2011-09-12 02:43:16Observed Changes in Surface Atmospheric Energy over Land" (Peterson, et al., 2011)
John Hartz
John Hartz
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The following summary of "Observed Changes in Surface Atmospheric Energy over Land" (Peterson, et al., 2011) was posted on the NCDC website on Aug 23. Have the findings of this paper been addressed in a recent SkS article. If not, is one in the pipeline?

"Over recent decades, a scientific look at the temperature on the surface of the Earth has shown that surface temperatures are rising. But surface temperature is only one element of energy content in the lowest part of the atmosphere. Wind speed and humidity are two other types of energy on the Earth's surface that are factors when looking at what is going on with the climate on the ground. In a paper just published August 23, 2011 by the Geophysical Research Letters entitled "Observed Changes in Surface Atmospheric Energy over Land" (Peterson, et al., 2011), scientists at NOAA National Climatic Data Center, the U.K. Met Office, and the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites-North Carolina, determined that in addition to surface temperature, humidity levels have also been increasing since 1973 and providing approximately equal contribution to increases in the heat content of the Earth. Increases in both temperature and humidity are also consistent with what we expect to see in a warming world. The paper quantifies how much energy the air is gaining, concluding that the bottom two meters of the atmosphere over land is gaining 1.9 x 1017 Joules of energy per decade."

 

2011-09-12 03:08:33
MarkR
Mark Richardson
m.t.richardson2@gmail...
134.225.187.197

Interesting to see it quantified.

This is hardly a surprise though, afaik? I don't even know if it's worth a reference: we know specific humidity's going up - that's the water vapour feedback for you. In terms of energy content it's pretty small fry compared with the oceans.

2011-09-12 03:34:41
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.59.188

That amounts to a warming corresponding to something like 6.8*10^(-9) of incident solar power.

The punchline of the paper is:

"This seems like a tremendous amount of energy and it is. Yet it is a drop in the bucket, three orders of magnitude less than the concurrent increase in heat content of the top two meters of the ocean and five orders of magnitude less than the concurrent increases in ocean heat content from 0 to 700 m depth."

2011-09-12 04:52:57Here's the Abstract of the paper
John Hartz
John Hartz
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98.122.98.161

"The temperature of the surface atmosphere over land has been rising during recent decades. But surface temperature, or, more accurately, enthalpy which can be calculated from temperature, is only one component of the energy content of the surface atmosphere. The other parts include kinetic energy and latent heat. It has been advocated in certain quarters that ignoring additional terms somehow calls into question global surface temperature analyses. Examination of all three of these components of atmospheric energetics reveals a significant increase in global surface atmospheric energy since the 1970s. Kinetic energy has decreased but by over two orders of magnitude less than the increases in both enthalpy and latent heat which provide approximately equal contributions to the global increases in heat content. Regionally, the enthalpy or the latent heat component can dominate the change in heat content. Although generally changes in latent heat and enthalpy act in concert, in some regions they can have the opposite signs."

2011-09-12 05:05:22
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.59.188

B,

I don't really see much point in bringing this up, unless there is some clear implication that relates to AGW.

My response to this would be, "And ...?"

Unless there is something to follow, there's no real point. Our job is not to provide a watered-down version of the AGU journals.

2011-09-12 09:30:32nealjking
John Hartz
John Hartz
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98.122.98.161

The Abstract raises some red flags in my opinion. I would like to hear what our resident experts in the physics and chemistry of AGW have to say about the paper's signifigance.

2011-09-13 01:36:58
Albatross
Julian Brimelow
stomatalaperture@gmail...
199.126.232.206

Neal,

"My response to this would be, "And ...?"

And this is a new metric to dmeonstrate that we are also making the climate system more energetic over the terrestrial areas.  This has important implications for the increased potential extreme weather events, as well as the acceleration of the hydrological cycle. 

It is essentially an academic exercise, but the findings have real-world implications.

2011-09-13 02:18:47Albatross
John Hartz
John Hartz
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98.122.98.161

I do not recall seeing the word "enthalpy" in a SkS article. Is it commonly used by climate scientists?

I also do not recall an SkS article that addresses the three component construct of the energy component of the surface atmosphere as set forth in the paper's Abstract.

"But surface temperature, or, more accurately, enthalpy which can be calculated from temperature, is only one component of the energy content of the surface atmosphere. The other parts include kinetic energy and latent heat. It has been advocated in certain quarters that ignoring additional terms somehow calls into question global surface temperature analyses "

How does this construct impact the numerous SkS articles about surface atmospheric temperature, c;imate sensitivity, etc?

2011-09-13 02:30:14
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.37.4

Albatross,

But after the background has been sufficiently explained to the laymen that the point of the paper can be understood, WHY should this new metric be of interest? I don't any point to keeping our target audience up to date with every small technical advance: There is the definite danger of burning out the readers' interest. Kind of the intellectual equivalent of "crying wolf".

We don't need to be a poor man's Science News or Nature: we are informing people to an end. Let's not lose sight of that.

2011-09-13 03:14:21nealjking
John Hartz
John Hartz
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98.122.98.161

To date, no one has suggested doing an SkS post about the paper. There are, however, things in it that merit discussion among SkS authors.

2011-09-13 03:17:00
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.37.4

"Have the findings of this paper been addressed in a recent SkS article. If not, is one in the pipeline?"

Sounds like a suggestion to me.

2011-09-13 03:21:32
Albatross
Julian Brimelow
stomatalaperture@gmail...
199.126.232.206

Hello Neal,

I explained why the metric is of nterest and also noted that it is probably only of interest, but with real-world implications.  The sound bite here is  'humans are increasing the energy in the climate system".  Quite simple, but yes the backgound (e.g., explaining moist static energy) is a little tedious ;)

Not sayig this paper merits a post, but its content could come in handy when writing other posts.

2011-09-13 05:49:06nealjking
John Hartz
John Hartz
john.hartz@hotmail...
98.122.98.161

I merely asked two questions. You infered a suggestion.

2011-09-13 06:51:36
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.37.4

I think the vast majority of readers would.

 

--------------------------------------------

"What would you think of my punching you in the eye?"

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"Officer, it was merely meant as a question."

2011-09-13 07:42:02nealjking
John Hartz
John Hartz
john.hartz@hotmail...
98.122.98.161

Let's agree to disagree and move on.