How deep ocean warming can “bypass the surface”

August 12th, 2014 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

There seems to be continuing confusion regarding how the deep ocean can warm without an observable temperature increase at the ocean surface.

I’m not talking about a change in the geothermal heat flux at the bottom of the ocean. And I’m not claiming Kevin Trenberth is right that this has actually happened in recent years. I’m just pointing out that it is theoretically possible.

The average state of the ocean, except at the highest latitudes, is warm water over cold water. So, there is normally a vertical temperature gradient, which is strongest in the tropics. I won’t go into the various processes which maintain this gradient, but if any one of those processes changes, the vertical temperature gradient can change.

For example, if there was an increase in vertical mixing alone in the ocean, the gradient would be reduced, with surface cooling and deep ocean warming.

Now, what if this increase in vertical mixing occurred at the same time as an additional surface heat source, such as IR warming due to increasing greenhouse gases? The result (conceivably) could be deep ocean warming with no surface warming, as shown in the following cartoon:

Deep ocean warming can seemingly bypass the surface if surface heating is combined with increased vertical mixing.

Deep ocean warming can seemingly bypass the surface if surface heating is combined with increased vertical mixing.

As I have posted previously, there was indeed a tiny (2%) increase in global average ocean surface winds after 1997-98 super El Nino, which seems to have recently gone away. Ocean mixing is a complicated subject, and I have no idea whether this small change in ocean winds, if real, is sufficient to cause the “Trenberth effect”.

The extra Joules didn’t actually bypass the surface layer…they were matched by a decrease in Joules extracted from the increased vertical mixing. Temperature change is the net result of a variety of energy gains and losses, and those energy fluxes can change with depth.

And for those wondering how IR heat flux, which only affects the skin of the ocean surface, can affect the deep ocean: the same is true of evaporation, which we know is a major component of the ocean’s energy budget.

210 Responses to “How deep ocean warming can “bypass the surface””

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  1. ossqss says:

    So what are the odds of such a large scale precision transfer of heat, over a long period of time, being invisible to satellite observations at any depth?
    Observing no ~ in observable temperature via a process as described seems highly improbable, if not impossible with today’s technology.

  2. bill hunter says:

    As I recall wind mixing is what defines the thermocline (along with light penetration).

    There are various theories of how long it takes for the mixing to occur in the upper ocean. I have seen figures between 7 and 12 years for normal upper ocean mixing.

    This ocean lag time would lessen if mixing increased and it seems we are instead beyond time where the effect of increased winds would have a significant effect(nearly 18 years).

    We see in ENSO events its a slackening of trade winds that leads to surface warming which would represent a profile not explicitly described in your chart. I have long thought we need to better understand how ocean as a whole stays cool. Average ocean temperature is well below average surface temperature not to speak of actually measuring the temperature of the ocean as a whole, which more or less puts the Trenberth Effect into the classification of Day Dreaming as far as science is concerned.

    • oldfella says:

      “..Trenberth Effect…Day Dreaming…”

      I am not sure if Dr Spencer has misread something by Trenberth. The whole idea is ridiculously pointless.

      Of course, the following IF-THEN applies:

      IF our “ultimate heat sink”, the bottom of the ocean, is heated ENOUGH, in situ and from below, THEN it will cease to be a heat sink and become a heat source.

      But the miserable trickle of heat from the interior of the Earth would have to increase A THOUSANDFOLD.

      According to the most recent paper by Trenberth I have read he has become “one of us” whether he knows it or not.

      In Geophysical Research Letters, January 27 2013, “North American Water and Energy Cycles”:

      “The annual mean loss of energy to space [of North America] of 33 W/m^2 is compensated for nearly equally by transports of dry static energy and latent energy onto land.”

      “…compensated for nearly equally…” ,i.e. equal to within the limits of estimation. North America is losing “just enough” energy to space to balance its heat budget. As the null hypothesis of “basically unchanging world climate” would suggest.

      • I never said I thought a tiny temperature in the deep ocean (which is all it will ever be) would be a problem for anyone or anything.

      • bill hunter says:

        “The miserable trickle of heat” from the molten rock interior of the earth into the ocean bottoms combined with a comprehensive mixture of wind driven turbulence, penetration of average solar and greenhouse gas light rays, and conduction from a warmer surface has completely failed over the millions of years to warm the average temperature of the ocean to within 10 degrees centigrade of average temperature of its container shell seemingly when viewed in terms of “averages” in defiance of the laws of physics.

        Fact is the vast propensity of the ocean is to be cooled by downwelling cold brines predominantly from the polar regions. . . .which may be exacerbated retreating ice effectively stripping insulation (eskimo igloo) off the top of the world.

        Suggesting that the oceans are uptaking net heat without a representative sample of the temperature of the entire ocean in my view runs contrary to what seems most likely to be occurring.

        Warm brines can also sink if it is brinier than the water below it. But deep cold water is on average more briny than surface water. But all this kind of downwelling is a minor process within a much larger process that cools the average temperature of the oceans to temperatures well below the average temperature of the surface.

        Yes ENSO comes and goes but according to all indications in the observation record, and many thanks and kudos to Roy in his work, climate change has never approached the level of warming predicted by climate models and its not getting better. Taking a likely minor process like this and predicting a turnaround of observations is pure quackery.

        Roy lays out the theory well above. But there really is a “mixing zone” in the ocean below which all observation show other processes dominate.

        The problem I see with the graph is its really only a depiction of the “mixing zone”. If the deepest depth on Roy’s chart was labeled 300 meters I would be in complete agreement.

        But we measure the upper 300 meters fairly well and its not warming as described in the chart. The thermocline which does define the bottom of the mixing zone does fluctuate in depth from mixing like when a hurricane passes. The surface cools while heat is pulled into the shallow depths of the mixing zone.

        Below the mixing zone what observations we have also suggest cooling or flat temperatures.

        Warming below the mixing zone was actually higher prior to 2003 than what is currently the case, and thats after a lot of unvalidated upward adjustments to deeper ocean temperature records from the Argo buoy system after 2003.

        Yes I agree it looks more and more like Trenberth is getting confused about which end is up.

        • dave says:

          Trenberth is just like pompous schoolmasters I remember from long ago. “You must have misunderstood me. I already made that point last week!”

          I much preferred the master who said

          “F***, how should I know? I didn’t go to most of my lectures!”

    • the thermocline also requires continuous (but very weak) upwelling of cold water from below the thermocline.

      • bill hunter says:

        I agree.

        If there were no upwelling the thermocline would disappear and the ocean bottoms would be hotter than the surface temperatures due to heat from the core of the earth like it is in a mine shaft where convection is not a factor.

        Why not say: the thermocline also requires continuous strong upwelling of cold water from below the thermocline?

  3. Gary says:

    The problem with energy is that it’s fungible. It can’t be tagged with tracers, except by proxy, so following the photons is tricky business.

  4. Joe Born says:

    Additionally, even if you considered only conduction, with no mixing or currents, the conduction delay between, say, an oscillating surface and a more-or-less constant-temperature abyss could lead to warming at depth that coincides with cooling at the surface. (Yes, I know conduction is minuscule, but we’re just talking theory here.)

  5. Tim Folkerts says:

    Couldn’t global convection also have a similar result? If the waters warmed slightly near the poles, then the water conveting down eg in the North Atlantic at the “end” of the Gilf Stream would be warmer there. This would in turn carry warmwer water to the bottom, where it would then flow UNDER the surface waters without any significant impact on surface temperatures.

    This would require a warming at the poles (and/or a equator-ward shift in location) where the “global conveyer” dives downward, but the rest of the surface (mid-latitudes and tropics) could stay the same while the water at the bottom warmed.

    • TedM says:

      Except this should result in an identifiable pattern of heat redistribution, and such a pattern has not been identified.

  6. Nabil Swedan says:

    Here is my opinion: the ocean has two sources of heat, at surface from solar radiation and at ocean floor from the the heat generated in the earth’s core. Brine temperature at surface must be equal or infinitesimally less than that of ocean floor so that brine density at surface is equal or slightly greater than that of ocean floor. Subsequently, thermohaline brine can overturn and circulate. If surface temperature rises, which is the case, brine temperature at ocean floor increases equally, Other wise, the thermohaline circulation would cease, which is not observed. Ocean deep heat is not from surface and cannot come from surface for it is thermodynamically impossible. This heat is earth’s internal heat, and it is about equal to that accumulated at surface. Total heat to ocean is about equal to two times that accumulated at surface caused by greenhouse gases.

  7. Hi Roy

    Very good explanation. However, in your schematic, if mixing alone occurred, the mass weighted region with the increase in Joules should be identical to the mass weighted region with the decrease in Joules. Rather than plot as a function of depth, I recommend you plot heat in equal vertical increments of mass, and show how that would change under the different scenarios.

    In your figure, it would not appear that the two areas would be equal when mass weighted.

    Then one could assess from the Argo data if such a change in the heat content at different levels, when followed over time would show a vertical exchange to deeper depths.


    • Roy Spencer says:

      Total ocean mass is very closely proportional to depth…except as you go pretty deep and the area of the Earth at or below that depth decreases.

      The plot was only meant to be schematic…I wasn’t trying to get the changes under the curves to cancel out…just show the basic concept of how you can get deep warming but no surface warming.

      One of the big problems with the Argo data is the sampling is so poor that even 3-month global changes imply unrealistically large W/m2 energy fluxes…very noisy data.

  8. Don Easterbrook says:

    But isn’t this just mixing, rather than addition of heat by warming from the atmosphere that ‘disappears’ into the depths?

    • Roy Spencer says:

      Don’t know what you mean Don. I tried to make the explanation simple.

      Mixing is just one of many processes that can cause heat exchange between layers. Temperature change represents the NET gain or loss of thermal energy by layers.

      • oldfella says:

        Obviously, “disappears” is a rhetorical flourish – which should not be in any sober discussion. It is used, presumably, for at least two reasons:

        (1) Because the heat is mixed into such a large heat sink that the effect on the temperature(s) of the heat sink is negligible. Which will be true when the whole Ocean is mixed – 500 years.

        (2) It is gone,now and forever, from our, human environment. “Out of sight, out of mind”. Which is the right attitude, but should not be expressed in such a silly way.

  9. Don – Whether it is mixing and/or added heat, this can be tracked in terms of Joules IF the temporal and spatial resolution is sufficient. The heat will not disappear even at depths (although it might not be sampled).

    Roger Sr.

  10. John Bills says:

    IPCC AR5 TS.6 Key Uncertainties

    This final section of the Technical Summary provides readers with a short overview of key uncertainties in the understanding of the climate system and the ability to project changes in response to anthropogenic influences. The overview is not comprehensive and does not describe in detail the basis for these findings.

    Different global estimates of sub-surface ocean temperatures have variations at different times and for different periods, suggesting that sub-decadal variability in the temperature and upper heat content (0 to to 700 m) is still poorly characterized in the historical record.
    Below ocean depths of 700 m the sampling in space and time is
    too sparse to produce annual global ocean temperature and heat
    content estimates prior to 2005.
    Observational coverage of the ocean deeper than 2000 m is still limited and hampers more robust estimates of changes in global ocean heat content and carbon content. This also limits the quantification of the contribution of deep ocean warming to sea level

  11. And for those wondering how IR heat flux, which only affects the skin of the ocean surface, can affect the deep ocean: the same is true of evaporation, which we know is a major component of the oceans energy budget.

    My response

    Not relevant..

    Reason being visible light and UV light trump IR radiation as far as penetrating the ocean’s surface and influencing it’s temperature.

    No matter what effect IR radiation may have it pails in comparison to visible light and long UV light waves will exert upon the ocean.

    • Roy Spencer says:

      No question that solar absorption dominates, but if not for evaporation, the oceans would be much warmer…no?

      • Robertv says:

        Why? Wouldn’t the heat loss be much bigger in winter and at night without water vapor in the atmosphere.

    • KR says:

      Actually, Salvatore, IR has a significant influence on ocean temperatures. There’s a discussion of the mechanics of the ocean ‘skin layer’, it’s temperature gradient over distances of less than a millimeter, and measurements of the effects of IR discussed here.

  12. Visible light penetrates the ocean to much greater depths then IR it should then follow this is the most important element in the determination of ocean temperatures.

  13. What the co2 driven global warming advocates dont discuss is that if the ocean has started eating global warming since the trade winds changed during the negative phase of the oceans ~60 year multi-decadal cycles, they also emitted excess energy during their positive phase from 1975-2005. The implication is that the oceans are capable of storing energy on long timescales, and releasing it on long timescales too. And they store a lot of energy. The top two metres alone contain as much energy as the entire atmosphere above.

    We know that the oceans keep the air temperature up over night as the release some of the energy the Sun poured into them during the day. We also know that there is a lag of a couple of months between the longest day of the year and the peak in surface air temperatures near coasts. This is thermal inertia and heat capacity at work. On longer timescales, we have recently confirmed that runs of El Nino events which release a lot of energy from the oceans are initiated on the falling side of the solar cycle, never on the upswing.

    So we can go a stretch further and combine what we know. When solar activity falls, energy comes out of the ocean, not just over the period of the decline of a single 11 year solar cycle, but if the Sun stays low in activity terms, for many years. An integration of the sunspot number shows us that the ocean heat content rose all the way from 1934 to 2003. This is the real cause of global warming. A lot of excess energy is still retained in the upper ocean. We can expect the effect of a couple of low solar cycles to be softened by a proportion of that excess heat returning to space via the atmosphere warming it on the way.

    In developing my understanding of the Earths systems, I developed a couple of very simple models to help me fathom the way the surface temperature stays fairly constant as the solar cycles wax and wane. Back in 2009, by analysing the data, I found that the global average sea surface temperature, the SST, stays fairly constant when the Sun is averaging around 40 sunspots per month. By calculating the running total departing from this figure in a simple integration I found that combined with the ~60 oceanic cycles (also solar influenced), I could reproduce the temperature history of the last 150 years quite accurately. By adding in a nominal forcing for co2 (or an allowance for the infamous adjustments to the data), I was able to get a match to monthly data which has a Pearson R^2 value of 0.9.

    The above is part of an article ROG TALKBLOKE wrote from his web-site talkblokes talkshop.

    Another point of view.

  14. DocMartyn says:

    Roy, if this were the case we would see large changes in the levels of DIC over the last few decades in the 0-700m layer. We have very good measurements from the 70’s on, but I have see this claim.

  15. StuL says:

    I believe this happens, and has always happened, heat becomes transferred to the ocean mechanically by processes like the PDO however this is a two way process, during negative PDO heat goes into the ocean and during positive PDO it comes back out again, as these long cycles have not long been discovered, and there maybe other circulations and processes we don’t know about, saying that ocean heat content is rising does mean this is not a natural occurence and has not been happening in cycles for millions of years, we just don’t know enough.

  16. Jim Steele says:

    I agree that such mixing could cool the upper layers and warm deeper layers. However what seems unlikely is that such a mixing dynamic would drive heat below 700 meters. The mixed layer is typically only 10 to 200 meters.

  17. Carl says:

    Mixing and warming could exactly balance to keep the surface temperature the same. It would be a remarkable coincidence.
    But the sea level isn’t rising. Expansion of water after 4C is approximately linear. So whatever depth is warming, there should be expansion, but there’s not.

  18. Dr. Strangelove says:

    Is the process reversible? What if mixing slows down? Will the surface warm? Will Trenberth’s missing heat come back to haunt us?

    • If Trenberth is correct, then presumably at some point the increased mixing would decrease, and more rapid surface warming could result.

      Or, maybe increased mixing is a *response* to surface heating, stabilizing the climate system.

      Or, maybe there hasn’t been increased mixing at all.

      Or, maybe the OHC hasn’t increased, and it’s just an observational error.


  19. numberer says:

    “Will Trenberth’s missing heat come back to haunt us?”

    No. Because it is expanding outwards spherically, many light years away already.

  20. dave says:

    The caveats in the IPCC report are all correct and important. There is insufficient data to make any validated statements about the variability of the mixing processes of the Ocean. Hence, talking about ‘missing heat’ as if a measurable phenomenon has been nailed down, is bluster.

    The Ocean is convective and therefore turbulent. It is allowed to be a little wobbly and unpredictable.
    However, that million million million tons of water at 2 C below the thermocline will take up a lot of heat eventually.

    The idea that a 2% increase in wind will immediately stop global warming was not incorporated in any of ‘the models demonstrated to me.

    “Ad hockery leads to mockery.”

    • dave says:

      “…below the thermocline…”

      It occurs to me that some people may not be acquainted with the facts of this crucial matter. Dr Spencer ignores it in his cartoon.

      It is a thinnish layer of water at moderate depth where the temperature drops rapidly with further depth. Above it, and especially below it, the bodies of water are comparatively uniform in temperature. Thermoclines compartmentalise the Ocean. Vertical mixing across them is difficult. If it were easy, excess heat would sink into the abyssal Ocean much quicker.

  21. jake says:

    ‘missing heat’

    The dog ate it.

  22. It is much more likely that deep ocean warming would be affected by changes in the amount of solar input getting past the ocean surface and then being circulated downward before it gets back to the surface.

    In comparison, changes in IR between ocean and atmosphere would be too small to matter especially after any enhancement of surface evaporation.

    So it would be global cloudiness that has the strongest effect and not GHGs.

    The late 20th century saw decreased cloudiness and warming oceans at a time of active sun.

    Now, with the quieter sun, the oceans are no longer warming and cloudiness has increased.

    In the end though the amount of solar energy that the oceans can retain in the long term (disregarding internal system variability) is set by the weight of the mass of the atmosphere pressing down on the surface.

    That weight is what determines the amount of energy required in the phase change of water from liquid to vapour.

    At current atmospheric pressure about 5 times as much energy is taken up by the phase change as is required to initiate it and the heavier the atmosphere the more is required and the more energy the oceans need to retain to achieve equilibrium with incoming solar energy.

    I went into it all in tiresome detail here:

  23. Kristian says:

    Roy, you say:

    “Now, what if this increase in vertical mixing occurred at the same time as an additional surface heat source, such as IR warming due to increasing greenhouse gases?”


    “And for those wondering how IR heat flux, which only affects the skin of the ocean surface, can affect the deep ocean: the same is true of evaporation, which we know is a major component of the oceans energy budget.”

    You seem pretty confused regarding the concept of HEAT. There is no IR heat to the ocean surface. The IR heat goes UP from the surface to the atmosphere. Because the surface is warmer than the atmosphere.

    Heat in physics is neatly defined as ‘energy transferred from a hot to a cold place by virtue of their temperature difference.’ In a radiative thermal exchange, the heat is the ‘net energy’. A transfer of energy as heat reduces the internal energy (cools) the hot system and increases the internal energy (warms) the cold system.

    The only thing the atmosphere can ever do is reduce the heat OUT from the surface. Not increase the heat IN to the surface.

    And for the atmosphere to reduce the heat OUT from the surface, it will have to warm relative to the surface, meaning, the temperature gradient away from the solar-heated surface will have to be made less steep.

    Since 1997/98, the global troposphere has not warmed relative to the global surface. And when the troposphere warms more than the surface during El Nio and cools more during La Nia, we all know that this is not the cause of the original surface warming/cooling. The original surface warming/cooling is simply amplified in the troposphere.

    Hence, there is no evidence of a smaller heat flux from surface to atmosphere causing extra surface warming (or less surface cooling).

    The vertical mixing hypothesis, however, seems plausible. The ENSO process regulates this to a large extent. An overweight of La Nias will cause an overall rise in bulk energy content (OHC), but a general cooling at the surface.

    • “The only thing the atmosphere can ever do is reduce the heat OUT from the surface. Not increase the heat IN to the surface.”

      This is semantics.

      “And for the atmosphere to reduce the heat OUT from the surface, it will have to warm relative to the surface…”

      No, an increased GHE can do it. Of course, that implies lower atmosphere warming…but that’s the point of my post…the warming can be cancelled out by surface temperature decreases caused by increased ocean mixing.

      Again, I’m not claiming this is what happened…just that it’s theoretically possible.

      • Kristian says:

        It’s not semantics, Roy. It’s about keeping thermodynamic principles straight. You can’t go around giving the impression (even worse, actually stating in plain words) that the cool atmosphere brings HEAT to the warmer surface, implying that it’s a heat source for its own heat source. Because it doesn’t. It can’t. And it isn’t. It couldn’t be.

        • So my skin temperature is 25C and I stand next to a door which is 15C. Then I stand next to a large block of ice that is -60C. According to you, I won’t feel a temperature difference because the ‘coldness’ can’t effect me. Sounds kind of stupid…

          • Kristian says:

            According to me? How so?

            Of course you’d feel colder next to a -60C block of ice than next to a door at +15C. That’s how heat works. You lose more energy to the block of ice than you do to the door. Because the ice is colder than the door. You still lose energy (cool) to both of them. Only more to the ice than to the door. You still transfer energy as heat to them. None of them transfers energy as heat to you.

          • But the net result is exactly the same then? Aren’t you then just playing a semantic game?

          • Kristian says:

            Will Nitschke says, August 13, 2014 at 4:55 PM:

            “But the net result is exactly the same then? Arent you then just playing a semantic game?”

            Of course not. Saying something cold (like the atmosphere) will heat something hot (like the surface) is directly violating the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Heat only moves from hot to cold. Spencer even seems to say that the atmosphere acts like a second ‘heat source’ to the surface, next to the sun itself. This is beyond wrong.

            I think you need to read my original comment + my follow-up once more, Will.

          • If heat is moving in and out of the system (because it’s not a closed system) and you reduce the heat loss somewhat, then the result will be more heat in the system, correct?

            So I still can’t follow your argument. No laws of thermodynamics are being broken. This is kid level stuff isn’t it?

          • Kristian says:

            Will Nitschke says, August 13, 2014 at 6:07 PM:

            “If heat is moving in and out of the system (because its not a closed system) and you reduce the heat loss somewhat, then the result will be more heat in the system, correct?

            So I still cant follow your argument. No laws of thermodynamics are being broken. This is kid level stuff isnt it?”

            Will, give it up. I quote (once again!) exactly what Spencer wrote in the top post:

            Now, what if this increase in vertical mixing occurred at the same time as an additional surface heat source, such as IR warming due to increasing greenhouse gases?
            (My emphasis.)


            And for those wondering how IR heat flux, which only affects the skin of the ocean surface, can affect the deep ocean: the same is true of evaporation, which we know is a major component of the oceans energy budget.
            (Again my emphasis.)

            Both these statements directly violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

            For a guy who calls himself an earth scientist, to not just endorse, but to flat out promote outright falsehoods like this is pretty bad. This is Thermodynamics 101, Will. Everyone should know already at highschool level (or even before) that a cold object can never be a heat source to a hot one, that heat is something that in nature only passes from hot to cold. IR from the cool atmosphere can never heat the warmer surface. This is not just semantics. This is very much a question of getting basic physical principles right. One should be able to expect that much from people working in the field. And if people of stature, like Roy here, walk around saying that atmospheric IR to the surface is HEAT to the surface, that ‘greenhouse warming’ is somehow a second heat source to the surface, it will (seemingly) utterly confuse people like you. Who in turn would rather ‘attack’ me, the guy who merely points out how wrong it is …

            The surface heats the atmosphere. Not the other way around.

            There’s no use talking about doors at +15C vs. ice blocks at -60C. The surface and the atmosphere is globally connected by a constant mean temperature gradient. This doesn’t readily change over time. It’s maintained by the tight interaction between solar heating (yes, actual heating) of the surface, and the automatic convective/evaporative response, heating the atmosphere.

            You will have to make this temp gradient less steep on a permanent basis for the heat going OUT from the surface to decrease and thus force the surface to warm. You can’t do this by putting more CO2 in the atmosphere.

          • I have a room in my house with two windows. One wall with one window faces the sun, the other my shady backyard. I have a thermometer in the middle of the room and it reads 25C. I roll in some blocks of ice and check the temperature again an hour later and the room temp is now 10C. I roll out the blocks of ice and roll in some of my outdoor furniture. It’s cool outside so the furniture is cooler than the room. I go back an hour later and the temp’s now 24C.

            What you’re saying is that the above is physically impossible because a cold object can’t warm up a warmer object. But that’s not what’s going on so that’s why you’re confused.

          • Kristian says:


            Can you please go and read an introductory textbook on thermodynamics and then come back and rather address Spencer about how he’s wrong in what he says, instead of desperately in convoluted ways trying to explain to me how he in an upside-down way really can be said to be correct anyway in stating that the atmosphere ‘heats’ the surface?

          • Kristian says:


            The Sun (THE SUN!!!) heats the surface, not the atmosphere. Because the Sun is warmer than the surface. The atmosphere isn’t. Therefore the Sun is the HEAT SOURCE of the surface. The atmosphere is NOT a heat source to the surface. The surface is rather the ATMOSPHERE’S heat source.

            What the atmosphere does is restrict the COOLING of the surface.

            Now go tell Spencer. He seemingly doesn’t know (or care about) the difference. It is not semantics. It’s sloppy physics.

        • John Owens says:

          Kristian, you need to get a text that discusses quantum mechanics and how energy is transferred by photons. This was discovered in the early 1900s by Max Planck. The photon does not know where it is going when it is emitted, it just goes. Some general study books consider this subject too difficult and do not cover this subject correctly.

          • Kristian says:

            Owens, I don’t need to get a text that discusses quantum mechanics and how energy is transferred by photons. Because it’s irrelevant. Photons moving from a cold to a hot object do not HEAT the hot object. HEAT in a radiative thermal exchange is the ‘net energy’ moving between the two objects involved. And the ‘net energy’ ALWAYS moves from hot to cold. HEAT is the actual (detectable) transfer of energy, the spontaneous process provoked by the temperature difference. Only the heat in such a thermal exchange changes the internal energy of the two objects involved, reducing it in the hot object (cooling it) and increasing it in the cold object (warming it). It doesn’t matter what individual photons do. A cold object simply cannot heat a hot one.

            Heat is heat regardless of how we view the process behind it. The Laws of Thermodynamics hold for radiative transfer as much as for conductive or convective transfer. There are no concessions granted.

      • sails says:

        “…increased ocean mixing…”

        The ultimate fate of any excess heat is to be mixed into the abyssal ocean. The only question is the rate at which this happens. The heat capacity of the ocean is 1,600 times that of the atmosphere. The ocean is the quiet giant of our world, the atmosphere is the tag-along little friend.

        • dave says:

          I get all the information I need about the bottom of the ocean from SpongeBob Square Pants. Apparently suburban America has colonised it.

          • jake says:

            “…America has colonised it.”

            It is determinedly multi-cultural and PC, (although the mentally challenged are cruelly mocked). I am not sure about the biology. There seems to be a distinct lack of the sex which enlivens my textbooks of Ocean life. I am definitely not sure about the thermodynamics. Fires occur with surprising frequency.

  24. Kristian says:

    Kristian says, August 13, 2014 at 3:42 AM:

    “There is no IR heat to the ocean surface.”

    Except from the Sun, of course …

  25. AlecM says:

    My Dear Dr Spencer. Let’s put an end to this claim that ‘back radiation’ is a real energy flux. It is the atmospheric emittance, as any competent scientist should know, the potential energy flux of that emitter to a sink at absolute zero. It can supply no energy to the surface [for a normal temperature gradient].

    Because net surface IR flux is [surface emittance – atmospheric emittance], the effect of increased ‘back radiation’, aka LW ‘forcing’, is to reduce net surface IR. In the absence of any other process, the system then responds by warming to increase convection and evapo-transpiration to the level needed to ensure heat loss = SW thermalisation.

    It is a fact that very little of the net surface IR can be thermalised in the atmosphere, so there is little radiativeatmospheric heating. Moreover, there is a cooling process: increased evaporation means more cloud volume; as each cloud rises it is replaced by cooler, dryer air. Also, increased cloud area reduces SW warming. Go deeper into this and the water cycle exactly compensates for [GHG] increase, no CO2-AGW.

    So, what we are left with is zero sea surface temperature rise. There is no missing heat because it was never generated in the first place. There are effects of change of cloud area and albedo, also insolation. It’s time to close down the IPCC’s fake science.

    • I’ve addressed all of this before…not going there again.

      • AlecM says:

        Accepted, but the Real World evidence shows i’m right and I have quantified the atmospheric mechanism which has been completely missed by atmospheric science.

        • John Owens says:

          Alex, you need to study the transfer of energy by photons and increase your general understanding. Matter radiates energy in the form of photons at a rate proportional to the 4th power of the absolute temperature, regardless of how it was heated.

          • Kristian says:

            No. This is only the case in the ideal situation where a black (gray) body radiates freely into a perfect heat sink at 0 K, or (on Earth) if the body radiating is much, much hotter than its surroundings, like a piece of red hot metal or lava.

            In the normal (less extreme) world, radiation moves down potential gradients within integrated radiation fields. Energy is not transferred from a cooler object to a warmer object by radiation, because the warmer object is warmer than the cooler one, hence the radiation moves down the potential gradient from hot to cold.

            There is no point trying to track individual photons within a radiative thermal exchange. Firstly, it’s not physically possible anyway. Secondly, it doesn’t matter to the spontaneous end result of the transfer what individual photons might do or not do.

            Same thing with an electric current. Or wind. Heat is very much equivalent to these ‘flows’.

            Individual electrons or air molecules will always fly around in all directions. But the general movement (the one we actually sense/detect) in ONE direction is ONLY dependent on the difference in potential across the transfer – from high to low voltage for the electric current, from high to low pressure for the wind, from high to low temperature for the heat.

  26. jake says:

    Remote Sensing Systems have just published their estimate of Global Lower Troposphere Temperature Anomalies (with a slighter different areal cover than UAH) for July.

    RSS June + 0.34

    UAH June + 0.30

    RSS July + 0.35

    UAH July + 0.31

    RSS and UAH appear to track each other nicely, nowadays.

    RSS went a bit higher than UAH in 1998. Therefore, “the pause” is a little more defined.The present RSS number of +0.35 is half a degree C cooler than the peak they identified for the Earth in April 1998.

  27. numberer says:


    That was a GREAT year for panics. Anyone remember counting off the days to the Millenium 2000 computer meltdown – when taking a break from worrying about Earth meltdown?

  28. oldfella says:

    The Millenium Bug:

    They pulled some of us, who still knew the COBOL programming language, out of retirement/the scrapheap and screamed “Fix these old programmes which none of our high-powered new-hires can figure out”. A nice little earner!

  29. Mike Mellor says:

    Dear Dr Roy, this article is pretty slapdash and not up to your usual standard. You seem to think that the ocean is one big homogenous blob like jello in a bowl. There is plenty of evidence that this not so. Only the top few hundred metres of ocean do any mixing. For example Sir David Mackay writes that

    “Equilibration between atmosphere and the surface waters is rapid, as I said, but figures 31.2 and 31.3 show a dashed line separating the surface waters of the ocean from the rest of the ocean. On a time-scale of 50 years, this boundary is virtually a solid wall. Radioactive carbon dispersed across the globe by the atomic bomb tests of the 1960s and 70s has penetrated the oceans to a depth of only about 400m. In contrast the average depth of the oceans is about 4000m.”

    (SEWTHA, page 255 of the pdf)

    The temperatures of the upper, miscible ocean layers have been measured, even if not very well, and show no warming. Lying rats like Trenberth then claim that the missing heat is hiding in the lower layers, where the temperature is not measured, **and you let them get away with their BS!!!** The “missing heat” can’t get down into the lower, unmeasured layers because there is no mixing!

    For your thesis, and Trenberth’s, to be right, there has to be mixing to great depths. Sir David Mackay says otherwise. So who’s right and who’s wrong? I don’t think you have applied your mind to this question so before you take a position you should do yourself the courtesy of some research.

    • KR says:

      Mike, look up ‘thermohaline circulation’ and the mixing effects of the ENSO.

    • Mixing does not take place between the top layers and the deep ocean, on a long timescale. Also local phenomena such as the ENSO do involve significant movements of water mass and thus heat between different depths. I didn’t say that there is no mixing. Just that there is very little on a timescale of decades. As an indication of the timescale we are talking about, once 1000 years have elapsed, there will have been much more significant mixing.

      • dave says:

        David MacKay writes:

        “Mixing does not take place between the top layers and the deep [ sic ] ocean, [ sic ] on a long timescale.”

        I expect he meant to say “ABYSSAL ocean, EXCEPT on a long time scale”. The turnover of the whole Ocean through MOC is about once a thousand years.

        In the 135 years between the Challenger expeditions and a recent compilation from the Argo buoys, a study published in Nature concluded that:

        The surface, has warmed 0.59 C (+,- 0.12)

        366 meters down, has warmed 0.39 C (+,- 0.18)

        914 meters down, has warmed 0.12 C (+,- 0.07)

        The top 150 meters (approx) of the sea is mixed annually.
        Deeper penetration, with these small gradients, seems to go so that temperatures lag the annually mixed layer by about 0.2 C/per Century/ per 250 meters extra depth.

  30. Type of prediction

    Ocean warming

    Model prediction

    Warming caused by direct heating of thermal radiation at 15 microns.

    Actual measurements

    Warming of about 0.06 C over 50 years.

    More here.


    The absorption coefficient for liquid water as a function of wavelength is given at (see the figure near the end). Thermal infrared in the Earths atmosphere is around 10 to 20 microns where the absorption coefficient (A) is about 1000 cm-1. The transmission in liquid water (T) equals exp(-A*L) where L is the depth of penetration. For the case where 1/e or 27% of the incident photons remain unabsorbed, with A=1000 cm-1, the L= 1/1000 cm = 1/100 mm. 98% of the incident photons will be absorbed within 3 times this distance. So one can see from the figure, than practically no infrared photons penetrate beyond 3/100 mm. When I said all the photons are absorbed in the top millimeter of the water, I was being very generous. A more precise estimate of A is 5000 cm-1 at 15 microns where carbon dioxide is emitting radiation, so even 0.03 mm is extremely generous. Since the liquid water is such an effective absorber, it is a very effective emitter as well. The water will not heat up, it will just redirect the energy back up to the atmosphere much like a mirror.

    It is worth mentioning for A = 5000 cm-1 at 15 microns, the implied water emissivity is 0.9998 implying that of the incident radiation only 0.02% of it will be absorbed. The emitted radiation will closely follow a blackbody emission curve whereas the incident flux from carbon dioxide is confined to a band centered at 15 microns. The implication of this is that much of the radiation emitted will escape directly to space through the IR windows, so it is a negative feedback. The initially absorbed energy cannot be transferred to the ocean depths by conduction (too slow), by convection (too small an absorption layer), or by radiation (too opaque). It must escape by the fastest way possible meaning upwards radiation away from the water. I dont see why anyone is having problems understanding basic physics.

    The only way to explain the ocean heating in depth is for the solar radiation to change and decreasing clouds, as measured by ISCCP, indicate increasing solar radiation is occurring right where the ocean heating is reported to be occurring. The Willis paper does not even mention the ISCCP data that has a similar geographic distribution to the water warming. Simply put, where clouds decrease in amount, the water warms. It has nothing to do with carbon dioxide. A handy plot of the ISCCP results can be found as Figure 3 at Clouds have large natural variations going up and down entirely independent of any greenhouse effect. The climate models do not predict these variations and apparently Willis and others are unaware of these variations.



    • numberer says:

      “Since the water is such an effective absorber it is a very effective emitter as well.”

      To make a proper scientific statement, this needs to be expanded to:

      “Since the water is such an effective absorber [of IR] [compared to a true black-body], it is a very effective emitter [of IR] [compared to a true black-body].

      Then we need to understand what a true black-body does,
      (at least, according to the standard physics of the last 150 years).

      A true black-body (surface*) ABSORBS (destroys photons and creates other forms of energy internally) all radiation which falls on it at AN INFINITE RATE. A true black-body EMITS radiation (turns internal energy into photons and sends the photons away) at A FINITE RATE, per unit of area, which rate increases with the fourth power of the absolute temperature immediately under the emitting surface.

      Another way of putting it, is that “incoming” the black-body surface deals with everything radiative “within its ken” at once; and “outgoing” the black-body surface deals with everything energetic “within its ken”, gradually.

      Absorption and emission are not mirror images of each other
      nor complementary; neither in theory nor experiment.

      It is like my secretary**. She absorbs (allows me to put in her in-tray) instantly all I can throw at her. She puts things in her out-tray at a steady rate, i.e. not instantly.
      And she keeps putting things in the out-tray irrespective of whether I am putting things in the in-tray. If she were to emulate a true black-body she would work faster as the in-tray got higher, i.e. as the local temperature rose.

      The fallacy sometimes seems to lie in the mistaken belief that because water is a good absorber of a given photon it is also a good emitter of the SAME photon. That would indeed be equivalent to reflection. But things do not go that way.

      The nomenclature ‘black’ in ‘black-body’ is unfortunate, because a black-body glows with its own radiation. It actually comes from the fact that they were made in the 19th century by smearing “lamp-black”, i.e. pure carbon, onto surfaces.

      With these little clarifications, one has no difficulty in understanding, for instance, that the Sun’s surface is (or is thought to be) a true blackbody surface because it absorbs every photon which falls on it, even feeble ones emitted from frozen Pluto. The fact that the Sun sends out more, and more energetic, photons in all directions, including the direction of Pluto, is neither here nor there.

      One should also have no difficulty in understanding that sea-water tends to absorb all IR (whether from CO2 or water vapour) which comes straight down onto it.

      The sea-water emits IR through its upper surface at a rate which is dependent on the temperature just under the surface. The actual, interesting, question is:

      Given that IR is absorbed within 1/100 th of a millimeter
      depth does the heat energy released by absorption in this small volume of water increase the local temperature so much that IR emission is increased, or evaporation is increased, in an IMMEDIATE compensation?

      The answer is not clear. Measurements show that the ‘skin’ and ‘bulk’ temperatures differ by a few degrees at most.
      That indicates IR emission is not much enhanced. But it would be consistent with the topmost,topmost, layer boiling away and therefore not being measured at all.

      Theory indicates that the ‘skin’ absorbing IR over a square meter has a mass of 10 grams; and we know that sometimes downwelling IR reaches 200 watts per square meter. That is enough to increase the temperature of the ‘skin’ several degrees a second. But how fast does heat spread out from that 1/100th millimter of skin? How fast does the topmost millimeter of a foam-flecked wave under a force-four wind, mix, and dilute the IR-caused heating a hundredfold? I have no idea. I can’t see how it could be found out either.

      *It only has to be a ‘skin’ over something else, in the first instance.

      **The secretary I used to have. She was much prettier than the computer they gave me in her place.

      • Since evaporation is a net cooling process which takes 5 times as much energy from the surrounding environment as is required to initiate it at one bar pressure the thermal effect is immediate apart from local variations.

        If, in any given location, the effect is not immediate then increased thermal differences in the horizontal plane cause changes in windspeed until those changes in windspeed negate any delay.

        That takes care of the effect of IR which cannot penetrate past the evaporating layer.

        Short wave solar radiation does get past the evaporative layer and enters the thermohaline circulation with a delay of 1000 to 1500 years.

      • dave says:

        “…how fast does that heat spread out from that 1/100 of a millimeter of ‘skin’?”


        0.58 W/m^2/Degree.

        The reason the figure is so low is that surface-tension effects mean that the outermost skin has no convective mixing with the bulk and only (much slower) heat conduction occurs. Such a rate is quite incapable of dissipating the input of energy from down-welling IR of 200 W/M^2. Yet the ‘skin’ is only a degree or two different from the bulk temperature.

        The enhanced convection/boiling away – the immediate compensation – must be happening. I say “must” with trepidation. I have never been a great fan of Sherlock Holmes’ confident dictum, “When you have eliminated all but one of the possible explanations…”

        Heaven to Murgatroyd! This is deja vu all over again! I remember asking in various forums ages ago whether the obvious laboratory experiments had been done to see what happens to water under various regimes of infra-red irradiation and humidity, and receiving total silence. I am asking Dr Spencer now.

        • numberer says:

          “…what happens to water…”

          I suspect that applied physicists and medical-laser technicians know A LOT. But, firstly, they are interested in more extreme conditions than we are; and secondly, they do not speak English. For example:

          “At 274 K frequency correlation in the OH stretch persists beyond ~200 fs pointing to a dephasing by librational excitations.”

        • torontoanne says:

          “…what happens to water under various regimes of infrared radiation…”

          The experiments have been done.

          Six per cent of the infrared is reflected. As regards the energy of the remaining radiation (i.e. the ninety-four per cent absorbed) at least 4/5ths is COMPENSATED by the INDUCED increase in the rate of evaporation, and hence by latent heat transfer back to the atmosphere.

          Therefore – over the 70% of the Globe which is Ocean – an increase of down-welling radiation from the atmosphere of, say, 10 W/M^2 will actually warm the surface at a rate of 1.9 W/M^2 or less.

          Underneath are some unequivocal statements from a typical scientific paper on the subject, where the experimenters used IR lamps emitting power comparable to down-welling radiation from the atmosphere:

          “Horizontal convection in water heated by infrared radiation”, Wahlin et al, Tellus, Volume 62, March 2010,
          pp 154-169.

          “The experimental technique is similar to the process in the Ocean…”

          “Heat loss through evaporation accounts for 80-95% of the energy received by the surface water [from the IR lamp].”

          “The evaporation rate in our laboratory experiments increased approximately linearly with the surface water temperature…”

          • dave says:

            “…heat loss…80-95%…”

            Thank you. Why is this information not more generally used, I wonder?

            I have looked at the paper, and I think a further verbatim quote is worthwhile.

            “The energy flux was specified by the lamp. The water had a free surface which lost heat through evaporation, long-wave radiation and heat conduction. Among these processes ,latent heat loss through evaporation dominated and balanced at least 80% of the nominal energy input from the lamp.”

            I always wondered about the amount of energy, in the Earth’s overall heat budget, returned from the surface to the atmosphere by evaporation. It always seemed oddly “high” and suspiciously “neat” as a balancer. Now I see how it might work.

          • greg says:

            “…induced increase in rate of evaporation…80-95%”

            That is quite a negative feed-back.

          • numberer says:

            “…water under IR…”

            Very interesting insight into some FACTS.

            Another quote confirms the significance of the EASE with which water absorbs IR.

            “In the absence of other processes …in the upper 1/10 mm…the water should be boiling within a few seconds, which it clearly does not.”

          • bernie says:

            Dave says:

            “…energy returned from the surface by evaporation…oddly “high”…”

            She wrote upon it:
            Return to Sender! Address unknown!

            Source: Elvis.

  31. The above is from the icecap web-site. Joe D’Aleo.

  32. Thanks, Dr. Spencer. Good article.
    So, now we can see one of the trap doors in the global warming scenario, ready for Kevin’s disappearing act.

  33. oldfella says:

    “…continuing confusion…”

    Perhaps it is because Dr Spencer does not make it clear that infra-red-measured “Sea Surface Temperature” is only actually looking in the topmost 1/100th of a millimeter (skin temperature). We do not yet know FOR SURE how that relates to conditions one centimeter down (bulk temperature, where it is mixed in a few minutes), or one meter down (gets mixed in a day or two), or ten meters down (gets mixed whenever there is a storm), or 100 meters down (gets mixed over a couple of years) or 1000 metres down (gets mixed over a couple of centuries) or 5000 meters down (gets mixed in five hundred years).

    • …except for the thousands of Argo floats which measure temperature at various depths…and buoys, which measure the bulk temperature. Sea surface temperature (SST) is exactly what it is called.

      • oldfella says:

        “…Sea Surface Temperature (SST) is exactly what it is called.”


        “There can no longer be a simple definition of bulk SST without also specifying a sampling depth…an elusive concept..”

        Measuring the Oceans from Space: the Principles and Methods of Satellite Measurement by Ian S Robinson, 2004, page 278.


        “The skin-bulk difference implies that tuning atmospheric correction algorithms to buoy temperatures is fundamentally limited in accuracy.”

        Page 279

        None of this would matter if people did not try to read significance into so-called differences of 1/10th Degree C.
        and wonder why the temperature at 100 meters has gone up 0.2 while the temperature at the surface has gone up only 0.1 C.

        I repeat, we do not know FOR SURE if this attempted level of accuracy has truly been reached.

        • numberer says:


          As your authority writes, SST is indeed an elusive concept.
          ALL properties of surfaces are somewhat elusive, since in fact there is always a third dimension of some sort involved,
          and the mathematical concept of a pure 2-dimensional surface can never be really applied.

          When I read Oceanography, I was told SST is the temperature one meter down. End of discussion. But what if there are ten meter waves? One meter down, on a flat-calm day!

          So far as I know, skin temperature and bulk temperature difference can build to 1-2 C especially during day-light hours. In the great scheme of things that is a nothing difference, but in the world of “how many angels can dance on a pin-head” people get obsessed with such triva.

          • numberer says:

            So longer as there is a GENERAL gradient of temperature in the Ocean, heat can flow downwards overall. This general gradient of temperature does not have to stay CONSTANT, for a complicated body of water in convection. Why, for heavens sake, should it? Obviously, some people are thinking only of steady-state conduction.

  34. sky says:

    Increased wind speeds are necessary to increase turbulent mixing. But they also increase the rate of evaporation, which experiments show is the principal mechanism of heat transfer from ocean to atmosphere. Thus Spencer’s conjectured mechanism requires a surface heating that outstrips the heat loss induced by increased wind speeds.

    The notion that such heating can be provided by increased backradiation from increased GHG finds no support in real-world data. As seen in Figure 3 of Ward (2006)
    the NET LWIR flux is nearly zero. The ocean temperature variations are patently coherent with wind speed and latent flux variations. It is those factors that maintain balance with insolation, which is effectively the only forcing acting at depth.

    Academic conjecture notwithstanding, it’s virtually impossible to find any data where the variations in ocean temperatures at, say, 1m depth are significantly coherent with variations in backradiation.

  35. numberer says:

    “…Dr Spencer’s mechanism…”

    I think it is “Trenberth’s mechanism”, although it was a bit weak of Dr Spencer to allow a smelly dog like that into the living room.

  36. lolwot says:

    It’s amusing how it took Dr Spencer to lay it out to skeptics. For years they have been playing dumb pretending not to understand how heat can bypass the surface.

    Just like for years they’ve been in denial of the greenhouse effect.

    I don’t expect Dr Spencer’s efforts to succeed. The problem is they simply don’t want to believe reality which is human greenhouse gas emissions are heating the planet.

  37. TimTheToolMan says:

    If the argument is that changes in mixing has increased the OHC recently then the argument applies before “recently” and the assumption that increased DLR is primarily responsible for the long term trend becomes a less strong argument.

  38. bernie says:

    “[ocean]…warming can ‘bypass the surface’…” [People are puzzled.]

    Let’s be clear on this; the solar input of warming does ‘by-pass the surface’ – it is the norm.

    The sun’s rays of visible light go straight down through the surface, and on for tens of meters, before being absorbed.

    But Dr Spencer shouldn’t say DEEP ocean. That is a different

  39. pochas says:

    The ocean convects, just like the atmosphere. That is, mass moves between regions of energy source to regions of energy sink. The source is equatorial surface heating and the sink is high latitude cooling and freeze/thaw at the poles. During the later part of the 20th century polar ice melted which generates volumes of fresh water that flows out on the surface but no cold dense brine to replenish the deep ocean reservoirs. With the influx of cold deep ocean water interrupted, vertical mixing begins to even out the temperature profile, and this flattening gives the appearance of warming, which persists for a long time.

    Some have tried to save the GW swindle by saying that heat has vanished from the surface and reappeared in the deep ocean, defying the laws of thermodynamics. What has really happened is that influx of cold deep water from the poles was reduced for a period in the late 20th century, and the temperature profile responded by flattening, giving the appearance of warming. Now, with the icecaps again building volume and producing cold dense brine, the missing heat will disappear.

  40. Carl Allen says:

    “If heat is moving in and out of the system (because its not a closed system) and you reduce the heat loss somewhat, then the result will be more heat in the system, correct? So I still cant follow your argument. No laws of thermodynamics are being broken. This is kid level stuff isnt it?”

    Here are two textbook definitions of “heat”.

    Heat is defined as the form of energy that is transferred across a boundary by virtue of a temperature difference or temperature gradient . . . Implied in this definition is the very important fact that a body never contains heat, but that heat is identified as heat only as it crosses the boundary. Thus, heat is a transient phenomenon . . . Gordon J Van Wylen, Thermodynamics, 1960, p 59.

    Q [heat] is that form of energy in transition between the system and surroundings as a result of a temperature difference . . . Heat ceases to exist when it crosses the boundaries of the system; it cannot be stored as such.” Perry, John H., Chemical Engineers Handbook, 4th edition, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc, 1963, 4-27:

    As you can see Kristian is correct. “Heat” cannot be stored within a system because thermal energy is only “heat” when it is in transition across a boundary due to a temperature difference and it only transfers from where it is warmer to where it is cooler. This is not unlike the fact that an electrical current only exists when electrons are flowing through a conductor and they always and only flow from where there are more electrons to where there are less electrons, i.e., from negative to positive.

    This failure to understand what “heat” is has lead people to draw some rather silly conclusions such as “the atmosphere heats the surface” or “‘greenhouse gases’ trap heat in the lower atmosphere.”

    As Kristian points out that which inhibits the flow of “heat” from the warmer surface to the perpetually cooler atmosphere is a decrease in the temperature differential that exists between the surface and the atmosphere and what is chronically missing from these debates about the thermodynamics of the atmosphere is the increase in ground level air temperature that exists because of the “work” that is continually being done on descending air as tropospheric air perpetually cycles up to the tropopause and back down to the surface again, especially within the great Hadley, Ferrel and Polar Cells.

    For example, when air from the tropopause drops down to the surface within the down-going leg of the Hadley cell at ~30 degrees latitude each kg of air gains 9.8 kJ of internal energy for each kilometer that it drops due to the “work” that is being done on it by its increasingly higher pressure surroundings. Since the average height of the tropopause is 11 km this should make the temperature differential between surface level air and the air at the tropopause ~108 C. As it is that differential is only ~75 C. Why?

    Up-going “heat” from net radiation heat loss, the thermal energy carried upward by convection currents and latent heat transfer all work in unison to counter the “work” mediated downward energy transfer that is perpetually occurring because of the constant overturning of tropospheric air. Together they reduce the overall tropospheric temperature lapse rate to ~6.8 C/km. This reduction in the troposphere’s lapse rate significantly reduces surface level air temperature as can be seen in the comparison between the mean surface air temperature in deserts compared to the mean surface air temperature in humid climates that lie along the same latitude since humidity is universally known to significantly reduce the lapse rate. Within this tropospheric energy dance water vapor plays the most significant role in reducing the lapse rate, both through the fact that it increases the up-going intra-atmospheric heat flux by increasing the atmosphere’s net up-going radiation heat loss rate and, of course, water vapor mediates latent heat transfer. It also in some places enhances upward conduction via what is called “moist convection”.

    So far from “trapping heat” within the lower troposphere water vapor actively mediates the transfer of thermal energy away from the surface.


  41. richard verney says:

    “Now, what if this increase in vertical mixing occurred at the same time as an additional surface heat source, such as IR warming due to increasing greenhouse gases?”

    Dr Spencer

    This begs the question, how precisely does this (additional) LWIR heat the oceans?

    We know that the absorption characteristics of LWIR in water is that some 60% of all LWIR is fully absorbed in just 4 microns of vertical penetration, and all but no LWIR is extends beyond 12 microns of vertical penetration. See, eg.,

    Of course, DWLWIR is omnidirectional such that approx 10% of DWLWIR intersects with the oceans at a grazing angle of 10 degs (or less), 20% at an angle of 20 degs (or less), 30% at an angle of 30degs (or less), etc. The upshot of this is that far more than 60% of all DWLWIR is absorbed within the first 4 microns of vertical depth of the oceans. It is more like 80%. According to K&T, the average DWLWIR is ~333 W/m2, so approximately 266 W/m2 of energy is being absorbed within just 4 microns. That is a lot of energy.
    So the next question is how is all that energy diluted and dissipated at a rate faster than that energy would drive evaporation from the very top surface of the ocean?
    It cannot be by conduction since we know that the energy flux is upwards in the top 10, or so micron layer, see:
    Can it realistically be by ocean overturning, which is a slow mechanical process and for the main part taking place on a diurnal timescale? I would suggest that it seems very unlikely that this slow mechanical process could dissipate to depth (and hence dilute the energy absorbed within the 4 micron layer) at a rate faster than the energy absorbed in the 4 micron layer would drive evaporation. If the process is truly diurnal, it cannot be effective during the day.
    The only other known process would appear to be the wind. However, this too is a slow mechanical process, and there are significant problems with this. Essentially, one can consider that there are 3 sea states, namely those of BF3 and below, those of BF4 to 7, and those above BF7.
    In the former, there is not enough windswept turbulence to effectively mix the very top microns of the ocean. Hence in these conditions, the energy absorbed in the top 4 microns will simply drive evaporation since it is not being dissipated to depth quickly enough.
    In the latter, the very top of the ocean becomes windswept spray and spume divorced from the ocean below. Much of the energy being absorbed in this wind swept spray and spume (which is in essence acting like a DWLWIR block in much the same way as a sun parasol or sun-cream blocks out solar UV), will simply be carried upwards in to the atmosphere and promote evaporation at a speed (timescale) quicker than much of the windswept spray and spume is returned and reunited with the ocean below. In these conditions much of the energy being absorbed in the windswept spray and spume goes to power the storm ravishing above the ocean, such that there is not much mixing of the top few microns simply because in these conditions the top few microns is a divorced layer above the ocean itself, and not part of the bulk ocean!

    It therefore appears that wind can only effectively mix the ocean surface in conditions of above BF3 and below BF8. So for much of the time, I would suggest that in the real world conditions encountered on planet Earth, much of the DWLWIR either does not get into the ocean, alternatively it cannot be dissipated to depth at a speed quicker than the rate of evaporation driven by the amount of DWLWIR being absorbed in the first 4 microns of the oceans.

    It is remarkable that one never sees an energy budget covering say 2 metres above and below the ocean, split into centimetre layers, and, as far as the top of the ocean is concerned into micron layers. It is important to see such an energy budget, together with a description and explanation of the processes involved which are said to be moving/dissipating the energy around.

    Fortunately, we do not have this problem with solar since only 1 or 2% of incoming solar is absorbed within the first few microns, and for the main part solar is being absorbed within a 1 metre depth (of course, quite a bit of solar is absorbed well below 1 metre). The upshot of this is that solar is being absorbed in a volume of water approximately 1 million times greater than the volume in which DWLWIR is being absorbed such that the energy form solar is diluted (by a factor of about 1 million) such that it does not drive evaporation at the same rate as that at which DWLWIR would drive evaporation. This allows solar to gently warm the ocean but even after some 4.5 billion years of solar (aided by DWLWIR for those that consider DWLWIR has a role in ocean heating), it has only managed to heat the ocean to an average of about 3 degC.

    I would suggest that it is because of the difference in absorption characteristics between solar and DWLWIR, that it is solar that heats the oceans, not DWLWIR, and it is difficult to see how DWLWIR effectively heats the oceans, such that any marginal increase in DWLWIR due to rising GHGs does nothing measurable to ocean heat content. In short the reason why Trenberth cannot find his missing heat in the oceans, is that it never got there in the first place.

    Perhaps you would like to explain how DWLWIR effectively heats the oceans. I would be very interested to see your energy budgets say split on 1 micron layer basis for the first 30 microns, and thereafter on a centimetre layer basis for the first 30 centimetres, and thereafter on a metre basis down to a depth of say 10m metres. I would like to hear what processes you say are going on and the rate of energy transfer between layers.

    • Kristian says:


      You need to get away from the absurd, but ingrained notion that “DWLWIR is a physically real, separate transfer of energy that does ‘something’ to the surface”.

      It’s not. It’s a mathematical term. It is not something that exists as an entity, distinctly and in isolation from the equally theoretical UWLWIR term. They’re both conceptual parts of one and the same spontaneous thermal exchange, one and the same integrated radiation field.

      The only actual (and hence detectable) transfer of energy through that radiation field is the so-called ‘net energy’ – the radiative heat.

      That’s the only ‘flow’ of energy around. Always moving down the gradient. Everything else is potentials. Like with an electric current. The UWLWIR is the voltage at the high end, the DWLWIR the voltage at the low end. In themselves they do nothing. The result of the difference in potential creates a spontaneous flow of energy of a certain strength or intensity. The heat. And the electric current.

      The radiative heat is the only thing that ‘does’ anything, that creates real changes inside the systems involved, increasing the internal energy of the cool atmosphere, reducing the internal energy of the warm surface.

      The heat globally ONLY goes from the warm surface to the cool atmosphere.

  42. richard verney says:

    There are fundamental differences between how DWLWIR may behave over land, and over the oceans. This is beacuse of (1) the different absorption characteristics of LWIR in water and solid land, (2) the fact that water is free to evaporate, whereas solid land is not (at least not at the energy levels being discussed), and (3) in evaporating there is a change in latent heat. These differences are not sufficiently explained and accounted for in the AGW theory.

    My above post comments on the problem of DWLWIR absorption by the oceans, and the role of wind in effectively mixing and dispiating the energy absorbed in the top few microns (not millimtres) of the ocean. In the real world, there is either too little wind to produce effective turbulence and mixing, or there is too much wind such that the top few microns of the ocean becomes a divorced layer and is in effect more part of the atmosphere than part of the ocean.

    Just when the wind may be in the ‘Goldilocks’ zone, such that one may expect a reasonable amount of turbulence and mixing, the issue raised by sky (August 14, 2014 at 5:07 PM) raises its ugly head, namley that wind speed promotes evaporation. The greater the wind speed, the greater the evaporation. So even in ‘ideal’ wind conditions one sees increasing evaporation, which again hinders DWLWIR being effectively mixed into the bulk ocean (by which I mean in the layer from say 5 microns to 10 centimetres).

    One really needs to consider carefully what is going on at the top of the oceans, the processes involved, and their respective rates of energy transfer/disipation.

    But those who promote AGW never like looking at the detail (hence the love of averages, and anomalies, and straight line linear fits etc), and as in most things in life, the devil is in the detail.

  43. numberer says:

    “torontoanne” gave the facts most succinctly, above, in a post of August 17, 4:13 a.m., together with an appropriate reference to, and quotes from, a definitive laboratory experiment.

    Essentially, downwelling IR radiation does induce immediate increased evaporation so that, although energy is absorbed it is only temporarily absorbed. The practical effect in the Oceans is as if the surface simply reflected 80% of the incident IR. Wind does not really affect this sort of forced evaporation.

    Because the Ocean thus largely evades greenhouse gas forcing, the greater part of the Ocean, at 3 C, is actually adopting a temperature quite appropriate to the solar input to the planet.

    As a matter of fact, the Ocean has frequently been warmer. In Cretaceous times it was probably 15 C all the way down, except at the poles. It would take many human lifetimes to warm the bottom water significantly, under any imaginable scenario, and bring back that situation.

  44. michael hart says:

    Hmmmm. Water vapor pressure increases exponentially with temperature. Evaporation also increases with wind speed (which comes before wind-driven mixing of the ocean). The atmosphere mixes faster than the oceans.

    Can ocean mixing increase faster than the above effects? I would have thought not.

    And did the missing heat go AWOL before it had evaporated more water to perform its alleged feed-back duties, or afterwards?

  45. bernie says:

    The facts regarding IR over the Ocean, as expounded by torontoanne and numberer, do not actually change the known heat budget of the Globe – but they do put in place an important cause and effect.

    This cause and effect (down-welling IR from the atmosphere forces immediate, compensating [80% or more of the heat], evaporation from 7/10ths of the world’s surface) puts the Kibosh on a couple of bogey-men. First, that “positive feedbacks” will lead to run-away heating from CO2. Second, that the Ocean surface will warm so quickly that the cryosphere might disappear.

  46. dave says:

    It also explains why the summer forcing (when the GHG content [water vapour] of a whole hemisphere* increases by a large amount) never leads to instability and any sort of runaway. The atmosphere does not have much heat capacity and simply radiates away most of the excess every night, and the rest every winter. More deja vu all over again.

    *Not by much at the Equator, of course.

  47. dave says:

    “…radiates away…”

    To space.

  48. greg says:

    “…put the Kibosh on the bogey-men…”

    Without the bogey-men there is not much to justify interest in the global warming issue. A pseudo-degree C, more or less,
    eked out from a tortured data set, simply has no interest for me.

  49. numberer says:

    “…tortured data…”

    There should be a “Society For Prevention Of Cruelty To Data Sets”.

  50. greg says:

    bernie says

    “do not change the known heat budget…”

    I am not so sure. Those neat diagrams, that NASA and the like churn out “for education”, simply have a uniform “surface.” Nary a hint that 70% of the earth’s surface acts completely differently from the other 30%.

    I doubt they even think about it!

  51. JamesG says:

    You miss the point of the objections. Whether possible or not, if a skeptic had suggested such a thing would happen to counter global warming they’d have been laughed out of the room because it is unphysical on a basic level and certainly not observed yet. Sure more complex physics can occur in nature that contradict the basics but we are continually preached to about not respecting the basic physics of the greenhouse effect. The plain fact is when the alarmists can’t explain something then they just make stuff up regardless of basic physics and then they present this unphysical speculation as an absolute fact to gullible journalists. It is utterly disreputable!

    Also, as Lindzen pointed out, this would just be another way in which climate modelelers had proven their ignorance about natural variation which again proves that their circular reasoning with models was based on a false assumption: ie If natural variation explains the pause then it explains the previous warming so there is no gap between warming from nature and the 20th century temperatures and hence no need for manmade warming to fill said gap. So as it stands this baloney even if true is a refutation of the consensus POV but they illogically present it as proof that they are correct and all the faux-green luvvies then coo in approval, say the models are right after all and call us more dumb names. I despair over the ignorance and illogic of it all.

  52. AJ says:

    Hi Dr. Roy, I would like your opinion on the following scenario. Suppose the rate of mixing is an underdamped system due to inertia. Given a constantly increasing forcing, this at first results in an undermixing, but then the gradients become so steep that the result is overmixing, and so on giving the appearance of a ~60 cycle. Assuming no long term albedo feedbacks, would this mean that the SST’s are cycling about the equilibrium?

  53. Anthony F Mills says:

    Unfortunately, in this thread there are numerous comments on the effect of greenhouse gas radiation on “warming” the ocean that show a poor understanding of basic heat transfer science.As an academic who has taught and researched heat transfer for fifty years,let me try to dispel the many misconceptions in the thread.
    Engineering analysis of heat transfer to an evaporating surface may be found throughout the heat transfer literature. As an example I cite my own text “Mass Transfer”( Prentice-Hall,2001.) The starting point of the required analysis is a surface energy balance in which the First Law of Thermodynamics is applied to a control volume surrounding the Thermodynamics is applied to a control volume surrounding the interface.The result is:

    Heat flux out the water equals convective heat flux to the air plus evaporative heat loss plus net radiative heat loss. (Eq.1)

    The net radiative heat loss is the difference between the emitted flux and the absorbed incident I.R flux. (Eq.2)
    Here it is assumed that the I.R.radiation is absorbed below a thin thermal boundary layer(“skin”) under the water surface.Also, in separating the emitted and incident fluxes it is assumed that the atmosphere above the water surface is essentially transparent,allowing these fluxes to be
    separated.These assumptions are accurate and are based on standard radiation analysis methodology.
    Now, if the incident I.R. flux in Eqs.2&1 is given a small positive perturbation,numerical evaluation for typical ocean conditions shows that in order to satisfy the energy balance,
    the surface temperature increases
    the emitted flux increases
    the convective and evaporative losses increase
    the heat flux out theater decreases
    The important quantitative result is that the decrease in heat loss from the water is far larger than the increased heat losses due to I.R.emission,convection and evaporation.Most (greater than 90%) of the increased incident I.R. radiation goes to reduce the heat loss from the ocean.In this sense one can say that greenhouse gas radiation has the effect of “warming” the ocean.

  54. Anthony F Mills says:

    Corrections to my previous post:
    1. Delete repeated line –Thermodynamics…..
    2.Line17 : replace I.R by U.V–the U.V. radiation is absorbed below….
    My Apologies.AFM.

  55. dave says:

    Anthony F Mills says:

    “Most (greater than 90%) of the increased incident I.R. radiation goes to reduce the heat loss [sic] from the ocean.”

    I presume this is supposed to be, “reduce the RATE of NET heat loss from the ocean.”

    But, anyway, the following is of interest:

    “Heat loss through [induced] evaporation accounts for 80-95% of the energy received by the surface water [from the I.R. lamp].”


    “Horizontal convection in water irradiated by infra-red radiation”

    Wahlin et al., Tellus, Vol. 62, March 2010, pp 154-169.

    This was mentioneded earlier in this thread, starting with “torontoanne” Aug 17 4:13 AM.

  56. bernie says:


    You could usefully have included that other quote from the paper:

    “The energy flux was specified by the lamp. The water had a free surface which lost heat through evaporation, long wave radiation and heat conduction. Among these processes, latent heat loss through evaporation dominated and balanced at least 80% of the nominal energy input from the lamp.”

    “Standard methodolgy” is irrelevant*, if much of the energy is of a character which can not be properly absorbed, and merely causes temporary skin effects.

    * or, indeed, misleading.

  57. ray says:

    Anthony F Mills says:

    “As an academic…let me try to dispel the many misconceptions…I cite my own text…”

    Standard “de haut en bas” sh**.

  58. greg says:

    I agree, Ray, it is bad form to even hint that one has qualifications, unless asked. However, I seem to recall that you once claimed to have won the “Mrs Joyful Prize for Raffia Work” at age ten? Now I know that that was Grabber Major…(Source, “Down with Skool”, 1957.)

  59. ray says:

    “Source, “Down with Skool, 1957”

    Is that peer-reviewed? If not, I must discard you.

  60. ray says:

    I see that there is “another one” earlier in this thread. A certain David MacKay informs us he is David MacKay FRS (i.e., Fellow of the Royal Society.)

    Not Cool.

    Dr Spencer puts ph.d. after his name But then he WAS challenged early-on about his qualifications; and he is producing data, not merely discussing it.

    Fair Enough.

  61. Anthony F Mills says:

    Reply to Dave concerning the experiment of Wahlin et al.

    There are a great number of problems involving heat transfer from an evaporating surface.Again I can cite my text “Mass Transfer”for examples. All are governed by the surface energy balance, but can be very different with regards to the signs and relative magnitudes of the various terms involved. In the Wahlin et al. experiment the water is, to first order, stable due to the surface being warmer than the bulk. There is a second order horizontal surface flow due to the thermal expansion of the water very close to the surface, as described in the paper. In contrast, for the ocean the water is unstable due to the density gradient associated with the surface being colder than the bulk, giving a first order natural convection flow, which can be augmented by wind drag on the surface. The result is that in the ocean problem, the convective heat transfer coefficient governing heat transfer between the bulk water and surface is an order of magnitude larger than the coefficient in the cited experiment. Then numerical evaluation shows that the evaporative heat loss is less than 10% of the incident I.R. radiation,in contrast to about 90% in the Wahlin experiment.

    Reply to Bernie:

    “Standard methodology” refers to engineering radiation analysis as presented in numerous textbooks, and used by tens of thousands of heat transfer specialists to analyze and design systems as varied as furnaces, combustors, spacecraft, solar collectors, buildings and various thermal protection systems. The nature of I.R. absorption in water is fully understood and properly treated in this methodology. The laws of science are general, not case specific. The ocean heating problem is just another variation.

    Reply to Ray and Greg:

    I would prefer not to cite my qualifications in a technical discussion: my analysis stands by itself. I am not attempting to argue from authority.
    What I am trying to do is to credibly communicate that the science of heat transfer is highly developed in engineering, with a vast literature developed over a 100 years. All engineering schools have many heat transfer courses at both undergraduate and undergraduate level, and related research programs. Throughout industry, companies have numerous heat transfer engineers dealing with current problems.
    The ocean heating problem is a heat transfer problem. I am afraid too many contributors to the thread show insufficient knowledge of basic heat transfer, which leads to wasteful confusion. Science is not advanced by attempting to reinvent the wheel.

  62. rtorontoanne says:

    Anthony F Mills says:

    “In contrast, the ocean…[is an order of magnitude different]…[ therefore I am right]…”

    Wahlin et al (the oceanographers) flatly disagree:

    “The experimental technique is similar to the process in the ocean.”

  63. dave says:

    Anthony F Mills says:

    “For the ocean…the surface being colder than the bulk…”

    Whaaaat? One of us is going to have to concentrate!

  64. bernie says:

    Dave writes:


    I concur. It is not accidental, for Mills CONTRASTS it with Wahlin et al’s set-up – “the surface being warmer…”

  65. numberer says:

    I have always been told that the Ocean takes a thousand years to turn over. Anthony F Mills has inverted it in one second!

  66. numberer says:

    UNLESS ‘Anthony F Mills’ is thinking of the ‘skin-bulk’ distinction ‘oldfella’ and I discussed, in relation to adjustments to satellite sensing; see above, in this thread, Aug 14th. Even then it would be wrong, because the ‘skin’ is almost always warmer than the ‘bulk’ a centimeter down.

    If one is discussing a special, local ‘bulk’, like that of the previous paragraph, one should make it jolly well clear that one is not talking about the usual million million million tons of sea-water.

  67. ray says:

    Anthony F Mills writes:

    “I am not attempting to argue from authority.”

    I understand that you are not trying to argue wholly from authority, but anyone who writes “As an academic, ….” is transparently arguing partly from authority. And, whether knowingly or unknowingly, putting in a fair amount of ‘argumentum ad verecundiam.’

  68. hick says:

    Anthony F Mills writes:

    “Science is not advanced by reinventing the wheel.”

    Actually it is. We only had square wheels in my town, until my uncle reinvented ’em as round.

  69. torontoanne says:

    Dave writes:

    “One of us is going to have to concentrate!”

    That has always been a good line.

    I remember Robert Morley bringing the house down with it in 1972, when he was playing Featherstone in “How The Other Half Loves,” at the Royal Alexanda Theatre.

  70. torontoanne says:


  71. dave says:

    So I am a plagiarist!

    Someone made a witty remark in the presence of Oscar Wilde, who said “I wish I had said that!” and was given the reply, “You will, Oscar!”

  72. torontoanne says:


    Looking at the paper again, I see that some of the experiment was actually carried out with more downwelling I.R. than normal atmospheric rates.

    Also, although the two Anna’s are clear that extra I.R. forces evaporation from a thin surface layer, in a naturally balancing way (80-95%), they do not actually compute how much is due to YOUR postulated mechanism in the topmost micron, with a very small mass involved at any one moment*; and how much to a modestly enhanced temperature gradient at the surface, with a larger mass involved**.

    A collaborater of theirs, in a background paper, agrees at least with your starting calculation. Unless energy be taken away really quickly from the surface skin, the said skin water will boil within 4 seconds.

    * beyond boiling, blasted away.

    **without boiling, a change in the balance condition.

    I will try to ask the authors.

    Meanwhile, I do not know why I am here. I vowed I would not bother with this trite subject again, unless and until the UAH and RSS anomalies series penetrated the extremes of the 1990’s for at least three successive months. Which they have not.

    • dave says:

      Well, I will look further, if I have time.

      It probably does not make a practical difference.
      Wang & Hang in 2005 did heating experiments from above which “showed circulation appeared in the form of a shallow cell adjacent to the boundary of thermal forcing.” That means the energy of I.R. forcing radiation, when absorbed but the energy not being immediately rejected, “stays on top” and is soon lost upwards by evaporation. This is different from dry land surfaces, since dry land on the whole does not fade into thin air when heated.

  73. torontoanne says:

    “…penetrated the extremes…”

    Either up or down.

  74. hick says:

    Dave says:

    “argumentum ad vericundiam”

    Keep it clean, fellas!

    Anyways, in my town we can’t speak Greek.

  75. hick says:

    Sorry Dave. I see it was Ray.

    In my town we don’t read too good, neither.

  76. dave says:

    Although ‘torontoanne’ has been the first person EVER to answer my request for sight of a relevant EXPERIMENTAL paper, the paper still deals with my query a bit “en passant.”
    Which is annoying.

  77. Anthony F Mills says:

    Reply to rtoroneoanne:

    I showed how the experiment was not similar to the ocean.Please counter my argument instead of appealing to authority–“the oceanographers”.

    Reply to Dave and Bernie:

    Come on you guys:read the literature concerning temperatures adjacent to the ocean surface.In this thread above,sky August 14 gives a link to Ward(2006),which has nice experimental data measured in Baja California.

    Reply to numberer:

    We are discussing the surface energy balance: then “bulk” obviously refers to the water just below the thin thermal boundary layer,and this is common usage.See again Ward(2006) mentioned above.

  78. numberer says:

    Anthony F Mills writes:

    “…surface being colder than the [local] bulk…”

    numberer writes:

    “…’skin’ is almost always warmer than the ‘bulk’ a centimeter down…”

    Anthony F Mills writes:

    “[But see] Ward (2006)”

    Figure 1(b) of Ward (2006) shows:

    surface warmer than everything under it – a monotonic thermocline from the ‘skin’ through 1 centimeter depth, and on to 2m down, where the graph ends.

    numberer writes:

    numberer intends to write nothing more on this matter.

  79. torontoanne says:

    Anthony F Mills writes:

    “Please counter my argument.”

    You rested your entire argument upon a false premise (surface colder than bulk) and the evidence you cited for it (Ward 2006) seems largely to contradict you.

    Now, like numberer, Farewell.

  80. oldfella says:

    Everyone, go and jump in the sea right now*, and tread water. Shoulders warm? Ass cold?

    Thought so.

    *Not if you are in Antarctica.

  81. bernie says:

    That is why you suddenly get cramp in your legs and drown.
    One of the first dangers I was taught to beware of, when I started sailing, sixty-two years ago.

  82. Kristian says:

    Guys, poor academic Anthony here is simply trying to restate the idiotic argument – but still to this day touted by the warmistas as their (only) ‘proof’ – put forward by Peter Minnett in his (now infamous) 2006 (!) blog post:

    “Reducing the size of the temperature gradient through the skin layer reduces the flux. Thus, if the absorption of the infrared emission from atmospheric greenhouse gases reduces the gradient through the skin layer, the flow of heat from the ocean beneath will be reduced, leaving more of the heat introduced into the bulk of the upper oceanic layer by the absorption of sunlight to remain there to increase water temperature.”

    So how would absorption in the skin layer of IR from atmospheric ‘GHGs’ reduce the temperature gradient through the skin layer, meaning from the skin itself down to the bulk directly beneath?

    By warming the skin slightly. What Minnett proposes, then, is really what Roy Spencer is also proposing in the top post: Somehow extra HEAT INPUT to the surface, from a cooler place. A cooler place being a heat source of a warmer place. Energy transferred from the cooler atmosphere to the warmer surface, directly increasing its internal energy and hence raising its temperature, that’s HEAT from cold to hot. In plain words. No less. Which is something that NEVER happens in nature.

  83. bernie says:

    Indeed, Minnett would only make any kind of sense at all if cold water was generally found overlying warm water in the Ocean – which is counterfactual. The only place and time it routinely happens is polar oceans in winter. Somehow, I do not think “upward flow of heat from inside the Ocean” is quite the right characterization of these conditions. “Downward flow of cold from the top” might be better.

    • bernie says:

      “…warm generally over cold…”

      Of course there are exceptions, but they are local and transient (and usually involve currents). For example, in winter there is a temperature inversion layer of up to a degree C over 10-80 m of depth in the south-eastern Arabian Sea. (vide Journal of Oceanography, Vol 48 ,p 293)

  84. bernie says:

    “…cold over warm…”

    The ‘warm’ is almost as cold as the ‘cold’,of course, which is to say almost freezing. Go for a swim up there and you will be dead in sixty seconds.

  85. Kristian says:


    This isn’t what Mills is referring to. The surface is of course always warmer than the bulk. But the ‘cool skin’ of the surface is normally cooler than the layer directly beneath, which facilitates the energy being ‘pulled’ conductively through the skin before it can be released from the bulk into the atmosphere.

    Look at it this way: heat (energy in a thermal transfer) always moves from hot to cold. So if the surface is always warmer than the bulk, why doesn’t the energy spontaneously move downwards? Because of convection. Buoyancy. Density/gravity-based mass transfer. Countering the strictly thermodynamic tendency.

    The SW solar radiation is absorbed on its way DOWN through the water column to about 50-75-100 metres.

    As soon as it’s absorbed, it warms and floats up. But this is a gravity effect, not a thermodynamic effect.

    When we reach the surface skin of the ocean, however, thermodynamics is back in the game. Buoyancy is not able to transport the solar energy through the skin to the surface/air interface on the other side, only as far as up to the underside of the skin.

    At this point, if the upper skin were warmer than the underside, then there could be no conduction of energy/heat through the skin. The energy being finally released from the ocean surface/air interface at the top into the atmosphere above, creates a natural ‘thermodynamic pull’ through the skin. Energy piles up at the underside (making it relatively warm) and escapes from the top (making it relatively cool). This setup effectuates a steady conductive throughput of energy.

    This conductive barrier is what Mills is referring to: The ‘cool skin’ phenomenon.

    If you somehow manage to make the top of the skin lose less energy per unit of time, meanwhile keeping the input rate to the underside unchanged, the gradient through the skin will reduce and the conductive throughput will as well. Which means energy (from the Sun) will accumulate down in the bulk of the ocean. (It can’t get out as quickly as before.) Until the gradient slope is restored.

    It’s a plausible-sounding mechanism. But, of course, it doesn’t work in the real world.

  86. Anthony F Mills says:

    Reply to numberer,torontoanne and others:

    Look at Figure 1.b of Ward carefully(enlarge?):it shows that T skin is less than T subskin! Figure 6 shows numerical values,and conclusion[56]states”The deltaTC data shows the skin(surface,interface)temperature is normally cooler than the bulk_(Tsubskin).This temperature difference may seem small,but proper numerical calculations show the important role it plays.

    Reply to Kristian(8/22 6.34PM):
    (1) Peter Minnett was correct(and I am certainly not a” Warmista”).Science is science,no matter if you are a skeptic or a” Warmista”.
    (2) Re the Roy Spencer argument.The heat input is U.V.radiation from a very hot place;the incident I.R. effectively reduces the net I.R.radiative heat loss from the surface,where
    net q I.R. radiation =emission – absorption
    Added CO2 increases the incident I.R and the absorption–and the net q I.R. decreases.
    So less of the U.V. is lost to the atmosphere, and more goes into the ocean.
    No laws of thermodynamics are violated.
    When the ocean does not warm,there must be opposing phenomena:the challenge is to identify the causes.
    Reply to oldfella and Bernie:
    Do not get into the ocean to discern a less than one degree temperature change in couple of millimeters from the surface–you will not feel it.Rather compare being outdoors on a clear dry night to when there are low clouds.What would you feel?

    • ray says:

      Anthony F Mills writes:

      “The heat input is U.V. [sic] radiation from a very hot place…So less of the U.V. [sic] is lost to the atmosphere…”

      Energy from Sun at edge of atmosphere:

      U.V. 1%

      Visible 45%

      I.R. 54%

      Mills spews misconceptions like an explosive volcano spews clouds of dark ash.

      He has delighted us long enough.

      • rick says:

        “…spews misconceptions…”

        I prefer to grow my own. More organic, that way.

      • vulcanist says:

        “…dark ash…”

        That is the tachylites. Come down as jet-black or brown glass.

        The light coloured ash can look quite pretty – from a hell of a long way away.

  87. dave says:

    What Ward calls T(skin) is an interpretation by a radiation monitor, on board a ship, of what is coming out through a notional two-dimensional surface. This makes it PROXY-T (skin) rather than T(skin).

    What Ward calls T(subskin) is what most people call skin temperature. Ward states that the instrument which was actually in the sea (SkinDeEP) is indeed measuring “conventional” (Ward’s use of quote marks) skin temperature, and down a few meters.

    Figure 1(b) from SkinDeEP shows the familiar profile with temperature dropping with depth from the first level at which it can physically be measured. The blob for T(skin) is simply the REMOTE instrument calculation.

    Mills says T(subskin) is 2 mm down (judging by his comment about swimming) . Numberer spoke of 1 centimeter down as being his depth for skin temperature, which is well under the possible inversion Mills mentions and entirely conventional.

    So everybody is right if you allow for terminology – and if you think a proxy for temperature is the same as a temperature.

    From Table 6, the average discrepancy between T(skin) and T(subskin) (or PROXY-T and T(conventional skin)) for ten stations is 0.24 C.

    • jake says:

      ‘warm over cool, cool over warm…in top 2 mm.’This is all a red herring introduced by Anthony F Mills which has served to obfuscate the fact that his initial contribution was not apropos.

      Anthony F Mills wrote Aug 20:

      “Here it is assumed [sic] that the I.R. radiation is absorbed below [sic] a thin thermal boundary layer (“skin”) under [sic] the water surface.”

      The whole point of this thread as it had developed was to discuss the implications of the fact that Mill’s assumption is wrong – on account of the extraordinary absorptive power of water for I.R.

      2/3 rds of incident I.R. is absorbed within the first 1/00 th of a millimeter. What “skin” is Mills dreaming of, then, where I.R. is not absorbed? The first micron, the first Angstrom?

      • bernie says:

        Ah, yes, academics and their assumptions.

        I always liked the one about the group of ship-wrecked economists. They come across a tin of peaches washed up on the shore and look at it forlornly. After a while, one of them says slowly,

        “Assume a tin-opener…”

        • rick says:


          I sometimes deliberately remind myself of how Artemus Ward put it:

          “It isn’t the things you don’t know which lead to grief. It’s the things you do know – but which ain’t so!”

      • dave says:

        Yes, well, I will go into my lab, build some tanks, and directly measure by chemical absorption methods the evaporation under different regimes of irradiation and mixing. All this brainless theorising is getting my goat.

        • Bob Bonder says:

          Again, the IR in Mills explanation isn’t coming from some random source. It’s coming from the ocean surface in the first place it would have to inhibit itself and not inhibit itself at the same time for his explanation to work. His point is non senses.

      • oldfella says:

        “…discrepancy of 0.24 C…”

        Or even K

        The third angel on the left just fell off.

        • bernie says:

          “…angel…fell off…”

          He’s been invited to make a come-back on Strictly Come Prancing – but a female pop star is still going to win it.

      • oldfella says:

        jake writes:

        “the first micron?, the first Angstrom?”

        First micron is already too deep. Some wavelengths are absorbed completely within the first micron.

        Absorptive capacity of water varies 500-million fold from least absorbed wavelength (400 nanometers, violet, or just into the ultraviolet) to most absorbed (3000 nanometers,in the infrared).

        • oldfella says:

          All Mills did was to state in a sententious manner that if energy from I.R. penetrates ‘far enough’ into water, it will mingle with the internal energy already there.

          Well… DUH!

      • oldfella says:

        jake says:

        Just noticed a typo by jake. I meant of coutse 1/100th
        not 1/00 th. I would actually be happier with saying the first two-hundreths! Martin Chaplin’s website on the science of water has – in extreme detail – information on the absorption spectrum. It wiggles around according to the exact modes of vibration and stretching that are available for the energy to excite.

        Water is “always different” because of the extraordinary number of hydrogen bonds it possesses. To even think of treating it as just another humble adherent to “the general rules” is extremely wrong.

        • oldfella says:

          jumbled up my own typing.

          drop “jake says:”


          “Just noticed a typo by jake.
          He meant, of course, 1/100 th not 1/00 th….”

  88. bernie says:

    Anthony Mills writes:

    “Rather compare being out doors on a clear bright night to when there are low clouds. What would you feel?”

    Silly question. It depends how many days the clouds have been there. In January 1963 there were twenty consecutive days of low cloud in Southern England. It got colder every day. Finally, we were able to walk on the River Cam from Cambridge to Ely.

    • ray says:

      bernie says:

      “…walk on the River Cam from Cambridge to Ely.”

      You wouldn’t be trying to hint at a qualification would you?

      Some of us are down on swank.

      • bernie says:


        It was a long time ago. Perhaps I was ‘a visitor’, or ‘town’, or ‘gown’, or even a Canon of Ely Cathedral, or a teacher trainee from Homerton, or a nurse from Addenbrookes. Perhaps I have forgotten I went to Oxford, not Cambridge. Most likely, I have mixed myself up with someone else entirely.

        • bernie says:

          I remmember pissing in the snow because the lavatories had frozen. But then that happened in Canada once, also. If someone asks you to go ice-fishing, don’t.

  89. bernie says:

    “days of cloud…”

    24-hour days, that is.

  90. bernie says:

    So to be precise, on the 20th night, under low cloud I felt colder than I had ever been before in my life.

  91. Bob Bonder says:

    The simple question is, if this is the process why is it just happening now? We theoretically have over 100 years of warming without this process slowing it down why only now?

  92. Bob Bonder says:

    Mills writes

    The IR energy being directed at the surface layer of the ocean by CO2 is originally coming from the ocean in the first place not from some random energy source. For it inhibit energy flow from the ocean is self defeating and nonsensical.

  93. bernie says:

    “Why just now?”

    Because a failing paradigm calls for it.

    When Professor Gray averred many years ago that there was a natural waxing and waning of deep ocean circulation he received multiple buckets of crap on his head from that charming community called Science. Now it is convenient to rediscover it.

    • Bob Bonder says:

      I should have been more clear I was addressing Anthony Mills explanation. It suggest a consistent effect with rising co2 levels.

      I don’t doubt Roy explanation of ocean circulation allowing heat to be transferred deep into the oceans on some level. It is the effect of AGW on warming the ocean that is in question and more specifically doing so with out a corresponding increase in atmospheric temperatures.

  94. Kristian says:

    Anthony F Mills says, August 23, 2014 at 1:11 PM:

    “(1) Peter Minnett was correct (…) Science is science,no matter if you are a skeptic or a Warmista.”

    In what way was Minnett correct? I mean, if he was correct, isn’t it a bit strange that there haven’t been any follow-ups to his ‘research’? Where are the tens and hundreds of similar studies from all over the world verifying and building on his groundbreaking ‘findings’? And if they’re there somewhere, why don’t we hear about them? Why aren’t they presented in the media? In the IPCC reports? Why isn’t this the main focus of ‘Climate ScienceTM’ today? Quantifying just how much this skin gradient has in fact declined globally and over time because of the increase in atmospheric CO2?

    The mainstream climate establishment apparently knows ‘global warming’ continues unabated because of rising OHC, especially in the deep oceans, and it apparently knows this is because of the continuing slow rise in atmospheric CO2 content sending more IR ‘heat’ down to the surface. Wouldn’t it be good, then, to also have this ‘knowledge’ verified by actual comprehensive empirical observations from the real world …?

    It’s been eight years. We haven’t heard anything since then. Minnett’s ‘discovery’ wasn’t even published in any known scientific journal. Why not? It just went quiet. And still people to this day refer back to his RealClimate article on tropical cloud cover (!) as (seemingly still the only) ‘proof’ CO2 forces the ocean to heat at depth.

    Who in their right mind would sail around in the tropical Pacific and think for one second that a sky covered in
    clouds would end up having a net WARMING effect on the ocean anyway? So if we just covered the entire globe in a permanent blanket of clouds, then, we would get runaway heating from ‘back radiation’ coming down from two miles up, right? That’s the corollary of what Minnett found, right?

    “(2) Re the Roy Spencer argument.The heat input is U.V.radiation from a very hot place;the incident I.R. effectively reduces the net I.R.radiative heat loss from the surface,where
    net q I.R. radiation =emission absorption”

    The ocean first and foremost loses energy by way of evaporation, not by radiation. Evaporation is a much more efficient, responsive and variable mechanism for energy loss from a heated body of water than ‘net IR’, which is fairly slow-responding to perturbations in comparison (just like conduction).

    BTW, the solar radiation warming the ocean is mostly in the visible and NIR range, not UV:

    “Added CO2 increases the incident I.R and the absorptionand the net q I.R. decreases.
    So less of the U.V. is lost to the atmosphere, and more goes into the ocean.
    No laws of thermodynamics are violated.”

    You assert that more CO2 in the atmosphere increases incident IR and hence reduces ‘net IR’ from the surface.

    Do you have any observations to back up this claim? Or is it just a claim presumed as fact? Any global empirical research showing how the DWLWIR term has grown over the last decades, not merely from an observed rise in tropospheric temperature, but specifically from the rise in atmospheric CO2 content? Also, even more interesting, how the ‘net IR’ loss from the surface of the Earth has progressively declined with this increasing DWLWIR term over the same period, meaning, the UWLWIR term hasn’t increased as much. Anything?

    Or are you just throwing out theoretical postulates and expect us to accept them at face value as empirical fact?

    ‘Science by postulates.’ AGW in a nutshell.

    “When the ocean does not warm,there must be opposing phenomena:the challenge is to identify the causes.”

    No, nothing needs to ‘be opposing’ anything, because you have not shown that there is anything to ‘oppose’.

    Read this carefully:

    The dynamic surface energy budget of the ocean is basically a matter of the balance between incoming solar and outgoing latent heat (evaporation rates). Not in the sense that evaporation covers the entire energy loss from the ocean (~60%, more in the tropics), but in the sense that it’s normally responsible for most (if not all) of any change in energy loss from the ocean. The ocean simply primarily uses its evaporation rate to regulate its output in responding to any perturbations. In other words, ‘net IR’ and conduction is powerless to create and maintain an imbalance at the sea/air interface whenever evaporation is present as a mechanism for energy loss. It completely swamps them.

    If OHC rises, it means there’s an imbalance between incoming solar and outgoing latent. IR doesn’t have anything to do with it. Whatever impedes outgoing latent (evaporation rates) and/or facilitates a more effective solar uptake, induces ocean warming. It’s as simple as that.

    So what is THE most important agent for affecting evaporation rates from the sea surface? Winds. And what creates and drives winds? Pressure differentials. Gradients. Somehow change the pressure cell configuration and/or gradients across the oceans and you change the winds.

    What is THE most important agent for affecting solar heat uptake in the oceans? Cloud cover. And what is more than anything responsible for the distribution of clouds and cloud cover on Earth? Winds. Both directly and indirectly.

    The whole thing about ‘net IR’ being able to slowly, but steadily force solar energy to pile up in the bulk of the ocean is a ‘Climate ScienceTM’ chimaera. It exists only in the heads of people suffering from a severely restricted perspective on how the world actually works.

    • Bob Bonder says:


      What net IR increase anyway, the IR he is using in his example comes from the surface of the ocean anyway. If it is inhibiting the the ocean subsurface temperature from passing threw his top layer then the IR emissions from this top layer would have to decrease as well thus there is less IR for the co2 to absorb and redirect back to continue his cycle.

    • Ball4 says:

      Kristian 7:33am: “In what way was Minnett correct?”

      I see Kristian is still confused using the word “heat” with : “..more IR heat down to the surface..”. Minnett was correct in the way positive LWIR energy into net of evaporative energy out of the water skin remains as a function of water depth in roughly the top mm. This hasn’t been controversial for a long time. Many authors have published on the subject.

      “I mean, if he was correct, isnt it a bit strange that there havent been any follow-ups to his research?”

      Many authors have done so, there was no need to pile on. Has Kristian gone thru all of Minnett’s later work to find no mention?

      “Where are the tens and hundreds of similar studies from all over the world verifying and building on his groundbreaking findings? And if theyre there somewhere, why dont we hear about them?”

      The work wasn’t exactly ground breaking, it added to the pile, other interesting work prioritized. Kristian didn’t hear about that I suppose because didn’t bother to listen “suffering from a severely restricted perspective on how the world actually works.”

      Check the list of ref.s herein & their ref.s; I predict (but haven’t done Kristian’s work) that Kristian will not find one published that overturns Minnett’s work. His in situ data was consistent with the known science. Click on pdf for the whole paper. See Fig. 14.

      “Its been eight years. We havent heard anything since then.”

      See that link, it is from 2010 so have heard something. Did Kristian check all of Minnett’s later publications yet? Or searched out other research extensively? Doubt it.

      “So if we just covered the entire globe in a permanent blanket of clouds, then, we would get runaway heating from back radiation coming down from two miles up, right?”


      “Thats the corollary of what Minnett found, right?”


      “The ocean first and foremost loses energy by way of evaporation, not by radiation.”

      Kristian! Listen up. The ocean loses energy like the atm. by radiation as all mass radiates. The ocean skin absorbs, reflects and transmits incident radiation. Ocean energy lost by evaporation is long term (~multi-years) replaced by rain (temporal & spatial accounting) – this is what being in LT balance means. Or does Kristian mean there is missing rain too?

      • Bob Bonder says:

        Ball says

        How is there a net increase in IR absorption? The IR radiation theoretically comes from the surface of the ocean surface in the first place in the form of short wave energy being absorb and re admitted as IR radiation and then being absorb by atmospheric CO2 and directed back to the ocean. This “increase in IR” theoretically creates a barrier keeping more SW heat from being transported to the surface and re admitted as IR thus increasing the energy content of the ocean. However then you have a decrease in IR radiation coming from the ocean to be re absorb by CO2 which would stop the cycle. Also any thought of IR from the sun keeping the cycle going is non sensical it would absorbed at the same increasing in rate as the rise in CO2 on the way down.

        If there was some separate other source of IR radiation feeding the process there would be an argument to be made but there is none and thus there is no net increase in IR in the proposed process.

        So whether Kristian is right or not is irrelivent, this not what is happening in nature.

      • Ball4 says:

        Bob 6:29pm: For me to understand your contextual meaning, please quote my word exactly; I missed a tag in the 5:00pm first paragraph & it should be – for your convenience:

        Kristian 7:33am: “In what way was Minnett correct?”

        I see Kristian is still confused using the word “heat” with : “..more IR heat down to the surface..”. Minnett was correct in the way positive LWIR energy into net of evaporative energy out of the water skin remains as a function of water depth in roughly the top mm. This hasn’t been controversial for a long time. Many authors have published on the subject.

        “How is there a net increase in IR absorption?”

        See the paper I linked for a complete detail answer – especially of Fig. 14 which shows: “positive LWIR energy into net of evaporative energy out of the water skin remains as a function of water depth in roughly the top mm.” The paper discusses much of the earlier work in arriving at this answer.

        The top post is schematic, there are papers you can easily find showing ocean surface skin T profiles in detail.

        • Bob Bolder says:

          the paper use an outside source of IR radiation. the real world uses IR energy from the ocean not an outside source. you still make no sense.

      • oldfella says:

        Rain doesn’t return the energy of evaporation. Rain returns cold water. The energy of evaporation was transferred to the atmosphere when the water vapour condensed to form clouds – The transfer rate is 2,500,000,000 Joules per metric ton of liquid water formed in the air.

        • bernie says:

          Yes, what I wrote before is too short-handish.

          It is evaporation from the Ocean and subsequent condensation in the air that transfers heat from the Ocean to the air, in an extremely important mechanism. See NASA’s heat budget cartoon.

          • oldfella says:

            Science doesn’t get more elementary than this. If you boil a kettle of water in the kitchen the steam condenses. The water running down the walls is COLD.

          • meteoboy says:

            I have known people who thought:


            “evaporation from Ocean surface puts potential energy into the air”

            it is GRAVITATIONAL potential energy, of the water vapour molecules, that is meant.

            Then, falling back into the Ocean would entail the return of the latent energy of evaporation to the Ocean.

            But,the potential energy of the water vapour is almost entirely to do with the H2O molecules having been separated forcibly against their natural cohesion. The potential energy is latent (hidden) in this separation and is disguised ELECTRICAL potential energy.

            When water condenses, the molecules fall towards each other and associate together at a lower state of energy. The latent electrical potential energy ceases to be hidden; it goes through a number of forms, but ends by warming the environment – the environment WHERE the condensation is taking place.

            If by chance the water vapour is condensing straight back into the sea, it is the sea that is is warmed.

            If the water vapour is condensing into clouds, the local air gets the reappeared electrical potential energy as heat. The water in the clouds has now cohered and HAS NO ENERGY LEFT to give to the surface when it falls to there as rain-drops. (Except for the trivial kinetic energy from coming down at a certain speed. And, of course, there is no law that the rain be exactly the same temperature as the surface it falls on.)

            Vaporizing one kilogram of water involves creating 2,260 KJ of electrical potential energy. Raising one kilogram one thousand meters into the sky involves creating 10 KJ of gravitational potential energy.

      • Kristian says:

        Ball4 says, August 24, 2014 at 5:00 PM:

        “I see Kristian is still confused using the word heat with : ..more IR heat down to the surface...”

        Trick, I see you’re misquoting me. Knowing you, I’m sure it’s not by accident.

        I specifically wrote: “… more IR ‘heat’ down to the surface …”

        Of course there is no IR heat from the cool atmosphere down to the warm surface. That would be a violation of the Second Law. I simply alluded to how Roy Spencer portrays the situation in the top post. He calls it that. You should read it …

        • Ball4 says:

          Kristian 10:31pm: “..youre misquoting me.”

          No. I clipped your exact words Kristian – your complete context being nearby no need for the whole thing to repeat. You misquote the top post leaving out the word “flux”.
          The top post is fine, just drop the non-scientific word “heat” or change it to “energy” to understand it correctly. Do NOT drop the scientific meaningful “flux” term as you do in comments.


          oldfella 10:08pm: “Rain doesnt return the energy of evaporation.”

          Yes. It does. Globally 88 +/- 10 W/m^2 energy flux up into atm. by evaporation and 88 +/- 10 W/m^2 energy flux down to surface latent (ok, including snow). Balanced long term. No effect on global Tmean only effect on local temperature delta balanced by other region temperature delta. Cite Stephens et. al. 2012.

      • Kristian says:

        Ball4 says, August 24, 2014 at 5:00 PM:

        “Where are the tens and hundreds of similar studies from all over the world verifying and building on his groundbreaking findings? And if theyre there somewhere, why dont we hear about them?

        The work wasnt exactly ground breaking, it added to the pile, other interesting work prioritized.”

        What pile?

        Here is what I asked Mills:

        “Why isnt this the main focus of Climate ScienceTM today? Quantifying just how much this skin gradient has in fact declined globally and over time because of the increase in atmospheric CO2?

        The mainstream climate establishment apparently knows global warming continues unabated because of rising OHC, especially in the deep oceans, and it apparently knows this is because of the continuing slow rise in atmospheric CO2 content sending more IR heat down to the surface. Wouldnt it be good, then, to also have this knowledge verified by actual comprehensive empirical observations from the real world ?”

        In what pile of studies is it shown empirically that Minnett’s ‘mechanism’ is actually what has caused the rise in global OHC since 1970 and not natural cycles?

        You know of course that Minnett looked at clouds, not CO2, and very short-term effects at that (more clouds would COOL the tropical ocean over time, not warm it), and WITHOUT taking into account how the air layers (and hence the other energy loss mechanisms) above the surface responded when the clouds covered the sky …?

        In other words, his ‘study’ has no merit whatsoever. It’s completely devoid of discovery or verification of anything; no atmospheric radiative mechanism for surface warming at all. It’s all postulates based on his preconceived ideas and a priori assumptions. He concludes first and ‘analyses’ afterwards. Any normal person with some hint of a faculty for critical thinking realises this after just a cursory look through his RealClimate article.

        • Ball4 says:

          Kristian 11:38am: What pile?

          The pile of work in the ref. I gave you above the authors discuss some and then cite much more in the ref.s. You have but to read the pile. Get started. Now. I predict none will disagree with Dr. Peter Minnett. If you do find some disagreement, please bring it to my (our) attention.

          Its all postulates

          No Kristian, Dr. Minnett has precision instrument test data. In situ, the best kind it verifies extensive lab data (see my ref. when in the presence of spray and waves radiating to themselves. The ocean skin has no way of knowing whether the LWIR is modulated by clouds or CO2 ppm. Photons arent tagged or have ducats like ticket holders.

          Any normal scientist with some hint of a faculty for critical thinking after reading thru the bulk of the literature (pile) will understand the science of the top post schematic and Dr. Minnetts work.

          • Kristian says:

            Ball4 says, August 25, 2014 at 12:04 PM:

            “Kristian 11:38am: What pile?

            The pile of work in the ref. I gave you above the authors discuss some and then cite much more in the ref.s. You have but to read the pile. Get started. Now. I predict none will disagree with Dr. Peter Minnett. If you do find some disagreement, please bring it to my (our) attention.”

            Hey, deliberate misquoter. There is no such pile. Your pile does not address what I’m asking for. Stated ONCE AGAIN.

            There is not one SINGLE of these references that shows empirically that Minnett’s postulated ‘mechanism’ for warming of the oceans is what actually caused global OHC to rise over the last four decades, nor over the last 11 years (ARGO era). Not one SINGLE of these references shows empirically how the skin layer of the global ocean HAS IN FACT been reduced over the last decades to account for such a working mechanism.

            They’re not even trying.

            So what are they worth? Nothing.

            I don’t care about their postulates. I don’t care about their opinions of how the world should work … theoretically.

            ‘Net IR’ from the surface of the ocean can’t and doesn’t do anything for its energy budget in terms of change. Solar input does. Evaporation rates do. These two are what matters. Period. ALL empirical studies of ALL times from ALL over the world shows this. This is common knowledge.

            Well, apparently not for the members of the New Age Climate Cult. Where radiation is everything. Where CO2 is the control knob.

          • Ball4 says:

            Kristian 1:37pm: See the top post again. Dr. Minnett’s skin work is correct science and relevant to understand it.

            “ALL empirical studies of ALL times from ALL over the world shows this. This is common knowledge.”

            Cite and/or link one that shows “this”.

          • Kristian says:

            Ball4 says, August 25, 2014 at 2:14 PM:

            “See the top post again. Dr. Minnetts skin work is correct science and relevant to understand it.”

            So you tacitly admit that there’s not a single paper anywhere that empirically verifies that Minnett’s postulated ‘mechanism’ is IN FACT what has caused global OHC to rise over the last decade and the last four.

            And you also admit that there’s not a single study out there empirically showing how the temp gradient through the ‘skin layer’ of the global ocean has IN FACT been reduced over the last decade or the last four.

            Also you admit that there exists no paper demonstrating empirically that ‘net IR flux’ out from the global ocean surface has indeed become smaller over the last decade or four.

            Thank you. You just conceded that the ‘More CO2 in the atmosphere warms the bulk of the oceans (through Minnett’s postulated radiative ‘mechanism’)’ meme is nothing more than pure hypothetical conjecture presented as fact.

            AGW in a nutshell.

            Once again, Trick, Minnett looked at cloud cover, not CO2 (a gas at ~400ppm) in the atmosphere.

            We KNOW that a cloud cover will reduce energy loss from the surface. ALL energy loss. Not just the radiative one. It reduces the cooling of the surface. No problem there.

            The problem is, however, that clouds do not act anything like CO2. They’re a completely different creature.

            A cloud cover acts like a lid on a pot. It’s like the famous closed glass box in the laboratory. Or a greenhouse, only it reflects and absorbs incoming solar (it inhibits both heating and cooling). The cloud base marks a quasi-rigid barrier. A physical border. A materialised discontinuity in the air column. Thus, it affects directly the air layers beneath.

            But it’s always a transient (and local/regional) phenomenon. Its effect is temporary. Clouds overall do not cause a net warming (greenhouse) effect on the global surface, and definitely not in the tropics where most of the energy from the Sun enters.

            A clear sky sees no similar inhibition to energy loss as does an overcast one. IF THE AIR COOLING, that is, doesn’t happen to have a larger ‘heat capacity’ than normal. It does whenever it contains a lot of WV. WV has a large ‘heat capacity’ and thus humid air takes longer to cool to space. As a consequence, the surface in turn cools more slowly to a humid atmosphere. Standard physics.

            CO2 doesn’t increase the ‘heat capacity’ of air. It slightly reduces it.

            You have no case, Trick, and you know it. That’s why you need to misquote and misrepresent to make it seem as if you have something to argue against.

            Why do you bother? Don’t you have better things to do?

          • Ball4 says:

            Kristian 4:04pm: “A cloud cover acts like a lid on a pot.”


            “..caused global OHC to rise over the last decade and the last four.”

            Nothing has caused OHC to rise. The heat content in the ocean is exactly 0.0 and was 4 decades ago Kristian. There is plenty of ocean energy content though.

            So…where is the published cite supporting Kristian’s “this”? No appearance yet observed.

          • Kristian says:

            Ball4 says, August 25, 2014 at 4:22 PM:

            “Kristian 4:04pm: A cloud cover acts like a lid on a pot.


            If you compare a cloud cover and CO2 and how they work on the air layers beneath down to the surface, then yes indeed.

            “..caused global OHC to rise over the last decade and the last four.

            Nothing has caused OHC to rise. The heat content in the ocean is exactly 0.0 and was 4 decades ago Kristian. There is plenty of ocean energy content though.

            Sowhere is the published cite supporting Kristians this? No appearance yet observed.”

            You don’t agree that the ocean almost exclusively regulates its energy loss through evaporation? You need to see a ‘cite’? You think it rather regulates through its radiative output?

            OK, Trick. Whatever floats your boat. Good luck on showing that empirically.

            I think people are capable of thinking for themselves. They don’t need your approval. You don’t exactly come off as the guy to trust on how the ocean reallyworks anyway, seeing how you’re ‘debate technique’ is provably (even on this very thread) dishonest …

  95. bernie says:


    Well, we know there is this huge ‘bridge’ whereby evaporation returns energy from the Ocean to the Atmosphere. What a few old people here with nothing better to do are wondering, is whether the compensation between downwelling I.R. and the latent-heat transfer of the ‘bridge’ is accidental, or a loose, ultimate-cause and effect or a tight, proximate-cause and effect.

    It all helps to wile away the time before Dr Spencer releases another “no-change” number, doesn’t it?.

    • rick says:

      I do not care whether it is a “no-change number”, or through the roof. It is *&^% cold where I am in England. Somebody stole the end of our summer. I spent a fortune on chemicals for the swimming pool and had just got it blue, for a change. Now I turn blue when I get in.

  96. bernie says:

    “…a few old people…”

    I do not mean that everybody here is old…”

    But anybody who says “as a reitred engineer” or “I remember in 1963” certainly is!

  97. Jim Clarke says:


    Thank you for your explanation. I understand how the oceans could absorb more energy without the surface waters warming. Likewise, I understand how the atmosphere, with increasing CO2, could absorb more energy, yet not show any temperature rise, if the increasing energy from additional CO2 is offset by a cooling mechanism like a slight change in cloud cover, convection, albedo and so on.

    What I can not understand is how the ocean can supposedly absorb more IR energy from the atmosphere without the temperature of the atmosphere changing. Doesn’t the first step in the whole global warming process require an increase in the average kinetic energy of the molecules that make up the atmosphere? Isn’t it an increase in the kinetic energy that causes the increase in down-welling IR radiation? How can Trenberth purpose an increase in down-welling IR radiation heating the oceans (at some level) without an apparent increase in the kinetic energy of atmospheric molecules first?

  98. rick says:

    Jim says:


    Well, to be fair to AGW’ers (Boo! Why?) the crude arguments usually wheeled out can be made a little more respectable by making proper distinctions between stocks and flows.

    Still get complete betises, of course, because the Media is 100% morons. For instance, in the Daily Telegraph, a supposedly responsible London newspaper, a couple of days ago, the suggestion that there is a waxing and waning of Oceanic circulation was reported as

    “Climate Scientists say heat is going to reappear from Ocean depths in ten years’ time!”

    • dick says:

      And said Climate Scientists, instead of rushing off a letter to the newspaper saying that is an absurd misinterpretation of their remarks, giggle and smirk and say among themselves “Job well done!”

  99. rick says:

    I also posted this on the new “Crazy Man” thread of this blog.

    Last night Northern Ireland suffered its coldest August night on record at -1.9 C. This fact appears here briefly before going on a world tour of AGW sites – NOT.

  100. bernie says:

    “…coldest night on record…”

    Actually, that is rather amazing. I always thought Northern Ireland had such a mild climate – in line with their mild ways.

    • bernie says:

      meant to quote it as “…coldest AUGUST night on record…”, naturally.

      It was about 12 C lower than usual.

  101. ray says:

    I am an Irish citizen. Northerner or Southerner, none of us would hurt a fly. Most of us are tee-total. Admittedly, we are not always exactly truthful.

  102. Anthony F Mills says:

    Reply to Ray(8/14 4.14A.M.) and others:

    It is often the practice (e.g.Wikipedia) to include the visible as portion of the”near ultraviolet” for radiation in the 100 to1000nm wavelength range.Hence my use of U.V as a shorthand for short wavelength radiation versus long wavelength I.R.Your additional comment only reflects poorly on yourself .

    Reply to Jake(8/24 2.56 A.M.):

    I corrected that statement in a post immediately following the original post(8/20/2014) to replace I.R by U.V. Sorry for the confusion.See also my reply to Jake above.

    Reply to Ball4(8/24/5.00P.M.):

    Thanks for the help!

  103. rick says:

    Anthony F Mills writes:

    “…U.V. as a shorthand for short wavelength radiation versus longwave I.R….”…”

    In case anybody is still reading (probably not), and wonders what the standard definitions are in Physics textbooks.

    Short-wavelength radiation is ultraviolet or X-rays.*

    * Electronics and Nuclear Physics by T Duncan, page 41

    Ultraviolet is invisible (to our eyes) wavelengths starting next to the visible but shorter and more energetic. X-rays are even shorter.

    Infrared is invisible (to our eyes) wavelengths starting next to the visible but longer and less energetic.

    …Ultraviolet…violet blue….orange red….infrared…

    The etymology is trivial as shown above. “Ultra” means beyond (the violet) and “infra” means below (the red).

    As ‘ray’ pointed out, 1% of the sun’s spectrum (energy-wise) is in the ultraviolet, 45% in the visible and 54% in the infrared. Just about everybody with an interest in Astronomy knows about the visible, but some do not realise that there is more in the infrared.

    And here is a quote from the Bible, Isaiah 28:11 (The Devil can quote scripture)

    “For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.”

    and in view of his tone to torontoanne, 1 Timothy 2:11

    “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.”

  104. rick says:

    O.K. I withdraw the Biblical Quotes. Trying to be funny.

  105. bernie says:

    A fine line between droll and troll?

  106. rick says:

    Touche. Ouche.

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