How ocean currents affect global climate is a question oceanographer may be close to answering

English: Summary: Antarctic circumpolar curren...

Antarctic circumpolar current image from Grace Mission. Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech. Source: http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/lookingatearth/grace-images-20051220.html This image fulfill all the conditions of the JPL image use policy. For more information about this: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/images/policy/index.cfm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From Florida State University:

Kevin Speer has a “new paradigm” for describing how the world’s oceans circulate — and with it he may help reshape science’s understanding of the processes by which wind, water, sunlight and other factors interact and influence the planet’s climate.

 

A Florida State University professor of oceanography with a passion for teaching, Speer and a colleague recently published a significant paper in the respected journal Nature Geoscience.

Working with John Marshall, an oceanography professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Speer reviewed — or essentially synthesized — vast amounts of previous data on ocean circulation (including their own earlier papers). As a result, they have created what Speer calls a new paradigm in the study of ocean currents on a global scale.

Here’s how it works: Basically, the oceans, together with the atmosphere, rebalance heat on the planet. The sun shines on the Earth and heats up the tropics more than the poles. Near the poles, the ocean is cold and the water sinks; near the equator, the surface of the ocean is inviting and warm — and floats on top of the colder deep water.

So the question is this: Where does the water that goes down come back up?

Speer, Marshall and other oceanographers now believe that it comes back up in the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica — not as much in the warm oceans as had been previously thought.

“We’re not saying that nothing comes up in the rest of the World Ocean, just that the main thrust is in the Southern Ocean,” Speer said. “To a large extent it’s driven by the wind.”

Very strong winds, to be precise.

In the rough waters around Antarctica, sailors call those winds the “Roaring Forties” and the “Furious Fifties.” They originate near the Equator, where hot air rises and then is pushed toward the North and South poles by cooler air that rushes in to take its place.

The resulting “eddy-driven upwelling” in the Southern Ocean, as Speer characterizes it, may in fact describe the most important process to date that helps scientists understand the role of the ocean and climate.

Speer, who holds a doctorate in physical oceanography from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program, spent years living in France as an oceanographic researcher for a French governmental agency. (Yes, he’s fluent in French.)

Today, from his office in the basement of the Keen Building on the Florida State campus, Speer serves as interim director of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Institute, a warren of intriguing, 1960s-era laboratories just a few steps outside his door. It is there that Speer helps students and postdoctoral researchers learn about how climate works.

The laboratory’s equipment includes a large, vintage rotating table designed nearly a half-century ago by the lab’s founder, Florida State meteorology Professor Richard Pfeffer. (The device may be old, but it’s one of the biggest and best in the United States, Speer says). Here students can recreate the ocean’s churning and study natural phenomena such as the Antarctic circumpolar current.

Speer and his students have been studying ocean currents thanks to $2.5 million in funding from a larger $10 million National Science Foundation grant that FSU shares with eight other universities and institutions worldwide. Research has included releasing tracers and floats into the ocean to study the mixing and spreading of currents.

One of Speer’s graduate students, Druv Balwada, recently took part in a joint U.S.-United Kingdom research program to study ocean currents aboard a ship in the Southern Ocean. To view the cruise blog of the nearly three-month voyage, visit http://dimesuk3.blogspot.com/.

“Our students learn and help in various ways,” Speer said. “They certainly help generate some interesting and lively oceanographic research.

Speer and Marshall’s Nature Geoscience paper is titled “Closure of the Meridional Overturning Circulation Through Southern Ocean Upwelling.” To read an abstract or purchase the paper, click here.

- Elizabeth Bettendorf

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58 Responses to How ocean currents affect global climate is a question oceanographer may be close to answering

  1. Dr. Lurtz says:

    Fantastic, finally, something that everyone can understand and duplicate [given enough money]: a rotating table. It doesn’t involve a satellite, an unverifiable software program, or a bunch of miss placed temperature measuring sites. Just a good old fashion mechanical device that uses thought and brain power. And, it doesn’t appear to have an agenda other than furthering our understanding of the workings of our planet.

  2. Ron Manley says:

    I for some time have been conjecturing that the main drivers of climate are CO2 and oceanic oscillations, in particular the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO).
    http://www.climatedata.info/Discussions/Discussions/opinions.php
    What is not clear is whether the AMO is the ‘heart’ of the system, and drives climate, or the ‘pulse’, and is an index of the underlying driver.

  3. crosspatch says:

    Interesting. I wonder what impact record amounts of Antarctic sea ice would play in this process as the winds blow more over ice and less across ocean. Would increasing Antarctic ice cover reduce this overturning of water and have a significant impact on this exchange of heat?

  4. I would have thought the Coriolis Effect was symetrical between the poles. Although continental configuration will shape its effect on ocean circulation.

    I believe the Southern Ocean upwelling is driven by the katabatic winds off Antarctica (and the low pressure systems they help generate), which are absent in the Arctic.

  5. Alexander K says:

    Great, sounds like real science!

  6. Robert of Ottawa says:

    May I suggest he use a rotating planet for his studies, rather than a one-dimensional model?

  7. Full paper here:

    ftp://profs.princeton.edu/leo/journals/MarshallSpeer-RevMOCSouthOceanUpw-NatGeoSci2012.pdf

    “Proxy data show that for a period of at least the past
    800,000 years, Antarctic temperatures have covaried with
    atmospheric CO2, although the relationship may not be causal.”

  8. Retired Engineer John says:

    Just thinking, Speer says that to a large extent it’s driven by the wind. So both the ocean and atmosphere heat exchanges are driven by the wind. If the energy driving the wind is reduced, the cycling of heat from the tropics to the polar regions is reduced and the polar regions get colder since less heat moves from the equator. Yesterday, WUWT had a quote from Tim Ball saying that ENSO may be related to variations in the energy emitted by the sun, in this instance the Solar Wind. Ball stated that these links were discussed before and ignored by the IPCC. Add the data from the Argo floats from Willis Eschenbach’s post early this year that shows the ocean only heats to 30 degrees and something happens that limits further temperature increases and think about it. Can a mini ice age be caused by a slowing of the winds?

  9. Allatlast says:

    Interesting to notice you looking directly the other way right now… http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/28/science/earth/sea-ice-in-arctic-measured-at-record-low.html?ref=science

  10. george e smith says:

    Well that’s the first map of ocean currents measured in depth, rather than velocity, that I have ever seen.

    But it does explain why those ice shelves on the Antarctic peninsula keep breaking up. Funny the ones south of Tasmania and New Zealand, seem to stay pretty safe.

    Maybe they could dredge the Cape channel deeper, so the PacificAtlantic Ocean can get through there easier, and not bust up the ice

  11. James Sexton says:

    So the question is this: Where does the water that goes down come back up?

    Uhmm, it doesn’t matter because water moves to an equilibrium pretty quick? Quicker if it’s stirred. Don’t get me wrong, I love the thought but, if that’s the question, that’s the answer.

  12. davidmhoffer says:

    This is one of those papers that takes me 8 or 9 reads before I can quantify with any accuracy how far over my head it is. That said, this statement stood out for me:

    “Deep-water formation in the Northern Hemisphere has long received much attention as the axis of climate change. The upwelling branch in the Southern Ocean is now being recognized as a vital component of our climate system and an equally important agent of global change.”

    It strikes me that the authors are taking a round about way of saying that the climate models have completely missed one of the largest drivers of climate variability on earth. The paper struck me from the get go as being a rather pragmatic evaluation of data rather than an attempt to assert a foregone conclusion. They didn’t overtly call the climate models currently in vogue fataly flawed, but if their results are in fact accurate, then what other conclusion can one draw about climate models that do not take this major circulation pattern into account?

  13. gymnosperm says:

    “Observations indicate that the outgassing of natural
    CO2 from the interior ocean has increased in the past twenty
    years, offsetting the anthropogenic source.”

    Say what?

    Pretty much summarizes the confusion that arises when an otherwise great paper genuflects to the party line.

    Luv the notion of adiabatic forcing in the water. Too few appreciate the extent to which the ocean is an mirror of the atmosphere, albeit more geographically constrained.

    In this case the inclined trajectory of the bottom water contrary th the thermocline is not caused by gravity, but by siphon. The Antarctic gyre is a centrifugal pump.

    Not enough emphasis on the Arctic Ocean where there is NO LAND. Freezing makes that water very salty and very cold

  14. Bert Hannah says:

    Flotsametrics by Curtis Ebbesmeyer provides a greater indepth look at the cycle of the gyres and their eddies. Well worth the read.

  15. Stephen Wilde says:

    Good to see some attention being properly directed despite all the distractions.

    Internal ocean variability plus external solar variability combining to push the climate zones and jets into different positions over time is my favoured diagnosis for all observed climate change.

    There could be a contribution from our CO2 but too small to measure compared to natural variations.

  16. stephen richards says:

    It does open a window into why the Sth Pole ice is getting bigger and the Nth Pole ice is shrinking. Joe Bastardi spoke about the imbalance between nth and sth some time ago.

  17. “Observations indicate that the outgassing of natural
    CO2 from the interior ocean has increased in the past twenty
    years, offsetting the anthropogenic source.”

    Don’t be too hasty to dismiss this. There’s a good case for outgassing governed by rising ocean temperature (and vice versa) and for ocean temperature governed by solar activity after a 99-year timelag: http://endisnighnot.blogspot.com/2012/03/lets-get-sorted.html

    Last March, in my final sentence of the above piece, I wrote: “What papers are out there giving a mathematical treatment of the oceans’ CO2 budget over century timescales?” I will read the Speer paper with interest in the hope that it clarifies the issue of oceanic transient response.

  18. Otter says:

    Philip Bradley – I am most likely wrong, but, I would suspect the coriolis effect is lopsided, because the planet itself is lopsided. It is somewhat egg-shaped.

  19. Mark says:

    Philip Bradley says:

    I would have thought the Coriolis Effect was symetrical between the poles. Although continental configuration will shape its effect on ocean circulation.

    You have almost the opposite configuration at each pole. The North pole being roughly in the middle of an ocean whereas the South pole is roughly in the middle of a continent.

  20. vukcevic says:

    For some time now I advocated role of the ocean currents in the natural climate change. Heat capacity of oceans combined with available energy transport from equatorial areas pole-ward is the key to the climate variability.
    Climate change is dominated by natural oscillations of sun and the Earth’s core. One provides the energy, the other the variability in the oceanic absorption and release of the energy. Understanding of the natural oscillations is the key the climate change, having made some progress in that direction, now it is possible to correlate multidecadal changes in temperatures to new factors not considered previously.

  21. Interesting.
    (Not my work I might add)

  22. Ian W says:

    Hockey Schtick says:
    August 27, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    Full paper here:

    ftp://profs.princeton.edu/leo/journals/MarshallSpeer-RevMOCSouthOceanUpw-NatGeoSci2012.pdf

    “Proxy data show that for a period of at least the past
    800,000 years, Antarctic temperatures have covaried with
    atmospheric CO2, although the relationship may not be causal.”

    I think that there is a causal relationship has the good doctor not heard of Henry’s Law?

    At a constant temperature, the amount of a given gas that dissolves in a given type and volume of liquid is directly proportional to the partial pressure of that gas in equilibrium with that liquid.

    As the ocean temperature increases the solubility of CO2 decreases. And it is not a new research result. It has been shown empirically for some time that as global temperatures rose over the following period of up to 8 centuries CO2 concentrations rose.

    Indeed, the monotonic rise in CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere shown by Mauna Loa and other observation sites would appear to indicate that ocean outgassing is a more likely source of the rise in CO2. The assumption made by climate ‘scientists’ that natural sources of CO2 are a constant is totally flawed.

  23. Ever since I heard about how the “top” IPCC models failed to include the Agulhas Leakage (pre-cursur for the North Atlantic drift) I became super skeptical. The fact somebody is working on this “bigger picture” study reallycheers me up :-D

    Thanks for posting.

  24. cui bono says:

    Shame on these real scientists whose work changes current assumptions on the details about how aspects of climate work, and upset the applecart.

    Have they no pity for the dozens of poor programmers who will have to search through hundreds of thousands of lines of (probably) spagetti code to [fudge changes] make improvements to the computer models?

    If we could just say ‘all the science is settled now’ these poor minions could take some well-deserved vacations.

    Makes me weep, poor dears.

    Sarc off.

  25. Bill Illis says:

    I think there is enough evidence presented in this paper to conclude this new theory of the global overturning circulation is probably right.

    I always thought it was unlikely the main upwelling occurred in the north Pacific, which was the prevailing belief, mainly because there was just no evidence that this was the case.

    I guess it is not going to make much difference but it should provide a new avenue to assess how the overturning circulation affects the climate. We can monitor temperatures in this 50 degree southern Ocean area to see if it is changing. I note that SSTs in this region have large cyclical changes (at least as far as the sparsely-covered SST databases show).

    Lots of interesting cross-sectional data shown in the paper.

  26. wilt says:

    Allan MacRae says:[August 28, 2012 at 3:00 am]
    Study this, slowly and repeatedly:
    http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a000000/a003500/a003562/carbonDioxideSequence2002_2008_at15fps.mp4

    Allan, perhaps I am missing something here, but is there a point in providing this link? How often are we supposed to study this video before we get your message? Is it supposed to demonstrate that CO2 is increasing? If so, what’s new?? If you want to contribute, you might as well formulate your ideas. I surely cannot see how this is related to the topic discussed here.

  27. vukcevic says:

    I have just had fleeting look at the article, it should be interesting reading.
    I had a privilege to find out and bring to the attention of WUWT readers fact that the historic records of the changes in the intensity of the Antarctica’s magnetic field directly correlate to the changes in the solar magnetic output.
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/SSN-dBzA1.htm
    Since it is thought that the Earth’s field is generated at the outer core, this is a fascinating correlation, existence of which science has yet to recognize!
    Implication to understanding of sun-Earth link to the long term climate change could be of fundamental importance.

  28. Allan MacRae says:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/06/18/time-lags-in-the-climate-system/#comment-1012683

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/05/20/premonitions-of-the-fall-in-temperature/#comment-991087

    Re: Time lags and cycle lengths – I’ve written comments like the following since 2008.

    Excerpt::

    The ~~4 year cycle in this 1997 paper is associated with a lag of atmospheric CO2 after atmospheric temperature T of ~9 months, and the rate of change dCO2/dt varies ~contemporaneously with T. This CO2 cycle is caused by biological (photosynthesis, etc.) and physical (shallow water dissolution and exsolution) factors.
    http://icecap.us/index.php/go/joes-blog/carbon_dioxide_in_not_the_primary_cause_of_global_warming_the_future_can_no/

    Then there is the much longer ~~800 year lag of CO2 after T (as measured in ice cores), which I suspect is associated with the upwelling of deep ocean currents. Note that ~800 years ago was the Medieval Warm Period.

    It appears that CO2 lags temperature at all measured time scales.

    Each temperature cycle has its own CO2 delay, and its own approximate period (cycle time length).

    There may also be one or more intermediate cycles between the above two (the late Ernst Beck believed there was), and other shorter cycles.

    I think there is ample evidence of a daily localized cycle, driven by photosynthesis..
    http://co2.utah.edu/index.php?site=2&id=0&img=30

    The evidence suggests that varying atmospheric CO2 is not a cause of climate change, it is an effect.

    I further believe that humanmade CO2 emissions are relatively small compared to natural daily, weekly, seasonal and millennial CO2 flux, and are probably insignificant in this huge dynamic system.

    No small irony here – if I am correct, both sides of the rancorous “mainstream” global warming debate are wrong. Both sides assume that humanmade CO2 is the primary driver of temperature, and are only arguing about the amount of warming (climate sensitivity to CO2, feedbacks positive or negative, etc.). If I am correct, both sides of the mainstream debate have “put the cart before the horse”. I think Veizer (2005, GSA Today) already understood most of this.

  29. gymnosperm says:

    Brent,
    @ “Observations indicate that the outgassing of natural
    CO2 from the interior ocean has increased in the past twenty
    years, offsetting the anthropogenic source.”

    The oceans are absolutely outgassing CO2 wherever they warm and cold, carbon rich waters warm rapidly in upwelling zones.

    I don’t see how this offsets human CO2. I think they meant the ofsetting to apply to downwelling areas south of the polar front. “Offsetting the anthropogenic source” is obligatory language to explain why “I can’t believe its not hotter”.

    Anyway, I’m done with the word “anthropogenic”. It is stilted, leaves a slight puckery taste on the tip of the tongue when spoken, and has a strange third person feel as if the anthropogenes were emitting CO2 at arguably the highest rate in gelogical history. Good or bad, we’re doing it. Time to step up and call it human CO2.

  30. tallbloke says:

    “ocean observations do
    indicate a freshening of Antarctic Intermediate Water77,78 and
    a substantial warming of the Southern Ocean at all depths79,80,
    which may be linked to atmospheric forcing81″

    Bob Tisdale’s July ocean update shows that the surface temperature of the Southern Ocean has been falling since 1988.
    http://bobtisdale.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/13-southern.png

    WUWT?

  31. Pamela Gray says:

    Yeh. Great. Sounds like science. But how do we know? We have to pay through the nose to fund it (not a bad thing) and then pay through the nose to read the articles generated from the research we paid for. That is a bad thing and makes me want to cut funding for good and not so good science. Scientists should post their final draft online so the public can have free access.

  32. Joachim Seifert says:

    I am missing the details of the “thermohaline heat pump” and also of the
    north-south polar “see-saw” (sea saw). Any help from someone…?
    Did Speer remove the heat pump further to the south…? How functions
    the sea-saw if currents take a circular course? Why is the haline-salt forcing
    interpreted now as wind-forcing?
    Heat pump and see-saw experts please appear on the scene…..

  33. Louis Hooffstetter says:

    davidmhoffer says:

    …what other conclusion can one draw about climate models that do not take this major circulation pattern into account?

    Indeed! Not to mention all the other known (and as yet unknown) factors that climate models don’t account for. For example, do we an accurate idea of how much of the Earth’s internal heat dissipates into the oceans via mid oceanic ridges? And do the models account for this heat? And how do the ridges affect ocean circulation? Do the models accurately account for this? And so on, and so…

    I am continually astounded by the hubris of the climastrologists, first for believing they actually know every factor that affects our climate, second for believing they’ve properly quantified it, and third, for believing their models accurately project the climate over the next 1000 years.

  34. Pamela Gray says:

    To whoever posted the full paper. Thanks. I saved it.

    I noticed where reported warming has occured on the Antarctic peninsula is where warm waters come up to the surface according to this article. This warming on land makes sense if those currents carried the series of La Nina’s (tropical ocean warming) and El Nino’s (tropical ocean cooling) that set the ocean currents up to overturn accumulated heat around that peninsula. It appears to upwell exactly where that penninsula is. hmmmmm.

    Bob Tisdale? What do you think? We had some pretty strong La Nina’s in the past where the tropical ocean took in a lot of solar heat. Funny about that. On land we freeze out little tushies off but the ocean is soaking up the equatorial Sun, unencumbered as it was with missing-in-action clouds and dry air of the La Nina atmosphere.

  35. TomRude says:

    The PR is so funny:
    “A Florida State University professor of oceanography with a passion for teaching, Speer and a colleague recently published a significant paper in the respected journal Nature Geoscience.”

    Significant, respected…

    “Near the poles, the ocean is cold and the water sinks; near the equator, the surface of the ocean is inviting and warm — and floats on top of the colder deep water.”

    Inviting?

    “We’re not saying that nothing comes up in the rest of the World Ocean, just that the main thrust is in the Southern Ocean,” Speer said. “To a large extent it’s driven by the wind.”
    Very strong winds, to be precise.”

    How original…

    “In the rough waters around Antarctica, sailors call those winds the “Roaring Forties” and the “Furious Fifties.” They originate near the Equator, where hot air rises and then is pushed toward the North and South poles by cooler air that rushes in to take its place.”

    Another case of warm air (less dense) dislodging cold air (denser) from its natural spot…

    “The laboratory’s equipment includes a large, vintage rotating table designed nearly a half-century ago by the lab’s founder, Florida State meteorology Professor Richard Pfeffer. (The device may be old, but it’s one of the biggest and best in the United States, Speer says). Here students can recreate the ocean’s churning and study natural phenomena such as the Antarctic circumpolar current.
    Speer and his students have been studying ocean currents thanks to $2.5 million in funding from a larger $10 million National Science Foundation grant that FSU shares with eight other universities and institutions worldwide.”

    Is it gold plated now?

    And for what? For getting “the position of the Polar Front and the Subantarctic Front ” in Figure 2?
    As much as it already has been shown that the conveyor belt is an extreme oversimplification and that eddies linked to lower tropospheric circulation have a serious influence on oceanic currents, the “significance” of this paer in a “respected” journal may be slightly over estimated… especially when reading this kind of stuff:
    “… the Southern Annular Mode has shown a marked upward trend, the probable result of a combination of ozone depletion and anthropogenic global warming”

  36. tallbloke says:

    citation #79 is available at
    http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/people/gjohnson/gcj_3w.pdf

    “The
    recent decadal warming of the abyssal global ocean below
    4000 m is equivalent to a global surface energy imbalance
    of 0.027 (+/-0.009) W /m^2 with Southern Ocean deep
    warming contributing an additional 0.068 (+/-0.062)W/m^2
    from 1000 to 4000 m.”

    So this statement from Speer is a dud so far as I can see.
    “ocean observations do
    indicate a freshening of Antarctic Intermediate Water77,78 and
    a substantial warming of the Southern Ocean at all depths79,80,
    which may be linked to atmospheric forcing81″

    “Substantial warming”?

    Fail.

    “may be linked to atmospheric forcing”

    Or maybe its linked to the reduction in cloud cover the warmista never want to discuss.

  37. Pamela Gray says:

    I also noted the rather colorful language in this article. I wrote a research paper back in the early 90’s as a graduate student trying to publish my first attempt at research (eventually I did manage to do that with extraordinary help from a master researcher). I was sent back to the computer to delete the color commentary that peppered (or flowered) my first draft. It was judged an inappropriate voice for a technical paper and its audience.

  38. commieBob says:

    Dr. Lurtz says:
    August 27, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    Fantastic, finally, something that everyone can understand and duplicate [given enough money]: a rotating table. It doesn’t involve a satellite, an unverifiable software program, or a bunch of miss placed temperature measuring sites. Just a good old fashion mechanical device that uses thought and brain power. And, it doesn’t appear to have an agenda other than furthering our understanding of the workings of our planet.

    A physical model is still a model.

  39. tallbloke says:

    So we’ve seen that the surface of the Southern Ocean has been cooling since 1988 according to the Reynolds V2 data used by Bob Tisdale

    And we’ve seen that the warming from 2000m downwards is negligible by looking at Speer’s own cite #79. So what about the 0-2000m range covered by ARGO. Since the rejigging of the Argo data at the end of 2011, a fall in ocean heat content since 2004 turned into a small rise. The newer data has the Southern Ocean showing a small rise too.

    So far as I’m concerned, the newer rejigged ARGO data is probably not indicative of the true state of play. It’s harder to be sure at the regional level, but I’d take all pronouncements about ocean heat content with a large pinch of salt for the time being.

  40. vukcevic says:

    Dome Fuji 10Be ice core records are used in many scientific studies.
    In this short article
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/SSN-dBzA1.htm
    the last graph compares the Dome Fuji 10Be nucleation with changes in the Antarctica’s magnetic field. Knowing that 10Be nucleation is direct consequence of galactic cosmic rays impact and these are modulated by both heliospheric and the Earth’s magnetic field, whereby the Earth’s field is two orders of magnitude stronger, it is questionable if the Dome Fuji 10Be ice core count is good for anything beyond assessing the strength of the geomagnetic field at the time.
    Any views or comments from those who may have used the Dome Fuji 10Be ice core records as a proxy or relied on it as a reliable reference ?

  41. mib8 says:

    Dr. Burnett, as I recall, in the Felonious State U Oceanography dept., used to do a lot of water movement tracking using profiles of micro-radioactivity. Take the profiles of rain-water, profiles of springs (land and off-shhore), profiles of the ocean water at various locations, and you can match them up to trace the flow of water. Later, divers confirmed some of the findings, discovering cave pipe-lines connecting the Black Lagoon with other springs, etc. I wonder whether that could be or has been applied to these ocean currents. Jim O’Brien was the lead Meteorology+Oceanography long-term climate guy, while Krish was into trying to stretch the hurricane path prediction time and accuracy (and working his assistants down to nubbins).

    The science quarter of campus makes a fair map of connections among the related fields: Oceanography + statistics, lecture hall, student labs, another research lab SW, chem just NW of the labs, GFDI, biochem west of that, Keen just to the north, with antarctic ice cores a couple buildings east of Keene (north of Oceanography, south of Meteorology + CS and with Dirac science + engineering library in the midst of them all). Ah, such a mix of great profs and evil execs and admins since the mid-1970s.

  42. tadchem says:

    I don’t get it. What’s so newsworthy about modelling Hadley cells?

  43. Theo Goodwin says:

    commieBob says:
    August 28, 2012 at 9:57 am
    “A physical model is still a model.”

    But far less confusing than a computer model. For example, there is no temptation to claim that one’s model contains a physical theory that the modelers never formulated and that they cannot formulate upon request. The physical model might have been created in accordance with a theory, maybe to explore that theory, but notice that the theory has to exist prior to and apart from the physical model.

    In addition, there is another huge contrast with computer models. There can be no question that the physical model exists to reproduce (the relevant features of) the phenomena studied and not to provide a theoretical explanation of the phenomena.

    The modelers who claim that computer models and physical theory have the “same epistemic space” are at a loss for a terminology that comprehends both physical models and what they call computer models.

  44. tallbloke says:

    Vuk: Didn’t Leif say that the GMF and closed solar field are not related?

    Your graphs seem to show otherwise. Any ‘reversals’ in there?

    You say on your graph page
    L. Svalgaard (Stanford) offers an alternative TSI reconstruction with a near zero up-trend since 1700. Comparing the Svalgaard’s TSI data with the Antarctic’s MF (after re-trending to match the trend of the Svalgaard’s reconstruction of y = 0.0007x) for period 1900 to date, shows stronger correlation than the Wang et al (2005) method, while prior to 1900 the correlation is about equal.

    Not sure I see that, looking at the averaged TSI data. Maybe Leif’s correction for overcounting by Waldmeier helps?

  45. Mike Jonas says:

    Takahashi et al have reported on the upwellings off Antarctica, eg.
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0967064508004311
    There are some better articles by them, including graphics, but sorry I’m on holiday without my usual computer so I don’t have links to hand for them.

  46. vukcevic says:

    Hi TB
    That is suppose to be case for the minor sunspots and ordinary solar wind, but wouldn’t think it would be for CMEs (cause of geomagnetic storms), their field is firmly rooted in the sun, but it extends to the far reaches of the heliosphere.

    Yes 10% boost to the early numbers does help a bit, but also post 1990 difference in the TSI between Wang et al and Svalgaard’s. I do favor Wang et al (reason I used it for calculating correlation) since it requires no fiddling with the trends, but I am not certain why in the last two cycles their TSI is constant, when it is well known fact that the TSI declines with reduction in the solar magnetic activity. It should be interesting to see what they make of SC24.

  47. more soylent green! says:

    “Observations indicate that the outgassing of natural CO2 from the interior ocean has increased in the past twenty years, offsetting the anthropogenic source.”

    I would think uptake, not outgassing would offset anthropogenic CO2. Should this say “overtaking” the anthropogenic source, or “overshadowing” perhaps? Offset means to counteract.

  48. Smokey says:

    Allan MacRae says:

    “…both sides of the rancorous ‘mainstream’ global warming debate are wrong. Both sides assume that humanmade CO2 is the primary driver of temperature, and are only arguing about the amount of warming (climate sensitivity to CO2, feedbacks positive or negative, etc.). If I am correct, both sides of the mainstream debate have ‘put the cart before the horse’.”

    I didn’t realize there was more than one side to the “Something Must Be Done” folks’ argument. I always thought that scientific skeptics were the ‘other side’ of the debate.

    The reason is simple and clear: there is no scientific evidence supporting the alarmist side. All the evidence supports the verified fact that changes in CO2 follow changes in temperature. Once that fact is accepted, it follows that CO2 is a function of temperature, thus CO2 does not cause net temperature changes.

  49. Allan MacRae says:

    Hi Smokey,

    Please examine the 15fps AIRS data animation of global CO2 at
    http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a000000/a003500/a003562/carbonDioxideSequence2002_2008_at15fps.mp4

    It is difficult to see the impact of humanity in this impressive display of nature’s power.

    In the animation, does anyone see the impact of industrialization? USA? Europe? India? China? Anything related to humanity? I don’t.

    I do see evidence of natural seasonal fluxes on land, and also evidence of deep ocean currents.

    The animation does make it look like we Canadians and the Russians have lots of heavy industry emitting megatonnes of deadly CO2 in the far northern Arctic. Not so.

    I think atmospheric CO2 flux and concentration is overwhelmingly natural!

  50. george e smith says:

    So does anybody know what the ocean water Temperatures would be in late spring in the Denmark Straight, between Iceland and Greenland, and near to the Greenland ice shelves ?

    Specifically on May 24th 1941. That was the date of the battle of the Denmark Straight, where the Bismark blew up the HMS Hood, with a single 15 inch shell, that went through the side armor and set off all the powder magazines. The ship went down with over 1400 souls; well bodies anyhow, because almost everybody was killed by the pressure of the blasts.

    Three people survived the sinking of the Hood, about halfway from Greenland to Iceland about level with the south of Iceland. They must have been in that water for several hous before a destroyer picked them up. How could anyone survive in that water ?

  51. Gymnosperm:

    @ “offsetting the anthropogenic source.” Yes, you’re right to focus on the use of language by the Global Warming Industry.

    “Anthropogenic” implies: “This is a long sciency-looking word, and those who use it are so clever that Joe Public had better believe them.” It occurs to me that goldfish bowls, galoshes and gingerbread men are all anthropogenic. If you went into the pub and asked for an anthropgenic gin and tonic you’d deserve a clip round the ear ‘ole.

    “Offsetting” implies “goes part way to mitigating, but only part way”, in the same way that an umbrella can offset Hurricane Isaac. Offsetting has a subsidiary meaning: “Persuading mugs to send money which is pocketed by a pseudogreen organization pretending to fix the climate.”

    With a name like “gymnosperm” you must have an interest in the meanings of words!

  52. As a child in a large family, we dined at a large round table. In the center of this talbe was a small round table that we used to transport hot and cold items from one side of the table to the other. Southerners called this rotating table a “Lazy Susan”, i never realized the full scientific potential. Well, other than spinning it real fast could launch a bowl of English peas at my little brother.

    Back to Earth science and the Big Warm/Little Warm faux debate. Ocean floor vents release massive flows of a number of ‘elemental’ gases, which are new formed additions to the Earths inventory from the fission products of larger atoms. “Vast pools of liquid CO2 are on the ocean floor” per Geologist Timothy Casey in his “Voclanic CO2″ article. In the article “Expanding Earth’s Geothermal Debate” there is an analysis of the erroneous current estimates of this variable fission flux, see http://ClimateRealist.com/?id=10104

    Our planet has 2 million cubic miles of fissionable material that has a non-laboratory, variable decay rate. “If you have no description for the macro events, you have no business dictating the conditions of the micro systems.” [Glacial/Interglacial can be described as a macro event, and CO2 a micro system....clarification for climatologists]

  53. scepticalwombat says:

    Dr. Lurtz said on August 27, 2012 at 5:45 pm:

    Fantastic, finally, something that everyone can understand and duplicate [given enough money]: a rotating table. It doesn’t involve a satellite, an unverifiable software program, or a bunch of miss placed temperature measuring sites. Just a good old fashion mechanical device that uses thought and brain power. And, it doesn’t appear to have an agenda other than furthering our understanding of the workings of our planet.

    Actually, as Anthony says, this device and others like it have been around for half a century. They are very good for demonstrating a number of characteristics of rotating fluids (some of which are very counter intuitive). You will find videos showing a number of experiments using such a device here. Enjoy

    Robert of Ottawa said on August 27, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    May I suggest he use a rotating planet for his studies, rather than a one-dimensional model?

    Actually Robert it is a three dimensional model – though not spherical. As for conducting an experiment on a planet instead, we are all doing that. The advantage of the laboratory model is that if things go wrong it doesn’t matter.

  54. phlogiston says:

    Refreshing to see new thinking on the dynamics of the oceans as a whole, not just the thin skin we perceive at the surface. This is where most of the earth’s climate energy is, these deep currents hold the key to climate.

    The coverage of earth by a layer several km deep of a liquid with anomalously high heat capacity i.e. water is a dominating fact shaping the character of climate dynamics. Relatively small changes in the circulation of the whole ocean have the potential to drive long term climate variations.by adding or removing large amounts of heat to the troposphere.

    The effect on heat budget can be reduced to a simple parameter – globally how much vertical mixing takes place in the whole ocean? It not so important exactly where the upwelling and downwelling occur. The ocean is strongly vertically stratified, much warmer at the surface than deep down (except under the poles). Thus ANY significant increase in vertical mixing will always move heat down. Global troposphere temperature could be controlled simply by the sum of global vertical ocean mixing.

  55. george e smith says:

    “””””…..milodonharlani says:

    August 28, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    Mr. Smith:

    The three survivors of HMS Hood were on rafts for three hours.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/3141076/Ted-Briggs-last-survivor-of-the-HMS-Hood-dies-at-85.htm…..”””””

    Thanks for that info milo. I just finished reading Bismark and now that you mention it, they did manage to get onto rafts. Briggs described being sucked down till he had resigned himself to drowning, as he couldn’t compete with the rapid descent towards the bottom. Just as he was about to open his mouth and finish it, an explosion below presumably one of the boilers, blew the three of them back to the surface. Otherwise there would have been no survivors. Many more escaped from the Bismark, but only a few were picked up up by the Dorsetshire, before the appearance of a German submarine, forced the ship to take off leaving apparently some hundreds in the sea. I think only three of those were recovered by the Submarine.

    Sad story; apparently almost nothing was learned from the WW-I Battle of Jutland (by the Royal Navy anyway).

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