Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at intelligent and rational individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

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"Observe that the 'haves' are those who have freedom, and that it is freedom that the 'have-nots' have not." Ayn Rand

"The virtue involved in helping those one loves is not 'selflessness' or 'sacrifice', but integrity." Ayn Rand

28 February 2018

Will a Warmer Earth Really be a Drier Earth?

According to a recent Popular Science video and article, a 2C increase in temperature will cause the Earth to be a lot drier Earth, but one which also will have increased “extreme precipitation” events, such as the National Climate Assessment says has occurred “in every region of the contiguous states since the 1950s.”  It claims that “droughts and heat waves have also intensified, as is evident in California, which in recent years has seen less rain, drier soil, and the spread of wildfires.”  The United Nations ascribes to this same viewpoint.

It fails to note that for a few hundred years prior to 200 years ago, California was also drier than it has been in the last couple hundred years.  It does note that the world’s surface is 70% ocean.  It fails to note that a 2C temperature increase would cause more water to evaporate from the oceans, which has to be cycled back to the surface as more rain and snow.  It fails to note that much of the warmer land on the Earth’s surface is covered with rainforest, which is hardly dry.  It fails to note that the driest land areas on the Earth are those in very cold regions near the poles.  Is it not logical that warming the polar regions might make them less dry?  And one must not forget that this is the water planet with 71% of its surface covered with water, both ocean and fresh water.

The video and article state that:
The last time the Earth was as warm as it is now was over 11,000 years ago. Oceans covers 70% of our planet, and it takes a lot of energy to heat up that much water, not to mention the air and land. So a two-degree increase in the average global temperature means that temperature increases across the board are a lot more than 2°C.
This statement ignores the Medieval Warm Period, the Roman Warming, and the Minoan Warm Period, which were as warm, or warmer, than the present moment -- a moment brief as yet compared to those much longer periods and one not yet clearly established as climate rather than just weather.  It was not observed that when California was previously drier than in the last couple hundred years, the Little Ice Age was underway.

And what does that foolish third sentence in the quote above mean?  The average is the across the board temperature.  Yes, if the Earth were to warm, the warming would be greater in some areas than other areas.  There is a tendency for the warming to be greater over land areas and to be greater where the temperature is colder than where it is warmer.  The tropics would not warm up as much as would areas of land at higher latitudes because water evaporation tends to limit the temperature increase.  However, the third sentence in the quote does not say this.  It is nonsense.

There are many natural cycles that cause the climate to change.  As I have shown in numerous articles on this blog, the physics used to claim catastrophic effects due to man-made global warming caused by carbon dioxide emissions is very wrong.  There is as yet no empirical or experimental evidence that further increases in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will cause significant global warming.  It may well actually cause an insignificant cooling for reasons I have discussed a number of times.

What we do know for sure is that more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will greatly aid plant growth, making it easier for us to feed a growing human population.  Unlike many of the anti-human proponents of the idea that man is destroying the Earth, I think a growing human population is a good thing, at least if we can see to it that most of them are free to use their minds and free to be productive.

Apparently, the increased rain events noted in this foolish article and video are to be the precipitation of anhydrous water, which will create terrible droughts.

Is it perhaps the case that part of the reason the Industrial Revolution got underway when it did is because the Little Ice Age was ending?  Warming on Earth is usually a good thing for mankind, not a bad thing.  But note that those hawking alarmist and catastrophic man-made effects on climate love to start the reference clock at the end of the Little Ice Age.  We are still warming as a result of the end of that cooling period primarily due to the large heat capacity of our oceans.

Thanks to Prof. Howard “Cork” Hayden for bringing this article and video to my attention.

Update on 12 June 2018:  Prof. Howard "Cork" Hayden's The Energy Advocate for June 2018 has a brief discussion of a paper by J. Warren Beck, et al., "A 550,000-year record of East Asian monsoon rainfall from 10Be in loess, " Science 360, May 25, 2018, that shows that higher rainfall results from higher temperatures.


Anonymous said...

You write "...water evaporation tends to limit the temperature increase."

Seems like the perfect time to share this with you.

I'll be interested in your thoughts on it, if you have the time and/or inclination.


It seemed like yo

Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D. said...

Dr. Carl Brehmer's video is very good.

Water vapor has a powerful effect in moderating the rate of warming or cooling under many conditions. It cools when the sun is shining and it warms when the sun is not shining. It provides more cooling at the surface through evaporation as other forces are trying to raise the surface temperature. It has a high specific heat, which means that it takes more energy to raise its temperature than it does to change the temperature of air or most minerals. Conversely, in contact with cool air, water cools slowly due to that same high specific heat. Increased humidity causes more cloud cover, which cools the days and keeps the nights from cooling as fast as they otherwise would. During the day when thermals are greatest, rising water vapor carries more heat upward than dry air does, so it is a cooling mechanism. Higher water vapor concentration in a layer of air causes more radiative cooling of that layer with respect to a cooler layer of air above it due to a slight increase in radiative cooling between the layers. Adding more water vapor to the atmosphere also increases the absorption of incoming solar insolation, keeping it from warming the surface as much. More water vapor means more emitters high in the troposphere to emit radiation to space, which is also a cooling effect.

Note that CO2 shares some of these cooling mechanisms as well. More CO2 means it absorbs more incoming solar in the atmosphere, that more emitters are emitting radiation into space from the upper troposphere, the tropopause, and the stratosphere, that radiative warming of cooler and higher layers of air by lower and warmer layers of air is increased, and that rising thermals hold more energy due to the higher specific heat of CO2. Many of these cooling effects of carbon dioxide are not as easily saturated with increased concentration as is the case with the usual claimed warming effect of CO2.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for that very thorough response.

Fortunately, over the past year I've read bits about most of the concepts you invoke, so I am able to follow your train of thought (at least not feel totally lost in it). It also helps that you not only acknowledge that there are multiple pieces of the climate puzzle, but can actually assemble them into a coherent picture. Very nice.

One point of detail - if you have any suggestion on further reading for me on the interrelationship of specific heat of water vapor with it's capacity for absorption and emission of IR, if such relation is important. ...or am I off the mark on that? The reason I'm bothered by it is that it seems all the focus is on real (and imagined?) radiative properties of selected molecules, but little to other relevant thermodynamic properties that could be at least as important.

Thx, Yonason

Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D. said...

The specific heat is proportional to the number of degrees of vibrational excitational freedom of a molecule, but it these same vibrational modes that absorb and emit thermal infrared radiation.