Structural Similarities Observed in ENSO Neutered Atmospheric Temperatures and Ocean Enthalpy


earth (Photo credit: Dreaming in the deep south)

Signal lies in structure.

Atmospheric temperature for the last decade and a half has made it abundantly clear that there is much more going on than the optical and radiative properties of carbon dioxide. The converse possibility that oceans, which have thus far continued to warm, could somehow be warmed by CO2 in spite of the thermal stability and theoretically limiting absorptive properties of water has remained a possibility.

The ancients had earth, air, fire, and water for fundamental elements and we have simplified these elements to mass, energy, and time. Energy is a mystical element. It dances as a plasma off the welder’s rod and in flares from the sun, and it bathes us in pleasant light and warmth.

The earth receives some quantum of energy from the sun, yet as best we can measure it several percent more energy dances between the surface and the lower atmosphere than the total the earth recieves.This dance takes place in the infrared part of the spectrum and the inherent lower energy compared with incoming visible light makes the magnitude of this flux all the more impressive.

The dance floor is a micron scale skin on soil, rock, ice, and water that can receive infrared and be warmed and the action is water vapor and to a far lesser extent Carbon dioxide absorbing the radiation from the warmed surface skin and radiating it back. If the incoming solar radiation were a 100w bulb, 117 watts would be radiated as IR from the surface skin to the atmosphere and 100 watts of that radiated back to the surface.

I have argued that it makes no sense to subtract ENSO from atmospheric temperature because it is not noise but rather a fundamental part of the system. Here I digitized an ENSO neutered average of atmospheric temperature measurements from Foster and Ramshorf 2011 and plotted them against NODC all ocean Enthalpy which is basically Levitus et al 2012.

ENSO Adjusted

Oceans cover 70% of the planet and the atmosphere receives about 80% of its “temperature” from surface radiation. I expected that this plot would show that the residual atmospheric warming after ENSO (and the other stuff like volcanoes that probably  should be considered noise) is subtracted out is the baseline  atmospheric warming to be expected from ocean warming.

The result is not so clear. There is similarity of structure but overall it is not what one expects from the massive, instantaneous, reciprocal energy flux alone.

This entry was posted in Climate, Climate Change, Geography, Geology, Global Warming, Oceanography and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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