There’s No Observational, Physical Evidence That CO2 Heats Water

In examining the Skeptical Science (SkS) blog essay How Increasing Carbon Dioxide Heats the Ocean  written by Rob Painting (an “environmentalist, scuba diver, spearfisherman, kayaker and former police officer” who has “researched climate science, in an amateur capacity, for 4 years” according to his website bio), we learn that (A) the Sun heats the surface layers of the ocean; (B) the heat “trapped” by CO2 at the ocean surface cannot penetrate past the ocean’s hair-thin “skin” layer, meaning that this alleged CO2-induced heat doesn’t enter the ocean itself; and (C) we learn that no empirical observation or physical experiment confirms that CO2 heats the ocean waters, so assumptions about CO2 are necessarily derived using proxy experimental evidence (i.e., clouds) instead.

Let’s review each of these directly quoted points individually.


(A)  “Sunlight penetrating the surface of the oceans is responsible for warming of the surface layers.”

(B)  “Adding further greenhouse gases to the atmosphere warms the ocean cool skin layer, which in turn reduces the amount of heat flowing out of the ocean. … Greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, trap heat in the atmosphere and direct part of this back toward the surface. This heat cannot penetrate into the ocean itself, but it does warm the cool skin layer, and the level of this warming ultimately controls the temperature gradient in the layer.  … Despite being only 0.1 to 1 mm thick on average, this skin layer is the major player in the long-term warming of the oceans.”

(C)  “Obviously, it’s not possible to manipulate the concentration of CO2 in the air to carry out real world experiments, but natural changes in cloud cover provide an opportunity to test the principle [that CO2 heats water].”

(A) The Sun heats the oceans’ surface layers

As for the first SkS point (A), indeed the Sun heats the oceans’ surface layers.  According to NOAA, the surface layer is referred to as the “sunlight zone” and extends to depths of 200 meters.  Further, the Sun directly heats the first 20-30 m of the ocean (the “shortwave attenuation depth”), and the Sun’s irradiance can deposit 2.0 K of heat (500 W/m-2) uniformly in the first 2 m of the ocean in a matter of 12 daylight hours.


This surface layer is also called the sunlight zone and extends from the surface to 660 feet (200 meters). It is in this zone that most of the visible light exists. With the light comes heating from sun. This heating is responsible for wide change in temperature that occurs in this zone, both in the latitude and each season. The sea surface temperatures range from as high as 97°F (36°C) in the Persian Gulf to 28°F (-2°C) near the north pole. The sea surface temperature also ‘follows the sun’.”

Zhou et al., 2015

The incoming solar irradiance, which is absorbed by the upper ocean, is the main energy source in the ocean heat budget, and hence strongly impacts the oceanic thermal structure, heat transport and the global circulations. Shortwave radiation is attenuated exponentially with depth. The attenuation depth (e-folding depth) depends on the wavelength and biogenic components of the water. Traditionally, the water types are classified Jerlov I, IA, IB, II and III (Jerlov, 1976). The shortwave attenuation depth (SWAD) in open oceans (almost Jerlov I) is about 20–30 m, and it decreases with increasing water turbidity, particularly in coastal regions.”

Siegal et al., 1995

“First, the penetration of solar radiation through the [Pacific warm water pool] mixed is large and is an important component of the [Pacific warm water pool] heat budget.  The cruise <Tr(z)> observations indicate that 9.8% of the incident solar radiation penetrates to a depth of 30 m

Fairall et al., 1996

On a clear day the Sun deposits an average of about 500 W/m2 of heat into the ocean over the 12 daylight hours.  Roughly half of this heat is absorbed in the upper 2 m.  In the absence of mixing this is sufficient heat input to warm this 2-m-deep layer uniformly by 2.0 K. …  Measurable warming occurs as deep as 20 m and may persist well past sundown.”

Magnitude of CO2 Radiative Forcing Insufficient to Heat the Oceans

It should be noted here that because CO2 concentrations have risen from 280 ppm to 400 ppm since 1750, the IPCC (2013) has assessed that the total amount of radiative forcing attributed to the CO2 change for the last 265 years combined is less than 2 W/m2  (1.8 W/m2).  According to Dr. Roy Clark, this 2 W/m2 of total forcing from CO2 since 1750 is clearly not sufficient to heat the ocean to any detectable degree.

Dr. Roy Clark

It is simply impossible for the observed increase in downward LWIR flux from a 120 ppm increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration to heat the oceans. The increase in flux from CO2 is nominally 2 W.m^-2 or 0.18 MJ.m^-2 per day. The oceans are heated by the sun – up to 25 MJ m^-2 per day for full tropical or summer sun. About half of this solar heat is absorbed in the first 1 m layer of the ocean and 90% is absorbed in the first 10 m layer. The heat is removed by a combination of wind driven evaporation from the surface and LWIR emission from the first 100 micron layer. That’s about the width of a human hair. In round numbers, about 50 W.m^-2 is removed from the ocean surface by the LWIR flux and the balance comes from the wind driven evaporation. The heat capacity of the cooled layer at the surface is quite small – 4.2 kJ.m^-2 for a 1 mm layer. This reacts quite rapidly to any changes in the cooling flux and the heat transfer from the bulk ocean below and the evaporation rate change accordingly. The cooler water produced at the surface then sinks and cools the bulk ocean layer below. This is not just a diffusion process, but convection in which the cooler water sinks and warmer rises in a complex circulating flow pattern (Rayleigh-Benard convection). This couples the surface momentum (wind shear) to lower depths and drives the ocean currents. At higher latitudes the surface area of a sphere decreases and this drives the currents to lower depths.”

In round numbers, the temperature increase produced by a 2 W.m^-2 increase in LWIR flux from CO2 is overwhelmed by a 50 ± 50 W.m^-2 flux of cold water and a 0 to 1000 W.m^-2 solar heating flux.  Over the tropical warm pool the wind driven cooling rate is about 40 W.m^-2.m.s^-1 (40 Watts per square meter for each 1 m/sec change in wind speed). This means that a change in wind speed of 20 cm.s^-1 is equivalent to the global warming heat flux. (20 centimeters per second).”

(B) CO2 heat “cannot penetrate into the ocean itself” — but it controls the heat in the skin layer?

According to the “basic physics” and “settled science” as understood by the dangerous anthropogenic global warming (DAGW) advocates at SkS,  the heat trapped at the ocean surface via the “blanketing” greenhouse effect is not capable of actually penetrating into the ocean itself or affecting ocean heat content directly.  Nonetheless, it is claimed that CO2 can control how much heat is contained in the skin layer, and the heat energy in the “0.1 to 1 mm thick” skin layer  is “the major player” in determining the heat content of the global oceans to depths of thousands of meters.

First of all, it is nonsensical to admit that the Sun predominantly determines the temperature gradient of the first 30 meters of the ocean, but yet is simultaneously incapable of modulating the temperature of the first few tenths of a millimeter of the ocean.   Not surprisingly, scientists have found that “solar heating overcomes the net upward longwave energy flux and warms the skin” of a body of water.

Wilson et al., 2013

[D]aytime skin effect was strongly influenced by direct solar illumination and typically had a mean of 0.5 K in the morning that decreased to 0.1 K by midday.…. [D]aytime solar heating stratifies the temperature profile of the surface. With this in mind the negative skin effect results from two separate processes: (1) intense daytime solar heating overcomes the net upward longwave energy flux and warms the skin, or (2) the right combination of low wind and solar heating creates a warm layer of water above the floating thermistor.”

Sun Heats Surface Ocean, Surface Ocean Heats Atmosphere

The main reason why the ocean skin is cooler than the waters directly below it is due to vertical heat flux, or evaporative processes.  The skin layer’s temperature is largely determined by the natural flux of warmer subsurface waters (heated by the Sun) rising to the surface from below.  In this way, atmospheric processes (the CO2 greenhouse effect as envisioned by modelers) do not exert control over internal ocean processes (surface heat flux) more than internal ocean processes exert control over atmospheric processes.  The heat flux is “almost always” from ocean to atmosphere, not the other way around .

Murray et al., 2000

Skin SST is typically 0.1 -0.5 K cooler than the immediate sub-surface water, although considerable variation in the skin-bulk difference has been observed (e.g. Donlon et al., 1999). This temperature difference is due to the vertical heat flux through the thermal boundary layer in the top millimeter of the ocean; net surface heat flux is almost always from ocean to atmosphere, resulting in a cool ocean skin.”

Minnett et al., 2011

“There is a strong diurnal [sunshine] component to the magnitude of these temperature gradients, as well as a dependence on cloudcover, which modulates the insolation, and wind speed, which influences the turbulent mixing. The surface skin layer of the ocean, much less than 1 mm thick, is nearly always cooler than the underlying water because the heat flux is nearly always from the ocean to the atmosphere

Ellsaesser, 1984

“The current eager acceptance of oceanic thermal lag as the “explanation” as to why CO2 warming remains undetected, reemphasizes that the atmosphere cannot warm until the oceans do.”

CO2 Unmentioned as an Important Heat Flux Variable

It should also be pointed out that the peer-reviewed scientific literature lacks references to CO2 as a “major player” — let alone a player at all — in the determination of surface heat flux, skin temperature gradient, or ocean heating processes altogether.   One would think that if CO2 is the primary variable in net ocean heat content changes it would at least be routinely referred to as such in scientific journals.  It isn’t.  Below are just a few examples of the many instances in which CO2 is not mentioned when discussing the key components involved the ocean surface heat flux processes.

Hsiung, 1986

The heat balance of the global ocean surface layer is calculated using bulk flux formulations. Maps of the long-term monthly and annual means of the net surface energy flux together with the four components of the total flux (latent heat flux, sensible heat flux, incoming radiation, and outgoing radiation) for the global oceans are presented. Incoming solar radiation and latent heat flux are the two dominant components that control net surface energy fluxes. Wind speed, cloud cover, and the gradient of specific humidity are the three most important meteorological parameters in determining surface flux.

[CO2 is not mentioned as a factor affecting heat energy fluxes, nor anywhere in the paper.]

Smith et al., 1996

Observations of the Infrared Radiative Properties of the Ocean …

“[I]t is necessary to understand the physical variables contributing to sea surface emitted and reflected radiation to space.  The emissivity of the ocean surface varies with view angle and sea state, the reflection of sky radiation also depends on view angle and sea state, and the absorption of atmospheric constituents such as water vapor, aerosols, and subdivisible clouds affect transmittance.”

[CO2 is not mentioned as an IR variable, nor anywhere in the paper.]

Ohlmann and Siegal, 2000

[I]n-water solar fluxes can vary by 40 W/m-2 within the upper few meters of the ocean (based on a climatological surface irradiance of 200 W/m-2) and that a significant portion of the variation can be explained by upper ocean chlorophyll concentration, solar zenith angle, and cloud amount.”

[CO2 is not mentioned as a factor affecting the heat flux variation, nor anywhere in the paper.]

(C)  No observational evidence or “real world” scientific experiment confirms CO2 heats water

Let’s emphasize this last point (C) by citing the exact wording once again:


“Obviously, it’s not possible to manipulate the concentration of CO2 in the air to carry out real world experiments, but natural changes in cloud cover provide an opportunity to test the principle [that CO2 heats water].”

Over at RealClimate (RC), the blog founded by the likes of Michael Mann, Gavin Schmidt, and William Connolley (among others), there is an essay written by Peter Minnett entitled “Why greenhouse gases heat the ocean”.   (This was the original blog essay on the topic that Rob Painting appears to have borrowed heavily from in writing for SkS a few years later.)  The RC version of the above quote looks like this:


“Clearly it is not possible to alter the concentration of greenhouse gases in a controlled experiment at sea to study the response of the skin-layer. Instead we use the natural variations in clouds to modulate the incident infrared radiation at the sea surface.”

So here we have explicit acknowledgement that the conceptualization of CO2 as a primary determinant of net ocean heat content variations is not rooted in observational evidence and experimental science.   It’s a conceptualization that has not been tested or subjected to falsification.

Observational evidence of the alleged physical process that says raising or lowering CO2 heats or cools water bodies is not required, apparently.   A controlled scientific experiment to test the presumption that CO2 is “the major player” in determining ocean heat content because it allegedly controls the temperature of the “0.1 to 1 mm thick” skin layer is also not required, apparently.  Climate science is apparently not like the other sciences.

Clouds and CO2: Apples to Apples?

SkS and RC claim that, because there aren’t any physical measurements or controlled experiments or empirical observations that can verify the CO2-heats-water assumption found in models, cloud cover changes can suitably be used as a proxy  for CO2 changes so as to “test the principle”.   But clouds and CO2 do not offer an apples-to-apples comparison in their long-wave or “greenhouse” function, nor in their magnitude of influence on radiation budgets.  That’s because clouds are far more powerful agents of radiative change when altered  (both in the shortwave and longwave) than CO2 concentrations are.

In their highly-cited paper entitled “Cloud Radiative Forcing,” Ramanathan et al. (1989)  conclude:

“The size of the observed net cloud forcing is about four times as large as the expected value of radiative forcing from a doubling of CO2. The shortwave and longwave components of cloud forcing are about ten times as large as those for a CO2 doubling. … The greenhouse effect of clouds may be larger than that resulting from a hundredfold increase in the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere.”

Even RC acknowledges in that variations in cloud have a far more dominant effect on ocean heat changes and radiation budgets than do variations (doubling) of CO2.  In the very same RC blog essay about why CO2 is predominantly responsible for heating the oceans, we read this:

“Of course the range of net infrared forcing caused by changing cloud conditions (~100W/m2) is much greater than that caused by increasing levels of greenhouse gases (e.g. doubling pre-industrial CO2 levels will increase the net forcing by ~4W/m2)”

So if changes in cloud are acknowledged to be in excess of an order of magnitude more powerful than CO2 changes in affecting heat energy changes in the oceans, why is it that clouds are assumed to be suitable as a comparison variable when “testing the principle” that CO2 is “the major player” in the determination of net ocean heat changes?  Symbolically speaking, why are refrigerators being used as a proxy for apples?

CO2-Heats-Water Assumption: Physical Measurements?

Probably the most critical feature underpinning the authentic physical sciences is the ability to obtain real world measurements.   A fundamental question for those who are convinced that CO2 is the primary cause of net ocean heat changes would therefore be this:

If the air’s CO2 concentration was raised or lowered by +/-10 parts per million over a body of water, what heat changes will occur in that body of water at depths of, say, 1 m?   What are the observed physical measurements?  

Of course, no one has an answer to this question.  We don’t have the physical measurements because this CO2-heats-water process has been neither observed nor tested or subjected to falsifiable scientific experiment.   The models might calculate a suggested W/m2 radiative forcing value for each CO2 change, but the models are based on assumptions, not real world observation.

And contrary to SkS and RealClimate claims,  it would seemingly not be impossible to test the assumption that CO2 heats water bodies, and if so, by how much.  A physical experiment could indeed be carried out for purposes of providing at least some enlightenment on these questions with direct, non-proxy observational evidence involving both CO2 and water.  For example, consider this proposed physical experiment:

Find  or create two empty and identical glass-covered greenhouses (or other transparent buildings) that are located side-by-side, with neither structure affected differently by trees or shade or other outdoor environmental conditions.  Inside each building place matching containers (large, preferably) filled with the same amount of water in each.  Measure the baseline conditions of water temperature with precise thermometers, and measure the baseline CO2 concentration each building  — which will presumably be the same or similar in each.  In the first building (control), do not alter the internal natural CO2 concentration, but leave it at baseline (somewhere close to 400 ppm).  In the second building, inject incrementally increasing quantities of CO2 (e.g., 500 ppm, 1,000 ppm, 1,500 ppm) with a CO2 generator (which are used in greenhouses to stimulate plant growth).   Use a CO2 monitor (also used routinely in greenhouses) to measure and control the amount of CO2 contained in the experimental building.   After a specified time lapse, measure the water temperature change, if any, for both the control building and the building with added CO2 from identical depths and locations for each container.  Finally, reverse the process and incrementally draw down the CO2 injection in the experimental building while again gauging water temperature changes for each building.  

This experiment (or something similar) might provide at least some basic answers to the question of how much, if any, change occurs in a body of water as a consequence of changing the air’s CO2 concentration above it.

Do DAGW advocates even want to subject their assumptions to an achievable controlled physical experiment like this, though?  It’s doubtful they do.  The results might very well invalidate the CO2-heats-water assumption.

83 responses to “There’s No Observational, Physical Evidence That CO2 Heats Water”

  1. Joe Bastardi


  2. A C Osborn

    Why hasn’t the experiment been done?
    It seems quite straight forward, they could test the Air Temp at the same time.
    I would have thought that it would be good for sceptics to do this.

    1. Will Janoschka

      With the 14-16 micron EMR flux never passing through the glass let alone through any atmospheric CO2 just what do you think you would be measuring?

  3. Ron Clutz

    There are measurements of the heat flux at the boundary of ocean surface and air. As mentioned above, the energy from the water upward is on the order of a 100 W/m2 or more depending on winds.

    1. Will Janoschka

      There are absolutely no such measurements of ocean surface EMR flux. There exists not even one viable procedure for measuring such flux. All that has ever been measured is ‘radiance’ or field strength, never flux.

  4. oeman50

    Didn’t they consider the effect of evaporative cooling at the water/air boundary layer? That keeps the “skin” from becoming a delta T layer.

  5. Ed Caryl

    An even simpler version of the experiment would be to use two wet-bulb/dry-bulb thermometer pairs in transparent enclosures. It is the skin-effect that is important after all, so all one needs is a wet sock on one of each thermometer pair. The enclosures need to be large enough to generate the increased down-ward LWIR with increased CO2. Two meter cubes should be enough. As CO2 is heavier than air, the cubes could be just open top wooden boxes, although a plastic film over the top might be required.

  6. Stephen Wilde

    I went into this in some detail previously, see here:

    The essence is that because the energy cost of water vaporisation is 5 times more than the amount of energy required to initiate it at 1 bar atmospheric pressure the IR from the CO2 above the ocean surface increases the rate at which energy is drawn upward by evaporation and STEEPENS the cooling thermal gradient upward through the ocean skin.

    AGW theory thinks that the reverse happens but that would only be true if the energy cost of evaporation were LESS than the amount of energy required to initiate it.

    1. Marcus Facer

      Even if we are wrong which we are not – water vapor dominates over the oceans & for empirical evidence water vapor is increasing over oceans & falling over land as plants reduce their water vapor emissions from the increase in co2

  7. Mindert Eiting

    Nice article, Kenneth. You propose an experiment with an experimental and a control condition. Anyhow, the effect must be small (I am a luke-warmer). In that case we have to think of a few hundred repeated trials in both conditions. So we have to rent the greenhouses for several months. Cannot be a problem with such an important issue.

  8. sod

    “This experiment (or something similar) might provide at least some basic answers to the question of how much, if any, change occurs in a body of water as a consequence of changing the air’s CO2 concentration above it.”

    No, it would not. There are experiments of this sort.

    This one shows how CO” blocks a candle:

    and this one shows the heating effect:

    The problem is, that these experiments get ignored by “sceptics” anyway.

    But even bigger problems can be seen from both experiments: The first shows, that you might need significant amounts of CO2 to get a warming effect (unless you want to build a kilometer high container..). The second shows, that a container with CO2 might warm faster and this warmer gas might simply heat the water below it.

    So please do not ask for experiments, while your friends ignore the existing ones and at least consider the obvious implications of existing experiments into your demands for new ones!

    1. DirkH

      Sod, you didn’t notice but we are talking about the skin layer of a water volume. Not about candles and bottles filled with gas.

      Do you notice ANYTHING?

      Well anyway. You don’t need CO2 for the experiment. All you need is a suitable source of infrared. The experiment has been done and it doesn’t heat anything up – it builds up the ordered charge-separation of water molecule layers.

    2. Graeme No.3

      Congratulations sod, you have caught up with John Tyndall’s experiments of the 1850’s. Yes, carbon dioxide absorbs infrared, and radiates it too. But both “experiments” involve a closed container from which the heat cannot escape because circulation is blocked. A real greenhouse – and how do you cool a greenhouse? By letting the heated air circulate upwards. Try the second experiment with an open top e.g. a large beaker, more like the atmosphere.
      It is probably beyond you that the claim in the second you-tube that the Earth is heated by the Sun and radiates IR, which is captured by the CO2 in the atmosphere and further warms the Earth. A suitable commentary would be “catch one ray and get another one free”.

      1. Jamie

        Wow, you must live on a planet different than Earth. CO2 only exists as 400 PPB, yet you ignore all other greenhouse factors in the atmosphere like methane and water vapor. Why do you focus only on CO2? You act as if the other 400/1,000,000,00 particles have no effect on climate and temperature.

        As to your experimental desire to heat air so water below will warm up, you would have to create furnace-like conditions in the air to do that … a very unrealistic situation, unless the Earth starts hurdling towards the sun.

    3. Mindert Eiting

      Have you ever realized, Sod, that you, with a body temperature of 37 Celsius, are permanently warming the air in Germany? This is an anthropogenic effect (Sod-effect), but perhaps we could agree that it will be small. Experiments are needed to estimate effect-size. By the way, CO2 does not warm an emitter but (theoretically) increases the heat capacity of the surrounding air, meaning a slower cooling rate of both. Youtube usually offers Hollywood science about dinosaurs and alien life, nice to look at if you cannot fall asleep but not to be used in a serious discussion.

    4. AndyG55


      CO2 would have been injected from a tank,

      As it expands it would necessarily absorb energy

      Did you notice just how short a time they held the first video for.

      You have been CONNED, yet again !!

      Seem you are GULLIBLE through ignorance.

    5. AndyG55

      And if you repeated the second experiment with, say, Argon, you would get the same result..

      Now figure out why..

      STUN us with your knowledge, sop. 😉

  9. dai davies

    Red herrings, sod.

    All those experiments show is that CO2 absorbs IR.

    I’ve never seen anyone deny that. It’s basic physics.

  10. Ken Gregory

    An increase in CO2 will heat the air. Lindzen’s paper gives a good explanation of how that works. The air is in physical contact with the water, so the surface layer will be heated by the air. The top 100 m or so of the oceans are well mixed due to wave action and currents, so the higher air temperature heats the top 100 m of the oceans. Below that depth there is much poorer coupling between ocean layers, but those layers will also be heated, but subject to a longer time constant.

    1. Marcus Facer

      The atmosphere is on average 2 degrees cooler than the ocean

    2. AndyG55

      “so the higher air temperature heats the top 100 m of the oceans”

      ROFLMAO !!! That is seriously hilarious.

      Skipped junior high physics did you.

      Went straight to coffee making !!

      1. AndyG55

        Tell you what..

        next time you do a cappuccino, hold the steam tube ABOVE the milk.. see how long it takes to heat the milk.

        1. sod

          “next time you do a cappuccino, hold the steam tube ABOVE the milk.. see how long it takes to heat the milk.”

          Next time when your coffee is cooling too fast, blow some hot steam over it and see what changes.

          1. AndyG55

            So you really think that blowing hot steam on the surface of water will warm it.

            Might warm the cup, which would, by conduction, warm the water, otherwise, POINTLESS.

          2. sod

            So you really think that blowing hot steam on the surface of water will warm it.

            Might warm the cup, which would, by conduction, warm the water, otherwise, POINTLESS.

            Obviously fluids have a magvc property. please educate me and give me some more informations about it!

            So if my Coffee is 80°C and there is a layer of air at 100°C above it, what will happen?

          3. AndyG55

            “So if my Coffee is 80°C and there is a layer of air at 100°C above it, what will happen?”

            And how are you going accomplish that without heating the coffee cup.?

            You heat the coffee because the coffee cup gets heated, transfers the heat to the coffee by conduction.

            There is no possibility of heating the body of the coffee through its surface layer, because of evaporation.

            You really do have hallucinogenic imagination, sop.

          4. yonason

            “So if my Coffee is 80°C and there is a layer of air at 100°C above it, what will happen?” – sod

            If you wee smart, you would have gone inside where there was air conditioning. But then, you are sod, after all.

          5. yonason

            Of course, if you have carbonated coffee, than by the rules of warmunista fyisiks, the cooler coffee should warm the hotter air above it. 🙂

          6. AndyG55


            actually, from a vague recollection, caffeine is a nitrogen based chemical with some CH3 radicals.

            Too long ago for, “iirc”, sorry.!!

          7. yonason
      2. yonason

        Yet again sod not only “steps in it,” but wallows in it with glee.

        “heat capacity of the oceans is about 1000x larger than the heat capacity of the Earth’s atmosphere.

        So why do we care? First, it helps to explain why we care about El Nino and La Nina cycles in the Pacific Ocean. If you’re unfamiliar with the terms, La Nina is a massive upwelling of cold water in the Pacific that, because ocean water has a much higher heat capacity than air, cools off the entire planet and affects weather patterns. El Nino is a massive pool of hot water in the Pacific that does the opposite – it dumps heat stored in the ocean back into the atmosphere, warming the globe and affecting weather patterns. Nearly all the energy absorbed by the Pacific Ocean during La Nina periods will eventually be emitted back into the atmosphere during El Nino periods.”

        1. yonason

          Note that (my last when it appears) is a good explanation. If, however, he subscribes to AGW, I don’t endorse any of that nonsense, naturally.

  11. yonason

    Perhaps this Roy Spencer’s post on “Trenberth’s Missing Heat” might be a good starting point? (at least for me it is).

  12. Marcus Facer

    Whether we are wrong or right that co2 can heat the oceans is really irelevant as water vapor dominates over the oceans completely – co2 does not get a look in –

  13. Ed Bo

    Try shining a longwave infrared laser (10.6 micron wavelength) down into water and see what happens.

    (You can boil the water that way!)

    1. TedL

      Dr. Evil: You know, I have one simple request. And that is to have sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads!

    2. Stephen Wilde

      You increase the rate of evaporation from the ‘skin’, not the water.

      Boiling involves bubbles of water vapour forming within the body of the water and to get that you must heat from the bottom, not the top.

      All infra red heating from above just speeds the rate of evaporation and since the latent heat of evaporation is a ratio of 5 units of energy taken up in the phase change for every 1 unit of energy provoking the phase change the process is actually one of net cooliong which prevents true boiling from taking place in favour of ever more rapid evaporation.

      I’ve been explaining the critical significance of that 5 to 1 ratio for some time.

      1. Ed Bo

        No Stephen, you heat the water at depth and it boils! Do the test in a lab beaker and you will see it boiling from the bottom. And before there is any significant evaporation. I’ve done this! (You should try it too — it’s not that expensive.)

        In the face of experimental evidence, you need to rethink your analysis! I’ll be happy to guide you…

        1. AndyG55

          What is the wattage per mm² you are delivering to the surface of the water with that laser, Ed?

          1. yonason


            Q – What’s the frequency in hertz

            A – If it hurts, your doing it too often.

            (my small contribution to geek humor) 😉

        2. Stephen Wilde

          Infra red doesn’t heat the water at depth.

      2. Ed Bo

        The laser I used had about a 10W output. I defocused it so it was covering about a 20 mm^2 area. Of course, that is a far higher flux density than you get from thermal sources, but not really relevant to the argument here.

        According to the arguments of many here, it should just have evaporated water much faster than normal (and the air was far from being saturated). That’s not what happened at all!

        1. Will Janoschka

          What kind of laser? What was its frequency/wavelength and ‘brightness temperature’?

        2. yonason

          Equipped with scuba gear, or being able to hold your breath for a really really long time (I’ll take the scuba gear, thanks) one could quite comfortably swim not far from the water surface beneath those flames.

    3. KuhnKat

      Would you like to tell us what volume of CO2 at what temperature would be required to replicate the effect of your laser??


      Yup, nimrods also point to microwave ovens, but, again, we have to look at energy density…

      1. Ed Bo

        Many people, like Stephen here, maintain that longwave infrared radiation cannot contribute at all to the temperature of the ocean because it is absorbed in the top few microns from the surface, so the most it could do is increase evaporation.

        If that were true, adding longwave infrared from a laser should just increase evaporation from the surface without increasing the bulk temperature of the water, as Stephen still thinks would happen. But that is wrong, as the experimental results demonstrate.

        Many people also believe that radiation of any wavelength longer than what is typically emitted by a body at a given temperature cannot be absorbed by that body (the “cutoff frequency” argument). The operation of microwave ovens, which output radiation corresponding to the peak thermal radiation of an object at 0.025K, but can boil water at 373K, proves this assertion completely wrong.

        1. Stephen Wilde


          “Both infrared and microwave oven shoot energy waves into the food being cooked. Infrared ovens cook the food from the outside in, whereas microwaves cook from the inside out.”

          1. yonason

            Oh, thanks. I meant to address that, but forgot. …and you said it better than I intended to. =)

    4. AndyG55

      Gees Ed,

      A nerf gun won’t penetrate a 1cm thick sheet of steel…

      …. so why not try a 50 calibre armour piercing round instead.

      1. Ed Bo

        Not an appropriate analogy. The energy of the laser is still all absorbed in the top few microns of the water. Yet it doesn’t just cause faster evaporation.

      2. Ed Bo

        Not an appropriate analogy. The energy of the laser is still all absorbed in the top few microns of the water. Yet it doesn’t just cause faster evaporation.

        1. AndyG55

          “The energy of the laser is still all absorbed in the top few microns of the water ”

          So you are telling us that the energy is absorbed in the top few microns, but causes warming at the bottom to make the water boil.???????

          ROFMLAO !!!

        2. Ed Bo

          I’m reporting real experimental results. You explain it!

      3. Ed Bo

        (Hasn’t been posting my replies — I’ll try again…)

        Not a valid analogy. The very high flux density of the laser (compared to atmospheric) still will not penetrate past the first few microns of the water.

    5. Will Janoschka

      Atmospheric CO2 neither emits nor absorbs at the 10.6 microns of a CO2 laser.

      1. Ed Bo

        Irrelevant to the subject at hand. It is of a wavelength that is absorbed in the top few microns of water, so many people here believe it cannot contribute to heating the bulk of the water.

        1. yonason

          Sorry, but you do appear to be quite incorrect. And it appears to be VERY old news.

        2. Ed Bo

          Yonason – you point to an old blog post with a confused mishmash of different ideas, and consider it authoritative?

          I have been responding to the idea in Point 1 of that article, that because LWIR is absorbed in the top few microns of water, it can only contribute to evaporation, not bulk heating.

          The experiment with the LWIR laser shows this idea is simply wrong. And experiment trumps analysis every time! So their analysis needs to be rethought.

          So what are armchair theorists like Stephen missing in their analysis? The most important thing is this: because liquid water is so opaque to LWIR, all of the upwelling thermal LWIR must come from this same skin layer of a few microns depth.

          At typical earth temperatures, this outward flux density is about 400 W/m2, all from a few microns of thickness. Without any downward flux absorbed to counteract this (and there would be none with a transparent atmosphere), the skin layer would cool quickly, setting up a steep vertical temperature gradient in the water that would result in conductive and convective mixing with deeper water.

          So the downward LWIR from radiatively active gases in the atmosphere, typically 250 to 375 W/m2 depending on temperature and humidity, substantially reduces the radiative energy imbalance in the skin layer.

          So how much (if any) does added CO2 contribute to further reducing this skin layer energy imbalance? That is the question you should be asking. It is not a simple question, with all of the interacting and non-linear follow-on ramifications.

          But when you state a categorically wrong analysis, you just let the alarmists dismiss you completely as scientific incompetents.

          1. yonason

            CO2 laser boils water at surface only

            It’s only a You Tube video, so it’s not a proof of anything, but at least it’s an actual demonstration, not just some random troll making outlandish claims.

            I.R. Penetration of ocean water, as per NASA, is minimal.

            The only “confused mishmash” of ideas here is yours.

          2. Ed Bo

            yonason: Thank you for confirming my claim that LWIR can boil water. A lot of people here don’t believe that it can. But you are still not following the implications.

            You show a NASA graph that shows that LWIR does not penetrate very far past the surface. Why did you bother? I have REPEATEDLY stated here that this is the case. Did you even read what I said?

            Now, of course, water heated from the top is going to be hottest at at the top, unlike a pot of water heated from the bottom. But if the top of the water is at 100C and the bottom initially at 20C, there will be signficant downward conduction heating the bulk of the water.

          3. yonason

            “there will be signficant downward conduction heating the bulk of the water.”

            Only with turbulence, and a lot of it if you are going to get the warmer upper mixed with the cooler lower. Problem is that if the heating doesn’t involve boiling, there’ll be little of that, and the cold will remain stratified on the bottom, and the warm on top, with the topmost layer coolest because of evaporation, and it’s resulting heat loss to the atmosphere.

            But I’ll defer to Roy Spencer,
            who’s opinions make most sense to me. We need sensible realistic experiments, not nuke the heck out of water lasers, which are not at all well represented in the real world.

  14. Dave Ward

    “So if my Coffee is 80°C and there is a layer of air at 100°C above it, what will happen?”

    You must be friends with the boatyard manager where I once worked as an electrician. We were trying to convince him that ventilation was needed for the battery chargers and inverters mounted (out of sight) behind the seating. He didn’t want to spoil the look of the expensive woodwork by providing vents, and suggested we should cut holes in the floor “so that the heat could flow down into the bilge”…

    1. sod

      have you done the experiment?

      1. AndyG55

        The whole darn engineering community has done similar experiments many times, a long time ago.

        Guess what BOZO, they found out that..

        wait for… a big revelation for you, sop……

        HEAT RISES. !! So you need vents above the motor

        The fact that you can’t even grasp this basic principal,

        shows just how moronically stupid you are.

    2. yonason

      @Dave Ward

      “…cut holes in the floor ‘so that the heat could flow down into the bilge’.”
      Careful, sod and friends might mistake the bilge water for coffee. Now wouldn’t that be interesting.

  15. Dave Ward

    “HEAT RISES. !! So you need vents above the motor”

    Not only that, but vents are needed at the bottom of the compartment so that a natural circulation can take place. But on a £multi-million yacht they didn’t want the expensive interior spoiled by such crude additions. So we had to point out that the wealthy owners might not be too pleased when their equally expensive electrical systems conked out when asked to work hard!

    We got our way….eventually!

    1. AndyG55

      “but vents are needed at the bottom of the compartment”

      I assumed the already had the ones through into the bilge area. 🙂

      The inlet vents could also be at the side, by unless fan forced, it must be vented above.

      1. Dave Ward

        “I assumed they already had the ones through into the bilge area”

        Nope – the space behind the seats was essentially a closed area. Connecting it to the bilge wouldn’t have been a good idea anyway, as it would make a route to/from the engine compartment and battery box, leading to the possibility of unpleasant smells. We fitted a fan to the top of the latter with a hose running to an external vent. Presumably if sod had been involved it would have been done differently as hydrogen would magically have become heavier than air!

        “Unless fan forced”

        The sensible solution, but would have required spending some money…

        1. AndyG55

          OK, I mis-read..

          I assumed the bilge vent were already there.

          As you say.. the flow of air, preferably cool coming in from below or the sides, then allowing natural UPWARD flow of heat.

          or a totally fan-forced system

  16. sod

    simple experiment: i put some cool water into a room at 20°C.

    can you folks figure out what will happen?

    1. AndyG55


      You really are making a fool of yourself over this, aren’t you?

      It will eventually real room temperature, first by warming the container, then by warming the water by CONDUCTION.

      The water does NOT warm from IR radiation from above.

      Anyone how had passed even the most basic level of science would know that.

      1. sod

        “The water does NOT warm from IR radiation from above.

        Anyone how had passed even the most basic level of science would know that.”

        There is a simple experiment again. Just put a infrared lamp above the middle of a a big bowl of water.

        Or you can read some stuff about it:

        In short, people here are doing what the<y always do: you have picked up some random piece of information some where on the right wing anti-climate science internet, you are bending it backwards so that it fits your forgone conclusion. And you ignore all other relevant science, especially any direct experience that totally contradicts what ever you think is happening.

        I am really glad that i am not in Roy Spencer s shoes, he constantly has to deal with such nonsense, posted by his own "supporters".

      2. sod