Ocean Heat Content Adjustments: Follow-up and More Missing Heat

Guest post by Craig Loehle

On June 2, 2009 at WUWT in Anomalous Spike in Ocean Heat Content I commented on what looked like a data discontinuity in ocean heat content data. In this follow-up post, I show that the recent update to the OHC data at NOAA adjusts the recent data down, as I suggested nearly 2 years ago (though I doubt I had anything to do with it). The original post is in italics followed by my update plus an update on trends.

In the paper

Levitus S., J. I. Antonov, T. P. Boyer, R. A. Locarnini, H. E. Garcia, A. V. Mishonov (2009), Global ocean heat content 1955–2008 in light of recently revealed instrumentation problems, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L07608, doi:10.1029/2008GL037155

the long term trend of ocean heat content is reanalyzed in Levitus to attempt to correct for bias in instrumentation, and the record is extended. The graph below depicts the result.

The most recent period, from 2003, uses the ARGO profiling floats, whereas earlier periods use a variety of instruments with various biases. Patching all these data together is a challenge. I draw your attention to the strong spike in the red line from 2002 to 2003. This line is the point at which the earlier data is joined up with the ARGO data. The magnitude of the jump is the largest in the entire record. The transition to the ARGO data can not be said to have been accomplished with a long cross-calibration period. It thus looks to me like there may be an error in how the different data sets are stitched together. I in no way am implying malfeasance here. I have discussed this situation with Roger Pielke Sr. and Josh Willis and they agree it looks odd and merits further investigation. Dr. Pielke points out that there is not a comparable jump in the SST data. I think this example illustrates that if there is a big jump in the data right when you change your instrumentation, it is perhaps good to look a little closer.

Below is the change notice ftp://ftp.nodc.noaa.gov/pub/data.nodc/woa/DATA_ANALYSIS/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/PDF/heat_content_differences.pdf

from NOAA showing that the recent data (post-2002) have been adjusted downward based on many QA/QC issues. There is still a large jump in mid-2003 when the Argo float data join the other data in the database. I believe there is still a data continuity/calibration issue here and that recent data need further adjusting down.

There is a famous quote in the Climategate emails from Trenberth about the “travesty” that there is missing heat which we can’t account for. This refers to the fact that the radiation balance as understood and as modeled implies that the Earth should be absorbing radiation and warming up. The observed rate of warming, including heat stored in the ocean, is significantly less than predicted. This is the “travesty”. Please note that the adjustment of the OHC data in the above plot (black line after 2002) makes the missing heat term larger by a significant amount. The problem of balancing the Earth energy budget remains unsolved. If further adjustments are warranted, as I believe, then the problem grows further.

It is useful to plot just the data since the Argo float data were added to the database, in mid-2003 (note the scale as given from the NOAA download which is in per square meter differs from the Levitus scale which is a global sum).

For this period, the slope is 0.00160 GJ/m2/yr or a slight uptrend. In contrast the slope for the previous 36 years (the steepest part of the above plot, ending in 2002) is 0.01075, which is 6.7 times as fast of a rise. Either there has been a sudden deceleration in OHC rise, or there is still a discontinuity at the point where Argo data are added in (I think both are likely). Note that flat periods are present in earlier periods of the data, such as the 1980s, so a flat period is not unprecedented. However, it does match up with the satellite data.

It is useful to compare the above graph to the Argo-only data ( Loehle, C. 2009. Cooling of the Global Ocean Since 2003. Energy & Environment 20:99-102) available at http://www.ncasi.org//Publications/Detail.aspx?id=3152 below which shows a cooling trend.

Commenters have pointed to the Levitus paper above to claim that my result is “wrong” which is interesting since this plot is exactly the Argo data supplied by Josh Willis of NASA JPL. The quality of the Argo data is evident in that the annual cycle with a period exactly 365 days (see my paper cited) is evident in this data but not in the full dataset above it. The Argo data as of my publication showed a cooling trend, but the Argo data are being updated to deal with quality issues so this may no longer be true (data not yet available).

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77 Responses to Ocean Heat Content Adjustments: Follow-up and More Missing Heat

  1. Gary Pearse says:

    Treating this like “unknown data”, ie. not knowing what the metric is about except that the recent Argo data is more representative a sample, one would have to conclude that the earlier data is significantly biased and is probably more or less representative of a selected region at best. My approach to resolving this would be to select the Argo data that is closest to the pre-Argo data point set in the post 2003 time. Now I’m sure the people working on this would not find this a novel approach so I can only assume that we must have “turned off” the earlier data gatherer at the beginning of the Argo data (why we would do this is beyond me unless they found that there was no useful correspondence with the earlier data and it is therefore invalid data) . Can we turn the earlier source back on to see where it went? If it is truly “non data” then we should also get rid of the earlier curve segment.

  2. Charlie Foxtrot says:

    Small difference in instrument location and construction can make huge differences in readings. It would interest me to know what the differences are between the old system and new. Is there a discussion of this somewhere?

  3. enough says:

    Understanding earths energy balance; stratospheric cooling, where is the error.

    The usual AGW explanation, CO2 absorbs the energy from the earth thus shielding and cooling the stratosphere.

    The obvious answer, an increase in co2 increases the energy transmitted from the stratopause. Look at a atmospheric cooling chart, the enegy transmitted by co2 from the stratopause is about half that transmitted from earth thru the 10 micro window. Doubling co2 will double the co2 cooling from this portion of the atmosphere.

    Its my perception that the AGW stratospheric cooling argument shows the largest disconnect of all between the political posturing and how things realy work.

    Comments?

  4. Craig Loehle says:

    re: Gary Pearse: The data throughout are a mixture of thousands of readings using XBT (expendable bathymetres), bottles, and other methods. These are not consistent in space or time. The Argo data are added in mid-2003. The Argo sensors float with currents and are not stationary. It is hard to cross-calibrate all of these and there are problems with instrument reliability and drift, especially for XBT.

  5. Joe Born says:

    “The most recent period, from 2003, uses the ARGO profiling floats, whereas earlier periods use a variety of instruments with various biases.”

    “For this period, the slope is 0.00160 GJ/m2/yr or a slight uptrend.”

    “It is useful to compare the above graph to the Argo-only data . . . which shows a cooling trend.”

    For those of us who don’t eat and drink this stuff, could you be a little clearer about the distinction–apparently obvious to you, but completely lost on me–between “[using] the ARGO profiling floats,” which yields warming, and “the ARGO-only data,” which do not?

  6. Craig Loehle says:

    re Joe Born: over the whole period, various instruments including XBT were used. In mid-2003 3000 Argo instruments were added up through the present. The difficulty in cross-calibrating the Argo with the earlier instruments is what I think led to the adjustment NOAA did, and which may still need more adjustments.

  7. Massimo PORZIO says:

    I still have not understand how do they measure the effective outgoing LW radiation at the TOA.
    I hope they don’t use the silly (for this use) satellite spectrometers, because they are directive devices and they can’t see the GHGs’ scattered IR which outgoes from the atmosphere with angles different from the azimuth.
    If they do that, the more GHGs, the more scattered IR unseen by the satellites, so they believe the energy accumulated somewhere here on Earth, but it’s already escaped in the outer space instead.

  8. Sean says:

    The ocean heat content data is fundamental to arguements about climate change. I see the Argo buoy system coupled with satellite measurements measuring incoming and outgoing radiation as a true measure of the earth’s energy balance. In the late 90’s, James Hansen made a falsifiable prediction about how much heat should be stored in the oceans and the Argo system set out to measure than in a comprehensive way. If Argo does not detect the predicted warming in the oceans over an extended period of time, the GHG theory has to be reconciled with that. It seems that obtaining timely data from the system is getting more and more difficult and Josh Willis is working very hard to remove any biases. That always makes me suspicious as data message can easily lead to other biases. The warming camp have been called out on the Argo data by Roger Pielke Sr. and others. They know the game is over if Argo continues to show the oceans aren’t warming. It’s time to push for timely release of the data and to insist that any adjustments to remove biases be fully documented and vetted.

  9. steven mosher says:

    Massimo PORZIO GIYF

  10. David A. Evans. says:

    As I understand it, (I could of course be wrong,) when ARGO didn’t give the expected warming, Josh Willis pulled quite a few floats for recalibration. Is that what’s going on with the new adjustments

    DaveE.

  11. Mark Wiener says:

    The continuing arguments about CO2 continue to divert attention to what I consider more urgent considerations of negative impacts on human well being from particulates, heavy metals, ozone, NOx, H2S, radioisotope release and waste disposal issues associated with fossil and nuclear sources of energy. A steady stream of commodity sales, be they fossil fuel or nuclear generated electricity serve a growth paradigm limited on a finite planet. A better paradigm is increased use of efficiency and renewable energy, especially if climate change warm or cool increases the need for energy. Conservation denies short term fiscal profit. But increased renewables and retrofits to enhance efficiency and increase power plant safety provide new jobs. If men of goodwill seek to avoid another “bottleneck” in the welfare of humanity, a pardigm shift is required regardless of any conclusion regarding CO2. Thank goodnesss there has been an outpouring of good will towards Japan. The old war paradigm would have rejoiced at their troubles and the old war paradigm still maintains mobile nuclear weapons, any one of which detonated over populated areas would make what happened in Japan look relatively small.

  12. Craig Loehle says:

    Re: david evans: there is no evidence for nefarious adjustments, in contrast to the well-documented funny surface station adjustments that are done. There are all sorts of real issues with the instruments.

  13. Andrew30 says:

    Speaking of ‘missing heat’, on your ENSO reference page, the item:

    “Global Sea Level Change – 1992 to Present – Inverted Barometer Not Applied – Seasonal Signal Included”

    The title should be changed to reflect the actual data:

    “Global Sea Level Change – 1992 to July 2010 – Inverted Barometer Not Applied – Seasonal Signal Included”

    It seems that in July 2010 they stopped updating the graph, so your title (1992 to Present) is misleading.

    If the overall sea level was dropping then that may indicate that the oceans are generally cooling at all depths and is there is no ‘hidden heat’

    Hide the decline.

  14. rbateman says:

    Do you mean that the “missing heat” that is required to prove AGW is in reality “worse than previously suspected”, due to adjustments to recent data which are non-calibrated to previous data?
    I suspect that not only is the heat missing, it has left the building (Earth)… on it’s merry way out of the Solar System.
    The downslope in recent data says that the Earth is cooling, not warming.

  15. dp says:

    Because this is true:

    The problem of balancing the Earth energy budget remains unsolved.

    , any remediation to fiddle the energy balance (cap and trade) is premature and ultimately disingenuous if not outright dishonest.

  16. R. Gates says:

    I’m not sure why you chose to completely ignore the Lyman et. al. study from 2010 on this very issue, and that study even went further to look at a multiple sources of uncertainty and using different XBT bias corrections. This paper by Lyman et. al:

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v465/n7296/full/nature09043.html

    is the one cited on NOAA’s heat content site:

    http://oceans.pmel.noaa.gov/

    And indeed, the increase in upper ocean heat content of .64 + or – .11 Wm2 is exactly in the range of the Lyman study, which states in the abstract:

    “Accounting for multiple sources of uncertainty, a composite of several OHCA curves using different XBT bias corrections still yields a statistically significant linear warming trend for 1993–2008 of 0.64 W m-2 (calculated for the Earth’s entire surface area), with a 90-per-cent confidence interval of 0.53–0.75 W m-2.”

    The Lyman study is currently the most up to date look at the measurements and uncertainties in upper ocean heat content, and shows a robust warming of the upper oceans. Furthermore, other recent studies from both the northern and southern hemisphere’s show a warming of the deeper oceans, below 700m:

    http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/people/gjohnson/gcj_3w.pdf

    This 2010 paper concludes: “In summary,we show that the abyssal ocean has warmed
    significantly from the 1990s to the 2000s.”

    The paper found the greatest deeper ocean warming in the southern hemisphere, but the northern hemisphere also showed warming at levels below 700 m. Other studies confirm these findings:

    http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/45005

    http://dirwww.colorado.edu/news/r/9059018f4606597f20dc4965fa9c9104.html

    In short, your lack of even mentioning the Lyman study (which is the most recent) is interesting to me, but never the less, within a high degree of confidence, we can see that somewhere around .64 wm2 of heat is being added annually to the upper ocean and more at deeper levels. With Trenberth’s net imbalance calculated to be about .9 wm2, adding both the upper and deeper ocean warming, we are at least getting closer to finding that so-called “missing heat”, though I’m sure AGW skeptics will continue to paint a different story…so I would ask, if the Lyman et. al. study is in the ball park, where indeed is this extra heat to the upper (and lower) oceans coming from?

  17. tonyb says:

    Craig

    What’s your opinion on the accuracy of the supposed ‘global’ SST data back to 1860 as produced by Hadley?

    Having thoroughly examined it for an article on global temperatures I wouldn’t give it house room and consider that it shoudn’t be used in any scientific paper as it is so seriously flawed.

    tonyb

  18. Tenuc says:

    “For this period, the slope is 0.00160 GJ/m2/yr or a slight uptrend. In contrast the slope for the previous 36 years (the steepest part of the above plot, ending in 2002) is 0.01075, which is 6.7 times as fast of a rise.”

    I think climate science has big problems with even the best estimates of OHC. Many assumptions have to be made before a total is arrived at from the relatively sparse number of measuring points. Our climate system displays spatio-temporal chaos, and this can easily invalidate many of the assumptions made about behaviour over time or geography (link to good discussion about spatio-temporal chaos on Judith Curry’s blog)…

    http://judithcurry.com/2011/02/10/spatio-temporal-chaos/

    I wonder what the graphs would look like with error bars in place???

  19. kim says:

    Craig Loehle at 11:23 AM

    Given the importance of the ocean heat content it is almost certain that Argo data will be ultimately freed and evaluated independently from Josh Willis. It is my impression that Josh is an honest researcher, but this stuff is too important for it not to be independently evaluated, perhaps by several competing groups, a la UAH and RSS. I know of at least one senior researcher who is concerned about the delay in availability of data.
    ===============

  20. rbateman says:

    R. Gates says:
    March 20, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Sorry to defalt the baloon of robust assessment, but NOAA did adjust the OHC 2003 to present DOWNWARDS. That means even more heat is missing that was supposed to support AGW.
    If there is insufficient hot water available, one can always rely on thin air (aka trace CO2). So, back to the thin air we go. The missing heat must be up there somewhere.

  21. Stephen Wilde says:

    “where indeed is this extra heat to the upper (and lower) oceans coming from?”

    Lower global albedo and so more sunshine into the oceans.

    The process has been going into reverse since around 2000 and we have barely begun to see the effects yet due to ocean lag and the fact that the net input remained positive until around 2003.

  22. Pamela Gray says:

    R. Gates, you win one for the opposite side by asking where the rest of the heat is. We know that CO2 has a seasonal component. It also has a North versus South Hemispheric presence. OHC should match CO2 seasonal cycles, and hemispheric presence. That ARGO measured OHC clearly demonstrates the year long expected cycle of oceanic heat content adds to the picture. That the heat from your supposed increased AGW longwave radiation is not there in the signal is its own conclusion.

  23. Craig Loehle says:

    Re: R. Gates: The Lyman paper in Nature is from May of 2010 with further delays in publication and in fact only uses data through 2009 IIRC. The adjustment that I comment on and which is linked above is from October 2010. I am unclear why the page you link to shows data through 2009 as “most current” but following the link:

    http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/OC5/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/

    gives the info I used.
    As to the Lyman conclusion that heat is being added, Lyman’s graph only goes to 2009 and does not appear to include the adjustments post-2003 which I document here. Their trends would, clearly, go down after adjusting the recent data. They also looked at a longer term trend, where I was only concerned with the post-2003 trend where the Argo data is included. As to the deep ocean data, I can’t comment on that except to say there is far less data at depth.

  24. Bob Tisdale says:

    Craig Loehle wrote, “The most recent period, from 2003, uses the ARGO profiling floats, whereas earlier periods use a variety of instruments with various biases.”

    Craig, I don’t believe the NODC began using only ARGO floats in 2003. The NODC website shows XBT bias corrections through 2007. And this agrees with the full deployment of ARGO in 2007. These are the XBT corrections per the NODC’s 2010 update:
    ftp://ftp.nodc.noaa.gov/pub/data.nodc/woa/WOD/XBT_BIAS/ant_levitus_biascorrect.txt

    And the NOAA/GODAS website show XBTs in use last year, though I don’t know for sure if the XBTs are included in the NODCs OHC data in 2010:

    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/GODAS/data_distribution.shtml

  25. Bob Tisdale says:

    R. Gates says: “The Lyman study is currently the most up to date look at the measurements and uncertainties in upper ocean heat content, and shows a robust warming of the upper oceans.”

    Actually, the 2010 updates/corrections to the NODC dataset come after Lyman et al, so I don’t believe your claim is correct.

  26. Bob Tisdale says:

    Craig Loehle, disregard my March 20, 2011 at 2:05 pm comment. I should have read the entire post. You acknowledge that the NODC is not ARGO only after 2003.

  27. Billy Liar says:

    steven mosher says:
    March 20, 2011 at 10:17 am

    NAMIA (not any more it ain’t) :-)

  28. Arno Arrak says:

    Speaking of Trenberth, he has an article out on tracking Earth’s energy in Science (16 April 2010) where he finds that a large quantity of energy is missing when total energy change is compared to net incoming radiation. This mysterious energy loss starts in 2004 and by 2010 a good 80 percent of the energy delivered to earth is nowhere to be found. He looks at the effects of melting Arctic sea ice, Greenland, Antarctica, and glaciers on ocean heat content change and comes out empty-handed. But if you read the whole article you find this statement: “Since 2004, ~3000 Argo floats have provided regular temperature soundings of the upper 2000 m of the ocean, giving new confidence in the ocean heat content assessment – ” So what do you know. new equipment comes on line and energy does a disappearing act. If this paper had been peer reviewed that would have been the first thing the reviewer would have pointed out. But with their buddies in the science publishing business questioning the work of a big shot like Trenberth is unthinkable. It seems like the data from Argo floats is anomalous in more ways than one and his job was to figure out what was happening with his equipment instead of taking those data at face value and coming out with the absurdity of “missing energy” in a premier science publication.

  29. Craig Loehle says:

    Bob Tisdale,
    Sorry for not being clear, but I added some comments–the Argo data were ADDED IN after mid-2003, not replacing other data.
    How does deep ocean warm? If the sinking Arctic and other water is warmer than usual (though still cold) the deep ocean will gain heat. Not impossible at all.
    tonyb: I think SST data are noisy (duh).
    it is unclear how to compute error bars for such data.

  30. Bill Illis says:

    Josh Willis did provide an unpublished update to Roger Pielke sr. (going out to April 2010)

    After providing an update of the warming in the below 700 metre ocean that can be ascertained (Johnson and Purkey), the energy being absorbed in the global all-depth ocean is about 0.255 Watts/m2 (well below the 0.85 W/m2 they are looking for).

    http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/where-is-the-missing-argo-upper-ocean-heat-data/

  31. Massimo PORZIO says:

    Steve Mosher,
    you wrote me to GIYF.
    Uhmm, maybe because my English is not my native language, but I never find on the Google a document about what they used to measure (I wrote measure, not simulate) the outgoing LWIR radiation.
    I played a little with Dr.Archer’s MODTRAN on line atmospheric simulator, but it estimates only the nadir radiation, and of course for a CO2 doubling it predicts the canonic abt 3W/m-2 also shown by Wikipedia here:(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiative_forcing).
    But MODTRAN simulates just what a satellite “eye” see and for Terra and Aqua satellites the MODIS radiometer aperture is just about 0.81° (10km footprint at ground from 705km orbit height; see here: http://modis.gsfc.nasa.gov/about/specifications.php).
    Anyways AFIK the satellites don’t measure the energy escaping with angles very different from nadir.
    If you know a different way used to measure the full TOA escaping energy I’ll very appreciate any related link to read about it.

  32. Jeff says:

    nobody has any real data just a bunch of measurements from different locations at different times of year …

    an absolute waste of time and money …

  33. Craig Loehle says:

    A point that some of the questions above raise is version control of the data. Is it possible to go back and look at the versions Lyman and Levitus etc used? It isn’t obvious from the NOAA web page how to do this, if at all. Yet which adjustments were done when is critical to understanding all the different analyses. Again.

  34. R. Gates says:

    Craig,

    Thanks for your response. I do need to spend some time sorting out the reasons for the discrepancies between the links provided on the two sites. This is obviously an area worthy and needing much further study and better data. I think your post did raise some interesting issues, and you and others might find this recent discussion related to these issues very enlightening:

    http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/blog/isaac-held/2011/03/11/3-transient-vs-equilibrium-climate-responses/

    Also, Trenberth himself speaks to some of these issues in this paper, and this paper was written last year before the downward adjustment in the data, so, as you point out, there is indeed even more “missing heat”:

    http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/Trenberth/trenberth.papers/T_SciencePerspectiveApril10.pdf

  35. TonyB says:

    Craig

    You confirmed that SST data is ‘noisy.’

    You are the king of understatement :)

    tonyb

  36. John Blake says:

    So what will it take to resolve this ocean-temperature discrepancy dating from 2003? If not cross-calibrated and reconciled from the outset, measuring devices will record anomalies whose inconsistencies guarantee spurious conclusions.

    Will lengthening this time-series from seven to (say) fifteen years enhance its validity or merely extend a long-term suspect trend? Only if researchers diagnose the problem can they act to rectify base-data as it becomes available.

  37. Steve in SC says:

    Lyman is OK, but I prefer RCBS.

  38. Bob Tisdale says:

    Craig Loehle replied: “How does deep ocean warm? If the sinking Arctic and other water is warmer than usual (though still cold) the deep ocean will gain heat. Not impossible at all.”

    I assume that’s a reply to someone else.

  39. Bob Tisdale says:

    Stephen Wilde says: “Lower global albedo and so more sunshine into the oceans.”

    The first principal component of global OHC since 1979 is an ENSO-related signal (inverted NINO3.4 SST anomalies).

    You continued, “The process has been going into reverse since around 2000 and we have barely begun to see the effects yet due to ocean lag and the fact that the net input remained positive until around 2003.”

    That seems to be a shift in your normal starting date. You’ve used 2000 up to this date.

  40. Dave Springer says:

    Yeah, a big step change upwards in 2002-2003 coincident with switching over to ARGO data is a huge red flag that either ARGO is reading high or (more likely) the non-ARGO data has a low bias in it. Any competent objective observer who knows about the instrumention change to ARGO should not have published that chart until they figured out what’s causing the step change and fix it. Of course when it’s fixed it’ll substantially raise pre-2003 SST and completely ruin it for use in alarmist propaganda.

  41. RoHa says:

    So does all this mean any of the following?

    (a) The seas will boil away in the next twenty minutes
    (b) The seas are getting hotter, but not as quickly as the alarmists say.
    (c) The seas are not getting hotter.
    (d) The seas are cooling down
    (e) The sug-ges-tion of sum-mar-ies in sim-ple terms for those of us who are thick-os but in-ter-est-ed has not been tak-en up.

    How about a page that give updates of the main issues? Something like

    Seas: Cooling
    Sea level: static
    Arctic ice: increasing
    Antarctic ice: stable
    North Hemisphere: Summer – cool. Winter – bloody freezing.
    South Hemisphere: Summer – hot. Winter – chilly.

    Then we would know where we are up to.

  42. Roy Clark says:

    The discussion of ocean heat content cannot be reduced to the trend in a single number. There are at minimum, 5 major ocean gyres that recirculate ocean water around their own ocean basins. Each one is unique and they are all coupled in various ways over short and long time scales. Ocean heat content depends on solar heating, cloud cover and wind speeds and their interactions with the ocean gyres. The Pacific Warm Pool extends to a depth of over 100 m with ocean temperatures above 25 C. Small changes in the dissipation of just this body of water have major impacts on climate from the Pacific NW coast of the US to Australia and beyond.
    One thing that we can be sure of is that an increase of 100 ppm in atmsopheric CO2 concentration from 280 to 380 ppm or even a doubling of CO2 concentration to 560 ppm will have no effect on ocean heat content. The penetration depth of long wave IR (LWIR) into the ocean is less than 100 micron. That’s about the width of a human hair.
    Instead of spending money on satellites, we need more ocean float data. How about an Argo 2 fleet to operate at shallower depths and record the coupling of the sunlight as it heats the oceans? We will need a lot more information on ocean heating and cooling before we can explain, never mind predict the Earth’s climate with any confidence.
    It is time to shut down those radiative forcing models and do some real modeling with real data. We have already wasted over 30 years on computational science fiction.

  43. AusieDan says:

    As a layman, this seems quite amazing.

    (1) why is it so hard to down load Argo data? – It is the most important climate data there is, as it is the oceans that absorb most heat.
    (2) why is Argo data not up to date and released each and every month? Satellite data isreleased promptly each month and can be downloaded easily. Is the whole Argo system faulty, or just poorly managed, or just underfunded? (surely not underfunded?)
    (3) why oh why was there not parallel runs of the old system against Argo? – for such an important data set I would have expected ten or twenty years of cross checking.
    (4) why is everything so hush hush and open only to supposing and second guessing? Is the topic not the most important topic on earth?

    With all the money being spent on climate research and with so much commercial capital now at risk and the unknown unknowns of what happens when carbon dioxide by-product energy production is taxed out of existence and replaced by fairly tale wishful thinking ——-

    Well this looks like an old BBC “Dad’s Army” episode.
    Except it’s for real.

  44. AusieDan says:

    Just read through all these comments again.
    This should not be a subject worth commenting about.
    Is the trend up or down?
    This is ridiculous!

    But our future prosperity hangs on such thin threads as this.
    This whole climate subject is amateur hour fumbling.
    GrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrR.

  45. JRR Canada says:

    So once again its was worse than we thought but now that the data is looked at carefully its an artifact of changing measuring methods, oopes sorry for the alarmisms. I too am becoming impatient with the slow release of the argo data, what is the problem?Don’t like the results? The data is off message? I know cynical and probably unfair but climatology is tainted and sinking fast.

  46. GregO says:

    AusieDan says:
    March 20, 2011 at 7:51 pm
    (1) why is it so hard to down load Argo data? – It is the most important climate data there is, as it is the oceans that absorb most heat.

    Gosh, I thought I was the only one that couldn’t make heads or tails of Argo data downloading…

    (2) why is Argo data not up to date and released each and every month? Satellite data is released promptly each month and can be downloaded easily. Is the whole Argo system faulty, or just poorly managed, or just underfunded? (surely not underfunded?)

    Really good question.

    When I heard about the ambitious ARGO project it sounded good – but for a (busy) layman like myself getting and making sense of the data is a bit above my pay grade.

  47. Andrew30 says:

    JRR Canada says: March 20, 2011 at 8:03 pm
    “The data is off message?”

    No, the bouys are off target.

    They need to work out a new steering mechanism to keep them near the trenches and under sea volcanos. The bouys they can keep on target, they will keep and then publish the (smoothed) data, the others go to davy Jones (et. al.) locker. Hansen has shown how this strategy can work on land, and he is a RealClimate scientologist, so he knows how to best fix the reporting errors.

  48. Doug in Seattle says:

    Steve in SC says:
    March 20, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    Lyman is OK, but I prefer RCBS.

    But Lee is for the average wallet!

  49. rbateman says:

    Massimo PORZIO says:
    March 20, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    To get a wider angle from a spacecraft measuring outgoing, one needs a greater distance or a fisheye lens. You could monitor the Earth from the Moon, and get more homogenous results. The daytime apex of measurement minus the nightime low measurement would be most interesting over time. With a built-in 28 day smoothing, what’s not to like?
    Great idea, Massimo.

  50. GeneDoc says:

    Forgive my laziness, but can someone explain the Y axis of these “ocean heat content” graphs? Centered on zero, they represent the heat “anomaly”, I presume, with Joules as the indicated unit. Fine. But it seems a real stretch to imagine that the total global ocean heat content varies 3-4 fold?! (-8 to +12?). Isn’t the bulk of seawater in cold abyssal depths at 2 or 3 degrees C? It would seem that sea levels should more radically reflect this large a change in heat content. But maybe I’m not understanding the axis label.

  51. ferd berple says:

    “It’s time to push for timely release of the data and to insist that any adjustments to remove biases be fully documented and vetted.”

    Why not release the raw ARGO data before adjustments? The taxpayers have paid for it? In that way any scientific researcher can judge any subsequent adjustments.

    This is the exact same problem revealed by the climategate emails. The raw data remains hidden until such time as it is “lost” and all we have is the “adjusted” data with no way to confirm the results. It is bad science and should not be tolerated.

  52. Massimo PORZIO says:

    About what rbateman said on March 20, 2011 at 10:14 pm:

    I don’t want to change this thread argument to TOA measurements, I just want to highlight how Trenberth’s desperate searching for the “lost energy” could be useless until we are not sure about the reliability of the TOA outgoing energy measurements.
    About your Moon-based measuring system: from my point of view, it’s surely better than the current satellites narrow “eye”, but it misses the polar data collection, which is very important too for the total outgoing energy estimation.
    Apply the fisheye lens to the satellites’ spectrometer could be a solution to the issue too.
    Anyways, maybe I’m wrong about satellite use for LWIR outgoing energy measurements.
    Maybe I missed some fundamental detail which voids my hypothesis, I just would like to see a spectrographic plot of what’s a satellite Earth horizon view.

  53. davidmhoffer says:

    The first time I saw that spike in the OHC graph I thought…hmm, coincides with the start of Argo data, you’d think they’d have noticed that and thought….hmmm, kinda obvious, sorta hide the decline in reverse?

    But seriously, I’ve always wondered how they justify just letting the Argo buoys float around randomly. Wouldn’t they tend to be pushed by prevailing currents into what ever patter the currents themselves have, which is likely not representative of the ocean itself, you’d need complete randomness for that would you not?

  54. Bob Tisdale says:

    ferd berple says: “Why not release the raw ARGO data before adjustments? The taxpayers have paid for it? In that way any scientific researcher can judge any subsequent adjustments.”

    The unadjusted ARGO data should be available through the ARGO website. It was when I looked a few years ago.

  55. John Marshall says:

    Perhaps the two measurement systems are not compatible. Neither will be calibrated together. The jump in 2003 is most probably the switch to ARGO data not a monstrous hike in temperature.

  56. Laws of Nature says:

    Dear enough (March 20, 2011 at 9:29 am ),

    your post is not very related to the discussion in this thread, but perhaps I am still allowed my shot at it:
    There is a huge difference between the upper stratosphere (Upstrat) and the lower atmosphere (LowAtm) concerning the life time of excited CO2-states:
    In the Upstrat and above the density of matter is quite low, excited CO2 states can decay by characteristic radiation and about half of this radiation can go out into space.
    Here more CO2 opens/extends a path for this region of the atmosphere to loose energy.
    This is quite independent of what happens in the lower atmosphere (in particular the effect of additional CO2 in the upper troposphere).

    Please make no mistake, the effect of additional CO2 in the upper troposphere (= increase of the average height from where chracteristic CO2 is radiating)
    and the cooling of the upper stratosphere (with an increased CO2-radiation from that temperature) are well measured realities!
    Sceptics in this field usually doubt the strength of the assumed feedback, not the effect itself

    Cheers,
    LoN

  57. HR says:

    It looks like most of the difference in the revised data comes from the SH (slide 11). This would be the region poorly sampled in the pre-ARGO data. The idea that the problem lies with the pre-ARGO data seems strong.

    I’ve got a question with regard to inter-annual variability in OHC data. As you point out the ARGO data seems to capture the seasonal cycle fairly well. It also shows that the year to year variability is fairly small, although there weren’t any particularly strong ENSO events over the course of the ARGO data period. Do you have any feel for how much interannual variability we should see in this particular metric? Over at realclimate I’ve read some oldish articles that seem to suggest that interannual variability in OHC should be fairly low due to thermal inertia e.g.

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/02/why-looking-for-global-warming-in-the-oceans-is-a-good-idea/

    In fact they used the idea to support Hansen’s estimates of the global energy imbalance which used only a decade of data (I don’t have the patience to hunt down that particular article).

    These sort of rapid jumps in OHC would seem to fall within the scope of inter-annual variability. Wouldn’t these rapid jumps be inconsistent with our general understanding of how things should work out in the real world. Has the climate science establishment not been concerned with this issue themselves?

  58. DennisA says:

    This forgotten commentary from Oceanographer Robert Stevenson, deceased, deals with the argument about missing heat from Levitus et al 2000.

    http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/articles/ocean.html

    “Yes, the Ocean Has Warmed; No, It’s Not ‘Global Warming’ ”

    Unfortunately he is no longer around to comment on the continuing controversy, but he was adamant there was no missing heat and his description of early temperature recording is very revealing.

  59. Joe Lalonde says:

    Anthony,

    I love the way science NEVER includes the salt in the oceans that have changed since the 1970’s . These changes have a profound effect on solar penetration. “The Lost Heat!”

  60. Craig Loehle says:

    Re: HR: interannual variability (annual cycle) shows up in the Argo data I believe because of ocean asymmetry–more ocean in south so the peak is at southern summer.

    A useful ref on using Argo to evaluate energy balance is

    http://www.pas.rochester.edu/~douglass/papers/KD_InPress_final.pdf

    which the author just reminded me of.

  61. Bob Tisdale says:

    John Marshall says: “The jump in 2003 is most probably the switch to ARGO data not a monstrous hike in temperature.”

    There wasn’t a switch from XBT to ARGO in 2003. ARGO use began to ramp up in 2003 to the point that its use began to exceed other sensor types then. There had been some preliminary use of ARGO prior to that. ARGO had “complete” coverage in 2007.

  62. Pamela Gray says:

    I look forward to the day when ARGO floats are silently trimmed back to Hansenized numbers with no indications on temperature trend graphs as to this all important variable. Why do I know this is already on the way? The “hide the decline” trick wasn’t started with trees. It started with land temperature monitor changes in the data set. I’m thinking that since they got away with that omission, why not with spliced trees and temperature monitor mixtures? The obvious next data set ripe for such a trick would be ARGO.

    Judith, are you on this?

  63. Craig Loehle says:

    The ocean data are much more difficult to figure out in terms of bias and adjustments than the land data. More issues, more technical, and not part of our everyday experience like thermometers and daily temps are. I have read the papers cited above in terms of adjustments/bias of the instruments and just hope they can figure it out.
    In terms of SST data, the changes from buckets to ship intakes (different depths sampled), and changes in shipping lanes, etc. make the SST data squishy in my opinion.

  64. beng says:

    Craig Loehle, I’m glad of yours, RPeilkeSr & others’ attention to this issue. OHC is the real, useful heat-metric, as compared to surface or even sat temp measurements. OHC measurements must not be allowed to get behind the “fortress-gate” of climate-science, like GISS, etc.

    Doesn’t matter to me what the results are, just an accurate metric for heat-content, of which the atmosphere has only a trivial amount.

  65. Graeme W says:

    Dear, Craig Loehle,

    I can understand the need for an adjustment to get the two different data sets to align so a continuous graph can be produced, but do you know if there is any evidence as to which original dataset has been measuring the temperature accurately?

    That is, is it that the ARGO data is measuring too high, or the older dataset was measuring too low, or both?

    The reason I ask the question is that if we’re trying to balance the earth energy budget, knowing an accurate OHC is just as important as being able to measure long term trends.

  66. phlogiston says:

    Bill Illis says:
    March 20, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Josh Willis did provide an unpublished update to Roger Pielke sr. (going out to April 2010)

    After providing an update of the warming in the below 700 metre ocean that can be ascertained (Johnson and Purkey), the energy being absorbed in the global all-depth ocean is about 0.255 Watts/m2 (well below the 0.85 W/m2 they are looking for).

    http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/where-is-the-missing-argo-upper-ocean-heat-data/

    Warming of deep and even abyssal ocean water (if real) can only come from vertical mixing (leaving aside volcanism on a large scale).

    The idea that

    (1) “global warming is less than it should be and the missing heat is going to the deep ocean”

    is similar to the idea that

    (2) “global temperature is cooling and the missing heat is going to the deep ocean”

    but the latter s more plausible w.r.t. Occams razor.

    With a strongly temperature stratified ocean, increase of vertical mixing alone, on a global scale, can suck down heat and cool the climate. It is possible that in the global oceans, due to nonlinear dynamics, the intensity and pattern of vertical mixing oscillates between periods of more and less mixing, acting like a liquid chaotic oscillator analagous to a liquid crystal oscillator. This could be a driving force behind climate oscillations of the PDO / AMO type.

  67. Craig Loehle says:

    phlogiston: I agree with your comments. too much of the discussion assumes equilibrium.
    Graeme W: from the discontinuity one can only say that Argo seems high relative to previous methods, but not which one is right. I have no independent info on that question.

  68. Bill Illis says:

    Since we have a low number for ocean heat storage, the sources for the missing energy are then – glacial melt or terrestrial land storage/absorption.

    Sea level is rising at 3.1 mm/year (officially as opposed to in reality). Thermal expansion of the oceans is supposed to be about 1.6 mms/year (0.255 Watts/m2/year), glacial melt about 1.2 mms/yr and post-glacial rebound increasing the average depth of the ocean about 0.3 mms/yr (technically this shouldn’t count but it is in the numbers).

    How much energy is being absorbed though glacial melt?

    The other alternative is terrestrial land storage which is thought to be close to Zero right now. As in, borehole temperature science depends on a certain level of surface energy permeating through soils, rock and ice sheets but this is a very low number and might be Zero currently.

    Thoughts?

  69. Ian W says:

    One cannot help but wonder that if the Argo data had shown continual upward trend in ocean heat content, that it would be being published daily on every blog that could show it and be trumpeted in the MSM. The fact that it is as difficult to retrieve as Phil Jones’ raw data makes one think that the reverse is the case and there is work in progress to ‘adjust’ the Argo data to be more in-line with the models.

  70. tallbloke says:

    Craig, thanks for this update. The downsizing of the 2003 splice is welcome but I agree with you that it is insufficient. I recommend you take a look at this post on my blog by Peter Berenyi, which usefully compares OHC to OLR measurements.

    http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2010/12/20/working-out-where-the-energy-goes-part-2-peter-berenyi/

  71. tallbloke says:

    Bill Illis says:
    March 21, 2011 at 5:31 pm
    How much energy is being absorbed though glacial melt?
    The other alternative is terrestrial land storage which is thought to be close to Zero right now. As in, borehole temperature science depends on a certain level of surface energy permeating through soils, rock and ice sheets but this is a very low number and might be Zero currently.

    The other-other alternative is that the relationship between OHC and OLR has been misunderstood by crocked OHC figures from years before 2003 and the ‘missing heat’ never was missing at all since it didn’t exist in the first place. See link to my blog above.

  72. Craig Loehle says:

    Bill Illis: The missing energy is only missing if the theory is correct and the top of atmos obs are correct.

  73. richcar that 1225 says:

    I love this quote by Dr. Stevenson about the mixing of polar waters:
    “In these waters, surface water temperatures are about -1.9°C, the normal salinity of the water keeping it from freezing into ice. The deep waters, being warmer than such surface waters, rise to the surface, as the upper layers sink slowly into the dark ocean depths. Because only very cold surface water is able to sink, it is simple to understand that the deep ocean can never warm up, regardless of how warm the surface ocean around the world may become. No deep lying “thermal lag” is going to take place. It is clear that there’ll be no Phoenix rising as a haunting specter.”

  74. izen says:

    I am not sure why some people are posting complaints that the ARGO data is not available, all the buoy data is retrevable from AOML/NOAA in two large files. This is the raw data and would need a fair amount of work and knowledge to process it into location and temperature records.
    But this work has been done and the ‘interpolated’ data is also available from the same source.

    Start here to access the data –

    http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/phod/dac/dacdata.php

  75. Tim Clark says:

    Laws of Nature says:
    March 21, 2011 at 3:12 am
    Please make no mistake, the effect of additional CO2 in the upper troposphere (= increase of the average height from where chracteristic CO2 is radiating)
    and the cooling of the upper stratosphere (with an increased CO2-radiation from that temperature) are well measured realities!

    I believe you mean to say that these are well modeled prophecies, based upon mathematically determined physical properties that may/may not apply to chaotic, non-linear environments.linear

  76. Craig Loehle says:

    re: izen: your link http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/phod/dac/dacdata.php

    is for the drifter SST floaters, not the Argo data. Both Josh Willis and the official contact at NOAA say the Argo data are being QA’d right now.

  77. ddd says:

    Are you sure that the quality of the ARGO data is “evident”?

    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/2011JTECHO831.1

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