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Megawatts and Milliwatts!

January 23, 2018

By Paul Homewood



Yesterday I reported on new research suggesting that the dissipation of heat from Earth’s interior is responsible for the acceleration of the seaward slide of Greenland’s ice sheets.

The story claimed that 100 MW (megawatts) per square meter of energy was transferred from the Earth’s interior to the fjord.

As eagle eyes have spotted, this should have read 100 mW (milliwatts).  A milliwatt is, of course, a thousandth of a watt.

The error may have originated in the Press Release, as even the AAAS made the same mistake:





Phys.Org has exactly the same wording:




While we’re at it, we might as well look at the Abstract:


 The Greenland ice sheet (GIS) is losing mass at an increasing rate due to surface melt and flow acceleration in outlet glaciers. Currently, there is a large disagreement between observed and simulated ice flow, which may arise from inaccurate parameterization of basal motion, subglacial hydrology or geothermal heat sources. Recently it was suggested that there may be a hidden heat source beneath GIS caused by a higher than expected geothermal heat flux (GHF) from the Earth’s interior. Here we present the first direct measurements of GHF from beneath a deep fjord basin in Northeast Greenland. Temperature and salinity time series (2005–2015) in the deep stagnant basin water are used to quantify a GHF of 93 ± 21 mW m−2 which confirm previous indirect estimated values below GIS. A compilation of heat flux recordings from Greenland show the existence of geothermal heat sources beneath GIS and could explain high glacial ice speed areas such as the Northeast Greenland ice stream.


The paper refers to a gradual warming of the stagnant deep basin bottom water below 240 m depth of 0.017 °C yr−1 from 2005 to 2015.

As I read it, the authors have extrapolated from that temperature change to arrive at the GHF.

What is absolutely certain though is that  CO2 in the atmosphere is not capable of causing such changes.

  1. January 23, 2018 9:56 pm

    Proof that copy-n-paste is the main skill required for MSM journos, though we consumers are maybe partly to blame, for opting not to pay for anything better … though some opt to contribute for websites such as this one.

    • Curious George permalink
      January 24, 2018 4:12 pm

      You should only cite from reliable sources. Forget AAAS or

  2. Broadlands permalink
    January 23, 2018 9:57 pm

    But CO2 in the atmosphere can warm the polar vortex and cause record cold on both sides of the Atlantic… and cause corals off of the Great Barrier Reef to bleach, not to mention shrinking the ozone hole. It’s amazing stuff.

    • January 23, 2018 10:33 pm

      Gotta love that carbon. Especially since a large part of me is made out of it. Also much of the stuff I care about in life.

      I know they want to get rid of me because I am an older white guy but isn’t getting rid of carbon to accomplish it a bit wide of the mark.

  3. January 23, 2018 11:41 pm

    What’s 6 orders of magnitude among friends

    • dave permalink
      January 24, 2018 7:36 am

      “..6 orders,,,”

      Nine orders.

      As to whether anyone can say that a mass of water in communication with the world ocean has not changed its identity in ten years and has warmed in every part by exactly 0.17 C – I don’t believe it !

  4. Broadlands permalink
    January 24, 2018 2:49 am

    “It corresponds to a two megawatt wind turbine”?

    Wait.. along with all those future solar panel “farms”? Is that what they tell us is our “sustainable” lower temperature future? That’s a puzzle, a “head scratcher” is it not?

  5. January 24, 2018 6:43 am

    People who don’t realise that a MW is different from a mW shouldn’t be producing “scientific” articles. People who don’t realise that power is the rate of transfer of energy should not be producing “scientific” articles.

    I blame it on the dumbing down of the education system and the rise of degrees in media studies. There is very little in today’s media that is worth studying, except if there were a course on how awful is most of the output of the current media currently. Emulating bad journalism and indiscriminate use of cut’n’paste are not going to improve matters.

    • John Palmer permalink
      January 24, 2018 7:50 am


    • Dave Ward permalink
      January 24, 2018 11:42 am

      “I blame it on the dumbing down of the education system and the rise of degrees in media studies”

      While I was waiting in the new Argos concession in my local Sainsubury’s yesterday I noticed a (sadly) typical howler in the rotating display above the counter. A model of expensive cooker was described as being “Duel Fuel”… Spel czech isn’t much use in this situation, and the same display is probably showing in every branch in the country.

      • Dave Ward permalink
        January 24, 2018 11:43 am

        “Sainsubury’s” – Doh!

      • January 24, 2018 4:36 pm

        Dave —- Gobfrey is alive and well and is most delighted when he can find a typo in the middle of a comment about spelling mistakes! He used to live in printing presses but with their demise he has quite sensibly moved house to the internet.l

        Better men than you have been his victims? If you can ever find a copy of Denys Parsons “Funny Ha-Ha and Funny Peculiar” (long out of print unfortunately) you will see what I mean!

    • Old Englander permalink
      January 24, 2018 11:51 am

      Indeed they shouldn’t. Especially when the ratio is one billion-fold wrong. These numbskulls don’t realise that upper and lower case have different meanings in SI unit symbols. To be fair, the gizmos they prepare their copy on are probably programmed to know better than the human writer, and “auto-correct” such “obvious typos” (sarcasm intended). Doesn’t absolve the human writer from proper proof-reading however. Plus knowing what he is talking about, of course.

  6. Richard111 permalink
    January 24, 2018 7:16 am

    A curious thought. How much energy is radiated from 10million km2 of sea water at say +2C during winter in the Arctic if there was no ice? As compared to 10million km2 ice cover at -25C ? Bearing in mind that radiated energy is proportional to the fourth power of the temperature in Kelvin.

  7. January 24, 2018 7:19 am

    Remember, cool water sinks, cool ice gets colder and radiates less. I think all that Arctic ice is a winter bonnet for the Northern Hemisphere.

    • dave permalink
      January 24, 2018 8:10 am

      “…Arctic ice is a bonnet for the Northern Hemisphere.”

      It is. Just as the ice on my fish pond in a cold winter keeps the fish alive.

      And if any of the ice “goes missing for the time of year” the satellite sees that area as hotter than usual in terms of “brightness temperature.”

      If you look at the present Sea Surface Temperature anomaly map:

      you will see that a sliver of water in the Barents Sea (the Russian side of the Arctic) is showing red* and that is because thirty years ago this was always frozen by January. The Gulf Stream, in its Arctic extension, has been pushing further North – for about ten years now – and preventing the freezing. This seems to be merely a natural and cyclical variation in the ocean surface currents.

      It is a bonnet for the OCEAN and since that has an enormous heat capacity, the cooling effect of a minor fluctuation (and a million or two square kilometers of ice, more or less, for a decade or two IS minor) on the temperature of the Ocean and thus, ultimately, on the temperature field of the Atmosphere is not large either.

      *a ‘false colour’ image, of course. Catches the eye, is all.

      • dave permalink
        January 24, 2018 10:06 am

        Here is the latest from the Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Mass Balance:

        When there was a large net loss during the 2011-2012 season, it was “blamed on climate change.”

        When there was an unprecedented net increase during the 2016-2017 season, it was “blamed on climate change.”

        So far the 2017-2018 season has been exactly average. I predict with great confidence that this will be “blamed on climate change.”

  8. Tony Budd permalink
    January 24, 2018 9:16 am

    Damn! I thought that would solve all our energy needs – just plug in under Greenland! Though as an unfrocked geologist, I was a bit surprised.

    • Athelstan permalink
      January 24, 2018 10:42 am

      All Geologists must proudly keep to their rocks, frocks or not and fracks – oil and gas is what we need!

  9. January 24, 2018 10:32 am

    ‘Currently, there is a large disagreement between observed and simulated ice flow’

    Models wrong again? Shock horror!

  10. Chilli permalink
    January 24, 2018 11:04 am

    Yup, CAGW alarmists aren’t good at orders of magnitudes. A solar farm planning application I helped fight actually *understated* the number of tonnes of CO2 it would save by a factor of 100, but the number sounded big and scary enough anyway so no one cared. I pointed this out in my objection to emphasize that no one had critically checked or questioned *any* of the claimed benefits (‘homes powered’, ‘cars taken off the road’ etc) – most of which disappeared in a puff of CO2 under scrutiny.

  11. Athelstan permalink
    January 24, 2018 11:35 am

    Paul O/T but still about mWheads……….. in a round about sort of way………..

    You probably have but in case you haven’t seen it – more poley bears stuff and this time its all about green stuff and ice ‘disappearing’ – yup, again.


    Polar bear numbers are doin’ jus’ fine – but DAVOS is here and the billiionaires club/corporate blob idiot politicians – let the truth get in the way of the Alarmunists screams.

    I wonder if anyone in the DAVOS bunga bunga circuit will raise the subject of Germany’s NEW coal fired generating plant – btw?

    NO? Thought not.

  12. tom0mason permalink
    January 25, 2018 9:00 am

    Micro, macro, or mega;
    m, or M;
    kilo or kilo-Kelvin;
    when ° ?
    k or K;
    1000 million or billion;

    What POSSIBLE difference can it make?
    That the $64,000 question.

  13. January 27, 2018 11:43 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

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