(And Other Questions Concerning an Exothermic Earth)
Guest essay by Ronald D Voisin
In this post I want to discuss core geo-reactor issues as they might affect the somewhat modest climate change observed through the course of the Holocene.
The Earth is estimated to be exothermic to the tune of 44TW. This estimate comes from borehole measurements as well as other methods. This means then that, at any and every moment of time, more power (~44TW) is leaving the Earth than is solar-received by the Earth. And whatever the true origin of this excess power, it has always been presumed (confoundedly to me) to be nominally homogeneous both spatially and temporally. And if it were nominally homogeneous, it can then be calculated to be as little as ~0.09W/m2 over the Earth surface – an amount considered trivial and inconsequential as it might influence climate. But wait…
Now this exothermic observation all by itself raises some interesting questions:
1) If the Earth today is exothermic by 44TW; and if the Earth today is also now retaining a non-trivial solar-radiative power (say 3W/m2) owing to anthropogenic greenhouse gasses (so as to pre-pause heat the surface and during-the-pause heat the deep oceans); then should it not be so that the Earth must have been substantially more exothermic in pre-industrial times (when there was little GHG solar retention), by something like 31×44=1,364TW? And where then does all this power come from? Is 1,364TW really trivial and inconsequential?
2) And if the greenhouse effect is going up as the atmospheric CO2 level goes up (i.e. more atmospheric CO2 equals more solar-radiative heat retention), then should it not be so that sometime in the near future we should expect that the Earth will be observed to have become endothermic?
3) And why is it that the most resent measurements estimate a yet higher value of the Earth being possibly 60-65TW exothermic? Is that because the previous estimates were in error? Or is it because the thermal power leaving the Earth is going up (its cooling) and our AGW thinking is up-side-down? No matter… 60-65TW uniformly emanating to the Earth surface is still a trivial amount at ~0.15W/m2; such that as soon as the growing greenhouse gas solar-radiative retention goes over 3.15W/m2 the Earth should become endothermic. Right? And quite soon, right?
Be that as it may, the classic explanation of this exothermic observation (44TW) says that it’s a combination of distributed radioactive decay (at ~20TW) plus residual primordial heat. But this seems to me to be a construct-of-convenience. Residual primordial heat likely hasn’t survived several billions of years. The convenience of this presumption is that both distributed radioactive decay and residual primordial heat are quite easily presumed to be spatially and temporally homogeneous. And then at a uniform ~0.09W/m2 it can all be conveniently dismissed as a trivial and inconsequential climate affecting issue. Right?
But please…here is the rub of this essay:
1) We know that the terrestrial surface emanation of Earth internal heat is not temporally homogeneous. I.e. earthquakes do not happen continuously and volcanos do not erupt continuously.
2) We know that the terrestrial surface emanation of Earth internal heat is not spatially homogeneous. I.e. earthquakes do not happen everywhere and volcanos do not erupt everywhere.
3) We know that the same enormous inhomogeneities apply to the sub-oceanic emanation of Earth internal heat.
4) We know that even though the oceanic area of the Earth is only some 3X that of the land area, sub-marine volcanos nonetheless outnumber terrestrial volcanos by a very much larger number (maybe 30-40X) – and likely the same is true for sub-marine earthquakes.
5) We observe that internal heat emanates to the surface very often via sporadic and stochastic, spatially confined events that are often observed in Old-Faithful like “accumulate-then-release, accumulate-then-release” fashion.
6) We have very good reason to believe that the Earth has a huge thermal gradient along its radius – very much implying a central power source – a geo-reactor.
7) And the Earth very likely has a core geo-reactor. Marvin Herndon postulated and found evidence for a geo-reactor in 2003 based on volcanic emission of Helium isotopes. And an international team at KamLAND has more recently established the presence of a core geo-reactor via anti-neutrino study albeit at an output of only ~3TW.
Now if, like me, you have a problem with the existence of residual primordial heat, then the combination of a geo-reactor’s output plus distributed radioactive decay pretty well has to add up to the overall exothermic Earth value. But 20+3≠44. So it’s not clear how well any of these numbers can be relied upon. The “geologically real-time” overall exothermic value of 44TW may well be the most reliable figure. So let’s now speculate how a 3-44TW core geo-reactor with the above mentioned observed and obvious inhomogenieties might affect climate as observed through the Holocene.
If 3TW is accumulated for several years but then released over several weeks you get a 50X multiplier. So if 150TW of power were to be released under the oceans in a spatially confined area for several weeks, could it account for an El Nino event? Could the no-power-release accumulation phase of such a processes result in a La Nina event?
And if the Earth is actually exothermic to the tune of 44TW or more where a majority might be of geo-reactor origin, could the same speculation as above result in the release of >10X this 150TW to give as much as 1,500TW available for impulses of short duration (even if most likely not in just one location and not at just one time)? Could these affect regional climate?
Lastly, would we today readily discern these phenomena from other strong solar-effects?
Previously on a WUWT post (here) I’ve hypothesized major Earth climate change being largely driven by core geo-reactor weather variability currently synchronized to the Milankovitch cycle of orbital eccentricity. This may or may not be so. In a referenced extended essay (here) I’ve explained how and why this might be so and I’ve provided various predictions that should allow validation or repudiation of this hypothesis (as well as a possible method to “save the planet”).
About the Author
Ronald D Voisin is a retired engineer. He spent 27 years in the Semiconductor Lithography Equipment industry mostly in California’s Silicon Valley. Since retiring in 2007, he has made a hobby of studying climate change. Ron received a BSEE degree from the Univ. of Michigan – Ann Arbor in 1978 and has held various management positions at both established semiconductor equipment companies and start-ups he helped initiate. Ron has authored/co-authored 55 patent applications, 24 of which have issued.