The Role of the Tropical Super Greenhouse Effect in Heating the Ocean Surface

Science  08 Jul 1994:
Vol. 265, Issue 5169, pp. 224-227
DOI: 10.1126/science.265.5169.224


Measurements made by a Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroradiometer operating in the middle infrared (5 to 20 micrometers, with a spectral resolution of one inverse centimeter) imply that there is an anomalously large greenhouse effect over equatorial oceans that is caused by water vapor. As sea-surface temperature increased from 297 to 303 degrees kelvin, the net infrared cooling at the surface decreased by 30 to 50 watts per square meter. Thus, according to the FTIR data, the super greenhouse effect that had been inferred from satellite measurements contributes directly to radiative heating of the sea surface. The data demonstrate that most of this heating occurs in the middle infrared by means of the continuum emission window of water vapor and that tropical deep convection contributes substantially to this super greenhouse effect.