3 thoughts on “The Latent Heat Of Climate Change

  1. Your article uses the example of the heat of vaporization of water to explain latent heat, but it would be more appropriate in the context of climate change and melting ice to talk about the heat of fusion of water, which is approx. 334 joules per gram. If it only takes 4.184 joules to heat a gram of water by one degree, but 80 times that much energy to turn it from solid to liquid without increasing its temperature, clearly this represents a significant heat sink; ice at 0°C can absorb a lot of heat without actually getting warmer. It means that once the ice has melted and the heat sink is “full”, we can expect a significant rise in global temperatures, even if (somehow) we manage to slow or even reverse the rate of greenhouse heat energy retention..

  2. In this article:

    Arctic methane catastrophe scenario is based on new empirical observations.
    by Nafeez Ahmed

    you can read about the melting of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, and a scientific debate over the latest findings on this. A hypothesis advanced by scientific observers (at the ESAS) is that solar energy captured by the ice-free portions of the Arctic Ocean during the summer will melt the undersides of floating ice shelves (extending from the Siberian landmass), and that the seawater near and under these ice shelves will remain at 0 Celsius (near freezing temperature) despite the fact that heat is being infused into the ice. This is the type of physics I describe in my current Swans article (linked in post above).

    The ESAS observers claim that once an ice shelf has melted, exposing the underlying water to direct sunshine, then its temperature beings to rise as it absorbs heat. The point here is that while the sub-shelf water was held at 0 Celsius prior to exposure it was still the conduit of heat energy from the sun into the ice. In other words, the heat-energy content of the seawater (and thus this local region of the surface of the Earth) increased without a corresponding temperature change during the time ice was present. This is due to the latent heat of melting. Once sufficient solar energy has infused an ice-covered locality to melt it — which process can occur without a rise of temperature — then the now ice-free locality can continue to absorb solar energy, but now the heating is accompanied by a corresponding and proportional temperature rise.

    In this article the ESAS scientists also go on to claim that the heated seawater warms the seafloor and this stimulates the thawing and atmospheric release of previously submerged frozen methane.

    I find it interesting that the ESAS scientists are connecting the scientific problem of the 15-year-long stagnation of global warming, with a heat transfer hypothesis that involves the latent heat of melting (of sea ice). How could I disagree?

  3. Why are the news media still saying that scientists can’t explain the pause in global warming. It seems terrifyingly obvious that once a “critical mass” of the ice has gone the temperature will rise very rapidly.

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