring like bells when they are formed or when sound waves go past them, and if you’re studying sounds traveling through the ocean – like sounds from whales or sonar – bubbles can get in the way of what you’re trying to listen for,” said Czerski, who earned a Ph.D. from Cambridge University before spending a year studying bubbles at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego and then moving to URI.

“Bubbles also scatter light strongly in the oceans and make things cloudy, so if you’re studying light in the ocean you need to understand bubbles,” she added.

The URI scientist uses an acoustical resonator to detect and count bubbles of different sizes in the water column. The device can detect bubbles from 3 to 170 microns in size, and she is assessing the accuracy and uncertainty in the measurements.

She recently used the resonator to collect bubble data near the Hawaiian Islands and in the Santa Barbara Channel off Southern California. She counts bubbles down to 10 meters deep – most bubbles don’t go down much further than that, she said. The big ones float back to the surface while the smallest ones gets squeezed out by the pressure as they sink.

“Just after a wave breaks, there are loads of bubbles and they’re changing really, really quickly,” Czerski explained. “They’re stretching and squishing and bumping into each other and breaking into smaller bubbles and they’re doing it all too fast for us to see directly. Whenever they break up, each new bubble makes a ‘ping’ sound, and if you hear it you can say something about those new bubbles.”

Czerski said that understanding the physics of bubbles is increasingly important as climate models become more and more refined.

“We need to study bubble distribution and where they go in the water column to understand the exchange of gases that they carry,” she said.

According to Czerski, while carbon dioxide and oxygen get carried into the ocean via bubbles, a chemical compound produced by phytoplankton gets carried out of the ocean via bubbles.

“No one really knows why phytoplankton create dimethyl sulfide, but they do, and it passes into bubbles and is carried up and out,” she said. “These bubbles supply sulfur to the atmosphere, which acts as a seed for cloud droplets to form.

“Climate is made up of a whole bunch of little things, including bubbles, and these little things matter because there are lots of them,” Czerski said.

Czerski began studying bubbles after earning a Ph.D. in a field she described as “blowing things up,” which included becoming expert at high-speed photography. She then looked for disciplines in which she could apply this knowledge.

“I’ve always been fascinated by small things that do stuff that’s too fast for us to see,” she said. “And I like building experiments that help us see those things.”

She learned to scuba dive in order to deploy instruments for measuring bubbles, and she now believes that getting in the water is a vital step for any aspiring bubble scientist.

“You can’t really understand what’s going on under the sea unless you go there yourself,” Czerski concluded. “There is a huge benefit to directly experiencing the world you’re studying. The rules are different down there.”

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105 thoughts on “Tiny bubbles…in the brine…affects the climate…all the time

  1. It sounds like she’s postulating that these bubbles act like hemoglobin in the blood; taking the good stuff (CO2 and O2) down and bringing dimethyl sulfide up.

  2. Interesting.
    But I do wonder why this kind of research always gets done “near the Hawaiian Islands and in the Santa Barbara Channel off Southern California” rather than (say) in the North Sea off Scarborough. Don’t we get bubbles in the UK?
    Can’t say I really blame her, mind…..

  3. “She said that scientists have found it difficult to judge the effect of bubbles on their data for years and usually have had to add a “fudge factor” to account for them.”
    A recurring theme in climate ‘science’…
    Anyway, Billie Holiday knew all about those ‘…bubbles in a glass of champagne…’

  4. I wanted to come out and admit my guilt… for the last 15 years I’ve been causing global warming in a very selfish way. It started innocently… with just a small 1 gallon jug of grapes and water. Within 5 years I built an impressive collection of forty 6 gallon carboys… each producing weird and wonderful sorts of wine and beer. The yeast have no concern about the climate… they do what they do, like a heartbeat, constantly spitting out carbon dioxide for weeks and weeks. Just so I can indulge…. yet I destroy the planet every single day.
    Sitting here, I can hear the airlocks blubbing away…. each one a small pocket of carbon dioxide… climate killers in my home.
    I make wine and beer and I am guilty as charged 🙁 May god have mercy on my soul for willfully contributing to the destruction of the planet :((

  5. Moon affects tides
    Tides affect waves
    Waves affect bubbles
    Bubbles transport dimethyl sulfide into atmosphere
    Sulfur acts to seed clouds
    Clouds heat the atmosphere
    So its the moon that is causing global warming.

  6. Czerski said that understanding the physics of bubbles is increasingly important as climate models become more and more refined.
    Is this related to:
    …said Czerski, who earned a Ph.D. from Cambridge University before spending a year studying bubbles at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego and then moving to URI. ?
    Did she find the “science” too settled at Scripps to validate the need for more refined climate models? By the current dogma at Scripps things seem fine, the predictions are coming true, so why tweak what works so well?

  7. Jennifer Jambo (11:47:11) :
    (…)
    I make wine and beer and I am guilty as charged 🙁 May god have mercy on my soul for willfully contributing to the destruction of the planet :((

    Dear Lord, I’ve made homemade bread, with yeast!
    I’m guilty as well!

  8. DocMartyn (11:22:36) :
    “The ability of DMSO to cause cloud formation would be ‘interesting’ to model.”
    DocMartyn – a quick FYI: DMSO is dimethylsulfoxide, a polar solvent. DMS is dimethyl sulfide, which appears to be metabolized by microorganims in the marine environment into DMSO. Good discussion in (can you believe it?) Wikipedia.

  9. I appreciated this comment: “You can’t really understand what’s going on under the sea unless you go there yourself,” Czerski concluded. “There is a huge benefit to directly experiencing the world you’re studying. The rules are different down there.”
    When I was doing condensed matter physics, I “owned” my apparatus in the sense that all the measurements were taken by me, it was repaired by me, and if needed, modified by me. I did not have to assume anything about how it was used by anyone else, nor did I have any questions about the enviroment in which it made it’s measurments. Obviously, climate scientists cannot build and man every temperature sensor worldwide, but if any of the “honest” AGW scientists had possessed Czerski’s attitude, they would have visited the places where their data actually came from, and seen that “the rules are different out there” from what they’d been assuming.

  10. Horatio:
    O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!
    Hamlet:
    And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
    There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
    Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

  11. I agree with Bret.. I clearly went into the wron field. I work in IT in a real job.. not a job where can scuba dive and count bubbles. How do I get a grant for that… gee “öcean bubbles and their affect on climate change” 4million grant money… or get a gig here in Australia doing a review of tax laws ( Ken Henry) and decide we want more!!! grrrhhh socialist governments

  12. Did she find the “science” too settled at Scripps to validate the need for more refined climate models? By the current dogma at Scripps things seem fine, the predictions are coming true, so why tweak what works so well?

    Don’t look for monsters under the bed. URI has a highly-regarded oceanographic research program and scientists frequently move between institutions.

  13. I can see how bubbles can increase the rate of transfer of gases and volatile compounds from atmosphere to ocean and vice versa by increasing surface area but not how they would change the partition coefficient between water and air. Bubbles would seem to be only in the top few metres of the ocean. Their relevance to transfer of substances from the deep ocean to the atmosphere must be minimal.
    The relevance to sound and light transmission is obvious, the relevance to climate and atmospheric physics escapes me, except as a means of attracting funding.

  14. I’d have to look at it further, but my first reaction is this is someone doing research on ocean bubbles (why not?) and working in a global warming angle.

  15. @KeithGuy Clouds increase the albedo of the earth and result in a net cooling, as well as causing the water vapor to give up its latent heat of evaporation that is then radiated into space. (Downwards also, but long term the trend is toward a negative energy balance.)

  16. Jennifer Jambo (11:47:11) & kadaka:
    I wanted to come out and admit my guilt…

    Why worship the earth and feel bad (especially over bad science)? See:

    God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. Genesis 1:31a NIV
    “As long as the earth endures,
    seedtime and harvest,
    cold and heat,
    summer and winter,
    day and night
    will never cease.” Genesis 8:22 NIV
    He makes grass grow for the cattle,
    and plants for man to cultivate—
    bringing forth food from the earth:
    wine that gladdens the heart of man,
    oil to make his face shine,
    and bread that sustains his heart. Psalm 104:14,15 NIV

    What is a degree or two (if that) compared to summer and winter?
    Enjoy in moderation!

  17. Counting bubbles, I hope they are at least robust.
    I wish these people would stop and get a real job.
    No one would know what to do with that information anyway.

  18. I can’t believe I’m doing this.
    Is someone who studies the bubbles in champagne and so on a…
    …fizzyologist?
    I know. Ouch. Feel free to howl at the moon or roll over on your back and scratch frantically behind your ear with your hind leg. My dog Julio Cesar does both at such times as this.

  19. I love the title “bubble physicist” mdjackson is right!
    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XotBYcft_qQ&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

  20. [snip – sorry, no religious discussions here]
    So, truth and logic are disallowed? Because you surmise them to be religious?
    So my question is: Why should the Creator even care?
    The End may not be near but I’ll be surprised if it isn’t.
    Go ahead and snip this too.

  21. “kadaka (11:59:03) :
    Jennifer Jambo (11:47:11) :
    (…)
    I make wine and beer and I am guilty as charged 🙁 May god have mercy on my soul for willfully contributing to the destruction of the planet :((
    Dear Lord, I’ve made homemade bread, with yeast!
    I’m guilty as well!”
    I am addicted to breath. Yes, i have been breathing all day long, and the day before today. I am guilty as well. And i can’t stop it.

  22. After spending many hours looking at sweet and salt water aquariums and some diving I have made some observations of my own.
    I am sorry to say this but in my humble opinion this is a kind of wacko story.
    I don’t see bubbles filled with oxygen and CO2 (better call it “air”) making a downward voyage in a water column.
    Let alone bubbles bringing oxygen and CO2 down, releasing the content and taking sulfur compounds up!
    All I have ever seen is bubbles going up but bubbles going down?
    I wonder if this story is the next big bubble.

  23. I do hope Dr Spensor reads this.The increase in wind velocity during PDO negative/lanina pacific patterns could cause more ocean turbulence increasing air bubbles and the outgassing of these sulphur compounds.This is possibly the oceanic amplification mechanism he is looking for.

  24. Gary (12:35:08) :
    (…) URI has a highly-regarded oceanographic research program and scientists frequently move between institutions.

    I have wondered how pensions are handled with the jumping around.
    Don’t look for monsters under the bed.
    Then how do I check up on the dust bunnies? There is obviously a breeding colony down there, I have to know when it is time to thin the herd before overpopulation forces them outwards as a devouring swarm.

  25. Seems Pachauri and cohorts are getting a titsy bit desperate now, urging grassroots to pay up

    India Today
    Upsurge in action needed for environment: Pachauri

    R K Pachauri, the head of the UN panel of climate experts, have asked for concrete action at the grass-root level to save the environment and climate for future generations.
    An upsurge in action at the grass-roots level is needed and it is our children and grandchildren that will face the brunt of our inaction,” Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, Director General of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), has said.
    Pachauri, who also heads the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), was addressing the opening plenary of the second day of the World Future Energy Summit (WFES) in Abu Dhabi.
    During the opening plenary of the second day of the Summit, the UAE Minister of Environment and Water, Rashid Ahmad Bin Fahad, stressed the need to simplify the procedures in financing funds that have decided to be established by Copenhagen accords.
    He also pointed to the need to subdue the constraints that might hinder developing nations from receiving financial support and access to new technologies that they need.
    “Business as usual is not acceptable as risk of climate change escalates,” he said.

  26. “Ron de Haan (13:29:12) :
    […]
    I don’t see bubbles filled with oxygen and CO2 (better call it “air”) making a downward voyage in a water column.
    Let alone bubbles bringing oxygen and CO2 down, releasing the content and taking sulfur compounds up!”
    Phytoplankton creates DMS and Oxygene bubbles; Bubbles go up, release DMS and seed clouds. The clouds rain and the raindrops take air with them under water, call it bubbles or not, they will wash CO2 out of the atmosphere and into the seawater. The gas exchange is accelerated. Which will help the phytoplancton breath.
    That’s how i understand it.

  27. Ron de Haan (13:29:12) :
    You are wrong… obviously you never drank a Guinness. The bubbles in there do go down.
    I don’t want to “burst her bubble” but once the gas inside the bubble is dissolved in water, the bubble does not exist anymore. New bubbles forming at the bottom of the ocean can certainly carry sulphur containing compounds that was trapped where the bubble formed. But in on its way up, certainly, gas exchanges take place at the interface air-water and the content of the bubble must be changing a lot until it pops.

  28. DMSO and DMS are inter-converted, via reduction/oxidation. The levels of the two are dependent on the flora/fauna in the water and water droplets. Modeling the ratio of DMSO/DMS would be very difficult, and would make most biological stuff trivial.

  29. So, in (solar driven) warming periods CO2 and the biomass increases. The phytoplankton multiply and release an increased amount of dimethyl sulfide which happens to increase the number of clouds which happens to help cool the planet. And she can’t speculate why this happens?

  30. She should be careful when using a “fudge factor”… she will end up with a hockey stick.
    In any case, she could find a job at Coke…

  31. If something as small as a bubble in the ocean can have a large effect on climate, then we truly do not understand nearly as much as we are purported to.

  32. It is not often I get cynical about something, but…
    ” “No one really knows why phytoplankton create dimethyl sulfide, but they do, and it passes into bubbles and is carried up and out,” she said. “These bubbles supply sulfur to the atmosphere, which acts as a seed for cloud droplets to form. ”
    Yes the plankton – DMS – cloud formation “thing” has been known for a long time now.
    I do not see what the need for these bubbles is. ?
    Plankton fart, it’s that simple.
    ” She said that scientists have found it difficult to judge the effect of bubbles on their data for years and usually have had to add a “fudge factor” to account for them. ”
    Yeah we are really rubbish at understanding and modelling plankton blooms.

  33. “and when she came to a fork in the road, she choose the one less traveled.”
    Congratulations Dr and good hunting!

  34. “No one really knows why phytoplankton create dimethyl sulfide, but they do, and it passes into bubbles and is carried up and out,” she said. “These bubbles supply sulfur to the atmosphere, which acts as a seed for cloud droplets to form.”

    What about:

    Cloud-seeding microorganisms go under the microscope”

    http://www.scienceagogo.com/news/20090417224545data_trunc_sys.shtml
    The science is settled, now go to bed [gmt people]!!

  35. “Czerski is studying how to detect and count ocean bubbles of different sizes to help scientists in other disciplines create more accurate models.”
    “Count them”?
    Whoa – now that could take quite a while.
    🙂

  36. She is talking about very tiny bubbles here – less than 170 microns – probably smaller than can be seen by the naked eye. At that scale the bubbles would basically be a suspension pushed any which way at the mercy of the local currents.

  37. Correct me, but how do bubbles go down ? Don’t they displace the water, I can see wave action traping air and forcing it down a short distance but only on breaking waves. If you have no breaking waves the displacement of the bubble should let it only rise to the surface.

  38. DirkH (13:55:09) :
    Ray (14:03:26) :
    The only air bubble that goes down in water is the air bubble between the legs of a water spider, all others only go up.
    Ray, just took a “normal beer”, not a single bubble going down.
    I simply don’t accept the claim of bubbles going down in a water column.
    That’s it.

  39. But when she gets done, scientists will know everything, and the science will be really, really settled.
    B-U-U-U-U-U-U-R-R-R-R-P-P!!!!!!

  40. Bob D.
    I remember reading somewhere recently that plankton releases gas into the air when they get too hot. The gas then seeds cloud formation for local cooling of the seas surface.
    I seems to me that Czerski has found the connection.

  41. 21 Jan: National Post: Scientists using selective temperature data, skeptics say
    By Richard Foot, Canwest News Service
    The NOAA database forms the basis of the influential climate modelling work, and the dire, periodic warnings on climate change, issued by James Hanson, the director of the GISS in New York.
    Neither agency responded to a request for comment Wednesday from Canwest News Service…
    http://www.canada.com/technology/Scientists+using+selective+temperature+data+skeptics/2468634/story.html

  42. kadaka,

    (…) URI has a highly-regarded oceanographic research program and scientists frequently move between institutions.
    I have wondered how pensions are handled with the jumping around.

    403b defined contribution plans. Like a 401k, but for non-profits.

    Don’t look for monsters under the bed.
    Then how do I check up on the dust bunnies? There is obviously a breeding colony down there, I have to know when it is time to thin the herd before overpopulation forces them outwards as a devouring swarm.

    Bunnies=Monsters??? No way. Just feed ’em old socks and lost letters.

  43. Damn she’s good and bright and beautiful. Love the line “the fashionable one at the moment”. Ha ha ha.
    You go girl!

  44. 20 Jan: National Post: Lorne Gunter: First Climategate, now Glaciergate
    http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fullcomment/archive/2010/01/20/lorne-gunter-first-climategate-now-glaciergate.aspx
    20 Jan: National Post: Peter Foster: IPCC meltdown
    Exhibiting stunning chutzpah, Dr. Hasnain — the man who made the original prediction — stated righteously that, “It is not proper for IPCC to include references from popular magazines or newspapers.” Strangely, however, Dr. Hasnain hadn’t been trying to distance himself from his own wild speculation as recently as last September, when he was quoted in a story in The Globe and Mail as a person “who believes the Himalayas may be denuded of all snow and ice in as little as 20 years.”
    Perhaps that might have had something to do with the fact that, after his alarmist speculations proved so useful for the IPCC’s case, he was hired by The Energy Research Institute, TERI, whose director just happens to be IPCC head Dr. Pachauri!
    As the University of Colorado’s Roger Pielke Jr. noted this week, “[T]his stinks … what we have here is a classic and unambiguous case of financial conflict of interest.”
    True Believers were quick to attempt to pin this, er, misunderstanding on those Big Oil ideologues. Bob Ward of the U.K.’s Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change told The Guardian, “It is only a matter of time before the lobbyists who peddle climate change denial for their own political ends start to overstate the significance of this episode, and try to link it to the controversy surrounding the email messages hacked from the University of East Anglia.”
    Thanks for saving us the trouble Bob!..
    Although Professor Cogley did not notice it, when the 2007 IPCC report was published, the 2035 date was dutifully reported by newspapers all over the world, and became the subject of much Jeffrey Simpson-style brow-knitting.
    The vast climate change industry of politicians, bureaucrats and radical NGOs was already reeling from the revelations of Climategate and the failure of Copenhagen. However, the finagling at the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia is complex enough for the industry to have mounted a rearguard action of confusion in the hopes of burying the issue. This latest revelation is much easier to understand. It provides incontrovertible evidence that the IPCC’s scientific standards are not only shoddy, but strongly biased towards extreme alarmism.
    Mr. Pachauri has already come under intense criticism not only for his own arrogance but for multiple conflicts of interest (which admittedly hardly makes him unusual in a policy strata that also contains Al Gore and Maurice Strong). Now the issue is whether he will be thrown under the climate juggernaut in order to keep the policy charade going…
    This is not just a minor matter that needs a little clearing up. It is further evidence that the entire IPCC process has been corrupt from the start.
    http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fpcomment/archive/2010/01/19/peter-foster-ipcc-meltdown.aspx

  45. Ron de Haan (15:00:41) :
    The bubbles in a Gunness pint is the exception… all the other bubbles that I personally know, go up…. well except those in my intestines…. but those might not be bubbles after-all, else I need a change… sorry!
    Here’s how to serve the perfect pint of Guinness

  46. The Dr. is right, you need to get wet to get a real feel for the science. The ocean is in a saturated condition and any disturbance will cause the creation of bubbles. Study your beer or sparkling wine if your too lazy to get wet. The bubbles are the gas – liquid interface, the lungs of the planet. Reminds me of the inside of one of my dynamic fume scrubbers.

  47. There is another theory for these bubbles.
    http://tinyurl.com/l2qsmq
    Don’t laugh, it is possible. I seem to remember that this came out when he was doing poorly, and his numbers picked up from here on. It is not scientific, but I wonder if fishermen do this often. Remember, no one believed these guys about rogue waves either.

  48. Cloud seeding form sulfur compounds emitted from the ocean gets a mention in Svensmark and Calder’s “The Chilling Stars”. They propose that the cloud nucleation particles produced by this process over the oceans are far fewer than those produced by other processes over land. Further to this they reference empirical evidence from airborne instruments that not all cloud seeding over the oceans is due to these sulfur compounds.
    I wonder if Helen Czerski’s work can shed some light on the 800 year lag between global temperature rise and CO2 levels. She may also be able to clear up the issue of the time CO2 remains in the atmosphere.

  49. Good grief!
    Ray 12:54:43-my bubbles stick!
    Mine in the tub stink!
    Ron de Haan 13:29:!2
    Bubbles going down-I don’t believe it either. Maybe these guys have had too much beer.
    You don’t have to get in the ocean to be get wet either. You can be “all wet” with a silly experiment.

  50. Gary (15:28:28) :
    Bunnies=Monsters??? No way. Just feed ‘em old socks and lost letters.

    Grasshoppers can be cute, until their population explodes and they transform into a locust swarm. For the sake of the cats, I can’t take that risk. The dust bunnies must be controlled!

  51. Jennifer Jambo (11:47:11) :
    I make wine and beer and I am guilty as charged…
    Have you ever made any persimmon beer? Good stuff!
    But a cloud of gnats will follow you around for a week, no matter how many showers you take.

  52. I’m forever blowing bubbles,
    Pretty bubbles in the air.
    They fly so high,
    Nearly reach the sky,
    Then like my dreams,
    They fade and die.
    Fortune’s always hiding,
    I’ve looked everywhere,
    I’m forever blowing bubbles,
    Pretty bubbles in the air.

  53. Ron de Haan (13:29:12) :
    After spending many hours looking at sweet and salt water aquariums and some diving I have made some observations of my own.
    I am sorry to say this but in my humble opinion this is a kind of wacko story.
    I don’t see bubbles filled with oxygen and CO2 (better call it “air”) making a downward voyage in a water column.
    Let alone bubbles bringing oxygen and CO2 down, releasing the content and taking sulfur compounds up!
    All I have ever seen is bubbles going up but bubbles going down?

    Go to your kitchen Ron, put a full glass of water under a running faucet and you’ll see plenty of bubbles going down! Personal incredulity is no way to do science Ron. Bear in mind that the ones that you see are rather large and that the buoyancy to drag ratio is proportional to d and they’re looking at bubbles smaller than 170μm.

  54. phil 17;33:05 Bubbles going down with faucet on. Sure, go underneath Niagara falls and plenty of bubbles are going down but how many bubbles make it to the bottom and remember the ocean is a lot deeper than the river at Niagara. Also what exactly is the push on bubbles in the ocean. I will believe this if i can experiment along side the hottie scientist and help her drink her bubbly. snipe away

  55. Also what exactly is the push on bubbles in the ocean.
    Heard of waves? The base of the circulation beneath waves is a depth of one half wavelength below the midpoint of the wave, 100m wavelengths are common so that gets down to 50m.

  56. Ron de Haan (15:00:41) :
    I simply don’t accept the claim of bubbles going down in a water column.
    That’s it.

    Water in the ocean is constantly agitated by waves, so some of the motion has got to be semi-circular (think undertow at the shore), and surely that will pull the bubbles down.
    This has got to be one of the most entertaining threads ever on WUWT—from Billie Holiday to a lesson on pouring Guinness to Monty Python—how am I supposed to be getting any work done?

    Bubbles In My Beer
    Tonight in a bar alone I’m sittin’
    Apart from the laughter and cheer
    The scenes from the past rise before me
    While watchin’ the bubbles in my beer
    A vision of someone who loved me
    Brings a lone silent tear to me eye
    I know that my life’s been a failure
    Just watchin’ the bubbles in my beer.
    I’m seeing the road that I’ve traveled
    A road paved with heartaches and tears
    I’m seeing the past that I’ve wasted
    While watching the bubbles in my beer.
    I think of the hearts that I’ve broken
    And of the golden chances that have passed me by
    The dreams I once made now are empty
    As empty as the bubbles in my beer.
    —Cindy Walker, for Bob Wills

    /Mr Lynn

  57. “An upsurge in action at the grass-roots level is needed and it is our children and grandchildren that will face the brunt of our inaction,”
    Since when is this any different than in the past. The future will take care of itself, if we leave it alone. Over a hundred years from now is our children and grandchildren, more like great great grandchildren. Evolving will solve any problems that exist in Dr. Hansen’s brain, for the rest of us mankind will adapt as it always has.
    The line between GW and no GW is so small that we do not have the science or analysis to say now, and probably a hundred years from now someone will be saying the same about our quaint satellite data.

  58. Phil. (17:33:05) :
    Ron de Haan (13:29:12) :
    Let alone bubbles bringing oxygen and CO2 down, releasing the content and taking sulfur compounds up!

    Unless you propose suspending Henry’s Law it could hardly be otherwise.

  59. Kadaka

    Grasshoppers can be cute, until their population explodes and they transform into a locust swarm. For the sake of the cats, I can’t take that risk. The dust bunnies must be controlled!

    Truth be told, it’s our abundantly shedding cats that create the “dust bunnies” (I’ve done the research). I’m considering body-suits…

  60. More bubbles formed in the ocean.
    An apparent bubble really, a cavitation bubble that can be formed from the spin of a ship’s propeller. It is formed rapidly and being a vacuum, collapses just as rapidly causing a loud ultrasonic sound. If you have ever heard the annoying sound of an ultrasonic cleaner, then this is cavitation bubbles forming and collapsing. Very good for debris removal but I wouldn’t like to count them.

  61. Ray (14:03:26) :
    “Ron de Haan (13:29:12) :
    You are wrong… obviously you never drank a Guinness. The bubbles in there do go down.”

    MMMMMM, Guinness on tap.
    But you are wrong, they don’t go down, they just start out that way and slowly dance and swirl gracefully to the top. It takes a while, but it happens. Evidently you drank it down barely after it’s poured. Good man!

  62. ooops, can’t believe I missed this one..
    “From a University of Rhode Island press release
    NARRAGANSETT, R.I. – January 21, 2010
    Speaking of bubbles… “
    Well, if you haven’t got a Guinness, you might as well, …uh, ….oh, I just can’t say it. I’d have to be pretty desperate. But I will say this for it, it’s better than Blatz.

  63. I’m wondering if there are no West Ham supporters around…

    I’m forever blowing bubbles,
    Pretty bubbles in the air.
    They fly so high,
    Nearly reach the sky,
    Then like my dreams,
    They fade and die.

    httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvuOtlpSAeY

  64. Martin Brumby (11:28:00)
    But surely Scarborough is a very fair place? It was, after all, made “famous” by an American folk/rock duo with that theme. I might also say that it is a Grand place, but the reference is probably over the heads of most non Yorkshire people (grins). Have a Tetleys for me please, at the Grand if you like.
    Richard (decidedly ex-pat)

  65. Sorry about this, can’t resist — if we pollute the surface of the ocean with enough oil then waves are smoothed. It then takes higher windspeeds to produce the bubbles, reducing the uptake of CO2 by the oceans. It also reduces the amount of DMS above the surface which means less low level cloud. Low level cloud over the oceans increases albedo. Loss of that cloud warms the ocean.
    So, oil on surface, more CO2 in the air, higher SSTs. Sound familiar?
    How much oil would be needed to smooth the oceans? Google “NASA oil pollution’. That’s right, we spilled in 1995 enough oil to coat the surface with oil once a fortnight.
    [swivels eyes, gibbers, get carted off by men in white coats]
    JF

  66. Ron de Haan (15:00:41) :
    I simply don’t accept the claim of bubbles going down in a water column.
    That’s it.

    Have you ever seen the surf? Lots of downwards momentum there that has to be conserved pushing water and anything in it down. She is only talking of ten meters depth anyway. Waves in the oceans are different than waves in swimming pools.
    For me it magnifies the fractal nature of the ocean surface as far as exchange of gases can go. Higher winds, bigger waves more CO2 coming out if ocean is warming, absorbed if it is cooling.

  67. A couple of random thoughts;
    – Traveling on boats and ships I was always struck by the volume of the hissing from the bubbles in the wake, and also the sheer length and breadth of the ensuing train. It seems to me that the amount of dissolved gases in the sea was much larger than you’d think, and also at quite a fine equilibrium such that any perturbation in the water above certain energy-level will cause a local drop in pressure, would result in considerabe outgassing. So what causes reabsorption, and will it be at the same rate? Is sea transport causing a permanent kink in the natural equilibrium of CO2 and the sea? I.e. does the increase in propeller-driven shipping activities correlate with the increase in atmospheric C02? And given the seasonal nature of much of propeller-driven boating, could this be observed in the fluctuation of the CO2 data?
    – A possibly related observation is the bright ‘twinkling’ of reflected sunlight from the sea-surface which gives sailors that typical tan, but can be painful after a few hours of exposure on a clear day. This twinkling is caused by waves and wavelets forming concave relecting mirror surfaces which change focal length as they distort, and so will focus quite large amounts of energy into small areas on a momentary basis. And so, the same kind of thing must be happening under the surface, as the wave shapes refract sunlight to a focus. This momentary but quite powerful focus of energy could be causing all sorts of interesting things to happen in the seawater at the very small scale.

  68. For whoever it was who had never seen bubbles going downwards (the scientist quotes waves driving them down which is a bit of a clue) then google “Youtube surfer underwater”. The top left hit shows bubbles being forced down by waves and by swimmers’ feet.
    JF
    Original presumably spam-trapped for mentioning b*k*n*s?

  69. I just noticed that nobody specifically credited Don Ho for singing “Tiny Bubbles” in 1966. I suspect that’s the inspiration for the headline, and a significant percentage of readers might be too young to remember it. Or you might have encountered it during the Pro Bowl half-time.
    REPLY: I wondered how long it would take for somebody to notice, congrats – A

  70. Jeff Kooistra (12:16:34) :
    “…but if any of the “honest” AGW scientists had possessed Czerski’s attitude, they would have visited the places where their data actually came from, and seen that “the rules are different out there” from what they’d been assuming.
    Agreed.
    The “climate Scientists” should have gotten off their lazy butts and validated the correction factors used when a surface station was moved instead of using some mumbo jumbo artificial fudge factor derived from torturing the data. The history of the moves should have been documented at least in some cases so a temporary weather station built to historical specifications as close to the original spot as possible could be erected and correction factors could be validated based on real experimental data. Good grief what else are grad students for besides this type of grunt work. There are about 15000 stations used so deploying grad students or even undergrads to do the validation would not be that hard to do. It sure beats crawling into caves and chiseling out chunks of limestone or catching blind crayfish, the studies I got roped into helping with as an undergrad.

  71. Ron de Haan (13:29:12) :
    After spending many hours looking at sweet and salt water aquariums and some diving I have made some observations of my own.
    I am sorry to say this but in my humble opinion this is a kind of wacko story.
    I don’t see bubbles filled with oxygen and CO2 (better call it “air”) making a downward voyage in a water column.
    Let alone bubbles bringing oxygen and CO2 down, releasing the content and taking sulfur compounds up!
    All I have ever seen is bubbles going up but bubbles going down?
    I wonder if this story is the next big bubble.

    As mentioned above, bubbles are pulled down to considerable depth by breaking waves or even events like dolphins jumping and re-entering the water. Wales swimming near the surface entrain air with their tail flipper and if you watch video of them swimming near the surface you will see entrained bubbles pulled well below the surface as they swim. Obviously the major mechanism would be breaking waves in deep water, but ships motions, ice bergs calving into the ocean, and other mechanisms all would contribute to the process.
    If you watch any video clips of surfers in heavy breakers they are at risk of getting slammed into the ocean bottom at depths of 30-40 ft all while surrounded by water filled with small bubbles.
    Very small bubbles act like very small dust in the air. When they get small enough their density difference is so small, compared to other forces that they move freely with the prevailing motion of the fluid.
    We all know rocks cannot float in the air, but very fine dust can stay suspended for very long times when it gets small enough. Viscous drag, and mass motion of the fluid completely dominate the density differences between the dust (very small rocks) and the air. The same mechanics apply to very small bubbles.
    At a depth of only 11.6 ft the gas bubble is under 5 psi pressure head due to the water column above. This averages out to about .433 psi/ft for fresh water and a bit higher for salt water due to its higher density.
    Since breaking waves can easily mix water to depths in excess of 30-50 meters, the small entrained gas bubbles are put under significant pressures at those depths.
    http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/pressure-head-water-d_1354.html
    At 50m depth (164 ft) you would have gas pressures in the bubble of approximately 71 psi (depending on the density of the water column due to salinity etc).
    This concept (bubbles and opacity of the water) also adds yet another variable to the issue discussed before regarding turbidity of the water and its heating depth due to solar radiation.
    Larry

  72. For very small bubbles of air in water or very small droplets of water in air, it must be remembered that volume rises with the third power of radius but surface rises only with the 2nd power. This means that forces acting on the surface affect small bubbles and droplets much more and can overwhelm updrift in the case of bubbles or gravity in the case of droplets. Otherwise, there could not be fog or clouds. Underwater micro-bubbles are the counterpart to fog. Just like fog can rise, these bubbles must be able to sink.

  73. Drat — burned by spell check and no edit
    whales swimming not wales swimming (although the country of Wales would make a pretty big splash).
    Larry

  74. I was down at my local beach again today. Couple of guys fishing, but nary a soul counting bubbles. I hope that they are not using that AGW system of gridding to allocate a bubble count for Natal from a beach in Hawaii.

  75. If you’ve ever been out at sea in a storm you quickly notice how much foam and froth is produced by white caps. In a force five hurricane there must be an incredible amount of churning and mixing, and lots of stuff getting swept from the warm sea-surface right up to the upper atmosphere.
    Elements ending in “ine,” such as Bromine and Iodine and Chlorine, react with Ozone. There are some interesting debates about how much such elements contribute to the “Ozone Hole,” and whether the Fluorine in spray cans should have received as much blame as it did.
    All in all I find the chemistry of the sea, and its interactions with the atmosphere, fascinating. I don’t mind a cent or two of my tax dollars going to a woman who might prefer studying in warm places to studying in cold places, as long as she is honest and churns out truthful data.
    When you think of how huge the seas are, and contemplate the vast surface area involved, you become aware we are not talking about a few tiny bubbles. We are talking about an enormous exchange going on between the deeps and the heights, and gigantic effects which likely make people who focus on CO2, and CO2 alone, look a bit silly.

  76. hotrod ( Larry L ) (11:07:27) :
    Thanks for your explanation.
    Let’s write a law of the bubbles.
    1. In a static water column a bubble will always go up.
    2. In a water column moving downwards the bubble will move with this water column with the speed of the water column minus the rising speed of the bubble.
    Now bubble up and let’s go.

  77. Nice fit with Tiny Bubbles:
    Krill mix up the ocean

    Turbulence in the ocean, caused by the wind, tides and currents, plays an important role in regulating the global ocean circulation and the movement of gases and nutrients between the surface and deeper waters. Now new research suggests that organisms as small as krill can contribute to this turbulence.

  78. I am pleased that after the 30 or so He Haw comments about an all wet researcher there are quite a number of intelligent observations.
    The ocean is in gas saturated condition and a ships wake will leave a cloud of microscopic bubbles as large and long as a aircraft contrail. Ships can be tracked from over the horizon by aircraft by following the wake. Often over 100 miles. The bubbles are mostly caused by the turbulance in the water and rather then bubbles forced into the water by the ships passage.
    I would guess there is an order of magnitude more gasses, by tonnage, in the ocean then water vapor in the atmosphere.
    Unlike armchair posters, I have spent many hundred hours of my youth watching the wakes of boats and ships in the oceans. As I said before, to really get a feel for science you need to get to know it on a personal level. Roll up your sleeves and have fun.

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