The Difference Between Energy, Work and Power – and Why it Matters to Climate Prediction

storm-cloud

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

How often have you heard claims that a warmer [climate] will be more energetic – that we shall all experience more violent storms, more rainfall, more storm damage, because the atmosphere is “absorbing more energy”?

Such claims are based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of energy.

Consider an electric flashlight battery. An electric battery contains energy, but that energy doesn’t do anything – the battery can sit on a shelf for months, ready to be plugged into your flashlight. But plug the battery into your flashlight, and leave it on, within hours the battery will be dead – all its available electrical energy has been used up.

Similarly, a battery plugged into a motor also uses up its stored energy.

Motor powered by a battery.

Motor powered by a battery.

Plugging the battery into your flashlight or a motor, and switching it on, puts that energy to work. The battery eventually dies after it has converted all of its stored chemical energy into electrical power.

How does this example of a battery powered motor relate to climate change?

In physics terms, the Earth’s climate is also an engine. Instead of a battery, the climate is powered by solar energy – sunlight falls on the daylight side of the Earth, is converted to heat, and is then radiated away into space. The means by which that energy is transported from warmer regions to cooler regions before being radiated into space is the sum of all of the world’s climate phenomena – wind, rain, ocean currents are all part of the global climate engine which is powered by our sun.

Earth's climate is powered by the sun

Earth’s climate is powered by the sun

How does global warming or global cooling affect this climate engine?

The point to remember is energy from sunlight is delivered at a constant rate to the Earth’s surface, because solar output is more or less steady, and the size of the Earth doesn’t change. The power of the climate system, the rate at which work can be performed by the climate system, is constant.

Global warming – accumulation of energy in the form of heat in the Earth’s atmosphere – does not affect the amount of energy which is available to power the Earth’s climate. If the accumulated energy were to affect the climate, by contributing to more violent weather, it would be expended, just like the stored chemical energy in a battery is expended when it is connected up to a flashlight or a motor.

The way that energy is used by the Earth’s climate might change if the world warms. For example, Milankovitch cycles – the slow changes to distribution of sunlight caused by wobbles in the Earth’s orbit – likely have a profound effect on global climate, triggering the growth and recession of ice ages. But the orbital wobbles described by Milankovitch cycles don’t affect how much sunlight in total strikes the world, they only affect the proportion of the total sunlight budget which is received by the Northern and Southern hemisphere during different seasons.

The implications of a total Earth climate energy budget are profound. A warmer world might experience more rainfall. But there has to be a tradeoff. Evaporating water to produce rainclouds requires an enormous amount of energy. If energy is diverted from the global climate budget into producing more rain, less energy is available to power wind and ocean currents.

There is freedom of movement for small changes. A lot of sunlight which strikes the Earth is bounced straight back into space, with minimal impact on the climate. If the albedo, the reflectiveness of the Earth were to drop substantially, more sunlight might be absorbed, which might make more energy available for wind, rain and ocean currents. But there is no guarantee a warmer world would have a significantly lower albedo. Some albedo might be lost if polar ice melts, but polar ice doesn’t receive that much sunlight, compared to the amount of sunlight received by tropical regions. Any drop in albedo due to melting polar ice would likely be more than compensated by increased tropical cloud cover.

Awareness has grown over the last few years in the climate community of this thermodynamic limitation. A lot of climate scientists have started qualifying scary predictions of wilder weather, by saying storms will become more violent, but they will occur less frequently. But as I noted at the start of this post, far too often the qualification is lost. Many people believe weather will simply grow more violent without constraints if the world warms, because they don’t understand the hard limits imposed by the Earth’s total climate energy budget.

Warmer climatic conditions which are more prone to thunderstorm formation might result in more frequent but weaker storms, with less damaging winds. But a boring prediction like that wouldn’t fit the climate science narrative that global warming will make everything worse.

The following scientific paper explores limits to the Earth’s climate energy budget in more detail;

Constrained work output of the moist atmospheric heat engine in a warming climate

Incoming and outgoing solar radiation couple with heat exchange at Earth’s surface to drive weather patterns that redistribute heat and moisture around the globe, creating an atmospheric heat engine. Here, we investigate the engine’s work output using thermodynamic diagrams computed from reanalyzed observations and from a climate model simulation with anthropogenic forcing. We show that the work output is always less than that of an equivalent Carnot cycle and that it is constrained by the power necessary to maintain the hydrological cycle. In the climate simulation, the hydrological cycle increases more rapidly than the equivalent Carnot cycle. We conclude that the intensification of the hydrological cycle in warmer climates might limit the heat engine’s ability to generate work.

Read more (requires registration): http://science.sciencemag.org/content/347/6221/540.full

Update (EW): Willis points out that the statement “… energy from sunlight is delivered at a constant rate to the Earth’s surface, because solar output is more or less steady …” is wrong and misleading. Clouds reflect sunlight back into space before it reaches the surface. Since clouds are a function of temperature, and warmer temperatures create more clouds, warmer temperatures reduce the amount of energy entering the climate system.

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230 thoughts on “The Difference Between Energy, Work and Power – and Why it Matters to Climate Prediction

  1. “… We show that the work output is always less than that of an equivalent Carnot cycle and that it is constrained by the power necessary to maintain the hydrological cycle. …”

    Indeed, if it were not less that the equivalent Carnot cycle, the atmospheric engine would be a perpetual motion machine of the second kind. It is an interesting point that the hydrologic cycle provides irreversibility that limits how close the engine can run in comparison to the Carnot engine to boot. The best example is the drag force of precipitation falling through air.

    • Mod: Can you help me? Some of my posts show up. Most do not. I cannot figure out if the problem is one of name, or if this has something to do with the computer or network I am currently working on. Do you see this plea?

      • Don’t know what the problem is…we don’t have you blocked in any way. Might be something related to WordPress security and variations on your name, location, device etc.

    • Interesting that water vapour laden air rises because it is lighter than air, but when it condenses it is heavier and falls. It took no work to raise the water into the atmosphere but it did do work in falling down again. Of course other things were happening at the same time: heat transfer in the vapour and subsequent release at altitude to radiate it out to space.

      • Stephen, it is the surrounding atmosphere falling and losing potential energy that is the source of the ‘work’ in displacing more humid air.

      • Dear Ian W,
        I don’t agree. Stephen is correct. Heated air typically is buoyant in the form of a “cell”, akin to a bubble, and it rises upward through the quiescent atmosphere until it reaches an altitude where its density is similar to its surroundings, which which it mixes. At the origin of the rising cell of air, the vacancy is immediately filled by the ambient air moving in LATERALLY. There is no cold-air waterfall converting potential energy into work.

  2. Awareness has grown over the last few years in the climate community of this thermodynamic limitation.
    Really? They didn’t know this?

    • Sometimes I find what people don’t know, or didn’t think much about, to be very surprising. On point here, I know a few very good mechanical engineers who didn’t quite grasp that while a heat exchanger can be adiabatic, and thus 100% efficient from the view point of the First Law, they are not availability exchangers and can never be 100% according to the Second Law.

    • The average “climate scientist” makes a living out of confusing people between temperature and enthalpy. I doubt they remember any thermo if they ever learned it in the first place.

      • If they are like the ones I knew…. they were geography students. They wouldn’t have a clue even what the first law of thermo was and its the same with mathematics and statistical analysis; feed the numbers into SPSS and take the output as gospel. No understanding of what happened in the middle.

    • I just went to the link, and the authors describe their very first equation, the one on which they base their work, as the First Law. It is in fact the Second Law in the form of the Second Tds equation. So, I guess they really didn’t know.

      • The proof is the last 18 years of who’s right and who’s wrong. Run a way global warming didn’t happen despite anthropogenic co2 increasing without blinking. Actual temperature increase is below the lowest levels projected years ago if we had stopped all co2 production. And that’s with adjustments upwards. AGW can quote and put up all the graphs they want, what’s lacking is their understanding of how the system actually works. If AGW worked the way that climate science says it should, it wouldn’t be a topic of discussion.

    • I agree, many of the paper’s statements concerning limits should be obvious to an engineer, at least qualitatively. Quantifying those limiting thermodynamic characteristics would be very interesting, of course.

  3. As for albedo change: It seems that increasing water vapor due to warming is not increasing cloud cover, because clouds are getting more efficient at moving heat. This means a warming world would have less coverage by updrafts and their associated clouds as they become more effective at moving heat, and a higher percentage of the world would be covered by (slower) downdrafts and their associated clear sky.

    One effect of that is that global atmospheric average relative humidity would decrease as a result of warming, and that would make the water vapor positive feedback less than if global average atmospheric relativity stays constant.

    As for polar areas with changeable snow/ice cover receiving little sunlight: I think this is exaggerated. Insolation around the north coast of Alaska, Yukon and Canada’s Northwest Territory, yearround average, after attenuation by the atmosphere, is 100-120 W/m^2 according to the appropriate color-coded map in https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/78/Insolation.png
    Compare to 168 W/m^2 global average according to the Kiehl Trenberth energy budget diagram and 280-300 W/m^2 for the sunniest spots in the tropics such as in the Sahara Desert according to the above color coded map.

    • And how much of that sunlight falls during the snowy season? Very little according to my experience, and live at the same latitude as Juneau.
      We have a fair amount of sunlight up here yes, but only in summer.

      • The top-of-atmosphere solar insolation (not counting clouds) does not vary much at summer solstice (June 21) for latitudes above 40 degrees-N and exceeds the >40N latitudes at winter solstice (Dec. 21 )by several factors. Above 60 deg-N latitude receives no insolation at winter solstice. The effect of clouds reduce these values considerably but are harder to judge, because they are variable in time and with latitude.

      • As for how much sunlight falls when a variable amount of snow and ice cover can reflect a lot of sunlight: A lot late in the snow cover season. Most of the land in the Arctic and a lot of land near the Arctic has snow cover in May, which is in the season with lots of sunlight. Arctic sea ice cover normally falls through its yearround average in June.

        The Milankovitch cycles are often plotted as insolation (above the atmosphere) on the day of the summer solstice at 65 degrees north latitude.

    • Donald

      Interesting perspective. I differ on the humidity question, however. The humidity of a ‘warming world’ where presumable the temperature gradient between the surface and space increases slightly, will be dominated by the temperature of the ocean surface and the air. If anything pulls heat more efficiently upwards, the response at the surface is to release more water vapour.

      It is my understanding that the average relative humidity (not the average water content) of the atmosphere remains quite constant. The determining factors are the gas composition and density of the atmosphere and the surface area of the oceans as a % of the total surface. It happens that the RH % about matches the surface % but that must be a coincidence, right?

      The point I make leads to a different impact scenario: There was always a positive GHG feedback scenario but CO2 has little to do with it. With no CO2 at all there would always be a water vapour GHG effect and feedback because ice sublimates. The ‘no CO2, no GHG effect’ is obviously BS as is the ‘water vapour is only a feedback’ meme which is desperation to divert attention away from the obvious: ice sublimates into water vapour no matter what the temperature and generates its own GHG effect.

      Another factor which is not obvious to the eye is that ice is pretty much black in the IR range. It reflects light but it is a very good absorber and emitter of IR. It also refracts light differently from other solids – something that is forcing autonomous vehicle programmers to scratch their heads. Lasers used for ranging make errors when the beams hit ice because it looks farther away than it actually is. The relationship between ice, water, visible and IR and soot in the Arctic is always poorly described. The RH in winter over snow and ice is frequently 100% when there are no clouds. That leads to significant heating of the atmosphere, CO2 or not.

      • Crispin, wouldn’t the water vapour from ice, being lighter than air, rise up in the atmosphere where it is colder and would condense (into fine ice crystals).

      • Gary,
        FYI.
        Molar weight of N2=28
        Molar weight of O2= 32
        Molar weight Ar= 40.
        Molar weight H2O= 18.
        Molar weight CO2=44.
        “Dry Air”= 99% N2 (78%), O2 (20%), Ar (1%). Rest are trace gases.
        Wet Air can be several % H2O.

      • Crispin, at 100% RH at low temperatures the amount of water vapor in the air is much lower than at high temperatures. At -10C there is 51 g/m3 and at 15C there is 10 times as much water at saturation (598 g/m3). This means that 10% RH at 15C has about as much water as 100% RH at -10C. Does this affect your conclusion? Even at 51 g/m3 there will of course be a heating effect through the GHE.

      • Gary

        Water vapour is indeed lighter than air and air containing more water vapour is less dense (more buoyant) than dry air. This provides a lofting power one never reads about: moist air will rise in elevation without being warmer driving a cell of convection, condensation, precipitation and the descending of dried air without any input of thermal energy. In other words in a large sealed system any initial perturbation causing evaporation at the water surface would initiate a convection cycle that would transport far more energy, far more water, and far more air than the energy contained in the initial perturbation could accomplish through thermal expansion alone. There is no free lunch in there, it is just that the circulation is in part driven by buoyancy attributable to water vapour, not only temperature.

      • Seaice1

        It does not change my conclusion at all. The meme that is false is the claim, ‘Without CO2 there would be no GHG effect.” Stuff and nonsense. There will always be a GHG effect as long as there is some water or ice on the surface. The GHG effect of H2O dominates the GHG effect and it is self-accelerating in the classic manner attributed to CO2.

        I do not believe for a moment that those who first proposed that CO2 is a forcing and water vapour is ‘only a feedback’ did not know they were lying to the public. They are not that stupid, but they think the public is.

      • @ Crispin in Waterloo – January 11, 2017 at 8:42 am

        I do not believe for a moment that those who first proposed that CO2 is a forcing and water vapour is ‘only a feedback’ did not know they were lying to the public. They are not that stupid, but they think the public is.

        Crispin, a beautiful statement …… but you were far too nice to them by using the word “think”.

        “HA”, they know damn well that 70+% of the populace are “science stupid” and gullible believers. The current curriculum in/of the US Public School System has assured that to be a “fact”.

        And ps, great commentary, …… thanks for sharing.

        Sam C

    • Donald at 10:05 am. You state “It seems that increasing water vapor due to warming is not increasing cloud cover, because clouds are getting more efficient at moving heat.” A counter argument – CAGW advocates claim in a warmer world the absolute water vapour content of the low atmosphere increases (constant relative humidity). Further since water vapour is lighter than air (molecular mass 18 vs 29) that will drive more vigorous convection (your ‘getting more efficient at moving heat’).

      However higher absolute humidity and stronger convection means lots more water will be evaporating. Well if we consider the ancient adage what goes up must come down, more evaporation must mean more precipitation (rain and snow) otherwise the oceans would end up in the atmosphere. But rain comes from low dense clouds (not thin high clouds) which have the highest albedo. Thus we seem to have a conundrum, more evaporation leads to stronger convection which it is claimed means more high cloud, less low cloud (and overall less cloud cover) yet more evaporation must lead to more rain which comes from low cloud.

      So what is the solution to this paradox? Simple, as the air rises it cools (adiabatic expansion) and the humidity rises. If the initial relative humidity is the same, saturation will be reached at exactly the same altitude as before and thereafter water vapour will start to precipitate out as droplets – clouds. But air with suspended water droplets is far heavier than dry air and if there is more water vapour to start with this negative buoyancy will increase, leading to greater slowing in convection. Stronger initial buoyancy balanced by stronger negative buoyancy at the altitude where low clouds form. In a warmer world more vigorous convection transports more water into the atmosphere (so yes the atmosphere moves more heat from the surface – especially in the tropics) but the water is not transported higher, it is transported to about the same altitude as before where the extra water vapour forms more clouds leading to an increasing albedo which reflects more energy back to space thus reducing the solar energy absorbed – a strong negative feedback effect not positive feedback as claimed by CAGW advocates.

      • But rain comes from low dense clouds (not thin high clouds) which have the highest albedo.

        Not really true. Storm clouds can be many tens of thousands of feet into the atmosphere and there is plenty of rain even at 20 – 30 thousand feet up often being carried upward in strong updrafts. That is how hail gets to be thrown so far from these storms.

      • Just a correction. It is not true that “air with suspended droplets is far heavier than dry air.” If it were true, clouds would drop like slow-motion stones and not be buoyant at all.

        What is actually happening is that a mass of water vapor will be in equlibrium with the liquid state in the form of water droplets, and the cloud exists because the density of the water vapor and the droplets is equal to the surrounding air.

        What you are thinking of is more likely to be true with ground fogs, which can pour down hillsides and lie in a layer in a valley.

    • Donald L. Klipstein, And your figures are based on the KT diagram? That is a load of crap so figures totally wrong. 280-300W/m2 gives a temp. of under 0C. Sahara gets about 960W/m2.

      • As for Sahara getting 960 W/m^2: The part of the Sahara with the highest yearround average temperature has this being about 30 degrees C according to https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Annual_Average_Temperature_Map.jpg
        This corresponds to 860 W/m^2 of outgoing thermal radiation, not 960. That 860 must be supplied by 860 W/m^2 of insolation and downwelling IR combined. The Kiehl Trenberth energy budget diagram indicates that worldwide on a yearround average, downwelling IR is around 1.64 times insolation at the surface. So if there is 300 W/m^2 of insolation where the surface emits 860 W/m^2, 560 W/m^2 of downwelling IR is needed to make everything add up. That is 1.87 times insolation, which means a ratio of downwelling IR to insolation 14% more than the global average – not out of whack in a hot area where the dewpoint is above the global average despite that area being desert. Relative humidity in even the drier parts of the Sahara averages 25-30% in the early afternoon yearround and 15-20% in the hotter months according to http://www.travel-university.org/general/geography/climatology/desert.html

  4. The problem I have with the blanket statement, Warmer weather has more energy is, it completely ignores limits. For example, how much hail falls when the high temp has been mid 80’s versus high 90’s? Also, how much record I’m setting rain falls when the temps are in the 90’s versus 70’s? If I recall correctly, the highest temp recorded for a trace of precipitation was a few years ago and it was something like 122’ish.
    The point I want to make is, everything has limits and blanket statements like “Warmer air has more energy, therefore more extreme weather WILL cause blah blah blah”, completely ignore the upper limit of what actually occurs and the temps they occur at.

    • The heat engine that drives hurricane formation is based on the temperature differential between the ocean and the upper troposphere. It is during cooling periods (up to 1978) in which the atmosphere cools more rapidly than the ocean, that we get the more and stronger cyclonic events.

      • Hello higley7; the energy density in a hurricane far exceeds the average energy density in the atmosphere, thus formation of a hurricane in the absolute sense requires two things, firstly some means of energy storage allowing the energy to build up to high levels without simply leaking away. Secondly some means of pumping this energy store at a rate which exceeds to energy losses.

        The energy storage means is the kinetic energy in a rotating gas (a linear gas velocity would simply dissipate the energy but a rotating gas system confines the energy) and is driven by the Coriolis force. Since the Coriolis force is zero right at the equator and increases as one moves polewards, hurricanes cannot form at the equator. From an energy storage point of view hurricane formation is more feasible as one moves further north or south from the equator.

        The energy pumping means is the energy released by condensing water vapour. If the energy pump is insufficient, the energy loss exceeds the energy gain and the hurricane cannot form. But this source of energy falls away rather rapidly as one moves north or sought from the equator – there is simply not enough available water vapour. The required energy is only available reasonably close to the equator.

        The combination of the two requirements means hurricanes only form in the subtropics north and south of the equator. If there is more evaporation in a warmer world that would increase the energy source which would in principle allow hurricanes to form further away from the equator. Also, a greater energy source would in principle allow larger hurricanes to form, both of which are of course claims of the CAGW advocates.

        As with so much of the CAGW arguments, the claims being made are not wrong in an absolute sense. The question is always “HOW STRONG IS THE EFFECT”. No one can refute that a lighted candle gives off heat and liberating heat in a house will warm the house but one can extremely justifiably claim that a single candle will not materially warm a cold house even accepting the two earlier premises. The experimental data shows unequivocally that hurricanes are not increasing in strength or frequency and this alone (although there is of course heaps more and similar data) strongly suggests that the theory of CAGW is based on massive exaggeration.

  5. Given the low angle of incidence for sun light at the poles (even during summer), the difference in the amount of light reflected back to space by ice versus water, is very small.

    • Both ice and water are very effective absorbers and emitters of IR. They both have a very high emissivity. Both fall in the range of 0.97-0.99. Perfectly black is 1.00. Black carbon on water or ice increases the absorption of visible light, but does not increase the emissivity. The additional energy melts the ice or heats the water. At the poles both ice and water are strongly net-negative for energy in/out. Far more out than in.

      • Crispin; emissivity and absorptivity (at a given wavelength) are always equal to each other. Thus to say “Black carbon on water or ice increases the absorption of visible light, but does not increase the emissivity.” is not right. However emission at a given wavelength depends not only on emissivity but also temperature. The ice is far too cold to emit in the visible region thus the increasing energy absorbed from visible light must be balanced by more IR emission but that in turn means the ice has to get wamer. So I agree with your conclusion “The additional energy melts the ice or heats the water.” however the way you stated it leaves you open to valid criticism from those interested in refuting your conclusions.

      • Michael hammer

        The Black Carbon absorbs visible light and thermalises the ice. The IR output from the ice increases because of the BC. That is my point. That visible light, were it to fall on the ice, would not be absorbed (most of it). The BC does not emit as much energy as it absorbs because it is cooled by the ice which it touches.

  6. The Carnot cycle is a good starting point for discussing and understanding thermodynamic efficiencies of the work that can be delivered between two temperatures.

    Understanding that convection-driven thunderstorms and tropocal cyclone towers create energy-flow channels between the warmer-moist lower troposphere thru the tropopause to connect to the cold stratosphere is what allows the work to be performed. Both winds and the uplift against gravity of gigatonnes of water are measures of work performed by the release of sunlight-warmed surface heat to the cold tropopause/lower stratosphere.

    • Please Note “The Carnot cycle is a good starting point for discussing and understanding thermodynamic efficiencies of the work that can be delivered between two temperatures.”

      ie the difference between temperatures not just the overall temperature.
      It is the one thing the warmists have forgotten as the earth warms the differential between the tropics and the poles is reduced.
      Which is why some of the most violent storms in the past have been during extended periods of colder weather.

      • I think the simplest description is that the atmosphere is a heat engine. The work done by this heat engine drives ocean currents and winds.

        The capacity of a heat engine to do work is proportional to the temperature difference of its inputs.

        In a warming world, the tropics stay at much the same temperature (as very ably described by Willis in his tropical showers articles) and it’s the temperature at the poles that rises most. So the temperature difference between the poles and equator (the inputs to the atmosphere heat engine) drops. Therefore the heat engine that is the atmosphere has less ability to do work (drive currents and winds).

        Yes, I confess. I am an Engineer.

    • Yes, I think thermodynamic efficiency, free energy and entropy is the key here, as I’ve commented below. The starting point for weather generation is where incoming solar is thermalised. If you increase the temperature at that point, you have more free energy. More heat energy work can be done.

      • The incoming and out-going radiation are intercepted with a vertically inhomogeneous distribution. More heat energy can do more work but work is not, in the lower atmosphere, determined by the enthalpy change at the surface. The potential to accomplish work is determined by the Delta T. See the Carnot cycle graphics above. The energy change potential available to generate a storm in the hot Sahara is not greater than the significantly cooler Great Plains. The Sahara surface is far hotter than a Kansas corn field’s leafy cover but the storms are much weaker.

        Thus, Nick,. I find your comment misleading: “If you increase the temperature at that point, you have more free energy. More heat energy work can be done.”

        My version:
        “If you increase the temperature at one point and do not increase the temperature at the other, you have a greater potential change in enthalpy. More heat energy work can be accomplished provided the Delta T is larger.”

        If you heat the entire system, which is the whole basis of the CAGW meme, no additional work can be accomplished, for all practical purposes, in the Troposphere, all of which is heated, so we are assured.

        Further, heating the poles (the tropics are surprisingly constant in temperature) reduces the pole-equatorial temperature gradient, significantly reducing the possibility of having storms like Hurricane Hazel.

        The usual meme that ‘a warmer world will be stormier’ is false because it is claimed that the whole system will be warmer. The claim contradicts the Carnot cycle limits: if both ends are warmer, no extra work can be accomplished. Zero. Any counter-argument would have to show that the top of the Troposphere remained constant while the surface heated up which CAGW+GHG theory says it will not. The meme that ‘a warmer world will have stronger storms’ is the same meme with different words. The meme that ‘a warmer world will have less frequent but stronger storms is contradicted by basic thermodynamics. There is no reason for ‘energy’ to congregate more in fewer places just because the average system temperature is increased. In fact there is every expectation that the opposite would occur.

      • Crispin,
        “The energy change potential available to generate a storm in the hot Sahara is not greater than the significantly cooler Great Plains.”
        The potential is greater. The heat created by sunlight at the surface could drive a more powerful heat engine, if one was available. The problem is that the most effective atmospheric heat engines involves water (and Coriolis), which is why Kansas comes out ahead. Not that sandstorms are to be sneezed at.

        “If you heat the entire system, which is the whole basis of the CAGW meme, no additional work can be accomplished”
        No, AGW doesn’t heat the whole system. The stratosphere cools. If you think of GHG as a blanket, it’s warmer underneath, but if anything cooler on top. It increases the differential across which the flux moves before leaving, which is why it feeds heat engines.

      • Nick Stokes: The point of the paper at issue in this thread is that moist processes decrease work potential (or in the language of mechanical engineering, moist processes involve irreversibilities that destroy “availability” or “exergy”). Just one example, surface evaporation and a wet adiabatic rise of parcels decrease the temperature difference that would lead to a more efficient heat engine. Why Kansas has more spectacualr storms is an interesting point.

        A common topic of discussion around here is energy balance, for instance, do climate models adhere to conservation of energy, but I have commented at times that entropy balance is every bit as important (actually I think more so).

      • The entire point of the paper at the focus of this post and thread is that moist processes provide irreversibilities that reduce, in the language of mechanical engineers, availability or “exergy”–i.e. energy that can be converted to work. This is as true in the small scale for the thunderstorms over Kansas as it is for wind and dust storms of the Sahara. For example, both evaporation at the ground surface and the reduced cooling of a rising air parcel in a wet adiabatic process reduce the temperature differential at the heart of heat engine efficiency.

      • ” For example, both evaporation at the ground surface and the reduced cooling of a rising air parcel in a wet adiabatic process reduce the temperature differential at the heart of heat engine efficiency.”
        But that is part of the heat engine. Evaporation creates buoyant air (wv is light) that rises, creating kinetic energy. The reduced cooling likewise creates a warmer rising parcel, adding to the kinetic energy. They deplete the temperature differential, but generate energy, as heat engines do.

      • Some solar near IR is thermalized in the mesosphere by CO2, a bunch of solar UV is thermalized in the lower stratosphere by ozone, water (both liquid and steam) has very significant absorption in the troposphere in the near IR. This last is the bulk of Trenberth’s 23% or 78 W/m2 absorbed directly by the atmosphere. He shows this like some sort of amputated finger, as if nearly a quarter incoming solar energy were trivial.

        Yet the vast majority of solar energy is thermalized in the “cavity” of the planet’s surface.

    • This is rather important. A heat engine requires a temperature differential. It would not matter if temperatures uniformly increased. That is not what drives weather fronts. It would only matter if temperature gradients increased.

      However, the GHE effect specifically decreases temperature differentials, as the energy distribution becomes more uniform. “Increasing extreme weather” is a sales pitch, not a scientific judgment.

      • ‘would only matter if temperature gradients increased’
        Which means the biggest storm could occur on a cold planet, because the temperature differential is large enough, not the level of absolute temperature.
        The red spot on Jupiter comes to mind.

      • No, the GHE increases heat differentials. Heat flows from surface to TOA and to space. With GHE the surface is warmer, and TOA (the emission level) is cooler.

      • A) The ERL is displaced, the lapse rate (gradient) stays the same.

        B) Radial differentials do not drive weather fronts in any case. The weather man never says, “We have a storm front moving in from 30,000 feet.” He says, “We have a storm front moving in from the west.”

      • “Radial differentials do not drive weather fronts”
        They do. Air rises in one place, sinks in another. Most wind is just horizontal movement to feed these motions. Vortices. Trade winds supply the equatorial updraft. Mid-latitude westerlies are what you get when the Hadley cell comes to surface (still rotating with a residue of equatorial speed).

      • Nick Stokes: GHE does not necessarily increase differentials. It may increase the local vertical gradient, but may decrease the equator to pole gradient–poles warm more than tropics.

      • They don’t. It is the differential heating between the equator and the poles that drives the winds, not the difference between surface and TOA.

        The lapse rate is stable when temperatures decrease with altitude. There is no net flow due to this temperature differential in the steady state.

      • The TOA temperature will always be the temperature required to radiate away all of the heat from the sun.
        As long as the output of the sun is constant, the temperature of TOA can’t change.

      • Nick Stokes: No GHE does not necessarily increase thermal differentials. It might increase the vertical temperature gradient (or not depending on circumstances), but it will likely decrease the equator to pole differential.

      • As I said, the lapse rate is stable when temperatures decrease with altitude. There is no net flow due to this temperature differential in the steady state.

        Work is done by a system striving to attain equilibrium. As equilibrium demands a stable lapse rate (thermal gradient), this gradient does no work. If it did, then it would be striving to depart from the stable equilibrium state, and that would not be a stable equilibrium state, so there is a contradiction, QED.

        It is the pole-equator gradient which does the work to produce weather fronts.

      • Absolutely. Most of the global warming occurs in night temperatures, in winter temperatures and regions with cooler climates, particularly the poles. If the Arctic warms more than the equator then, by definition, the temperature differential between the equator and the Arctic will be smaller. All of these effects will lead to smaller differentials and therefore less severe storms, on average.
        .
        The historical data strongly supports this. The overall intensity of hurricanes has been falling for decades and America is in a long hurricane drought. Storms were far worse a few centuries ago during the Little Ice Age. By far the worst storm in British history was in 1703. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe SUV’s or mass air travel had really caught on in the eighteenth century.
        .
        Almost certainly a warmer world will be less stormy, and this is supported by the science and data. Unfortunately this truth is a bit too – shall we say – inconvenient.

    • Joel, water vapor is lighter than air- it is raised by its buoyancy. A stick released from the bottom of a lake needs no work done to raise it up (of course work was needed to get it down in the first place but this is different than in the case of water ). Water does work when it falls back down which it can do with a phase change to liquid.

  7. A block ‘o stuff has three major properties: physical, chemical, thermal.

    physical is density/weight, transparency, reflectivity, number of molecules, etc.

    chemical is reactive, e.g. gasoline

    thermal is conductivity and capacity.

    Energy is a thermal property. Temperature is a measure of that property. Heat is a thermal process, energy in motion from hot/high to cold/low. A box ‘o stuff does not contain heat, it contains energy.

    References:

    Trenberth et al 2011jcli24 Figure 10

    This popular balance graphic and assorted variations are based on a power flux, W/m^2. A W is not energy, but energy over time, i.e. 3.4 Btu/eng h or 3.6 kJ/SI h. The 342 W/m^2 ISR is determined by spreading the average 1,368 W/m^2 solar irradiance/constant over the spherical ToA surface area. (1,368/4 =342) There is no consideration of the elliptical orbit (perihelion = 1,416 W/m^2 to aphelion = 1,323 W/m^2) or day or night or seasons or tropospheric thickness or energy diffusion due to oblique incidence, etc. This popular balance models the earth as a ball suspended in a hot fluid with heat/energy/power entering evenly over the entire ToA spherical surface. This is not even close to how the real earth energy balance works. Everybody uses it. Everybody should know better.

    An example of a real heat balance based on Btu/h follows. Basically (Incoming Solar Radiation spread over the earth’s cross sectional area) = (U*A*dT et. al. leaving the lit side perpendicular to the spherical surface ToA) + (U*A*dT et. al. leaving the dark side perpendicular to spherical surface area ToA) The atmosphere is just a simple HVAC/heat flow/balance/insulation problem.

    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=7373

    “Technically, there is no absolute dividing line between the Earth’s atmosphere and space, but for scientists studying the balance of incoming and outgoing energy on the Earth, it is conceptually useful to think of the altitude at about 100 kilometers above the Earth as the “top of the atmosphere.” The top of the atmosphere is the bottom line of Earth’s energy budget, the Grand Central Station of radiation. It is the place where solar energy (mostly visible light) enters the Earth system and where both reflected light and invisible, thermal radiation from the Sun-warmed Earth exit. The balance between incoming and outgoing energy at the top of the atmosphere determines the Earth’s average temperature. The ability of greenhouses gases to change the balance by reducing how much thermal energy exits is what global warming is all about.”

    ToA is 100 km or 62 miles. It is 68 miles between Denver and Colorado Springs. That’s not just thin, that’s ludicrous thin.

    The GHE/GHG loop as shown on Trenberth Figure 10 is made up of three main components: upwelling of 396 W/m^2 which has two parts: 63 W/m^2 LWIR and 333 W/m^2 and downwelling of 333 W/m^2.
    The 396 W/m^2 is determined by inserting 16 C or 279K in the S-B BB equation. This result produces 55 W/m^2 of power flux more than ISR entering ToA, an obvious violation of conservation of energy aka created out of nothing. That should have been a warning.

    ISR of 341 W/m^2 enter ToA, 102 W/m^2 are reflected by the albedo, leaving a net 239 W/m^2 entering ToA. 78 W/m^2 are absorbed by the atmosphere leaving 161 W/m^2 for the surface. To maintain the energy balance and steady temperature 160 W/m^2 rises from the surface (0.9 residual in ground) as 17 W/m^2 convection, 80 W/m^2 latent and 63 W/m^2 LWIR (S-B BB 183 K, -90 C or emissivity = .16) = 160 W/m^2. All of the graphic’s power fluxes are now present and accounted for. The remaining 333 W/m^2 are the spontaneous creation of an inappropriate application of the S-B BB equation violating conservation of energy.

    But let’s press on.

    The 333 W/m^2 upwelling/downwelling constitutes a 100% efficient perpetual energy loop violating thermodynamics. There is no net energy left at the surface to warm the earth and there is no net energy left in the troposphere to impact radiative balance at ToA.

    The 333 W/m^2, 97% of ISR, upwells into the troposphere where it is allegedly absorbed/trapped/blocked by a miniscule 0.04% of the atmosphere. That’s a significant heat load for such a tiny share of atmospheric molecules and they should all be hotter than two dollar pistols.

    Except they aren’t.

    The troposphere is cold, -40 C at 30,000 ft, 9 km, < -60 C at ToA. Depending on how one models the troposphere, an evenly distributed average or weighted by layers from surface to ToA, the S-B BB equation for the tropospheric temperatures ranges from 150 to 250 W/m^2, a considerable, 45% to 75% of, shortfall from 333.

    (99% of the atmosphere is below 32 km where energy moves by convection/conduction/latent/radiation & where ideal S-B does not apply. Above 32 km the low molecular density does not allow for convection/conduction/latent and energy moves by S-B ideal radiation et. al.)

    But wait!

    The GHGs reradiate in all directions not just back to the surface. Say a statistical 33% makes it back to the surface that means 50 to 80 W/m^2. A longer way away from 333, 15% to 24% of.

    But wait!

    Because the troposphere is not ideal the S-B equation must consider emissivity. Nasif Nahle suggests CO2 emissivity could be around 0.1 or 5 to 8 W/m^2 re-radiated back to the surface. Light years from 333, 1.5% to 2.4% of.

    But wait!

    All of the above really doesn’t even matter since there is no net connection or influence between the 333 W/m^2 thermodynamically impossible loop and the radiative balance at ToA. Just erase this loop from the graphic and nothing else about the balance changes.

    BTW 7 of the 8 reanalyzed (i.e. water board the data until it gives up the “right” answer) data sets/models show more power flux leaving OLR than entering ASR ToA or atmospheric cooling. Trenberth was not happy. Obviously, those seven data sets/models have it completely wrong because there can’t possibly be any flaw in the GHE theory.

    The GHE greenhouse analogy not only doesn’t apply to the atmosphere, it doesn’t even apply to warming a real greenhouse. (“The Discovery of Global Warming” Spencer Weart) It’s the physical barrier of walls, glass, plastic that traps convective heat, not some kind of handwavium glassy transparent radiative thermal diode.
    The surface of the earth is warm for the same reason a heated house is warm in the winter: Q = U * A * dT, the energy flow/heat resisting blanket of the insulated walls. The composite thermal conductivity of that paper thin atmosphere, conduction, convection, latent, LWIR, resists the flow of energy, i.e. heat, from surface to ToA and that energy flow, i.e. heat requires a temperature differential, 213 K ToA and 288 K surface = 75 C.

    The flow through a fluid heat exchanger requires a pressure drop. A voltage differential is needed to push current through a resistor. Same for the atmospheric blanket. A blanket works by Q = U * A * dT, not S-B BB. The atmosphere is just a basic HVAC system boundary analysis.

    Open for rebuttal. If you can explain how this upwelling/downwelling/”back” radiation actually works be certain to copy Jennifer Marohasy as she has posted a challenge for such an explanation.

  8. Your Fig. 2 as an extension of Fig.1 is asking for trouble (looks as if the solar energy powers the Earth’s magnetic dynamo) /sarc

    On more serious note it is also important to understand following:
    1. Energy density – the amount of extractable energy stored in a given system per unit of volume/area or mass.
    2. Power density – the amount of power (time rate of energy transfer) per unit of volume/area or mass.

  9. “Guest essay by Eric Worrall
    How often have you heard claims that a warmer client will be more energetic”

    How does one warm a client?
    If you can’t specify here, I am over 18 years old and my mother says I can look at those adult websites if they include educational materials. Please pride a link. My clients have not been very energetic lately.

  10. Solar energy is NOT CONSTANT at all. The sun varies in output of energy. I would strongly suggest that the Ice Ages are due to massive changes in solar output and our Local Star is quite old…

    • The amount of solar insolation that penetrates the atmosphere is also not constant. A small change of relatively more white cloud tops in the tropics or on the summer side of the equator, reflect relatively more energy back to space at the speed of light. And Ice crystals or other aerosols high in the atmosphere can do the same. Also, the Sun does output some light in the infrared bandwidths. How are these energies separated and calculated? If a feature like a CME with higher mass enters the Sun’s thermosphere, and IR output from the Sun is just slightly boosted as a result, wouldn’t that throw all our delicate climate calculations out the window? Climate science is so sloppy with its definitions. Why wouldn’t we assume the null hypothesis should be that climate change on Earth is most likely to be caused by these relatively small changes in insolation? I’ve read that the ice caps on Mars are shrinking coincident with the modern warm period. Is that true? Would someone at an institute like, say, the Goddard Institute of Space Studies care to take a look, please? Or are they scared that if they do, a lifetime’s work of propaganda and fear mongering will fly out the window?

  11. How often have you heard claims that a warmer client will be more energetic….

    I’ll be back as soon as I wash my brain out

  12. Finally. I’ve Been trying to say this for years. If input doesn’t increase, output cannot increase. Input is the solar constant, output is the surface temperature. Now, one thing left. If the surface temperature is equal to average 390W/m², solar input average absorbed HAS TO BE equal to average AT LEAST 780W/m². Stop with the bullshit energybudget crap claiming 160W/m² absorbed of solar input at the surface. There is one heat source. ONE!
    AND IT IS NOT ICE COLD AIR AT AVERAGE -18C, as the atmosphere is.
    GREENHOUSE THEORY IS THE ETHER THEORY OF THE 21ST CENTURY.
    Please learn thermodynamics people. An ice cold gas cannot heat it’s own heat source. Never ever. And there is no scientific support for a claim that cold gas raise the temperature of a hot surface. Not even a single degree.
    Look yourself in the litteraturen.
    Forget the greenhousefraud. It is pure ignorance.

    • 780W/m² of course comes from heating of half the surface that radiate the same amount from double that size. Strange enough, that often needs to be pointed out.

    • Output is not surface temperature, but rather the temperature of the stratosphere. As the atmosphere’s transparency to IR decreases, the surface temperature has to increase in order to get enough energy to the stratosphere to keep it’s temperature the same.

    • Sludge:

      “Finally. I’ve Been trying to say this for years. If input doesn’t increase, output cannot increase. ”

      This is not generally correct. It is only correct in the short term for a system that has no thermal mass. The thermally active portion of the Earth has a huge thermal mass. At the moment there is more energy going out than is coming in. See Abdussamatov’s latest papers. The Earth is presently cooling because it is emitting more energy than is coming in. The source is the oceans. This will continue for some time as the sun remains quiet for perhaps the next 5 solar cycles. The cause is the quasi-bicentennial cycle of cooling and heating. There is a correlation with the TSI but the relationship is not causative. It is something else.

      Similarly, when the sun is more active, it does not mean the Earth’s ‘energy out’ will immediately increase. There may be a delay of many years just to break even again. It is like charging a battery with energy. You can put in quite a bit of energy before the voltage rises much. It is invested in chemistry.

      Re this: “And there is no scientific support for a claim that cold gas raise the temperature of a hot surface.”

      I wish you and others would stop using inappropriate analogies. It is wasting the time of readers to skip over all comments to that effect.

      The ‘ice cold gas’ as you call it, can easily slow down the loss of heat from a hotter surface if the far side is close to absolute zero. Let me put it this way:

      An ‘ice-cold’ GH gas (-10C) interposed between a hot surface (+40C) and a solid-hydrogen-cold absorber (-270C) will definitely reduce the rate of heat loss by the mechanism of sending a portion of the intercepted IR radiation back towards the source where it is absorbed and re-emitted. Hot things absorb IR energy too! Crikey. Learn the basics. Stop confusing conduction with radiation.

      • @Crispin in Waterloo
        January 10, 2017 at 12:24 pm: Go back a bit, and cease confusing radiation with its cause, the heat energy doing work which can be measured as temperature (or not). We measure Sensible Heat, a KE property. You make claims, please prove them. Or not, nature is doing that right now. It is not slowing the freezing to death of many people…..

      • Brett

        You are limiting energy to that which manifests as temperature. Please remember thermal mass, not only temperature. You haven’t made a comment on the thrust of my comment which is to try to share the nature of radiation v.s. conduction. There are a surprising number of posts on this list which claim a ‘colder object cannot radiate energy towards a hotter object’. That claim is fundamentally incorrect.

        Thank you for your contribution.

    • Sludge: Somebody else has addressed this point, but according to your logic, you can’t reflect light from an ice-cold mirror. Radiative scattering doesn’t care about temperature.

  13. The laws of thermodynamics are relevant, but not precisely. It is true that incoming sunlight energy is available for ‘work’. There are two interrelated sorts of ‘work’. One is ‘weather’. Hydropower is useful energy concentrated from precipitation from evaporation. One is ‘biology’; useful fuels (including food) produced by photosynthesis. Because of this second form of work, it is not necessarily true that more storms mean less energetic storms, or fewer but stronger storms. One cannot overlook the second form of work.

  14. So there’s an increase in downwelling radiation – from ‘objects’ in the atmosphere. (GHG molecules)

    When did they become preferentially downward in their radiating?
    Surely, if they radiate (say 3W/sqm) extra downwards, they must surely be sending an equal amount upwards.

    We know they are radiating more upwards, thats how RSS measure the precipitable water in the atmosphere. They look for the characteristic signal at 22GHz emmitted by water molecules. They say its a strong signal with very good signal-to-noise ratio.

    One lot of extra energy going out.
    PS: 22GHz is the what liquid helium might radiate at. Not going do any warming if it comes down

    Then CO2 picks up short wavelength photons, keeps 15micron worth and dumps the rest – in the process releasing a 15 micron that may go up or come down.
    If it goes up, its gone. If it comes down, because it looks like an object at minus 80degC, it reflects and goes up and out. Cold objects don’t radiate energy into warm ones.
    Two lots of extra energy going out.

    And that all makes perfect sense. All the while there, energy is falling down the thermal gradient.
    Also, entropy and the accepted laws of thermodynamics are being obeyed and because water and CO2 are good absorbers, they are also good emmitters.
    More of either or both will radiate more energy out.
    Thats before the increase in thermal conductivity that extra CO2 provides.
    They got it right the first time, in the 70’s

    And surely, *the* most telling observation of all – if radiation controlled the energy release from the surface of Earth, why the fook is there what we call ‘weather’?
    If radiation called the shots, there wouldn’t be any.

      • phase change moves energy without changing temperature.
        water gas is the lightest gas (of any consequence) in our atmosphere – it rises without convection.

      • “water gas is the lightest gas (of any consequence) in our atmosphere – it rises without convection.”

        What? The rise of lighter gasses is the very definition of convection, isn’t it?

    • Peta

      “Then CO2 picks up short wavelength photons, keeps 15micron worth and dumps the rest – in the process releasing a 15 micron that may go up or come down. If it goes up, its gone.”

      No, much of it is intercepted by other GHG molecules, half of which is radiated down, half up. And again and again. Eventually all of it is radiated up. If the GHG concentration is higher, like more water vapour, the lower portion has to be hotter, must be hotter, for the energy to escape at the same rate as it enters.

      “Cold objects don’t radiate energy into warm ones.”

      Of course they do. You are confusing conduction of heat with radiation of energy. IR is not ‘heat’ is it energy. All objects above absolute zero radiate in all directions all the time towards everything hot or cold. Cold objects are not aware of the temperature of distant objects. If there is nothing radiating back at it, the object will cool. If what is radiated back at it is more than it is losing, and the object is capable of absorbing the incoming radiation, the temperature will increase.

      “…because water and CO2 are good absorbers, they are also good emmitters. More of either or both will radiate more energy out.”

      This image is incomplete. Both also emit more energy inwards as well, to stick with your mental image. In order for a system to emit more energy while being better insulated, the source temperature (earth’s surface) has to rise. That is how industrial furnaces operate. They get very hot because they interpose insulating materials that retain by poor conduction and reflective surfaces, IR coming from hot materials and heat conducted through conductive ones. A ‘space blanket’ used to survive in extreme cold works by reflecting and re-radiating heat received from the body, or the clothes covering it. The surface temperature of the space blanket is well below the temperature of the human body. It may be well below zero, but it limits the loss of heat nonetheless. If all that you wrote above were true, a highly reflective space blanket would have little effect conserving body heat other than by limiting convective heat loss. If it does not work as I have described, then a sheet of black plastic would work as well, and clearly it does not. The lunar lander was not covered with black plastic garbage bags, it was covered with highly reflective Mylar and foil.

    • “They got it right the first time, in the 70’s

      And surely, *the* most telling observation of all – if radiation controlled the energy release from the surface of Earth, why the fook is there what we call ‘weather’?
      If radiation called the shots, there wouldn’t be any”

      +1 Peta from Cumbria, now Newark ,

      This is what I was taught back in the 70’s, I used to debate with the old “knows” of thermodynamics but with post modern (climate) science there’s been so much complexity in their modeling it made me question and have had to relearn the basics/truths.

      Thank you.

    • Peta, you are correct. The surface radiation from the Earth is scattered isotropically (in all directions) by the greenhouse gases, with the upper hemisphere of scatter going into space and the lower hemisphere going back to Earth (downwelling).

      For what it’s worth, helium could never radiate in the infrared. No mechanism.

      CO2 only radiates what it also absorbs. The rest of the spectrum does not interact with it.

      Why weather? That’s nature’s response to imbalances in heat input and output. All the heat is coming in on the day side of the Earth; and all the heat is going out all over the Earth. Imbalance. Not sure the other comments are helpful.

      • Have you heard or seen where the earth’s energy budget is in balance ? Are they still holding that 2/3 of the incoming is being retained ? 2/3’s of the incoming radiation for the last 20 years is an enormous amount of energy. Isn’t that what they based both poles being completely melted by now ? In fact the retention should be even higher now since that number was when co2 was at 370 ppm/v. Isn’t that the idea behind the tipping point ? That energy being retained grows from 2/3 to almost all being retained. It just gets hotter and hotter. That’s what the function of co2 is supposed to do in the atmosphere according to the IPCC & associates.
        All the other fiddling with numbers in minutia just confuses the issue. The real issue is whether that’s true or not. After 20 years I’d have to say its not.
        On every graphic that is produced by AGW, that’s what they show is the energy flow of 2/3’s being retained. And the confirmation is satellite based as well. Unless of course it is heavily biased and fixed…. they wouldn’t do that would they ? After all reality that doesn’t match the models must be wrong. And if not now, wait about 80 years. It was a problem 20 years ago, ” Remember the Hockey Stick ” . We should have stopped ALL co2 production then to save the world now, not 80 years from now. And even so with all co2 production stopped, catastrophic events for today (2015), like millions of deaths and perhaps billions of climate refugees, should have occured. Hence, I was/am on the same level as a war criminal for questioning C/AGW.
        Under this scenario, it is literally impossible for global temperature, after 20 years of this heat build up, to fall 0.8 C in 7 months.

      • Dear rishrac,

        I’m not sure I have any response. You are not commenting on what I said. But if it helps, I think input = output, or the Earth would be running a fever far beyond the lunkhead predictions. (By “imbalance,” I am alluding to the great difference in thermal power going into the day side, and out of the night side. There is a net balance, but the weather is in the details of equilibriation.)

      • Michael, that is exactly right about incoming outgoing. It is a common tactic of AGW to talk about minutia, it’s a diversionary tactic. The final is that the math and models don’t match reality. Nothing gets resolved. Nick Stokes explains the IPCC position and how 343 w/m^2 was calculated. 20 years ago, 343 w/m^2 incoming, 240 w/m^2 retained, and only 103 w/m^2 outgoing. It isn’t the year 2000 anymore. When was the last time you saw someone with the hockey stick graph trying to prove global warming ? If there is any question about whether AGW is right or not, this is it. Massive amount of heat should be here. I believe that at one time I had the equation set up to change the co2 amount only. What was really strange was that as co2 levels increased , the out going energy increased and the the retained decreased. As co2 levels decreased retained increased and outgoing decreased. It should be just the opposite. It looks like they calculated a sweet spot. It gave them the numbers they wanted.

        And yes, it was in response to your statement as supporting. I try not to get into with Nick, been there, argued that. Rehashing failed arguments won’t bring AGW back to life. He’s taking a shot gun approach to this argument. Just the argument on thermodynamics ( weeks months years of discussions) still isn’t settled ( settled in the wrong way) for them and yet as it can plainly be seen, something is definitely wrong with their theory.

  15. Global warming REDUCES climate power efficiency
    The atmosphere is a natural engine with lower efficiency than the ideal Carnot engine which is the temperature difference between poles and equator, divided by the equatorial temperature.
    i.e. (Thot-Tcold)/Thot (using absolute scale temperatures T).
    Now NASA etc affirm that

    The poles are warming faster than other parts of the Earth – a fact that has been widely accepted for years

    That means Thot-Tcold is DECREASING while Thot is increasing.
    Consequently the atmospheric climate engine’s efficiency is DECREASING.
    F. Laliberté et al. (2015) observe that anthropogenic forcing REDUCES the work W by ~1% over the 21st century. For some further details see:
    F. Laliberté et al. (2015) Constrained work output of the moist atmospheric heat engine in a warming climate

    The evolution ofW in response to anthropogenic forcing indicates a trend of –0.038 T 0.08 Wm−2 [one-sided t test, 95% confidence interval (CI)] per 100 years for the 10-year running mean (Fig. 4B). Over the 21st century, this amounts to a small reduction in W (≈–1%) I

    Olivier M. Pauluis (2015) The global engine that could

    when the energy source of the Carnot cycle is replaced by evaporation, the mechanical work of the cycle is reduced and strongly depends on the relative humidity (7).

    • “That means Thot-Tcold is DECREASING while Thot is increasing.”

      But what is Tcold? The main atmospheric power cell, Hadley, actually comes down around 30° latitude. But more to the point, Carnot-wise Tcold is the temperature of the heat sink. And the poles aren’t the sink. The sink is space. What drives the circulation is the flow of heat from warm (tropical) surface to TOA. The rest is mainly conservation of mass – the air has to recycle.

      • As usual, Nick, I see you are again trying to exploit the ignorance of the average reader. For practical purposes the temperature of the sink is the top of the Troposphere. You are surprisingly mischievous.

        To everyone else, Nick is correct that if the surface temperature rises at the equator the delta T with respect to the ultimate heat sink, space, increases. But theory and observations show that the tropics do not heat up much at all because of the huge water surface area creating additional clouds is the water rises above 31C. Also, there is a strong break in the connection to space at the top of the Troposphere.

        The additional energy preferentially heats the poles, and at night, and in winter. This increases the Delta T to space but greatly decreases the Delta T between the pole and the equator. The temperature gradient decreases the power of storms (as observed). Additionally, a larger portion of the total energy leaves the Earth via radiation into space from nearer the poles because the total area that is ‘warmer’ increases. If the poles warm, they do not do so because of huge amounts of heat gained in that region, but because of increasingly warm flows of moist air that are more easily sent into space. For every degree of latitude farther north the heat goes, it increases the efficiency of how well that heat is radiated into space.

        The potential ability to radiate heat into space is equal all over the world, but the potential to gain heat is related to the latitude. Don’t let people fool you into thinking they are the same.

      • “For practical purposes the temperature of the sink is the top of the Troposphere”
        Yes, that’s what I’ve been saying “What drives the circulation is the flow of heat from warm (tropical) surface to TOA. “.

        “This increases the Delta T to space but greatly decreases the Delta T between the pole and the equator.”
        Yes, but the poles aren’t the sink. That is the point of radiation to space, mostly TOA (including polar, but that does not warm as the surface does).

        “Additionally, a larger portion of the total energy leaves the Earth via radiation into space from nearer the poles because the total area that is ‘warmer’ increases.”
        No, again even at poles radiation from space is mostly from TOA, and that probably won’t be warmer.

        I’ve set this out in more detail Here .

      • Nick Stokes Yes space at 4K is the ultimate heat sink. I was addressing “the Artic is warming” meme for which the relative sources and sinks are the poles vs tropics by oceanic and atmospheric meriodional flows. Yes overall: Atmospheric meridional heat transport is ~ 4 PW while oceanic is ~ 2 PW. Slide 13 Ocean contributes a maximum of about 1-2 PW peaking in the center of the subtropical gyre at about 25°N. Slightly weaker heat transport to south in southern subtropics. The Atlantic heat transport is actually working against global heat redistribution.”

      • David
        “Yes space at 4K is the ultimate heat sink. I was addressing “the Artic is warming” meme for which the relative sources and sinks are the poles”
        Well, the sink available to heat engines is TOA (high troposphere), where heat then exits to space. So the question is, is that warming, including at poles? As for ocean circulation, yes, that doesn’t deliver to TOA. But there isn’t a suggestion of more vigorous ocean circulation with AGW – worries are more that it may degenerate.

        I’ve tried to emphasise this little appreciated constraint. Exit temperature is constrained to be high enough to emit the average 240 W/m2, although it isn’t uniform. But it is also constrained to be cold enough to export the entropy created on Earth. Maximising entropy export is a good part of the driver for meridional transport.

      • The heat sink is wherever at at what temperature thermal IR is transported back to space. You can see on satellite IR images that this occurs near surface temperature where the atmosphere is dry and clear to IR, and at the cloud tops in other places. The poles are indeed a sink–as Victor Starr showed many years ago, a large cold radiator is just as effective as a small hot one. If the poles were not a sink there would be no reason for the poleward transport of heat.

      • “If the poles were not a sink”
        Yes, the polar region is a sink. And that is mainly high troposphere (for GHG frequencies) and clouds. But the contention being floated here is that the region will be a less effective sink because of surface warming (relative to tropic surface). The question is whether the actual sink (radiating) altitudes are warming.

      • “.. Maximising entropy export is a good part of the driver for meridional transport…”

        While linear systems not too far from equilibrium obey a minimum entropy production rate, there is no similar physical principle requiring the maximizing of entropy production rate and transport in any situation; and although people at one time thought that a maximum entropy rate principle applied to systems far from equilibrium, I doubt very many still believe this to be so. I think the idea arose because Lorenz once suggested that systems far out of equilibrium work toward maximum dissipation rate. Why the flow switches between zonal and meridional might have more to do with longitudinal temperature gradients. I don’t know.

      • “there is no similar physical principle requiring the maximizing of entropy production rate”
        I didn’t say it maximised entropy poduction, I said it maximised entropy export. Consider a black perfectly conducting sphere generating and radiating 100 W. It could satisfy 1LOT by radiating 75W from a warm N half, and 25W from the S. But then heat would be conducted from the N to S, an irreversible process that increases total entropy. But it all gets exported, and that is what in fact happens.

        You can quantify this. In the first case, temperatures are 226.8K and 172.3K and
        entropy export = .33 + .145 = 0.476 W/K
        while in the second, temperature is 204.9 K and
        entropy export = 100/204.9 = 0.488 W/K.

        And so it is with the Earth. If more total entropy could be exported by moving heat laterally, at the cost of creating entropy, then some sort of heat engine or other process will do that. Meridional transport is such a process.

      • Nick Stokes

        ““For practical purposes the temperature of the sink is the top of the Troposphere”
        Yes, that’s what I’ve been saying “What drives the circulation is the flow of heat from warm (tropical) surface to TOA.”

        Heh heh. Does anyone else see the swaperoo? I said ‘top of the troposphere’ and Nick says ‘top of the atmosphere (TOA).

        The difference is several times greater than the height of the troposphere.

        The visualisation is not simple, I understand that, but additional GHG’s heat the lowest part of the troposphere and any increase in humidity or temperature causes more efficient thermals, which shed heat into space more efficiently. Heat also modes sideways more efficiently, spreading it out to the poles as Nick indicated much farther up the conversation.

        Then the heat is more efficiently moved to the poles, storm intensity, particularly in late Fall and early Winter, decreases because of the drop in Delta T. There is more energy in the system. but it cannot as easily be released in a confined space.

      • Crispin,
        “I said ‘top of the troposphere’ and Nick says ‘top of the atmosphere (TOA).
        The difference is several times greater than the height of the troposphere.”

        Not at all. Here is a paper titled “Defining Top-of-the-Atmosphere Flux Reference Level for Earth Radiation Budget Studies “. It puts the TOA reference level at 20 km. And in the very next para I said that TOA was the level at which radiation to space occurred.

        And wherever you put TOA, the statement is still correct.

    • Nasa’s own data shows Venus not to be a greenhouse model. Some soon-gone traitors within may claim so however.

  16. Quote: The point to remember is energy from sunlight is delivered at a constant rate to the Earth’s surface, because solar output is more or less steady, and the size of the Earth doesn’t change.

    This simple statement will lead scientists to ask many questions like how the Earth moves between ice ages and interglacial periods, and why temperature graphs are so spiky. Sadly the scientific method is not as influential as it once was.

  17. From a physics perspective there are 3 distinct entities:

    power ≡ rate of expenditure of work energy (per unit time: second, minute, year, etc.)work energy (e.g. compressing a spring, lifting a weight, charging a battery)potential energy (e.g. a compressed spring, a weight above you, a charged battery)

    Nominally, at least by the Laws of Thermodynamics, there is no potential energy that didn’t take an equal or greater investment of work-energy to create. Even the Wow! potential of ²³⁵U and ²³⁴Th fission energy required the work-energy of an exploding supernova to “charge up”, long ago.

    POWER is a RATE numberENERGY is a QUANTITY number (whether potential or work type)

    POWER in SI is “watts = joules per second”ENERGY in SI is “joules = newton-meters”

    Definitionally,

    E = &integ;F⋅D (work energy is the integration of force over some path (distance = D)) … or in linear termsE = FD, which is often writtenW = FD since W stands for work energy

    When you put your shoulder against a car and push it across a relatively flat surface, you are putting a FORCE (your leveraged body mass) on it, and it resists forward motion. The POWER you exert is

    P = dE/dt = F⋅V (force times velocity, providing it is ‘constant’) And the ENERGY isW = F⋅D … or how FAR you push that chug-a-lug car over the pavement.

    Same applies to every other aspect of nature which we use the terms “energy” and “power” to.

    GoatGuy

  18. “Global warming – accumulation of energy in the form of heat in the Earth’s atmosphere – does not affect the amount of energy which is available to power the Earth’s climate.”

    The concept missing here is entropy, or free energy. The ability of energy to do work. It is true that AGW doesn’t change the amount of energy flowing through the system. But it does affect its ability to drive heat engines – thunderstorms, winds etc. I’ve been writing about the Earth’s entropy budget in various posts – an example is here.

    Energy arrives as sunlight as if from a very hot source, and has at that stage the ability to do a lot of work, as in solar panels, furnaces etc. But as the energy moves from high to lower temperatures, it accumulates entropy. When an amount of heat Q is transferred from temp T1 to T2, the entropy gain is dS = Q*(1/T2-1/T1). The entropy is a measure of the work that that transfer could have achieved.

    Entropy is generated by all the things that happen with that energy flux (weather, life etc). It can’t be destroyed, but for steady state must be exported to space. The rate of export associated with outgoing flux F is F/To W/m2/K, where To is the temperature at which F was radiated. At a cooler To, more could be exported. This rate of export puts a cap on the amount of entropy that can be created on Earth, and in turn the amount of heat engine activity. So there is an entropy budget.

    The big gain of entropy happens when incoming SW is first thermalised. The incoming stream has entropy flux F/Ts, where Ts is associated with the sun surface temp (it’s actually about 2310K, because of some limitations on its ability to do work for essentially geometric reasons). The jump on thermalisation is F/Tg-F/Ts, where Tg is the temperature of surface.

    That jump is less if Tg is warmer. That is the effect of AGW. It means that more entropy can be created by downstream processes (remember, entropy export is capped). Another way of saying that is that the amount of free energy from thermalised sunlight is greater if the surface is warmer. And that can drive more weather.

      • “Taking my life into my own hands”
        Yes, there is a long story there. There is more free energy available to drive convection. And it needs to be driven, because the atmosphere is convectively stable when the lapse rate is below the dry adiabatic lapse rate. Surface warming gets it closer to unstable, which is part of the story.

        The thing is, the work done by atmospheric heat engines provides the energy needed to maintain the lapse rate. It takes work. A warming surface can drive it closer to DALR.

        Here is my story on AGW, entropy and Hadley cells.

      • … pretty intense paper. … When, or if you have already, think you understand it, maybe you would consider translating the techno-speak into words that suggest how the findings there might relate to CO2’s alleged increasing of atmospheric temperature. In other words, do these findings support the anthro-CO2-Warming thesis or not ?

        … I will attempt to wade through YOUR writings too. Thanks for the revised link.

      • Well, Nick, I looked closer at the paper at the updated link you provided, and, even though the math and the concepts are quite a bit beyond me at the moment, I am struck by the observation that anthropogenic forcing is a fundamental assumption of this paper, and the conclusions of the paper, at first, appear to be tied strongly to modeling that accepts this fundamental assumption.

        This makes me suspicious, I hate to say. I would be more receptive to digging deeper into it, if I were not seeing these red flags.

        Also, I am initially struck by what I think I am observing to be an oversight, which, when you are talking about an atmospheric mass that is a fluid, is a seeming failure to attribute the role of gravity in the process of attracting heavier, cooler air downward to “squish” the less dense, warmer air upward (buoyancy ?), … so wouldn’t gravity be the fundamental “pusher” force doing the “work” of the atmospheric mass ?

        How, then, would moisture constrain the force of gravity from doing its work of pushing against warmer, less dense air, lifting it higher into cooler air ?

        It seems to me that there is always a bunch of cool air “waiting” to descend to “squish” any warmer air below back up top. Gravity pulls the heavy stuff down, buoyancy pushes the light stuff up. More heat would seem to cause more rapid turn over under the same force of gravity, which “commands the show”. The moisture rides the train mostly contributing to a sort of “heat switch” sustaining the process, while gravity is the engineer. (Forgive my corny metaphors … and any gross delusions generated by my deeper ignorance.) (^_^)

      • Robert,
        ” I looked closer at the paper at the updated link you provided”
        I later realised that it is the same paper linked in the head post.

        “so wouldn’t gravity be the fundamental “pusher” force doing the “work” of the atmospheric mass “
        Gravity only does work when there is loss of potential energy. Something falls. The atmosphere has been in the same place for millions of years. Gravity does no net work. It is the mechanism by which buoyant air rises (and cool descends). But something else had to do the work to make it buoyant. This usually means warming it (doing work against pressure to expand) or evaporating water (which also has a p-V work component).

      • “Whenever heat Q Joules is added to a region at constant temperature T, the entropy increases by Q/T J/K. If Q is negative (heat is lost), then so is entropy (to that region). If T is not constant, you have to integrate, but the idea is the same. ”
        I see that you had one peer review it. You might want to get another. It would go something like “Whenever heat Q Joules is added to a region at constant temperature T, energy is either leaving at the same rate, doing PV work, turning to potential energy, entropy is increasing or a combination of these but if the temperature is constant, then its most likely due to the first one.

      • Robert B
        “energy is either leaving at the same rate, doing PV work”
        Yes, any of those things may also be happening, and the effects on entropy would need to be calculated additionally. But it remains true that the addition of heat Q at temperature T increases entropy by Q/T. So says Britannica:

        By the Clausius definition, if an amount of heat Q flows into a large heat reservoir at temperature T above absolute zero, then the entropy increase is ΔS = Q/T.

      • Not having a dig at you misquoting an equation. Its about the application of the equation. I’ll give it to you that I just didn’t follow what you were getting at.
        One of your replies is “Yes, there’s no gravity term. It’s just a response to the temperature gradient and the conductivity. It’s not a molecular calculation, just based on entropy change = heat flux/T. In fact gravity can’t play a role, because it is not part of an irreversible process.”

        Entropy changes with pressure.

    • The 340W / m^2 delivered to TOA by the sun, and radiated as heat (or reflected into space) doesn’t change – the incoming and outgoing or reflected radiation are in balance.

      An increased difference in temperature between the warm and cold sinks, potentially performing more work, implies a steeper temperature gradient, which implies a higher rate of energy transfer flowing through the climate system.

      But heat energy is delivered by the sun at a more or less constant rate (though how much is reflected can vary). So the increased heat flux implied by a greater temperature difference between sources and sinks will either cool the surface sources warmed by the sun, or warm the cooler climate sinks, until equilibrium is restored.

      Polar amplification anyone?

      • ” which implies a higher rate of energy transfer flowing through the climate system.”
        It may equally imply a greater resistance. And that is what more GHGs provide.

        Radiative transfer, which transports heat from a warm place to a cooler one (higher in the atmosphere) creates entropy without generating useful work. A higher concentration of GHGs means radiation carries a smaller proportion of that flux, meaning more is carried by LH and convection. Same eventual gain in entropy, but more weather energy created.

    • “Entropy is generated by all the things that happen with that energy flux (weather, life etc)..”

      No. If an amount of heat (Qh) absorbed from a hot reservoir at a temperature (Th), some work is performed equal to W=Qh-Qc, and the remaining heat Qc is rejected to a cold reservoir at (Tc); and, the ratios Qh/Th and Qc/Tc are equal, then no entropy is generated in the process until the work is dissipated eventually as heat. This is the whole point of why the Carnot engine is the most efficient possible.

      • KK,
        So how is that a No? Entropy is generated by irreversible processes, and that includes weather and life. Carnot engines may be the most efficient possible, but that isn’t what we have. And entropy, once created, must be exported.

      • Nick Stokes said: “Entropy is generated by all the things that happen with that energy flux…” “…all…”

        No. I repeat.
        I pointed out that only irreversible flows produce entropy and gave you an example of a transfer of heat that is reversible, zero entropy production, and produces work. Moist processes are irreversible, generate entropy, destroy exergy, and reduce the work potential of sunlight falling upon the earth. They do not generate energy as you stated in a post upthread just because moist air is buoyant.

      • KK,
        “They do not generate energy as you stated in a post upthread”
        I said they generate kinetic energy, and they do. Just as does putting hot air in a balloon.

        I still can’t see what you disagree with. I’m just saying that entropy is generated by weather and life. Do you claim they are reversible? There is a fortune to be made there. Yes, you gave the example of a reversible heat engine. But we don’t have one in the atmosphere. And even if you can identify a reversible component, it all ends up as heat anyway. The wind may blow for a while, but shear stress fairly quickly converts all that to heat at a lower temperature to where it started (on average).

      • Nick. When scientific methods were still popular, the university professors paralleled entropy with chaos rather than energy, because while the former continually increases for the entire universe, some of the latter is wasted beyond recovery.

        For example, cAGW has generated plenty of entropy, but has wasted energy. This is the reason why in my opinion the brown stuff will fit the fan.

  19. Looking through this discussion, I am seeing the phrase, “downwelling radiation”.

    QUESTION: Is this still a valid concept today ? I thought that it was becoming dated and not the preferred language of the day.

    I know this goes back to what some people might feel is a dead-horse argument, but I still have not seen a resolution of the disagreement over this phrase, “downwelling radiation”.

    The other day, I was reading (trying to understand) an article about radiation, which was discussing the idea of photon FIELDS and photon field densities. Am I correct in believing that “radiation” is NOT just about little particles moving through space, but rather about fields of particles setting up between two objects ?, where the field density determines HEAT flow ?, which would seem to bring into question whether there is any “downwelling” at all contributing to heating ?

    Am I also correct in thinking that radiation-measuring instruments are NOT PASSIVE devices, just “stuck into” a bunch of little photons flowing freely between Point A and Point B ?, … that what really happens is a photon FIELD with photon FIELD DENSITIES is being set up ?, and those densities determine how the movement of photons influence things at either Point A or Point B ? … further, that radiation-measuring instruments actually disturb such a field in favor of the point being measured, so that the radiation at the point being measured CAN be measured ?

    Thanks, anybody who might have the time, for trying to set me straight on this.

  20. First, Eric, thanks for this post, and for all of your posts.

    I was with you up to this point:

    The point to remember is energy from sunlight is delivered at a constant rate to the Earth’s surface, because solar output is more or less steady, and the size of the Earth doesn’t change. The power of the climate system, the rate at which work can be performed by the climate system, is constant.

    Sadly, that is one of the most common climate misconceptions. The amount of sunlight delivered to the surface is regulated by cloud cover. As a result, it changes on all timescales from minutes to millennia.

    Not only that, but the amount of energy entering the system is itself a function of temperature. When the tropical ocean is warm, clouds form, and incoming energy is cut by hundreds of watts per square metre. When the tropical ocean is cool, no clouds form, and incoming energy is much, much larger.

    So I fear that your underlying assumption, that the power of the climate system is constant, is simply not true. Incoming energy, and thus power, varies widely both in time and space.

    Now, it is true that on average the earth’s temperature is very stable … but that is because of the thermostatic response of emergent climate phenomena, not because of some imagined “constant rate” of energy delivery to the surface.

    Thanks again for the post, always thought-provoking,

    w.

    • Give or take the changes that Willis notes above,

      The Sun provides the Earth with 384 X 10^22 joules of energy each year.

      So there is obviously some amount that has accumulated over time which is more-or-less in equilibrium to keep the Earth surface at 15C or emitting 390 W/m2. It should actually be about -269 Celsius without the Sun but it is 15C instead.

      But we are also accumulating that solar energy at about 0.8 X 10^22 joules each year right now (or let’s say something like half a day worth of solar energy extra each year). That is enough to raise the 0-2000 meter ocean temperature by 0.2C if it continued over 100 years and the surface/atmosphere by about 0.8C over 100 years.

      That is how tight it is. 384 X 10^22 joules in : 383.2 X 10^22 joules out each year. Temps take 100 years or at least decades to change very much at all.

      And then we get into an ice age. And the Earth’s Albedo rises from 29.8% to 33.0% and suddenly the Earth is only getting 350 X 10^22 joules of energy each year. Enough to cool off the surface/atmosphere by 5.0C and the 0-2000 metre ocean by 1.5C. But this is a REALLY big change in conditions.

      Let’s say the Solar energy from the Sun dropped from 1361 W/m2 to 1357 W/m2, something like we thought at one time how much lower it was in the Maunder Minimum. Well now, the Earth is going to lose energy at about 0.8 X 10^22 joules per year and over 100 years, the surface cools by 0.8C. Make it another 100 years and pretty soon we having a Little Ice Age even.

      Its just that the numbers vary by so little that it takes 100 years at a time or something really big like massive continental glaciers to change the heat engine very much.

      • “And then we get into an ice age.”

        We did that ~2.5 million years ago, and are surfing an interglacial yet.

        The big picture can’t be ignored. Even with the large uncertainties of deep time, the range between early Triassic or Eocene climate and the current ice age seems too large to be explained by atmospheric heat engine dynamics.

        Either the sun is buffed by a couple watts for ~80% of earth history, and suddenly has bouts of depression, or something very important and beyond our current comprehension is going on.

    • Hi Willis, thanks for the correction. Clumsy wording sorry, I mentioned clouds elsewhere in the post, and their potential to affect albedo, I should have said delivered to top of atmosphere.

      • Eric, i think willis has it backwards… a warmer tropical ocean is associated with less cloud formation. (a cooler one with more) Even as temperatures dip in the short term we get more clouds. i’ve never understood cause and effect there. Does a warming ocean cause fewer clouds? Or do fewer clouds cause the warming ocean? (or both?) This topic, seems to me, gets so little attention. Dr. Spencer is very big on it, as he mentioned it to congress, though i don’t recall ever (save once) reading a post of his directly on it…

        post script, i’m going to try to post the climate4you link, but i can never seem to get the dern thang to work…

    • Yes, and there is more to this than heat though; isn’t there.
      I remember the theories as the Voyager 2 probe headed out to the cold “ice. giants”* that their atmospheres would be listless and still – not enough heat they said – and I also remember the turnabout theory as to why this wasn’t the case! Heat energy disrupts large scale wind flows – I guess but cant remember – due to the introduction of strong vertical structures. Whatever, it convinced me and Ive always associated high wind speed with cold; which works on earth at the at the South Pole and upper atmosphere!

      The last theory I heard about the source of the energy was that it was from evaporation in those thin outer layers where the winds circulate.. yes, it is heat Jim, but not as we know it! ;-)

      *Uranus and Neptune are massive planets with icy atmospheres. Neptune’s winds can reach up to 2,400 kilometers per hour, the fastest planetary winds detected yet in the solar system. The winds of Uranus blow clouds up to 900 kilometers per hour.

      Sent from my iPad in Praque where AGW is working a treat, Not! ;-)

    • @ michael hammer at 12:42:
      “The combination of the two requirements means hurricanes only form in the subtropics north and south of the equator.” Depends on the definition of subtropics. Some cyclones affecting NE Australia have formed at 5 – 10°S, many more at 10 – 20°S.
      http://www.qhatlas.com.au/map/tropical-cyclones-1906-2006
      At 19°S we are getting plenty of Willis’ spectacular “emergent climate phenomena” rolling in from the north east. I keep trying to get some good images of these.
      BoM predicts a very active 2016-17 season.
      Number so far near half-way point is – zero.
      I predict late season fudging, as with last year’s Marcia.

  21. Once “climate scientists” evolve closer to Einstein’s theory of relativity (E=mc2) than flogiston, it will be entertaining to hear how the mankind influences either the atmospheric mass or the speed of light.

  22. Just my gut feeling but increased global temperatures seems to mean less ice in the arctic and pretty much the same temps everywhere else. Which adds up to a much smaller energy gradient in the northern hemisphere, so less severe storms, fewer hurricans. It’s all good.

  23. A quick “back of the envelope” calculation of the Carnot efficiency of the earth’s climate is something like 20%. IPCC projected global warming will reduce this to something like 18%. This means the amount of work the atmosphere can do is reducing over time, meaning that on average weather will become less extreme, rather than more extreme.

  24. Weather systems are driven by differences in pressure, temperature and moisture, which is another way of saying differences in energy. It’s analogous to the power generated by water falling through a dam’s penstock to produce electricity. If the water above the dam is the same as the water level below it, there is no potential energy. The higher the water level behind the dam, the greater the potential energy.

    If the temperature and humidity of the planet were uniform–even uniformly hot and moist–there would be no storms. Hurricanes and tornadoes don’t form simply because there is a lot of heat and moisture; they form when there is a rapid and significant change in temperature that causes moisture to precipitate and release energy. The greater the temperature, moisture, and pressure difference, the more powerful the storm.

    For example, the violent tornado systems that develop over the southeastern U.S. are the result of collisions between the (relatively) cooler, drier weather systems crossing the U.S. and warmer, wetter systems flowing in from the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricanes and typhoons form not just because the surface of tropical oceans warm, but because cooler, drier air flows over them to increase evaporation and release energy.

    A thunderstorm is an incredible natural engine powered by differences in moisture, temperature and pressure. When water vapor in the air evaporates to form a cloud it releases huge amounts of energy. When there is enough thermal energy from temperature differences to lift the moist air in the cloud to higher altitudes where it cools even more and goes through another phase change to become ice, even more energy is released. Those are the anvil clouds that mark the tops of the tallest, most powerful storms with massive hailstones, powerful winds, and sometimes tornadoes.

    The widespread notion among climate scientists that global warming by itself would increase the power of storms and the resulting damage demonstrates a remarkable ignorance of fundamental meteorology. If they can’t get meteorology right, they shouldn’t expect us to take their pronouncements about global warming seriously.

    • stinkerp,
      “When water vapor in the air evaporates to form a cloud it releases huge amounts of energy. ”

      Dontcha’ just hate it when you make a solid post but then let out a brain fart?

  25. There’s a couple of meteorological aspects missing both from the article and from (most of) the replies here.

    First it is not just a matter of DeltaT between Equ and Pole.
    It is also about DeltaT between surface and the tropopause.
    And specifically about the role of LH release in that.

    A warming world will contain more WV – which due the hydrological cycle is greatest in the lower trop and specifically the surface layers.
    A thermal on uplift will cool at the DALR until reaching the Norman’s point (condensation level).
    At that point it ascends (given conditional instability) at the SALR.
    It cools more slowly and theefore has greater uplift as the environmental LR will be greater (given convection in clear air).

    See this SkewT…

    The large (shaded red) CAPE (Convectively available potential energy) is what gives the storm it’s uplift power. On the dia area=energy.
    AT a high dp that CAPE increases and, as you can see from the dia – it is not linear.
    Also note that the CAPE area would increase if the mid/upper trop had cooler air overlying (this actually does and may well have given rise to tornadic activity).
    IOW: it is the abuttal of cold/dry overlying warm/moist that creates greatest CAPE.
    And hence increased “storminess”.

    The other thing is that storm intensity can come with persistence.
    A reduced Equ to Pole DeltaT also reduces the PJS and so baroclinic systems can become stalled in cut-offs of the jet and get “stuck” in one place more easily (flooding) and HP similarly (building heat/drought).

    • Any persistence or increased storm activity has to be accommodated by the Earth’s climate energy budget. My point is this energy budget isn’t going to increase, so increased storm intensity has to be compensated by reduced power elsewhere in the climate system.

    • It might be a little late but don’t the models assume relative humidity remains constant and the wet lapse rate remains the same?

  26. “The point to remember is energy from sunlight is delivered at a constant rate to the Earth’s surface,”
    Not quite if you concider a specific place on Earth. There is a daily variation that also produces some weather events.
    Averages all over, and you miss the important variations that make up the weather and in the end the climate.

  27. Eric,

    You said, “… Milankovitch cycles – the slow changes to distribution of sunlight caused by wobbles in the Earth’s orbit – likely have a profound effect on global climate, triggering the growth and recession of ice ages. But the orbital wobbles described by Milankovitch cycles don’t affect how much sunlight in total strikes the world, they only affect the proportion of the total sunlight budget which is received by the Northern and Southern hemisphere during different seasons.”

    That isn’t quite true. The changes in the ellipticity of the Earth’s orbit does affect how much EM energy is received by the Earth during its transit around the sun because of the inverse-square law. Depending on what portion of the Earth is facing the sun during the perihelion and aphelion, and the average reflectivity of those portions, the amount reaching the surface will be different. To wit, that article you linked to says, “Changes near the north polar area, about 65 degrees North, are considered important due to the great amount of land. Land masses respond to temperature change more quickly than oceans,…” This could help explain why the Arctic seems to be warming more rapidly than mid-latitides. The article also says, “When the orbit is at its most eccentric, the amount of solar radiation at perihelion will be about 23% more than at aphelion.” Currently, the difference is less than 7%.

    • Hi Clyde, thats a good point that as the Earth’s orbit becomes more elliptical, it will spend less time at perihelion. Will the perihelion of the Earth’s more elliptical phase be closer to the sun? Will that compensate for less energy received at aphelion? I don’t know the answer to that one…

  28. All that energy to evaporate water. You were thinking that energy gets expended somewhere. My view is that it gets released. C/AGW view is that heat gets retained. Long and lengthy discussion about the laws a thermodynamics
    If the heat is released, there is no run a way warming. It’s a water world. The water acts like of all things like a coolant.
    And if it’s retained, we are all in deep do do, which is why the climate people are screaming.
    To add urgency to their pleas to have the world governed by the little captain in N Korea, because only a system like that can save us from ourselves, they trotted out the earth’s energy budget, how much is incoming, absorbed, and the most important number, outgoing.
    There really wouldn’t be any polar vortex to worry about due to 2 things; ever increasing amounts of co2, and the amount of time that has elapsed since those dire and stern warnings were issued. They seem to think that some warming beyond the time frames is still related to what I consider a dead theory.
    If they are going to have upon the white horse and proclaim it’s in the name of science the predictions should match the math that says this much warming will occur within this time frame. Even adjusting the numbers upwards haven’t helped them much. All they are able to claim, weakly at that, is the warmest year ever.
    I said it 15 years ago and I’ll say it again, the heat gets released not retained. After 15 years, who’s right ? No other science would allow, cold fusion for example, this kind of nonsense to continue. Not privately, publicly, or in any institutions. It’d be shouted down in mass. And it will be.
    Really this argument about whether the heat is released or retained is the grain of salt that balances the salt shaker.

    • Absolutely, I support Willis’ emergent phenomena theory – it takes a huge push to warm the world. But it is interesting to explore the constraints on a warmer world.

  29. No, that would not be true. Any form of energy input will drive the climate system. The sun is one such energy source. Deep sea volcanism and heat flow from the core of the earth is the other.

  30. “Since clouds are a function of temperature, and warmer temperatures create more clouds, . . . ”

    Simplistic nonsense.

    The hottest places on Earth have the least cloud – arid tropical deserts. Maybe the writer meant to say something else.

    Cheers.

    • Mike. They also get quite cold at night. “More people freeze to death in the desert than die of heat” is the conventional wisdom. Because there’s no GHG (water vapour!!!!!) to keep the heat in.

      This thread reminds me why I dropped physics in second year. Some of the commenters may not have got that far.

  31. Eric wrote;

    “Awareness has grown over the last few years in the climate community of this thermodynamic limitation.”

    Well, enough folks have been hammering the simplistic “traps heat” nonsense that maybe it’s starting to sink in. Heat cannot be trapped, any valid analysis needs to consider the thermal capacity of the elements involved and the velocity of heat flows to predict the final outcome.

    Radiation on the other hand can be “trapped”, a simple Faraday cage (if you own a microwave oven you own a Faraday cage) can indeed trap radiation. There is no evidence that the gaseous atmosphere of the Earth acts in anyway like a Faraday cage when it comes to radiation. For one thing there are vast areas of the spectrum where the atmosphere is effectively totally transparent. And the thought that 400 ppmv of the atmosphere is able to “block” all the exiting IR is silly.

    Another point often misunderstood, radiation from a colder object will arrive at and be absorbed by a hotter object. Even if the object is a pure crystalline element, IR will be absorbed and warm a semiconductor even though it may not be energetic enough to raise electrons to a higher energy state. Surely a PV cell with a hot water bottle next to it will get warmer even though the IR from the bottle is not energetic enough to cause photo-voltaic effects to occur and generate current. This could “act as a blanket” and make the warmer object warmer still, but it does not for passive thermal reservoir, it merely changes the response time.

    For instance, the interior walls of an optical integrating sphere (at about room temperature) do indeed “back radiate” energy to a incandescent filament within (at say 3100K) and “warm it”. This is known as “self absorption”. A well known effect, not subject to debate. This “self absorption” (aka warming from the “greenhouse effect”) does indeed change the efficacy of the filament, this IN CONJUNCTION WITH an external power supply will make the light bulb brighter/warmer.

    The big difference is that an incandescent filament is a SOURCE of thermal energy, i.e. it emits visible and IR radiation without cooling down because it is connected to a power supply. A rock (like the Earth) is merely a RESERVOIR of thermal energy, i.e. It loses all of the thermal energy emitted as quickly as it leaves as IR radiation. This happens even if the rock is “warming up”.

    Another misconception, the energy free void of “space” does not have a temperature. Temperature is a characteristic of matter. A point in space where no matter is present does not have a temperature.

    If the volume of space just outside the Apollo crew capsule was at 4K the thin (about 1/8″) thick aluminum wall of the capsule would have fractured from crystalline metal failure and the internal pressure would have blown Neil Armstrong (RIP) and Buzz Aldrin (Safely back from a recent misadventure in Antarctica, luckily) out into space. Yes the exterior wall of the capsule facing the energy free void of space cooled and the wall facing the Sun warmed. This is why the capsule rotated while traveling to the Moon. There is a large vacuum chamber at the Johnson Space Center (Houston, Texas, USA) that was purpose built to test this.

    The crew capsule was on a large turntable (no you can’t play your old 79 rpm vinyl on it) and rotated around in the chamber. One wall of the chamber was filled with incandescent light bulbs, the other side had a chilled “shroud” filled with helium to simulate the energy free void of space. Apparently it worked because they made it to the Moon and the chamber still exists (it is a national historic engineer landmark). This same chamber is being used to test the new James Webb Space Telescope (a follow on for the Hubble)

    The often quoted 3.5K or 4K number is the “color temperature”, “radiation temperature” or “Black Body temperature” of an emitting body with the same spectral shape as the background radiation measured from outside the Earths atmosphere. The actual energy received varies depending on where one looks into the universe.

    Cheers, KevinK

  32. Hi Eric,
    I do find it very ironic that you seems perfectly happy to quote approvingly from a paper which is based
    on analysing data from “a climate model simulation with anthropogenic forcing” (from the article “The time period 1981 to 2098 is simulated using a combination of historical radiative forcing estimates and the Representative Concentration Pathway 4.5 (24) future scenario”).

    Thus I would like to know, when do you decide when to believe the output of global climate models predicting the climate 100 years into the future and when do you decide to dis-believe them? And on what grounds do you make this decision?

      • That would be this paper then “The ‘Alice in Wonderland’ mechanics of the rejection of (climate) science: simulating coherence by conspiracism”.

      • Interesting you describe pointing out that climate change will not alter the amount of sunlight hitting the Earth, and sunlight powers the climate system is “Alice in Wonderland” mechanics.

        I said nothing in this post about whether the world will warm, I was simply exploring some constraints on the system.

  33. When (not if) this silly CAGW hypothesis is officially disconfirmed (my guess is within 5~7 years), CAGW advocates will claim their feigned ignorance of cloud cover for why CAGW models were so devoid of reality…

    NASA’s Water Vapor Project conclusively showed that there IS NO “runaway positive water vapor feedback loop”, and without this, CO2 forcing equates to an ECS of around 0.7C, which is precisely what all the empirical evidence and physics show is possible. (Less the cooling effect of collapsing solar cycles and a possible Grand Solar Minimum event starting from 2032 and lasting 50~100 years).

    Since oceans have 1000 times more heat capacity than air, almost all CO2 forcing is quickly absorbed by the oceans, and ocean temps have only increased 0.09C since the 1950’s… Oh, the humanity!!!

    Oceans are a 1.3 billion KM^3 solar battery, which helps keep earth’s temperature in a relatively narrow range of around 17.0C (+- 7C) through the elegant cloud-cover mechanism (from: warmer oceans/more evaporation/more cloud cover/cooling, to: cooler oceans/less evaporation/less cloud cover/warming).

    Milankovitch cycles, cause glaciation/interglacial periods (not CO2). Thankfully, we’ve been in Milankovitch warm cycle for the past 12,000 years…

    To believe CO2’s teeny tiny forcing effect could increase earth’s global temps by as much as 5C in just 150 years is completely insane… The math, physics and empirical evidence simply do not support this assertion; not even close..,,,, CO2 fluctuations are an EFFECT of natural warming/cooling cycles, not the CAUSE of them…

    Even IPCC’s 2013 AR5 report admits NO increasing trends of severe weather incidence/intensity for the past 60~100 years for: hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones, droughts, floods, tornadoes, tropical storms, sub-tropical storms, thunderstorms, and hail…

    CAGW is so busted.

    • CAGW is so busted >>> but just to confirm – the whole GHG warming up the lower atmosphere is ‘busted’ too right?

      • No… CO2 forcing per doubling is a real thing, currently defined by the logarithmic function: 5.35*ln(560ppm/280ppm)*(.31 Stefan-Boltzmann Constant)*(.5 negative cloud cover feedback)=.6C.

        The negative cloud cover feedback is still being debated, but even if the there isn’t any negative cloud feedback, the maximum warming per CO2 doubling could not be muchmore than 1.2C, which is not a problem…

  34. One can see why few engineers number among those with a tendency for climate hyperbole. I have been surprised that the main proponents of ever more violent weather, tipping points, and other scary scenarios are scientists at all! Eric it is telling that you would have to inform climate scientists of these first year engineering ideas.

    Also few properly educated geologists can be found among the frightened. I studied paleontology and paleoclimate as an undergrad in the late 1950s in Winnipeg, where the university itself sits on the floor of the Pleistocene Lake Agassiz. It is no surprise to me that the very prominent climate scientist Tim Ball is from that very university. It has been known since the latter half of the 19th Century that the earth has been dipping in and out of “ice ages” during the recent millions of years. The Dwyka tillite in South Africa which we studied, tells us of considerably older glaciations and since my studies other icy eras have been discovered that go farther back still.

    Between the empirical data on climate of properly trained geologists (geology “lite” seemed to appear after they changed the name to ‘Earth Scientists’ ) and the pragmatism of engineers lies the key to understanding climate.

  35. He did have one statement that was wrong. The energy output of the sun is steady. I would argue that isn’t really true. The plots of energy emition show this.

  36. “In physics terms, the Earth’s climate is also an engine. Instead of a battery, the climate is powered by solar energy – sunlight falls on the daylight side of the Earth, is converted to heat, and is then radiated away into space. The means by which that energy is transported from warmer regions to cooler regions before being radiated into space is the sum of all of the world’s climate phenomena – wind, rain, ocean currents are all part of the global climate engine which is powered by our sun.”

    Exactly. Don’t they teach this to kids in school any more? If they did, they would not be deceived by the climate change/global warming scare.

  37. But those clouds are part of the Earth’s system and “simply” do things with the solar flux hitting Earth…

  38. All our energy (except small amount of geothermal) comes from the sun in form of electromagnetic radiation across wide range of spectrum generally known as light.
    Now this is odd:

    The red path shows an exotic looped trajectory of light through a three-slit structure, which was observed for the first time in the new study. Credit: Magaña-Loaiza et al. Nature Communications

  39. The engine analogy is spot on. Evaporating water moves air masses vertically. Storms arise. The water vapor is performing work on the atmosphere. Then the now drier, cooler air masses must return to the surface and in doing so, adiabatic compression warms the air back up to surface temp in line with the lapse rate.

    Consider the average precipitation…about a meter per year. The enthalpy required to evaporate that quantity of water is what? Compare that to annual insolation enthalpy…

    Also remember that same enthalpy of vaporization is released back to the environment after cloud masses have risen to an average of 18000 feet msl. That is the halfway point, mass based, of the atmosphere.

  40. “If the accumulated energy were to affect the climate, by contributing to more violent weather, it would be expended”

    But it would still warm the Earth–conservation of energy.

    This is a very confusing and, I think, confused essay. The claim that a warmer Earth has more energy to drive storms is wrong, but the reason it is wrong had to do with thermodynamics and I cannot tell if the author of this essay understands it.

    A storm is a heat engine, converting thermal energy to mechanical energy. A heat engine that simply converts thermal energy to mechanical energy and does nothing else is a perpetual motion machine of the second kind, called that because it violates the second law of thermodynamics. Actual heat engines take heat from a hot source, turn some of it into mechanical energy, dump some of it in a cooler sink. The amount of energy available to do work depends not on the temperature of the source but on the temperature difference between source and sink.

    If global warming warms both source and sink, there is no reason to expect the amount of energy available to do work to increase. It might increase or decrease, depending on the relative warming of the two.

    • By “expended” I meant radiated into space.

      From the post;

      In physics terms, the Earth’s climate is also an engine. Instead of a battery, the climate is powered by solar energy – sunlight falls on the daylight side of the Earth, is converted to heat, and is then radiated away into space. The means by which that energy is transported from warmer regions to cooler regions before being radiated into space is the sum of all of the world’s climate phenomena – wind, rain, ocean currents are all part of the global climate engine which is powered by our sun.

    • “If global warming warms both source and sink, there is no reason to expect the amount of energy available to do work to increase.”
      But it can’t warm the whole sink. The sink is the surface that radiates to space. It radiates an average 240 W/m2; that won’t change (unless solar or albedo does). So its average temperature can’t increase.

      • Hum … this is tantamount to assess that source cannot warm either (unless solar or albedo change–which may well happen). Or some energy appears in the system out of nowhere to heat the source despite constant solar energy entering. I don’t buy it.
        Besides : the average 240 W/m2 may and does change.
        solar panels eat energy at ~100 W/m² magnitude ; since this energy is immediately used up, it make no significant difference on the energy budget. Photosynthesis, however, make a difference, because of stored energy at day, year, and even eons scale of time, in the ~10W/m² magnitude. Biosphere has enough power to mess with the average 240 W/m2.
        “El nino” (i.e. flow in or out of the ocean) is another thing that does change the 240 W/m² average. Remember the “missing heat” argument

  41. 1. Look to the gradients.

    2. The ideal Carnot cycle produces no power. The issue is power, not energy. The Carnot Efficiency is not the proper metric.

    3. Don’t forget chemical/biological storage.

  42. Ok, for someone who did far better in thermo, than I: assume we construct enough wind turbines to meet half of the world’s energy needs. What effect would removing this much energy from the atmosphere have on climate?

    I suspect it would be negligible, like CO2, but considering how much money has been made on the CO2 scare, perhaps we can generate (pardon) another fake catastrophe and find our own gold mine.

  43. The ability to perform work is based upon the differential of energy from one place to another. For the battery, the ability to perform work is based on the difference between the voltage on each end. Consider voltage the same as pressure in a pipe. More volts is the same as more pressure and thus a higher power output potential over time.
    Now then, in the Earth’s climate, as you pointed out, it is how the energy received is transported back into outer space that is the work. But what powers the work? The difference of pressure at one point and the other. Lots of pressure at the equator where most of the energy arrives. Very little pressure at the poles where little energy arrives and much is reflected. But according to the ever present global warming hypothesis, the poles will warm up faster than the equator. What this means is that the pressure difference between the equator and the poles will lessen and there will be much less “weather” happening and at a much slower rate.
    Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming is a self destructing hypothesis which should have been defeated in debates in the late 1980s and done so easily.

    • You surely are not engineer. Your choice of word is messy. What do you mean when you write “ability to perform work” ? Power ? Potential energy ? Force ?
      You indeed can “Consider voltage the same as pressure in a pipe”. But more volts, more pascals (pressure unit) do NOT necessary means higher power output potential over time.
      There is not “Lots of pressure at the equator”. Actually winds, which indeed flows from high to low pressure, are going toward equator. Equator is low pressure zone, all year long.
      There is not “Very little pressure at the poles”. Giant anticyclones (high pressure) form there, which, when conditions are met, “fell” (latitude wise) toward Canada-USA or Russia-Europe, bringing in winter (precisely when close to zero sun energy reach pole) huge mass of very cold, very dry, high pressure air (and clear weather along).

  44. “Any drop in albedo due to melting polar ice”

    Seems to me that tropical albedo would pack a bigger punch than arctic albedo most of the year, given the angle of insolation. The melting of arctic ice seems to be more relative to oceanic oscillations than insolation. Albedo of land areas in the middle-to-upper latitudes seems to be the major factor, looking at past glaciations.

  45. Consider an electric flashlight battery. An electric battery contains energy, but that energy doesn’t do anything – the battery can sit on a shelf for months, ready to be plugged into your flashlight. But plug the battery into your flashlight, and leave it on, within hours the battery will be dead – all its available electrical energy has been used up.

    Similarly, a battery plugged into a motor also uses up its stored energy.

    Motor powered by a battery:

    Yes, Eric, but that’s not all at all:

    When the battery fails the battery ALSO leaks and while the battery acids fill the air your lungs go PLOP and you have to report before your Creator.

  46. Never forget the look in the eyes of Blacky when her lungs went PLOP in the bathroom.

    That PLOP sounding like a shot dampened by a muffler.

    Regina and me had 2 kittens : Whity was bossy, Blacky was dependant.

    Blacky’s look said: why didn’t you care for me.

    We brought her to the veterinary and she made an end to the story.

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