Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Where the Heat Went

A commenter here makes a good point: there has been more heat going into the top 700 meters of the ocean in the last 16 years then there were in the previous 16 years. Here's a graph:

(Data here.) If all of the ~ 9 × 1022 J that has gone into the top part of the ocean in the last 16 years had gone instead, say, into the atmosphere, it would have warmed it by roughly ~ 7°C.

(Mass atmosphere = 5 x 1018 kg, specific heat ~ 1000 J/kgK, ignoring variations with pressure and temperature and all that -- this is just a back of the envelope number, and a small envelope at that. Of course, all the extra heat wouldn't go into the atmosphere, but this illustrates how much extra heat is in the system, and how much atmospheric heating can be lost when the ocean warms.)

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