Cooling and warming the surface of the Earth without energy loss or energy gain: a natural mechanism
Guest Post by Wim Röst
Upwelling is a massive force, well visible on world maps. Data provide evidence that the last century ‘Warming period(s)’ just may be caused by ‘less deep sea cooling’. Data also show that the ‘Pause’ is characterized by ‘more wind’ and therefore by ‘more upwelling’. That upwelling cooled the surface layer of the Oceans and ended the previous warming trend. Effects are visible both on a regional scale (i.e. the North Atlantic) and on the global scale. ‘Upwelling’ together with ‘mixing’ is a massive force. On a scale of decades the mechanism responds quickly to changes and it forms a very active force. The changes in wind speed are enhanced in their effects because ‘wind stress’ on the surface is a quadratic function of wind speed. Preliminary data suggest that the wind-upwelling-mixing mechanism might be a new and important stabilizing feedback mechanism as well. The here described warming/cooling mechanism acts without energy loss / energy gain for the Earth as a whole. The author suggests that because of it’s massive power, the mechanism also plays a main role in Abrupt Climate Changes as are known from the rapid transitions into and out of the Interglacials. Less wind causes accelerated warming of the sea surface and the atmosphere. ‘More wind’ causes a quick and strong cooling by the Deep Sea.
In my last post, Warming by [less] Upwelling of Cold Ocean Water *, I explained that the ‘cooling potential’ of the deep sea is enormous. Calculations showed that – if activated – the subsea can and will decide over sea surface temperatures. A one year doubling of the regular ‘upwelling’ diminishes global sea surface temperatures with 0,18 ºC. I stated that ‘wind’ is determining cold upwelling (and ‘mixing’).
So far the theory. Let’s check the facts.
First question: can we see the effect of ‘upwelling’: is upwelling that huge that it is visible?
Answer: sure, the effect of upwelling is very well visible, even on world scale maps. Who looks in ‘horizontal lines’ often sees on the same latitude sea surface temperatures that are lower than elsewhere, especially on the West side of continents. Have a look at fig. 1.
Fig. 1: ** Sea Surface Temperatures (SST) 1985-2015.
We find main upwelling areas West of North Africa, West of South Africa, West of Peru and West of California. Prevailing Eastern winds, the Easterlies, are the cause of big upwelling areas. Less well known are upwelling/mixing areas resulting from Westerlies: the Sea of Okhotsk (East-Siberia) and the seas North and East of Newfoundland. For climate change those areas are important as well.
It is clearly visible: Upwelling is a massive power.
But that is not enough. When changing wind patterns are the cause of temperature differences as I argued in my last post, then we must be able to see those changing patterns between two periods.
Because the last ‘warming period’ is quite different from ‘the Pause’ I selected two different 15 year periods that both included a massive El Nino: 1986-2000 and 2001-2015 (data for 2016 were not available at the moment of plotting the maps).
In ClimateReanalyzer it is possible to subtract the average of the ‘Warming period’ from the average for ‘the Pause’: 2001-2015 minus 1986-2000. The parts of the ocean that cooled down during the Pause (compared to the warming period before) are shown in blue. Relative ‘warming’ during the Pause is shown in red. The sea temperature differences between both periods are well visible in most of the seas: Fig. 2.
Fig. 2:** Sea Surface Temperature (SST) Anomaly of ‘The Pause’ minus ‘Warming’ (2001-2015 minus 1986-2000).
During the Pause, most main upwelling area’s show ‘cooling’ (blue). Deep upwelling water was cooling the surface during the Pause more than it did during the Warming period before. Or, reversely, during the Warming period, less upwelling water was cooling the surface layer, resulting in ‘warming’.
Following the theory, the following question was: “Do sea surface temperatures show cooling because of a change in wind patterns? As I argued in the last post, wind drives upwelling. If so, the following map must show stronger winds at the cooling places of fig. 2.
For the same periods the difference in average wind speed was plotted. More wind (in red) means the wind enhanced over that region during the Pause.
The result is astonishing: fig. 3.
Fig. 3:** Wind speed during ‘The Pause’ minus wind speed during ‘Warming’ (2001-2015 minus 1986-2000). ‘Red’ = higher wind speed during the Pause, ‘blue = lower wind speed than in the preceding (warming) period.
Fig. 2 and fig. 3 are nearly the inverse of each other. Where wind speed was enhanced during the Pause, sea surface cooled. Where wind speed diminished, sea surface warmed.
In the Pacific Ocean we see that in the upwelling areas (West of California, West of Peru – blue in fig. 2) the wind was indeed stronger (‘red’ in fig. 3). This stronger wind enhanced the upwelling. And upwelling cooled the surface: blue in fig. 2.
But there is more. In my last post I also stated that ‘Warming’ could have been caused by less upwelling. If so, wind speed must have been diminished in seas that warmed.
Let us have a look at the North Atlantic, the region that warmed the most during the Pause (red in fig. 2). What was the role of wind in the North Atlantic during the Pause? The theory says it should have been diminished. If so, it would be shown as ‘blue’ in fig. 3.
And it is shown in blue. Less wind in the North Atlantic indeed coincided with ‘warming’. Less wind, less upwelling/mixing. And Sea Surfaces in the Atlantic were warming.
But that is not all. In my last post I also stated that ‘the whole period of Warming’ could have been caused by less upwelling.
If ‘Warming’ in general is also caused by less wind (resulting in less upwelling/mixing), than, in the Warming Period the average wind speed must have been lower in 1986-2000 than during 2001 – 2015. Let’s check.
Fig. 4 shows the development of average global wind speed for the whole period (unfortunately wind speed ´for oceans only´ was not available)
Fig. 4:** Development of global wind speed since 1979
(WR: The red line is added to the original graphic)
Less wind + less upwelling = Warming
Wind speed increased from 1979 onwards. During the entire period of warming wind speed on average was lower than during the Pause. Resulting in ‘warming’.
More wind + more upwelling = The Pause
During The Pause wind speed on the average was higher than during the Warming period. Resulting in ‘no warming’. As the theory says.
A ‘phase shift’ in 1997?
Because I was interested in the difference between the distinctive periods before and after 2000, I tried to look at the above graph in a different way: is there something visible like a ‘phase shift’ between the two periods?
Something like a phase shift seems to be the case from the start of the 1997 El Nino. I added the red line to the graph. Looking left and right of the red line, one discovers a different ‘average level’ for the two periods.
A negative feedback mechanism?
After the 1997 El Nino the average surface temperature of the seas was higher as well. See fig. 5
Fig. 5**: Development of Sea Surface Temperatures since 1979
(WR: Again a red line is added to the original graphic at the same moment in time as in fig. 4)
The development of Sea Surface Temperatures shows a pattern that is remarkably the same as the development of Wind Speed. Higher sea surface temperatures coincide with more wind.
As we already saw, more wind results in cooling because of upwelling/mixing. Therefore, the most logical conclusion here is that warming seas enhanced global wind speed and that global wind speed in turn started the cooling process.
This leads to the conclusion that a negative wind/upwelling feedback might be regulating surface temperatures: more warmth > more wind > more upwelling > cooling.
If future observations (and reanalysis results) confirm the pattern, an important new stabilizing feedback might have been discovered.
This feedback could play an important role in explaining the cyclic character of warming/cooling periods as well.
Wind stress is a quadratic function
The difference in wind speed between the two distinctive periods doesn’t seem to be that high in meters per second, but: “Because wind stress is a quadratic function of wind speed, gusty winds produce larger stresses than would steady winds of the same average speed.” *** In other words, a few extra storms will have a much bigger impact on upwelling and mixing of the sea surface than ‘average wind change’ would suggest. A little increase in wind speed results in a lot of extra upwelling and mixing. And a little decrease in wind speed results in much less upwelling and mixing.
Without wind, the sun would heat up the upper surface layer of the oceans, in the tropics more intensely than at the higher latitudes. Without wind, the upper layer will quickly show a stronger stratification in temperature.
As everyone who is visiting a cold lake in summertime can experience, the following happens. Without wind, in three to five sunny days the sun can heat up the toplayer significantly, producing one or two meters of much warmer water. Which, during the heat of summer, often is nice to swim in. Fig. 6.
Fig. 6: Stratification of a lake after warming by the sun – without wind
After the initial situation shown above, the following happens after the wind started to blow. Upwind the warm surface layer will be blown away and cold water will well up. Fig. 7.
Fig. 7: Cooling the surface by upwelling
Cooling without energy loss
Downwind, the wind will mix the upper layers. The warm water at the surface will be mixed with the cooler water below, resulting in an overall lower surface temperature and a thickening of the surface layer itself. By mixing, no energy is lost, however the top surface layer cooled. Wind cools the surface. Also by mixing. See Fig. 8.
Fig. 8: Cooling the top of the surface layer by ‘mixing’. An example.
Oceans are ‘very big lakes’ with their own characteristics. But there, the same wind / upwelling / mixing principles are at work.
Experiences of a submariner confirm that ‘mixing’ in the oceans in some cases can go as deep as 1000 meter. For some first hand observations, scroll down to: **** Submarine Experiences
Abrupt Climate Change
Due to Abrupt Climate Change(s) into an Interglacial, the global climate system changed rapidly. A different climate system with completely other characteristics for major areas established itself in a very short time. Gradual orbital chances can not explain the rapid temperature changes into the Interglacials. Some power must have warmed the surface at moments of a rapid shift into the Interglacial. In a following post I will elaborate on the idea that by a temporary switching off of the Earth Cooling Mechanism it was possible that the surface of the Earth was warmed by several degrees in a century. Or strongly cooled when the cooling mechanism was working in overdrive. It has always been the Sun that warms the Earth year after year, but the Sun can only warm the surface rapidly when the massive (and continuously working) Deep Sea Cooling is diminished substantially.
In a future post I will elaborate on the consequences of upwelling and mixing processes for climate. The consequences are huge. But, given the massive influence on surface temperatures as shown earlier in this post ((fig. 2 and fig. 3) and in the previous one, we can already draw some important conclusions.
The here described mechanism shows that ‘warming’ or ‘cooling’ of the surface of the Earth is able to happen without ‘energy gain’ or ‘energy loss’ for the Earth as a whole.
Periods of warming or cooling might just be the result of natural variation within the atmosphere/ocean system itself.
‘Weather’ (here: ‘wind’) still controls sea surface temperatures as shown by fig. 2 and fig. 3. The Oceans dominate the Earth’ surface (with a share of 71%) and determine most of the Earth’ temperature. Winds and Oceans are the decisive factor. ‘Upwelling’ and ‘mixing’ are processes that strongly react on relatively small changes in atmospheric conditions. Slight increases in wind speed result in the mixing of a lot of ‘cold’ deep seawater into the surface layer.
In respect to warming/cooling there are three possibilities:
- No wind: no mixing and upwelling, strong warming of the surface layer.
- “Normal wind”: no change in temperature, just the right quantity of ‘cold from the depth’ and ‘sun energy from above’ to keep surface temperatures stable.
- More wind: more mixing and upwelling, cooling of the surface, cooling of the atmosphere.
My guess: both warming periods of the last century were [mainly] the result of diminished ‘wind’. ‘The Pause’ showed a wind level that was just ‘right’ to keep surface temperatures stable. More wind will result in cooling. And less wind in the future will result in another warming period.
One who can not predict ‘wind,’ can not predict climate change.
So far, nobody can predict future winds, not even two weeks ahead. And no one can predict the behaviour of the oceans either.
Wind and oceans do what they do.
With regards to commenting: please adhere to the rules known for this site: quote and react, not personal. Factual information in regard to this topic is welcome.
About the author: Wim Röst studied human geography in Utrecht, the Netherlands. The above is his personal view. He is not connected to firms or foundations nor is he funded by government(s)
** Source of fig. 1-3 and fig. 4 and 5:
**** SUBMARINE EXPERIENCES
I spent the 1980’s on prolonged nuclear submarine submerged deployments (>80 days submerged duration) throughout the North Atlantic Basin. For a variety of operational and tactical reasons, ocean water temperature was of extreme interest. We typically operated below 70 meter submerged depth. We were often in the same area at the same depth repeatedly during a deployment and also from year to year.
1) Very large storms will stir up the water column and hence the temperature profile much deeper than 70m.
a) We witnessed one severe winter storm system in 1984 change the temperature profile for at least 1000 m depth.
b) This temperature disruption lasted for at least 60 days after the storm system had abated.
2) All of our temperature measurements were taken by direct readings.
a) Ship board precision sensors
b) Remote wired sensors deployed from the ship.
c) Calibrated accuracy was to +/- .05C (I have a lot of engineering experience with precision temperature measurement systems, accuracies, calibration, etc.)
3) In the absence of storm systems, the temperature profile would change repeatedly when in proximity to the Gulf Stream current in the North Atlantic. Proximity could mean within 200 to 300 km of the main Gulf Stream Current. We would see changes of 1 to 4C in a 30 to 45 day time frame. It depended upon the amount of eddie current and time of year off of the Gulf Stream Current. In summary this is a very powerful mixing agent.
4) In relatively still and deep ocean basins, the changes would not be so dramatic or dynamic. However from year to year (at the same time of the year) we would often see variations of 1 – 2C
The ocean is an incredibly dynamic, constantly changing three dimensional system
(name known by the author of this article)