Jason and the Argo Notes

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Like Jason, I proceed into the unknown with my look at the Argo data, and will post random notes as I voyage.

```Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.```

I have no great insights at this point, just some interesting results. Thanks to a commenter who pointed me to where to get the Argo data in one block. It’s at the Asia-Pacific Data-Research Center.

I downloaded it, and I’ve looked first at the file containing the surface data. It’s where I swim, so it’s the most interesting data to me. Figure 1 shows all Argo measurements of the ocean surface temperature taken to date.

Figure 1. All Argo ocean surface temperature data. There have been 696,872 Argo measurements to date of the ocean surface temperature.

So far, so good. The results look real, which is always good to see, it means I’ve graphed them up properly. You can see the warm ocean along the coast of Europe, for example. But there is one curiosity about the Argo data.

Here’s the oddity. I took the data arranged by latitude as shown in Figure 2. I averaged it by 1° latitude bands, and then took an area adjusted average to give a global mean. The mean is 19.7°C ± 0.02 (95% CI).

Figure 2. All Argo ocean temperatures, sorted by latitude. NOTE: several people commented correctly below that I had not included the variation in ocean area by latitude band in the calculations. They are correct, I was wrong, and the actual corrected 60N-60S average is slightly higher, at 19.9°C.

Note that there is an obvious upper limit to the ocean temperatures, the “flat-top” on the graph at just above 30°C. No matter how much incoming solar there is, the ocean doesn’t get any warmer than that. This provides a “cap” on how hot the ocean can get. Above that temperature, any extra incoming energy is converted to latent and sensible heat, rather than warming the surface.

But I digress, that part’s just interesting. It’s not the curiosity.

The curiosity is the other ocean data sets give the following values for the average ocean surface temperature 2000-2011:

Reynolds Optimally Interpolated SST 60N – 60S: 20.4°C ± 0.02°C (95%CI)

NCDC Extended SST 60N – 60S: 20.3°C ± 0.02°C (95%CI)

The curiosity is that the Argo average ocean surface temperature data is significantly cooler than the other datasets, half to three-quarters of a degree …

Always more to learn. I do love real data. Look how much colder and more uniform the Southern Ocean is than the northern oceans, for example. Fascinating stuff.

Best to everyone,

[UPDATE]

The data I used is available at the website listed above, identified as “Near-real time Argo profile data interpolated on standard levels”. It’s the largest file on this page, 895 Mb, titled “Argo_TS.tar”.

The info sheet detailing the arrangement of the data is here.

It’s a tarball containing all of the depth files, one for each layer. The one I used was the zero depth file, “Argo_TS_0000.dat”. I downloaded them all, because I wanted the full set. If you only want surface temps you can download just that one file.

```depthcolumns=c("Longitude", "Latitude", "Level", "Depth", "Julian", "Temperature", "Salinity", "Potential Temperature", "Potential Density", "Dynamic Depth Anomaly", "Spiciness", "Extrapolation", "Error Temperature", "Error Salinity", "Error Potential Temperature", "Error Potential Density", "Error Dynamic Depth Anomaly", "Error Spiciness", "Ocean Code", "Region Code", "Argo Float ID", "Cycle Number", "Dynamic Depth", "Dynamic Depth-2")

depthwidths=c(9, 9, 3, 7, 10, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 2, 11, 11, 11, 11, 11, 11, 2, 3, 8, 4, 9, 9)

You’ll need to change the filepath in the final line to wherever you have put the “Argo_TS_0000.dat” file.

w.

158 thoughts on “Jason and the Argo Notes”

1. Robert of Ottawa says:

I scuba dive and have never had hotter surface waater than in Darwin Bay, Australia. 30C alright! Bloody hot – but then I am used to diving in Canada.

2. OT and apo;ogies to Willis for going OT.

BBC radi0 4 Material World has broadcast an interview with Dr Cohen of MIT which states satellite data reveals that the world is not only warming up but the warming is causing winter cooling.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b01bmn02

3. Charlie A says:

Argo data being cooler is extra puzzling since Argo doesn’t measure temps of ice covered areas, which I assume would lower the average temp.

What regions ar.e excluded from the other estimates you quoted ?

Surely the Southern Oceans are more tepmperature-uniform because of the absence of the large blocking landmasses in the Northern Oceans.

5. JJ says:

One thing that stands out to me, Willis, is that you report four measures of the same thing – global ocean surface temperature. They all report “95% confidence intervals”. If those were truly 95% confidence about the actual value, one would expect that four such measures would all lie within such a confidence interval. Yet four confidence intervals about four measures of the same thing dont even overlap, let alone coincide. You have presented four measures of global ocean surface temperature, all claiming to be +/- 0.02C, but not one of them is even within 0.04C of any other…

6. Gixxerboy says:

Robert of Ottawa

You’re a braver man than I, Gungha Din. The only reason Darwin Harbour is not infested with sharks is because the Saltwater Crocodiles eat them all.

7. Doug Proctor says:

Okay, obvious context for data:
1)
a) data covers oceans for 2/3 planet, 19.7*C, not top 1/3 and bottom 1/3 of each hemisphere.
b) total planet is supposed to be 14.7*C (?)
c) GISTemp has temp for both NH and SH (? & ?).
d) Oceans cover 70% (?) planet, land 30% (?), broken up by hemisphere (?).

Taking the Argo data as the best, then what the missing data must be for the polar areas and the land masses can be determined by what must be missing to make the Hansen numbers work. What is required to exist outside this dataset is, I’ll bet, greater than can be documented. The Arctic will have to be a tropical paradise, I expect. And Africa is burning up.

2)
a) the Argo data has hundreds of thousands of data points.
b) the error/accuracy limits show up as outlier “fuzz” at the edge of the data and is visible to the naked eye. Especially at the warmer end and in the northern hemisphere.
c) the world’s oceans are supposed to be determined to 4/1000th of a degree accuracy.

This data does not need cross-checking with Peruvian mountaintops to correct for UHIE or observer error/changes of protocol/station equipment. Whatever the accuracy limit is, it is certainly not to the thousandth of a degree. This data puts to boots to any “certainty” as to today’s temperature, let alone yesterdays.

Wow. What an annoyance it must be for the alarmists to know that technically minded people can get at the data for themselves. I’m not saying I/we can reproduce what their prophets can, but I/we can see how reasonable their claims of certainty are.

Fuzzy-wuzzy.

8. Latitude says:

Willis, thank you for this…I’ve been waiting
and it’s just what I thought….
Argo SST’s are not confirming other SST’s

9. AncientOfDays says:

Not Jason, but “Ulysses” by Tennyson. Both Greeks though. You get 1/2 a point.

10. J.H. says:

@ Robert of Ottawa ……….. Scuba diving in Darwin bay! Geez, you’re keen. ;-)

11. Ian H says:

Argo doesn’t measure shallow areas. Look around Indonesia for example. There is an awful lot of warm surface water there that is not being measured. My first guess would be that this alone is enough to explain the discrepancy. Argo also doesn’t measure temperatures in ice covered areas but these are usually excluded from other measures of average SST as well. This is not unreasonable since if the sea is covered by ice then by definition there isn’t a surface there whose temperature you can measure.

12. little polyp says:

willis

is there a mechanism for ensuring or adjusting the data base so that the sample population is geographically evenly distributed ? (ie one point per grid cell or an equivalent)

13. Phil. says:

A thought Willis, that satellite measurements will measure the surface skin layer whereas the Argo may measure a few cm below the surface and during daytime there is a significant difference between them.

14. Willis-san, Don’t worry yourself about those inconvenient temperature discrepancies between ARGO and other ocean temperature data sets.

I’m sure Hansen et al will find the “fatal flaw”, which accounts for ARGO’s lower temperatures and will have those numbers “get their mind right” in no time.

I’m sure it’s just a, um,…calibration issue….

Always remember, Willis-san, “if you torture data long enough, it will confess….”~ Ronald Coase (1991 Economics Nobel Prize Laureate)

15. Manfred says:

maybe the current, cool temperature compared with a ten year average ?

16. “Argo doesn’t measure shallow areas”

Well by definition these are not ocean. They are continental shelf. Ocean depth is rarely less than a couple of km except around hotspot activity (Hawaii or Iceland).

17. Jim Higson says:

You know what this indicates to me? No more raw data will be released. The ‘experst’ will tell us what the raw data indicates.

18. Andyj says:

So, with CO2 heating the air via the “greenhouse effect” to an average of 14C. The oceans average (for an argument) 20C……

Point of interest:
How do you boil your cup of coffee by breathing on it?

19. TerryS says:

Re: Ian H
> Argo doesn’t measure shallow areas. Look around Indonesia for example. There is an awful lot of warm surface water there that is not being measured.
Let’s assume that the shallow areas between 60N and 60S (the area Willis is talking about) makes up 5% of the total surface area ( looks a bit generous but… ) then in order for it to raise the average from 19.7 to 20.3 the average surface temperature of the shallow water must be 31.7 degrees.

20. A. Scott says:

From an entirely layman view – I can see a benefit in not including shallower areas when looking at ocean heat content or overall ocean temp averages – (a.) the shallow areas tend to be much more reactive/sensitive to short term fluctuations and thus not a good measure of long term trends, and (b.) the “volume” of these areas represent a small portion of the overall oceanic volume … couple the much higher sensitivity to short term changes with the small volume and it would seem including would have an adverse impact at long term ocean trends

21. DougK says:

Is the Argo data being corrolated with ENSO, ADO events??

It seems somewhat misleading to report SST measurement averages from 1854 and 1870 to 5 decimal places. The average does have many decimal places, but the underlying observations during that period wouldn’t have been precise to more than 1 or 2 decimal places.

Also, wouldn’t the earlier measurements, taken before telemetry, have systemic artifacts as the thermometer was raised from the water to the deck (due to wind and evaporation, or sunlight and ambient air temperature)? Unless, of course, some corrections were applied to remove the artifacts. Somehow I doubt that that those corrections would be the case – you would have to correlate original observed air temp., wind speed, ship speed, sunlight condition, relative humidity, instrument type, etc. etc. against imprecise measurements, so there would be little definitive gain in accuracy, with great cost. The transition to better measurement technology and telemetry would have taken place ship-by-ship over some time. How can you correct for that?

Other systemic problems with earlier measurements might involve ships avoiding hurricane nurseries (off West Africa), Saragossa Sea (and other becalming traps for sailing ships), and places where there is nothing to sail to (equatorial Pacific) – that is, some of the warmest areas in the warmest part of the year. And avoiding icebergs (colder geodesic route from North America to Europe).

All these metadata issues, and I only browsed the 1st page of each dataset. I’m beginning to have some understanding (if not sympathy) for why some prolific authors seem to prefer models to data.

23. H.R. says:

The white in Figure 1 is really good for showing what hasn’t been measured. I had a little trouble with the dots in the Argo post prior to this that showe what had been measured. Very nice.

The flat top of ocean surface temperatures in the tropics is interesting. The atmospheric temperature above the ocean surface is what controls the transfer of heat from the oceans to the atmosphere. And this says to me that there is a limit to atmospheric tropical temperatures. Release more heat from the oceans and all that happens is it gets transmitted to space faster.

25. jollygreenwatchman says:

@Andyj re: “How do you boil your cup of coffee by breathing on it?”

Easy, coincide said breathing with a considerable change in altitude. ;-) :-)

26. Dodgy Geezer says:

“The curiosity is that the Argo average ocean surface temperature data is significantly cooler than the other datasets, half to three-quarters of a degree …”

That’s because you haven’t applied a CORRECTION! You obviously can’t be a true climatologist if you don’t know about corrections. Ring up Phil Jones and ask him what the correction should be..

27. Seek. Strive. Find. Not yield. Sic’em good man.

28. Tim Channon says:

Currents seems less obvious than I expected but the primary one is showing, warm projected up past Scotland and (maybe just showing) the cold water surfacing northern temperate Pacific.

Andyj says (February 9, 2012 at 5:22 pm): “Point of interest:
How do you boil your cup of coffee by breathing on it?”

For single cups, I generally heat the water to (near) boiling in a microwave oven. Thank Gore for the miracle of longwave radiation!

30. Bill Illis says:

Just noting that the average Land Temperature is much lower than the average Ocean sea surface temperature.

The main reason is that Antarctica and its sea ice covers the bottom 30 degrees of the planet (and then there’s Greenland and Ellesmere island) so that the Land is actually weighted more to the cold poles than the ocean is.

But there should not be so much difference as the numbers Willis quoted above.

31. Mike says:

Latitude graph looks too cold on the North side. There aren’t any waters at 40 degrees north under 3 degrees, and you even have some hovering around zero.

32. David Falkner says:

This kind of neat, also:

Sort of off topic.

33. AJ says:

Hi Willis… when I downloaded the data and had a quick peek, I noticed that there was an interpolated/extrapolated flag. At the surface, the vast majority of profiles were extrapolated. I also noticed that the minimum latitude reported on was 80S. I’m assuming that was interpolated as there is no ocean at that latitude… or maybe some penguins hijacked a float?

I think an interesting graph would be the number of observations per 100km by latitude. It might highlight your findings about spatial coverage.

The APDRC also has a nice interpolated gridded time series dataset. I used one last year to plot the temperature variance by latitude and depth. This seems to be observational data that the AR4 models had a problem matching. Here’s my plots with a link to the source at the bottom of the page:

34. DocMartyn says:

according to your figure the Mediterranean is about the same as the North Sea and North Atlantic.That is, as the English say, bollocks.
The Gulf stream is also missing, which is a bit odd as you can observe it from the IR signature from space.

If they can’t find the Gulf stream they might as well just make the whole dataset up.

35. pouncer says:

Zac says: (at February 9, 2012 at 4:16 pm)
“Dr Cohen of MIT … reveals that the world is not only warming up but the warming is causing winter cooling.”

Following the digression… If warmer temperatures now in North American mean harsher winters, now; in Siberia and Northern Europe; how do thinner Yamal and other Siberian tree rings of long ago,indicate harsher temperatures globally comparably long ago?

36. General P. Malaise says:

maybe in the southern water the current is less impeded and a more constant mixing with colder subsurface water.

37. Mark James says:

Aren’t we getting a little worked up here over 1/2 – 3/4 of one degree?

I can’t even sense that small a difference in my bath water.

This is like trying to smash the alarmists with a sponge mallet.

38. Another odd pattern. In the Northern hemisphere, the orange band heads north, up the west coasts of Europe & Nth America. In the Southern hemisphere, the orange band heads north, up the west coasts of Africa & Sth America – but not Australia. I’m upset that we Australians don’t have a west coast orange anomaly. Anyone know why?

It’s a little interesting because if you continue on to the North coast of Australia (where much water is too shallow for the floats) this is where the El Nino story becomes involved. There are separate projects to measure SSTs here. It would be interesting to splice them – assuming that no stepwise adjustment is needed.

39. Austin says:

30 C is real close to a number I recall from somewhere else. I just cannot recall what it is.

A more interesting number would be total heat potential for a given column of water.

40. richard verney says:

Willis

You state:

“Note that there is an obvious upper limit to the ocean temperatures, the “flat-top” on the graph at just above 30°C. No matter how much incoming solar there is, the ocean doesn’t get any warmer than that. This provides a “cap” on how hot the ocean can get. Above that temperature, any extra incoming energy is converted to latent and sensible heat, rather than warming the surface..”
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
That statement cannot possibly be correct.

I have reviewed thousands of ships logs and I can advise that I have seen numerous temperature entries where the temperature has exceeded 30degC, particularly on voyages from Far East/Malaysia where temperatures of up 34degC (and even slightly more) are commen.. These are engine manifold intake measuremenst with sea water being drawn typically at about 9 to 12 m below the surface. The surface temperature (by which I mean say a couple of mm below the top layer) would be even warmer (although in tropical oceans there is often not so much difference bewteen surface temperature and temperature at 10m)..

I seem to recall that you speak French. I know that the French Hydrographical Institute SHOM do some very good maps showing ocean temperatures.I have used them many times.

I haven’t had time to properly search, but a very quick search of NOAA produced the following:

You will note that this is not the height of summer and temperatures of up to 31.7 degC are recored. A one month earlier map may be a degree or so warmer..

The Argonautica by Rhodius Apollonius
The ship, as former bards relate, Argus wrought by the guidance of Athena. But now I will tell the lineage and the names of the heroes, and of the long sea-paths and the deeds they wrought in their wanderings; may the Muses be the inspirers of my song!

42. StuartMcL says:

Mark James says:
Aren’t we getting a little worked up here over 1/2 – 3/4 of one degree?
—————————————————————————————
But isn’t that the about the same size as the whole warming over the 20th Century that everyone is so worried about?

43. richard verney says:

Robert of Ottawa says:
February 9, 2012 at 4:07 pm
I scuba dive and have never had hotter surface waater than in Darwin Bay, Australia. 30C alright! Bloody hot – but then I am used to diving in Canada
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
Robert

You should try diving in the Red Sea, Very warm and good corals. Hey even Wikipedia don’t claim that the warm water is destroying the coral. See:

“A recent underwater expedition to the Red Sea offshore from Sudan and Eritrea[14] found surface water temperatures 28 °C in winter and up to 34 °C in the summer, but despite that extreme heat the coral was healthy with much fish life with very little sign of coral bleaching, and there were plans to use samples of these corals’ apparently heat-adapted commensal algae to salvage bleached coral elsewhere” Per Wikipedia

I can confirm that 34 degC is quite common and I have seen ship’s logs where 35 and even 36 degC has been recorded.

44. Greg Cavanagh says:

You didn’t get close the the other temperatures, because the Argo data is not uniformly distributed.

All you did was get the mean of all of the data, not the mean of the area.
You’ll first need to identify a temperature for an area even though there are many measurements of the same location over time, then get the mean of all of the areas.

You’ve got some work to do, lol.

45. Mr Black says:

Mark James, a difference of 1C per century in temperature change would be enough to expose their entire scheme as a fraud. Small errors matter because we are dealing with small numbers.

46. Willis.
Note the spatial coherence of the data. Think about the physics of conducting heat in water.
then ask, how many samples does one need to capture a trend in temperature change.
Interesting analytical question.

47. John Brookes says:

Thanks Willis. Real data, displayed nicely – always a pleasure.

48. Oh well, we’ve found Trenberth’s missing heat at last – the Argonauts need a couple less noughts in their error bars.

49. So all we need to do is use Hadley SST data until Argo floated, then tack on the Argo data, which is, after all, so accurate – smooth out the step and, bingo, 0.7 degrees of global cooling in an instant. (Don’t anyone mention that satellite data showing above 21 degrees.)

50. Willis Eschenbach says:

Charlie A says:
February 9, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Argo data being cooler is extra puzzling since Argo doesn’t measure temps of ice covered areas, which I assume would lower the average temp.

What regions ar.e excluded from the other estimates you quoted ?

Sorry for the lack of clarity. All averages are for the region 60N – 60S. I’ll spell it out in the head post.

w.

51. Willis Eschenbach says:

AncientOfDays says:
February 9, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Not Jason, but “Ulysses” by Tennyson. Both Greeks though. You get 1/2 a point.

Right. You think I quoted it, but I didn’t know it was from “Ulysses” by Tennyson. I memorized it in high school, my friend, I’ve known it’s by the guy with the comma in his name for fifty years.

You get a full point for recognizing the poem, but you lose a point for making foolish assumptions.

w.

52. @Doug Proctor at 4:48 pm:

Okay, obvious context for data:

2)
a) the Argo data has hundreds of thousands of data points.
b) the error/accuracy limits show up as outlier “fuzz” at the edge of the data and is visible to the naked eye. Especially at the warmer end and in the northern hemisphere.

Your 2)b) point is not correctly stated, Doug. The “fuzz” is not “error/accuracy limits”. It is real data. There is nothing erroneous about it. Yes, they are somewhat “outliers”, but they really only represent what the continental coastlines are doing to the currents.

53. Mark James says:

StuartMcL says:
February 9, 2012 at 7:49 pm

“Mark James says:
Aren’t we getting a little worked up here over 1/2 – 3/4 of one degree?
—————————————————————————————
But isn’t that the about the same size as the whole warming over the 20th Century that everyone is so worried about?”

Yes Stuart, those numbers are in line with what the earth has actually experienced on average over the 20th century, but it is far from what the warmists promise us is actually happening or is about to happen, which is why I don’t think it makes a dent in their wild assertions and lies. It’s just not enough of a difference.

54. Willis Eschenbach says:

Ian H says:
February 9, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Argo doesn’t measure shallow areas. Look around Indonesia for example. There is an awful lot of warm surface water there that is not being measured. My first guess would be that this alone is enough to explain the discrepancy. Argo also doesn’t measure temperatures in ice covered areas but these are usually excluded from other measures of average SST as well. This is not unreasonable since if the sea is covered by ice then by definition there isn’t a surface there whose temperature you can measure.

That could be it, Ian. My problem is, my bad number detector says there likely isn’t enough shallow areas to do it. Lemme think about it. If I look at Figure 1, I’d say the white areas by the coasts are less than 10% of the total ocean area for sure. Lets call it 5%.

The ARGO data is maybe half or more of a degree cooler than the others. So if that is to be compensated for by 5% of the surface, that 5% would have to be ten degrees C (18°F) warmer at all locations than the surrounding ocean …

Nope. Not happening, and even half of that is not happening. As a seaman I can tell you that there is nowhere near that kind of surface temperature rise just because the ocean bottom has shoaled from a kilometre deep to half a kilometre deep. You do get a slight warming in very shallow water (less than ten metres or so) right alongshore, but it rarely extends further seawards than the five fathom (10 m) depth line, and usually not even that deep.

So no, the idea is good, but the proportions are wrong.

Thanks, interesting thought,

w.

Jason and the Argo Notes

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

“An army of Skeletons, the children of Hydra GAIA is fighting against Jason Anthony and his men; from The Ray Harryhausen’s Jason And The Argonauts-1963″

56. Besides the “fuzz” as Doug at 4:48pm calls it, my attention is drawn to the DOWNward block of data in the SH between 0° and 30°. It is a clear demarcation at the Equator between NH and SH.

I’ve spent time in Peru, at high and low elevations, and I KNOW that this coolness does exist, well within the tropics and within the SH Hadley cell. I looked at that as being from the Humboldt Current, but that looks like more data points than just off the Peruvian/Ecuadorian coast would produce.

Anybody got any ideas what that downward bulge is all about?

57. Willis Eschenbach says:

little polyp says:
February 9, 2012 at 5:03 pm

willis

is there a mechanism for ensuring or adjusting the data base so that the sample population is geographically evenly distributed ? (ie one point per grid cell or an equivalent)

Yes, it is the method that I used to calculate the average. It’s called area-averaging. It uses the cosine of the mid-latitude of each latitude band to adjust (weight) the average of each latitude band so that it is adjusted for the fact that different latitude bands have different areas.

w.

58. Anthony, I like your approach to this.

IMHO, the first thing one should do with any dataset is to plot it ALL out, to see if there are any obvious errors in what you are doing – but also to have a basis/foundation from which to view the subsets – NH/SH, summer/winter, etc.

59. Willis –

Hey, Duded, I like that using the cosine thing. It makes perfect sense.

Steve Garcia

60. Also, Willis, I mistakenly put in Anthony in the post at 9:17pm.

It should have been addressed to you.

61. Ursus Augustus says:

Crazy Brave Robert of Ottawa

and if the Noah’s Arks and the Salty’s don’t get you then the sea wasps might and make sure you don’t step on a stone fish – that is a really painful way to die. ( It is no accident that I live in Tasmania )

62. Willis Eschenbach says:

February 9, 2012 at 5:45 pm

The flat top of ocean surface temperatures in the tropics is interesting. The atmospheric temperature above the ocean surface is what controls the transfer of heat from the oceans to the atmosphere. And this says to me that there is a limit to atmospheric tropical temperatures. Release more heat from the oceans and all that happens is it gets transmitted to space faster.

Exactly. At that point, increased forcing merely makes the waterwheel spin faster, moving more water aloft and back down again, and pumping more energy to the poles to be rejected to space.

w.

63. Willis Eschenbach says:

Mike says:
February 9, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Latitude graph looks too cold on the North side. There aren’t any waters at 40 degrees north under 3 degrees, and you even have some hovering around zero.

I just report them. That’s what Argo said.

w.

64. @Doug Cotton at 8:38 pm:

So all we need to do is use Hadley SST data until Argo floated, then tack on the Argo data, which is, after all, so accurate – smooth out the step and, bingo, 0.7 degrees of global cooling in an instant. (Don’t anyone mention that satellite data showing above 21 degrees.)

Good observation, Doug.

65. Willis –

Doug Cotton makes a good, reasonable point at 8:38. Have you the capacity to look at the satellite data for 60N-60S and only the oceans?

Steve Garcia

66. Willis Eschenbach says:

Mark James says:
February 9, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Aren’t we getting a little worked up here over 1/2 – 3/4 of one degree?

Bear in mind that Hansen claims we can measure not just the surface but the top mile of the ocean to 0.004°C per year … I’m just trying to understand what the real numbers and the real errors are like here. I’m not “worked up”, I find it interesting.

w.

67. Keith Minto says:

Geoff Sherrington says:
February 9, 2012 at 7:29 pm

I’m upset that we Australians don’t have a west coast orange anomaly. Anyone know why?

I am not sure you meant anomaly in that sense, as Fig1 deals in absolutes, but with the La Nina pattern still there causing westward movement of warm shallow water past the Indonesian flow through, there is still plenty of 30plus water there.

http://www.bom.gov.au/products/IDY00007.shtml

68. Willis Eschenbach says:

richard verney says:
February 9, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Willis

You state:

“Note that there is an obvious upper limit to the ocean temperatures, the “flat-top” on the graph at just above 30°C. No matter how much incoming solar there is, the ocean doesn’t get any warmer than that. This provides a “cap” on how hot the ocean can get. Above that temperature, any extra incoming energy is converted to latent and sensible heat, rather than warming the surface..”

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
That statement cannot possibly be correct.

Hey, before taking a stand, take a look. At Figure 2. Yes, there are occasional 34 degree readings. But obviously, they are not common at all.

The existence of a maximum ocean temperature has been known for some years. It is not hard and fast, obviously. But look at Figure 2, Richard. That’s real data. How often does it go above about 31°C?

Hang on … OK, here’s the numbers. There are 696,872 Argo surface temperature measurements in the dataset. By one degree interval above 28°C we have the following numbers of measurements:

28° – 29°: 62618
29° – 30°: 48374
30* – 31°: 9033
31* – 32°: 567
32* – 33°: 103
33° – 34°: 24

w.

69. Willis Eschenbach says:

Greg Cavanagh says:
February 9, 2012 at 7:55 pm

You didn’t get close the the other temperatures, because the Argo data is not uniformly distributed.

All you did was get the mean of all of the data, not the mean of the area.

Here’s my description of what I did, from the head post:

I averaged it by 1° latitude bands, and then took an area adjusted average to give a global mean.

w.

70. Ian H says:

Nope. Not happening, and even half of that is not happening. As a seaman I can tell you that there is nowhere near that kind of surface temperature rise just because the ocean bottom has shoaled from a kilometre deep to half a kilometre deep. You do get a slight warming in very shallow water (less than ten metres or so) right alongshore, but it rarely extends further seawards than the five fathom (10 m) depth line, and usually not even that deep.

What are you doing Willis? This is a comparison of the temperature of shallow water to nearby deep ocean. What has that got to do with anything. I never claimed that shallowness made water warm. Please don’t bring out the straw man.

Your claim is irrelevant because the geographic distribution of unsampled shallow areas is very uneven. Look at it. The bulk of the unsampled area is in the tropics. There is a huge area around Malaysia – Indonesia – North Australia. Read the comments. You’ve got divers talking of diving in 30C water in Darwin, and mariners commenting on commonly seeing high water temperatures in that region – up to 34C. There is another big white area in the Carribean. Do you reckon the water might be warm there too? Quite likely.

Someone earlier (sorry I’ve have to scan back to see who) did a ballpark estimate that the temperature of the unsampled bits would need to be around 30C to make up for the difference. For the part of the world we are talking about that temperature is high for sure, but it was only a ballpark estimate and this isn’t out of the ballpark.

Hansen’t number may be “precise”, but by comparing it with the other datasets, it doesn’t appear to be “accurate”. There can be quite a difference, of course.

It makes my head ache thinking what it would take to apply geostatistics to this set of data, but quite often a headache resolves into a procedure–.

One of the biggest bugaboos in comparing results from different datasets from the same “urn” is that seldom is the “sample support” equivalent. To normalize them for comparitive purposes can take horendous effort, if it can be done at all. Pierre Gy is one of the experts in the field of sampling theory, sampling practice, heterogeneity, sampling correctness, and statistical process control. Indeed, he has a book out with approximately that title.

72. Willis Eschenbach says:

steven mosher says:
February 9, 2012 at 8:06 pm

Willis.
Note the spatial coherence of the data. Think about the physics of conducting heat in water.
then ask, how many samples does one need to capture a trend in temperature change.
Interesting analytical question.

Indeed it is an interesting question.

The spatial coherence is greatly underestimated by the color scheme, which groups together the data in 3° bands. The ocean is far from spatially coherent.

I have a huge advantage in this discussion in that I’ve fished commercially for albacore. The albacore are very sensitive to the temperature. So when you fish albacore, you drive around the ocean day after day, watching the thermometer and trying to find the water of the right temperature. So I’m very familiar with the vagaries of ocean temperatures.

Certainly there are areas which are very coherent. But nature loves edges, and way out in the middle of the ocean, no land in sight, you’ll come on a current line. On one side of that line may be warmer blue water, and on the other side of that line may be colder, greener water … not coherent in any sense of the word.

Anyhow, that’s what I’m looking at is the actual data.

Thanks,

w.

73. Willis Eschenbach says:

February 9, 2012 at 9:14 pm

Jason and the Argo Notes

w.

74. jorgekafkazar says:

AncientOfDays says: “Not Jason, but “Ulysses” by Tennyson. Both Greeks though. You get 1/2 a point.”

So was Aristotle Onassis. Zero points.

75. David says:

Willis, the flat part of the graph in the tropics is an illustration and support of a paper going back to 1979 on why the T is limited in the tropics, and is furthermore indicative of how the percentage of increasing energy going into evaporation, latent heat, and convection increases, verses the energy going into T.
This is also supportive of additional LWIR in the tropics mostly going into increeeased evaporation and convection, what with LWIR being absorbe at the surface. Whereas a much larger percentage of increase in solar induced SWR would penetrate far below the surface and have a far longer residence time.

Your comment about the cooler SH was likewise curious indeeed. The SH recieves 7% more insolation in it’s summer, yet apparently that absorbed heat is transfeered north?

76. David says:

ugh, very late, forgive the typos.

77. pat says:

Real data is the last thing you can find now.

78. DavidA says:

I’m curious about the area adjusted average calculation. I take that as meaning the average of all samples within a given band is calculated as a start. As bands are not all of equal area (equator the largest, outer most smallest) each band’s average contributes to the global mean in proportion to its fraction of the total area.

But, those bands contain land mass (each different) within them which needs to be subtracted from their raw area (sea + land). Is this accounted for?

79. @Willis Certainly there are areas which are very coherent. But nature loves edges, and way out in the middle of the ocean, no land in sight, you’ll come on a current line. On one side of that line may be warmer blue water, and on the other side of that line may be colder, greener water … not coherent in any sense of the word.

What you describe seems to me the ocean equivalent of “weather.” On land it involves the interfaces of great 3D air bodies rolling past each other as we groundlings experience only a 2D edge of it. A sailor with a thermometer is seeing the weather of the ocean as great 3D bodies water negotiate their passing and mixing.

I remember camping in a canyon below a plateau, the night peaceful and quiet. Then you first hear a great rushing of wind for many seconds while all is still around you. Then a 50 mph gust blows your tent over and is gone 20 seconds later. In 3D a great horizontal “rotor” spins up at the canyon rim, and it moves down the slope much slower than its spinning body. A fast wind moving slowly.

80. JJ;
the non-overlap of 95% confidence levels indicates, IMO, two things: the bands are too narrow (i.e., cofidence is overstated), and the entire median estimate is improperly or incompetently derived.
Such forgiving banding is characteristic of the soft pseudo-sciences, in any case. No self-respecting physicist would get within several sigma of them.

81. Steptoe Fan says:

go to the Argo home page at the U of San Diego, and use their link(s) to get data.

82. tty says:

“Mike says:
February 9, 2012 at 6:27 pm
Latitude graph looks too cold on the North side. There aren’t any waters at 40 degrees north under 3 degrees, and you even have some hovering around zero.”

There are at least two such areas: the Black Sea and the waters around Korea, the Vladivostok Area and Hokkaido. These areas even have fairly extensive sea-ice in winter.

Also the argument that missing shallow areas explain the temperature anomaly ignores the fact that there are extensive areas of shallow cold seas between 60 S and 60 N as well: The Baltic, The North Sea, the shallows around Ireland and New Foundland, most of Hudson Bay, most of the Sea of Okhotsk and the shallows off Patagonia just to mention the most important ones.

83. Foxgoose says:

Wikipedia says

Argo data result errors
During 2006, the Argo Network was thought to have shown a declining trend in ocean temperatures. In February 2007, the author of the paper (Josh Willis) discovered that there were problems with the data used for the analysis. Many references exist to the uncorrected data results despite Josh Willis’ published correction in 2008: many articles and arguments still use and promote the uncorrected data results from 2006.

Wiki’s a bit coy about the reason for, and the nature of, the “corrections” – but, reading around, it seems they were made to bring the Argo results more in line with previously modeled data.
Are the data you’re using really “raw” data Willis – or have they been “rationalised” in line with the well established principles of climatology?

84. Mark says:

DocMartyn says:
February 9, 2012 at 6:47 pm
according to your figure the Mediterranean is about the same as the North Sea and North Atlantic.That is, as the English say, bollocks.
The Gulf stream is also missing…
====================================
We’re clearly looking at different maps – by my geography the North Sea is the bit “just to the right” of the British Isles and is all white – presumably unmeasured as it’s too shallow – compared with a beautiful yellowy-red for the Med. The North Altantic shows slightly cooler than the Med (in gold rather than yellow), presumably thanks to the apparently missing Gulf Stream – which in reality is clearly visible as a yellow-gold triangle running from Iberia to the Eastern seaboard to North West of Scotland and providing significantly warmer temperature than for any other oceans at the same latitude.

February 9, 2012 at 5:45 pm
“The flat top of ocean surface temperatures in the tropics is interesting. The atmospheric temperature above the ocean surface is what controls the transfer of heat from the oceans to the atmosphere. And this says to me that there is a limit to atmospheric tropical temperatures. Release more heat from the oceans and all that happens is it gets transmitted to space faster.”

I’ve long thought that since the thermal capacity of the oceans dwarfs that of the atmosphere, any TSI variation (both rises and falls) would be mopped up largely by the oceans. But the flat cap tells us that beyond 30C additional Joules go to latent heat of evaporation. To coin a phrase, Warmer Water Wreaks Wetter Weather. This must be very familiar territory to meteorologists! More water vapour leads to more clouds leading to higher albedo and – hey presto – we have a negative feedback loop regulating the climate. Which shouldn’t surprise us for a planet with a 4500 million year track record.

Apocalypse postponed. As the Beatles sang, “Li li li li life goes on” – the denialist #@\$£#’s!

86. The cooler, more-evenly distributed temperatures of the SH (as a whole) could be attributed to them simply being larger and less obstructed by land masses. It takes less energy to generate and to maintain currents with less obstruction.

Take into account where those currents happen and where the SH absorbs nett solar energy which is subsequently distributed by the currents. It is a “chaotic” system governed largely by uncertain boundary conditions. By definition; impossible to calculate. But if you hold your hand out to government reciting preferred dogma, you’ll get funding for super-computers to draw help pretty pictures which are related more to an imaginary universe created from assumptions than to the real world.

87. TerryS says:

Re: Ian H

Someone earlier (sorry I’ve have to scan back to see who) did a ballpark estimate that the temperature of the unsampled bits would need to be around 30C to make up for the difference. For the part of the world we are talking about that temperature is high for sure, but it was only a ballpark estimate and this isn’t out of the ballpark.

That was me. Willis also came up with about the same figures. That ballpark estimate is based on Argo missing 5% of the surface area between 60S and 60N. Here is a formula you can use to come up with your own ballpark figures

Ta = 60/P + 19.7

Ta is the average temperature of the missing area and P is the percentage of missing area. So if Argo misses 2% then the average of this 2% would have to be 49.7C to make the overall average 20.3C. With 5% its 31.7C and so on.

Perhaps you could give us your ballpark figure for how much of the oceans between 60S and 60N Argo misses? We will then know what the average temperature of this area needs to be in order for Argo to match other datasets.

88. peterdek says:

Dear Willis
SST is used as a proxy for “global warming” . Given its weight of 71%, there is no global warming without increase in SST.
I’m wondering for a long time how big the impact of ocean currents can be on global average SST. Would you be able to analyse this on the basis of the Argo data?

rgds

89. LJ Hills says:

Fascinating but I have a quibble. The Mediterranean which has no upwelling currents and thus time to develop a warm upper layer has the same temperature profile as the west coast of southern Africa, where there is a cold upwelling due to the prevailing southeasterly wind. Swimming in the Mediterranean is enjoyable and can be prolonged whereas the South Atlantic coast is usually shocking for all but the hardiest.

90. MieScatter says:

Hey Willis, have you checked your area averaging algorithm? If you got the weighting wrong (e.g. same weighting to 1×1 ° near the pole and near the equator) then you could have overweighted the cooler polar temperatures.

91. steveta_uk says:

Lubos, if your theory about maximum solar heating was true, then the width of the plateau would co-incide with the area that gets overhead heating, i.e. the tropics, but looking at figure 2 you see – exactly that!

92. tty says:

“LJ Hills says:
February 10, 2012 at 1:43 am
Fascinating but I have a quibble. The Mediterranean which has no upwelling currents and thus time to develop a warm upper layer has the same temperature profile as the west coast of southern Africa, where there is a cold upwelling due to the prevailing southeasterly wind. Swimming in the Mediterranean is enjoyable and can be prolonged whereas the South Atlantic coast is usually shocking for all but the hardiest.”

The SST in the Mediterranean varies much more strongly with the seasons than in the Benguela Current even though the annual average may be similar. In winter bathing in the Mediterranean can be very bracing:

http://magicseaweed.com/msw-surf-charts2.php?chart=83&res=750&type=sst&starttime=

93. William M. Connolley says:

> I averaged it by 1° latitude bands, and then took an area adjusted average to give a global mean

Assuming you mean that you averaged all the floats in a given latitude band together, that would be a problem, since there is clearly structure in longitude; you’ll have biased your numbers by float-count-density.

You need to average into lat-lon boxes to start with, to have any hope of getting the right answer. And you might need to do it year-to-year too, since there will be interannual variations.

94. John says:

“Note that there is an obvious upper limit to the ocean temperatures, the “flat-top” on the graph at just above 30°C. No matter how much incoming solar there is, the ocean doesn’t get any warmer than that. This provides a “cap” on how hot the ocean can get. Above that temperature, any extra incoming energy is converted to latent and sensible heat, rather than warming the surface.”

That’s wrong. There is no scientific basis for such a statement. Might I suggest you consider the earth is tilted and the latitude of the ocean perpendicular to the sun varies by an amount suspiciously close to the size of your plateau ;)

95. Myrrh says:

I wondered about it too, I know the area and wouldn’t swim around the Cape..

Using pink for colder water (12°C) than green (16°C) seems a bit perverse, map on the second link.

The Cape seawater is cold so surfers wear +5mm thick wetsuits to enjoy the water. Both coastlines have very powerful currents – due caution and care must be taken. The sea in False Bay in summer often reaches 22 °C (72 °F) due to the strong south easter wind blowing the warm Agulhas into False Bay. Whereas on the Atlantic beaches the same wind pulls the warm surface water away from the coast, and this is replaced by very cold water from great depths, usually 6 – 14 °C (45 – 57 °F – light pink area), also known as “upwelled” water, which is rich in nutrients and usually clear and blue.

96. David L. says:

Why a maximum temperature? I suspect that if one would write out the simultaneous set of kinetic equations (heat in from the sun, heat out by evaporation, conduction, convection, conversion to latent heat, etc.) there would be an asymptotic steady state equilibrium temperature that is somewhat insensitive to fluctuations of the inputs/outputs. And that temp is (empirically) 19.7C. If the AGW world thought more in terms of first, second, third order kinetics and gave up on the erroneous linear projections (zeroeth order kinetics), they’d be better at predicting reality.

97. Pete in Cumbria UK says:

Here’s another of those random thoughts i get now and again.

Would a ‘land based’ set of Argo floats give a sensible reading of temperature? In the same way that the ocean is a great big integrator/averager of temperature, so would be the land. (I got that from the current excitement here in the UK for so-called Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHP) as a ‘green’ and eco-friendly way to heat your house.) They are supposedly much better than Air Source Heat Pumps because the temperature just a few feet underground, anywhere in the world, tends to ‘pretty constant’. It certainly is clear how 3ft of dirt would average out the surface temperature and hopefully provide a true average of what went on on the surface. Day/night variations and even weekly/monthly changes would be pretty well smeared out.
But, burying thermometers is not especially a good idea, not least the practicality of reading them.
So its a pretty duff idea.

But but but, howzabout taking a leaf again from the GSHP idea and using a loop of pipe buried in the ground at 3,4 or 5 feet below the surface and circulating water through it.
Still not good, even more work than just burying the thermometer.

But but but, almost every house, home dwelling, shop and factory in the world that has a supply of tapwater, is connected to a pipe, containing water, at exactly those sort of depths. Simply turn on the tap, let it run a few moments then measure its temp. We could have millions of underground Argo floats reporting data with days from all around the world wherever anyone is connected to a public water supply. Plus, they probably only need to do one reading aper week (at most) to return a perfectly averaged measurement of the local temperature – what is the ‘Time Constant’ of dirt? Once a month might suffice. Time of day, sunny, windy,rainy, jet engines, air cons would be all pretty well irrelevant, in the same way as it is for the Argos.
What do reckon?

PS Local conditions here yesterday were..
Hi= 1.9C at 20:35 GMT
Lo- -.0.8C at 01:09
Slight freezing rain in the morning.Foggy otherwise.
Temp of cold water tap =+5.0C at GMT when I could be bothered.

98. Alistair Ahs says:

Willis – “The ARGO data is maybe half or more of a degree cooler than the others. So if that is to be compensated for by 5% of the surface, that 5% would have to be ten degrees C (18°F) warmer at all locations than the surrounding ocean … ”

Let’s accept your figures for a moment. The 5% doesn’t have to be 10C warmer than the immediately surrounding ocean, it has to be 10C warmer than the global average for it to have the effect on the global average that would resolve the discrepancy.

If you look at the areas which are shallow – mainly around Indonesia and the Caribbean – then these areas are near where the temperatures are above 27C (the red colour on your colour bar). So that’s pretty close to your ballpark estimate of 10C warmer than the global average.

A way to resolve this would be to subsample the HadISST/Reynolds data by leaving out the data for Indonesia and other shallow sea areas and see how that affects the global average they produce. Also, of course, directly plotting the spatial differences.

It could be that there’s a measurement bias in terms of what the Argo floats define as being the surface, bearing in mind that when they take their measurements they are drifting up from colder temperatures below, and one would assume some sort of lag would be involved while the instrumentation warms up.

99. Of course, some corrections were applied to remove the artifacts. Somehow I doubt that that those corrections would be the case – you would have to correlate original

100. David says:

John says:
February 10, 2012 at 4:39 am
“Note that there is an obvious upper limit to the ocean temperatures, the “flat-top” on the graph at just above 30°C. No matter how much incoming solar there is, the ocean doesn’t get any warmer than that. This provides a “cap” on how hot the ocean can get. Above that temperature, any extra incoming energy is converted to latent and sensible heat, rather than warming the surface.”

That’s wrong. There is no scientific basis for such a statement. Might I suggest you consider the earth is tilted and the latitude of the ocean perpendicular to the sun varies by an amount suspiciously close to the size of your plateau.
=================================
John, I will look for the link but a paper was published in 1979 about this, and it has only been supported since. No, it is not absolute, but likely close for any increase in LWIR, because that energy is absorbed at the very top of the ocean. For certain the rate of evaporation to energy (T) increase is not linear, and as you approach these T, ever more of the energy does go into evaporation. I think some studies indicated three times more W/V increase then the models indicated. A higher percentage of SWR certainly does go below the surface.

101. michael hart says:

“Latitude graph looks too cold on the North side. There aren’t any waters at 40 degrees north under 3 degrees, and you even have some hovering around zero.”

Don’t icebergs drift down to these latitudes?
This also raises another point in my mind: How, in practice, do the floats actually distribute themselves over time in the vicinity of coasts, islands, icebergs etc? Flotsam and jetsam doesn’t distribute itself uniformly, and the currents won’t help it to either. So even within a grid cell we would expect major heterogeneities. More so at land-ocean interfaces.

102. michael hart says:

…and my contribution…
Post hoc, Argo propter hoc.

103. John Bonfield says:

Interesting.
If ice-covered areas are excluded. by all sea surface methods, then does the average temperature go up if the sea-ice covers a larger area?

What, exactly, is meant by “average sea-temperature” anyway? Is it surface, at some depth x, and what counts as “sea” ? How is the average computed? If you use satellite data, does cloud cover affect the reading? Doe that mean that satellite data gives a higher average reading, since (presumably) cloud cover would lower sea temperatures? If you are measuring just surface temps, then storms would have a localized mixing effect, and skew data.
When you are trying to measure tenths of a degree, lots can go wrong.

104. richard verney says:

Willis Eschenbach says: February 9, 2012 at 9:44 pm
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Willis

Thank you for getting back to me. Engaging in debate is the cornerstone upon which science is properly conducted. You appear not to have understood the limited point that I made. I comment further.

1. First, my observation was limited solely to your assertion that “Note that there is an obvious upper limit to the ocean temperatures, the “flat-top” on the graph at just above 30°C. No matter how much incoming solar there is, the ocean doesn’t get any warmer than that. This provides a “cap” on how hot the ocean can get. Above that temperature, any extra incoming energy is converted to latent and sensible heat, rather than warming the surface..” I made no wider observations on your wider analysis. In particular, I made no comment upon whether the higher sea surface temperatures observed by me would, if properly incorporated into your analysis, have a significant effect on your assessed average temperature of 19.7degC.
2. Second, your quoted assertion either states, or at any rate implies, that the process of evaporation and convection and conduction (the latent and sensible heat therein involved) puts an upper cap on sea surface temperature AND that that cap is placed at 30degC.
3. Third, I would not disagree that there is an upper cap at which surface sea temperature can obtain. I would accept that the process set out in your assertion plays a part in that cap. However, that process is not the only process in play, and I suspect it is not the dominant process. In particular, surface temperature is kept low because of the amount of solar irradiance penetrating the oceans (angle of incident, wavelength absorption varying with depth, cloudiness etc), ocean currents distributing the warm near surface temperatures to other areas and ocean mixing whereby near surface temperature is overturned with cooler water coming from lower depths. All these processes in which I include yours (and no doubt others as well), act to put a cap on surface temperature.
4. Fourth, I merely join issue with the assertion “No matter how much incoming solar there is, the ocean doesn’t get any warmer than [30degC]…Above that temperature, any extra incoming energy is converted to latent and sensible heat, rather than warming the surface” My joining of issue with your asserted cap of 30degC was based on REAL DATA and on a lot of REAL DATA. As I observed, I have reviewed thousands of ships logs which contain many hundreds of thousands of recorded entries based upon empirical observation. This is REAL empirical data, yet you seek to infer by your comment when you refer me to figure 2 and state: “That’s real data” that the data to which I refer is not real data and implicitly should not be given the same weight.
5. Fifth, you then at the end of your response set out a summary of the ARGO data reviewed by you. This summary suggests that nearly 10,000 points/sets of data show a temperature exceeding 30degC. That alone, would indicate that even based upon the data that you yourself have reviewed your assertion of a 30degC cap for surface sea temperature cannot be correct.
6. Sixth, as other commentators have pointed out, ARGO does not sample relatively shallow waters. These shallow oceans not sampled are likely to contain a significant area where warm surface temperatures are experienced. A point that you have conceded but countered with the observation that in the overall scheme of things the area involved is not particularly significant. You might be correct on that caveat, but my point is twofold, first that it would have added to the near 10,000 data samples you set out in your summary and second, the cap on ocean temperatures is a physical process not dependent upon the number of data samples taken. It does not matter that only about 10,000 out of about 700,000 data sets show a temperature exceeding 30degC. Misquoting Einstein, I only need to show one data set that contradicts your assertion of there being a 30deg C cap to prove your assertion wrong. On your own evidence there are nearly 10,000 sets of data establishing the incorrectness of your assertion!
7. Seventh, it is clear that not only on your own evidence (the near 10,000 data sets you referred to) as well as my own personal experience based upon the examination of hundreds of thousands of ship log entries that your assertion that there is a cap of 30deg C on sea surface temperature is wrong.
8. Eighth, since you have had some involvement in commercial shipping, you may well know that commercial shipping frequently employs the services of weather routing agencies. There are many such agencies such as Oceanroutes, Marincom just to name a couple. Ships all over the world will report their position and weather data to these weather routing agencies. These weather routing agencies compile a data base of observational data from 1000s of ocean going ships. They also utilize satellite weather imaging and of course, traditional weather charts. Based upon all this data, they give routing advice to ships utilizing their services. So when I say that I have reviewed thousands of ships logs, although I did not mention it, I have additionally reviewed thousands of reports compiled by these weather routing agencies such reports making use of observational data not only from the ship in question but also from other ships in the near vicinity (the logs of which I might not have reviewed). I have also reviewed numerous charts from leading hydrographic institutions which set out details of sea surface temperature and others sea temperatures at various depths. For your information, you might like to look at http://www.wriwx.com/yacht/seaweather.php which gives an indication of the type of information given to Masters of ocean vessels from which you will note that the “BASIC PACKAGE: Includes all data available in Lite Package, plus Coastal Zone and High Seas/Offshore Forecasts, .WRI Heavy Weather Summaries, WRI Port/City ForecastsTropical Cyclone Tracker, 6 hourly Forecast Charts through 48 hours for:- Wind Direction/Speed- Sea and Swell Height/Directions/Periods- SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURES – Precipitation- Sea Level Pressure- Visibility Forecast data coverage includes North and Central America.” (my emphasis).
9. Ninth, I also have other empirical observational data upon which to base my view that 30deg C is not the upper cap of sea surface temperature. In the summer my swimming pool regularly gets up to 35 to 36 degC in mid/late July to mid August, and when there is a particularly hot summer it has reached 38 or even 39 degC. During the height of summer, there is much evaporation and yet this evaporation does not restrict the pool temperature to 30degC. This too suggests that the latent heat involved in evaporation etc does not place a cap of 30degC on surface temperature of water bodies.
10. Tenth, my comment regarding 34degC temperatures is limited solely to your assertion that there is effectively a 30degC cap on surface sea temperature due to evaporation etc. When I say that a temperature of up to 34degC is commonly observed, I am not seeking to suggest that this extends to all oceans and all seas. I am merely making the point that a temperature of around 34degC is not seen merely once in a blue moon, but rather that it will be seen regularly at various locations (albeit this may be a limited number of locations) such that it is not an outlier but is in fact a characteristic of the surface temperature of the ocean at that point.

Sorry for the length of this post. The point you raised as to what temperature the sea surface is capped at and why that is so is not of relevance to your analysis of the ARGO data but I feel obliged to explain why a remain of the firm view that your assertion in that regard is not correct. I do this mainly because, I consider that understanding the oceans is the key to understanding global warming and how the climate behaves and I am of the view that unless the oceans are significantly warming there can be no cAGW come what may.

105. Arnagh Observatory says:

“Ian H says:
February 9, 2012 at 4:54 pm
Argo doesn’t measure shallow areas”

That would explain the absence of data for the North Sea.

So shallow that fishing boats often snag their nets on the stumps of ancient trees, swamped by post glacial sea level rise and a tsunami which washed away what remained of the landbridge between Britain and mainland Europe.

The same nets also dredge up human manufactured artifacts such as flint tools.

I wonder if the Flood myths are a folk memory of this catastrophic rise in seal levels?

106. Steve McIntyre says:

Willis, can you provide the precise URL of the data set plotted here? Thx, Steve Mc

107. michael hart says:

Water vapor-pressure rises exponentially with temperature, so it certainly wouldn’t surprise me to learn that this puts an effective ceiling on ocean surface temperatures.

108. richard verney says:

John says: February 10, 2012 at 4:39 am
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

John

You are correct. The quoted assertion made by Willis is incorrect.
You may like to see my posts of February 9, 2012 at 7:38 pm and February 9, 2012 at 7:49 pm wherein I point out that temperatures of 34degC are commonly to be observed. There is not a cap of 30degC imposed upon surface sea temperature, I can categorically confirm that from the copious amounts of empirical observation that I have personally reviewed.
I would not disagree that by necessity there will be a cap on surface temperature that can be achieved. The mechanism suggested by Willis for a cap to surface temperature existing is in my opinion a valid mechanism but not the only mechanism at play.
I have written to Willis further expanding upon my views. This response is presently tied up in the moderating process.

109. Willis –
Considering how shallow Argo Buoys operate, it is quite surprising that so many white areas are shown in Figure 1. The western Gulf of Mexico – what is that all about? And did Indonesia bar them from locating them in her waters?

@tty 12:15 am:

“Mike says:
February 9, 2012 at 6:27 pm
Latitude graph looks too cold on the North side. There aren’t any waters at 40 degrees north under 3 degrees, and you even have some hovering around zero.”

There are at least two such areas: the Black Sea and the waters around Korea, the Vladivostok Area and Hokkaido. These areas even have fairly extensive sea-ice in winter.

Also the argument that missing shallow areas explain the temperature anomaly ignores the fact that there are extensive areas of shallow cold seas between 60 S and 60 N as well: The Baltic, The North Sea, the shallows around Ireland and New Foundland, most of Hudson Bay, most of the Sea of Okhotsk and the shallows off Patagonia just to mention the most important ones.

tty, looking at Figure 1, it appears the Argo data has all those covered, except it looks like Ireland does not have any Argo buoys in the colder waters you mention.

110. @M.A.Vukcevic 1:20 am:
“This graph
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/AOT.htm
may look a bit of a clutter, but it does tell the importance the ocean currents play in distribution of temperatures, at least in the Atlantic Ocean.”

Looking at the ocean current map at your link, I am always aggravated when ocean current maps short-circuit or completely leave out the Gulf of Mexico. That slow circulation within its basin is the source of the heat in the Gulf Stream, and yet most ocean current maps pretend that doesn’t even exist. This is espacially true of the THC maps – and I suspect that that is because the Gulf current’s heat runs counter to their argument that the N Atlantic is somehow ‘sucking’ the water north, which is a patently ridiculous idea. Suction can only happen in a closed system, else leaks drop the static pressure to zero mighty quickly. Positive pressure (such as the water coming out of the Gulf), on the other hand, can push water. That outflowing water then gets redirected by the coriolis effect and the shape of the American east coast to the north and the east. In Willis’ Figure 1, notice the red in the western Atlantic extends considerably more N than the eastern Atlantic or any other area in the Atlantic or Pacific. According to THC that is due to suction. Poppycock.

111. steven mosher says:

willis

“The spatial coherence is greatly underestimated by the color scheme, which groups together the data in 3° bands. The ocean is far from spatially coherent.”

interesting question is how can you know that? think about it.

assume two measurement locations 100km apart. both at 28C. what does it mean to say there is spatial coherence?

112. John says:

I don’t dispute the rise in temperature is non-linear. However, I think the idea of a cap at 30oC is wrong and “any extra incoming energy is converted to latent and sensible heat, rather than warming the surface.” If the intensity of the sun increased I’d expect maximum surface temperatures to increase.
The Earth is tilted at about 23o this means during the Northern hemisphere summer the sun is most intense at around 23o north and during the Southern hemisphere summer the sun is most intense about 23o south. I’d suggest the reason for the plateau is because over this range at some point during the year it’s subject to the maximum intensity of the sun and this heats up the ocean to around 30oC. Obviously there is a lot more going on but the presence of a plateau is in my opinion much more likely to be due to the changing of the seasons.

113. John says:

I don’t know how to do superscript but they should be degrees and not o’s.

[Most web writers here just use either deg C, or just C – with the degrees symbol implied. Robt]

114. Pete in Cumbria UK says:
February 10, 2012 at 4:59 am

Here’s another of those random thoughts i get now and again.

Paraphrase: measure ground temperature instead of air temperature.

Excellent idea from a climatological POV. Problem is it would put Phil Jones, poor old Harry and many others out of work and it would cost a few millions to implement world wide. We obviously can’t afford to spend those millions when we need to spend trillions to save the world. An additional problem is it might not tell us what our lords and masters want to hear.

115. John said @ February 10, 2012 at 10:15 am

I don’t know how to do superscript but they should be degrees and not o’s.

[Most web writers here just use either deg C, or just C – with the degrees symbol implied. Robt]

Robt, John was wanting degrees for lat. & long, not temp. On the PC, hold down Alt and type 0176 on the numeric keypad (not the numbers on the top row). Let go the Alt key.

[Thank you. Robt]
[On a Mac it’s opt+shift+8 and on a PC it’s: *& deg ;* (with no spaces or asterisks.) WordPress doesn’t support sub- or superscripts. ~dbs]

116. tty says:

feet2thefire says:
February 10, 2012 at 9:49 am
“tty, looking at Figure 1, it appears the Argo data has all those covered, except it looks like Ireland does not have any Argo buoys in the colder waters you mention.”

And your comment suggests that you are not very good at geography.Figure 1 clearly shows that Argo has zero coverage in the areas i mentioned.

• tty –
Shallow areas around Ireland? To the south? SE? E? Those aren’t shallow, even if they are white.

To the west, it is covered. Between Ireland and Wales, there is the Isle of Man, and to the south are the Scilly Isles. The Isle of Man has palm trees, and the Scilly Isles is famous for growing tropical plants by the millions, so you can’t be talking about those areas as being colder water.

My geography is just fine, thank you.

117. David says:

John says:
February 10, 2012 at 10:13 am
I don’t dispute the rise in temperature is non-linear. However, I think the idea of a cap at 30oC is wrong and “any extra incoming energy is converted to latent and sensible heat, rather than warming the surface.” If the intensity of the sun increased I’d expect maximum surface temperatures to increase.
The Earth is tilted at about 23o this means during the Northern hemisphere summer the sun is most intense at around 23o north and during the Southern hemisphere summer the sun is most intense about 23o south. I’d suggest the reason for the plateau is because over this range at some point during the year it’s subject to the maximum intensity of the sun and this heats up the ocean to around 30oC. Obviously there is a lot more going on but the presence of a plateau is in my opinion much more likely to be due to the changing of the seasons.
============================================
I agree that the effect is not 100% I am somewhere between Willis and Richard Verney on this. For LWIR it may be close to 100%, as the energy is 100% absorbed in the top ocean layer. For SW solar radiation I accept that the limit is less defined as this input is absorbed over the third demension of depth. The problem with Richard’s pool is it cannot produce clouds, another limitation.

• @John 10:13 am:

I don’t dispute the rise in temperature is non-linear. However, I think the idea of a cap at 30oC [sic] is wrong and “any extra incoming energy is converted to latent and sensible heat, rather than warming the surface.” If the intensity of the sun increased I’d expect maximum surface temperatures to increase.
The Earth is tilted at about 23o [sic] this means during the Northern hemisphere summer the sun is most intense at around 23o [sic] north and during the Southern hemisphere summer the sun is most intense about 23o [sic] south. I’d suggest the reason for the plateau is because over this range at some point during the year it’s subject to the maximum intensity of the sun and this heats up the ocean to around 30oC [sic].

John, either you are missing something or I am. The Argo temps Willis has used are not summer readings – they are ALL the data, summer and winter, and, I suppose, everything in between. It has nothing to do with the tilt in summer in the NH or SH.

Also, Willis isn’t saying there is a cap, as much as he sees that the data flattens out at about 30-31C and he is noting that it is a real curiosity. It isn’t something Willis put into it; it is just in the data. Therefore it is as real as the data. WHY it is so he isn’t really speculating, because he knows this exercise is just a ‘let’s look and see what this shows” kind of thing.

At the same time, yes, it does appear that some mechanism must be occurring to limit the “All-Argo” temps at that level. Right now anything anyone says is just a guess, maybe an informed guess, but still just a guess.

118. Willis Eschenbach says:

Several folks have pointed out that I neglected to include the percentage of ocean area in my calculation of the average shown in Figure 2. They are correct. I have recalculated the average including the weighting by percentage of ocean in each latitudinal band. I find the corrected average to be 19.9 instead of 19.7 … I’ve noted that in the head post. It doesn’t solve the puzzle.

w.

119. Willis Eschenbach says:

Steve McIntyre says:
February 10, 2012 at 8:31 am

Willis, can you provide the precise URL of the data set plotted here? Thx, Steve Mc

Sorry for the lack of detail. It’s at the website listed above, identified as “Near-real time Argo profile data interpolated on standard levels”. It’s the largest file on this page, 895 Mb, titled “Argo_TS.tar”.

The info sheet detailing the arrangement of the data is here.

It’s a tarball containing all of the depth files, one for each layer. The one I used was the zero depth file, “Argo_TS_0000.dat”

```depthcolumns=c("Longitude", "Latitude", "Level", "Depth", "Julian", "Temperature", "Salinity", "Potential Temperature", "Potential Density", "Dynamic Depth Anomaly", "Spiciness", "Extrapolation", "Error Temperature", "Error Salinity", "Error Potential Temperature", "Error Potential Density", "Error Dynamic Depth Anomaly", "Error Spiciness", "Ocean Code", "Region Code", "Argo Float ID", "Cycle Number", "Dynamic Depth", "Dynamic Depth-2")
depthwidths=c(9, 9, 3, 7, 10, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 2, 11, 11, 11, 11, 11, 11, 2, 3, 8, 4, 9, 9)

As you know but others might not, you’ll need to change the filepath in the final line to wherever you have put the “Argo_TS_0000.dat” file.

w.

120. TerryS says:

Re; feet2thefire

To the west, it is covered. Between Ireland and Wales, there is the Isle of Man, and to the south are the Scilly Isles.

Between Ireland and Wales there is the Irish Sea. The Isle of man is North and slightly West of Wales and approximately 40 miles from Whitehaven in Cumbria. The Isles of Scilly are just off the coast of Cornwall (about 20-25miles) in the Celtic Sea.

The Isle of Man has palm trees, and the Scilly Isles is famous for growing tropical plants by the millions

The Isle of Man might have palm trees (I have no idea) but if they exist they are not native. The average maximum temperature for the Isle of Man, in the height of summer (July, August), is 17C. Not exactly a tropical paradise. The Isles of Scilly fair a little better with and average of 19C, but again, it isn’t exactly a tropical paradise.

My geography is just fine, thank you.

121. Willis Eschenbach says:

David says:
February 9, 2012 at 10:35 pm

Willis, the flat part of the graph in the tropics is an illustration and support of a paper going back to 1979 on why the T is limited in the tropics …

I know, as I said in the head post the knowledge of a limiting mechanism keeping SSTs below about 30-31°C is not new. People think I make this stuff up. Here’s just one study of the phenomenon, emphasis mine

Several negative feedback mechanisms have been proposed by others to explain the stability of maximum sea surface temperature (SST) in the western Pacific warm pool (WPWP). If these “ocean thermostat” mechanisms effectively suppress warming in the future, then coral reefs in this region should be less exposed to conditions that favor coral reef bleaching. In this study we look for regional differences in reef exposure and sensitivity to increasing SSTs by comparing reported coral reef bleaching events with observed and modeled SSTs of the last fifty years. Coral reefs within or near the WPWP have had fewer reported bleaching events relative to reefs in other regions. Analysis of SST data indicate that the warmest parts of the WPWP have warmed less than elsewhere in the tropical oceans, which supports the existence of thermostat mechanisms that act to depress warming beyond certain temperature thresholds.

w.

122. Malcolm Miller says:

I have often thought of measuring daily the water temperature from my taps. I know it varies with the season and a bit less after a hot spell of eather or a cold spell. But if I did go to the trouble of making daily measurements, what use would they be if they could only be compared with the air temperatures, which vary during the day by up to 20º C?

Fifth, you then at the end of your response set out a summary of the ARGO data reviewed by you. This summary suggests that nearly 10,000 points/sets of data show a temperature exceeding 30degC. That alone, would indicate that even based upon the data that you yourself have reviewed your assertion of a 30degC cap for surface sea temperature cannot be correct.

Those greater than 30C temperatures are clustered around 30 to 35 degrees north, which is where the Earth is mostly land and there are enclosed and semi-enclosed seas, the Med, Yellow Sea.

Without a geographic breakdown, I’ll suggest most of those +3OC temps are close to land.

30C does appear to be an upper limit for SSTs in the open ocean.

The cause is likely to be the hydrological cycle limiting the rise in air temps over the ocean.

And it doesn’t matter how hot your swimming pool gets, its not going to affect the hydrological cycle.

124. John says:

“John, either you are missing something or I am. The Argo temps Willis has used are not summer readings – they are ALL the data, summer and winter, and, I suppose, everything in between.”

Yes it is all the data that is the problem. You’re effectively overlaying several bell curves sightly offset from each other by the changing angle the sun indents on the Earth.

Plot the temperatures for a single month and I’ll wager you the “flat-top” all but disappears. There is no mystery here I’m afraid it’s just an artifact from including the whole years data in 1 graph.

125. Philip Bradley said @ February 10, 2012 at 2:40 pm

And it doesn’t matter how hot your swimming pool gets, its not going to affect the hydrological cycle.

IIRC it was Roger Pielke Sr who pointed us to a slide show where one of the slides said that humans now sequester 40% of rainfall. A single swimming pool ain’t gonna make a lot of difference, but 40% of rainfall will definitely influence the hydrological cycle.

126. John –
You are seeing bell curves where it is not a bell curve application. These are not “normal” distribution, but are based on latitude, and it is instead a case of a sine curve (because of the roundness of the Earth) on either side of the Equator. Yes, it LOOKS like a bell curve, but you are applying the wrong idea to it. Don’t be deceived by the flat top/cap. There are several curves that turned that way could be misconstrued as “bell curves.” But bell curves don’t apply to spherical applications.

Steve Garcia

127. Whoa Willis.
I decided out of curiosity to look at the data and as is my way I eyeball before trusting.

Looked at 5 metre daa. Choose a float and extract the data. Looks sane for one float, running about 40N in the Pacific.

On checking the date, ouch. According to the Read_me “5 – Julian time (days) relative to 2000-01-01 00:00 UTC”, the float start date is Julian -588.69 and increments from there. Cycles increment too. Web site says “Deployments began in 2000 ”
Does not compute. (why I actually look)

Temperature… careful. Look at time of day for data. This poses a problem, is this time of satellite pass for collection or time of temperature reading, it doesn’t say. Try plotting the time of day, very odd result and a warning about diurnal, nyquist etc., remember the latitude moves.

Doubt this will work on WUWT

Note the large annual cycle. Is it safe to average all floats without taking time of day and year into account?

Unless I have done something wrong.

[Reply: Fixed link. Just copy & paste the URL, nothing more. ~dbs, mod.]

• Richard Verney –

Some of you aren’t reading carefully. Willis stated THIS, not 30.00000C:
“Note that there is an obvious upper limit to the ocean temperatures, the “flat-top” on the graph at just above 30°C.”

Then, when someone picked nits about 30C, Willis came back with:

Hey, before taking a stand, take a look. At Figure 2. Yes, there are occasional 34 degree readings. But obviously, they are not common at all.

The existence of a maximum ocean temperature has been known for some years. It is not hard and fast, obviously. But look at Figure 2, Richard. That’s real data. How often does it go above about 31°C?

Hang on … OK, here’s the numbers. There are 696,872 Argo surface temperature measurements in the dataset. By one degree interval above 28°C we have the following numbers of measurements:

28° – 29°: 62618
29° – 30°: 48374
30* – 31°: 9033
31* – 32°: 567
32* – 33°: 103
33° – 34°: 24

w.

Most of your linked caps are at about 31C, very few at 32C, with onesy-twosies at 34C. Willis DISPLAYS outliers, so bringing in those doesn’t change his assertion that there is a flat top at “just above 30C,” which, when I look, looks more like “just about” 31C. and I don’t mean 31.000000000C.

Where I come from stating something in whole numbers means +/- 0.49999, and when Willis says he just did this out of curiosity, I don’t expect him to then parse his words as carefully as if it was an academic peer-reviewed paper. Can you guys give him a break and quit playing auditor?

YES, there seems to be a flat top. YES, Willis speculated that some mechanism was possibly doing that. It does NOT seem to be just an artifact of the methodology, because there ISN’T much of a mechanism to begin with, just a loosey-goosey “Let’s see what this does” look. That is the data off the buoys, whatever the TOB and whatever the missed zones. The data is what the data is. And it doesn’t depend on what your definition of “is” is.

Steve Garcia

128. JimF says:

That down-welling, back-radiated LW infrared really gets busy around the Equator. Look, it has increased the average temperature of the equatorial ocean by about 12C relative to the “average” ocean. I’m amazed!

129. richard verney says:

@Philip Bradley says: February 10, 2012 at 2:40 pm
Fifth, you then at the end of your response set out a summary of the ARGO data reviewed by you. This summary suggests that nearly 10,000 points/sets of data show a temperature exceeding 30degC. That alone, would indicate that even based upon the data that you yourself have reviewed your assertion of a 30degC cap for surface sea temperature cannot be correct.
Those greater than 30C temperatures are clustered around 30 to 35 degrees north, which is where the Earth is mostly land and there are enclosed and semi-enclosed seas, the Med, Yellow Sea.
Without a geographic breakdown, I’ll suggest most of those +3OC temps are close to land.
30C does appear to be an upper limit for SSTs in the open ocean.
The cause is likely to be the hydrological cycle limiting the rise in air temps over the ocean.
And it doesn’t matter how hot your swimming pool gets, its not going to affect the hydrological cycle
///////////////////////////////////////////////////
Philip
As you will have noted from my post. I have reviewed thousands of ship’s logs containing hundreds of thousands of entries and I can assure you that 30degC is not the upper limit for SSTs whether in enclosed, semi-enclosed or open oceans. Incidentally, the Med only reaches above 30 deg C close to Alexandria and very near to the Northern coast off Egypt.
Warms seas can be commonly encountered in and around Indonesia, Thailand, off the coast of China and Japan, in the Indian ocean both up the west side of India and the east side of Africa, in the approaches to and through the Red Sea (see my earlier post which referred to a wikipedia entry recording the survey done of Sudan revealling 32 degC temps) the Atlantic ocean around north east Africa, in and around the Gulf of Mexico.
Just to give you a slight flavour, see the following links:
Off the coast of UEA, this months water temp 32degc, long term max temp 35degC . See http://www.sea-temperature.com/country_water/united%20arab%20emirates/127
Off the coast of Ghana, this months maximum temp 34 degC, long term max temp 33 degC (the maximum cited is not the absolute maximum but more the average maximum there will always be examples when a higher figure is unusally observed) . See http://www.sea-temperature.com/country_water/ghana/77
Indian Ocean say off the coast of India, this month’s maximum 31 deg C, long term max temp 31 degC. See http://www.sea-temperature.com/country_water/india/110 In practice, this is far to general, warmer temperatures are not infrequently recorded off the west coast of India and say off the coast of Madagascar, see http://www.sea-temperature.com/country_water/madagascar/64 .
Off the coast of Thailand, this months max temp 32degC, long term max temp 32 degC. See http://www.sea-temperature.com/country_water/thailand/119
In an around Indonesia, eg this month’s max temp 31degC, max long tem temp 31 degC. See http://www.sea-temperature.com/country_water/indonesia/115 and East Timor this months max temp 29 degC, long term max 31degC. See http://www.sea-temperature.com/country_water/east%20timor/114
In and around Mexico, for example http://www.sea-temperature.com/water/tapachula/536 and Guatemala, see: http://www.sea-temperature.com/country_water/guatemala/49 noting max temps of 31 degC.
I make no comment upon the distribution of the ARGO buoys, My comments are based upon a review of thousands of logs compiled by ships plying trade through the shipping routes through the major oceans of the world. You will note from the above links (which is by no means an exhaustive list) that the distribution of temperatures above 30degC is not as narrow as you suggest nor is it limited to enclosed and semi-enclosed oceans.
If you read the third numbered paragraph of my post of 8:12 am you will note that I accept that the hydrological cycle has a role to play but it is not the only process at work.
The hydrological cycle does not cap SST in open ocean at 30 degC.
PS. I am not comparing my swimming pool to the open ocean. My observation was meant merely as an indicator upon which many people will have some experience so that they can get a grasp as to general merits of the assertion made by Willis that ‘no matter how much incoming solar there is the process of evaporation caps temperature at 30 degC’ (my paraphrasing). Obviously, not many people will have reviewed thousands of ships logs and will therefore have little feeling for what ships report as prevailing ocean temps.

130. ALSO: Looking at Willis’ breakdown, if he’d had said 31C instead of 30C, which is what he should probably have done, there are, as he points out, quite a bit fewer than 1,000 data points out of nearly 700,000 above 31C, so YES, there is an apparent ceiling. With about 1 in 700 points being outliers.

SG

131. JimF says:

feet2thefire says:
February 10, 2012 at 1:00 pm “…At the same time, yes, it does appear that some mechanism must be occurring to limit the “All-Argo” temps at that level. Right now anything anyone says is just a guess, maybe an informed guess, but still just a guess….”

That strip of warm ocean, let’s say from 20˚S to 20˚N, receives at noon on a clear day, an instantaneous solar heating input equivalent to about 88˚C. That these measured temperatures max out at around 30˚C is related to several things: 1) that maximum solar input at zenith doesn’t pertain all day; 2) half the time the strip of ocean is in the dark, receiving no solar input; and 3) a great deal of the heating input when it’s being received is being dissipated by evaporation and convection, among probably numerous other things.

And that doesn’t even begin to account for a massive influx of down-welling LWR that goes on 24/7. It’s a wonder the sea doesn’t boil!

Richard Verney,

Your examples, coast of Thailand (Gulf of Thailand), coast of UAE (Persian Gulf), coast of Sudan (Red sea and Gulf of Aden), etc are all examples of semi-enclosed seas adjacent to large land masses.

My point, which I could have explained better was that these areas are subject to air masses, typically dry, originating over land, and therefore would not experience the same hydrological processes as oceans far from substantial land masses, which constitute the bulk of the oceans.

133. John says:

@Steve Garcia

I used bell curve just to describe the shape not that it was a statistical distribution but yes sine wave would be the correct.description
However, the flat-top is a result of plotting the whole year data on 1 graph. Plot the individual months in the year overlay them and you’ll see I’m right and how the flat-top arises.

134. I haven’t scanned hundreds of thousands of data points. However, as I recall, the Red Sea off the coast of Sudan has the warmest peak temperatures, at around 34C. Further north near the Suez, sea air temperatures peak at around 40C. In the Mediterranean, evaporation lowers the sea surface by enough to cause a surface flow from west to east throughout the Mediterranean. Sea surface summer month average temperatures reach 28C near parts of Turkey and Israel.

135. David says:

Is it not apparent that as tropical energy surface insolation increases, an ever higher percentage of the increased energy goes into latent heat of evaporation? Is it not logical that as the rate of evaporation increases so will cloud formation and the speed of conduction? It it not apparent that clouds, especially the under clouds, plus increased evaporation will reduce surface insolation and T? Is it not clear that all across the tropics the high points will be in that particular geograpical locations summer? If the tropical high points at all the ocean locations quickly fall off upon reaching a certain level, and that level is more smooth and lower than land data, then [there] are limiting factors in the ocean surface T not realised in land data? So, is it not fair to say that above 30C, T in the tropical oceans rapidly increase the rate of evaporation , convection and cloud formation, so that the number of recorded T above 30 C rapidly declines to a very low percentage.

136. P. Solar says:

>
The curiosity is that the Argo average ocean surface temperature data is significantly cooler than the other datasets, half to three-quarters of a degree …
>

That is one part of the adjustments done by hadSST3, a recent warming is added due to the increased proportion of argo sensed data in the mix. It should be noted that ALL Hadley Centre data is highly “corrected” , it is not to be compared directly as you are doing here. Apples etc. …

They’ve added about 0.07K since 2005. considerably less than you find here but be careful of making simplistic comparisons of incomparable quantities.

>
No matter how much incoming solar there is, the ocean doesn’t get any warmer than that. This provides a “cap” on how hot the ocean can get. Above that temperature, any extra incoming energy is converted to latent and sensible heat, rather than warming the surface.
>

Confirmation of the negative feedback I just suggested in your other thread on argo. ;) This may explains the asymmetry you noted there.

137. Willis Eschenbach says:

Alistair Ahs says:
February 10, 2012 at 5:21 am

Willis – “The ARGO data is maybe half or more of a degree cooler than the others. So if that is to be compensated for by 5% of the surface, that 5% would have to be ten degrees C (18°F) warmer at all locations than the surrounding ocean … ”

Let’s accept your figures for a moment. The 5% doesn’t have to be 10C warmer than the immediately surrounding ocean, it has to be 10C warmer than the global average for it to have the effect on the global average that would resolve the discrepancy.

I’m sorry, but that’s not correct.

I have averaged first by latitudinal bands. If the area with missing data is the same temperature as the adjacent deeper water, including the missing data will not change the average temperature of that band at all.

So indeed, the missing data must be warmer than the adjacent data to change the average. Whether it is warmer than the global average makes no difference.

Thanks,

w.

138. Willis Eschenbach says:

michael hart says:
February 10, 2012 at 7:30 am

…and my contribution…
Post hoc, Argo propter hoc.

Very nice, bonus points.

w.

139. Willis Eschenbach says:

steven mosher says:
February 10, 2012 at 10:12 am

willis

“The spatial coherence is greatly underestimated by the color scheme, which groups together the data in 3° bands. The ocean is far from spatially coherent.”

interesting question is how can you know that? think about it.

Thanks for the question, Steven. I know the ocean is not spatially coherent for two reasons:

1. I’ve spent a lifetime observing the ocean from on the surface, under the surface, and from the air. I’ve lived my live out there, I’ve spent years sailing and motoring and diving and flying over, on, and under the ocean. I’ve driven for days watching a thermometer measuring the sea temperatures, looking for the albacore. I’ve seen the numbers of tide rips and temperature changes on a host of oceans of the world. It is not a coherent mass of water. It is a mix of innumerable water bodies, each with its own characteristics, and with surprisingly sharp boundaries (thermoclines, descending vs ascending water at night, rips and eddy lines between water bodies, etc). and not very spatially coherent either vertically or horizontally.

2. I’ve actually run the Argo data with and without the 3°C-wide color bands. You should try it.

w.

140. Willis

You are right, any swimmer in northern latitude waters knows there are warm patches of water and cold patches of water. The same goes for the atmosphere but to experience the warm and cold patches you need to be on a bike, not walking
Tonyb

141. AJ says:

@William M. Connolley

I believe you’re correct. When I use the APDRC’s interpolated data and weigh the latitudinal mean surface temps by the fraction of grid boxes reporting a value multiplied by the circumference of the latitudinal band, I get a weighted average mean temp of 20.37C between 60N to 60S.

Maybe there’s a spatial bias in the data Willis is using?

142. Willis Eschenbach says:

tchannon says:
February 10, 2012 at 6:53 pm

… On checking the date, ouch. According to the Read_me “5 – Julian time (days) relative to 2000-01-01 00:00 UTC”, the float start date is Julian -588.69 and increments from there. Cycles increment too. Web site says “Deployments began in 2000 ”
Does not compute. (why I actually look)

Thanks, tchannon. You looked, but you haven’t looked hard enough. Yes, there were the first trials of the system beginning in 1996. But the actual system deployment started in about 2000. Here’s the number of profiles per year:

Looking at that, when would you say the deployments started?

w.

143. Willis Eschenbach says:

John says:
February 10, 2012 at 3:13 pm

“John, either you are missing something or I am. The Argo temps Willis has used are not summer readings – they are ALL the data, summer and winter, and, I suppose, everything in between.”

Yes it is all the data that is the problem. You’re effectively overlaying several bell curves sightly offset from each other by the changing angle the sun indents on the Earth.

Plot the temperatures for a single month and I’ll wager you the “flat-top” all but disappears. There is no mystery here I’m afraid it’s just an artifact from including the whole years data in 1 graph.

Sorry, John, but you definitely lose the wager. See my newer post, “Argo Notes Part 2“, for another view of what is actually happening. There is a clear “flat-top” on the warm end of the annual swings.

w.

144. Willis Eschenbach says:

feet2thefire says:
February 10, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Richard Verney –

Some of you aren’t reading carefully. Willis stated THIS, not 30.00000C:

“Note that there is an obvious upper limit to the ocean temperatures, the “flat-top” on the graph at just above 30°C.”

Thank you most kindly, sir, clearly you understand what I said. I was looking at the chart with tick marks at thirty and thirty-five degrees. I noted that it didn’t get far above 30 degrees.

Now, there is one obvious caveat here. I’m clearly talking about the open ocean, because that’s where the Argo floats are located. So yes, if you take a boat on the Red Sea or the Dead Sea, you can find warmer water.

However, my point remains. In the open ocean there are hardly any examples of water temperatures much above 30°C. Here’s a histogram of the temperatures:

So John and Richard and others, I’m sorry, but there most definitely is a thermostatic mechanism at work limiting open ocean temperatures. This has been known for some years.

w.

145. Grin, trust Murphy to show me an abnormal set.

I still warn about aliasing etc. No doubt there is a lot which needs considering to do with coherency. Your flat top, various things come to mind, no idea why without legwork.
Oh and thanks for pointing out the data source, I’d looked but never found it.

146. David says:

Anyone interested this is the 1979 paper I referenced earlier, sorry, no direct link.

Evaporation conduction of latent heat may vary far more then realized and set a limit on further tropical temperature increases. (Newell & Dopplick’s (1979) calculations that tropical temperatures cannot rise any further.)

147. richard verney says:

Willis

There seems to be some cross purpose developing here, so let me make my position clear:.

1. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, I make no observation whatsoever on your data analysis. This is a work in progress and accordingly, at this stage, I have given it little attention. I consider the exercise that you are embarking upon to be useful and interesting.
2. As, I mentioned in one of my previous posts, my comments are based upon the review of thousands of ship’s logs containing hundreds of thousands of entries. For clarification, I am not basing my comments on the records/data set out in the linked web sites I referred to in my post of February 10, 2012 at 7:06 pm. I merely linked that data to show general support to my contention that the various ocean in many parts of the world have temperatures exceeding 30degC and up to 35 deg C.
3. Ships take temperature data very differently to ARGO. These days, a ship measures the sea water temperature used for engine cooling. This water is drawn at a depth that will depend upon the design and configuration of the vessel, whether the vessel is sailing laden, partly laden or in ballast and how the Master has decided to trim the vessel. In broad terms, this is at a depth of 10m (I use “broad” widely). Log entries are recorded usually every 4 hours. If a vessel is sailing at 10 knots, it will effectively sample sea water temperature every 40 nautical miles. If at just over 12 knots this will be every 50 nautical miles. Thus if a voyage is 6,000 nautical miles, there will be say 120 temperature measurements (assuming an average speed of just over 12 knots). For commercial reasons, ships will tend to sail between two ports in the shortest geographical manner, weather and safe navigation permitting. Accordingly, ships will tend to sail in defined highways (sea lanes/routes). Thus you get a great many lateral measurements but only over a relatively small strip of ocean.
4. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, I am not suggesting that ARGO in someway erroneously measures ocean temperatures or that your statistical analysis of the distribution of the ARGO data is erroneous nor even if you were to include ship data this would lead to the average temperature of 19.7 deg C being altered.
5. I am merely commenting on one of the scientific conclusions that you drew from your review of the data. You asserted that “Note that there is an obvious upper limit to the ocean temperatures, the “flat-top” on the graph at just above 30°C. No matter how much incoming solar there is, the ocean doesn’t get any warmer than that. This provides a “cap” on how hot the ocean can get. Above that temperature, any extra incoming energy is converted to latent and sensible heat, rather than warming the surface..”
6. I have no gripe with the first sentence, but I join issue with the scientific (not statistical) conclusion that you drew; namely that there is some physical process at work which means that “No matter how much incoming solar there is, the ocean doesn’t get any warmer than that [30 degC]. This provides a “cap” on how hot the ocean can get. Above that temperature, any extra incoming energy is converted to latent and sensible heat, rather than warming the surface..” I consider that statement to be erroneous.
7. As stated, my position has no bearing on your statistical analysis. My position is directed solely to whether ‘no matter how much solar is inputted, the ocean cannot get hotter than 30 deg C’ If that contention was right, the prospects of cAGW would be greatly diminished. The reason for this is that it is the tropical oceans that are the heat pump of the planet and it is their heat that is circulated around the globe. If the tropical ocean could not get hotter than your figure then this would potentially place a major restriction on how much warming can take place.
8. As stated in one of my previous posts, I do not dispute that there is a temperature ceiling that the oceans can obtain (assuming solar and cloudiness remains broadly stable). I also accept that the mechanism behind such cap put forward by you (essentially latent & sensible heat involved in evaporation) would play a part in imposing the cap.
9. I disagree with you in two important respects. First, that the cap is set at 30 degC. Second, that the physical process behind the cap is solely the process that you mentioned. In fairness to you, you do not state that the ‘evaporation process’ is the sole process involved. Dealing with the second point, you will note from numbered para 3 of my post of February 10, 2012 at 8:12 am that I suggest that other processes are involved (such as currents and overturning) and that it a combination of physical processes that would lead to a cap.
10. Turning to what appears to be the most contentious issue; namely, is the cap on ocean temperatures 30 deg C or not? In this regard, I am not arguing with your histogram. I do not dispute the location of ARGO buoys is such that they have sampled rather few locations where the water temperature exceeds 30 deg C (only about 10,000 have sampled in excess of 30degC). I am just saying that the ocean can get warmer than 30degC and does so (if nothing else witness the nearly 10,000 ARGO samples), and that the physical mechanism you suggested does not result in a cap of 30degC temperature (if nothing else witness the nearly 10,000 ARGO samples).
11. I do not wish to get into a protracted debate as to what is an enclosed sea, a semi enclosed sea and open ocean (which in any event are terms that did not appear in your original posting and which were not used by you as qualifying your statement). This is somewhat subjective and depends upon the correct definition of the terms used, In this regard, I am not sure that these are even terms of art with an accepted definition. Some commentators (for example Philip Bradley says: February 10, 2012 at 7:56 pm) suggests that the hydrological process is different over semi enclosed and enclosed oceans compared to open seas. Much study would have to be done before any firm conclusions could be drawn, although for the main part it is the oceans and the air over oceans that influence the air above the land, not the other way around. Further, how far from land does the influencing effect from the air over land propagate? 10 miles from the coast, or 50, 100 etc? These are difficult issues to address without extensive study and I am not going to fire from the hip.
12. I do not have to deal with these points since it is clear that even in open ocean (eg the Atlantic off the West coast of Africa temperatures of up to 35 degC are recorded, and in the Indian Ocean both off the East coast of Africa and off the West coast of India temperatures of 34 degC are recorded. This confirms that the cap on open ocean temperatures (no matter what processes or processes are involved in placing a cap) is not 30degC but not less than 35degC.
13. Indeed, we know (or ought to know) that the hydrological process that you identified as placing a cap of 30 degC as the maximum to which the oceans can get is wrong since in prehistoric times it is accepted (or at any rate generally accepted) that the tropical ocean was far warmer than it is today. That is notwithstanding that back then solar may have been weaker.
14. In summary, I remain of the firm view (and this is based upon extensive review of ship’s logs for some 25 years) that the open ocean is not capped at a temperature of 30degC and I respectfully suggest that you complete your statistical analysis before we start drawing conclusions as to what ARGO tells us about the scientific processes that may influence our climate.

148. richard verney says:

David says: February 11, 2012 at 5:58 am
//////////////////////////////////////////////
I suspect that there is quite some merit in the points raised.

Sea temperature can be very local and variable and no doubt warm waters have much to do with currents and topography

149. David says:

richard verney says:
February 11, 2012 at 8:22 pm
David says: February 11, 2012 at 5:58 am
//////////////////////////////////////////////
I suspect that there is quite some merit in the points raised.
==========================

Richard, I really do not think Willis was asserting more then what I stated in that comment. He has acknowledged that the ocean DOES get warmer then “about” 30C, just that the data points drop off very rapidly beyond this, so your only possible quibble is how often. BTW, if you can find this paper, (Newell & Dopplick’s (1979) you may wish to read it. I have a few notes from it somewhere, but I do not have a link to the paper.

Willis,
I prefer this line:
“To follow knowledge, like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.”
But it is without doubt a great poem for older men like me.

But really, Jason?
Do you not see the evolving climate debate as the new Troy then?
Certainly there seem to be heroes and casualties on both sides of the divide.
Does not fair Helen represent the truth to be contested?
Have not we traded a horse for a Hockey Stick?
How would you cast Moncton, Curry, Gore et al?

151. P. Solar says:

William M. Connolley says:
February 10, 2012 at 3:51 am
>>
> I averaged it by 1° latitude bands, and then took an area adjusted average to give a global mean

Assuming you mean that you averaged all the floats in a given latitude band together, that would be a problem, since there is clearly structure in longitude; you’ll have biased your numbers by float-count-density.

>>

Well, I never thought I’d agree with Connelley about climate but I would agree with his point here.

More over, the argo floats are not evenly deployed. One of the main aims was to fill in coverage of some of the large expanses of ocean that got very little or only seasonal coverage form shipping.

If you are taking an average of argo , even band averaged, you are averaging with a regional and seasonal bias w.r.t the other records and it is to be expected that there is a difference with other SST records.

It’s worth noting but I don’t know what conclusions can be drawn from that.