Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Air Energy vs. Ocean Energy

With all this talk about climate change and such, I got curious about how much total energy is stored in the heat in the atmosphere vs. the oceans. It seems that we talk about climate change, but because we are humans, we are highly biased toward the air being the climate and somewhat ignore the oceans. If we were all dolphins, we would see the oceans and ignore the air.

SO lets get some numbers, all gleaned from Google searches, mostly with hits on Wikipedia...

Weight of the atmosphere: 5.1x10^18 kg.
Weight of the oceans: 1.5x10^21 kg.

So the water out weighs the atmosphere by 294 times.

But, water holds more heat per kg than air...

The specific heat of water: 2.015 kJ/kg-K.

This means that it takes 2015 Joules of energy to raise one killogram of water by one degree Kelvin or Centigrade.

the specific heat of air: 1.0 kJ/kg-K

So water holds about twice the heat per pound than air, so

The total heat needed to change the temperature of the ocean vs. the air is
588 times greater

My point?

the global temperature that we all measure and quote as 'global warming' is irrelevant.

The oceans are the real climate and fluctuations in the atmosphere are trivial.


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