A Heat Pipe is an interesting gadget. It moves heat by evaporating a working fluid at the hot end and condensing it at the cold end. In between, you can transport the liquid back to the hot end with capillary action or with gravity and precipitation.
Heat pipes are used to keep the permafrost frozen where the hot oil of The Trans-Alaska Pipeline warms the soil:
The heat pipe proper is the red metal tube, the fins on top are to more efficiently couple the “cold end” to the air.
From the wiki:
A heat pipe or heat pin is a heat-transfer device that combines the principles of both thermal conductivity and phase transition to efficiently manage the transfer of heat between two solid interfaces.
At the hot interface within a heat pipe, which is typically at a very low pressure, a liquid in contact with a thermally conductive solid surface turns into a vapor by absorbing heat from that surface. The vapor condenses back into a liquid at the cold interface, releasing the latent heat. The liquid then returns to the hot interface through either capillary action or gravity action where it evaporates once more and repeats the cycle. In addition, the internal pressure of the heat pipe can be set or adjusted to facilitate the phase change depending on the demands of the working conditions of the thermally managed system.
Yes, the “solid surfaces” bit is something of a stretch, but the surface of the earth is a solid, and the frozen water that forms at altitude as hail and snow is also a solid, so I’m willing to make that “poetic license” stretch…
But look at the rest of the description. Liquid is evaporated, absorbing heat. It moves to the cold interface where it condenses and liberates heat. Just as water at the surface evaporates at temperatures such as 10 – 40 C and rises to altitude (where, on the flight to Florida, the indicated temperature was -40 C ) where it condenses and even freezes. The definition goes on to “capillary action or gravity” returns the working fluid to the hot surface to repeat the process.
That is EXACTLY what happens in the daily storms here in Florida. It gets hot (about 90 F ) water evaporates, rises to altitude. Each afternoon, a thunder-storm forms. Cool rain falls (the rain that hit me in the pool today was about 70 F per my skin) and we are left with significantly cooler air and surface temperatures. This repeats each day taking massive quantities of heat to altitude. IR has no noticeable role in the process…
This image gives an idea of the structure of a capillary based heat pipe. A gravity based one does not need the wick. Condensation at the (higher) cold end just drops back to the bottom as precipitation.
To focus on infrared and ignore Heatpipe Earth is to be wrong. Simply, utterly, and dramatically wrong.
A tropical rains storm can drop an inch or two of rain, even up to a foot. (Call it 5 cm to 25 cm ). That represents a gigantic quantity of heat transported by our Spherical Heatpipe in that one location. A one meter square, 10 cm in depth of rain, has 100 x 100 x 10 cm = 100,000 cc or 100 kg of water. That 100 kg has had about 40 C to 80 C of temperature change plus at least one and possibly two phase changes. (Vapor to liquid, liquid to solid) as it lost the heat of fusion and heat of vaporization at altitude). The total heat transported just makes IR a bad joke in any explanation of surface temperatures.
Exactly how much depends on things we do not know. Actual temperatures, actual mass flow rates. (Though with vertical wind speeds measured at a couple of thousand feet per minute there is plenty of mass flow and vertical speed to work with). The wiki gives an idea of the limit case in highly engineered cases. In nature, even tiny fraction of that amount dwarfs the IR attribution of a couple of Watts/m^2
The advantage of heat pipes over many other heat-dissipation mechanisms is their great efficiency in transferring heat. They are a fundamentally better heat conductor than an equivalent cross-section of solid copper (a heat sink alone, though simpler in design and construction, does not take advantage of the principle of matter phase transition). Some heat pipes have demonstrated a heat flux of more than 230 MW/m².
But what's a couple of orders of magnitude among friends …
This is the chart for this afternoon in Kissimmee, Florida (near where I am). We just had a thunderstorm (that sent us out of the pool as the thunder started).
Notice that at about 4 pm the barometric pressure starts to drop, then the temperatures plunge from over 90 F to near 80 F. That was the thunderstorm arriving. Now realize it was not just the air that cooled, but there were a few inches of cold water deposited into the surface. That is one heck of a lot of “cool” dumped by Heat Pipe Earth onto Tropical Florida all while a July Tropical Sun was still high in the sky.
This happens most days. Fairly reliably each afternoon.
On the monthly view, you can see an even larger storm a couple of days ago:
That is the Lesson Of The Thunderstorm. That is the vision of the globe from Florida.
Thor rules, IR drools…