Global Flux Movies

There are a very interesting set of “movies” of various earth processes here:

You can watch a set of data, like precipitation, wander up and down the globe over a set of years. It is interesting to look at net radiation, surface temperature, water vapor, precipitation, etc. “They all go together when they go!” comes to mind. The major ‘takeaway’ for me is pretty simple.

There’s a band of “more” at the equator and a whole lot “less” at the poles. The band of “more” wanders up and down with the earth changing tilt. You can SEE the heat flux being pick up and dumped, via water flows, and without a whole lot of latitudinal transport of the energy involved.

Yes, there is some lack of alighment, but not much. So, for example, sea surface temperatures don’t move as much as some other things. No real surprise, it has a lot more mass. By the time you have clouds, they are more diffuse and wander a bit more (or have less pronounced gradations). But the pattern of the seasonal wander still shows up.

It doesn’t take long to look at the movies ( a minute? or so each). They can be opened in separate windows if you wish and could be run ‘side by side’ if desired.

The Movies

We’ll start with ‘net flux’ or ‘net radiation’:

And the result in sea surface temperature:

Leading to Water Vapor:

Which rises to altitude as clouds (releasing energy in condensation at altitude):

Then falling back to Earth as precipitation.

In Conclusion

So we can see the whole process, from radiation in, to temperatures, to heat out, to precipitation. It happens in bands, with all of them moving seasonally; with the max moving with the sun near the equator.

Not a whole lot of room for CO2 to do a darned thing. Anyplace that did warm by a degree or two, would just rapidly have a lot of water transport and dump the heat. We’ve got a dramatic “existence proof” here, IMHO, as we can watch places go from nearly no ‘flux’ to very high flux each and every yearly cycle and see just what happens. What happens is it gets cloudy and rains.

One other implication of this is that any generalized cooling off of the sun will result in lower precipitation globally. There may well be some locations that get more due to given ocean currents, such as the Gulf Stream, and lag time between things like warming near Florida and arrival at England… Or places that get excess rains as a ‘loopy jet stream’ dumps more wet air on their heads; but generally, I would expect more droughts on a global scale.

So enjoy the movies and contemplate just what they mean.

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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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11 Responses to Global Flux Movies

  1. These videos suggest that many scientists are awakening to the same frightening reality as these High School students in San Diego:

    “Voices Without A Vote”

  2. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M.:any generalized cooling off of the sun will result in lower precipitation globally..
    In the good all days all kids were supposed to know these simple facts….then came the so cool and cute, self conceited members of academia, who speaking out in terms and tone supposedly characteristic of enlightened individuals, of course speaking out “ex-cathedra”, denied these.

  3. John F. Hultquist says:

    “You can SEE the heat flux being pick up and dumped, via water flows, and without a whole lot of latitudinal transport of the energy involved.”

    In general, this is a really perceptive take-away from the material. However, the previous post [Where Do Hurricanes Go?] offers an exception. One of the ‘necessary’ conditions for hurricane formation is a thick layer of warm water at the ocean’s surface. When all the necessary conditions are met – a hurricane might form. With the general movement, such as Storm Isaac, to the NW and then curling on around to the NE, a considerable amount of warm water and latent heat is being carried out of the tropics and into the higher latitudes. Following the passage of a large hurricane over the ocean’s surface there will be a notable drop in the SST.

    My wonderment is this: When hurricanes do not form to carry such heat out of the tropical oceans – I don’t believe that the energy is not arriving from our Sun – what is going on? Is it being “picked up and dumped” locally? By “dumped” meaning “to space” at that latitude. And just what is happening such that we get a season or a few years of the off-pattern (no hurricanes) and then we get a season or a few years with the on-pattern?

  4. adrianvance says:

    Statistics is not science: Statistics is a tool. Mathematical models are not real.

    CO2 is a “trace gas” in air, insignificant by definition. It is 1/7th the absorber of IR, heat energy, from sunlight as water vapor which has 160 to 640 times as many molecules capturing 1120 to 4480 times as much heat and make 99.99% of all “global warming.” CO2 does less than 0.01% of global warming.

    Carbon combustion generates 80% of our energy. Control and taxing of carbon would give the elected ruling class more power and money than anything since the Magna Carta of 1215 AD.

    Read The Two Minute Conservative at When you speak ladies will swoon and liberal gentlemen will weep.

  5. tckev says:

    Thanks for the links. It’s a pity that the start dates are not adjustable as they are not all the same. But it does show what you rightly say “Not a whole lot of room for CO2 to do a darned thing.”

  6. Paul Hanlon says:

    Talking about this “global warming” meme, here’s a thing that I cannot get past.

    Surely, the maximum effect that one body can have on another is the energy it applies to it. Take the Earth, on average about 170W/m2 of the Sun’s energy reaches the surface, compared to about 340W/m2? at the top of the atmosphere. The 170W difference between the two is what makes our weather. Of course the 170W that hits the ground also interacts with the atmosphere, but that’s spread out over the 24 hours.

    There is another source of energy, which is that from the Earth’s core. This amounts to about 44 Terawatts, or about 0.086W/m2, which isn’t a lot. In fact we are told that this has no effect on the planet whatsoever.

    Now let’s see what humans add. Per Wiki, we’re adding 143,851TWH per year which divided by 8760 hours in the year gives us just over 16TW of energy intensity. Some of that energy is from renewables (about 13%) and about 40% of the total is locked up in the things we make and do with the energy, but even leaving these things aside for the moment to simplify the math, Man adds about 0.03W/m2 to the system.

    That is unconscionably small, it probably adds a single hurricane to the system in a whole year. A hurricane can be devastating for anybody who is in its path, but the 99.9% of the rest of the planet just carries on as normal. It also begs the question:

    How can CO2, (which is a consequence of the waste heat we put in the air fusing the two atoms together, which itself is a consequence of the energy we use, (i.e. CO2 is a third order effect)), cause 3W/m2 of more energy to stay on the Earth, when we are only adding 0.03W/m2 directly. That’s a one hundred-fold gain.

    Surely at that rate, it would be worth our while to find a pool of water, put an airtight enclosure around it, pump 100% CO2 into it, (because more CO2 is going to have even more of an effect, right?), and profit from the “gain” by using the outside cooler air to effect a heat engine. We’d even get lots of water vapour thrown in for added, added effect.

    If that sounds ridiculous, it’s because it is, so how can it be tenable when applied to the Earth, which is after all one big greenhouse, for which we should be very thankful for.

  7. Paul Hanlon says:

    Whoops, I made a mistake there. It takes a hundred years at the current rate of CO2 increases to get to a point where it causes an extra 3W/m2 (if you accept the IPCC figures wholesale), but the point still holds. How can something that is a consequence of our actions cause a greater effect than the original act?

  8. E.M.Smith says:

    @John F. Hultquist:

    I don’t see hurricanes as an exception so much as a real time observation of the process. The form and travel along the equatorial belt where most of the heat is, and pick up the surface heat from the ocean and dump it at altitude (causing a heck of a lot of precipitation in the process. As soon as they are over land, or away from a hot water source, they die. Demonstrating that the process is an immediate one using local heat. To the extent there is an exception, its the Gulf Stream that transports a lot of heat to the north out of the equatorial band, so lets hurricanes run up the coast (using that local heat).

    That it is cool behind a hurricane is just observing the effect of the local heat transport vertically. You can see this in IR images of hurricanes from space. The tops are dumping a lot of IR to space.

    Why the cycle changes? I don’t know. I suspect it’s directly tied to variations of heat content of the surface waters due to some combination of solar variation, wind variation, and how the currents wander. It’s also possible that a gaggle of smaller thunderstorms can move the same heat, so perhaps an oscillator exists where if you have too few thunderstorms, you get a hurricane as a ‘catch up’…


    Yeah, it would be nice to have them all directly syncronized.

    @Paul Hanlon:

    The quantity of energy humans use / release is negligible. That’s why they had to dream up all sorts of feedbacks and amplifiers and other fantasies.

    Just for fun, calculate the amount water needed to move the entire global energy consumption from the ground at about 40 C (tropics have most of the rain) to space (with condensation and formation of ice that falls as snow / hail eventually melting lower down). Spread that amount of water out over 1/3 of the globe (where most of the rain falls) and over the year. I did that once long ago and it would ‘barely get your toes wet’…

  9. Sera says:

    I noticed that there is more heat flux transport over water, than over land.

  10. adolfogiurfa says:

    Known facts:
    Please always remember that our EARTH HAS NO LID.
    Then, the question arises: Where is heat saved?

    1) Atmosphere: Air: Volumetric heat capacity: 0.00192 joules /cu-cm.
    2) Oceans: Water: Volumetric heat capacity:4.186 joules/cu-cm, i.e., 3227 times than that of Air.

    3) Soil: Ground: volumetric heat capacity: About 2.0 joules /cu-cm.
    Green House Effect = Confined Heat Effect

    No confinement = No effect.

    Remember: How soon atmosphere cools down during an eclipse.

  11. omanuel says:

    A Win-Win Resolution to the AGW Debate

    World leaders have been struggling for their own survival since 1945, unaware that we can instead work together to achieve these common goals:

    Working together we can achieve goals 1-6, instead of abandoning goals 5 and 6 for 1-4 !

    1. We all want world peace.

    2. An end to racism and nationalistic warfare.

    3. An end to the threat of mutual nuclear annihilation.

    4. Cooperative efforts to protect Earth’s environment and bounty.

    5. Governments controlled by the people being governed, including

    6. Transparency and veracity (truth) in information given the public.

    See updated summary posted here:

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel

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