Energy content, the heat is on: atmosphere -vs- ocean

Jeff wrote to me with this article which visually illustrates his point quite well. Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. has given his take on it here, saying:

The post on The Air Vent is worth adding to the reasoning why we need to move away from the use of the global average surface temperature anomaly as the metric to diagnose global warming and cooling.

I decided to make this graphic to put it all in perspective:

Background image from Tiago Fioreze via Wikipedia, values from the calculations below.

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Global Temperatures and Incomplete Rationale of My Own Skepticism

Guest Post by Jeff Id

Ok I admit it!  Apparently I can’t quit blogging completely, but doing software calculations is way beyond the scope of my time abilities.   There is a detail which may interest some here that has too little discussion in the ‘climate wars’ .  It’s a matter of reason, again which doesn’t disprove AGW but which seems to me should be cause for pause in the alarmist message.

From this link:

Heat capacity of ocean water: 3993 J/kg/K

Heat capacity of air: 1005 J/kg/K

This is the number of Joules (energy) to raise temperature 1 degree Kelvin which is the same as 1 degree Celcius. Energy cannot be created or destroyed to my knowledge so these are physically knowable values.  Since they are in kilograms, we only need to look at kilograms atmosphere vs kilograms of ocean to make the following graphs.

From Wikipedia – The atmosphere has a mass of about 5×1018 kg

From Wikipedia – The total mass of the hydrosphere is about 1,400,000,000,000,000,000 metric tons (1.5×1018 short tons) or 1.4×1021 kg,

So multiplying out, the energy content of the atmosphere is – 1005 *5×1018 kg =5 x1021 Joules/Degree Kelvin

Energy content of the ocean is – 3993 *1.4×1021 =5.6×1024 Joules/Degree Kelvin

So we know increasing CO2 captures more heat in the lower atmosphere and we know that this heat is claimed to be the cause of global warming. Where everything gets real fuzzy is when the energy content of the ocean is taken into consideration.  Models do use the ocean heat content, but in order to demonstrate warming, only the energy of the surface ocean layers can be considered.    Of course there are layers and layers (pun intended) of papers that discuss the issues, but in reality very little is actually ‘known’.

Why is it important that climate models only look at surface layers?   Because subsurface ocean temps exhibit little variance and even with the worst IPCC scenario’s would exhibit little variance from AGW.   It is assumed that all ‘significant’ heat comes and goes from the ocean surface.  I wonder though if anyone would be able to demonstrate a tenth of a degree change in the deep ocean over the last 100 years?   The answer again is we don’t know if it did, but we do know that a 0.1C release of oceanic subsurface energy would measurably change the surface temperature of the earth in that time period.  All that would be required would be ocean current changes but we really don’t have a clue if deep ocean current’s have changed. CO2 atmospheric temp change depends on the assumption of stability 0f heat flow from the deeper oceans. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this but in case you wonder why many of us are skeptics of catastrophic global warming:

Click for full size Fig1 

So when they show you the scary graphs of UHI contaminated surface temperature as compiled by Zeke, including graphs from myself using what I believe are superior anomaly combination methods developed by Roman M:

Global Land Air Temps Fig 2 

Remember, they/we are showing you the increase in atmospheric energy of the near zero thickness PANCAKE on the left side of Figure 1, the huge energy column on the right is not included in air temperature graphs of Fig 2 or on the left side of Fig 1.  When you see the reconstructions of global temperature including ocean surface temps,  the energy pancake on the left isn’t much thicker.

If you were to transfer enough ocean energy directly to the atmosphere to create 4 degrees of atmospheric warming, how much would that change the average temperature of the Earth’s water?

Would you believe –  0.001 Degrees C of ocean temp change?  The left side pancake wouldn’t look any different in Fig 1!   Hell, it wouldn’t change if we were in another oceanic current inspired ice age — think about that.

It’s just math folks.   The ocean contains so much energy that a thousandth of a degree change can throw 1C into our air temp instantaneously.  Unfortunately the discussion is more complex than this because we need then to look at what happens to the release of that heat to space.  The real balance is about energy flow vs content rather than instantaneous heat, but realistically tenths of a degree C of atmospheric  warming over 30 years are absolutely NOT proof of CO2 global warming doom.

Of course climate models take all of this into account.  They also take Hadley cells and cloud formation into account.  They take convection, conduction, evaporation, precipitation etc. all into account.  The whole exercise is layers of guesses and estimations.  Some with less scientific honesty than others but before chucking them all to the wind, some of these people are good people and even good scientists.

I’ve spent enough time on this today, but continued overconfidence in the meaning of UHI contaminated surface temperatures IS one of the main reasons I’m a skeptic of catastrophic global warming.   Every time you see a plot of surface temperatures, we should shoulder shrug and ask – what about total oceanic energy?

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Jeff L

Love this post as I have done similar calculations.
The bottom line – The atmosphere itself has very little to do with it’s own temperature in this context.

Neo

Isn’t this the basic theory behind those open top freezers at the supermarket ..
the heat content of the air is far lower than the contents of the freezer

mkelly

Just wondering about the 3993 value for ocean water. Is it different than what Engineering Tool box has at 15 C of 4.186 Kj/kg K for water. Small difference but wondering.

Jeremy

This goes back to what I was told a long time ago. The drake equation ruined science. The introduction of unfalsifiable ideas via guesswork equations into the scientific culture (via SETI) has ruined science.

Alan S. Blue

The problem with dumping the GMST is that it effectively concedes the argument for thirty years.
That is: There are a long list of more-applicable or better-accuracy or better-coverage types of information to be gathering or studying. I’m all for using and granting money for all of them. But they generally haven’t been sufficiently accumulated -historically-. The thirty years of the satellite record is barely adequate.
The hundred-fifty years of surface data is “long enough” – even conceding the complete inadequacy of the error bars – that people like Mann can apply hockey-stick-finding filters to it.
This has the effect of (erroneously IMNSHO) eliminating the MWP/LIA from the entire memescape of the climatologists.
We already know that “just” using the satellite data and reapplying Mann’s method to that would be discarded out-of-hand by the climatologists: The trees his method picked out during the ‘instrumental period’ are the exact same trees that are the decline under the satellite period. Mann’s own method would invert those proxies if it was applied during just the satellite period.
I happen to think the method of “fixing” the ground stations isn’t optimal though. Take an individual ground station and cross-calibrate it with the best calculation from the satellite data of the value for that exact site. This should allow the determination of the actual error of using a point measurement to determine a grid temperature – as opposed to the insane propagation of the instrumental error.

Mac the Knife

A 4000 to 1 ratio, for heat transfer to total atmospheric mass from total oceanic mass….
Thanks! I had not thought of it that way, but it illustrates the point that ‘There are much greater ‘sensitivities’ betwixt heaven and earth (including the oceans, Horatio!), than are dreamt of in the AGW philosophies!

Laurie Bowen

I think the same approach as chart one should be taken with the temperature changes over time . . . here (where I live) the temperature over the seasons is is about 20 degrees in the lows of winter to about 110 in the highs of summer that a 90 degree change, on a thumbnail, . . . and if you are talking about a one or two degrees over 100 years that is insignificant .
Thus the deceit of the hockey stick . .
Anyone can make anything look like a hockey stick.

Urederra

mkelly says:
April 6, 2011 at 12:31 pm
Just wondering about the 3993 value for ocean water. Is it different than what Engineering Tool box has at 15 C of 4.186 Kj/kg K for water. Small difference but wondering.

4.18 j = 1 cal sounds more accurate to me.

Clive

Thanks Jeff
A few years ago for a class, I calculated that there are 200,000,000 tonnes of ocean water for every person on earth. A family of five “owns” enough sea water to fill a lake 10 km by 10 km by 10 m deep. (That’s 40 square miles by 33 feet deep! A decent sized lake.)
And I ask myself what conceivable effect can that family have on that mass of water by heating their home, driving, eating and just living compared to the sun. and we know the answer. Nada. Nil. Zip.
Thanks again!
Clive

“Energy content of the ocean is – 3993 *1.4×1021 =5.6×1024 Joules/Degree Kelvin”
I think you mean heat capacity. But the figure is meaningless without some notion of heat transfer rate, which determines the timescales. The heat capacity of the Earth will be about 5×1027 Joules/Degree Kelvin, but that is equally meaningless, because the time requiresd to heat it is billions of years.
And so it is with the ocean. The time taken to transfer heat in the depths is extremely long.

Urederra

ummm…. sorry for the double posting, but maybe the difference has to be with salty water versus pure water. After all it is not much of a difference.

SSam

Something similar came up in a discussion I was in regarding the removal of heat from oceanic ridges ( really long volcanoes that are in a constant eruptive phase somewhere along the track ). Basalt has a heat capacity that is roughly one quarter that of water. This means that for every degree of cooling that 4 kg of basalt experiences, 1 kg of water takes on that energy and rises one degree.

D. J. Hawkins

mkelly says:
April 6, 2011 at 12:31 pm
Just wondering about the 3993 value for ocean water. Is it different than what Engineering Tool box has at 15 C of 4.186 Kj/kg K for water. Small difference but wondering.

Salt water vs. fresh water. See: http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/specific-heat-fluids-d_151.html

On the matter of the heat transition for the ocean-air boundary it is important to discuss what is meant by ‘surface layer’. For example, satellites only measure the top few millimeters, which can be quite warm depending on what is in the water (e.g., are we talking the Sargasso Sea and its floating biomass). The mixing depth for the ocean ‘surface layer’ is highly dependent on wave action, etc.
Water tends to set up Bernoulli layers where mixing is limited, and the osmotic path of temperature transport is limited. In seas with high turmoil (wave action, etc) the Bernoulli layers break down in the upper meters. At some point meters down there is a more challenging current/Temperature boundary.
In addition, there are currents, which pipe water of one temp through regions of water with another temp. Think of the Gulf currents which traverse the North Atlantic. This is an example of a lateral Bernoulli like boundary.
The point is mixing promotes temperature dissipation, these currents (surface and subsurface) all play another role in that they can inject heat well into a cold sink, which if you only measure the current and not the sink (below the surface) then you have an incorrect model of the total water heat content and transport mechanism.
Atmosphere and ocean capture, transport and dissipate heat/energy differently.
How much ocean heat gets dissipated in wave energy? If the ocean model is a thin layer without any transport to the massive heat sinks below and at high latitudes, and accelerated with waves or slowed by biomass, it is so far off as to be useless.

Bruce

Is anyone sure that the albedo of the ocean is exactly the same as it was 50 years?
Of course not.
Is anyone sure the amount of bright sunshine is exactly the same as it was 50 years ago?
Of course not. In fact there is a lot of evidence that bright sunshine is up. How much extra energy is that?

Laurie Bowen

So . . . . how much has the ocean heated up in the last one hundred and fifty years . . . If they are still talking about anything like the bull hockey stick of air temperature . . . I rest my case . . . for now . . .
And, I will make one prognostication . . . . it wouldn’t really matter because 150 years ago the data would be sparse . . . so I’ll not bait the de-bate.

Don V

EXACTLY! RIGHT ON! and AMEN! When I was taught about how to design experiments, it was drummed into us time and time again to focus on the variables that had the largest, direct, and measureable impact on the system under study. Its all about scale. Focus attention on the variable that CONTROLS the system – or in this case buffers the system to limit any significant deviation from a fixed set point.
The world’s oceans are the most insanely huge energy buffer, how can any sane scientist even think any other variable has a chance of affecting change . . . .and you’ve only illustrated the heat content contained in liquid water. It becomes even more insanely stabilizing when you consider the massive amounts of energy necessary to affect change when phase change comes into play! There is good reasons why all successful cooling towers, and nearly all heat exchangers rely on water’s amazing properties instead of CO2’s mythical IR absorbing magic. As an energy storage buffer water is king. CO2? – insignificant and even necessary for life.
Equatorial energy content in the world’s oceans drive local and even distant weather. Likewise the long term systemic energy content of oceans drive climate – period.

D. J. Hawkins

What about the solid surfaces of the earth? Common materials such as brick, asphalt, granite, sand, limestone etc have a Cp of about 800 J/Kg/K but a density around 8 times that of water. What depth of the earth’s landmass is considered coupled to atmospheric/global temperatures?

tjfolkerts

A couple quick comments. They are little things, but little things can make the difference between sounding correct and sounding incorrect.
“Heat capacity of ocean water: 3993 J/kg/K”
This is officially the “specific heat capacity”
“So multiplying out, the energy content of the atmosphere is – 1005 *5×1018 kg =5 x1021 Joules/Degree Kelvin”
1) this quantity of J/K is the heat capacity, not the “energy content”.
2) the unit is “Kelvin”, not “degree Kelvin”
“The left side pancake wouldn’t look any different in Fig 1! Hell, it wouldn’t change if we were in another oceanic current inspired ice age — think about that.”
Since Fig 1 plots J/K, changes in temperature, by definition, will not change the figure. Whether the atmosphere changed 0.001 K or 1K or -10 K, the left side will still be 5 x10^21 J/K.

R. de Haan

Forget common sense, it’s tipping points we want.
Steven Chu: climate modelers should fabricate lots of tipping points
http://motls.blogspot.com/2011/04/steven-chu-climate-modelers-should.html

KR

This is an excellent point – the ocean makes up the major mass for the climate, and we should be watching that.
Here’s a link to the on ocean heat content, 1955-present.
Oddly enough, it looks very much like the surface air temps – increasing. It appears that the air temps are closely tracking the oceanic heat content. I’m not reassured.

David A. Evans.

Actually Jeff it’s 1.12°C/0.001°C.
5.6 x 10^24/(5 x 10^21)
Unless I’ve messed up that is.
DaveE.

David A. Evans.

Scrub that. I’ve messed up!
DaveE.

Harold Pierce Jr

I once read the the Navies of the major powers have many mega gobs of temperature data on all of the oceans, and they use these data for calculating the speed of sound at various depths and temperatures which is important for their sonar systems.
They also use these data to find locations in the ocean to hide their submarines to avoid detection by sonar whose sound waves can be reflected off of a layer of deep ocean water whose density and temperature are much different for shallower layers.

mkelly

D. J. Hawkins says:
April 6, 2011 at 1:02 pm
Thanks.

mkelly

D. J. Hawkins says:
April 6, 2011 at 1:11 pm
What about the solid surfaces of the earth? Common materials such as brick, asphalt, granite, sand, limestone etc have a Cp of about 800 J/Kg/K but a density around 8 times that of water. What depth of the earth’s landmass is considered coupled to atmospheric/global temperatures?
Up north we have to have the footers for houses below 4 feet to ensure we are below frost line. So I would argue that that depth of surface takes warmth out of the air during spring/summer to heat the earth down to approx that depth.

Ian W


Nick Stokes says:
April 6, 2011 at 12:50 pm
“Energy content of the ocean is – 3993 *1.4×1021 =5.6×1024 Joules/Degree Kelvin”
I think you mean heat capacity. But the figure is meaningless without some notion of heat transfer rate, which determines the timescales. The heat capacity of the Earth will be about 5×1027 Joules/Degree Kelvin, but that is equally meaningless, because the time requiresd to heat it is billions of years.
And so it is with the ocean. The time taken to transfer heat in the depths is extremely long.

Alternatively, one could think about it as the time taken to transfer heat in the atmosphere is extremely short.

Andrew30

D. J. Hawkins says: April 6, 2011 at 1:11 pm
” What depth of the earth’s landmass is considered coupled to atmospheric/global temperatures?’
At about the frost line, in southern Canada that is about 4 feet, that is why you need to sink a foundation at least that far or when the water at that depth freezes in the winter it will lift and crack the foundation. If you go much below that line temperatures remain more or less constant. This is also why you basement is cool in the summer althout it is less than 8 feet below the ground floor in the same insulated container (your house).
In the Arabian desert (the red parts) it you stick you hand in the sand in the early afternoon it more or less much burns your skin, dig a hole a couple of feet deep and the temperature is closer to the temperature of the surface at night, in that part of the world I would guess the coupling goes about 3 or 4 feet tops.
So, not too much.

vboring

So, the “ocean goes from CO2 sink to source as it gets warmer” tipping point is total bunk?

Good to see you back Jeff!!
Excellent post !

The general point is correct, even though some details and language made need some polish. The atmosphere reacts to ocean (and then land) thermal drivers that effect transport, capture and dissipation of energy in all its forms. It does not respond to CO2 – that is way down the list of forces it is pathetic.
It is like saying the raised lettering of a truck tire produces a drag on a semi-truck as it drives down the highway at 60 MPH.
Yes it does, but all the other forces of drag simply swamp it. That is the point about the 4,000-1 ratio. And while Hansen and is myopic crew of alarmists have produced questionable data showing that fuel efficiency would be dramatically cut if we reduced the size of tire letters 50%, their blinders to the real forces at work is a testament to the durability of the one-track-mind.

Andrew30

KR says: April 6, 2011 at 1:21 pm
“This is an excellent point – the ocean makes up the major mass for the climate, and we should be watching that.”
Yes, we have been, and it too has gone down with the current solar minima, by coincidence so has the temperature of the thermosphere, stratosphere, troposphere, sea surface temperature and the sea level. The only things that have been consistently increasing in the past few years are Arctic sea ice, ice and snow cover on Kilimanjaro, Northern hemisphere snow cover, vegetation, about 1/3 of the glaciers and of course the amount of carbon dioxide in the air.

George E. Smith

I notice you graphed six different Global Temperature “Reconstructions”; except the y-axis is in Anomalies; not Temperatures.
Not to worry; there isn’t a lick of difference between the six of them anyway. All the more reason to believe that none of them is telling us anything.

George E. Smith

There’s that degrees Kelvin again .
To me the message is that the claim is made that the tail wags the dog. Or to put it another way. Meteor showers are the result of the earth landing on thousands of nano planets that are in orbit around the sun. In most cases it is fatal to the nano-planet.

cal

Nick Stokes says:
April 6, 2011 at 12:50 pm
“Energy content of the ocean is – 3993 *1.4×1021 =5.6×1024 Joules/Degree Kelvin”
I think you mean heat capacity. But the figure is meaningless without some notion of heat transfer rate, which determines the timescales. The heat capacity of the Earth will be about 5×1027 Joules/Degree Kelvin, but that is equally meaningless, because the time requiresd to heat it is billions of years.
And so it is with the ocean. The time taken to transfer heat in the depths is extremely long.
———–
This would be true if the only way heat can enter the oceans is by infrared absorption which takes place at the surface. However blue light and UV can penetrate to tens of metres (if it did not you would not be able to see the bottom of a lagoon or indeed a swimming pool). Thus short wave radiation warms the depths. I believe this is important because an increase in short wave radiation is characteristic of an active sun. We heard from Courtillo that an active sun may increase warming through increased cloud seeding but this more direct warming is also possible. The key thing is that warming by infrared will increase the surface temperature and trigger increases in convection, evaporation and radiation. In other words infrared radiation has strong negative feedback. In contrast shortwave absorption will have virtually no surface effect and therefore increased shortwave energy will lead to energy accumulation. This accumuation could carry on for centuries without affecting surface and air temperatures (and therfore heat lost to space) simply because the heat capacity of the oceans is so enormous. I think it is possible that this accumulation of energy (or depletion during periods when short wave energy is low) can explain the sudden climate changes, such as ice ages and interglacials, shifts as deep see currents eventually change to bring the warmer (or colder) waters to the surface.

KR says: “Oddly enough, it [OHC data] looks very much like the surface air temps – increasing. It appears that the air temps are closely tracking the oceanic heat content. I’m not reassured.”
To attempt to determine what caused the rise in OHC prior to 2003, it’s best to divide the data into subsets, with the tropics separated from the extratropics on a per-basin basis. That way you can see how ENSO causes much of the rise for many of the basins:
http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2009/09/05/enso-dominates-nodc-ocean-heat-content-0-700-meters-data/
And you can see how a change in Sea Level Pressure caused a sudden rise in the OHC of the North Pacific north of 24N:
http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2009/12/30/north-pacific-ocean-heat-content-shift-in-the-late-1980s/
And of course, the North Atlantic OHC is impacted by ENSO, Sea Level Pressure, and AMOC:
http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2009/10/04/north-atlantic-ocean-heat-content-0-700-meters-is-governed-by-natural-variables/

Jeff B.

I’m not a scientist but I am an engineer. I was saying this five years ago to anyone who would listen. Engineers have to make trade offs with the largest aspects of any system. So to me it was obvious that most of the energy coming from the sun was absorbed in the oceans. The oceans can and do throw their heat around and we just sit back and watch. This whole CO2 thing is just laughable to anyone with any technical sense at all.
As another thought experiment, think about where humans are on the earth versus the total surface area of the earth. Two thirds of that being water, and another large percentage being ice, or completely inhospitable areas. Based on surface area, the earth is essentially uninhabited by humans. And we’re supposed to be having an effect?

barn E. rubble

RE: “Every time you see a plot of surface temperatures, we should shoulder shrug and ask – what about total oceanic energy?”
Just wondering if there’s been any updates on Kevin Travesty – sorry, I mean – Trenberth’s holy quest – sorry, I mean – search for the missing heat? Last I read, he was adamant that there was indeed a heat sink far below the 700-900m mark that has yet to be detected. And to-date, the transfer of this heat has yet to be detected either. Apparently the problem is with both current instrumentation and data (such as it is) analysis . . .
-barn

1DandyTroll

Wouldn’t the supposed linearity of IPCC’s case of the surface “heat” indicate that there is balance between water and air and therefor nothing that can be canceled out but something that is a major player as in the more “heat” that need to be balanced gets to be balanced.
And to think all that “heat” evaporates to space eventually. OMG, it’s like we’re on the plate on the stove and as soon as the stove is turned off, we go cold. :p

Andrew30

Jeff B. says: April 6, 2011 at 2:20 pm
“Two thirds of that being water, and another large percentage being ice … Based on surface area, the earth is essentially uninhabited by humans. And we’re supposed to be having an effect?”
Humans are more than 2/3 water and a few are ice (the Vikings buried in the permafrost in Greenland) , so humans must have at least a effect equal to their proportional volume of the water on the earth. For example it you fly from Dallas to San Francisco you have removed energy from Dallas and added energy to San Francisco. This is why California is trying to prevent businesses from operating there, as people leave they extract the energy and reduce the drought and increase the snowfall.
Although if you actually did fly from Dallas to San Francisco they would likely lock you up for being insane and so your actual effect would be moderated by the concrete cell walls, which would take about seven seconds to warm and about 1,000 years to cool.

KR says: April 6, 2011 at 1:21 pm
Here’s a link to the on ocean heat content, 1955-present.
http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/OC5/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/heat_content55-07.png

While I included NOAA’s National Oceanographic Data Center ocean heat content graph on the WUWT Ocean Reference Page;
http://wattsupwiththat.com/reference-pages/ocean/
I consider it highly suspect. If you look at the measurement location data that it is based on (and use the top right arrow to page from 1955 – to present);
http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/OC5/3M_HEAT/showfig.pl?navigation=t_dd_19561956_1_back
you’ll see that coverage doesn’t become sort of adequate until this century when, “Argo deployments began in 2000 and by November 2007 the array is 100% complete.”
http://www.argo.ucsd.edu/
If you use the down arrow on the prior measurement location data map to go deeper in the ocean you’ll see that coverage gets much worse with depth.
Furthermore, they are still sorting out how to accurately measure heat content using Argo, per the changes that were made to the heat content graph last year;
ftp://ftp.nodc.noaa.gov/pub/data.nodc/woa/DATA_ANALYSIS/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/PDF/heat_content_differences.pdf
Their findings included;
“Largest differences 2004-2008 in the Southern Hemisphere, where consistent data collection begins ~2004.”
“Major factor in differences is new/changed data, updated quality control”
“Questions to be answered: Are quality control differences related to Argo delayed-mode quality control, NODC handling of data, or both?”
Point being that our historical record of ocean heat content is highly suspect and our current measurement capabilities are reasonably suspect, yet some “scientists” claim that we can confidently exclude ocean heat as a potential source of 20th century warming. Laughable I say…

R. Gates

As there are indications the deeper oceans are warming:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110127141659.htm
http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2010/20100920_oceanwarming.html
It seems we have glimpses of Trenberth’s “missing heat” if it is there, it has to be in the deeper oceans. Look for many more studies showing similar findings (and more widespread) than the two link above in the next few years. Yes, the heat capacity of the oceans is tremendous, but not limitless. Despite the fact that OHC has increased over the past several decades, it is not measuring the deeper oceans, and if this region is warming as well and can be consistently quantified, then a new metric for total OHC needs to be developed.

Jim G

Does anyone have any idea how much volcanic heat is going into the ocean at any time from underwater eruptions and vents let alone how much was going in 150 yrs ago compared today? One more unknown variable that could change temperatures of the ocean and ultimately the air, amount of sea ice, etc.

R. Gates

Jeff B. says:
“Based on surface area, the earth is essentially uninhabited by humans. And we’re supposed to be having an effect?”
____
Surface area is a rediculous metric to guage whether one object can affect another. Compared to your body, one thousandth of a gram of plutonium is small, but would destroy your body. Compared to New York City, a suitcase nuke is small, but would reap untold damage.
From a multitude of real metrics, from land use such as tropical rainforest clearing, to ocean acidification, air pollution, toxic oil spills in the ocean, etc. the impact of humans can be very large indeed, and a remote intelligent civiilzation simple viewing the composition of our atmosphere from 1000 light years away could not only tell that there was an intelligent species present on earth, but they could pretty accurately tell which general stage of technological development we were in. If they could peer down at the surface and oceans of the planet, the affects of human activity would be impossible to miss as it would be everywhere.

Gary Pearse

Gee is that why you notice a difference between holding your hand up above a boiling kettle and plunging your hand into the kettle (this is for experts, don’t try this at home).

gh

Look up thermohaline circulation on wikipedia. Read carefully. It has a “transit time” of 1600 years. What is the time-delay between CO2 and warming on Al Gore’s graphs? It is 800 years. This is an obvious candidate for the cause. Also remember that water has a large capacity to absorb CO2.
Now read about the Hawaiian CO2 measurements. They show no short-term correlations with temperature fluctuations. Well, of course not. They reflect the global temperatures 800 years ago.
I found the wikipedia article a couple of years ago. I’m waiting for someone to model this properly but I suspect that they’ll have a hard time to get funding.

steveta_uk

Isn’t most of the expected catastrophic sea level rise supposed to be due to thermal expansion of the oceans if the ‘global temps’ rise by 2-4C?
IIRC the temp rise expected by the IPCC is atmospheric and ocean surface layers. Using these numbers, to get a similar rise of bulk oceans temps would require 4000 times more energy. Where is this energy supposed to be coming from? And without a bulk ocean temp rise, the sea level won’t change.

R. Gates says:
“…a remote intelligent civiilzation simple viewing the composition of our atmosphere from 1000 light years away could not only tell that there was an intelligent species present on earth, but they could pretty accurately tell which general stage of technological development we were in.”
Not an intelligent civilization at our current level. Sure, if an advanced civilization had a thousand mile diameter reflecting telescope, they could probably see you in your mom’s basement, posting on WUWT.
As for the human effect, termites put out more methane than all human activity and animals combined. CO2 has been much higher many times in the past. And if you put every human being on earth into a 1 km diameter sphere, there would be room to spare. There are about 148,429,000 km^2 of land area on earth, so stop it. You’re scaring yourself.

Tom Harley

Good article, confirms what most fishermen know, a brine at -10C freezes fish way faster than a blast freezer at -30C.

David pointed out at tAV that the 4C number is inaccurate. It should be 0.001C ocean for 1C atmosphere – the result of a poor edit last night.
REPLY: OK point out what edit you’d like to make here and I’ll fix it. – Anthony