Gaelic dancing part two: Arms – The missing half of the greenhouse effect

Posted: March 15, 2012 by Rog Tallbloke in atmosphere, climate, Energy, Ocean dynamics, solar system dynamics

In his recent article on ‘the greenhouse effect’ Dr Roy Spencer presents his ‘Alabama Two Step’ argument which contends that the basic facts of radiative physics as presented by the IPCC are correct, but the devil in the detail, feedbacks, means that the warming effect of extra co2 in the atmosphere is strongly limited by Earth’s internal climate system. For Roy, the question of co2 driven warming is not a matter of whether it exists, but a question of how strong it is.

I think  this is correct as far as it goes, but misses out much of the real situation regarding the question of how energy flow in the Earth’s climate system is organised, and what causes what. Roy talks about ‘the greenhouse effect’ as if atmospheric radiation and convection are the only important factors. My contention is that he is only discussing the radiative greenhouse effect, and that this misses a large part of the totality of the ‘greenhouse effect’.

There is an old joke about the recent rediscovery of an ancient Gaelic book: ‘Gaelic Dancing part two: Arms’, and it applies to Roy’s Alabama two step as well. Atmospheric radiation and atmospheric convection are probably less than half of what really causes the Earth’s surface to be much warmer on average than the Moon’s.

So what kind of arm-waving argument am I going to offer in support of this assertion?

One aspect indicating that we need to take a fresh look at the greenhouse effect is the question of its magnitude. Phd Scientists Ned Nikolov and Karl Zeller report that recent MSU measurements of the Moon’s surface temperature made by an instrument carried aboard the Diviner spacecraft show that the Moon’s surface temperature is much colder than previously thought. In fact it is empirically determined to be in the region of 161K. This figure agrees well with the theoretical calculations made in Nikolov and Zeller’s paper ‘Reply to comments on the UTC part 1‘, which arrives at a figure of 155K. This possible error of around 6K is a lot less than the error arrived at using the Stefan-Boltzmann law in the way it has been traditionally employed to estimate the average surface temperature of airless celestial bodies. The same discrepancy has been noted on Mercury, and after a bit of prompting from the Talkshop, Wikipedia has removed the mis-estimate generated by the mis-application of the S-B law from its page on the planet Mercury.

However, the Moon’s average surface temperature lies at one end of the limits of Holder’s Inequality, due to the poor conductivity of heat by the Moon’s surface. A theoretically perfect black body would instantaneously spread the energy arriving at its surface evenly over its entire surface area. If the Moon’s surface were like that, it would have an average surface temperature equal to that predicted by the other limit of Holder’s inequality, at around 255K.

This 255K figure is of course familiar to us already. It is the notional temperature of the Earth without greenhouse gases used by the IPCC to claim that the radiative greenhouse effect is what is responsible for the difference between that figure and the balmy average 288K we enjoy where we live on the ground. So what is it about Earth’s surface that means that it is at the upper end of the range determined by applying Holder’s inequality to the grey body temperature of a bare, Moonlike planet earth? The answer is of course that Earth has oceans and an atmosphere, which spread the heat around the planet and retain a lot of heat on the night-time side of the planet.

The oceans have a massively higher heat capacity than the atmosphere, around 2.5m of ocean has the same heat capacity as the entire atmosphere above it. It is also buffered from the coldness of space by that atmosphere, as it spreads the solar energy it receives from the equatorial tropical region where most of the year-round insolation arrives, to higher latitudes where much of the re-radiation to space via the atmosphere occurs. The average temperature of the bulk of the ocean is around 275K or about 2C, and its surface at an average 17C or 290K. This vast body of heat retaining fluid is therefore maintaining most of the enhanced temperature of the Earth’s surface. But how does it get to be that warm?

The standard theory says that the atmospheric greenhouse effect is responsible, but there are a couple of simple observations which give us cause to doubt that. The first concerns cause and effect. Since the advent of satellite observations of lower tropospheric temperature in 1979, we have been able to make accurate comparisons of air and sea surface temperature. What we find is that changes in sea surface temperature precede the consequent changes in air temperature by an several months. The ocean surface temperature is apparently driving air temperature, not the other way round.

The lag of air temperature in red behind sea surface temperature in green is clear from this plot:

The second concerns thermodynamics. The average sea surface temperature is around 3C warmer than the near surface air temperature. Heat cannot pass from cooler to hotter according to the second law of thermodynamics. Conduction isn’t going to do the job. Convection is upwards not downwards. Longwave radiation cannot penetrate the surface of the ocean beyond its own wavelength. There are some limited circumstances when the air temperature exceeds that of the ocean, but in terms of heating the ocean bulk, this is about as effective as trying to heat an open air swimming pool with a hairdryer.

But if the atmospheric radiative greenhouse effect can’t heat the ocean fast enough to keep it at its present temperature, how does the ocean get to be warmer than the limit of Holder’s inequality for Earth of 255K?

I think the answer is as follows. In order to get rid of energy as quickly as it absorbs it and reach equilibrium, the temperature of the ocean has to be such that it can radiate, evaporate, convect and conduct energy upwards fast enough to match  the rate at which it arrives from the Sun. Incoming solar shortwave radiation can easily penetrate the ocean to a depth of several hundred feet and thermalise its upper layer, because like the atmosphere (though not as much so) water is largely transparent to short wave radiation. But once thermalised, the ocean has to lose heat from a much lower temperature than the source of the original energy which heated it. This means that the warmed water  has to emit longwave radiation. But longwave radiation has a hard time travelling in water, because water is nearly opaque to it. So radiated energy has a very tortuous and convoluted series of absorbance and re-emittance events on its way back up to the surface. There are of course other ways the ocean can lose heat, but these are also restricted  in various ways. Water conducts heat slowly. It convects heat fairly quickly to the surface, but once there, the heat has to get into the atmosphere. That mostly happens via evaporation and the now liberated radiation.

But the rate of evaporation is limited by surface pressure. It is well known that water boils at a lot less than 100C at high altitude, where air pressure is lower. Down at sea level, the weight of the atmosphere on the surface is much higher, and water has to reach a higher temperature in order to evaporate or boil. The ocean therefore has its own greenhouse effect, or ‘hot water bottle effect’ Stephen Wilde colourfully coined it sometime in 2008. But this is not simply a radiative greenhouse effect, ‘trapping’ or ‘delaying’ the longwave radiation emitted within itself. It is also a pressure effect, whereby the weight of the atmosphere (not its composition) limits the rate at which the most important heat loss mechanism, evaporation, can occur.

These are the missing arms which gives the greenhouse theory legs.

Now there have been several spurious arguments bandied around in some noisy and poorly managed threads concerning these issues around the ability of ‘back radiation’ to heat the ocean or slow its rate of cooling, and the question of whether pressure induced by gravity acting on atmospheric mass can affect the Earth’s surface temperature. I hope that this short exposition will help cut through some of the confusion engendered by the tossing in of red herrings such as demands that any alternative to  the radiative greenhouse theory must be able to work in a GHG-free atmosphere etc. This is nonsense. GHG’s exist in our atmosphere and do a fine job of radiating heat to space from altitude. If my hypothesis is correct, whatever warming effect they might have is a secondary issue to that primary role, because most of the reason the surface of our planet is as warm as it is, is due to the effect of atmospheric mass limiting the rate at which the ocean can lose energy. This is evidenced by cause and effect and thermodynamic consideration of simple observations as outlined above.

So obfuscatory arguments about imaginary planets will not be featuring in the comments section of this post, because we are dealing with the real situation here. Likewise, spurious arguments about heat from back radiation striking the surface of the ocean and being ‘mixed down’ into the ocean will also be given short shrift, because mixing occurs when wind blows. When wind blows, the rate of evaporation rockets upwards, removing heat from the ocean far more quickly than wafting its surface with back radiation is going to entrain heat into it. Arguments by assertion unaccompanied by supportive reasoning will be headed for the bit bucket whether submitted by any turtle, magic or not, or anyone else who thinks that argument by assertion is an acceptable form of scientific debate.

I will be happy to be proved wrong however, by anyone who has a sound, logical argument to offer. It may well be that the result of discussion will be ‘case not proven’. This is ok by me, because I don’t think the case for the radiative greenhouse effect being the sole cause of the ‘greenhouse effect’ is proven either. Note well however that I’m not disputing the basic physics of radiative gases, or that some of the outgoing longwave radiation from the surface is absorbed and re-emitted by gases in the atmosphere with radiative properties (mostly water vapour – around 1% of the atmosphere, and co2 around 0.04% of the atmosphere). Nor am I disputing the fact that around half of this absorbed radiation is re-emitted back towards the surface, or even that it might slow down the cooling of the air near the surface. I do have doubts about the extent it can measurably directly affect the oceans rate of cooling, but even allowing that it might, the effect will be smaller in comparison to the pressure effect I have outlined.

Perhaps the best we can hope for until someone comes up with a fiendishly clever empirical experiment to decide the issue is that it will be accepted that the biggest heaviest heat retaining fluid on the planet and the surface pressure it is subject to might just have something to do with its elevated surface temperature.

Comments
  1. tchannon says:

    “A theoretically perfect black body would instantaneously spread the energy arriving at its surface evenly over its entire surface area.”

    Dispute.

  2. tallbloke says:

    Tim, you’re probably right. I was just trying to get over the idea that more even spreading of heat will give a higher average surface T, which, due to Holder’s Inequality, is true.

    I think the S-B experiment demands the plates are even temperature all over though doesn’t it? It’s all part of the thorny issue of applying S-B law to rotating sphere’s heated from one side anyway. It doesn’t make much of a difference to my argument as far as I can tell.

    I’d be happier if someone better versed in that aspect would help me refine that section of the post, rather than just saying it’s wrong.

  3. tchannon says:

    “The ocean surface temperature is apparently driving air temperature, not the other way round.”

    Neither measurement is safe.
    I think this needs a lot of further investigation.

  4. tchannon says:

    “Longwave radiation cannot penetrate the surface of the ocean beyond its own wavelength.”

    That has been disputed and I point out this is a highly complex matter.

    For EM radiation penetration increases with a increasing wavelength but water, worse impure and agitated water (it is upset at being called impure ;)), is a translucent media.

    I think most bets are off outside of definite measured and even then are likely to be selective.

  5. tallbloke says:

    tchannon says:
    March 15, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    “The ocean surface temperature is apparently driving air temperature, not the other way round.”

    Neither measurement is safe.
    I think this needs a lot of further investigation.

    I think the temperature data, although by no means perfect, tells a pretty clear story on this issue. See the plot in the main post.

    However, I am looking forward to a post from you on this issue, because the graphs you produced with your software look very interesting. I thought at the time you posted them that you were agreeing that there is a lag. Please clarify your thoughts for me.

  6. tallbloke says:

    tchannon says:
    March 15, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    “Longwave radiation cannot penetrate the surface of the ocean beyond its own wavelength.”

    That has been disputed and I point out this is a highly complex matter.

    For EM radiation penetration increases with a increasing wavelength but water, worse impure and agitated water (it is upset at being called impure ;) ), is a translucent media.

    I think most bets are off outside of definite measured and even then are likely to be selective.

    Everything to do with radiation is a complex matter. :)

    So at the limit, how far do you think long wave radiation can possibly penetrate sea water? Nanometres? Millimetres? Centimetres? None of these distances are far enough to get energy into the zone where it is going to get mixed down by wave action. Those vortices lie much deeper.

  7. scousebilly says:

    “It (the Earth) is also buffered from the coldness of space by that atmosphere.”

    Wasn’t this Roy Spencer’s mistake too? How can space exhibit coldness when it is a vacuum, i.e. has no mass and, hence, no temperature/”coldness”?

  8. Stephen Richards says:

    “Longwave radiation cannot penetrate the surface of the ocean beyond its own wavelength.”

    That has been disputed and I point out this is a highly complex matter.

    Go back to those things that have to be able to ‘see’ under water. Ask yourself what you mean by LW radiation then remember that sonar and submarine radio are all long wavelength devices. They are LW because SW doesn’t penetrate.

  9. Stephen Richards says:

    “It (the Earth) is also buffered from the coldness of space by that atmosphere.”

    Wasn’t this Roy Spencer’s mistake too? How can space exhibit coldness when it is a vacuum, i.e. has no mass and, hence, no temperature/”coldness”?

    Strictly speaking space is not a perfect vacuum. Vacuums are defined by molecular density and not electro-magnetic radiation.

  10. tallbloke says:

    Scousebilly: to avoid getting bogged down in that argument let’s just say the ocean is buffered from the cold thin upper troposphere where a lot of the radiation to space takes place by the warm dense insulative lower troposphere. OK?

  11. Roger Andrews says:

    Observations show that the sun controls sea temperature, that heat released from the ocean controls air temperature and that CO2-induced DLR doesn’t warm the oceans, or at least not to any measurable extent.

    All of this coming up shortly, I hope.

  12. scousebilly says:

    TB – yes, indeed that is perfectly ok ;)

  13. tallbloke says:

    Stephen Richards says:
    March 15, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    “Longwave radiation cannot penetrate the surface of the ocean beyond its own wavelength.”

    Go back to those things that have to be able to ‘see’ under water. Ask yourself what you mean by LW radiation then remember that sonar and submarine radio are all long wavelength devices. They are LW because SW doesn’t penetrate.

    I’m talking about the range of wavelengths of Solar radiation (which sure enough does penetrate several hundred feet into the ocean or it would be pitch dark beneath the surface) and the wavelengths that water at a temperature of 2-40C emits at.

    I am not discussing sonar etc which utilises different (acoustic) properties of water to transmit and receive signals.

  14. tallbloke says:

    Roger Andrews says:
    March 15, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    Observations show that the sun controls sea temperature, that heat released from the ocean controls air temperature and that CO2-induced DLR doesn’t warm the oceans, or at least not to any measurable extent.

    All of this coming up shortly, I hope.

    Yes indeedy, worry not. I’m working on formatting your post.

  15. tchannon says:

    In the case of acoustics for reference this NPL page says sufficient
    http://resource.npl.co.uk/acoustics/techguides/seaabsorption/physics.html
    (those outside the UK, national physical laboratory)

    In the case of eg. radio it is different but I can’t point at any one web page.

    Optical and IR information for seawater http://omlc.ogi.edu/spectra/water/abs/

    Compare

    and

    This is telling and IMO points to a twist which misleads. There is very likely close to zero attenuation at extremely long wavelength but there is an attenuation null around visible light wavelengths, something goes through resonance, that kind of look to it.

    Taken with a restricted range of wavelengths, per second plot, it looks as though the above is not the case.

    Upshot is beware assuming much.

  16. tallbloke says:

    Thanks Tim, your second graph seems to support what I’m saying. The longwave radiation emitted by 2-40C water or ghg’s at -18 to 40C doesn’t get very far at all in seawater.

  17. Q. Daniels says:

    tallbloke wrote:
    Heat cannot pass from cooler to hotter according to the second law of thermodynamics. Conduction isn’t going to do the job.

    If you’re speaking in terms of radiative transfer, this is true.

    Within a limited (incomplete cycle) range, it’s not. A specific example is condensation if the cooler side contains supersaturated vapor. This shows up as a higher ‘wet bulb’ temperature than ‘dry bulb’, usually associated with fog.

    On the whole, though, your point here is valid.

    Correctly modeling the atmosphere takes a good deal of attention to the energy flows at the water/air interface. Some important points:
    1) The rate of heat transfer from water to air is exponential with water temperature.
    2) Ice significantly slows the transfer.
    3) The Dry Adiabatic Lapse Rate is 50% higher than the Moist Adiabatic Lapse Rate.

    Taken together, these points say to me that water temperature is heavily bounded by the properties of water. It has a natural temperature range of about 0-30C, and moving a large body of water beyond those bounds becomes very difficult.

  18. Arfur Bryant says:

    I find it thought-provoking that the climate science community in general has this fascination with radiation (as in the ‘radiative forcing theory, or the ‘radiative greenhouse effect’ when 99.96% of the atmosphere is incapable of either absorbing or re-emitting relevant wavelength radiation!
    I am not a scientist, so please tell me if I am wrong here, but radiation is not heat. It only becomes ‘heat’ when it is absorbed by a molecule capable of said absorption. So, when Dr Roy says “THEREFORE, adding more IR absorbing gases will cause a warming tendency…, I suppose he is theoretically correct. He then quite rightly goes on to say that the real question is ‘How much?’ Well, the answer to that is some figure between insignificant and catastrophic. Maybe 0.001 to 99.999? The IPCC and other pro-cAGW lobbyists would have us believe that it is significant and possibly catastrophic. However, observed data (ie evidence) tells us that it is demonstrably not so, and is much more likely to be closer to negligible or insignificant. All anyone can say with any objectivity is that CO2 could possibly have been responsible for an unknown (and unknowable) percentage of the observed warming of approx 0.8C since the start of ‘accurate measurements’ in 1850 (IPCC).
    The elephant in the room is water vapour.
    In very rough terms, every non-condensing GHG molecule (totalling less than 0.04%) in a well-mixed atmosphere is surrounded by approximately 2500 inert molecules. Add another 1.24% water vapour to your dry atmosphere; this makes H2O about 33 x more abundant than the ‘dry’ ghgs. Whilst water vapour cannot re-emit readily, it can easily absorb LW. How does the 99.96% of the dry atmosphere get warm? By conduction (low energy collisions). {Convection is a form of heat transport, not transfer.} This means water vapour’s contribution is MUCH greater than CO2′s.
    Some pro-cAGW writers (Schmidt, Trenberth, Lacis, scienceofdoom) have imbibed CO2 with the ability to contribute 20-26% of the Greenhouse Effect. They claim this is so because of the radiative properties of 0.038% of the atmosphere. The figure of 26% is so ludicrous one wonders how they managed to get this notion through what is meant to be an objective peer-review process. 26%? Really? They think that, back in 1850, 0.028% was responsible for 8.3C out of the 32.2 GE, and yet a whopping 40% increase in that powerful GHG has only led to an unknown portion of 0.8C in 160 years? Get real. ‘Thermal inertia lag’ has no evidence to support it. ‘Positive feedbacks’ has no evidence to support it. Radiation is not the be all and end all. Whereas there is evidence of a ‘Greenhouse Effect’, the evidence of a ‘Radiative GE’ in any serious quantitative senseis sorely lacking. And yet it sustains support from an adoring consensus. The lack of objectivity is staggering.
    TB is absolutely correct when he says:
    ["My contention is that he (Dr Roy) is only discussing the radiative greenhouse effect, and that this misses a large part of the totality of the ‘greenhouse effect’."].
    TB is also correct when he says:
    [“This is ok by me, because I don’t think the case for the radiative greenhouse effect being the sole cause of the ‘greenhouse effect’ is proven either.
    .
    When the pro-cAGW camp can find it within themselves to look at this subject in an objective way, and cast away the dogma remaining from an original musing by Arrhenius, we (Joe Public) may be able to find a way forward out of the morass of pseudo-scientific claim and counter-claim. Until then, we are just spectators at a tennis match.

  19. PaulK says:

    TB: “I think the answer is as follows. In order to get rid of energy as quickly as it absorbs it and reach equilibrium, the temperature of the ocean has to be such that it can radiate, evaporate, convect and conduct energy upwards fast enough to match the rate it arrives from the Sun at.”

    Of course.

    TB: “But the rate of evaporation is limited by surface pressure [of water vapour, Clausius-Clapeyron]. It is well known that water boils at a lot less than 100C at high altitude, where air pressure is lower. Down at sea level, the weight of the atmosphere on the surface is much higher, and water has to reach a higher temperature in order to evaporate”

    This is actually the feared water vapour feedback effect of AGW on its head.

    TB: “The ocean therefore has it’s own greenhouse effect … It is also a pressure effect, whereby the weight of the atmosphere (not its composition) limits the rate at which the most important heat loss mechanism, evaporation, can occur.”

    It’s also about the composition and temperature, see Clausius-Clapeyron.

    I think I got your pressure idea now. However, the effect is already somehow included in the GCMs that include the ocean. Causing the water vapour feedback.

    Hmm, how could one compare the strength of GHE and PEE (Pressure Evaporation Effect)?

  20. tallbloke says:

    Thanks Q. Daniels and Arfur. I am at a loss to understand why the mainstream scientists are not looking at the lag between sst and lt temperature and saying, “whoah! hang on a minute…”

    Mind you, they glossed over the 2000 year lag btween temp and co2 in the ice core data, so it doesn’t surprise me all that much.

  21. tallbloke says:

    Paul K, thanks for that. Yes, it’s ‘somehow included’ but also somehow ignored, and so we are led to believe that atmospheric radiation is the be all and end all of the greenhouse effect by a sin of omission in not mentioning the ever-present and constant pressure effect.

    What I’m saying is that although haven’t yet worked out “how could one compare the strength of GHE and PEE (Pressure Evaporation Effect)” we can draw some reasonable inferences from the facts that

    1) SST changes precede LT changes in temperature, indicating that the ocean drives the atmospheric temperature rather than vise versa, and;

    2) The lack of mechanisms by which a cooler near surface atmosphere can warm the ocean means the Sun must be doing the job directly and the surface pressure must be forcing the ocean to get up to 290K in order to equilibriate.

    To me, these facts seem to indicate that the pressure effect must be over half the reason the surface temp is 33K or more warmer than the limit of Holder’s Inequality as calculated for Earth-Sun distance. The radiation levels are therefore more an indicator of the extra warmth, rather than the primary cause of it.

  22. tchannon says:

    I’m not convinced the lag is safe, said after some hours on my own copies of the data. Yes there is something very curious in there which hints at solar, not good enough to show,

  23. tallbloke says:

    Hi Tim,

    well, you know more about signal processing than me. The lag still looks pretty obvious to me in the plot though so I hope you find the time to pursue the matter and get something solid to post.

  24. Brian H says:

    Edit notes:
    Tallbloke:
    Many ugly sentence endings with “at”.
    100% of the occurrences of “it’s” are incorrect.
    So is “limit’s”; s/b “limits”.

    Arfur;
    imbibe = drink;
    imbue = spread, soak, or diffuse.
    __
    Penetration:
    It is notable that the colour red is very hard to see underwater, and almost no red light from sunlight makes it very far in liquid water. By contrast, it is the most penetrating colour in the atmosphere, which is why the sky is blue and sunsets are red. The specifics of atomic and molecular interactions with various EM frequency bands are evidently critical.
    I’d be very interested to see/hear/read of any comparison between the heating effects of shining a 1kW IR laser at a pail of water vs. 1kW red, green, and blue lasers.

  25. Brian H says:

    What % of the energy radiatively absorbed by CO2 (or any “fingerprint” gas) manifests as thermal vibration? I’ve seen arguments that signature “translational” vibration is distinct, and that only a very small proportion manifests as heat. This suggests that the atmosphere’s CO2 content operates as a lagged insulated transmission channel to the sink of outer space, and has little or no warming capability.

  26. tallbloke says:

    Thanks Brian, I think I got them all.

    Red light is absorbed in the top two feet of the ocean
    Blue makes it down the deepest.

    Messing with 1kw lasers and unstable reflective surfaces – yikes, shades required. 8-)

  27. Brian H says:

    Analogies are treacherous, but I just came up with a genuine Canadian winter analogy for the GHE. There’s a massive snowball fight between the cosmos and Earth. The main thrower for the opposition is the Sun, which batters it with snowballs of numerous sizes. However, most of the the snowballs shatter and pile up here and there in lumps and smears. The Earth is less versatile, and can only make a smaller range of smaller snowballs. Certain sizes of them hit its own defenders in the atmosphere (GHGs), and they repack them and throw wildly in all directions, including about half back at the hemisphere of the solid ground. These also smash and add somewhat to the ammo snowpiles, which marginally boosts the Earth’s (ground’s) throwing frequency, normally limited by the size and distribution of the piles (large piles permit MUCH faster packing and throwing).

    The CO2 defenders’ throwing from the outermost regions of the atmosphere are on target (the cosmos), and make up for some of the friendly fire they inflicted on the surface.
    :) :D

  28. Brian H says:

    Snowball fight footnote: the rotating Earth and its goofy GHG defenders both continue firing at the cosmic sphere even from locales the Sun is unable to hit, using leftover snow from the previous pass through the Sun’s barrage (if any; the rotation axis is somewhat cockeyed, and at its tips the duration of incoming each day varies from none to non-stop). Paradoxically, the highest leftover piles (in desert areas) get depleted fastest!

  29. Hans K says:

    “In order to get rid of energy as quickly as it absorbs it and reach equilibrium, the temperature of the ocean has to be such that it can radiate, evaporate, convect and conduct energy upwards fast enough to match the rate at which it arrives from the Sun”

    Talbloke, I wouldn’t even be concerned about the need to get rid of energy quickly. The AGW indoctrinates keep babbling about their First Law energy balance, but what is this then. Where in thermodynamics does energy determine heat flow? Temperature gradients determine the heat flow and this means the Second Law.
    In non-linear systems here on earth the heat dissipation follows the rules of MEP (Maximum Entropy Production) which can be found in the works of Paltridge, Kleidon and Ralph Lorenz. The energy from the sun does not leave the earth asap, Second Law wants to get the maximum entropy out of it and controls the speed of ocean circulation and the speed of heat flow from equator to the poles. This is why for instance during much hotter times the temperature differences between equator and and poles were much smaller (very hot poles).
    So energy distribution starts from the top (solar energy) working its way through earth system with all its thousand of (heat, mechanical, chemical) processes obeying the Second Law, some very fast (radiation) some very slow (1000 y ocean currents). And the dynamical sum of all is the waste that leaves earth and an overall bookkeeper matching energy in with energy out does not exist. Each process has it’s own rate (speed) of energy consumption, and the ocean circulation doesn’t tell the radiation bouncing back to space not to overtake him because energy must be balanced.

  30. Brian H says:

    Hans K;
    anytime I or anyone else I’ve noticed brings up the long cycles of alterations, work, biological processing, etc., it is dismissed with the hand-wave, “Oh, that all turns into heat anyway.” My opinion is that it may take a VERY long time to do so. Construction of compounds and geological formations takes energy, which will be returned to heat sometime before the ultimate “heat death of the universe”, but that does not mean that it’s not deducted from the near-term “balance” in the meantime!

    So your observations are very welcome. To my mind, the AGW theories and models grossly violate the second part of Albert’s admonition: ” …, but no simpler!”

  31. Brian H says:

    That quote you used, Hans, as have others above, “to get rid of energy as quickly as it absorbs it and reach equilibrium,” is the core symptom of over-simplification. The only pressure to quickly reach equilibrium is in Kevin’s Cartoon. What must more or less balance is the integral of energy in and energy out over an arbitrarily long period, perhaps since the end of the last heavy bombardment a billion y.a. or so. Deriving weather and “climate” effects from instantaneous imaginary equalities is nonsense.

  32. tallbloke says:

    I agree it’s an oversimplification, but I am talking about the situation over the longer timescale here, in order to get a handle on the causes of Earth’s elevated surface temperature wrt the limit of Holder’s Inequality. I’m not trying to solve the issue of short term (decadal) warming or cooling.

    It’s true that the oceans took a very long time to cool following the Cretaceous period (millions of years), and for this reason I think the ability of the oceans to store heat over very long periods means they can probably explain the glacial/interglacial changes. However, that’s for another thread.

    Also for another thread is the issue of Nikolov and Zeller’s Atmospheric Thermal Enhancement. I’ve left it out of the picture here to avoid muddying the waters. I want to establish whether anyone can see a major logical flaw in the idea that the ocean could be responsible for more of the 33C lift from the limit of Holder’s inequality than the lower troposphere, whatever it is that warms it apart from the ocean itself.

    I think something that shows the oceans are in an approximate energy balance on shorter (multi-decadal) timescales, while at the same time allowing the possibility that they are tending cooler or warmer on much longer timescales is the correlation I found between cumulative sunspot number departing from the approximate equilibrium value used as a proxy for ocean heat content over the last 140 years of SST data (also used as a proxy for OHC).
    https://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2010/07/21/nailing-the-solar-activity-global-temperature-divergence-lie/

  33. Richard111 says:

    There is a mention of long wave radio for undersea communication implying that some long wave radiation could heat the oceans. I suggest apply Wien’s Law to that radiation and check the peak temperature. For example 15 micron radiation emits/absorbs fine down to -80c. below that temperature the effect drops off rapidly. The heat transport capacity off 100 microns is far less. What is the frequency used by submarines?

  34. Mydogsgotnonose says:

    ‘That mostly happens via evaporation and the now liberated radiation’

    Sloppy thinking: Latent heat energy is not radiation and the recycling of that heat by precipitation is essentially energy neutral.

    However, the formation of clouds is an integral part of the albedo control system. Forget about the present optical physics, it’s wrong. Low level clouds with bimodal droplet size distributions have on average 25% higher optical depth than unimodal distributions.

    The key part of the control system is that albedo difference [about 10% average, but it becomes much more important for thinner clouds].

    In short you can’t consider the oceans without the cloud properties being coupled, probably by biofeedback with phytoplankton..

  35. tallbloke says:

    Mydog says:
    “Sloppy thinking: Latent heat energy is not radiation”

    I didn’t think it was. That’s why the logical operator ‘and’ is in there, to separate the identities of the two processes evaporation and radiation.

    “and the recycling of that heat by precipitation is essentially energy neutral.”

    Doesn’t the condensed water vapour at high altitude radiate any energy to space either directly or via other GHG’s?

    “Forget about the present optical physics, it’s wrong. Low level clouds with bimodal droplet size distributions have on average 25% higher optical depth than unimodal distributions.”

    That sounds interesting. Please could you tell us more about it on this thread:
    https://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2010/11/14/alistairmcd-aerosols-cause-warming/

    “you can’t consider the oceans without the cloud properties being coupled, probably by biofeedback with phytoplankton..”

    I think I did indirectly include cloud cover when talking about insolation, which is affected by it. There’s a danger with any article on climate that you end up trying to cover the whole subject in a single post because everything is so inter-related. I’m trying to keep it simple so we can try to concentrate on the question of whether there is any logical reason the idea that surface pressure is responsible for the majority of the GHE couldn’t work.

  36. tallbloke says:

    Richard 111: I don’t know. You brought up submarines and so I’m inclined to ask you to do the research. ;)

  37. gbaikie says:

    “The average temperature of the bulk of the ocean is around 275K or about 2C, and its surface at an average 17C or 290K. This vast body of heat retaining fluid is therefore maintaining most of the enhanced temperature of the Earth’s surface. But how does it get to be that warm?”

    Earth has in the distant past has had average ocean temperatures of 10 C or higher- so a question how does the oceans get so cold [2 C].
    Permanent glacial ice at the pole within time frame of millions of year is a recent condition, if the earth did have permanent polar caps and had thousands of years of permanent ice free condition, it seems the oceans would rise in temperature. Or if earth simply didn’t long periods which it was in ice age the ocean would be warmer- if your interglacial period was extended for tens thousands. the ocean would get significantly warmer.
    Earth is 70%- poles are 10% of planet, if poles didn’t have land masses, you would not get permanent polar glaciers.
    So the result of having Antarctic and Greenland at the poles, has given us cooler ocean average temperature of around 2 C.
    So if Earth had both polar regions without land mass, the average ocean temperature could be around 10 C and average ocean surface could be bit higher than 17 C.

    Or there is a “negative greenhouse effect”- land masses near poles.

  38. Phil says:

    I don’t mean to sound like an idiot, but how do I post images on this site? There are a couple things I’d like to show visually.

    thanks

  39. Harriet Harridan says:

    Tim says:
    “I’m not convinced the lag is safe, said after some hours on my own copies of the data. Yes there is something very curious in there which hints at solar, not good enough to show,”

    I think it’s more than a ‘hint’ Tim!

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/sidc-ssn/normalise/mean:30/detrend/from:1960/plot/hadsst2gl/mean:30/from:1960/normalise/detrend:1/offset:0.4/plot/pmod/from:1960/normalise/mean:30

    BTW, *great* post Tallbloke.

  40. tallbloke says:

    Phil, use a service like tinypic and then post the url to the image where you want it in your comment. Tim or I will then make it happen when we spot it. Admin priviledge.

    UPDATE: I’ve posted your graphs on the new thread

  41. tallbloke says:

    Harriet, thanks. Your plot is nice, but the situation before 1960 gets confused. I’ve been puzzling round that issue for several years. It’s probably partly a data quality issue and partly an ENSO issue.

  42. tallbloke says:

    Gbaikie: a ‘negative greenhouse effect is a useful way to consider the issue. Permanent glacier at the poles on land surfaces do make the Earth cooler than it would otherwise be. I wasn’t considering Earth on tectonic shift timescales but I think your points are valid. Remember also however, that atmospheric mass may have changed on those timescales too. Volcanism can increase it. Big solar events may reduce it.

  43. A. C. Osborn says:

    Tallbloke if the will was there it could be easy to establish what “colour” radiation does what in the sea.
    Marine Institutes have very large “sea water” tanks for testing large scale ship models and Sea rescue practice etc.
    They could set up the various Lasers and instrumentation to that do kind of measurement.
    But who is interested?

  44. tallbloke says:

    ACO: the values for clear water are well known. But a lot of the ocean in the temperate latitudes is far more opaque because of photosynthesising biota. A lot of it ends up as whale poop on the seabed. Maybe that’s the cause of global warming – the ban on whaling might save the world…

    The question of how energy goes down the water column is an interesting mystery. I don’t believe it’s all subducted in the polar oceans. I wonder if the ocean has an equivalent to the adiabatic lapse, which is masked by the buoyancy of warmer water…

  45. Tenuc says:

    Great post, Tallbloke, and a strong contender for the real ‘green house’ effect. I’ll have a think about how the dynamics of solar energy inputs affects things and re-post later.

  46. Mydogsgotnonose says:

    Tallbloke; look at the equation of state of water as a function of pressure and salinity. It explaisn why the deep ocean is 1.8°C yet near the Antarctic, it’s nearer 0°C.

    This is the origin of the deep currents.

  47. Mydogsgotnonose says:

    This explains the delay between SST and Lower Atmosphere temperature: http://www.drroyspencer.com/2012/03/what-causes-the-large-swings-in-global-satellite-temperatures/

  48. tallbloke says:

    Mydog: I think Roy’s article begs the question. What causes the ‘convectively active phase’? Oceanic heat release seems the obvious answer, but why doesn’t Roy say so explicitly?

  49. Arfur Bryant says:

    Brian H says:
    March 16, 2012 at 1:18 am

    Brian,

    Thank you! I have no excuse except to say that it must have been a Freudian slip as they (warmists) are driving me to drink! :)

  50. BenAW says:

    tallbloke says:
    March 15, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Tim, you’re probably right. I was just trying to get over the idea that more even spreading of heat will give a higher average surface T, which, due to Holder’s Inequality, is true.

    I’d be happier if someone better versed in that aspect would help me refine that section of the post, rather than just saying it’s wrong

    The way I understand this:

    A blackbody is a theoretical construct that doesn’t exist in reality. It’s main characteristic is that when it receives radiation it IMMEDIATELY converts this into the corresponding temperature and IMMEDIATELY starts radiating with the corresponding radiation again. So no absorption and distribution of heat.
    See http://www.pnas.org/content/106/15/6044.full

    To calculate the blackbody temp of earth:

    TSI 1364 W/m^2. Earth intercepts the amount of radiation that falls on a disk with the same radius as earth.
    Simple non rotating earth:
    one hemisphere receives all the radiation, so 1364/2 = 682 W/m^2 SB > 331K
    other hemisphere receives 0 W/m^2 > 0K (3K if you insist)
    Average temp (331 + 0 )/2 = ~165K

    Rotating earth at one revolution per second:
    1364 W/m^2 is now spread over the whole sphere.
    1364/4 = 341 W/m^2 SB > 278K

    If you apply 30% reflection (albedo) the 255K shows up.

  51. BenAW says:

    Posted: March 15, 2012 by tallbloke

    But if the atmospheric radiative greenhouse effect can’t heat the ocean fast enough to keep it at its present temperature, how does the ocean get to be warmer than the limit of Holder’s inequality for Earth of 255K?

    I think the answer is as follows. In order to get rid of energy as quickly as it absorbs it and reach equilibrium, the temperature of the ocean has to be such that it can radiate, evaporate, convect and conduct energy upwards fast enough to match the rate at which it arrives from the Sun.

    The oceans have a very efficient buffering system, that can keep the surface temp almost equal between day and night (below 1K difference, unless there is little wind)
    See http://www.terrapub.co.jp/journals/JO/pdf/6305/63050721.pdf
    The “base surface temp” is found about 5 meter deep.
    Imo the oceans have not much problems disposing of the heat they receive.
    See eg. a shallow lake during the first cold nights of winter.
    Freezes over very fast, contrary to deeper water, where the deeper parts first have to cool before ice can form.

    The reason we see radiative balance at TOA is because imo the oceans arrived at their present temps by COOLING untill the incoming solar compensated the loss of energy from the oceans.
    Any disturbance in this balance like more/less TSI, major meteor impact, continents breaking up (Pangea), super vulcanoes etc. will take a long time the re-establish the balance.

  52. BenAW says:

    tallbloke says:
    March 16, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    “The question of how energy goes down the water column is an interesting mystery. I don’t believe it’s all subducted in the polar oceans. I wonder if the ocean has an equivalent to the adiabatic lapse, which is masked by the buoyancy of warmer water…”

    I find it fascinating to see the way you guys are inventing new mechanisms to explain the unexplainable. Think outside the box for once.
    The ~165K and ~255K we discussed are telling us one thing clearly: the sun ALONE can’t explain our present temperatures!!!!.

    We live on a ball of molten material, just 10km below the oceans surface temps are already ~600K and much higher deeper down. Assuming near perfect isolation by the earths crust, the oceans are cooling, untill the next major release of earths heat by eg, breaking up of continents (Pangea), a serious meteor crashing onto earth etc. etc.

    In the Cretaceous we had deep ocean temps 15 – 20K higher than present temps.
    Even with some fluctuations in TSI (Milankovitch) the oceans have been COOLING since then by radiating away more at TOA than the sun could provide. In present times we seem to have reached a balance, and no further cooling is happening, just some fluctuations around the established balance.