Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud

I posted some of this as a comment over at Tallbloke’s site.

But I’d intended to make a posting of it (even when I first noticed it) and just had not gotten the time yet. So I’m going to make a small posting of it here and then add bits later as time permits.

On The Importance of Mud

FWIW, I got to do a trivial “experiment” along the lines of an “IR in the air vs a SW in the water” on my recent trip to Florida…

Along the way I stopped to have a “bath” in the Gulf.

Wading into the water was an enlightening experience. The air temperatures were a reasonably warm about 70F or so. The water at the surface was cool / a little cold to the skin. Where the sun was on my skin was quite warm. The shade not so much. But that top of the water caused “Goose Bumps”.

Why? A modest wind (10 mph?) blowing ashore evaporating water. As I waded out, I discovered a Very Odd Thing.

My feet were quite warm.

The sunshine was making it through the (modestly turbulent and a bit silty near the shore where the waves broke) top meter and into the darkish mud-sand at the bottom and warming it very nicely.

Between the mud and the surface the water was of intermediate temperature. The greatest temperature rise was in the few centimeters right at the mud surface.

This effect continued to my limit of immersion (which was about my armpits…) where I finished cleaning off 2 days of road time, dunked under the cool top layer, and then headed back to shore.

It became very clear to me that there was a lot going on here with Sea Surface Temperatures that had little to do with them indicating actual heat gain by the water from radiative heating. The surface had a load of radiation passing through it, yet was staying cool due to local evaporation. At depth, a load of radiation was being turned to heat, but it was not migrating upward very fast.

The point?

1) Measuring Sea Surface Temperature does not tell you much about the heat gain of a body of water.

2) Sea Surface Temperature tells you a great deal about sea surface conditions such as wind and humidity.

3) Sunshine acts in large part at some depth. The clearer the water, the deeper. And it can be very deep.

4) The deep effects are significantly decoupled from the surface effects.

5) Nothing beats a direct observation of the conditions of the data collection space…

6) As near as I can tell, the CO2 advocates ignore things like the tendency for the perimeter of water bodies to have the bottom warm a great deal under solar heating while the surface does not. They just look at SST and call it gospel.

So much from one ‘wade in the pool’…

To which I’d also add that given the way geometry works, there is one heck of a lot of ‘shallow perimeter’ to any body of water when compared to the central depths. It’s that whole Radius Squared thing… So a one unit circle has PiR^2 area and make it twice the radius you get Pi(2R)^2 of area, That makes the added perimeter area 3 times as large as the central area. So the shallows can be very very important. ( I can feel a whole slew of grants being requested to study the Specific Heat of various Mud Wallows ;-)

Especially in places like Florida, Minnesota, Canada and all those other places with a million lakes all over the place… For example, the average depth of the San Francisco Bay is about 10 feet. Call it 3 meters. So the bottom mud dominates the issue there. Measure the surface temperature and you are finding out something about the local air temperature, velocity, and humidity. But not so much about the total heat gain of the body (nor does the fact that the body has a substantial flush of all that water about 2 x a day help you find the heat gain via temperature…)

As near as I can tell, the whole issue of heat being different than temperature AND how it is not smoothly and evenly distributed between surface and subsurface layers is completely ignored in the CAGW view of things. Myopic doesn’t even come close…

Bit More

OK, now think about if for a minute. There is a whole lot of bottom mud in things other than bays, lakes, and oceans.

We’ve got rivers and ponds all over the place. They are trapping and gathering heat, and in many cases are disjoint from nearby ‘air temperature’. So where is the heat gain in the Mississippi drainage basic accounted? In the air? Or in the water that dumps into the Gulf? How about in a jungle? Where is the heat budget of the tropical jungle accounted? In the Amazon River? (And all it’s flood plains…) Or in the air at the airport in Sao Paulo? How about the Congo?

So it looks to me like we’ve not only got a lakes, oceans, and bays problem. But we’ve got a Rivers and Jungles problem too…

And in the end it all stems from the initial error of confounding temperatures with heat. The fatal flaw at the heart of the AGW thesis. Temperatures are not heat. Temperature gain is not heat gain. And temperatures are a lousy proxy for heat.

About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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7 Responses to Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud

  1. bulaman says:

    Gidday EM,
    I hope Flanders and Swann from a few days ago provided some inspiration to write!! I work in Fiji a bit and swimming on the reef you come across hot spots where circulation/mixing is not occuring and fewer fish I guess due to less dissolved O2? The more we examine climate the more we realise how little we know!! Cheers

  2. Tom Bakewell says:

    Ah, the concept(s) included in the indulgance of ‘measuring ‘a temperature or two. It seems so simple, but the more one gets into it, the more complicated it gets. We really need a wavefield temperature measuring device left in place for a while to get a grip on the heat flow. And a retired seismic guy like me will wonder about the spatial aliasing problem at least in the x and y dimensions. So much more fun than counting sheep before going to sleep.

    Tom Bakewell

  3. George says:

    2) Sea Surface Temperature tells you a great deal about sea surface conditions such as wind and humidity.

    Exactly the point I have been trying to make in other venues for quite a while. Tropical sea surface temperatures are a trade wind proxy.

    When you have weak trades, you have high SSTs and it doesn’t indicate the heat in the oceans at all.

    Have you ever attempted to bring a pot of water to a boil by applying a flame to the top surface? I don’t think it can be done.

    I don’t find surface temperatures all that interesting in the context of the temperature component of climate change.

    What I would be *greatly* interested in is the temperature of the abyssal deep. Maybe next time they deploy a trans-oceanic cable they could place temperature sensors at the signal rejuvenation points. It would be interesting to see how these temperatures change on the century scale. Note that I would expect any changes to be very small over a long period of time. If we got a 0.1 degree rise in a decade, that would be very significant.

  4. bruce says:

    bulaman, Lets hope that is what is was and not someone peeing in the pool.

    I had a chance to scuba in American Samoa in the 70s. Magnificent, but/and there were a few channels of dead corral, as if run off from the shore maintained a river like form under water.
    I figured what wasn’t good for the corral wasn’t good for me either.
    I’ve always been entertained by the lack of mixing in columns of water.

  5. E.M.Smith says:

    @bulaman: I’d had the posting in my head since first stepping foot in ocean bottom, but the “Mud” song gave it a bit more form and substance (in an odd twist of things…)

    @Tom Bakewell: That realization (of what they were doing using temperatures, badly measured, as a proxy for heat gain) was my “You Bastards!” moment with the AGW crowd. It just made all the rest arguing about pin heads and angels dancing …

    @George: The correct place to take the temperature is with the thermometer shoved deep just under the tail… Not on the tip of the wet nose as the air rushes past…

    I propose we put Hansen in a deep sea vessel, send him to the bottom, and let him take the temperature for a few years…

    @Bruce: There was / is no “pool”. It was / is the Gulf of Mexico that does ‘communicate’ with the Atlantic Ocean. And while I’m sure there was a great deal of ‘peeing’ going on it that large body of water, almost all of it was from cold blooded critters and of no consequence… at least to temperatures…

    There is a marvelous place on The Big Island Hawaii near Hilo where snow melt that has entered lava tubes high on the mountain comes out at sea level. There was a guy farming trout in it. Had a pretty good lock on the local ‘fresh trout’ market in hotels…

    But the strange thing was where it hit the shore at a public beach. The top few inches was ice cold as the fresh water floated on top out to sea. You could see the ‘mixing layer’ as an optical discontinuity for a ways off shore. And just below it was nice warm tropical water. As it was about 6 inches of cold near shore, made the “entry” a bit of a challenge (so the ‘beach’ was largely empty… though the more volcanic rock inclusions in the bottom didn’t help attract tourists…) Being from California, I was OK with a bit of a cold plunge (as our ocean is about 40 F or near nothing C…) and really enjoyed getting a few dozen yards out to watch the waves move the mixing interface to a couple of feet down… but still separated layering only with a brackish top instead of fresh or salt…

    Someday I’ll go back there with an underwater camera…

  6. pyromancer76 says:

    E.M., George, I always thought the abyssal sea temperatures were about 3 degrees above freezing — nature of water and salt, and descent to the bottom in polar regions, and due to current glacial-interglacial regime. We don’t get sun’s irradiance for long enough to make enough of a difference. In this tectonic, climate regime we will freeze in hell, rather than burn.

  7. E.M.Smith says:

    IMHO, we’re on a large ball of molten rock and iron that is slowly cooling down. Has been for millions of years as the U and Th runs down. It’s just a matter of time until we are like Mars.

    From the other extreme, the sun has (supposedly) been slowly brightening for a few billion years. That eventually will crisp the surface if it does not simply absorb and melt the planet.

    So between these two processes we sit.

    On one side, the frozen hell of an airless world with CO2 / Water Ice clathrates among the rocks. On the other side, cinder or vaporized. And we’re eventually going to tip off to one side or the other. Probably in about a half Billion to a Billion more years.

    Not much we can do to change that, one way or the other.

    Nothing CO2 can do about it.

    Best we can do is enjoy now, and grow the bestest and fastest economy we can to move humanity (and all our ecology) off this rock before something whacks it.

    (My personal “most likely” choice is that the fission heating of the core runs out about, oh, now [ per the guy who proposed it as a heating method and calculated all the masses ] and we continue our present planetary orbital induced cooling into a new Ice Age. Then, in about 500,000 years, we start a long slow warming back out of it into the ‘cinder earth’ stage about 1 Billion or so years later. Somewhere in that process we lose all the air and water. So I make it about 2000 more years in this interglacial, then one to two more interglacials, or if we’re very lucky, 4 more interglacials if core heat holds up, to ‘get it right and get off the rock’, then we’re fried crispy critters gasping for air… Assuming that the glacials don’t get just a wee bit colder in the next couple of cycles and ‘moderate’ the interglacials out of existence… then we’ve got just the equatorial stripe to work with and a much smaller population to create all the “stuff” needed to get off the rock… while trying to survive an ice age… IMHO, “now” is the best shot we’ve got at it.)

    And yes, I think the abyssal deep are pretty stagnant at the ‘max density’ temperature too… The surface just doesn’t matter to planetary heat balance…

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