Back on Dec. 7, 2018, Mr. Richard Schmidt wrote in your letters column (“The physics of global warming”) about the peculiar properties of the carbon dioxide molecule and how it resonates when struck by the sun’s infrared rays, thereby directly transmitting the heat to the atmosphere. His observation got me to think about another physical property that should be of concern regarding global warming: namely “latent heat.”
When I was operating lumber dry kilns and the lumber went in frozen, say at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, the preheating proceeded in a linear fashion up to 32 degrees. The wood remained at this temperature for a couple days in spite of the heat being added. This “extra” heat was required to change the water from a solid into a liquid. Until the ice became water, the temperature stayed at 32 degrees.
In physics this is called latent heat. Now think of all the glaciers and ice sheets that are melting at accelerated rates. As they melt, they are absorbing tremendous amounts of heat, more than you might imagine, due to the effect of latent heat. This is acting as a buffer to help keep the temperature of the atmosphere down.
What will occur this when the ice is gone? Latent heat works in the other direction, too, meaning it will take sustained below-freezing temperatures to get the water to become ice again. So far, the data does not indicate this is about to happen anytime soon.
Mr. Schmidt left the readers to draw their own conclusions, I will as well.
152 Richmond Road