#AGU16 Earth’s Magnetic Fields Could Track Ocean Heat, NASA Study Proposes

From the “Thermometers? We don’t need no steenkin thermometers!” department and NASA comes this interesting story. Video follows.

As Earth warms, much of the extra heat is stored in the planet’s ocean – but monitoring the magnitude of that heat content is a difficult task. A surprising feature of the tides could help, however. Scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, are developing a new way to use satellite observations of magnetic fields to measure heat stored in the ocean.

As Earth warms, much of the extra heat is stored in the planet’s ocean – but monitoring the magnitude of that heat content is a difficult task.

A surprising feature of the tides could help, however. Scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, are developing a new way to use satellite observations of magnetic fields to measure heat stored in the ocean.

The method depends on several geophysical features of the ocean. Seawater is a good electrical conductor, so as the saltwater sloshes around the ocean basins it causes slight fluctuations in Earth’s magnetic field lines. The ocean flow attempts to drag the field lines along. The resulting magnetic fluctuations are relatively small, but have been detected from an increasing number of events including swell, eddies, tsunamis, and tides.

The magnetic fluctuations of the tides depend on the electrical conductivity of the water – and the electrical conductivity of the water depends on its temperature. This new method could be the first to provide global ocean heat measurements, integrated over all depths, using satellite observations.

121 thoughts on “#AGU16 Earth’s Magnetic Fields Could Track Ocean Heat, NASA Study Proposes

  1. The electrical conductivity also depends on the salinity and total dissolved solids (TDS) which can vary.

  2. This could be a most interesting approach. Complex, difficult, but apparently achievable. Seems like such a method would lend itself well to producing a global integrated average. That in itself would sidestep issues caused by gridding discreet data points like interpolation infilling, extrapolation, and homogenization.

      • Turn the situation over. Assume constant temperature, now you are measuring ocean currents. With all the minor variations going on all the time, I would bet that an El Nino event would stick out like a beacon in the night. Year on year, constant temp is probably a safer bet anyway, but not what they want.

        So how to calibrate?
        Remember, you are not working in a vacuum, things like ARGO and TAO will be useful. ARGO measures current drift as well as temp. Signal events like an El Nino might prove useful as an internal reference.
        Like I said, “Complex, difficult”, the easy stuff has already been done. What is left is going to be hard.
        As the wise man said; If you find “hard” to be too daunting, maybe you are in the wrong line of work.”

      • “Turn the situation over. Assume constant temperature, now you are measuring ocean currents. ”

        No, turn the siltation over and think of ALL the other things that could affect the geomagnetic field. Lets start with what causes the geomagnetic field and it is not the ocean currents. We are usually told it is currents of molten nickel and iron in the earth’s molten core that no one has ever observed. We could also ask about movement in the ionosphere causing massive currents and hence magnetic fields.

        Then of course there is interactions with solar magnetic field and the solar wind of charged particles.

        In short this is slightly less credible as temperature proxy than pretending that the only thing which affects the thickness of tree rings in temperature.

        Tracking is one of those ‘please talk down to me ‘ unscientific terms, like “lock-step” which gets my BS detector flashing like a beacon. Usually an alert for a spurious claim.

      • No, turn the siltation over and think of ALL the other things that could affect the geomagnetic field.
        None of these are relevant as the signal is very sharply timed by the Moon.

    • I think it’s too open to manipulation to achieve the narrative you want. Want to remove the Medieval Warm Period? Assume new values for the total dissolved solids in that time window & there you have it. No more MWP.

  3. Let me guess the data processing and conclusion: based on the magnetic field and adjusted data modeling of recorded ocean temperature to bring temperature readings onto one consistent datum, ocean heat has been showing a steady rise for 150 years and it’s now worse than we thought requiring immediate action.

    • “it’s now worse than we thought requiring immediate action.”

      Nope, it’s already too late. Send money anyway.

      “…and the electrical conductivity of the water depends on its temperature”

      Seems the changes they’re looking at would be quite small. wiki says:
      “…assuming a linear increase of conductivity versus temperature of typically 2% per degree Celsius”

      And IF they are equating sea water to an electrical conductor in a magnetic field, doesn’t that mean the tides are producing energy?

    • Yes, if the satellite data gives the desired result. But no, if these satellites are like the microwave sensors and give the wrong result, then the story will be, “we just need to go back to thermometers.” By the way, didn’t we just spend, how much?, setting up the ARGO system?

  4. Too many other uncontrolled variables to be able to determine that temperature is the reason for any magnetic changes. Just another red herring from which to claim numerous unsubstantiated conclusions. This is merely another method of very precisely measuring marginally useful data.

    • Indeed. In order to extract temperatures to the now customary tenths of a °C you would need to be able to specify the precise speed and direction of current flow at all depths and the corresponding salinity values. You might make some estimate of those parameters but your temperature estimate could could be no better than those estimates and the error bars would almost certainly be greater than the ΔT you are claiming to measure.

      It does give huge scope for post hoc *adjustments* though which will be viewed as a marvelous thing in some quarters.

      • Well one good thing: because the earth does not rotate in NASA’s global models, you don’t have to worry about tidal flows. The sea height is what it is; always.

        g

  5. I wonder if this could ba a NASA rush to publish in a vain attempt to prove their worth prior to the beginning of the Trump Administration? If it is, there would surely be additional publications of more works of faction. Unfortunately however, rushing to publish is what leads to errors that provide for future untrustworthiness of their work.

  6. I would hope that, at first anyway, any measurements of temperature taken this way are backed up by actual measurements taken by thermometers to calibrate the system.
    Naive? Cynical? Me?

    • The new system would need calibration, and a certification test. I propose a research area of the entire North Atlantic, with in-situ, realtime measurements of the entire area on a 10 km grid by ships, placed buoys and the satelite((s), to a depth of 1000 meters or the sea floor, whichever is deeper, in 100-foot depth increments, and with coincident, corresponding measurements and analysis by TSS and Dr. Spencer’s group of,their own systems.

  7. I am sure there are lots of open parameters. And it takes time to tweak each one to show a steady rise in ocean heat content. Therefore it is imperative to have as many backups of published data as possible, because it will keep changing retrospectively without notice. A proper revision control system would, of course, solve the problem once and for all, this is why it will never be implemented.

  8. The missing heat is in the oceans – was this excuse no. 70?
    These and many other studies of variables are nothing but Distractions to keep the skeptic scientists busy with minutiae. It is like the shell game – where is the pea?

    Just like politics – and it works.

  9. Color me very skeptical for several reasons. Seawater conductivity depends on salinity more than temp. For the bulk of the ocean below the thermocline Argo shows average temp at 2000 meters (average ocean depth is 3700, this is halfish depth) is ~2.5C, and the global variation is ~+/- 0.5C. Very little temperature signal to play with. OTH, significant salinity differences both with depth and by location given the thermohaline circulation.
    Oceans slosh during a tunami, but not normally. I just checked and there is no sloshing on the Fort Lauderdale beech today.

  10. Without constant sampling of the water it would be impossible to obtain worthwhile signal to noise ratio’s and significant enough temp resolution. And even then huge error bars if this is indeed possible. Which I think they better keep them this time. MY OPINION
    More grant money anyone?

  11. Oh great, another complex proxy measurement inserted into another climate model. I am confident that will work out well. (sarcasm intended) Can not wait for the articles on how the number of active electric eels (Electrophorus electricus) is interfering with the calculation of ocean temp derived from satellite measurements of magnetic field strength.

  12. The variation of the geomagnetic field of electric currents induced in sea water has been known and measured for more than a century [the “ocean effect”] and was even predicted by Faraday back in 1832. The conductivity depends on salinity [that does not vary globally] and temperature [that may, over time] so it might well be possible to back out the temperature influence.

      • lsvalgaard December 13, 2016 at 11:02 am

        I said ‘globally’. Averaged over the oceans the number of ions does not vary on time scales of interest.

        They are trying to measure the temperature based on the flow of sea water disrupting the magnetic field. Salinity is really important as a determinant of the water’s conductivity. Here’s a link to a nice video showing salinity variation in the planet’s oceans.

      • Nobody cares what the global number is. They are measuring changes point by point, which means they need to know what the salinity is for the point that they are measuring at the time they are measuring it.

      • The salinity of the Mediterranean Sea varies from one end to the other due to evaporation alone. The convective currents caused by this density differential were exploited by submarines traversing the straights of Gibraltar.

    • But how do you isolate the other effects on the magnetic field to subtract them out? It varies naturally, but how do we know what’s the ocean signal versus the noise from the theorized molten dynamo?

      I’m assuming we can subtract out the sun’s influence on it by using data from the solar monitoring satellites. There may be other variables as well.

      • This problem was solved a century ago. The trick is to realize that the tidal effects are short-lived [hours] and their timing is extremely well-known and predictable [the Moon’s orbit].

    • Thanks for your insights, Leif. While the salinity doesn’t vary globally, it does definitely vary over the globe as well as vertically in the ocean. From above:

      Note that this is a long-term average, but in actuality the salinity is constantly changing at every point. This means that conductivity varies over the globe based not on temperature alone but including the salinity variation (and a small variation based on pressure). Here’s a profile of the vertical variations:

      Conductivity vs pressure is at the upper right. You can see the pressure effect at depth, where temperature and salinity are unchanging but conductivity rises. Given this huge vertical variation in conductivity, and given this vertical variation will be different in every part of the ocean, and given that it will also be different during different seasons … just how large can we expect the uncertainty be on any such proxy measurement of temperature?

      Next, in order to calibrate a proxy such as satellite measured magnetic fields to use it to calculate ocean temperature, you typically have to adjust various tunable parameters in your equation to match reality … but unfortunately, we don’t know the temperature of the ocean, particularly the ~ half of the ocean that is below 2 km depth. Makes tuning hard, increases the uncertainty …

      Finally, it seems to me that what they are doing is akin to a CAT scan. They have measurements of disturbances in the force, to coin a phrase. They need to work backwards from that. First they need to figure the variations in magnetism at satellite height. Then for each spot in space they need to remove all of the variations that are not related to the ocean—inherent variations in the geomagnetic field, changes in heliomagnetism, and changes in the solar wind are the first that come to mind, but there are likely others.

      Then they need to remove the variations caused by changes over time in salinity, not just at the surface, but all of the way from the surface to the bottom.

      Then there’s the elephant in the room, something that they haven’t even begun to discuss—variations in conductivity due to LIFE. I’ve never seen numbers on that, but I would bet good money that the conductivity of the green water along the coast near my house here in California, water bursting with verdant life, is very different from the conductivity of the crystal-clear blue water just sixty miles (100 km) offshore. Variations in both the amount and type of life in the water will make corresponding variations in conductivity.

      Then there is the whole question of “suspended solids”. These can also change the conductivity of seawater, at times greatly, and in unforeseen ways. For example, huge amounts of mineral dust from the Sahara are periodically deposited across a huge area of the Atlantic … how does this change the magnetism out in space?

      So then, at the end, they end up with what they THINK is the magnetic variation in every spot in space due solely to the ocean … but that still isn’t the temperature. They then need to use a 3-D CAT-scan-like model of how the magnetic field surrounding the earth relates to the actual variations in conductivity in the ocean.

      And at the end, once they have created a 3-D model of oceanic conductivity, they then need to tune the model parameters to match what little we know of oceanic temperatures …

      Steve McIntyre has spoken before of an uncertainty that goes “from floor to ceiling”, and the results of this long and torturous voyage from satellite-measured magnetism to ocean temperature certainly fit that picture. I can’t imagine this being anything near useful in the real world.

      As always, Leif, my best regards,

      w.

      • Well, globally over the world ocean the total number of Sodium and Chlorine ions does not vary on time scales we are interested in. So the globally averaged conductivity should be pretty constant if it were not for variations of global temperature. All this was understood a century ago.

      • lsvalgaard December 13, 2016 at 12:07 pm

        … the globally averaged conductivity should be pretty constant if it were not for variations of global temperature.

        The problem is that the satellites are not measuring one global value for magnetic field. They are measuring the field as they orbit the planet. It’s a fairly localized measurement. In that regard, the conductivity of the water matters on a fairly local scale.

        The video doesn’t have a lot of words but the images clearly indicate that the changes they are looking at are regional.

        I agree with numerous other posters who have pointed out that the number of confounding variables seems to make the temperature measurement project very dodgy.

      • The problem is that the satellites are not measuring one global value for magnetic field.
        They are measuring millions of values covering the globe in space and in time. From that, global quantities can be determined, e.g. the Magnetic Moment of the Earth and the global ocean effect.

      • lsvalgaard December 13, 2016 at 2:11 pm

        … From that, global quantities can be determined,

        Consider this problem. The polarity of the magnetic field generated by the tide depends on the direction the tide is flowing. An incoming tide might boost the Earth’s magnetic field. An outgoing tide would buck it. Over the surface of the globe, the incoming tides will approximately equal the outgoing tides. The result is that their magnetic fields will cancel if you’re trying to integrate to get a global value for the planet’s magnetic field.

        The use of electromagnetic principles for oceanographic studies is not new. Here’s an interesting paper from the 1980s.

      • We are not trying to measure the Earth’s ‘magnetic field’, but rather the small perturbation [like one in 10,000] caused by the tides. This has been done successfully for more than a hundred years [was actually first done by Kreil in the 1840s].

      • lsvalgaard December 13, 2016 at 8:42 pm

        We are not trying to measure the Earth’s ‘magnetic field’, but rather the small perturbation [like one in 10,000] caused by the tides.

        Right.

        The reason to use a satellite is that variations in magnetic field are quite local, otherwise we could just have a stationary instrument couldn’t we. The variation you measure will be the variation caused by the nearest tide.

        Tidal currents are periodic with a net velocity of zero over the particular tidal cycle. link

        That means the magnetism induced by the tidal electric current will cancel out. That means we have to calculate our temperatures locally. That, in turn, means we have to take salinity variations into account. We won’t get valid results by assuming that the errors will just average out.

      • The reason to use a satellite is that variations in magnetic field are quite local
        No, the lunar effect due to the conducting oceans are quite global [the oceans are large]. The locally varying perturbations on the global average are not important on the scale of oceans. All this is well-known [and has been for more than a century].

        That means the magnetism induced by the tidal electric current will cancel out
        Not at all. The magnetic effects are cumulative and have been measured for a long time. What will cancel out are the variations in salinity, as those do not vary time-locked to the lunar phase.

        I don’t know what your problem is. The proposed technique has great promise and is eminently possible, based on well-understood physics.

      • lsvalgaard December 15, 2016 at 12:26 pm

        … I don’t know what your problem is. …

        You really have to explain why the magnetic fields caused by the electric current due to the east flowing (tidal water) current do not cancel with those due to the west flowing current. The direction of the electric current in a conductor moving through a magnetic field depends on the direction of motion; ditto for the resulting magnetic field caused by the current flowing through the conductor. This is always taught in the first or second physics course. I agree, the physics is well understood.

      • The induced current is basically due to the magnetic Earth rotating inside the conductive sea water bulge raised by the Moon, and the Earth rotates only one way.

      • lsvalgaard December 15, 2016 at 2:54 pm

        The induced current is basically due to the magnetic Earth rotating inside the conductive sea water bulge raised by the Moon, and the Earth rotates only one way.

        It is tempting to view the bulge as a conductor rotating within the planet’s magnetic field. I see that. From that standpoint it looks like a conductor moving at around 1000 mph through the Earth’s magnetic field.

        The first thing we should get out of the way is the size of the bulge. In mid-ocean it’s mostly less than a foot. link.

        As this link makes clear, the thing that is responsible for the electric current is the actual velocity of the water. We can ignore the vertical velocity because, in mid-ocean, it’s less than two feet per six hours (approx.). We then have the flow toward the bulge from each side which, in mid-ocean, isn’t much.

        Things get more interesting on the continental shelves and near the shore. The horizontal velocities become significant but they cancel over the tidal cycle. In any event, I can think of no point, except a waterfall, where the water velocity is within an order of magnitude of 1000 mph. :-)

        The bottom line is that the counter magnetic field generated by the tides is local. Over time and space it cancels.

        Getting back to where we started, the local salinity has much more effect on electrical conductivity than the local temperature.

        If you can find some references that contradict what I’ve said, I will gladly eat crow. It tastes like chicken.

      • I don’t need to correct you. You need to consider that my explanation was crude and a vast oversimplification. The salient point had to do with the issue of direction. I hope you got that to your satisfaction. The issues about salinity and local topology are that they do not vary on the time scale of the tides or even decades or centuries, so fall out of the equation. The temperature may vary on those time scales and that variation may leave a signature in the magnetic field variation.

      • The issues about salinity and local topology are that they do not vary on the time scale of the tides or even decades or centuries, so fall out of the equation.

        Salinity does vary and therefore does not fall out of the equation.

        Here’s a link to a video that shows salinity variation.

        Here’s a link to a relevant paper. It describes: “Large halocline variations in the Northern Baltic Proper and associated meso- and basin-scale processes”.

      • The salinity averaged over the world ocean [i.e. the total number of sodium and chlorine ions] does not vary on the time scale of the tides [12 hours] and that is the important point for using the world-wide satellite data to measure the global sea temperature.

      • lsvalgaard December 16, 2016 at 7:49 am

        The salinity averaged over the world ocean [i.e. the total number of sodium and chlorine ions] does not vary …

        You keep asserting that. I keep explaining why it doesn’t matter. You don’t explain why my facts or logic are wrong, you just keep repeating your mantra.

      • I keep telling you why your view doesn’t matter. In my considered opinion the proposed method will work and has promise. You don’t think so, and so will miss out. It is, of course, your prerogative to close your eyes to progress. Many people do, so you are in good [bad?] company.

      • lsvalgaard December 16, 2016 at 9:52 am

        … Many people do, so you are in good [bad?] company.

        Pure ad hominem.

        Researchers know where and when the tides are moving ocean water, and with the high-resolution data from the Swarm satellites, they can pick out the magnetic fluctuations due to these regular ocean movements. JPL

        The measurements are quite localized. Local salinity matters.

      • So, you don’t want to know. As I said there are many other people who don’t want to know about science too.
        It is good that knowledgeable scientists and engineers do want to know and to go ahead with this promising technique.

      • It is good that knowledgeable scientists and engineers do want to know and to go ahead with this promising technique.

        I am one of those. My quibble is not with Robert Tyler et al. He has been working on the magnetic effect of ocean flow for a long time. Here’s a quote from 2003:

        The biggest fields were generated, unsurprisingly, in parts of the ocean where the tide is strongest. link

        My quibble is with your statement that one may ignore spatial and temporal variations in salinity.

      • The important point is that variations in global salinity are not tied to the timing of the lunar phase and over time scales of decades will average out, allowed the effect of temperature to be determined. But, as I said, if you close your mind to that, then you’ll miss out on the promise of the method.

      • The important point is that variations in global salinity are not tied to the timing of the lunar phase and over time scales of decades will average out, …

        The temperature project is led by Robert Tyler and he points out that the strongest signals are where the tides are the strongest. That occurs in estuarine waters where the salinity variation is also the greatest.

        The assumption that things will average out requires that the system is linear time-invariant and that’s just not the case here. I see no indication that Tyler et al. are making the assumption. Do you have any evidence they are doing so?

      • It goes without saying that one should avoid shallow seas and estuarine waters [no-one in his right mind would drag the discussion down to the irrelevance of those areas]. In the open ocean the salinity integrated over all depths varies extremely little, potentially allowing the temperature variation to be determined. In fact both salinity and temperature can be inferred independently. As Sabaka et al. GRL 2016 point out:
        ” This suggests the possibility of monitoring temporal variations in the magnetic M2 signal continuously […]. This could be valuable in inferring the associated fluctuations in the ocean electrical conductivity, from which variations in temperature and salinity might be inferred”
        That is the eminent promise of the method.

      • lsvalgaard December 18, 2016 at 9:40 am

        It goes without saying that one should avoid shallow seas and estuarine waters [no-one in his right mind would drag the discussion down to the irrelevance of those areas].

        And yet, as far as I can tell, that’s exactly what Robert Tyler did.

        As Sabaka et al. GRL 2016 point out: …

        Tyler and Sabaka …

        … provide a key proof-of-concept of the method by demonstrating that global ocean heat content can be recovered from “noise-free” ocean tidal magnetic signals generated by a computer model.

        However …

        When they try to do this with the “noisy” observed signals, it doesn’t yet provide the accuracy needed to monitor changes in the heat content.

        The technique shows promise as long as they can get a handle on all the confounding factors, especially …

        … other ocean movements, like eddies or other tidal components, …

        NASA As far as I can tell the annual variation in salinity produces effects in the same order of magnitude as the temperature signal. Also, as far as I can tell, they aren’t ignoring anything, even salinity.

        Interestingly, in other work, Sabaka decides LVOC (laterally variable ocean conductivity which is determined by temperature, salinity, and pressure) is too small to worry about. link

      • global ocean heat content
        By this they mean the open ocean that covers 80% of the seas. As I said: nobody is dumb enough to think that the shallow seas can be used for this or to object that they could be a problem. It is only when we get the low-noise satellite data that the method will work. All this is so blindly obvious [apart from being even explicitly stated] that it hardly merits further education of you.

    • This video may help some of us understand the subject better.
      I was, wondering which satellites they were talking about.
      The answer SWARM yeah….

      https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2016/earth-s-magnetic-fields-could-track-ocean-heat-nasa-study-proposes
      Dec. 12, 2016
      Earth’s Magnetic Fields Could Track Ocean Heat, NASA Study Proposes
      AGU 2016 Briefing Materials – Earth’s Magnetic Field Could Track Ocean Heat, NASA Study Proposes
      As Earth warms, much of the extra heat is stored in the planet’s ocean – but monitoring the magnitude of that heat content is a difficult task.

      A surprising feature of the tides could help, however. Scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, are developing a new way to use satellite observations of magnetic fields to measure heat stored in the ocean.


      The ocean’s tides cause subtle fluctuations in Earth’s magnetic field that are detected by the European Space Agency’s Swarm satellites. These magnetic field fluctuations could be the key to measuring ocean heat content from space.
      Credits: Conceptual Image Lab at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Matthew Radcliff, producer

      Despite the significance of ocean heat to Earth’s climate, it remains a variable that has substantial uncertainty when scientists measure it globally. Current measurements are made mainly by Argo floats, but these do not provide complete coverage in time or space. If it is successful, this new method could be the first to provide global ocean heat measurements, integrated over all depths, using satellite observations.

      Tyler’s method depends on several geophysical features of the ocean. Seawater is a good electrical conductor, so as saltwater sloshes around the ocean basins it causes slight fluctuations in Earth’s magnetic field lines. The ocean flow attempts to drag the field lines around, Tyler said. The resulting magnetic fluctuations are relatively small, but have been detected from an increasing number of events including swell, eddies, tsunamis and tides.

      “The recent launch of the European Space Agency’s Swarm satellites, and their magnetic survey, is providing unprecedented observational data of the magnetic fluctuations,” Tyler said. “With this comes new opportunities.”

      Researchers know where and when the tides are moving ocean water, and with the high-resolution data from the Swarm satellites, they can pick out the magnetic fluctuations due to these regular ocean movements.

      That’s where another geophysical feature comes in. The magnetic fluctuations of the tides depend on the electrical conductivity of the water – and the electrical conductivity of the water depends on its temperature……..

      My new country route, has satellites just before/after sunset. Now how cool is that. Think the brightest is ISS that I am seeing between Ripon and Berlin.

  13. Well…. Without a way to actually measure heatcontent if the ocean they will not have a way to calibrate the model… other than by using other models, which means they will be able to get whatever answer they want.

    • The effect can be calculated from first principles with the only unknown being the ‘heat content’ or temperature if you will. No model needs to be calibrated.

      • The effect is not what they are looking for. They plan to measure the effect and use it to extrapolate the temperature. How does one measure the temperature of the entire ocean using only the magnetic pull of water on the surface and edges? Salinity of the ocean increases with depth, and temperatures change as currents pass and mix with each other.

      • lsvalgaard December 13, 2016 at 11:41 am Edit

        The effect can be calculated from first principles with the only unknown being the ‘heat content’ or temperature if you will. No model needs to be calibrated.

        I don’t believe that for a moment. As far as I can see there is no path using only “first principles” from a 2D satellite measurement of variations in magnetism to a 3-D temperature map of the ocean, particularly given the confounding variables (salinity, pressure, geomagnetic variations, solar wind variations, heliomagnetic variations).

        How do you plan to do that without using any calibrated models?

        w.

      • I’m not talking about a MAP, but of the GLOBAL effect.
        The physics is quite simple: the conductivity depends on number of ions and the temperature. The movement of the water depends on the tidal forces of the Moon [which can be computed precisely]. The induction of current depends on the conductivity, the movements, and the magnetic field [which is known]. The magnetic effect of a current can be easily calculated and also measured. Vary the [unknown] temperature until the calculated and observed effects match and you have an estimate of the temperature.

      • lsvalgaard December 13, 2016 at 1:04 pm

        I’m not talking about a MAP, but of the GLOBAL effect.
        The physics is quite simple: the conductivity depends on number of ions and the temperature. The movement of the water depends on the tidal forces of the Moon [which can be computed precisely]. The induction of current depends on the conductivity, the movements, and the magnetic field [which is known]. The magnetic effect of a current can be easily calculated and also measured. Vary the [unknown] temperature until the calculated and observed effects match and you have an estimate of the temperature.

        I understand that. Let me take it a bit at a time.

        The physics is quite simple: the conductivity depends on number of ions and the temperature.

        No. It depends on temperature, the salinity, and the pressure. All of these vary over space, time, or both.

        The movement of the water depends on the tidal forces of the Moon [which can be computed precisely].

        The movement of the ocean water, both horizontal and vertical, does indeed depend on “the tidal forces of the Moon [which can be computed precisely]”. However, while we can measure the forces exactly, the horizontal and vertical ocean movements vary wildly in both time and space, at a wide range of spatial and temporal scales, and are in principle NOT calculable from said tidal forces. For example, the satellite measurements of sea levels have revealed many surprises which are not calculable from lunar first principles.

        The induction of current depends on the conductivity, the movements, and the magnetic field [which is known].

        Yes, but the conductivity and the movements are NOT known. In general, we don’t know either the speed, salinity, or the temperature of the ocean currents at point X in the 3-D ocean.

        The magnetic effect of a current can be easily calculated and also measured.

        Indeed … but you are effectively doing an MRI of the globe. We know the magnetic variations out on the outside of the body in question, either a person or the global ocean. From that we are trying to reconstruct what is actually happening inside of the body, either the person or the ocean. I deny categorically that you can do that without a computer model, any more than you can do an MRI without a computer model.

        Vary the [unknown] temperature until the calculated and observed effects match and you have an estimate of the temperature.

        First, we don’t have the observations on the deep half of the ocean needed to do this matching. Argo floats only sample the top 2km at max, and most of them only 1 km down. Below that we don’t know much.

        Next, temperature is not the only unknown—salinity and current velocity are not known either. So this procedure has more unknowns than we have equations …

        My thanks as always for your thoughts,

        w

      • I deny categorically that you can do that without a computer model, any more than you can do an MRI without a computer model.
        Gauss showed how to do this [separate internal and external contributions] back in the 1830s…
        And without a computer :-)

        What I said was that the conversion from magnetic effect to electric current to conductivity is not based on empirical calibration, but on fundamental physics. The mechanics of actually doing the determination of the global temperature is definitely a challenge, but should be doable, so the thing has promise.

        Not too long ago, it was thought that we could not determine the magnetic field in interplanetary space centuries ago. Today we can. Don’t underestimate what is possible if the physics is correct.

      • If we are just looking for a global average, I don’t see it likely being useful. Couldn’t hurt to see what we see.

        Maybe if we have consistent and calibrated data collection, we’ll see some interesting patterns over the millennia.

      • If we are just looking for a global average, I don’t see it likely being useful
        Yet people are obsessing about the global temperature trend or SST trend, etc.
        Because you cannot see something does not mean that others cannot either.

      • Willis:
        I don’t think we need the detailed knowledge of flows, salinity, etc at every 3D point in order to determine the average values over the globe. The average will vary but little varies over time, as the topology and other local effects don’t vary on the time scales of interest. In short, I think that the technique has merit, even though it may take us some effort [and time] to put it into practice. I also think that no empirical calibration [“curve fitting”] is needed as the physics is known.

      • Lief, The concept is sound, develop it.

        [before you lecture him, how about learning to spell his name first? -Anthony]

      • lsvalgaard December 13, 2016 at 2:59 pm

        Willis:
        I don’t think we need the detailed knowledge of flows, salinity, etc at every 3D point in order to determine the average values over the globe. The average will vary but little varies over time, as the topology and other local effects don’t vary on the time scales of interest. In short, I think that the technique has merit, even though it may take us some effort [and time] to put it into practice. I also think that no empirical calibration [“curve fitting”] is needed as the physics is known.

        I don’t understand this. All parts of the ocean have different velocity, different salinity, different pressure, and different temperature. I don’t think we can even determine the average values of all of those close enough to do what you think you can do.

        Time will tell whether it is doable at all … my question about floor to ceiling uncertainties remains.

        Thanks as always for your detailed and interesting answers,

        w.

      • Reasonable attempts have been made a long time ago by determining the coefficients of an expansion in spherical harmonics, e.g. Malin and Chapman in the 1970s. The point is that the average conditions [ocean topology, currents, tides, salinity, etc] are relatively stable, while temperatures might vary. Assume a steady global warming, that would increase conductivity steadily and so would the ocean effect, which may be measurable. Thus giving us an independent check on things. In my opinion, this is a viable method. It needs to be done, of course.

      • “The point is that the average conditions [ocean topology, currents, tides, salinity, etc] are relatively stable, while temperatures might vary.”

        Actually all these vary significantly, and on timescales comparable to the lunar cycle. Ever hear of ENSO? Monsoons? Agulhas spillover? Large-scale eddying? Wind-induced upwelling? Hurricanes?

    • When you only have one data point the curve can go any direction you like. When you have no data points the curve is merely a doodle.

  14. You do have to adjust a conductivity meter for temperature, but it is mostly salinity. I suggest that they try a test case in the Gulf of Mexico, screwy tides, mostly wind driven currents, messed up by the Loop Current which throws eddies, Mississippi floods, etc., etc., etc.

    • I think the approach is best suited for a GLOBAL solution. With the goal of determining the GLOBAL ocean temperature. With satellites we can measure the GLOBAL magnetic effect [also from the GLOBAL network of geomagnetic observatories – albeit with less accuracy].

  15. They are seriously proposing this at a conference of geophysicists?

    How will they separate the noise from the oceanic crust? Which everyone who has even the slightest contact with earth science (used to be called geology) is intimately familiar with. Here’s a shot of the magnetic field in the north Atlantic as an example.

      • Because the tidal effects vary on a very precise time schedule, while the crustal field does not.
        Scientists are not morons.

        Yes Dr Svalgaard some people who call themselves scientists really are, unfortunately.

        lsvalgaard December 13, 2016 at 12:17 pm
        Pretty severe charge. Name them.

        Well I can name some. Dennis M. Bushnell, Chief Scientist at NASA Langley Research Center, for a start.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_Catalyzer

        Other reactions to the device have been mixed. In 2011 Dennis M. Bushnell, Chief Scientist at NASA Langley Research Center, described LENR as a “promising” technology and praised the work of Rossi and Focardi

        And some more

        Giuseppe Levi
        Bologna University, Bologna, Italy

        Evelyn Foschi
        Bologna, Italy

        Bo Höistad, Roland Pettersson and Lars Tegnér
        Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden

        Hanno Essén
        Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden

        And don’t forget Tim Flannery, the man who, by his own admission, wasn’t bright enough to get into an undergraduate science degree course so did a degree in English Literature. Who also(see ‘two men in a tinny’) believes in Gaia(there is no such thing), and that “our intelligence was put here for a purpose”(bollocks).

        Tim Flannery also caused the deaths of children through the economic destruction caused by the wasted expenditure, of circa ten billion dollars, on the white elephant desalination plants in Australia.

      • lsvalgaard December 13, 2016 at 2:08 pm
        Being wrong is not being moronic…
        Being wrong is every good scientist’s prerogative.
        E.g. Einstein on Quantum Mechanics.

        Well I disagree. You are effectively saying that the statement “No scientist can be shown to be a moron.” is unfalsifiable. Not very scientific. If a scientist is wrong over and over again, on simple things, then he is ipso facto a moron.

        It’s OK to be wrong about CO2 freezing out of the atmosphere at -56 C. That doesn’t show moronity, just a lack of due care. Flannery does much worse over and over.

  16. This is simply advertising from NASA.
    Look at the end of the video:
    “The planet is changing. We’re on it”
    And look at the top “Share”. Indeed send the ad to all your friends.

    • Yep, what rd50 said. It probably won’t save their jobs, unless they happen to have skills transferable to space exploration. 1/20/2017 can’t get here quick enough.

    • tomo. Thanks for the link
      No question about it.
      A great lecture by David Crisp.
      He is a scientist.
      We should be proud to have him at NASA.
      Measurements, not predictions.
      His interaction with the audience on comments/questions was just superb.
      Also, in his lecture he is very good at anticipating important questions, for which we have no specific answer yet. This is very good and honest. Don’t wait for the audience to ask these questions, anticipate them and honestly answer.

  17. From the article:
    “The resulting magnetic fluctuations are relatively small”

    NASA’s ability to measure “relatively small” magnetic fluctuations of ocean water may be a worthy pursuit, but why isn’t NASA measuring the heat trapped by the Mars’ 95% CO2 atmosphere? Is Mars’ heat hiding as well? Is it un-measurable or just insignificant?

    • NASA’s ability to measure “relatively small” magnetic fluctuations of ocean
      The effect has been measured a century ago. Not difficult as the signal is VERY sharply timed by the Moon.

  18. “What’s the connection between electricity and heat?

    NASA Machined Copper CGR-84 Thruster #GRC-C07-VPS (Vacuum Plasma Spray).

    Photo: Copper conducts heat and electricity equally well. Photo courtesy of NASA Glenn Research Center (NASA-GRC).

    Have you noticed that when we talk about conduction in science we can be referring to two things? Sometimes we mean heat and sometimes we mean electricity. A metal like iron or gold conducts both heat and electricity really well; a material like a plastic doesn’t conduct either of them very well at all. There is a connection between the way a metal conducts heat and the way it conducts electricity. If you’ve read our main article on electricity, you’ll know electric current is carried through metals by tiny charged particles inside atoms called electrons. When electrons “march” through a material, they haul electricity with them a bit like ants carrying leaves. If electrons are free to carry electrical energy through a metal, they’re also free to carry heat energy—and that’s why metals that conduct electricity well are also good conductors of heat. (Things aren’t quite so simple for nonmetals, however, because heat travels through them in other, more complex ways. But for the purposes of understanding thermocouples, metals are all we need to consider.)”
    http://www.explainthatstuff.com/howthermocoupleswork.html

  19. EMF stands for Electromotive force or electromagnetic field. If you have a electric field it will induce a magnetic field , if you have a magnetic field it will induce a electric field.
    ” So far we’ve dealt with electricity and magnetism as separate topics. From now on we’ll investigate the inter-connection between the two, starting with the concept of induced EMF. This involves generating a voltage by changing the magnetic field that passes through a coil of wire.”
    http://physics.bu.edu/~duffy/PY106/InducedEMF.html

  20. Earths conductive oceans are being tracked by every means possible, what is also being tracked is the interpretation.

  21. Has anyone tried to correlate the earths meandering magnetic poles in approximation to the earths axis with the earths climate changes? I have not seen any study on this yet. Since magnetism affects water like combing your hair to put static on a comb and putting close to a stream of water coming out of a faucet and it pulls the water toward the comb. On and earth scale does the electromagnetic poles affect weather patterns?

  22. If Lief says it could work, I’ll go with that. But I have a problem with the statement, “As Earth warms, much of the extra heat is stored in the planet’s ocean…” If the extra heat is from the Sun’s rays penetrating the oceans, i.e. with no impediment from clouds, etc., OK. But from LWIR, NO.

    • No, they are measuring the magnetic field caused by the electric current induced in the conducting sea water by the tidal force of the Moon moving the water across the Earth’s magnetic field.

      • Lief , There are other things that move sea water around besides the moon .

        “Most people grow up thinking that the tides are caused by the moon, and indeed that gravitational ‘pull’ of the moon is a major factor, as is the gravitational effect of the sun but there is another major factor, which is less often mentioned, and that is the force created by the rotation of the earth itself.”
        http://www.astronomyknowhow.com/moon-tides.htm

        “Although it is often asserted that the moon “controls” the tides, this is really an oversimplification of the tidal system. In fact there are many factors which determine the tides, including the moon, the sun, the rotation of the earth, the geomorphology of the ocean basin, and the location of the particular spot where you’re measuring the tide along that basin. All of these factors interact in a complex way to determine the specifics of the tide’s characteristics at each location on Earth. ”
        http://scienceline.ucsb.edu/getkey.php?key=353

        “Besides the natural daily variation in tide due to the gravitational effects of the moon, sun and other planets, there’s one more lesser known but major contributing factor to the current sea level.”
        http://www.swellnet.com/news/swellnet-analysis/2016/04/19/inverse-barometer-effect

      • None of this matters [and besides, the pressure is also influenced by the Moon] as they are not tied to the very precise timing of the lunar phase. By locking the effect to the precise lunar phase you isolate that part which is directly run by the Moon.

  23. From the “Thermometers? We don’t need no steenkin thermometers!”

    Well, all began with stinking Thermometers.

  24. Electricity through resistance causes heat. Which came first, the heat or the electric current ? And how much ? It’s a water world of about 70%. And is it voltage or current ? I know there are going to tell me it’s so small it doesn’t have any effect. Sure, you’re going to measure an electrical impulse over thousands of miles thats so small it doesn’t have any effect. Saltwater does conduct, but not like copper. And of nothing in the earth’s magnetic field is connected to anything in space…. I’ve been told that the ” total amount of energy wouldn’t melt a snowflake ” . Of course, nobody sticks a fork in a microwave oven when it’s running, or runs a ground out of it or a magnetic waveguide. Nothing to shape the extent or size of a radio field.

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