What Our Oceans Say about Global Warming


by Guy K. Mitchell, Jr., American Thinker:

The primary heat transfer mechanism to cool the Earth’s surface is convection.  However, at night, when the temperature of the Earth’s surface approximates the temperature of the air above it, the Earth begins to cool by emitting long wave infrared (LWIR) photons into the lower troposphere (the first 8 km of the Earth’s atmosphere).  The basic premise in the man-made global warming hypothesis is that CO2 molecules in the lower troposphere, emitted by the burning of fossil fuels on Earth, absorb the LWIR photons emitted as the Earth cools.  The CO2 molecules “trap” the heat energy in the photon, which causes the troposphere to warm.  Then the CO2 molecule reradiates an LWIR photon of the same wavelength it absorbed back to the Earth’s surface, which warms the Earth’s surface.  The more CO2 molecules that are emitted into the troposphere by burning fossil fuels, the more heat is trapped and reradiated back to the Earth’s surface, increasing atmospheric and surface warming in a never-ending cycle.

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Aside from the fact that heat can’t be trapped, that the CO2 molecule does not immediately reradiate the heat energy back to the Earth’s surface, that the temperature database for the lower troposphere depicts no warming, and that the Earth has no average temperature to measure or calculate, what else is wrong with this hypothesis?  It has to do with the fact that the world’s oceans cover 71% of the Earth’s surface.  How do they fit into the man-made global warming hypothesis?  How do they interact with the LWIR photons that are emitted by the CO2 molecules in the troposphere down to Earth?  Have the world’s oceans warmed?  Do the world’s oceans cause global warming?

Absent any scientific analysis, common sense would dictate that if the world’s oceans constitute 71% of the surface area of the Earth, they should play a critical role in the thermodynamic interactions of the Earth, since they would receive 2.5 times the amount of downwelling LWIR photon emissions from CO2 molecules in the lower troposphere that the land mass would.  Therefore, an understanding of the heat energy in the photon emitted by CO2 and what happens when a LWIR photon strikes the ocean’s surface is important.

Spectroscopy is the branch of science that deals with the absorption and emission of electromagnetic radiation by matter.  The electromagnetic spectrum is the spectrum (range of frequencies or wavelengths) of light (photons) emitted by the Sun.  In 1900, Max Planck, a German physicist, developed the theory that a photon propagates through space as a particle and has a discrete quantity of energy, known as a quantum.  The amount of that energy could be calculated by Planck’s formula, E=hv, where E is the amount of energy, expressed in joules (j); h = Planck’s constant; and v= the wavelength (frequency) of the photon.  Planck received the Nobel Prize in physics in 1918 for his discovery.

In 1905, Albert Einstein proved Planck’s theory correct in his experiments involving the photoelectric effect.  In addition, Einstein proved that a photon has what is now called in quantum mechanics wave-particle duality.  That is, light acts as both a particle and a wave as it propagates through space.  Einstein received the Nobel Prize in 1922 for the discovery of the photoelectric effect.  Interestingly, Einstein did not receive the Nobel Prize for his Special Theory (1905) or General Theory (1915) of Relativity.

The HITRAN database is maintained by Harvard University and contains spectrographic analysis research data for many molecules in the atmosphere, including CO2.  Spectrographic analysis of the LWIR photons emitted by CO2 from the lower troposphere to the Earth’s surface, known as downwelling radiation, has determined that the main absorption band (wave frequency) of the photons for CO2 is in the 15-micron (μm) range, and each photon has an energy value of 1.32×10^-20 joules.  To put this amount of heat energy into perspective, it would approximate one thousandth of one billionth of one billionth of a watt (joule/second).  By comparison, you might have a 60- or 100-watt bulb in a reading lamp in your den.

The downwelling heat energy emitted to the Earth from the lower troposphere is known as heat flux — that is, the flow of heat per unit of time, through an area, expressed as watts/meter squared, or W.m-2.  Radiative heat transfer models use the data from the HITRAN database to calculate the downwelling heat flux emitted by CO2 due to an increase in the CO2 concentration in the lower troposphere.  Multiple peer-reviewed, published scientific research studies indicate that the amount of downwelling heat flux that results from an increase in CO2 concentration in the lower troposphere of 120 ppm is equivalent to 2.0 W.m-2, about 0.2% of the Sun’s downwelling heat flux at equatorial latitudes on a clear summer’s day.  Furthermore, spectrographic analysis proves that 15 μm photons do not have the energy to penetrate the ocean’s surface to a depth greater than 100 μm, about the diameter of a human hair.  By comparison, the Sun’s irradiance can penetrate the ocean’s depths down to 100 m.  NOAA estimates the average depth of the world’s oceans to be about 12,500 ft.  Therefore, it should be obvious that emissions of CO2 can have no effect on the temperature of the world’s oceans, which constitute 71% of the surface area of the Earth.

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