Lately, the world weather has been especially perplexing, influenced by the cold ocean temperatures of a La Niña current in the equatorial Pacific. For Earth’s land areas, globally, 2007 was the warmest year on record.

And yet, this year so far, eleven weeks into 2008, we are only March 20, record cold temperatures are more the norm. Global land-surface temperatures are, so far, below the 20th-century mean for the first time since 1982, according to the National Climatic Data Center. Last month in China, snowstorms stranded millions of people, while in Mumbai, officials reported the coldest day in 46 years. Very strange… What happened to global warming? the skeptics, fossil fuel bound, will chuckle. They should ask; what happens with global warming?

Indeed, England basked in its fourth-warmest January since 1914, the British Meteorological Office reported. The crocus and narcissus at the U.K.’s Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew flowered a week earlier than last year — 11 days ahead of their average for the decade and weeks ahead of their pattern in the 1980s. In Prague, New Year’s Day was the warmest since 1775.

It is difficult to judge the significance of what we are seeing this year,” said Kew researcher Sandra Bell. “Is it a glitch or is it the beginning of something more sinister and alarming?“” (Robert Lee Hotz, Wall Street Journal, March 8, 2008).

Difficult? Not all! Expected, is more like it! Many scientists have pondered this question, as if they did not know the answer, but it is a straightforward application of thermodynamics. I demonstrated, and advertized that theorem of mine, years ago. What I discovered is this:

A basic theorem of equilibrium thermodynamics, the EQUIPARTITION OF ENERGY theorem, says that the same amount of energy should be present in all degrees of freedom into which energy can spill. The rise in CO2 density forces more energy in the lower atmosphere by trapping more infrared radiation there (more than half of the atmosphere is below 5,500 meters, about 17, 000 feet).

(How does one demonstrate this theorem? Basically, heat is agitation, kinetic energy at the scale of atoms and molecules. This agitation can spill in a more organized manner, in great ensembles, such as vast low and high pressure systems, or large scale dynamics. See the note on entropy and negative temperatures.)

It gets worse than that: by rising the heat in the lower atmosphere, the over-abundance of CO2 rises the steam, the water vapor, boosting the temperature further as water vapor is even more of a greenhouse gas than CO2! So a nonlinear effect is at work: the heat goes up more than what would expect from the rise of the CO2 density alone…

In the case of meteorology, the EQUIPARTITION OF ENERGY THEOREM implies, oversimplifying a bit, that only one-third of the new supplementary energy injected in the lower atmosphere should go into heat. The rest should go in the two other available dimensions.

Instead everybody seems to be focusing on the augmentation of temperature alone… Until they get hit by an unexpected blizzard from the north… Now, of course, since the energy enters the system as heat, non equilibrium thermodynamics imposes more than one-third of the energy will be heat.

As time goes by, though, the other two degrees of freedom, potential energy (represented as the geometry of gradients of pressures, high and low pressure systems, hurricanes) and dynamics (wind speed and vast movements of air masses of varying temperatures and/or pressure; and the same for sea currents) will also store energy.

Thus the new heat created in the lower atmosphere by the increased CO2 greenhouse will be transformed in all sorts of weather weirdness: heat, cold, high and low pressures, wind, and big moves of big things. Big things such as vast re-arrangements of low and high pressure systems, as observed in the Northern Hemisphere, or the re-arrangement of sea currents as apparently also observed, and certainly as it is expected. Since it happened in the past (flash ice age of the Younger Dryas over Europe, 18,000 years ago).

As cold and warm air masses get thrown about, the variability of temperatures will augment all over.

In other words, record snow and cold in the Alps and record warmth simultaneously in England is a manifestation of the equipartition of energy theorem applied to the greenhouse warming we are experiencing. It is not mysterious at all, and brutal variations such as these, including sudden cold episodes, are to be expected, as more and more energy gets stuffed in the planetary climate, and yanks it away from its previous equilibrium.

Wind speed augmentations have already have a spectacular effect: by shaking the waters of the Austral ocean with increasingly violent waves, carbon dioxyde is being removed as if out of a shaken carbonated drink. Thus the Austral ocean is now a net emitter of CO2(other oceans absorb CO2, and transform it into carbonic acid).

Hence the observed variations are the beginning of something more sinister and alarming. Climate change is changing speed. Up, up, and away.

Patrice Ayme

Note on entropy: Some may object that transforming heat into collective behavior of vast masses of air or sea violates the Second Law Of Thermodynamics, namely that entropy augments always, in any natural process. Well, first of all, the genius of the genus Homo, not to say of all of life itself, rests on local violations of the Second Law. Secondly, the most recent physics recognizes that fundamental considerations allow systems where increased energy lead to increased order (such a system is said to be in a negative temperature state).

Even more revealingly, a massive greenhouse on planet Earth would lead, as happened in the past, to a much more uniform heat, all around the planet, that is, a more ordered state. Meanwhile, the transition to the present order of a temperate climate to the completely different order of an over-heated Earth will bring complete disorder, as observed.

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30 Responses to “Applying EQUIPARTITION OF ENERGY To Climate Change PREDICTS WILD WEATHER.”

  1. eadler2 Says:

    The equipartition theorem applies to systems with large numbers of degrees of freedom, where energy can be shared among the coordinates of the phase space of the system. I don’t believe the parameters of the weather such as wind speed, cloud cover etc. are covered by the equipartiion system. These are macroscopic in nature and are not numerous enough to be covered by the equipartion theorem.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear eadler2: Thank you for your comment. Thank for your critique. I somehow lost a longer essay I wrote on the subject, written years ago, and published somewhere. And i don’t remember my “proof”. I do remember that I also had a fight on the subject with a top mathematician or two. They basically told me that I could not do what I did. But I did, and persist.

      It is true that the conventional equipartition theorem does not say what I said. I claim a generalization, not a straighforward application of the original theorem. The reason is that the conventional theorem is proven by considering an ensemble of particles that would be identical, but for the individual energy they are endowed with. In the average, the kinetic energy of these identical particles is equal to kT, T being the temperature and k a constant.

      However in a real atmosphere, one observes different types of ensembles, what one could call herds. A herd is an ensemble where all the constitutive particles have been subject to a common force (say the Coriolis force, for example), that ends up acting like a glue, so they are endowed with a common motion. To simplify, the atmosphere is made of particles (as in conventional statistical thermodynamics), and herds (my difference).

      Herds are made of n particles. As heat augments, the kinetic energy of each of these particles will augment by as much. Although, at any given infinitesimal instant the n particles move any which way, over any significant period of time they infinitesimally progress along the common direction given by the common average motion defining the herd. And that infinitesimal common motion is endowed by the supplementary kinetic energy given by the supplementary heat. Thus the herd itself has acquired as much supplementary energy in its common motion, as the same ensemble, standing still.

      Thus, equipartition, QED.

      I welcome further objections, or demands for clarifications… I view the lack of understanding of equipartition a major problem in climate science.


  2. Patrice Ayme Says:

    One consequence of the equipartion of energy theorem is that the kinetic energy of small particles depends only on the temperature of the gas they are in, not upon their sizes or masses.

    Einstein, for example, had mentioned this (1907).

    This was experimentally confirmed on glass beads 3 micrometers across in 2013.

    So I generalized this to enormous air masses (storms) and configurations of low/high pressures systems (cyclones) with my herd reasoning.

    Such herds whose existence is well known (“weather systems”) violate literal equipartition, by the way. So weather systm, de facto, show that the classical equipartiton theorem is NOT correct!

    But I point out, herds, in particular weather systems, vortices, can betreated as particles themselves, with an equipartition of their own.

    Although one expects Equipartition to fail at the Quantum scale (of course), nobody seems to have bothered wondering if it worked at a macro scale. and there, I say, it works.

    BTW, equipartion energy can be used in a gross way to find the temperature of a star, by equating temperature and average gravitational potential energy of a particle in said star. 2 minutes math gives a temp around 14 million degrees for the guts of the sun.


  3. Martin Lack Says:

    Thanks for leading me to this, Patrice. Now i understand why you liked my Entropy – an unauthorised biography (7 Sept 2012).

    I was trying to work out why I do not remember the Spring of 2008 being warmer than normal – then it hit me – I was in the middle of getting divorced!


  4. Martin Lack Says:

    This post is an admirable testament to your prophetic expertise.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Thanks Martin! much appreciated, especially from you, given your own expertise and critical sense!


      • Martin Lack Says:

        I may be passionate about those few things I have come to understand, Patrice, but the breadth and depth of your knowledge of so many subjects often makes me feel very much like a medieval court jester by comparison.


        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Dear Martin: You and Paul Handover have drowned me under so many compliments that I will withdraw to the high mountains and do penance for the next few days (seriously getting off Internet for cause of widerness; just a link now out of nowhere!) The problem with knowledge and wisdom is that they have to reach the masses. If they don’t, however good, they may as well not be. USA news are heavily biased towards bread & circus as happened with the Romans (and no, Fox News is not even the worst offender!)

          Conveying significant information to the masses, or the lords, civlization cannot do without. Even court jesters could do much that way. So even if you were just a jester, and you are not, your site:

          is most informative (and also entertaining, which is a good thing!)


          • Martin Lack Says:

            I think you need to tell that to the people on the Chartered Accountant Andrew Montford’s Bishop Hill blog who dismiss me as: ‘Martin Lack the ACD Apologist’!

            However, I know you will say, as indeed have others, that I should be flattered by the attention paid to me (and by the extent to which people selectively quote me in order to deliberately misrepresent me).


  5. Paul Handover Says:

    -)Did someone call? ;


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Hi Paul! Well Obambi is finally doing something about so weakly called “climate change” the way I told him to do everything, namely, through executive orders. That would have had more impact 52 months ago, though!


  6. GASSING EARTH | Some of Patrice Ayme's Thoughts Says:

    […]… […]


  7. Super Warming, Super Typhoon | Some of Patrice Ayme's Thoughts Says:

    […] Indeed, the intensity of tropical storms does increase with warmer sea-surface temperatures, and one can predict if a hurricane is going to get worse by looking at the temperature of the waters it will pass over. However, there is a general equipartition of energy theorem. As I pointed out:… […]


  8. Antarctica’s Glaciers Desintegrating | Patrice Ayme's Thoughts Says:

    […] depths. Wind speed have augmented because of the generalization of (my six year old version of) the Equipartition of Energy Theorem that rules the climate (and also all of […]


  9. 2014 Warmest Year? Satan Loves It | Patrice Ayme's Thoughts Says:

    […] 2014 is on track to become the warmest year ever. It is in competition with 2010. As it is, the warming is accelerating: this summer was the warmest. If so, it starts a new trend: warming so strong, it’s all messed up. (I predicted long ago that equipartition of energy applied to greenhouse warming would cause wild fluctuations.) […]


  10. Patrice Ayme Says:

    [Sent to NYT, Dec 30, 2015.]

    Heat is energy. As global warming proceeds, more energy is dumped into Earth’s systems. Some under the form of heat, warming up atmosphere, ocean, and ground. Some goes into dynamical energy, and some even into potential energy. A theorem says that the supplement of energy should penetrate all degrees of freedom available. So there will higher pressures (drought) and lower pressures (floods, storms). There will also be more wind, and the jet streams will be more violent and twisted.

    This is what is observed. The theorem is named the Equipartion of Energy Theorem. That was all predictable, and predicted. As more and more heat is created by the increasing CO2 blanket, the effects will be worse:


  11. Saharan Snow, Enjoy, It Will Not Last | Patrice Ayme's Thoughts Says:

    […] is the smallest ever for the season. Also the Polar Vortex wanders. As I have argued in the past, global warming also means, through equipartition of energy, great depressions, great high pressure, and great dynamics. Greats dynamics means great motions of […]


  12. Global Sea Ice Collapsing: Carbon Tax! | Patrice Ayme's Thoughts Says:

    […] change can also be extremely brutal, on the orders of years, not millions of years (contemplate the Younger Dryas, dramatic, extremely brutal glaciations which lasted no more than a millennium, the most spectacular being 18,000 years […]


  13. Patrice Ayme Says:

    [Sent to WashPo, Feb 15, 2017…]
    As “climate changes” under the generation of GreenHouse Gases (GHG) by the present civilization, expect equipartition of energy: the temperature rise will be just an effect among many others. Even if the temperature rise is, by itself, catastrophic, it will be just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

    An iceberg melting, until it dramatically capsizes…


  14. Patrice Ayme Says:

    [Sent to Paul Handover ]

    Nice article, Paul! It’s straightforward basic physics. Here is my essay from 2008 on equipartion of energy and climate change, predicting climate CHAOS:

    At some point, nature will take over, and drive climate change all by herself. It could happen in 20 years, or 20 months. Soon, in any case. We are poking the dragon’s tail!


    • Paul Handover Says:

      Patrice, may I have your permission to republish this on Learning from Dogs either later this week or next week?


      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        Absolutely Paul! You are more than welcome. I hope I know when you publich it, so I can answer questions if anybody has any. I am a great believer in We The People getting intelligent, not just a few individuals. I believe tht’s how not just civilization progresses, but even how the ELITE progresses. A very smart elite attached to a stupid rabble does not happen anymore than a very stupid elite overlording a very smart population.

        The rise of the intelligence of We The People happens, thanks to general, diffuse cognition of what was previously arcane facts and theories.

        When I wrote the esay more than nine years ago, some university professors in mathematics smirked that we would not grow old enough to see it happen in our lifetime. However, it did! The speed at which climate is changing has been underestimate. Now in summer, much of the surface, if not most of the surface, of Greenland, and now Antarctica, melts. Lakes 80 kilometers long have been observed on the surface of Antarctica, a few weeks ago.


  15. Up, Up And Away? – Learning from Dogs Says:

    […] weather, is Patrice Ayme. For some nineteen years after Bill McKibben’s first book, Patrice published a post on his blog. I have been following Patrice’s blog for some years and while I would be the first to stick […]


  16. Patrice Ayme Says:

    [Sent to Learning From Dogs.]

    Thanks for republishing me, Paul! Hopefully, the planet is thanking you too, but she prefers to talk with storms and heat!

    There is a main remedy to the present situation: a carbon tax (with provisions to compensate the poorest individuals and countries, such as Sahel Africa). A carbon tax would have the greatest effect, by enticing authorities to acknowledge the real cost of fossil fuels.
    The failure of elected officials to take action is because action is not in their own private interest. There are too few elected officials and they are too powerful, thus the extremely wealthy can buy them to great effect.

    The case of Matt Riddley in Britain is exemplary. He is read all around the world, from Wall Street Journal to the Daily Telegraph. He is also a Lord and owns a coal mine, which he makes money from. People like that influence the world, and, by owning so much property can very easily buy off politicians. They buy them off with irresistible vacations and handsomely rewarded talks and invitations (watch carefully the vacations of Obama since he is not president anymore! Obama also gave a secret talk to the official presidential historian for 400,000 dollars! Famous Judge Scalia of the USSC died while enjoying one of these fancy retreats; at least one other supreme court judge, this one viewed as “liberal” has a fancy Caribbean mansion…)

    So the CO2 crisis is a direct consequence of the failure of democracy. The only real democracy is direct democracy. We had it, We the People would vote for a fair carbon tax. Worldwide.


  17. Paul Handover Says:

    Yes, a carbon tax is the correct policy but, yes, as you also point out there are too few elected officials. The one that is unstoppable is Nature’s logic and I hope that in fewer than, say, five years the power of that logic will be an irresistible force for change.

    Either that or will the last person to leave the planet please turn off the lights!


  18. Increasing Greenhouse Means Increasing Floods, Droughts | Patrice Ayme's Thoughts Says:

    […] Among other dynamic activities… As I long predicted, a decade ago, on theoretical grounds, namely the Equipartition of Energy theorem. […]


  19. Physics Of Hurricane: Force Six Hurricane Someday Soon? | Patrice Ayme's Thoughts Says:

    […]… […]


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