Ocean pipes 'not cool,' would end up warming climate

March 19, 2015, Carnegie Institution for Science
A composite image of the Western hemisphere of the Earth. Credit: NASA

To combat global climate change caused by greenhouse gases, alternative energy sources and other types of environmental recourse actions are needed. There are a variety of proposals that involve using vertical ocean pipes to move seawater to the surface from the depths in order to reap different potential climate benefits. A new study from a group of Carnegie scientists determines that these types of pipes could actually increase global warming quite drastically. It is published in Environmental Research Letters.

One proposed strategy—called Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion, or OTEC—involves using the temperature difference between deeper and shallower water to power a heat engine and produce clean electricity. A second proposal is to move carbon from the upper ocean down into the deep, where it wouldn't interact with the atmosphere. Another idea, and the focus of this particular study, proposes that ocean pipes could facilitate direct physical cooling of the by replacing warm surface ocean waters with colder, deeper waters.

"Our prediction going into the study was that vertical ocean pipes would effectively cool the Earth and remain effective for many centuries," said Ken Caldeira, one of the three co-authors.

The team, which also included lead author Lester Kwiatkowski as well as Katharine Ricke, configured a model to test this idea and what they found surprised them. The model mimicked the ocean-water movement of ocean pipes if they were applied globally reaching to a depth of about a kilometer (just over half a mile). The model simulated the motion created by an idealized version of ocean pipes, not specific pipes. As such the model does not include real spacing of pipes, nor does it calculate how much energy they would require.

Their simulations showed that while global temperatures could be cooled by ocean pipe systems in the short term, warming would actually start to increase just 50 years after the pipes go into use. Their model showed that vertical movement of resulted in a decrease of clouds over the ocean and a loss of sea-ice.

Colder air is denser than warm air. Because of this, the air over the ocean surface that has been cooled by water from the depths has a higher atmospheric pressure than the air over land. The cool air over the ocean sinks downward reducing cloud formation over the ocean. Since more of the planet is covered with water than land, this would result in less cloud cover overall, which means that more of the Sun's rays are absorbed by Earth, rather than being reflected back into space by clouds.

Water mixing caused by ocean pipes would also bring sea ice into contact with warmer waters, resulting in melting. What's more, this would further decrease the reflection of the Sun's radiation, which bounces off ice as well as clouds.

After 60 years, the pipes would cause an increase in global temperature of up to 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2degrees Fahrenheit). Over several centuries, the pipes put the Earth on a warming trend towards a temperature increase of 8.5 degrees Celsius (15.3 degrees Fahrenheit).

"I cannot envisage any scenario in which a large scale global implementation of ocean pipes would be advisable," Kwiatkowski said. "In fact, our study shows it could exacerbate long-term warming and is therefore highly inadvisable at global scales."

The authors do say, however, that ocean pipes might be useful on a small scale to help aerate ocean dead zones.

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26 comments

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Judgeking
1.2 / 5 (18) Mar 19, 2015
Big surprise, climate scientists once again saying a plan won't work. I'll start to believe them if weather forecasting ever becomes acurate.
ettubrute
4.2 / 5 (21) Mar 19, 2015
And therein lies your problem, Judgeking. You still have been able to differentiate between weather and climate.
dadpt
1.3 / 5 (16) Mar 19, 2015
You want to pipe water from the equator to the poles and radiate the heat to space from the water. Make sure it doesn't melt the ice at poles. Similar to the Atlantic conveyor belt. The weather and the climate go hand in hand. Where I live it was the coldest summer on record with the coldest February ever. Before you start cooling you want to make sure its hotter. Get your data and theory accurate then talk about fixing things. Never ever believe a theoretical extrapolation without proof. Currently man made global warming is a theory which has not been validated.
busseja
1.6 / 5 (19) Mar 19, 2015
ahhhhhhh we're all gonna die we are all gonna die..... the se is rising 0.12 inches per ten years, the greenhouse gases are heating us up almost .000004% over the normal expected rate per year ...WE GOTTA STOP IT. no more snow angels, no need for heating oil, no pretty little seal pups killed on the icce by mad canadians (because there is no more ice) AND THERE IS NOTHING WE CAN DO TO STOP IT!!!!!!!!!! .AHHHHHHH OH WOE, OH DOOM ............................. oh please.
Bill589
1.3 / 5 (15) Mar 19, 2015
"U.N. Official Reveals Real Reason Behind Warming Scare"
(Site doesn't allow links)

"Destroying capitalism" means transferring more power from the individual to Big Government. Historically, this happens to be the typical "Fundamental Transformation of a country."

And I believe this regarding our government:
"The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order, ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention.
It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it." - Adam Smith

Be suspicious of those we surrender our children's money and power to.
gkam
3.7 / 5 (19) Mar 19, 2015
"Be suspicious of those we surrender our children's money and power to."
----------------------------------------

Yeah, we listened to Reagan and the Bush folk and now have the biggest bad debt on Earth.
ettubrute
4.4 / 5 (19) Mar 19, 2015
"You want to pipe water from the equator to the poles and radiate the heat to space from the water."
Did you miss the part that says vertical pipes? This would bring cold water from the depths of the oceans to the surface in order to cool the surface.

"Currently man made global warming is a theory which has not been validated."

1. CO2 is a greenhouse gas
2. Increasing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will begin to warm the planet.
3. Human activity emits billions of tons of CO2, and other greenhouse gases, into the atmosphere annually.
4. Human activity has helped to destroy some of nature's carbon sinks, such as deforestation and land use.

Is this clear enough for you?
Bill589
1 / 5 (13) Mar 19, 2015
I commented on pro-AGW "Thinkprogress.org", questioning their conclusions and offering my own opinion. Scientific discussion followed? NO. I was demonized as a 'Climate Denier'.

Bigot - Intolerant of other's opinion - typical DC loving progressive.

It's just another pseudo 'science' site, or like I'm starting to call them, 'Science-phobic' sites.
Bill589
1 / 5 (13) Mar 19, 2015
The science is not settled. The W and O administrations have lied too many times to take DC at it's word. This same government wanted more of our power and money to save us from 'global cooling', even warning of another ice-age if we don't give it to them soon!!!

Some important new researchers can't be trusted:
"The fiddling with temperature data is the biggest science scandal ever"
(Site does not allow links) (Fortunately, this research is easy to find.)
ettubrute
4.3 / 5 (18) Mar 19, 2015
"I commented on pro-AGW "Thinkprogress.org", questioning their conclusions and offering my own opinion. Scientific discussion followed? NO. I was demonized as a 'Climate Denier'."
Your first mistake was in trying to introduce your opinions into a discussion on Science. As long as you bring the scientific evidence to support your opinions then you can enter into a discussion. Just offering your opinions will not carry you very far. Of course, this is just my opinion.
Bill589
1 / 5 (13) Mar 19, 2015
gkam
Reagan and Bush were both part of DC. Don't believe DC or their crony corporations.
Global warming is a DC/corporate ruse.

ettubrute
The problem with what you wrote is not that it isn't clear.
It's that it isn't the truth.
ettubrute
4.2 / 5 (15) Mar 19, 2015
"The fiddling with temperature data is the biggest science scandal ever"
Yes, I know. You only wish to use the raw temperature data because you have no clue as to what this actually means.
gkam
3.7 / 5 (18) Mar 19, 2015
"Global warming is a DC/corporate ruse."
--------------------------------------------------

No, it is not. I have watched for decades since my degree in this field, as our fears were realized even faster than we originally thought.

The politicization of this is a disgrace, and the use of goobers with little education in the field to oppose it is criminal.
mvogell
3.4 / 5 (8) Mar 19, 2015
Too bad the study took the idea to extremes. How would the results be if only a reasonable number of OTEC pipes were installed? What about if only a reasonable number of pipes were used to bring nutrient rich deep water up to the surface?
ursiny33
1 / 5 (5) Mar 19, 2015
Well here's an idea you have never heard, using permanent fields, compressed together into a permenant field assembly, using those field assemblies to make make motion thru repulsion and using that motion to induct a current to build a high voltage envelopment field on your rotating field assemblies that are charged and discharged in timed mechanical sequences to perpetuate that forward progressive motion to spin an axle under its own power ,with out fossil fuels , its called an permenant field assemblies inducted high voltage field envelopment motor,
Caliban
4.5 / 5 (15) Mar 20, 2015
"U.N. Official Reveals Real Reason Behind Warming Scare"
(Site doesn't allow links)


Hey Billy, if the site doesn't allow links, it is customary to type it out yourself, using --you know-- your keyboard.

Then you trot out the Vast Left Wing Conspiracy to take away your money, and claim it is being publicised by Think Progress:

I commented on pro-AGW "Thinkprogress.org", questioning their conclusions and offering my own opinion. Scientific discussion followed? NO. I was demonized as a 'Climate Denier'.


Demonized as a "Climate Denier"? And rightly so, as you posted just a couple comments down the thread:

The science is not settled.
, and
""The fiddling with temperature data is the biggest science scandal ever"
, and, finally:
"Global warming is a DC/corporate ruse.


Either you're too blind to see that you're a denier, or too stupid to understand that you're a denier.

Or maybe both. Or maybe you just can't write.

...or the Trifecta.

Jimee
4.4 / 5 (7) Mar 20, 2015
Extremes may be what is needed to avert disaster, but it still is suspect when we mess with mother Nature. Changing our own technology to stop polluting seems like a better approach first.
outersphere
3.8 / 5 (10) Mar 20, 2015
Didn't see any discussion of the ecological impact of forced warming of the ocean depths. Given current sea life trends with ocean warming, the impacts of can't be good.
classicplastic
1.5 / 5 (4) Mar 20, 2015
The scheme described in this article would mess things up far sooner than 50 years or so. Upwelling enough deep water to physical cool the planet would also bring up far more nutrients, that would trigger massive algae blooms, than local ecosystems could possibly process. We'd end up with huge anoxic zones that would kill off the entire local food chain. Upwelling and downwelling do indeed hold the keys to our salvation, but it needs to be done with a scalpel, not a machete.

The best description of what we need to do can be found at williamcalvin.org/bk16/PGA%20acidification%20limits.pdf

Not complete, but, the general plan that he describes is what's going to work.

Don't sweat the wind-powered pumps: there is better technology and I've got that covered, though not for discussion in a public forum right now.

What do you folks think of Dr. Calvin's general concept?
Caliban
3.9 / 5 (7) Mar 21, 2015
The scheme described in this article would mess things up far sooner than 50 years or so. Upwelling enough deep water to physical cool the planet would also bring [...]

What do you folks think of Dr. Calvin's general concept?


A number of questions emerge, but principally the danger of downstream DOC-rich water being remixed with surface water due to storm activity or heat-induced thermoclinic changes.
To do this properly, the effluent has to be injected deeply enough to be reliably out of reach to these types of surface layer fluctuations and possible interactions with DOC effluent.

Why not put these pumps right at the mouths of the most heavily contaminated rivers --like the Mississippi-- and get rid of the up pumps altogether, and just take advantage of an already extant problem to solve AnthroCO2?

Two birds with one stone.

My regards to Dr. Calvin and to you, cp, as well as your secret machines.


classicplastic
3.7 / 5 (6) Mar 21, 2015
Thanks for the thoughtful commentary, Caliban. Yes, the downwelling of algae needs to go deep, at least 1,000', and quickly, before bacteria eat the dying algae and release all the carbon again as gas bubble. That's what the Salter Sink does, which could also be considered to be an "algae harvester."

I'll give more thought to river mouths, but offhand, it seems like the toxics from river water would cause problems, compared to open ocean installations (not the Gulf of Mexico, as Dr. Calvin proposes).

My reason for the river mouth concern: Another of the uses for the algae that is triggered by the upwelling is to harvest and recycle it into gigatons of food, fodder and terror-free biofuel. We still have the issues of world hunger to address, with 11 billion people coming soon, which leads to serious habitat destruction, both terrestrial and oceanic, as the natural resources are over-exploited. Food-grade algae requires clean feedstocks & placed where the need is greatest.
Bongstar420
1 / 5 (6) Mar 21, 2015
Too bad these people are fixate on warm=bad

It sounds like this bit would increase terrestrial precipitation...and hopefully wouldnt grow the glaciers over land.
adam_russell_9615
5 / 5 (1) Mar 22, 2015
When rain condenses out of the clouds a huge amount of heat energy is released. Consider how much energy it took to evaporate that water in the first place and realize that every bit of that energy has to be released when it condenses as rain. If we could figure a way to harvest that energy from the clouds we would reduce global warming plus get a new renewable energy source plus have a way of triggering rain on demand.
Captain Stumpy
4.6 / 5 (9) Mar 22, 2015
Scientific discussion followed? NO. I was demonized as a 'Climate Denier'
@bill589
so?
when you deny the facts and the science, what else should you be called? i mean, you go right into
The W and O administrations have lied
WTF does politics have to do with the SCIENCE?
big hint here: NOTHING
and your OPINION is NOT equivalent to scientific evidence
in order to talk SCIENCE there must be SCIENCE, not opinion, conjecture, speculation, politics, or rhetoric, especially not political and religious rhetoric

like your post
fiddling with temperature data
but you don't know the reasons WHY data is adjusted or WHY you think you want raw data
http://www.ncdc.n...ring.php

sensors CAN degrade over time

perhaps studying the SCIENCE and forgetting about the BIASED sites like political, religious and other blogs/article/post sites would be best

it will allow you to see the reality through the rhetoric
Mike_Massen
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 28, 2015
Judgeking claimed
Big surprise, climate scientists once again saying a plan won't work. I'll start to believe them if weather forecasting ever becomes acurate
Where I live in Perth, Western Australia, the forecasts are quite good, only out by a few degrees & often correct re rain but, of course the time of day for rail fails, is that indicative, ok for u ?

Error bars ?

FWIW. 1998 I upgraded a power system in Mendulong, Sabah (East Malaysia), weather was very strange - for a jungle region it was surprisingly dry, ie parts of the wet humid jungles were on fire, turned out to be worst dry spell on record, even the tropical Sipitang airport had this:-
http://members.ii...ires.jpg

Climate is fundamentally based on heat flow, ie from sun as shortwave then earth's longwave to space, CO2 increasingly interferes & its rapid rise in last 150+ yrs is troubling !

When you get an education in physics u become immune to propaganda, neat :-)
Mike_Massen
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 28, 2015
ursiny33 claimed
Well here's an idea you have never heard, using permanent fields, compressed together into a permenant field assembly, using those field assemblies to make make motion thru repulsion and using that motion to induct a current to build a high voltage envelopment field on your rotating field assemblies that are charged and discharged in timed mechanical sequences to perpetuate that forward progressive motion to spin an axle under its own power ,with out fossil fuels , its called an permenant field assemblies inducted high voltage field envelopment motor,
Wow immensely frequent use of the word 'field'.

Do you mean an electromagnetic field (EMF) or something else altogether ?

Such as:-
https://en.wikipe...ic_field

A chance this side of cooler parts of hell there is a paper, study or something a bit more suitably crafted in plainer english as I really have difficulty trying to understand what u are getting at, sorry ?

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