Tisdale on IPCC Models Versus Sea Surface Temperature Observations During The Recent Warming Period

Guest post by Bob Tisdale

OVERVIEW

This post compares satellite-based Sea Surface Temperature (SST) anomalies to the hindcasts and projections of the multi-model mean of CMIP3 models. CMIP3 is the archive the IPCC used as the source of their models for AR4. The period being discussed runs from November 1981 to November 2011. This covers most of the recent warming period that began in the mid-1970s.

There are two modes of natural climate variability discussed in this post: the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). For those new to ENSO, refer to An Introduction To ENSO, AMO, and PDO – Part 1. And for those new to the AMO, refer to An Introduction To ENSO, AMO, and PDO — Part 2.

This post also illustrates the multiyear aftereffects of the 1986/87/88 and 1997/98 El Niño events on the Sea Surface Temperature anomalies of the Atlantic, Indian, and West Pacific Oceans. Those oceans cover approximately 67% of the surface area of the global oceans. I have presented the processes that cause the multiyear aftereffects of those ENSO events in numerous posts over the past few years, so they will not be discussed in detail in this post. For those interested in learning about those processes, I discussed them and illustrated them with time-series graphs and with animated maps of sea surface temperature anomalies and other variables, most recently, in a two-part series: ENSO Indices Do Not Represent The Process Of ENSO Or Its Impact On Global Temperature and Supplement To “ENSO Indices Do Not Represent The Process Of ENSO Or Its Impact On Global Temperature”.

NOTE: The data in this post have been adjusted for the effects of volcanic aerosols.

INTRODUCTION

In the recent series of posts that compare the IPCC hindcasts for 20th Century surface temperatures to observed surface temperatures (see here, here, here, and here), the only time period when models consistently agreed with observations was the late warming period, from 1976 to 2000. But even that is misleading, because it gives the incorrect impression that anthropogenic forcings such as Carbon Dioxide were responsible for the rise in surface temperatures. Illustrating the error in that assumption is relatively easy when Sea Surface Temperature anomaly data is adjusted for the impacts of major volcanic eruptions and when the global data is divided into two subsets: the East Pacific (coordinates of 90S-90N, 180-80W) and the Rest-Of-The-World (90S-90N, 80W-180). Refer to the map in Figure 1 for an illustration of those areas. And Figure 2 is a comparison of the Sea Surface Temperature anomalies for those two subsets.

Figure 1

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Figure 2

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DATA

The Sea Surface Temperature anomaly data used in this post is Reynolds OI.v2. It combines bias-corrected satellite observations for more complete coverage and in situ observations from buoys and ships. The Reynolds OI.v2 Sea Surface Temperature data covers the period of November 1981 to November 2011, or 30 years. The Reynolds OI.v2 data is available through the NOAA NOMADS website here. There is another reason why the Reynolds OI.v2 data is used in this post: Smith and Reynolds (2004) Improved Extended Reconstruction of SST (1854-1997)stated about the Reynolds OI.v2 data:

“Although the NOAA OI analysis contains some noise due to its use of different data types and bias corrections for satellite data, it is dominated by satellite data and gives a good estimate of the truth.”

The truth is a good thing.

We’ll also be using the multi-model mean of the Sea Surface Temperature data that was produced by the climate models in the CMIP3 archive, where CMIP3 stands for Phase 3 of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project. CMIP3 is the archive the IPCC used as the source of climate model data for its 4th Assessment Report. The CMIP3 Sea Surface Temperature data, identified as TOS, is available through the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) Climate Explorer website, specifically at their Monthly CMIP3+ scenario runswebpage. We have discussed in the recent posts that the multi-model mean represents the natural and anthropogenic forced component of the IPCC’s climate model outputs. And during the period we’ll be evaluating, it is the IPCC’s contention that anthropogenic forcings are the cause of the rise in surface temperatures.

The last discussion about the data is how the adjustments were made to account for the volcanic aerosols. The observational and model mean data are adjusted for the effects of volcanic aerosols, which would have major impacts on how the data was perceived during and for a few years after the explosive volcanic eruptions of El Chichon (1982) and Mount Pinatubo (1991). To determine the scaling factor for the volcanic aerosol proxy, I used a linear regression software tool (Analyse-it for Excel) with global Sea Surface Temperature anomalies as the dependent variable and GISS Stratospheric Aerosol Optical Thickness data (Source ) as the independent variable. The scaling factor determined was 1.431. This equals a global SST anomaly impact of approximately 0.2 deg C for the 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption. To simplify and standardize the adjustments I’ve applied the same scaling factor to both the observed Sea Surface Temperature data and the model outputs. And I used the same adjustments for all subsets. As you will see, it slightly overcorrects in some instances and under-corrects a little in others. But since the adjustments are the same for the model outputs and instrument-based observations, they have no impact on the trend comparisons.

EAST PACIFIC SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURE COMPARISON

Figure 3 compares the Sea Surface Temperature anomalies of the East Pacific Ocean (90S-90N, 180-80W) to the scaled Sea Surface Temperature anomalies of the NINO3.4 region of the equatorial Pacific (5S-5N, 170W-120W). NINO3.4 Sea Surface Temperature anomalies are a commonly used index of the frequency and magnitude of El Niño and La Niña events, and I’ve scaled them (multiplied them by a factor of 0.22) because the variations in Sea Surface Temperature in that area of the equatorial Pacific are about 4.5 times greater than those of the East Pacific Ocean. As illustrated, the Sea Surface Temperature anomalies of the East Pacific mimic the NINO3.4 Sea Surface Temperature anomalies.

Figure 3

Figure 4 compares the observed Sea Surface Temperature anomalies of the East Pacific to the CMIP3 Multi-Model Mean for the same coordinates. The first thing that stands out is the difference in the year-to-year variability. The observed variations in Sea Surface Temperature due to the ENSO events are much greater than those of the Multi-Model Mean. Keep in mind when viewing the model-observations comparisons in this post that the model mean is the average of all of the ensemble members. And since the variations in the individual ensemble members are basically random, they will smooth out with the averaging. The average, therefore, represents the forced component (from natural and anthropogenic forcings) of the models. And it’s the forced component of the model data we’re interested in illustrating and comparing with the observations in this post, not the big wiggles associated with ENSO.

Figure 4

The difference in the linear trends between the Multi-Model Mean and the observations is also extremely significant. That is the focus of this post. The linear trend of the Multi-Model Mean is 0.114 deg C per decade for the East Pacific Ocean. This means, based on the linear trend of the Multi-Model Mean, that anthropogenic forcings should have raised the East Pacific Sea Surface Temperature anomalies, from pole to pole, by more than 0.34 deg C over the past 30 years. But the observed Sea Surface Temperature anomalies have actually declined. The East Pacific Ocean dataset represents about 33% of the surface area of the global oceans, and the Sea Surface Temperature anomalies there have not risen in response to the forcings of anthropogenic greenhouse gases.

THE REST-OF-THE-WORLD COMPARISON

The Sea Surface Temperature anomalies and Multi-Model Mean for the Rest-Of-The-World (Atlantic, Indian, and West Pacific Oceans) from pole to pole are shown in Figure 5. The linear trend of the multi-model mean shows that the models have overestimated the warming by about 23%.

Figure 5

But even that is misleading, because the observed Sea Surface Temperature anomalies only rose in response to significant El Niño-La Nina events, and during the 9- and 11-year periods between those ENSO events, the observed Sea Surface Temperatures are remarkably flat. This is illustrated first in Figure 6, using the period average Sea Surface Temperature anomalies between the significant El Niño events, and second, in Figure 7, by showing the linear trends of the instrument-based observations data between the 1986/87/88 and 1997/98 El Niño events and between the 1997/98 and 2009/10 El Niño events.

Figure 6

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Figure 7

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As you will note, I’ve isolated the significant El Niño events of 1982/83, 1986/87/88, 1997/98, and 2009/10. To accomplish this, I used the NOAA Oceanic Nino Index (ONI) to determine the official months of those El Niño events. There is a 6-month lag between NINO3.4 SST anomalies and the response of the Rest-Of-The-World SST anomalies during the evolution phase of the 1997/98 El Niño. So I lagged the ONI data by six months and deleted the Rest-Of-The-World SST data that corresponded to the 1982/83, 1986/87/88, 1998/98, and 2009/10 El Niño events. All other months of data remain.

Note: The El Niño event of 1982/83 was counteracted by the volcanic eruption of El Chichon, so its apparent role in the long-term warming is minimal.

And what do the climate models show should have taken place during the periods between those ENSO events?

For the period between the 1986/87/88 and the 1997/98 El Niño events, Figure 8, the model mean shows a positive linear trend of 0.044 deg C per decade, while the observed linear trend is negative, at -0.01 deg C per decade. The difference of 0.054 deg C per decade is significant.

Figure 8

The difference between the linear trends is even more significant between the El Niño events of 1997/98 and 2009/10, as shown in Figure 9. The linear trend of the observations is basically flat, while trend of the models is relatively high at 0.16 deg C per decade.

Figure 9

Keep in mind that the model mean, according to the IPCC, represents the anthropogenically forced component of the climate models during the period of 1981 to 2011. Unfortunately for the models, there is no evidence of anthropogenic forcing in the East Pacific Ocean Sea Surface Temperature data or in the Sea Surface Temperature data for the Rest Of The World.

Let’s subdivide the Rest-Of-The-World data even more. This will illustrate why the Sea Surface Temperature anomalies between the significant ENSO events are flat.

THE NORTH ATLANTIC AND THE SOUTH ATLANTIC-INDIAN-WEST PACIFIC SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURE ANOMALY DATA

Figure 10 is a map that shows how the data for the additional discussions were subdivided. Basically, this was done to isolate the North Atlantic from the additional ocean basins in the Rest-Of-The-World data. And the observed Sea Surface Temperature anomalies for those two subsets are shown in Figure 11. As illustrated, the linear trend of the North Atlantic Sea Surface Temperature anomalies is significantly higher than the linear trend of the South Atlantic-Indian-West Pacific subset. This higher trend in the North Atlantic data is caused by the additional mode of natural variability known as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. And as we will see, the forced component of the models (the model mean) does not account for the additional variability in the North Atlantic attributable to the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation.

Figure 10

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Figure 11

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Note: The North Atlantic Sea Surface Temperature anomalies for datasets like the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation data are normally depicted by the coordinates of 0-70N, 80W-0. Here they include 0-90N, 80W-40E to capture the Mediterranean Sea and corresponding portion of the Arctic Ocean leftover from the other subsets. The additional surface area has little impacton the North Atlantic Sea Surface Temperature anomaly data presented here. But to differentiate it from the other versions of the North Atlantic data, I’ve called it “North Atlantic Plus” in the graphs.

“NORTH ATLANTIC PLUS” COMPARISON

The North Atlantic is the only ocean basin where the models underestimate the long-term trend of the satellite-era Sea Surface Temperature data. See Figure 12. (Also refer to Part 1 and Part 2of an earlier two-part post comparing the Reynolds OI.v2 Sea Surface Temperature dataset to the same CMIP3 Multi-Model Mean, but note that the data in those posts have not been adjusted for volcanic aerosols.) Based on the linear trends, the models have underestimated the warming of the North Atlantic by nearly 35%. Again, the North Atlantic has an additional mode of natural variability called the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation or AMO. It seems very obvious that the multi-model mean fails to hindcast and project this additional variability.

Figure 12

And for those interested, I’ve also provided graphs that compare the model mean and observed trends between the significant El Niño events. As shown in Figure 13, the models underestimate the warming that took place between the El Niño events of 1986/87/88 and 1997/98. And as illustrated in Figure 14, the models overestimated the rise in North Atlantic Sea Surface Temperatures between the 1997/98 and 2009/10 El Niño events.

Figure 13

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Figure 14

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Let’s take a look at the South Pacific, Indian, and West Pacific comparison. As many of you are aware, I like to save the best for last.

SOUTH ATLANTIC-INDIAN-WEST PACIFIC COMPARISON

Figure 15 compares long-term observed Sea Surface Temperature anomalies and the Multi-Model Mean for the South Atlantic, Indian, and West Pacific Oceans. This is basically the portion of the “Rest-Of-The-World” dataset that is not included in the “North Atlantic Plus” data. As illustrated, the trend of the Multi-Model Mean is about 62% higher than the trend of the observed data. That is, the forced component of the models has over predicted the rise in Sea Surface Temperature anomalies for this subset by a substantial amount.

Figure 15

But the long-term trends are again misleading. The South Atlantic-Indian-West Pacific Sea Surface Temperature anomalies only rise during the significant El Niño events of 1986/87, 1997/98, and 2009/10. Between those events, the Sea Surface Temperature anomalies drop.

Figure 16 compares the observed South Atlantic-Indian-West Pacific Sea Surface Temperature anomalies to the Multi-Model Mean between the 1986/87/88 and 1997/98 El Niño events. The anthropogenic forcings have driven the model-mean upwards during this period, but the linear trend of the observations show that Sea Surface Temperatures declined. And the difference of 0.093 deg C per decade is a major difference. But that’s small compared to the difference between the linear trends of the observations and the model mean for the period between the El Niño events of 1997/98 and 2009/10. That difference is almost 0.18 deg C per decade.

Figure 16

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Figure 17

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CLOSING COMMENT

As illustrated in the two earlier posts that use these same datasets (see here and here), the Multi-Model Mean of the CMIP3 coupled ocean-atmosphere climate models do not hindcast and project the Sea Surface Temperature anomalies in any ocean basin, when the data is presented on times-series basis and on a zonal mean (latitude-based) basis. (The model mean of the West Pacific subset may look good on a time-series basis, but not on a zonal mean basis.)

This post confirms the Multi-Model Mean (the forced component of the climate models) does a poor job of hindcasting and projecting the actual rise in global Sea Surface Temperature anomalies, when the data is broken down into two logical subsets: the East Pacific Ocean and the Rest-Of-The-World. The post also illustrates the very basic reasons for that rise.

The models used by the IPCC for their hindcasts and projections assume that anthropogenic greenhouse gases drove the rise in Sea Surface Temperature anomalies from November 1981 to present. This is illustrated by the model mean, which represents the forced component of the models.

But the Sea Surface Temperature anomalies of the East Pacific Ocean (90S-90N, 180-80W) have not risen in 30 years. Refer to Figure 18.

Figure 18

And for the Rest-Of-The-World (90S-90N, 80W-180), Figure 19, the Sea Surface Temperature anomalies only rose during, and in response to, the 1986/87/88, 1997/98, and 2009/10 El Niño events.

Figure 19

There is no evidence that anthropogenic greenhouse gases have had any impact on the East Pacific Sea Surface Temperature anomalies (90S-90N, 180-80W) or on the Sea Surface Temperature anomalies for the Rest Of The World (90S-90N, 80W-180).

ABOUT: Bob Tisdale – Climate Observations

SOURCES

The model mean data is found at the KNMI Climate Explorer Monthly CMIP3+ scenario runs webpage. The Reynolds OI.v2 Sea Surface Temperature anomaly data is available through the NOAA NOMADS website here. And the GISS aerosol optical depth data used to make the adjustments for volcanic aerosols can be found at the Stratospheric Aerosol Optical Thickness webpage, specifically this data.

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101 Responses to Tisdale on IPCC Models Versus Sea Surface Temperature Observations During The Recent Warming Period

  1. Juraj V. says:

    The only explanation is, that the “radiative forcings” in the models are just thick arows in K-H diagrams, something of unphysical character, not observed. On the other hand, we have a plenty of natural mechanisms to explain watts have been happening around.
    For those who have not noticed, North Atlantic SST peaked around 2006 and now goes at the same rate down. Popcorn times ahead.

  2. Bob Tisdale says:

    Thanks, Anthony.

    And happy holidays to all.

  3. crosspatch says:

    Well, the response to that is going to be (with considerable uncertainty) “the anthropogenic heat gets stored up ‘in the pipeline’ somewhere and is ‘released’ during El Nino events” and they would take these graphs as “proof” of that.

  4. HB says:

    I love your straight forward, well illustrated stories, no fudged data, no hype. Wonderful stuff Bob.

  5. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    Bob – Thank you again for excellent analysis! The logical conclusion as a long time modeller is the GCM assumptions need a good bit of a look. My first step (if I was a GCM person) would be to see how climate sensitivity was handled then do some runs with it as a variable. I suspect that this would show a derived climate sensitivity much closer to that of LC2011 and SB2010 than any of the numbers in AR4. So I am not suprised that I’ve seen no analysis of this sort being done by consensus climate modellers.

  6. M.A.Vukcevic says:

    I applied the same principle to the North Atlantic, North and Equatorial Pacific and found natural sources of the individual oscillations:
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/PDOc.htm
    or to put it simply
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/AP.htm
    Of course any climate or oceanographer scientist is free to dismiss it, until all data has been published, but that will happen in due course.

  7. jorgekafkazar says:

    Nice. Thanks, Bob.

  8. Stephen Wilde says:

    Bob,

    Could additional GHGs in the air whether natural or not have contributed to the slight cooling in the East Pacific Ocean due to enhanced evaporative cooling caused by more energy in the air?

    Apart from that, the failure of that region to warm up despite an active sun, less cloudiness globally and more CO2 could be telling us that the natural mechanisms of equator to pole energy transfer are well capable of changing their speed and capacity to prevent an overall increase in system energy content (when the oceans are included).

    I have in mind the speed and size of the water cycle and the latitudinal positions of the permanent climate zones.

  9. Bloke down the pub says:

    I have a bit of a problem with the idea that if you remove the El Niños, the trend of anomaly is flat. A staircase with treads and risers of 12″ each will have a slope of 45° but if you ignore the risers the ‘trend’ would be flat, but I don’t think you could convince many people that that was realistic.

  10. David says:

    This is all very interesting. But somebody help me out, as I am NOT a climatologist. The question in my mind is: WHY is El Nino step-wise warming a one-way street? Do we actually know what causes the El Nino warming? And if this is a cycle that balances out, what is the mechanism that would reverse the warming associated with El Nino cycles? Why is there no comparable hysteresis apparent in La Nina cycles??

  11. crosspatch says:

    WHY is El Nino step-wise warming a one-way street?

    I don’t think it is. For example, in figure 7 you see gradual cooling between events. What I believe happens during the conditions that cause an El Nino is that ocean circulation slows down a little. This allows surface temperatures to rise in places that might not be intuitive but are connected by ocean circulation patterns. Now mind you, that is my own personal speculation. But a El Nino event sees slack trade winds. Ocean circulation is due to winds. Reduced circulation MIGHT mean that the surface gets warmer. Now a La Nina event will directly cool the Eastern Pacific due to increased trade winds but will have less impact on places like the Arctic and the Med. Anyway, I believe it takes a while to get that circulation going again. IF that is true, if we got into a period of persistent La Nina conditions, we should see an increase in circulation patterns and possibly a cooling at the surface. I don’t know, the system is very complex.

  12. Theo Goodwin says:

    Thanks again for another wonderful post, Mr. Tisdale. The graphs are great. Happy Holidays to you, Sir.

  13. crosspatch says:

    In other words, the reduced upwelling off the West coast of South America during an El Nino event might have circulation impacts that manifest in other places.

  14. Theo Goodwin says:

    Bloke down the pub says:
    December 19, 2011 at 1:48 pm
    “I have a bit of a problem with the idea that if you remove the El Niños, the trend of anomaly is flat. A staircase with treads and risers of 12″ each will have a slope of 45° but if you ignore the risers the ‘trend’ would be flat, but I don’t think you could convince many people that that was realistic.”

    Good point. The solution is that the risers are a permanent feature of the stairs, as would be an incremental increase caused by CO2, but no individual El Nino is a permanent feature of the oceans. Taking this point beyond anything Mr. Tisdale said, El Nino look to be causes here and not incremental increases in CO2 concentrations.

  15. John B says:

    @Bloke down the pub and David

    The is no rationale behind the assumption that El Nino events cause a trend. For the opposite take on this, that a look at:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/pics/SkepticsvRealistsv3.gif

    From this page:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/going-down-the-up-escalator-part-1.html

  16. Philip Bradley says:

    Could additional GHGs in the air whether natural or not have contributed to the slight cooling in the East Pacific Ocean due to enhanced evaporative cooling caused by more energy in the air?

    Stephen, ‘more energy in the air’ , ie higher air temperatures, will cause less evaporative cooling of the oceans.

    The ocean surface is on average about 2C warmer than the atmosphere above it and this heat gradient drives heat transfer from the ocean to the atmosphere mostly by evaporation.

  17. M.A.Vukcevic says:

    David says:
    December 19, 2011 at 1:59 pm
    But somebody help me out, as I am NOT a climatologist.
    I am not either, but here is my simple guide to global warming/cooling anyway.
    Oceans!
    – There is no large extra heat input from the sun, it oscillates but not to a degree to cause either significant warming or cooling.
    – Heat flux up to 30-40 degrees latitude is downwards, there is more heat in then out. Excess energy is taken pole-ward by ocean currents.
    – Higher latitudes heat flux is upwards, i.e. more heat out than in, the deficit in heat is supplied by ocean currents from equatorial regions.
    Atlantic’s Gulf stream and in the Pacific’s Kuroshio current take heat northwards. Rise in the volume and velocity of these currents takes more heat pole-wards, warming northern seas and lands; result global warming.
    http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/images/oceancurrents.gif
    Fall in volume and velocity of the two currents, less heat moved pole-ward, excess heat instead of going north is irradiated in the equatorial regions; result global cooling.
    There is similar process in the Southern Hemisphere.
    In the Pacific there is also east-west equatorial current system, which is linked to the pole-ward currents system.
    There are three major drivers North Atlantic (Gulf stream – the AMO), North Pacific (Kuroshio current- the PDO) and Equatorial Pacific (Equatorial counter current- ENSO). Last two drivers operate a push-pull arrangement, hence synchronisation of the PDO and the ENSO.
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/PDOc.htm
    Sun provides the energy, CO2 doesn’t have any significant role to play.
    Once the Earth’s axis is tilted sufficiently (Milankovic), the surplus heat taken North is insufficient to stop the Arctic’s excess ice build up; result the Ice age.
    Sometime in the near future I shall provide data and explain mechanism of the three drivers mentioned above, till than if you can search for more acceptable hypothesis, if inclined to do so.

  18. Ulric Lyons says:

    David says:
    December 19, 2011 at 1:59 pm
    “Do we actually know what causes the El Nino warming?”

    Declining solar wind speeds: http://omniweb.gsfc.nasa.gov/tmp/images/ret_13923.gif
    and volcanic aerosols.

  19. John Shade says:

    Another useful study. Another brick in the wall of our defences against the gross alarmism pushed by the IPCC. But what a diversion of energy and talent, not just for correcting the shoddy science or hyperbole of that alarmism, but for the fact that it is also an act of rebellion against a powerful and reactionary political establishment! That is wearisome.

    I think the reality is that if CO2-alarmism had never been invented, there is nothing at all in the weather of the past 30 years (to pick a time period of particular interest to the alarmists), that would have otherwise been highlighted as astonishing or as a source of unusual concern. And since ‘business as usual’ is not in general a big magnet for the media, we might still have had a decent and civil culture in the baby science of climatology. As it is, we have had a very unpleasant and multiply degrading 20 years or more (maybe the 1988 hearings are a handy marker for the clear onset of the degradation). A recovery path, other than the present generation of climate loud mouths (I cannot bring myself to call them leaders) merely fading into their dotages, is not at all clear to me. The prospect of their suddenly being deprived of their funding and their baubles and accolades does not seem plausible, but that prospect would hold out a tiny glimmer of hope for an earlier progress.

  20. Bob Tisdale says:

    Stephen Wilde says: “Could additional GHGs in the air whether natural or not have contributed to the slight cooling in the East Pacific Ocean due to enhanced evaporative cooling caused by more energy in the air?”

    Any answer would be conjecture. Suffice it to say that the Sea Surface Temperature record shows no evidence of an Anthropogenic Greenhouse Gas contribution.

    Enjoy your holidays, Stephen.

  21. Robt319 says:

    So there has been no rise in SST of the East Pac in 30 yrs, throw in Antarctica and that’s about 27% of the surface in one slice from north to south. My question is, how has GLOBAL warming managed to jump from 80W to 180W without leaving a trace, is there less CO2 in the atmosphere there? It seems to me that this global warming is based on one period of 20 yrs from 1978 to 1998. Take that out or explain it naturally and the whole theory goes away. I believe that in 1998 the team were saying that natural variability like ENSO was just noise and would be swamped by CO2 but now they are saying that natural variability has managed to flatten the temp trend. Clearly the science of climate is very complicated but as others have pointed out, it’s not about the science, it’s politics.

  22. Bob Tisdale says:

    David says: “WHY is El Nino step-wise warming a one-way street?”

    Is it? It has been a one-way street for a few recent decades. However, from the 1940s to the late 1970s, the frequency and magnitudes of El Nino and La Nina events were such that La Nina events dominated by a slight margin. Global surface temperatures did not rise.

    You asked, “Do we actually know what causes the El Nino warming?”

    Unfortunately, that is an open question and I’d need you to be more specific. But if you’re looking for detailed descriptions of the source of warm water for El Nino events, of how an El Nino forms and then turns into a La Nina, what causes surface temperatures around the globe to vary in response to them, etc., those are covered in the following introduction post…
    http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2010/08/08/an-introduction-to-enso-amo-and-pdo-%e2%80%93-part-1/
    … and in the discussion of ENSO indices (this is one of my favorite posts):
    http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2011/07/26/enso-indices-do-not-represent-the-process-of-enso-or-its-impact-on-global-temperature/

    You asked, “And if this is a cycle that balances out, what is the mechanism that would reverse the warming associated with El Nino cycles?

    A multidecadal period when La Nina events truly dominated? Since the 2007/08 ENSO season, La Nina events have outnumbered El Nino events 4 to 2. Is this the start of new period of La Nina domination? Dunno. I’m an observer who’s along for the ride.

    You asked, “Why is there no comparable hysteresis apparent in La Nina cycles??”

    We haven’t hit a multidecadal period from the 1850s to present (period of instrument temperature record) when La Nina events dominated by a wide margin. Something caused Sea Surface Temperature anomalies to drop significantly from the 1870s until 1910…
    http://bobtisdale.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/figure-143.png
    …and it wasn’t volcanic eruptions or solar according to the IPCC’s climate models:
    http://bobtisdale.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/figure-191.png

    You have to keep in mind that, before the 1950s, tropical Pacific Sea Surface source data (the measurements) are sparse enough that the ENSO-related data is sketchy. Before the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914, that data is very sparse and the datasets that infill missing data are presenting lots of assumed data. And tropical Pacific Sea Surface Temperature source data becomes nonexistent as you go further back in time.

  23. crosspatch says:

    “Do we actually know what causes the El Nino warming?”

    I will say it probably isn’t the El Nino itself but it manifests after the El Nino. I am going to guess that it is the extreme La Nina conditions that tend to bracket the El Nino.

    For example, we had a period from 1990 to about 1995 with positive conditions. As you can see in figure 7, rest of the world ocean temperatures dropped during that time. We had the Great Climate Change of 1976 after a prolonged period of negative conditions. You will notice that after the 1988 El Nino we had a rather deep La Nina event. Then we go back to El Nino conditions for a rather long time and the rest of the world cools off a bit. Then we get the 1998 very large El Nino. The rest of the world begins to cool off as that event falls off but then we go into a rather strong and long La Nina condition that prevents it from cooling off. Then we go to El Nino conditions from about 2003 to 2006 and I believe actually see a very slight cooling trend there.

    Now there is one part of this graph in Figure 19 that I believe Mr. Tisdale misses. That is the strong La Nina condition is when the “rest of the world” actually heats up. If you look at figure 19, the trend he shows post-2010 El Nino is actually established BEFORE the 2010 El Nino and is established by the 2008 La Nina.

    It is counter-intuitive in some respects but when the Pacific is cooling from La Nina, the ocean is actually GAINING energy. Large El Nino events are often immediately followed by large La Nina events. I believe it is these La Nina events that keep the energy levels up and prevent the temperatures from recovering back to the old trend. The very strong 2008 La Nina that occurred without a preceding very strong El Nino to hide its work reveals what is going on.

    The post 2010 trend shown in figure 19 is actually established by the 2008 La Nina BEFORE that El Nino happens. 2009 rest of the world temperatures were already elevated before the 2010 El Nino happened.

  24. crosspatch says:

    During a La Nina event, the Eastern Pacific is cooling but it is also causing a warm anomaly in the Indian, and Western Pacific oceans. The same atmospheric pressure anomalies that cause an increase in trade winds across the Pacific cause a DECREASE in trade winds across the Atlantic. This is one reason why Atlantic tropical storms tend to increase in La Nina years. A La Nina condition often creates the analog of an El Nino condition in the Atlantic. There is reduced trade winds, higher sea surface temperature, lower wind shear conditions and a propensity for storm development. But the energy doesn’t balance because the Pacific is much larger than the Atlantic. If they were exactly the same size, a increase in energy in the Pacific would be balanced by a decrease in energy in the Atlantic and global ocean energy would remain at a net balance though redistributed somewhat.

    So in a La Nina year you have: Cool Eastern Pacific with warm Indian and Western Pacific along with a warm Tropical Atlantic (and maybe a cool Northern Atlantic and Southern Atlantic) so Eastern Pacific temperatures drop but the sum of the rest of the world increases.

  25. markus says:

    crosspatch says:
    December 19, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    WHY is El Nino step-wise warming a one-way street?

    “”I don’t think it is. For example, in figure 7 you see gradual cooling between events. What I believe happens during the conditions that cause an El Nino is that ocean circulation slows down a little. (Redacted). Ocean circulation is due to winds. (Redacted). Anyway, I believe it takes a while to get that circulation going again. IF that is true, if we got into a period of persistent La Nina conditions, we should see an increase in circulation patterns and possibly a cooling at the surface. I don’t know, the system is very complex.””

    Ocean circulation slows down during El Nino would be right, at least for most of the earths waters, Cooling of the surface during La Nina might be right, but IMHO Ocean circulation is not only due to winds e.g; upwelling, convective heat transfer. I’ve considered Ocean circulation causing La Nina/El Nino switch is due to earths physical black(for that matter white)-body radiation applied to transportation rules. The switch does follow solar radiation, and the variables (currents, volumes, air flow, etc, etc, etc) can be measured, predicatively. Moreover, with known hind-cast (cycles) (600 yr, 60 yr, 11 yr) it would be a very long bow to suggest that SST has anything much to do with CO2.

    And that is what my Hero, Bob Tisdale says.

  26. Bob Tisdale says:

    John B says: “The is no rationale behind the assumption that El Nino events cause a trend. For the opposite take on this, that a look at…”

    Your statement indicates YOU do not understand ENSO, and that’s why I included links to the introductory post at the beginning:
    http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2010/08/08/an-introduction-to-enso-amo-and-pdo-%e2%80%93-part-1/

    And the gif animation and post at SkepticalScience you linked further display the fact that you only looked at the graphs above and didn’t bother to read my post or the posts that I linked that discussed, illustrated, and animated the processes that cause the upward shifts that I’ve presented. If you had, and if you had understood them, you would not have presented those SkepticalScience links.Here are the links to my posts that you obviously failed to read:
    http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2011/07/26/enso-indices-do-not-represent-the-process-of-enso-or-its-impact-on-global-temperature/
    And here’s part 2:
    http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2011/08/07/supplement-to-enso-indices-do-not-represent-the-process-of-enso-or-its-impact-on-global-temperature/

    And please don’t come back here with links to the nonsensical SkepticalScience posts that say that ENSO is a cycle and as such cannot contribute to a positive trend. The authors of those posts simply broadcast their misunderstandings about ENSO with those statements. They think ENSO is an index. They think ENSO only relates to little rectangular regions along the equatorial Pacific where Sea Surface Temperatures are measured and called ENSO indices. Refer to the last two posts I linked for you above.

    Have a nice day…and a happy holiday.

  27. crosspatch says:

    Well, the thing is the mechanism that drives El Nino / La Nina are pressure differences between the Eastern and Western Pacific that increase or decrease winds. The situation on the opposite side of the globe tends to be different (the opposite). And don’t get me wrong, I love reading Tisdale. That is where I learned that and how I understood how La Nina is actually a net increase in ocean energy even though the surface is cooler!

    I have a lot of respect for Mr. Tisdale. I am just pointing out that the graph in Figure 19 shows the post 2010 El Nino trend is already established before the El Nino. And I believe it was the 2008 La Nina that did it. We normally can’t see that because we often go directly from El Nino into La Nina and so the impact of the La Nina is to moderate the recovery from the previous El Nino. So looking at that on a graph, it would be a natural conclusion to believe that the El Nino caused the change in trend because you see one trend before the El Nino and a different after. That would be a normal conclusion to reach. But I think it is the La Nina that comes immediately after the El Nino that prevents the recovery to the old trend.

    It just so happens that in the data series in figure 19 we happen to “catch ” a significant La Nina happening without a strong preceding El Nino and we see the new “rest of the world” trend established during that event. There is, as far as I can see, no difference in trend in the 1.5 years or so before the 2010 event and the trend immediately after. But we might NOW be pushing that trend up because now we are in a protracted La Nina condition which will add energy to the overall system.

    I think it is La Nina that boosts the trend, not El Nino.

    El Nino is a net loss of energy from the sea to the atmosphere. La Nina is a net gain.

  28. RoHa says:

    Let me try to fight mey way past the wriggly lines and get this into terms I can understand.

    “IPCC say CO2 make sea get hot. Sea no get hot. IPCC full of it.”

    Is that it?

  29. markus says:

    crosspatch says:
    December 19, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    “”El Nino is a net loss of energy from the sea to the atmosphere. La Nina is a net gain.””

    Given a multi-modal system isn’t the gain from La Nina diminished from the net loss of El Nino differences in the east pacific at South America, if we are talking about a global energy system? I would possibly agree there are regional energy gains during these phenomena.

    I do understand your conviction that winds drive the La Nina/El Nino mechanism, and yes, air pressure has that effect on the Ocean and Ocean circulation, however, IMHO a stronger driver for La Nina/El Nino is the SST itself and a tipping of it between the east and west pacific waters, due to Temp transport (convection) through the Ocean undercurrents. Thanks for your patience, crosspatch, I’m still learning.

  30. For anybody interested in Australian temps, it might be worth looking at the BoM’s 14 coastal SEAFRAME stations that monitor various trends including sea air temperatures since 1991. The temps are all packaged at http://www.waclimate.net/sea/sea-air-temperatures.html

    The 14 stations combined might suggest a temp increase around .2C over the past 20 years but the data is worth closer examination …

    • The general trend was for northern warm latitudes to have cooling sea air temperatures, in line with records from the land stations, with southern stations increasing in temperature. All three Western Australia stations were flat or slightly cooler since 1991 despite claims the Indian Ocean has been warming.

    • The overall increase was mostly because of Australia’s populated south east quarter, the exception being the Cocos Islands. For example, Portland Victoria sea air temperatures would seem to have gone up by about 1C since 1995.

  31. crosspatch says:

    Is there something akin to nino3.4 for the equatorial Atlantic? It would probably be something smaller but I would be interested in the sea surface temperatures for a region that is analogous to Nino3.4. I want to see if there are cycles similar to Nino/Nina only in the Atlantic (lets call them Bubba and Sissy … though it might be BS for short, I don’t know yet). I am wondering something.

    Usually when we have somewhat opposite conditions in the equatorial Pacific and Atlantic. What I am wondering is if we ever get what I might call a “super cycle” where we have strong trades or weak trades in BOTH regions at the same time and what their impact might be. So like maybe a Nino/Bubba or a Nina/Sissy rather than the two being out of phase with each other.

  32. pat says:

    read all:

    19 Dec: NYT: Dot Earth: Andrew C. Revkin: Climate Panel Needs to Follow its Own Advice
    I believe it’s time for Rajendra K. Pachauri to take a new approach to discussing climate change or leave the chairmanship of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change after nearly a decade in that position. There is an unavoidable and counterproductive blurriness to the line between his personal advocacy for climate action — which is his right as an individual — and his stature as the leader of the panel, which was established in 1988 as “a policy relevant but policy neutral organization.”
    The latest crystallization of this problem came last Thursday, when Pachauri participated in a meeting on “Extreme Climate Risks and California’s Future,” organized by California Gov. Jerry Brown…
    http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/19/climate-panel-needs-to-follow-its-own-advice/

  33. pat says:

    more models…

    19 Dec: Miami Herald: Pat Brennan: NASA: Warming will transform natural world
    Global warming could bring a major transformation for Earth’s plants and animals over the next century, a NASA study says, driving nearly half the planet’s forests, grasslands and other vegetation toward conversion into radically different ecosystems.
    The ecological stress could give a boost to invasive species, but at the expense of natives, reducing the diversity of plants and animals overall.
    And humans are likely, almost literally, to cut them off at the pass: When plants and animals attempt to survive by shifting their geographical ranges, as they have in past episodes of climate change, they’ll be blocked by farms and cities.
    “If half the world is driven to change its vegetation cover, and meanwhile, we’ve fragmented the surface of the Earth by putting in parking lots and monoculture agricultural zones and all these other impediments to natural migration, then there could be problems,” said lead author Jon Bergengren, a global ecologist who was a postdoctoral researcher at Caltech when he did the study…
    The far-reaching forecast spans three centuries and relies on powerful computer models of Earth’s climate and vegetation.
    The scientists, including Duane Waliser of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, used a model devised by Bergengren that can forecast the likely community of plants that would develop in any given type of climate.
    The model relies on 110 plant types to represent the thousands of plant species on Earth.
    They plugged in 10 different climate simulations based on 2007 predictions by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change…
    http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/12/19/2553141/nasa-warming-will-transform-natural.html

  34. crosspatch says:

    I do understand your conviction that winds drive the La Nina/El Nino mechanism, and yes, air pressure has that effect on the Ocean and Ocean circulation, however, IMHO a stronger driver for La Nina/El Nino is the SST itself and a tipping of it between the east and west pacific waters, due to Temp transport (convection) through the Ocean undercurrents. Thanks for your patience, crosspatch, I’m still learning.

    It is impossible to have a La Nina without strong trade winds. It just can’t happen. Same as you can not have an El Nino without slack trade winds, that can’t happen, either.

    Something has to blow that surface water Westward. Something has to stop blowing it.

    Oh, and I found the perfect Christmas gift for your favorite climate skeptic:

    “Little Ice Ages, Ancient and Modern,” vols. 1 and 2, 2nd ed., by J. M. Grove

    They’ll probably set you back about $600 or so, though.

  35. crosspatch says:

    Global warming could bring a major transformation for Earth’s plants and animals over the next century, a NASA study says, driving nearly half the planet’s forests, grasslands and other vegetation toward conversion into radically different ecosystems.

    Well, all they have to do is look at what the vegetation was during the Holocene Climate Optimum and that is what it would be like if it warmed considerably from now. Another way of looking at it is that we are undoing the damage that has been done due to global cooling since that time.

  36. R. Gates says:

    Bob,

    I always enjoy your posts, but this quote from you is especially funny:

    “But the long-term trends are again misleading.”
    ____

    I understand your point about El Nino’s and the “step up” in SST’s during these periods, and your notion that SST’s are flat to declining in between, but long-term trends are what we are looking for if the anthropogenic signal is to be seen. Suppose, for sake of argument, that I accept the notion that the increase in SST’s and perhaps even OHC has all been related to El Nino’s. You must have some “step down” period, where we see, more La Nina’s than El Nino’s, and hence, we’ll see declining OHC, right? I suppose this would be a period of a cooler PDO, and perhaps a cool AMO as well? The problem with this notion is that globally, oceans absorb more heat then they release during La Nina’s, thus OHC will increase during such a “step down” cycle. We see this quite readily in the data. So, when would we expect to see OHC decrease, as it has not been during your El Nino driven “step up” periods? The key point here is that SST’s are not the key indicator for anthropogenic warming of the oceans, but rather OHC is, and is continues to rise throughout the full ENSO cycle over the long-term, and this is most certainly not a misleading trend. Please explain when and how you expect to see the real measure of energy in the ocean, OHC (down to the deepest levels we can accurately measure), begin to decrease over the long-term, as it has not for many decades.

  37. mmikeccMikeC says:

    Bob, As always, it is a pleasure reading your work. It is very refreshing to see you using volcanic adjusted SST’s. What you have provided here a clue to the physical mechanisms which support the conclusions of Lindzen, Christy and Spencer… that global temps will rise about 1C per doubling of CO2, not the multitudes suggested by IPCC and etc models.
    What I would point out is that the surface water (slightly warmed by anthropogenic greenhouse gases, and solar since there was a major event during the same time) is blown west by the trades where it accumulates in the warm pool (La Nina) then is discharged by Kelvin waves back into the Nino regions (El Nino), particularly the Large El Ninos (82, 98, 2010), then to higher latitudes.
    For crosspatch and the rest of the gang, I can see that some education in ENSO would be helpful, please take some time to read El Nino for dummies here: http://roqtock.com/id9.html

  38. John West says:

    R. Gates says:
    “but long-term trends are what we are looking for”

    And you’ll have them in a few thousand years, assuming we maintain a database that long.

  39. MikeC says:

    UG! I’m such the typoe master tonite… ENSO for dummies starts here:http://roqtock.com/id8.html

  40. MikeC says:

    Bob, I suppose I could have articulated that last part better .(long day).. The portion of surface water warmed by AGW is stored in the warm pool, then discharged during the El Nino’s, especially the bigger ones. That would explain why there is a step function to the warming.

  41. Brian H says:

    Lotsa yummy sausage-making, here! But there is an obvious conclusion to be drawn, which is evaded.

    This means, based on the linear trend of the Multi-Model Mean, that anthropogenic forcings should have raised the East Pacific Sea Surface Temperature anomalies, from pole to pole, by more than 0.34 deg C over the past 30 years. But the observed Sea Surface Temperature anomalies have actually declined.

    Therefore: anthropogenic forcings are negative.

    Simples!

  42. R. Gates says:

    mmikeccMikeC says:
    December 19, 2011 at 8:58 pm
    What you have provided here a clue to the physical mechanisms which support the conclusions of Lindzen, Christy and Spencer… that global temps will rise about 1C per doubling of CO2, not the multitudes suggested by IPCC and etc models.
    ——–
    I would suggest Bob’s analysis does no such thing. His is an analysis of step-wise increases in SST’s during El Nino cycles and the notion that that surface heat continues on long after the event is officially over. It makes no connection to climate sensitivity per doubling of CO2. Furthermore, the more important metric of energy in the oceans, Ocean Heat Content, shows large increases during the last decade when atmospheric temps have been flat. This of course makes sense, as La Nina’s have been more dominant over the past decade and it is during such periods that the oceans as a whole, retain more heat than they release to the atmosphere. What Bob has yet to explain is when he expects ocean heat content to begin to fall once more as it has been rising pretty steadily for more than 3 decades, through multiple El Nino and La Nina cycles. Simple put, the oceans have been gaining far more heat then they have been able to release during the past 30+ years.

  43. crosspatch says:

    The site is rather, uhm, cartoonish. Maybe I am too much of a dummy to get much out of it.

    Point is when you have an El Nino, yes, the surface temperature is warmer but that is because of a reduction of evaporation from slack trades. At the same time during an El Nino you get more clouds over the equatorial Pacific so a net decrease in the amount of sunlight actually reaching the sea surface or a net decline in energy to the ocean.

    During a La Nina you get more evaporative cooling due to stronger winds but you also get more direct sunlight due to a lack of clouds. La Nina periods are sunnier than normal.

    So overall net energy increases in the entire ocean system during La Nina even though the equatorial surface temperatures are lower. The warm pool holds that energy. As the Indian Ocean heats up, some of that warmer water will slip out in a shallow circulation around Africa and head up toward the Caribbean and eventually become the Gulf Stream. Its going to take about 4 to 6 months for that heat in the Indian ocean warm pool to begin arriving in the sub-arctic. Figuring Nino generally peaks in about January-ish, we should see a warm anomaly appearing in the North Atlantic sometime around May.

    So take this image:

    http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/data/sst/anomaly/2007/anomnight.10.1.2007.gif

    That’s October 1 2007. You see the warm pool building in the Indian Ocean and you notice the warm anomaly around the tip of Africa. Also notice the warm water South of the Aleutians and off the coast of Newfoundland.

    Now: http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/data/sst/anomaly/2008/anomnight.3.3.2008.gif

    By March 2008 you have the warm pool gone in the Indian Ocean but notice the heat anomaly off the tip of Africa and up the Atlantic Seaboard of the US.

    http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/data/sst/anomaly/2008/anomnight.7.3.2008.gif

    By July you have warm water across the North Pacific all the way to off the coast of the Pacific Northwestern US as the equatorial Pacific begins to warm up.

    Lets jump ahead to August 2009 where we have an pretty significant El Nino building.

    http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/data/sst/anomaly/2009/anomnight.8.3.2009.gif

    Notice that now we have exactly the opposite condition in the equatorial Atlantic. We have an El Nino in the Pacific and a “Sissy” in the Atlantic. Weak trades in the Pacific, strong trades in the Atlantic. The Atlantic is much smaller at that point. It can’t really build much of a warm pool except in the Gulf of Mexico.

    By December 2009 we have a “full blown” El Nino:

    http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/data/sst/anomaly/2009/anomnight.12.3.2009.gif

    Northern Pacific is cool. Look off the West Coast of South Africa / Namibia … we now have a cool anomaly. Still cool-ish in the equatorial Atlantic. North Atlantic generally cool-ish except right along the New England coast which is due to a weather feature that has been sitting there for the past few winters making New England rather mild.

    Now lets look at March 2010 http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/data/sst/anomaly/2010/anomnight.3.1.2010.gif

    El Nino beginning to dissipate. Atlantic, particularly the Gulf of Mexico is cool. Trades are beginning to pick up.

  44. Camburn says:

    Thank you Bob and Merry Christmas. This will take more than one read to fully digest.

  45. MikeC says:

    Crosspatch, Please take a look at the cartoonish site again. Your entire premise is mistaken. You are confusing SST’s with warm pools and etc. The entire ENSO is related to some very specific physical mechanisms which occur in the Nino regions.

  46. MikeC says:

    R Gates, quite to the contrary. Look at the amount of temperature change over time as compared to the model runs. His results show clearly that there has been an increase in temperature over time, just that it has occurred in steps. My point was that the warmer surface water from AGW (and probably solar) accumulates in the warm pool until it is discharged by Kelvin wave(s) during El Nino events.

  47. crosspatch says:

    His is an analysis of step-wise increases in SST’s during El Nino cycles

    Well, one thing I have notice is that changes in ocean heat content seem to lag Nino3.4 by a year. For example

    http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/OC5/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/heat_content55-07.png

    Notice the peak just now happening even though we are in a La Nina condition? But look at other peaks. Look at that big one in 2004. It’s a year after the 2003 El Nino. 2001 dip? A year after the 2000 La Nina.

    So ocean heat content seems to lag Nino3.4 by actually pretty close to 12 months.

  48. Brian H says:

    The oceans control the clouds which control insolation which controls the oceans which …

  49. Brian H says:

    Sing along: “La Nina’s connected to the trade winds, …”

  50. wayne Job says:

    Crosspatch and your point is!! Anthony’s site is cartoonish and you come across as a smart arse. Is that what you intended to convey. If you have good solid points to make it is not necessary to be derogative, thus your post is less than it otherwise could have been.

  51. Bob Tisdale says:

    R. Gates: You opened you comment with, “I always enjoy your posts, but this quote from you is especially funny…”

    I’m glad you found it entertaining, but you took it out of context. The two sentences that followed…
    The South Atlantic-Indian-West Pacific Sea Surface Temperature anomalies only rise during the significant El Niño events of 1986/87, 1997/98, and 2009/10. Between those events, the Sea Surface Temperature anomalies drop.
    …were the clarifications. But you later acknowledged that.

    You wrote, “The key point here is that SST’s are not the key indicator for anthropogenic warming of the oceans, but rather OHC is, and is continues to rise throughout the full ENSO cycle over the long-term, and this is most certainly not a misleading trend.”

    Actually, the key point is the SSTs are the primary indicator of anthropogenic warming of the oceans. They are part of the surface temperature record and the surface temperature record is what the IPCC and most others refer to when describing anthropogenic global warming. This post was about how the climate models failed to hindcast and project the rise in SST, not OHC, over the past 30 years, so readers will understand that your off-topic remark is simply an unsuccessful attempt at misdirection.

    The long-term trend is only misleading when bloggers such as you attempt to attribute it solely to anthropogenic global warming. I’ve illustrated and discussed how and where and why OHC has risen in response to ENSO…
    http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2009/09/05/enso-dominates-nodc-ocean-heat-content-0-700-meters-data/
    …and in response to shifts in Sea Level Pressure…
    http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2009/12/30/north-pacific-ocean-heat-content-shift-in-the-late-1980s/
    …and in response to the AMO/AMOC:
    http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2009/10/04/north-atlantic-ocean-heat-content-0-700-meters-is-governed-by-natural-variables/

    I and regular readers here know I’ve furnished you the same links in the past, so readers will simply understand you’re reusing the same old arguments. And we realize you’ll use them in the future and I will respond in kind in the future. I have other things to do with my time. Do you? Apparently not.

    R. Gates asked, “Please explain when and how you expect to see the real measure of energy in the ocean, OHC (down to the deepest levels we can accurately measure), begin to decrease over the long-term, as it has not for many decades.”

    I don’t make predictions and you (should) know that. But one thing is certain, the climate models, like the GISS Model ER, did not predict the flattening of OHC over the past 8 years. And that’s because the AGW hypothesis piggybacked on a period of unusually strong ENSO events, and an upswing in the impacts of the AMO/AMOC on the OHC of the North Atlantic, and a shift in Sea Level Pressure of the North Pacific.
    http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2009/10/23/why-are-ohc-observations-0-700m-diverging-from-giss-projections/
    Since we’re no longer in a period of unusually strong El Niño events and since the North Atlantic OHC has made a downturn, the models projections have grown suspect and are looking as though they will fail.

    Enjoy your holidays, R.Gates

  52. Roger Knights says:

    RoHa says:
    December 19, 2011 at 5:08 pm
    Let me try to fight my way past the wriggly lines and get this into terms I can understand.

    “IPCC say CO2 make sea get hot. Sea no get hot. IPCC full of it.”

    ICPP.

  53. Bob Tisdale says:

    mmikeccMikeC says: “What I would point out is that the surface water (slightly warmed by anthropogenic greenhouse gases, and solar since there was a major event during the same time) is blown west by the trades where it accumulates in the warm pool (La Nina) then is discharged by Kelvin waves back into the Nino regions (El Nino), particularly the Large El Ninos (82, 98, 2010), then to higher latitudes.”

    Your description of what fuels El Nino events needs some work. The tropical Pacific serves as the source of warm water that is released during an El Nino. But there is no evidence that it is “slightly warmed by anthropogenic greenhouse gases”. The NODC OHC data shows that Tropical Pacific OHC…
    http://bobtisdale.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/figure-7.png
    …warmed significantly only during the 1973/74/75/76 La Nina event, the 1995/96 event, and the 1998/99/00/01 event. After those events, OHC declined, with the typical periodic ENSO variations.

    With respect to your El Nino for Dummies, feel free to use the graphs and animations found in the following links as you expand your posts and provide the much-needed additional detail, but please cite the source:
    http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2010/08/08/an-introduction-to-enso-amo-and-pdo-%e2%80%93-part-1/
    And:
    http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2011/07/26/enso-indices-do-not-represent-the-process-of-enso-or-its-impact-on-global-temperature/

    Enjoy your holidays.

  54. Bob Tisdale says:

    crosspatch says: “The site is rather, uhm, cartoonish.”

    What site?

  55. long pig says:

    Great post Bob. The observation of rest-of-world flatness between ENSO events is intriguing, though it would need more time to confirm. However – if it were the reality – the implications are profound. It would mean that (a) ENSO is the predominant mechanism of changes in global “climate” temperature and that (b) these changes are step-wise or quantum-like. So if solar or astrophysical or other forcers did change global temperatures, these forcings are “processed” by the oceans and “expressed” or output as ENSO step changes, with probable long lag times.

    Many here are gravitating to this world-view of causality, e.g. sun – ocean – climate. However the quantum, step change aspect is interesting. It may bring on another chaos – nonlinearity moment. What if the ocean long term heat processing “system” behaved as some nonlinear pattern systems do, i.e. as a limit cycle? Then it would make step changes between discreet steps of surface thermal regime, rather than continuously. Just saying …

  56. steveta_uk says:

    Wayne, I think you’ll find that crosspatch was referring to “El Nino for dummies here: http://roqtock.com/id9.html

  57. mikef2 says:

    Hello R.Gates…where have you been, missed you we have…
    OT..but as I’m sure you have enjoyed reading the latest release of Climategate emails, can I ask you, in all honesty, can you state you believe that Michael Manns work is accurate, or, will you be brave enough to admit it is, as we all called it years ago, bogus.
    Just think it would be nice for someone who believes in AGW to come out and admit that one single fact. Thanks in anticipation of your honest and forthright reply.

  58. Bob Tisdale says:

    long pig says: “The observation of rest-of-world flatness between ENSO events is intriguing, though it would need more time to confirm. However – if it were the reality – the implications are profound.”

    If there’s a question in your mind whether or not those upward shifts exist, please confirm them. The sources of the data are listed at the end of the post.

  59. LazyTeenager says:

    But even that is misleading, because the observed Sea Surface Temperature anomalies only rose in response to significant El Niño-La Nina events,
    ———-
    I find it odd that a “cycle” like el niño somehow produces a nice linear upward trend.

    Last time I heard a cycle oscillates around an equilibrium position, so it should not produce an upward trend at all.

    Maybe el niño is like some climate ratchet. It only allows heat to flow into the ocean but not out if it. Anyone like to work out how long it will take for the oceans to boil by this process?

  60. David says:

    @ Bob Tisdale. I’m really impressed by your commitment to personal responses. I didn’t really expect it, but I do really appreciate it. My ability to contribute anything but questions is a function of my ignorance, but I guess the questions are what make me a “skeptic”. Regardless, personal responses and open discussion is what makes a site like this so valuable. Ask questions of the establishment and you just get chastised for hubris. How could a layman ever understand anything about an expert’s business?? Kudos to you sir.

    I’ll have to read up more in the background posts you linked. I appreciate your honesty about the lack of historical data. I would say my biggest complaint about the “settled science” argument is that everyone seems too content to accept incomplete paleo-records with the same “certainty” as the modern satellite records.

    The thing I find really interesting is that the models either ignore or misunderstand the mechanisms of the ENSO and the associated steps in warming. If the long term trend is driven by the same thing, then you could say it’s a fair “averaged out” approach, but how can you trust a model that doesn’t at least try to imitate the natural mechanisms?

    And a Merry Christmas to all.

  61. Stephen Wilde says:

    “The key point here is that SST’s are not the key indicator for anthropogenic warming of the oceans, but rather OHC is, and is continues to rise throughout the full ENSO cycle over the long-term, and this is most certainly not a misleading trend.”

    That assumes no variability in solar input to the oceans as a result of global cloudiness and albedo changes.

    If one links solar activity to surface air pressure redistribution and cloudiness changes then there is empirical evidence to account for a longer term rising trend from LIA to date via a gradual poleward shift of the climate zones with reducing cloudiness during the process and higher ocean heat content DESPITE strong El Ninos. Indeed on that basis the strong El Ninos would be a by product of the larger process.

    So, now we have a weaker sun with a weak recharge process because global cloudiness has increased and probably a skewing of the system towards more La Ninas than we have become used to.

    I don’t see any other solution to the puzzle.

  62. Bob Tisdale says:

    LazyTeenager says: “I find it odd that a “cycle” like el niño somehow produces a nice linear upward trend.”

    And again, you failed to read the post, LazyTeenager, because if you had read the post, you would have noted in the Overview that I had linked posts that described and illustrated the processes that cause the upward shifts. The monicker you’ve chosen, LazyTeenager, seems appropriate.

    Lazy
    1. Resistant to work or exertion.

    It certainly shows in your comments.

  63. Pamela Gray says:

    The hole in your arguement Lazyteenager, is that you disregard oceanic/atmospheric conditions throughout the temperature trend you are looking at. It’s called the first encountered pathology. If a complete ENSO cycle is to be considered, all of it needs to be considered. By that I mean a series dominated by neutral to El Nino conditions. This would logically produce a statistical upward trend in OHC, irregardless of what CO2 is doing or having the occasional La Nina sprinkled in here and there.

    We are currently under a series of neutral to La Nina conditions with the occasional El Nino sprinkled in. This has predictive value for those with a logical mind. CO2 can be ignored.

  64. Pamela Gray says:

    Now, if I could learn how to spell, I would be very, very “dangerus”.

  65. Solomon Green says:

    A very thorough, interesting and thought-provoking piece of work. I have only two questions. Why eliminate volcanic activity? (Is there any reason to suppose that volcanic activity will not continue or does is the noise prvided by volcanoes too great and too erratic)? Also how is subsea volcanic activity eliminated – particularky that of so far undetected volcanoes?

  66. R. Gates says:

    Bob T. says:

    “Actually, the key point is the SSTs are the primary indicator of anthropogenic warming of the oceans.”
    ______
    Bob, SST’s are indicators of heat flux in and out of the oceans, but not good indicators of overall energy being stored in the oceans. For that, OHC is used. But you should know this, so I’m perplexed by your insistence otherwise. I would challenge you to go back and see when OHC has made big spikes up in the past 30 or so years. You’ll see it is during La Nina or ENSO neutral conditions in general (and this current La Nina is no different) What we’ve seen is that the oceans have not been releasing as much energy during El Nino’s has they’ve been taking up overall, and hence, OHC has been consistently rising during this period.

  67. R. Gates says:

    mikef2 says:
    December 20, 2011 at 4:06 am
    Hello R.Gates…where have you been, missed you we have…
    OT..but as I’m sure you have enjoyed reading the latest release of Climategate emails, can I ask you, in all honesty, can you state you believe that Michael Manns work is accurate, or, will you be brave enough to admit it is, as we all called it years ago, bogus.
    Just think it would be nice for someone who believes in AGW to come out and admit that one single fact. Thanks in anticipation of your honest and forthright reply.
    _____

    Mike, first of all, I’ve thought for some time, even prior to either of the Climategate releases that Mann et. al., had significantly been downplaying the extent of the MWP as it certainly was global in extent, and thus, the hockey-stick was not really a stick as indicated, however, I also note that certain skeptics have not given Mann et. al. recognition for the uncertainty bands associated with the hockey stick.

    But nothing that has been released in any of the climategate emails that changes the basic science of AGW nor of the efficacy of CO2, N2O, and methane as greenhouse gases. The key issue remains one of how sensitive the climate actually will be to a doubling of CO2 from preindustrial levels, and I still believe that 3C of global warming per doubling is a very good estimate with a plus or minus 1C uncertainty band around this 3C point. This uncertainty band is primarily influenced by the role of clouds as either positive or negative feedbacks to CO2 increases.

  68. Bob, really interesting.

    I know that this is asking for rank speculation but here goes. After the MWP and the transition to LIA conditions, what would you expect this step function to look like? Fewer El-Nino’s with longer La Nina’s dragging the temps down more than an El Nino could overcome? That seems logical from your presentation but I would like to get your thoughts.

  69. Matt G says:

    I have mentioned before that the GHG’s gases can’t warm a volume of water and cool with latent heat energy loss without a solar source during one day and night period. This is observed easily using a small volume of water so changes can be observed quickly and conclusively. The oceans don’t show this on a massive scale during one day and night period because they have already reached maximum heat loss and this value despite being huge is nothing compared to the size of the oceans heat content warmed by the sun constantly.

    Based on surface ocean data also from this excellent well thought out article confirms this is true. That means we are left with just the effect over land masses, but with only being ~29 percent of the Earth’s surface, this will only lead to minor warming at worse. Not surprising the general non-warming period continues and what little we get in future will easily be cancelled out by future ocean cooling.

  70. R. Gates says:

    Pamela Gray says:
    December 20, 2011 at 6:57 am
    “By that I mean a series dominated by neutral to El Nino conditions. This would logically produce a statistical upward trend in OHC.”
    ____
    Actually, this is completely backward. All things being equal, a period dominated by neutral to El Nino conditions should see a decrease in OHC, with a warming of the atmosphere as that heat is transferred there. However, things have not been equal, and what we’ve seen is a long-term rise in OHC over the past 30+ years as the oceans have not released as much heat as they’ve been taking up. This is deeper ocean heat, down to 700m and beyond, a much greater metric than that measured by simply looking at SST’s, which measure surface heat, or heat flux, and really simply indicate whether more heat is leaving than entering the oceans. Look at the last 30+ year chart and compare it to the ENSO cycle and you’ll see that it is in general during La Nina or ENSO neutral conditions that OHC increases.

  71. Matt G says:

    R Gates,

    The value of 3c per doubling of CO2 is not based on any observed science or theoretical physics supported via scientific method, where it actually supports this value being much lower. Most of the warming for a doubling occurs in the first third, so with just a 0.6c rise in the entire HAD3 data set, doesn’t look like we can expect much more in future. (maybe another 0.4c or 0.5c at most until reaches a doubling, including feedbacks)

    Secondly, the value 3c is based on land values only not the oceans.

  72. RockyRoad says:

    Wait for the Warmistas to switch from “CO2 is causing Global Warming/Climate Wierding” to “CO2 is causing Global Cooling”, thereby taking another route to force reduction of CO2 worldwide. They’re certainly opportunistic creatures always looking for an advantage.

  73. RockyRoad says:

    R. Gates says:
    December 20, 2011 at 7:35 am


    But nothing that has been released in any of the climategate emails that changes the basic science of AGW nor of the efficacy of CO2, N2O, and methane as greenhouse gases. The key issue remains one of how sensitive the climate actually will be to a doubling of CO2 from preindustrial levels, and I still believe that 3C of global warming per doubling is a very good estimate with a plus or minus 1C uncertainty band around this 3C point. This uncertainty band is primarily influenced by the role of clouds as either positive or negative feedbacks to CO2 increases.

    Cool, R. But I can believe anything I want also. Where is your evidence for what you believe?

    By the way, if you have really read the climategate emails, you don’t understand them–they show it isn’t “science” that’s being done by these “climate scientists”; it is “basic science of AGW”, which is just the opposite of “science”. (Or would you agree that Phil Jones not being able to find his data and/or methodology, or Michael Mann continuing to flout the law and refuse to divulge his tax-payer paid work while at the UVa as just two more fine examples of this “basic science of AGW” of which you speak?)

    In these CG1 and CG2 emails, there’s all sorts of talk about hiding, deceiving, denying, thwarting, disagreeing, along with examples of hatred, circumvention, law-breaking and so on and so on. (Have you ever read the HarryReadMe file? Best example of a completely screwed up mess I can find anywhere.)

    What you say is laughable, R. Certifiably laughable! Believe what you will, but please, don’t represent that as the truth! (I can’t wait for the remaining 220,000 emails to be released–they’ll be the tsunami that swamps and sinks your “beliefs”.)

  74. RockyRoad says:

    LazyTeenager says:

    December 20, 2011 at 4:36 am

    Maybe el niño is like some climate ratchet. It only allows heat to flow into the ocean but not out if it. Anyone like to work out how long it will take for the oceans to boil by this process?

    Never. Your assumption is wrong.

  75. Bob Tisdale says:

    R. Gates says: In response to my comment, “Actually, the key point is the SSTs are the primary indicator of anthropogenic warming of the oceans…”

    …you replied, “Bob, SST’s are indicators of heat flux in and out of the oceans, but not good indicators of overall energy being stored in the oceans….”

    You missed the point. The sentence that followed helped clarify the intent of my reply. It read, They are part of the surface temperature record and the surface temperature record is what the IPCC and most others refer to when describing anthropogenic global warming.

    Right or wrong, surface temperatures, including SST, are the primary metric used during discussions of Global Warming. As an example, the first sentence of the first bullet point under the heading of “Direct Observations of Recent Climate Change”in the Summary for Policymakers of the IPCC’s AR4 reads, “Eleven of the last twelve years (1995–2006) rank among the 12 warmest years in the instrumental record of global surface temperature9 (since 1850).”

    It does not state Ocean Heat Content. It states surface temperatures. The fourth bullet point under that heading deals with OHC, so it’s fourth on the IPCC’s list of metrics. You can argue all you want, but this post is about SST, not OHC. If and when I prepare an OHC model-observations post similar to this, then OHC would be the appropriate topic of conversation on that thread.

    Now do you understand, what you called, my “insistence”?

  76. Bob Tisdale says:

    Dennis Ray Wingo says: “I know that this is asking for rank speculation but here goes. After the MWP and the transition to LIA conditions, what would you expect this step function to look like?”

    Sorry, I don’t speculate about these effects. I use satellite-era Sea Surface Temperature data (1981 to now) to illustrate them because it is as close to being sptially complete are we’re likely to see.

    Regards and enjoy your holidays

  77. Bob Tisdale says:

    Solomon Green says: “Why eliminate volcanic activity? (Is there any reason to suppose that volcanic activity will not continue or does is the noise prvided by volcanoes too great and too erratic)? ”

    For this post, the volcano adjustment, primarily, reduces the dip and rebound in the Sea Surface Temperature data (observed and modeled) that occurred in response to the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo. It impacts the appearance of the data very strongly then. Compare Figure 7 above with a graph of the same data without the volcano adjustments:
    http://i43.tinypic.com/2prw61e.jpg

    The adjustment also has a small impact on the linear trend analyses between the 1986/87/88 and 1997/98 El Niño events. The observed trend for that period with the adjustments (Figure 7) is -0.01 deg C per decade, while the trend without them (link above) is slightly positive at 0.02 deg C per decade. (As noted in the post, since the models and observations are adjusted by the same amount, those are a wash.) The eruption of El Chichon also impacts the data from 1982 to 1985. And the adjustments also correct for it, but we’re not doing any short-term trend analyses during those years, because the period from the 1982/83 El Nino to the 1986/87/88 El Nino was just too short.

    You asked, “Also how is subsea volcanic activity eliminated – particularky that of so far undetected volcanoes?”

    Sorry for not being clearer on that. The volcano adjustments use stratospheric aerosol optical thickness data, because those volcanic aerosols reduce the amount of sunlight that reaches the Earth’s surface, thereby cooling the planet for a couple of years. There are no adjustments for subsea volcanoes.

    Regards and enjoy the holidays.

  78. Brian H says:

    Solomon;
    The general principle would be that you “correct” for all known factors in order to find out how much variation is left which may be (or may not be) attributed to the phenomena you’re exploring. Volcanic events have the advantage of being “events”, so it is feasible to look for and remove their specific signals.

  79. John B says:

    Bob Tisdale says:
    December 19, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    John B says: “The is no rationale behind the assumption that El Nino events cause a trend. For the opposite take on this, that a look at…”

    Your statement indicates YOU do not understand ENSO, and that’s why I included links to the introductory post at the beginning:
    http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2010/08/08/an-introduction-to-enso-amo-and-pdo-%e2%80%93-part-1/

    And please don’t come back here with links to the nonsensical SkepticalScience posts that say that ENSO is a cycle and as such cannot contribute to a positive trend.

    ———————————–

    Well Bob, it’s you against the rest of the world on that. The “O” does stand for “oscillation”, does it not?

    To quote your introductory post:

    “Many climate scientists treat the ENSO phenomenon as noise and assume that its signal can be easily removed from the global temperature record. I have written numerous posts about how and why this is incorrect.”

    Yep, that’s what they think. If you think differently, you need to make a case for it, not just assert it.

  80. Bill Illis says:

    This is good stuff Bob.

    I think the Volcano-adjusted charts is the way to go. It is merely reflecting reality after all.

    I more-or-less replicated your analysis and have done the same for the Lower Troposphere Satellite Temperatures. The linear trend then drops to 0.095C per decade (probably similar to your global SST value). The volcano-adjusted LT temperature trend would only be 40% of the climate model trend.

  81. R. Gates says:

    Bob T said:

    “If and when I prepare an OHC model-observations post similar to this, then OHC would be the appropriate topic of conversation on that thread.

    Now do you understand, what you called, my “insistence”?
    _______
    Your point has been made, but readers should understand that SST’s are a measure of heat flux in and out of the ocean, not a measure of the amount of energy the ocean is storing over a given period of time. If and when you want to engage in a discussion of OHC, I would welcome it.

  82. long pig says:

    Bob Tisdale says:
    December 20, 2011 at 4:32 am
    long pig says: “The observation of rest-of-world flatness between ENSO events is intriguing, though it would need more time to confirm. However – if it were the reality – the implications are profound.”

    If there’s a question in your mind whether or not those upward shifts exist, please confirm them. The sources of the data are listed at the end of the post.

    The data are fine, its just that this instrumental record is short, we have only 3-4 steps. Just being cautious – since this is a game-changer.

  83. crosspatch says:

    Bob Tisdale says:
    December 20, 2011 at 2:02 am

    crosspatch says: “The site is rather, uhm, cartoonish.”

    What site?

    Not yours, I love your posts and I check it for new content every so often.

  84. R. Gates says:

    Stephen Wilde says:
    December 20, 2011 at 6:33 am
    “The key point here is that SST’s are not the key indicator for anthropogenic warming of the oceans, but rather OHC is, and is continues to rise throughout the full ENSO cycle over the long-term, and this is most certainly not a misleading trend.”

    That assumes no variability in solar input to the oceans as a result of global cloudiness and albedo changes.
    _________
    Stephen, the fact that OHC has continued to rise across multiple ENSO cycles over 30+ years is not an “assumption”, and doesn’t presume anything about solar influences at all. It is a simple fact, without presumption as to cause. My entire reason for bringing up OHC is that is a much better metric for the heat being stored in the oceans than SST’s. SST’s measure heat flux or heat moving in and out of the oceans. When the SST’s are high, net heat is moving out of the oceans, and when SST’s are low, there is more net heat moving into the oceans. I always find it funny when people talk about the “cool oceans” during La Ninas, as in fact, all this means is that there is less heat at the surving moving out of the oceans into the atmosphere and this is actually the time when the oceans are absorbing more net heat.

  85. crosspatch says:

    If there is anything to Svensmark, I would be really interested to see how cloud cover might impact these events. For example, an El Nino during an active sun (as we had in 1998) vs an El Nino with a quiet sun (2010) what were the differences in cloud cover. Same with La Nina events. If we were to get a La Nina with more clouds we should get an even colder event (2008?).

  86. Ulric Lyons says:

    @crosspatch says:
    December 20, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    “… an El Nino during an active sun (as we had in 1998) vs an El Nino with a quiet sun (2010)..”

    `97/98 and `09/10 El Nino`s were both brought on by months of declining solar wind speeds:
    http://omniweb.gsfc.nasa.gov/tmp/images/ret_13923.gif

  87. Ulric Lyons says:

    @Dennis Ray Wingo says:
    December 20, 2011 at 7:42 am
    ” After the MWP and the transition to LIA conditions, what would you expect this step function to look like? Fewer El-Nino’s with longer La Nina’s dragging the temps down more than an El Nino could overcome?”

    Colder periods show an increase in the frequency of El Nino events.

  88. Philip Bradley says:

    Furthermore, the more important metric of energy in the oceans, Ocean Heat Content, shows large increases during the last decade when atmospheric temps have been flat. This of course makes sense, as La Nina’s have been more dominant over the past decade and it is during such periods that the oceans as a whole, retain more heat than they release to the atmosphere.

    The argo OHC data doesn’t show large increases. The Argo OHC data shows limited ocean warming over the last 8 to 9 years.

    Pre-argo data is of questionable value with very limited geographic sampling and known instrumentation issues.

    It’s well accepted by climate scientists that there is not enough heat in the oceans to account for the supposed warming. Hence the ‘missing heat’ debate.

    More importantly, the lack of ocean heat gain during La Ninas indicates La Ninas are driven in part by reduced heat entering the oceans.

    R Gates what you need to explain is why the limited OHC gain during a period when La Ninas predominate?

  89. Brian H says:

    R Gates;
    You seem to be implying, without stating it specifically, that the air is warming the oceans. Do you really ‘believe’ that?

  90. R. Gates says:

    Philip Bradley said:

    More importantly, the lack of ocean heat gain during La Ninas indicates La Ninas are driven in part by reduced heat entering the oceans.

    ——
    There is no lack of heat gain to the oceans during La Ninas…quite the opposite. Remember the metric for measuring heat gain to the oceans is OHC, not SST’s. SST’s measure heat flux between ocean and atmosphere. Heat transfers out of the ocean to atmosphere during El Ninos, and that exactly what the higher SSTs are telling you.

    ———
    Philip Bradley also said:

    R Gates what you need to explain is why the limited OHC gain during a period when La Ninas predominate?

    ——-
    Depends on what you mean by “limited”. Line up a chart showing OHC and ENSO over the past 30+ years and note the periods that OHC increases. It is during the La Nina periods or ENSO neutral, and the recent La Nina is no exception. But OHC has increased over this period as more heat has been gained by the oceans during La Ninas than lost during El Ninos.

  91. R. Gates says:

    Brian H says:
    December 20, 2011 at 7:36 pm
    R Gates;
    You seem to be implying, without stating it specifically, that the air is warming the oceans. Do you really ‘believe’ that?
    ———-
    Your next step I suppose will be to lecture me about LW radiation from the atmosphere not being able to penetrate the skin layer of the ocean. But to answer your question– no I do not believe that the atmosphere is warming the ocean, as that most certainly does not happen. The ocean is a far better energy sink than the atmosphere, and the direction of energy flow is predominantly from ocean to atmosphere, hence the reason that the atmosphere warms so nicely during s strong El Nino. The vast majority of energy on the ocean certainly comes directly or indirectly from the sun. But the issue with greenhouse gases and the oceans retention of energy is not about the excess heat in the atmosphere entering the ocean, but rather, the ability of the ocean to get rid of the excess heat it has. It is all about thermal gradients. When the atmosphere has a bit more heat in it, the the thermal gradient is a bit less steep, and so a bit less heat will leave the ocean and enter the atmosphere. Over time, the ocean heat content will gradually increase because of this lessening of the thermal gradient, and the OHC will increase. This is precisely what we’ve seen over the past 30+ years.

  92. Brian H says:

    RG;
    I think you’d have a hard time balancing a thermal flow equation for that process. The atmosphere’s specific heat and the “AHC” are trivial compared to the ocean’s specific heat and OHC. If anything, an acceleration of the evaporation/convection processes involving H2O seems like the only sufficiently robust and potent mechanism for removing “excess heat”. Completely aside from the issue of just where all that “excess heat” came from, and when, to begin with.

  93. Bob Tisdale says:

    R. Gates says in reply to Pamela Gray: “Actually, this is completely backward. All things being equal, a period dominated by neutral to El Nino conditions should see a decrease in OHC, with a warming of the atmosphere as that heat is transferred there.”

    And R. Gates says in reply to me: “The problem with this notion is that globally, oceans absorb more heat then they release during La Nina’s, thus OHC will increase during such a ‘step down’ cycle.”

    Even though you have hijacked this thread with your OHC discussions, apparently because you did not want to discuss THIS post, I will reply ONE LAST TIME to your OHC comments:

    Since all El Nino events are not equal, and since La Nina events are not the opposite of El Nino events, blanket “all things being equal” statements such as yours are likely to be wrong.

    Actually, Pamela Gray did not have it completely backward, as you claim. It depends on the subset one looks at and a multitude of additional factors. Overlooking those additional factors for the sake of example, during a period when El Nino events dominate, tropical Pacific OHC would decrease. But the warm water that is released from below the surface of the Pacific Warm Pool and transported east along the equatorial Pacific during the El Nino, and that is not “consumed” by the El Nino, is then redistributed poleward in the Pacific and distributed into the Indian Ocean by the Indonesian Throughflow. This additional influx of warm waters into those basins would obviously raise OHC there.

    Of course, your generalizations overlook the apparent impacts of the AMO/AMOC and of shifts in Sea Level Pressure on North Atlantic OHC, both of which had major impacts on the additional rise in the OHC there. Keep in mind that the North Atlantic contributes 40% to the long-term rise in Global OHC, even though it represents less than 15% of the surface area of the Global Oceans. Also keep in mind North Atlantic OHC has been dropping quite significantly over the past 5-6 years. And of course, your generalizations overlook the very obvious upward shift in North Pacific OHC caused by the late 1980s shift in Sea Level Pressure there. Prior to that change in SLP, the long-term trends of North Pacific OHC were negative. (There’s not a lot of AGW apparent when OHC is dropping, R. Gates.) These natural causes of the long-term rise in OHC are why I repeatedly link for you the following posts during discussions of OHC:
    http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2009/09/05/enso-dominates-nodc-ocean-heat-content-0-700-meters-data/
    And:
    http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2009/12/30/north-pacific-ocean-heat-content-shift-in-the-late-1980s/
    And:
    http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2009/10/04/north-atlantic-ocean-heat-content-0-700-meters-is-governed-by-natural-variables/

    Your persistent efforts to hijack this thread, steering the discussion away from the subject matter of this post (with your continued off-topic comments to Brian H, Philip Bradley, Stephen Wilde, Pamela Gray, and others), is very obvious to all who are reading your comments. The fact is, R.Gates, the coupled ocean-atmosphere climate models, upon which the IPCC and AGW proponents rely to confirm the impacts of the hypothesis of AGW, have no skill at hindcasting surface temperatures over the 20th Century (as shown in my recent series of posts), and no skill at determining the actual cause of the rise in SST over the past 30 years, as shown in this post. In other words, climate models to a very poor job of confirming the hypothesis of AGW. And without climate models, whatcha got?

    Enjoy your holidays, R.Gates.

  94. Allan MacRae says:

    RockyRoad says:
    December 20, 2011 at 8:36 am
    Wait for the Warmistas to switch from “CO2 is causing Global Warming/Climate Wierding” to “CO2 is causing Global Cooling”, thereby taking another route to force reduction of CO2 worldwide.

    Actually Rocky, this is already happening. I wrote about it recently at
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/12/10/last-minute-durbal-deal-reached-extends-kyoto-protocol/#comment-826281


    Earth has already entered a natural cooling cycle, or soon will. The technical argument for cooling is receiving early-stage support from atmospheric and ocean temperature data. We will soon know if multi-decadal natural cooling has commenced. (BTW, I predicted such natural global cooling in an article published in 2003.)

    There is also significant sociological support for global cooling. The global warming extremists are already scrambling to revise their manmade-fossil-fuel-burning-causes-runaway-global-warming hypotheses.

    Some are saying that increased CO2 actually causes global cooling, not warming. Quelle surprise! Others are blaming humanmade aerosols for the lack of global warming – but they had to fabricate the aerosol data to support their case!

    Both arguments are utterly specious. No matter – anything for The Cause!

    Remember good people: Atmospheric CO2 LAGS temperature at all measured time scales.

    Good work Bob. Thank you, and Merry Christmas to all!

  95. mikef2 says:

    R.Gates…
    Appreciate your reply…its to your credit you did not ignore my question. Your answer though…bit of a half way step, and you then did a load of hand waving to imply that the hockey stick was not really important..but..er…it is important. It was so important it became the poster child for the IPCC and every other ‘alarmist’ for quite a while.
    You see…without Manns hockey stick – and may I tweak your words to say you do actually agree with us that it was bogus science yes (despite your ‘error bars’ caveat!!!) – the question is….if it was warmer/as warm in the MWP, and we do not know why, should we not be a little cautious in assuming that poor old Sidney Poitier is the villain of the piece, just because he got off the train at the same time? And unless I’m mistaken, I don;’t know of any other reconstructions that are really valid (ie circular referencing the debunked Mannian stuff) that suggest there is any hockey stick at all? So……nothing to say what we have now is unusual at all, do you agree?
    Whilst your theory of CO2 as a potent greenhouse gas is interesting and worth looking at, I would say that by now observational evidence would suggest that its role is minor, if not totally irrelevant.
    Your theory states that we should by now have seen the hot spot over the tropics, we have not. Your theory states we should see quite a rise in OHC, but we have not (see Pielke Sn on his regular updates of where we should be regarding Hansons predictions of this). Have we seen anything worth looking at? Is it even of a significant value at all ? (Leaving Trenbeth to speculate that it somehow dodged the ohc temp capturing measurements on the way down to the deep deep..clutching at straws?). The only thing you still have going for your theory still is a drop in strato temps (but the science on that is vague..is it possible without the corresponding hot spot over the tropics? You have 2 contradicting statements there yes?)
    That leaves us with thinning ice in the acrtic….thats really the only part of your theory that one could say is an observable fact. But of course….we also know the arctic varies, there is too much detail of drops in ice cover in living memory let alone distant past – is arctic ice just poor old Sydney getting thrown in jail again?
    Anyway…glad to see you acknowledge that the temps we have now are not unusual. Now we can discuss other reasons for the temps, such as Bob suggests, and why CO2 may not be the driver you think it is?

  96. Ulric Lyons says:

    “Something caused Sea Surface Temperature anomalies to drop significantly from the 1870s until 1910…
    http://bobtisdale.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/figure-143.png
    …and it wasn’t volcanic eruptions or solar according to the IPCC’s climate models”

    The trend is there in the aa index: http://www.appinsys.com/GlobalWarming/AAIndex_files/image003.png

  97. Scorle says:

    Bob Tisdale said:
    ” Is it? It has been a one-way street for a few recent decades. However, from the 1940s to the late 1970s, the frequency and magnitudes of El Nino and La Nina events were such that La Nina events dominated by a slight margin. Global surface temperatures did not rise.”

    The cooling during that period was caused by anthropogenic aerosol: sulphates an incredible amount of SO2 was blown into the air. Once these emission started declining (because of regulations in Europe and US to stop the acidification processes) the temperatures started rising, as many West-European countries have experienced. (Even in this very year 2011: Austria has in 2011 it hottest year for the mountain regions on record, but on this website only a short spell of one-day snow in the middle of September was big news: a tiny cold spell in too hot months August -September. Belgium wil get its hottest year as well, and so other European areas will have)

    From 2000 aerosol production world wide is rising again by the economic boom of Asia. Ignoring these influences on temperature development – and actually radiation budget – and claiming the rise and flattening has only to do with El Nino is pretty shortsighted. Although preparing the graphs seems to be nice work i must admit (with pleasure) the explanations need somewhat more balanced considerations.
    Aerosol was not only spread by Pinatubo!!!

    You could also – as some others bring up too – expect that after El Nino events the temperature should slowly drop back to its starting point, with eventually also some bigger steps caaused by La Nina. A bit strange that only El Nino’s would make steps and La Nina’s don’t. May be it is woven in the flattening after these El Nino’s.

    Last point: ice,
    Ice is disappearing and that takes energy, warmth. Northpole ice is not only loosing extent but also volume (as well as Greenland Ice sheet does). Temperature rise partly disappeared by the melt of a vast mass of ice. I don’t know how much energy it took in the equivalent of nonrising temperatures, maybe it is minor but then it would be nice to have stated that too in the analyses of the temperature trends.

    I wish you all very warm feelings in 2012, alarming denial or not.

    p.s. In Holland we will have the first December ever without one day of frost in the (normally) coldest part of the country even, CO2 + rest GHG or El Nino or one enhanced by the other, who will tell us in 2012?

  98. Scorle says:

    Sorry fot the “Al Nino’s” if someone can correct these….

    [REPLY: OK, zijn de AL Nino's gezorgd, evenals een paar andere kleine fouten. Mijn Nederlands moet zo goed zijn. -REP]

  99. Looking back to pre-satellite times, perhaps the best indicator of sea surface temperatures can be gauged from records kept for small islands in the middle of oceans, as these are strongly influenced by the surrounding sea surface temperatures.

    According to IPCC projections, the Arctic is supposed to suffer the greatest warming – up to 8 degrees by 2100. That is why this Arctic Island* data is so interesting as it bears absolutely no resemblance to trends in carbons dioxide levels. http://climate-change-theory.com/JanMayen.jpg Notice the warmer period in the 1930’s.

    There is also confirmation of the above warm period in this plot of general Arctic data since 1880 http://climate-change-theory.com/arctic1880.jpg Note the huge 4 degree rise from 1919 and 1939 – before WWII when carbon dioxide levels started to take off. For more detail see this web page http://www.warwickhughes.com/cool/cool13.htm

    None of this is new data. It would have been available at the very time the IPCC was publishing their predictions that the Arctic would be affected more than any other place in the world. If ever there has been data to hit the AGW hypothesis hard on the head it would seem to be this.

    * Jan Mayen Island is located here: http://www.climate-change-theory.com/JanMayenEarth.jpg

  100. Scorle: You refer to ice melting in the Arctic. In fact the amount of melting (and reformation) of ice there appears to be determined by natural cycles in the North Atlantic, similar to the ENSO cycles. What happens is that the North Atlantic is of course the main “entrance” to the Arctic Ocean. Currents entering the Arctic region vary naturally in both temperature and rate of flow. (Ice melts more when the flow is faster.) It is these waters under the ice that contribute most to melting and reformation, not solar radiation which meets the ice at an acute angle and is mostly reflected. Least of all does it have anything to do with carbon dioxide for reasons outlined in my other posts.

    Please see my post above and the links therein, where you will note that the Arctic was in fact warmer in the 1930’s.

  101. Jonathan says:

    @ Crosspatch, re your comment ‘Oh, and I found the perfect Christmas gift for your favorite climate skeptic: “Little Ice Ages, Ancient and Modern,” vols. 1 and 2, 2nd ed., by J. M. Grove’.

    That’s a bit of a corker. Jean Grove was no ‘climate sceptic’ in /your/ sense of the term: she was certainly sceptical, but in the intellectually scrupulous sense that is familiar to her colleagues and her numerous former pupils still engaged in climate science. She would not in any way have appreciated the misplaced fetishisation of her work — the product of literally decades of careful fieldwork and critical thought — by the intellectually obdurate. Since she was no cross-patch, however, she would have shaken her head, laughed at your expense, and quietly got on with her own always sceptical evidence-based account of climate history.

    What you need to appreciate is that she was not in the least bit sceptical about the greenhouse effect, nor indeed about the evidence for recent anthropogenic warming that had accumulated by the time of her death in 2001. She was perfectly happy about the fact that her work om past climate presented complications for /some/ of her colleagues, but she was also receptive to new work. Unlike some armchair climatologists, she was prepared to let new evidence alter her position. It would be well worthwhile your taking into account the ways in which the first and second editions of her book differ from one another, if you want to calibrate the nature of her scientific scepticism in relation to the transformation of climate science in the 1990s.

    To get a better (dare I say it, entry-level) orientation, you might also like to consider a recent general statement on the nature of uncertainty in climate science by her husband and long-term collaborator, Dick Grove, which you can read here:

    http://www.realinstitutoelcano.org/wps/portal/rielcano_eng/Content?WCM_GLOBAL_CONTEXT=/elcano/elcano_in/zonas_in/dt25-2010

    Once you’ve done that, if you’re not too cross and fixed in your opinions, you might like to reconsider you understanding of scientific scepticism, and examine (on the basis of evidence) exactly what it is that the term ‘scientific consensus’ implies. You might find it’s more catholic than you’d like: in the sense of inclusive, rather than doctrinaire.

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