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The Magnificent Climate Heat Engine

December 23, 2013

Watts Up With That?

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

I’ve been reflecting over the last few days about how the climate system of the earth functions as a giant natural heat engine. A “heat engine”, whether natural or man-made, is a mechanism that converts heat into mechanical energy of some kind. In the case of the climate system, the heat of the sun is converted into the mechanical energy of the ocean and the atmosphere. The seawater and atmosphere are what are called the “working fluids” of the heat engine. The movement of the air and the seawater transports an almost unimaginably large amount of heat from the tropics to the poles. Now, none of the above are new ideas, or are original with me. I simply got to wondering about what the CERES data could show regarding the poleward transport of that energy by the climate heat engine. Figure 1 gives that result:

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