Humans cannot heat the oceans

Some people will try to persuade you that human-produced CO2 is warming the atmosphere which is warming the oceans.  This is wrong.

The energy content of the oceans is about 3 orders of magnitude (i.e. 1000x) larger than the energy content of the Earth’s atmosphere. About 5.95 x 10^21 Joules of energy are required to raise the temperature of the atmosphere one degree C. About 5.30 x 10^24 Joules of energy are required to raise the temperature of the oceans by one degree C. This means that a small, barely measurable change in the temperature of the oceans will result in a corresponding change in the temperature of the atmosphere. Also, this means that a huge (~1000x) change in the temperature of the atmosphere would be required to cause a small, barely measurable change in ocean temperature.

As a practical matter, except by some calamity like an all out nuclear war, human-contributions of any and all gases in any amount to the atmosphere cannot cause a significant change to ocean temperatures.  Do the math.  Ocean temperatures are controlling air temperatures, not vice versa. Tectonics, volcanics and the sun control ocean temperatures, but understanding how these three work is still challenging scientists.  Climate is controlled by nature, and is not controllable by man. 

You can heat the air in your bathroom by running hot water in your tub or shower. You cannot heat your bathwater by heating the air in your bathroom.


About budbromley

Life sciences executive, retired
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7 Responses to Humans cannot heat the oceans

  1. The warmist claim is that the the oceans cannot release heat as efficiently if the air is warmer, so the cool skin layer warms and eventually this warms the oceans. I doubt there is much to that, but do you have any observations?


    • budbromley says:

      Any warming of the oceans by the atmosphere is trivial, statistically insignificant. That means the entire atmosphere. (The human contribution to heating the atmosphere via CO2 is even more trivial and unmeasurably small.) It’s a density and mass function and the difference between atmosphere and oceans is huge. The atmosphere has a mass of about 5×10^18 kg. The oceans have a mass of about 1.4×10^21 kg. The heat capacity of air is about 1005 J/kg/K. The heat capacity of ocean water is about 3993 J/kg/K. So doing the math, the energy content of the atmosphere is 1005 X 5 X 10^18 kg =5 X 10^21 Joules/Degree Kelvin. Energy content of the ocean is 3993 X 1.4 X 10^21 = 5.6 X 10^24 Joules/Degree Kelvin. Calculating the global energy content of all air and all ocean shows us that total ocean energy content is about 10^3 (or 1000 times) higher than that of the total atmosphere. This is the number of Joules (energy) to raise temperature 1 degree Kelvin (which is the same as 1 degree Celsius.) In other words, the atmosphere in total (no matter its composition) cannot heat the ocean, much less the 400 ppmv that is total CO2 and even less the 10% fraction of CO2 that is human contributed. Infrared light or collision of molecules from air contacting molecules of liquid water result in vaporization/evaporation of liquid water molecules … if the impinging energy is high enough. Evaporization of water molecules results in cooling of adjacent liquid water molecules. When you sweat and the sweat evaporates, your skin is cooled, not warmed. Oceans control the temperature of the air, not the other way around. Ocean temperature is controlled by sun’s radiation and various effects of gravity, seismic, volcanic, motion. If all of humanity devoted all of its energy sources full time to directly heating the ocean, it would take more than 1000 years to raise the ocean temperature by 1 degree. In other words, tenths or hundreths of a degree warming or cooling of the oceans will instantly change the temperature of the air, but a 1 degree or 10 degree warming or cooling of the air would take many centuries to change the temperature of the ocean. I am talking about the entire ocean here, not just the surface of the ocean. You can warm the air in a bathroom by running a hot shower or filling a tub with hot water. On the other hand, your house would burn down before you could heat cold water in the bath tub by heating the air in the bathroom. If the air is warmer over the surface of the water, evaporation will increase until the ratio of the molecules in gas versus molecules in liquid reach Henry’s law relative concentrations. For molecules of a liquid to evaporate, they must be located near the surface, be moving in the proper direction, and have sufficient kinetic energy (motion) to overcome the liquid-phase intermolecular forces. The kinetic energy of a molecule is proportional to its temperature. The evaporation rate is increased at higher temperatures at the surface. As the higher energy molecules escape from liquid to gas phase, the remaining liquid molecules have lower average kinetic energy, and the temperature of the liquid decreases. This is called evaporative cooling.


    • budbromley says:

      Warmer air molecules near the surface of the oceans means those molecules have higher kinetic energy/faster motion and some may be emitting infrared radiation. When these gas molecules hit molecules on the surface of the ocean or if the infrared radiation they emit is absorbed by molecules at the surface, the kinetic energy (motion) of the liquid molecules at surface will be increased. If the increase in energy of the molecules at the surface is enough, those molecules will evaporate into the air above. In an open system such as the earth, warmer air above the ocean will increase evaporation from the surface of the ocean. Perhaps the warmists think the earth is a closed system, like a pressure cooker?


  2. budbromley says:

    ” Now, therefore, we recommend –

    That world leaders reject the views expressed by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as well as popular, but misguided works such as “An Inconvenient Truth”.
    That all taxes, regulations, and other interventions intended to reduce emissions of CO2 be abandoned forthwith.

    The following 206 endorsers are climate science specialists or scientists in closely related fields (this is a subset extracted from the other larger lists of endorsers):”


  3. budbromley says:

    But science is not fake.


  4. True – the public is programmed to allow the imbeciles-on-parade to do their thinking for them. They’re programmed to bow down to the fake science gods while handing over their money, then they pat themselves on the back for being one of the smart ones. They don’t realize they are insane.


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