Wednesday, February 06, 2008

My Existential Grist Posting

Dr. Andrew Dessler wrote a nice posting on the Grist blog about climate change and hurricanes, and I was feeling good, liked what he said, and decided to post him a comment. Basically he said the science is divided ... and some of the people who publish "definitive" and alarming studies on global warming causing hurricanes are full of hot air. Nice!

[p.s., Andrew and I do agree the air is warming.]

* * *

[new] Thanks Andrew


I breathe a sigh of relief as somebody tells the right story about ocean temperatures, climate change, and greenhouse gases. If it was a simple topic, the scientists would be mostly in some kind of agreement now like the IPCC recent findings.

Difficult Issues

There are issues such as the latent energy of ocean water, ocean oscillation, and even the fact that as the ice melts at the poles that water is maybe 30 F. In addition, massive hurricanes can mix ocean water down to at least 600 feet, which results in colder water (see before and after SST of where Hurricane Dean came in). There are warm eddies and cold eddies and even deep trench circulation that can move extremely fast, such as during a tsunami. It's fascinating stuff and I'm glad I'm a student of it.

Frontier of Science

Back to the IPCC, we are just now starting to understand pole melt water such as from snow, glaciers, and sea pack ice, each different. Climate change oceanography is still in its infancy because nobody knows what to expect, as it keeps surprising us. Let's get the ice modeling done first and then work on the ocean dynamics. And folks, we're still learning about what an ocean wave is.

Global Warming and Hurricanes

I trend to agree that if you have ocean water over 83 F for a good while, you could grow a "super-cane" like Hurricane Katrina or Dean when they were at their maximum vorticity. The question is the timing and distribution of these relatively hot waters all over the globe, as well as the mechanism (e.g., easterly wave in the northern hemisphere).


If you look at maps of sea surface temperature (SST) and mixing depth you can infer the thermal efficiency of a tropical cyclone. The only problem is, there are hot currents and little hot-spots all over, slightly changing every year. OK, now does climate change relate to that, and visa-versa?



Onward through the fog

by Sam Wells at 11:21 PM on 06 Feb 2008
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