Saturday, January 9, 2016

El Nino shows up in satellites

I regularly post this.  It's the plot of the microwave readings from satellites.  The basic idea is that the Earth is a radiating black body, like a stove element.  The poor old planet has to get rid of a lot of heat, solar and geothermal.  The fact that it has done so successfully for a billion years to maintain life, is somewhat heroic.

I used to think that this was the only accurate measurement of the Earth's temperature, but it isn't.  It's a reading of how much the Earth is putting out.  If we had a naked planet, then the two would be the same, but we have clouds.  Our wet clouds are the perfect planetary insulator, since they stop atmospheric high convection.  Only clear skies can convect the heat out far enough for black-body radiation.

I've also shown this a lot.  It's a picture of our glorious wet clouds keeping in the heat.  Right now we have the monstrous El Nino hot water spot in the middle, churning away.  Normally, this hot water is locked away in the west Pacific islands, and can't do much.  But El Nino is sending hot water to the clear skies, acting as the perfect radiator for our Earth.  In fact, the ocean currents are our main heat pipe.  If the continents are fully separated, we get 'Snowball Earth', because all the heat is going out.  We're heading to that right now.

So, we'll have our fun, warm winters, rain in California, then we'll suffer the hangover.  :)

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