Tuesday, October 18, 2016

On Thermal Expansion & Thermal Contraction - 9

Fig. 1 Official Ocean Layers
I. Background

This series is an argument against the TEH hypothesis: "thermal expansion of the ocean is the major cause of sea level rise" (Thermal Expansion Hypothesis).

As previous posts in this series have shown, merely skimming the sea surface Is insufficient to robustly determine the generally mis-characterized phenomenon of thermal expansion of ocean water:
skim the surface (of something): "To do, engage with, or understand something to only a minimal or superficial degree" (Idioms @ Free Dictionary).

scratch the surface: "to just begin to find out about something; to examine only the superficial aspects of something." (Idioms @ Free Dictionary).
The "surface" is the tiniest zone, the Epipelagic Zone (Fig. 1), and the place to begin the discussion, so let's look at how the supporters of the TEH construct their hypothesis:
As the ocean warms, the ocean expands.

The amount of sea level rise depends on the temperature increase and the amount or percentage of ocean water that is warming.

The ocean is heated from above and is therefore stable.

Therefore it will take a long time for the entire depth of the ocean to warm.

The portion of the ocean that is warmed from above is called the thermocline.

The direct solar heating is much shallower than 500 m but currents and overturning mix the warming through the depth of the thermocline.

We assume the depth that experienced the enhanced warming is the depth of the thermocline
(U. of Arizona, by E. Robert Kursinski, emphasis added). The assumption ("We assume") is problematic in several ways.

II. The Laws of Thermodynamics

The first problem involves the Second Law of Thermodynamics:
"The first statement of the 2nd law of thermodynamics - heat flows spontaneously from a hot to a cold body ..." - (Univ. of Winnipeg)

"Conduction occurs when two object at different temperatures are in contact with each other. Heat flows from the warmer to the cooler object until they are both at the same temperature. Conduction is the movement of heat through a substance by the collision of molecules. At the place where the two object touch, the faster-moving molecules of the warmer object collide with the slower moving molecules of the cooler object. As they collide, the faster molecules give up some of their energy to the slower molecules. The slower molecules gain more thermal energy and collide with other molecules in the cooler object. This process continues until heat energy from the warmer object spreads throughout the cooler object." - (California Institute of Technology, emphasis added)
The assumption that warming of the "ocean surface area" is confined to a limited depth, i.e. to an area called the thermocline is arbitrary (see link @ Fig. 1 and Epipelagic Magic).

Further, there is no explanation about what laws of physics causes the Second Law of Thermodynamics to stop existing once a certain depth is reached.

The laws of thermodynamics imply that the only thing stopping the heat flowing from the warmer water to the colder water is temperature equilibrium.

When the water temperature reaches equilibrium, when all of the water is at an equal temperature, the heat transfer ceases.

Which is not a factor of arbitrary depth, it is a factor of the heat becoming evenly distributed due to the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

III. What Is Not Disputed

When the professor continues to apply some values to some formulas, he acknowledges some problems with the TEH:
Plugging in values, we get that the change in the height of the ocean due to thermal expansion of the top 500 m of the ocean is approximately

5x102 m 2x10-4/K 1.25x10-2 K/year = 1.25 mm/year
The measured rise in sea level is about 20 cm = 200 mm in 100 years or about 2 mm/year. If the depth to which the warming extends were greater than 500 m, then our calculated rate of sea level rise would be higher and closer to the observed rate.
(ibid, U. of Arizona). The hypothetical does not match the observed, so change things so they do?

What comes to my mind is "the TEH is art, not science," which gets to the root of the problem (the reality is that thermal expansion should be science, not art).

Let's now take a look at "the moving parts."

IV. The Thermocline

The official depth layers of the ocean are the Epipelagic, Mesopelagic, Bathypelagic, Abyssopelagic, and Hadalpelagic (Fig. 1, NOAA).

The "thermocline" is not listed, because it is a conceptual overlay that is not based on fixed depth levels.

To the contrary, it is characterized by temperature dynamics:
Interaction with the wind keeps this [Epipelagic] layer mixed and thus allows
the heating from the sun to be distributed vertically. At the base of this mixing layer is the beginning of the thermocline. The thermocline is a region where water temperature decreases rapidly with increasing depth and transition layer between the mixed layer at the surface and deeper water.

The depth and strength of the thermocline varies from season to season and year to year. It is strongest in the tropics and decrease to non-existent in the polar winter season.
(ibid, NOAH, emphasis added). This throws a monkey wrench into the discussion.

The thermodynamics of heat flowing from warmer water into colder water is not constrained by static depths drawn on a picture.

That dynamic is only constrained by the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which has been described as reaching temperature equilibrium.

Thus, the static bathtub model formula discussed in Section I is being applied to a non-static phenomenon.

That is another reason why the TEH is at odds with observations of many sorts that have been demonstrated in previous posts of this series (On Thermal Expansion & Thermal Contraction, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8).

V. Water

Water in the ocean is usually moving, and doing so in terms of both temperature and its depth.

Think currents, waves, wind, upwelling, and sinking (see the video here), but do not forget that water expands or shrinks as its temperature changes.

But it does so differently than other liquids, because it expands or contracts when heated or cooled, depending on its temperature when heat is added or taken away (On Thermal Expansion & Thermal Contraction - 6).

VI. Conclusion

Climate and sea level change is such an important subject that it should be handled with the very best scientific procedures (Millions At Risk in US, Nature).

It is time to stop skimming the surface and it is time to get deep (as the video below, and this one clearly show).

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

Professor Guzman on climate refugees & the displaced:

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