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Evidence of Elevated Sea Surface Temperatures Under the BP Oil Slick

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posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 02:07 PM
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I came across this on my searching for information on the affects of hurricanes and oil spill.

I have searched ATS but have not found anything on here so i have made a thread here.


Evidence of Elevated Sea Surface Temperatures Under the BP Oil Slick
June 15th, 2010 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.
(NOTE: minor edits made at 10:00 a.m. CDT, June 15, 2010)

As summer approaches, sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the Gulf of Mexico increase in response to increased solar insolation (intensity of sunlight). Limiting the SST increase is evaporation, which increases nonlinearly with SST and approximately linearly with increased wind speed. It is important to realize that the primary heat loss mechanism by far for water bodies is evaporation.

By late summer, SSTs in the Gulf peak near 86 or 87 deg. F as these various energy gain and energy loss mechanisms approximately balance one another.

But yesterday, buoy 42040, moored about 64 nautical miles south of Dauphin Island, AL, reported a peak SST of 96 deg. F during very low wind conditions. Since the SST measurement is made about 1 meter below the sea surface, it is likely that even higher temperatures existed right at the surface…possibly in excess of 100 deg. F.

A nice global analysis of the day-night cycle in SSTs was published in 2003 by members of our NASA AMSR-E Science Team, which showed the normal range of this daytime warming, which increases at very low wind speed. But 96 deg. F is truly exceptional, especially for a measurement at 1 meter depth.

The following graph shows the last 45 days of SST measurements from this buoy, as well as buoy 42039 which is situated about 120 nautical miles to the east of buoy 42040.




OIL SLICK IMPACT ON GULF HURRICANES?
Despite the localized high SSTs, I do not believe that the oil slick will have an enhancement effect on the strength of hurricanes. The depth of water affected is probably pretty shallow, and restricted to areas with persistent oil sheen or slick that has not been disrupted by wind and wave activity.

As any hurricane approaches, higher winds will rapidly break up the oil on the surface, and mix the warmer surface layer with cooler, deeper layers. (Contrary to popular perception, the oil does not make the surface of the ocean darker and thereby absorb more sunlight…the ocean surface is already very dark and absorbs most of the sunlight that falls upon it — over 90%.)

Also, in order for any extra thermal energy to be available for a hurricane to use as fuel, it must be “converted” to more water vapor. Yes, hurricanes are on average strengthened over waters with higher SST, but only to the extent that the overlying atmosphere has its humidity enhanced by those higher SSTs. Evidence of reduced evaporation at buoy 42040 is seen in the following plot which shows the atmospheric temperature and dewpoint, as well as SST, for buoys 42040 (first plot), and 42039 (second plot).


Despite the elevated SSTs at buoy 42040 versus buoy 42039 in recent days, the dewpoint has not risen above what is being measured at buoy 42039 — if anything, it has remained lower.

Nevertheless, I suspect the issue of enhanced sea surface temperatures will be the subject of considerable future research, probably with computer modeling of the impact of such oil slicks on tropical cyclone intensity. I predict the effect will be very small.



LINK


I thought it was quite an interesting read, and wanted to share it with you here.




posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 02:24 PM
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I've read that the water will probably be warmer than normal. And that when a hurricane comes through and meets the higher water temps it will increase the size of the storm.



posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 02:28 PM
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So is the oil causing a Saran-wrap kinda greenhouse effect on the surface water...similar to how a solar cover does on a pool?



posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 02:37 PM
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Originally posted by pavil
So is the oil causing a Saran-wrap kinda greenhouse effect on the surface water...similar to how a solar cover does on a pool?



I think you may be right as the darker it is the more light it absorbs,

like it says in the artical "Contrary to popular perception, the oil does not make the surface of the ocean darker and thereby absorb more sunlight…the ocean surface is already very dark and absorbs most of the sunlight that falls upon it — over 90%."

So it might just make it warmer. At a guess that is, im no expert



posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 02:37 PM
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Great... we are now going to have SUPER STORMS now! to top it off its going to be SUPER STORMS loaded with oil. Its going to be a bad next few months



posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 02:43 PM
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In addition to collecting heat, as the researcher points out, the way the ocean cools itself is through evaporation that is accelerated by the wind. Anyone who keeps salt water fish tanks will tell you that it's the fans they place to blow on the tank that keep it cool through evaporation. It seems pretty obvious that the chemicals on the surface of the water are interfering with this mechanism. Besides adding way more fuel to a hurricane than those people need down there, the elevated water temps are going to kill-off whatever the chemicals themselves don't. This is all seriously uncharted territory we're in.



posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 02:44 PM
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reply to post by camaro68ss
 


Add that to the fact that it is supposed to be a above average season of activity it could be a dangerous time.

One of the predictors in predicting an above average season were the warmer than average waters of the tropics. Add that with the warmer than average waters of the Gulf...

NOAA: 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook



posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 03:14 PM
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Originally posted by camaro68ss
Great... we are now going to have SUPER STORMS now! to top it off its going to be SUPER STORMS loaded with oil. Its going to be a bad next few months

Yeah, and don't forget corexit and all the other lovely chemicals coming out.



posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 03:15 PM
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Originally posted by boo1981

Originally posted by pavil
So is the oil causing a Saran-wrap kinda greenhouse effect on the surface water...similar to how a solar cover does on a pool?



I think you may be right as the darker it is the more light it absorbs,

like it says in the artical "Contrary to popular perception, the oil does not make the surface of the ocean darker and thereby absorb more sunlight…the ocean surface is already very dark and absorbs most of the sunlight that falls upon it — over 90%."

So it might just make it warmer. At a guess that is, im no expert


It really isn't all that simple. Oil would decrease slightly the albedo of the affected area, but not very much since water really only reflects away about 8% of incident sunlight anyway. Oil might reduce that a percent or two at most. But in a negative feedback sort of way, increased temperature from solar heating would increase cooling from evaporation, which is dependent on temp relative humidity and wind. And thinking that any spill induced warming would increase the severity of a hurricane really misses the boat. (An oil skimming boat, I hope. The size of the spill is greatly smaller tan that of a hurricane. Hurricane Andrew, for instance,was, for a time, 400 miles across, covering 125,000 square miles. The spill area is about 100 by 40 for 4000 square miles, and not all contiguous.So, to the chagrin of the doomsayers, the effect would be negligible. Unlike the effect of the wind and storm surge on the oil.



posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 03:47 PM
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I had originally thought the same thing ThaLoccster did, that the oil would increase surface temps and possibly increase hurricane strengths. Looks like good news on that front! Amen to that, we have plenty to worry about as it is.
Thanks for posting the good news.



posted on Jul, 4 2010 @ 05:16 AM
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Originally posted by camaro68ss
Great... we are now going to have SUPER STORMS now! to top it off its going to be SUPER STORMS loaded with oil. Its going to be a bad next few months


Did you really read the same article I just did? I don't see that implied at all. As a matter of fact, the article seems to be good news toward nothing to be really concerned about.



posted on Jul, 4 2010 @ 05:26 AM
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reply to post by 4nsicphd
 

gulf waves have an cooling affect on water... when couverd with oil..the waves are smaller and water on surface will heat up..



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