Dan points out that:
"March 31, 2012 at 2:10 pm
The southern ocean absorbs more heat than the northern continents.
This was sloppy wording on my part. I was referring to the area of all the ocean of the southern hemisphere. The imbalance between land and ocean area in the north compared to the south means absorbed energy has to cross from south to north because the ocean absorbs and retains more solar energy than the land surfaces. So rather than "the southern ocean", I should have said "the oceans of the southern hemisphere". Because cloud amount reduced since at least 1960 all the way to the super el nino of '98, as shown by the new papers I linked, more solar energy entered the oceans, predominantly in the southern hemisphere. Yet the southern hemisphere didn't warm as much as the northern. So energy must have been transferred in deep currents from south to north. This is why the Gulf stream moved northwards, hitting Greenland and warming the arctic ocean. That's why arctic ice has reduced while antarctic sea ice has increased.
If you have a more coherent and complete explanation then please set it out so we can discuss it.
The co2 theorists know that downwelling longwave radiation doesn't heat the ocean, so as you point out, they argue that increasing co2 affects the optical depth of the atmosphere limiting outgoing longwave and increasing the "effective altitude of emission" of energy back to space. They say this means the radiation is then occuring from a higher and colder place, and so the temperature of the entire atmospheric envelope is forced to rise so that sufficient radiation to space occurs to bring the planet back into energy balance.
However, there are problems with this argument. Here are a few of them.
1) The 'effective altitude of emission' is a theoretical construct - it s not observable or measurable in the real atmosphere. Most radiation to space actually occurs from the cloud tops higher up, or escapes directly from the surface through the 'atmospheric window'.
2) No increase in the optical depth of the real atmosphere has been observed or measured since measurements using heliopyrgeometry started at Davos in the Swiss alps 80 years ago. (See the work of Douglas Hoyt)
3) The atmosphere can't heat the oceans to any measurable degree. Measurements indicate near surface air temp changes lag sea surface temperature changes by 4 months, and are on average 2C cooler than the ocean surface. The ocean drives the atmospheric temp, not the other way round.
4) As you saw from the graph of Outgoing Longwave Radiation I posted a while back, OLR increased from when measurement began in 1948 all the way to the early 2000's by around 5W/m^2 according to the NCEP reanalysis of radiosonde data. This data is not without problems, however, I don't think it is as bad as some people try make out (because it contradicts the idea that extra co2 is reducing OLR), for the following reason.
Three years ago I made an interesting discovery. Specific Humidity at the 300mb level (near the tropopause where most radiation to space occurs), as measured by the same radiosonde balloons, correlates closely with the Sunspot number, when the data is averaged over 83-96 months.
This strongly indicates that the Sun, not co2, is controlling humidity levels high in the atmosphere where most of the radiation to space occurs. This would explain why the radiative balance of Earth stay's pretty constant despite changes in solar input through changing cloud cover. OLR increases when cloud amount drops, more or less balancing the extra energy being absorbed by the oceans. The whole system has to warm when the sun gets stronger as it did over much of the C20th, but the negative feedbacks in the system always act to moduate and moderate the effect of the stronger sun. One of these is to liberate the energy stored in ice and the consequence is more heat can then be lost from the polar ocean in the Autumn which has a smaller insulating blanket of ice above it. The energies involved make co2 a tiny bit player in this act, and as the arrow of time and thus causality shows, their changing levels are more a consequence than a cause of temperature change.