The Latent Heat Myth
Repost of comment found here: http://wp.me/p4JijN-6G
Let’s stick with the subject . . .
Energy is released/absorbed when water condenses/evaporates at (say) 20 C.
Yes. This is well known and not under dispute. Doswell’s claim is that LATENT heat is involved. Did you not see the word “latent”? Do you know the distinction between latent heat and sensible heat?
As you suggest, heat is, (quoting yourself) “released/absorbed when water condenses/evaporates at (say) 20 C.” This is common knowledge. It is also common knowledge that this heating and cooling is very moderate. Does the condensate that forms on a glass of ice water (on a warm, humid day) cause the water in the glass to come to a boil? That is what this bird brain Doswell is trying to suggest with his reference to “latent” heat. There is no latent heat involved with condensation/evaporation. It only involves exchange of sensible heat. But there is no drama in sensible heat. The word “latent” was just dropped into his explanation to create the illusion of drama/power. It’s a rhetorical trick.
Bad science often pivots off the inclusion/exclusion of words that are subtle. The word latent (look it up) has no business in the context of the evaporation/condensation that happens at ambient temperatures in our atmosphere. Latent heat refers to energy that is bound up and, subsequently, released in a phase change or chemical process. It has no relevance to the processes involved with condensation/evaporation which does not involve either.
Do you think Doswell doesn’t know the difference between latent heat and sensible heat? Let me assure you he does know the difference. Also, let me assure you that he will never take ownership of this absurdity. Instead he will just continue playing the game that all government-paid, severe weather researchers play and continue to pretend that he understands something he does not.