A Different Perspective on Trenberth’s Missing Heat: The Warming of the Global Oceans (0 to 2000 Meters) in Deg C

We discussed Dr. Roy Spencer’s post More on Trenberth’s Missing Heat in my recent post and in the cross post at WattsUpWithThat.

One of the points Roy made: a change in ocean heat content is presented in terms that look impressive: Joules times 10^22 or Joules with oodles of trailing zeroes. However, in terms that most people are familiar with, temperature, the warming of the global oceans since 1955 was a minute change. Roy wrote:

Because of the immense heat capacity of the deep ocean, the magnitude of deep warming in Scenario 3 might only be thousandths of a degree. Whether we can measure such tiny levels of warming on the time scales of decades or longer is very questionable, and the new study co-authored by Trenberth is not entirely based upon observations, anyway.

The NODC presents their ocean heat content data through their webpage here. There, they also include a link to the 2012 paper by Levitus et al that introduced their dataset for depths of 0 to 2000 meters World Ocean Heat Content and Thermosteric Sea Level change (0-2000 m),1955-2010. In the abstract, Levitus et al identify the change in temperature of the volume of water that makes up the global oceans to depths of 2000 meters, or about 6560 feet (my boldface):

We provide updated estimates of the change of ocean heat content and the thermosteric component of sea level change of the 0–700 and 0–2000 m layers of the World Ocean for 1955–2010. Our estimates are based on historical data not previously available, additional modern data, and bathythermograph data corrected for instrumental biases. We have also used Argo data corrected by the Argo DAC if available and used uncorrected Argo data if no corrections were available at the time we downloaded the Argo data. The heat content of the World Ocean for the 0–2000 m layer increased by 24.0 ± 1.9 × 1022 J (±2S.E.) corresponding to a rate of 0.39 W m−2 (per unit area of the World Ocean) and a volume mean warming of 0.09°C.

That’s right. According to Levitus et al 2012, the average temperature of the global oceans to depths of 2000 meters warmed a miniscule 0.09 deg C (or 0.16 deg F) from 1955 to 2010. Granted, the heat capacity of the ocean is much greater than the atmosphere, but that warming of 0.09 deg C strains believability. Are we able to sense such a small change?

Some might think Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson is correct with what he wrote in a June 2012 The Sunday Times article titled Kaboom! It’s my turn to play fantasy climate change:

Science fiction is thriving; only today it’s all being written by global warming enthusiasts.

(Just in case there’s a problem with the link above, Benny Peiser’s GlobalWarmingPolicyFoundtion has a copy of Jeremy Clarkson’s article here.)

Figure 1 is the same graph I presented in the introduction of More on Trenberth’s Missing Heat. Except in this graph I’ve scaled the data in deg C so that it creates the 0.09 deg C warming of the global oceans to depths of 2000 meters from 1955 to 2010 in the NODC data. As a reminder, the “unadjusted” ocean heat content data is represented by the UKMO EN3 data, and the corrected—tweaked, adjusted, modified, whatever—ocean heat content data is represented by the NODC data. Regardless of whether you find the unadjusted or adjusted data to be the more reasonable dataset, we’re still talking of a warming of about 0.09 deg C over a 55-year period.

Figure 1

Figure 1

Keep in mind, the global oceans cover a surface area of about 361 million square kilometers and the data is supposed to represent the average temperature of the oceans to depths up to 2 kilometers.

Now consider how few temperature samples there are at depths of 1500 meters before 2003/04 (Refer to gif animation of temperature sample maps here). 2003/04 is when the ARGO floats began to have reasonably complete coverage of the global oceans. It’s very difficult to find the dataset credible. A warming of 0.09 deg C in 55 years equals a linear trend of approximately 0.016 deg C per decade. That’s sixteen one thousandths of a deg C per decade.

Even during the ARGO era, the data has to be modified in order for it to come close to matching the warming trends simulated by climate models. I’ve shortened the term of the data in Figure 2 to the ARGO era (the period of 2003 through 2011) to give you an idea of just how small those corrections are in deg C. I’ve also included the linear trend lines for the sake of discussion. Also note that the larger annual changes in the two datasets are on the order of 0.005 to 0.006 deg C.

Figure 2

Figure 2

ONE MORE THING TO CONSIDER

Most of the warming occurred in the top 700 meters. But the warming at those depths has flattened in recent years.

Levitus et al 2012 also identifies the warming of the depths of 0 to 700 meters. They write in the abstract:

The heat content of the World Ocean for the 0–700 m layer increased by 16.7 ± 1.6 × 1022 J corresponding to a rate of 0.27 W m−2(per unit area of the World Ocean) and a volume mean warming of 0.18°C.

The depths of 0-2000 meters warmed 0.09 deg C from 1955 to 2010, but the warming of the top 700 meters was twice that amount. That means the warming of the depths of 700 to 2000 meters, where the warming is said to continue, was miniscule in terms of deg C.

ALARMIST REPORTS ABOUT THE CONTINUED WARMING OF THE OCEANS

In their attempts to overcome the flattening of surface temperatures trends, the alarmist community—SkepticalScience and Climate Progress in particular—have been very active recently with their reports about the continued warming of the global oceans. The most recent is Joe Romm’s April 16th post Reuters Ignores Its Own Accurate Reporting On Rapid Warming Of Oceans. If the alarmist community and the mainstream media presented the ocean warming to depths of 2000 meters in terms people understood (deg C) instead of the units meant to alarm (10^22 Joules), would the believers in manmade global warming find the ocean heat content data credible? Some would. Others wouldn’t. It really strains believability.

CLOSING

ARGO floats were introduced to allow researchers to sample the temperature and salinity of the global oceans to depth. According to the testimony of Raymond Schmitt when the ARGO program was looking for US funding, ARGO floats would permit scientists to “begin to understand this largest component of the global water cycle.” (Refer to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution webpage.) But can they realistically be used to find missing heat that’s supposed to be associated with human-induced global warming? Or are certain members of the climate science community still grasping at straws in efforts to keep their taxpayer-funded research afloat?

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About Bob Tisdale

Research interest: the long-term aftereffects of El Niño and La Nina events on global sea surface temperature and ocean heat content. Author of the ebook Who Turned on the Heat? and regular contributor at WattsUpWithThat.
This entry was posted in Ocean Heat Content, Trenberth's missing heats. Bookmark the permalink.

82 Responses to A Different Perspective on Trenberth’s Missing Heat: The Warming of the Global Oceans (0 to 2000 Meters) in Deg C

  1. Hi Bob

    Thanks for another great post.

    Lets get this in perspective. The average ocean depth is 4.3Km i.e 4300metres.That’s an awful lot of water. We do not begin to understand what is happening in the abysssal waters. The idea that we can measure globally the ocean temperature to any meaningful figure is as nonsensical as many of the other claims we are given that much of climate science is based on. SST’s globally back to 1860? Hubris. An average global temperature accurate to tenths of a degree to 1880? No,

    Perhaps someone here could calculate how much energy it would take to heat the oceans globally to a figure greater than the error bars. let’s be very generous and call that half a degree centigrade. How long would that take?

    tonyb

  2. johnmarshall says:

    If you have to alter observed data to match climate models then the models are WRONG. This practice seems to be a continued vice in climate science.

  3. TimTheToolMan says:

    700 – 2000 meters is a long way at 1300 meters depth. How exactly is the heat supposed to have diffused downward and “evenly” over that short time? Surely if we can resolve the temperature to the nearest few thousandths of a degree, we can see the heat moving downwards over that time? I mean it cant instantly be throughout that 1300m can it?

    The thing is I dont recall seeing a single paper actually mapping that heat moving downwards into the ocean over that time through these exceptionally accurate measurements we’re making.

    On a side note, Clarkson’s “Global warming enthusiasts” is an excellent term IMO.

  4. Mike Jonas says:

    If CO2 does produce all the heat they claim, but if most of it is going into the deep ocean, there is no catastrophic warming. It will take hundreds of years just to get one deg C.

    And if CO2 doesn’t produce all the heat they claim, then there is still no catastrophic warming.

    Period.

  5. Bob Tisdale says:

    TimTheToolMan says: “700 – 2000 meters is a long way at 1300 meters depth. How exactly is the heat supposed to have diffused downward and “evenly” over that short time?”

    The warming does not occur evenly at the surface or at any depth.

    Regards

  6. TimTheToolMan says:

    Bob, I did put it in quotes… they’re not saying 700- 1000 meters, they’re saying 700-2000 meters. If the heat had only diffused down say 300 meters (on average) in the last 55 years then they could have said that but instead it has diffused down the full (yes varying locally) 1300 meters.

  7. Bob Tisdale says:

    TimTheToolMan: See Figure 3 in Levitus et al 2012:

    http://data.nodc.noaa.gov/woa/PUBLICATIONS/grlheat12.pdf

    Regards

  8. Planck says:

    I remember an interesting analogy on heating the vast oceans. I cannot recall the author, but a comparison was made between a water filled bath tub (water at air temperature) within a bathroom lit by a single lightbulb. Would a single bulb when switched on, alter the temperature of the water in the bath? I suspect not. Radiant heat would be absorbed by the air in the room. Air Convection via drafts etc would likely dissipate most of the small amount of heat.

    Add a few ppm of carbon dioxide to the air in the room. Any difference in water temperature? Acidity of the water?

    Lets be realistic – as the first post points out, the average ocean depth is over 4km. There is no way that measurable temperature differences caused by a fraction of a degree rise in average air temperature over a few years will affect ocean temperature. it would take a time frame of millions of years.

  9. Bryan says:

    Because of the massive heat capacity of the Oceans the slightest % temperature uptick would represent immense heating and the slightest % downtick would represent immense cooling.
    The onus is on the advocates of a significant change to justify the accuracy of their measurements otherwise they should be ignored.

  10. TimTheToolMan says:

    Bob, figure 3 doesn’t show the heat at any particular depth, its an average for the entire 700-2000 range of depths. The point is that if we can measure as accurately as they say, then they should be able to produce a graph showing how the energy is actually moving downwards into the ocean by showing trends at particular depths and showing the net movement downwards.

  11. izen says:

    The increase in thermal energy reaching the deep oceans may be hard to measure and at the limits of detectability with current methods. However it is supported by the independent methodology of measurement of the thermal expansion of the oceans raising sea level.

    As usual it is the consistancy between different methods of detecting change that give certainty and robustness to the overall conclusion. Quibbling about details of one method that indicates a certain conclusion is pointless if it is validated by other methods of measurement.

  12. TimTheToolMan says:

    izen writes “However it is supported by the independent methodology of measurement of the thermal expansion of the oceans raising sea level.”

    And believes we have measurements of global sea level that are accurate enough to perform that comparison. We have very little accurate sea level data too, izen. And whether that “accurate” data is really accurate or not is even up for debate.

  13. Planck says:

    Izen, “thermal expansion of the ocean raising sea level”.
    How do you account for tectonic changes to ocean floor? Continental drift moves ocean floor on average several centimetres a year. This is mostly horizontal but large vertical movements also occur. Clearly movement of ocean plates will have a considerable affect on sea levels.

  14. Whether it’s sliced and diced data dung, or pureed proxy poop….these grant-fed, guano processors have a remarkable ability to cook the numbers. If you’ve at taste for satire, read “New ! Amazing ! Wrongo Proxy Crock ! ! !” posted at Canada Free Press. This article explains this new data cooker, and has some recipe tips. Bon Appetite !

  15. kim says:

    TtTM, and now Jason 2 is acting up. Just why or how, I dunno, but there are fewer sea level updates posted this year.

    H/t R. Starkey.
    =========

  16. Steve from Rockwood says:

    If “typically most Argo floats in our present database reach a maximum observed depth of 1970 m” as described by Levitus (2012) and the average ocean depth is 4300 m then how can we say the oceans have warmed? Are we not assuming that from 1970 – 4300 m the oceans haven’t cooled – without any measurements?

  17. kim says:

    izen, steric rise has been steady for a long time, preceding CO2 rise and fabulous ‘missing heat’ deep in the sea.
    ==========

  18. Planck says:

    I meant ocean floor movement of several millimetres per year not centimetres, although centimetre movements have been recorded.

  19. vukcevic says:

    This is an ocean floor ‘minnow’ but the climate change giant; a unique location with the unique properties.

    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/K-Ridge.htm

  20. tty says:

    Izen:
    ” The increase in thermal energy reaching the deep oceans may be hard to measure and at the limits of detectability with current methods. However it is supported by the independent methodology of measurement of the thermal expansion of the oceans raising sea level.”

    Certainly, it only requires that we have accurate data on:

    1. Changes in sea-level globally
    2. Changes in ground-water levels globally
    3. Changes in salinity throughout the Oceans
    4. Global isostatic/tectonic changes
    5. Amount of ice accumulation/melt globally
    6. Amount of sediment accumulation globally

  21. David says:

    30 plus years and the clock is ticking, still waiting for climate scientist to put error bars on their graphs, still waiting for greenhouse.

  22. oMan says:

    Planck: great point. How much do we really know about net volume changes in the global ocean basins? The coninents drift apart; where does that increased separation end up? In a slight decrease of landmass surface area as India crumples upward, etc? If the ocean basins are getting bigger, how sure are we that we know what sea surface “really” is? I ignore the problems with instrument error and gravity/surface pressure fluctuations; just interested in the net volume change as it affects the measurement of surface level.

  23. Pamela Gray says:

    Error bars? Natural temperature flux range? Likely, this is similar to the issue with temperature. These tiny wiggles fail to rise above error bars as well as the natural variation range. Neither one of these important components of stardard research design related to oceans or climate or weather are evident here.

    Here is the thing about our oceans. We are beginning to understand oceans have climate zones and “weather pattern variation” as well as day to day fluctuations. Have we figured those out yet? Mapped them like we have our land masses at the macro and micro scale? Nope.

    Cart before horse. The ivory tower has measured the cart but called it the horse. Silly ivory tower.

  24. Kasuha says:

    One more thing to consider:
    The water at the bottom of the ocean is only as cool as the water downwelling in polar regions is. There is no cooling mechanism at the bottom of the ocean, there is marginal heating mechanism from the sea floor but its effect can be mostly ignored.
    Now consider recent changes in the arctic and its summer reduction in ice cover. It’s very likely that this reduction is not caused by changes in air temperature, it’s rather caused by increased ocean circulation and waters warmer than before entering the northern polar region. This also means that at least half of the year, warmer water than before gets stored at the bottom of the ocean in Arctic.

    Ocean does not play role of negative or positive feedback with this mechanism, it plays role of a brake. This also means that we are likely not going to get any kind of “runaway effect” any time soon as this “storage of missing heat” may go on for hundreds of years without noticeable changes.

  25. Bob Tisdale says:

    TimTheToolMan says: “Bob, figure 3 doesn’t show the heat at any particular depth…”

    Correct. But they show the warming wasn’t uniform. That was my point.

    Regards

  26. MattS says:

    You should redo figure 1 so that the vertical scale of the graph covers a full degree C.

  27. Cassanders says:

    TimTheToolMan (And Bob Tisdale),
    While I do not have strong opinions in either direction WRT the “missing heat”, I am not sure we have to infer a “uniform” diffusion of heat. Ï would think the meriodinal overturning could be a plausible mechanism for a substantial fraction.

    While we are talking of this: I suspect the abyssal water volumes and the upwelling areas also are un- or poorly described “jokers” in the GCM.
    As the turnover times are from 100’s to 1000’s of years, I would think climate “signals” (in this context, stored heat (to stick to the vernacular)) from earlier warm periods (e.g. MWP) in fact could resurface and contribute to the current atmospheric conditioins.
    I can see no problem in havning downwelling of warmer water than e.g. today, the only requirement is that the surrounding water is relatively (even) warmer and less dense.

    Cassanders
    In Cod we trust

  28. Bob Tisdale says:

    izen says: “As usual it is the consistancy between different methods of detecting change that give certainty and robustness to the overall conclusion. Quibbling about details of one method that indicates a certain conclusion is pointless if it is validated by other methods of measurement.”

    If memory serves, it was recently estimated that groundwater pumping contributed 40% to the rise in sea level and that experts in sea level were surprised it was so great. The additional contribution of groundwater would tend to undermine your thoughts that sea level is a reasonable proxy for heat content.

  29. Jean Parisot says:

    Is the gravitational energy associated with tidal influence reflected in the temperature measurements?

  30. Pamela Gray says:

    One of the components of climate is range. NE Oregon and the two other states that meet in the corner may soon have to expand climate zone parameters. We have several zone numbers here. But right now, the range is dipping. Dipping. DIPPING. Pretty soon, if this keeps up, we will have to change our plant zone number in Burpees catalog. However, no one here is running through the streets screaming “ICE AGE! ICE AGE!” The robust nature of our populace simply tells us to put a coat on.

    More reasoned minds will also look at oceanic temperature range, daily fluctuations, trends, and oscillations as natural variations. Only AGW scientists panic.

  31. Thanks, Bob. I keep on learning about the oceans and their enormous size and heat capacity that puts them in charge of a planet that should have been named “Aqua”.

  32. Bob Tisdale says:

    TimTheToolMan says: “The point is that if we can measure as accurately as they say, then they should be able to produce a graph showing how the energy is actually moving downwards into the ocean by showing trends at particular depths and showing the net movement downwards.”

    Part of what you’re requesting was presented in earlier papers. Refer to Figure 2 in Levitus et al 2005:
    ftp://ftp.nodc.noaa.gov/pub/data.nodc/woa/PUBLICATIONS/grlheat05.pdf

    Regards

  33. Jeff Alberts says:

    Keep in mind, the global oceans cover a surface area of about 361 million square kilometers and the data is supposed to represent the average temperature of the oceans to depths up to 2 kilometers.

    Is that as meaningless a metric as “global mean temperature”?

  34. Bob Tisdale says:

    David says: “30 plus years and the clock is ticking, still waiting for climate scientist to put error bars on their graphs, still waiting for greenhouse.”

    Error bars can be found for some of the NODC OHC data. Go to the NODC website:

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

    Beneath the graph is a grey box and at the top of it is the “figures with error bars “ option. Give it a click. Then click on the graph 2, which gives you the ocean heat content for 0-2000meters. Curiously, data and error bars are only presented during the ARGO era. They do, however, present error bars in the Levitus et al (2012) paper for the full term (that appear different during the ARGO era than what they present online. The paper presents the pentadal data while the website presents the quarterly data). See Figure 1:

    http://data.nodc.noaa.gov/woa/PUBLICATIONS/grlheat12.pdf

  35. TimTheToolMan says:

    Bob writes “Correct. But they show the warming wasn’t uniform. That was my point.”

    How does figure 3 show that the warming is non-uniform? I mean I fully expect the warming to be non-uniform, dont get me wrong… but a figure showing the cumulative heat content for the entire depth being considered varying over time says nothing about how the heat is distributed.

    I guess my point is regarding insufficient spacial and temporal resolution to actually map the energy within the ocean and see how it changes over time, ie where the energy moves to and comes from. If they can do that, then they can say the energy has moved down into the ocean depths.

  36. David Springer says:

    Great article, Bob! 100% agreement here.

  37. Gail Combs says:

    Did the deep sea currents stay exactly the same? Did the the ARGO sensors stay in exactly the same place?

    What is Argo?

    Argo is a global array of 3,000 free-drifting profiling floats that measures the temperature and salinity of the upper 2000 m of the ocean. This allows, for the first time, continuous monitoring of the temperature, salinity, and velocity of the upper ocean, with all data being relayed and made publicly available within hours after collection…. Argo deployments began in 2000 and by November 2007 the array is 100% complete.

    http://www.argo.ucsd.edu/

    (There are 3566 floats)

    An accurate measurement of the heat content at depth and the ability to see 0.1C change??? No Way in Heck!

    I do not care how good the senors are you are not going to get that type of accuracy for measuring the WHOLE ocean’s heat content. On top of that when ARGO was complete (2007) is when the data flattened. Only the 2007 to present data is worth anything.

  38. beng says:

    It’s looking to me that the “cold water” of the ocean depths is acting as a heat-diffuser/sink. That the much greater mass of cold water acts as a “brake” to further warming. Take a 1C rise in the first 100m and, by mixing, it gets the temp reduced and distributed thruout a far more massive cold-water volume, where it becomes insignificant. The deep, cold water acts as a “memory” of relatively recent glacial melting. ‘Course this depends on how much and how deep the mixing is.

  39. oldseadog says:

    I am puzzled that the surface, mid depth and deep currents seem to be ignored here. Surely a current of just one knot at the bottom of the ocean will have a mixing effect just the same as a similar surface current, and there are recent papers about new information on deep currents in particular. Sorry I don’t have links but I think I read about them here not that long ago. Also I know one retired submariner who talks of hiding under or over thermoclines defining the upper / lower limits of currents going in different directions and/or at different speeds.

  40. Ryan says:

    0.09C with that volume of water is in no way a “minuscule” amount of heat. Take that amount of heat and put it into the atmosphere. That’ll give you some perspective.

  41. TimTheToolMan says:

    Bob writes “Part of what you’re requesting was presented in earlier papers. Refer to Figure 2 in Levitus et al 2005:”

    Thats more useful. Two things about it, though. Firstly its pre-Argo so of limited use. But secondly doesn’t appear to support the idea heat is travelling into the depths to any great extent anyway! No wonder they didn’t publish anything like that in their later papers…

  42. Geoff Withnell says:

    izen says:
    April 17, 2013 at 5:46 am
    The increase in thermal energy reaching the deep oceans may be hard to measure and at the limits of detectability with current methods. However it is supported by the independent methodology of measurement of the thermal expansion of the oceans raising sea level.

    As usual it is the consistancy between different methods of detecting change that give certainty and robustness to the overall conclusion. Quibbling about details of one method that indicates a certain conclusion is pointless if it is validated by other methods of measurement.

    So since the volumetric thermal expansion coefficient for for water is 207*10^-6/degree c, for a .19 degree change in temperature, we are seeing a less than one thousandth of a percent in volume change? And we are accurately measureing this. Somehow, my willing suspension of disbelief for this tall tale snapped.

  43. gymnosperm says:

    izen,

    On must consider how atmospheric enthalpy can get to the deep ocean. Deep water is formed in the North Atlantic and around the Antarctic vortex. The North Atlantic and Arctic surface water temperatures have definitely been rising, so let’s concede that North Atlantic deep water formed in the last 55 years is a couple thousandths warmer and a slug of this water has begun its thousand year journey.
    Southern Ocean surface water surface temperature, however, has definitely been cooling, and simply by area this seems the larger source of deep water.
    Our slug of toasty North Atlantic water will not begin to encounter the Antarctic Vortex, the pump, for another 500 years.

  44. izen says:

    @- Bob Tisdale
    “If memory serves, it was recently estimated that groundwater pumping contributed 40% to the rise in sea level and that experts in sea level were surprised it was so great. ”

    Actually 42% or 0.7mm per year which neatly explained the ‘unknown’ source of around 0.7mm of rise per year above and beyond the known influences of land based ice loss and thermal expansion.

    @- “The additional contribution of groundwater would tend to undermine your thoughts that sea level is a reasonable proxy for heat content.”

    Wrong.
    Confirming the source of ALL the factors causing sea level rise so that they can be correctly partitioned between ice melt, thermal expansion and aquifier pumping helps make the measurement of thermal energy entering the oceans MORE accurate.

  45. more soylent green! says:

    According to Levitus et al 2012, the average temperature of the global oceans to depths of 2000 meters warmed a miniscule 0.09 deg C (or 0.16 deg F) from 1955 to 2010. Granted, the heat capacity of the ocean is much greater than the atmosphere, but that warming of 0.09 deg C strains believability. Are we able to sense such a small change?

    Complete BS. Can we really measure the temp of the oceans globally at 2000 meters and measure it to this degree of accuracy?

    In a word — NO!

  46. Trond A says:

    Thanks for an excellent post. Regarding to:

    ….Granted, the heat capacity of the ocean is much greater than the atmosphere, but that warming of 0.09 deg C strains believability. Are we able to sense such a small change?..
    ..it is also a matter of measuring, as Eschenbach writes clearly here:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/04/17/a-different-perspective-on-trenberths-missing-heat-the-warming-of-the-global-oceans-0-to-2000-meters-in-deg-c/#more-84385

    It is a bit peculiar how warming of the oceans suddenly becomes an issue after atmosphere warming has stalled.

    And the heat capacity of oceans is not large only because of the huge volumes, but also because of the substance of water in itself. Water has a relatively high heat capacity compared to other substances; relatively much energy has to be transferred to raise the temperature of water. Trying to compute the very large amounts of energy transfer to the water through measuring very small differences in temperature is a bit like using a handspike, a lever, the other way around to rock a stone, holding the hands on the short distance from the fulcrum trying to find the right force to push downwards.

  47. ferdberple says:

    izen says:
    April 17, 2013 at 5:46 am
    However it is supported by the independent methodology of measurement of the thermal expansion of the oceans raising sea level.
    ==========
    No. What is being measured is ASSUMED to be due to thermal expansion. Ground water extraction has since been shown to account for 1/2 the increase. This significantly increases the odds that the other 1/2 will also be found to be due to some other factors.

    What we are seeing the the observer-expectation effect. Researchers expected to find the oceans rising due to thermal expansion, so when they found them rising they assumed they knew the cause. Faulty logic => faulty science.

    There is plenty of evidence that the rising oceans are largely regional. That the oceans themselves are not constrained by the ocean basins, but extend far into the earth’s crust, and would fully sink into the earth except for the heat of the earth’s interior turning them to extremely high pressure steam at the boundary layer which prevents them from sinking further. It is quite possible that this boundary layer is what separates the earth’s crust from the mantle and makes life on earth possible.

    People tend to think of the oceans as giant swimming pools or bath-tubs, with an impervious layer containing the water. However, that is simply an illusion. The dirt and rock that contains the oceans is not a barrier to water. The smallest crack and water will try and flow out of the oceans towards the earth’s core. Except for the heat of the core we would have no visible oceans. They would have long since drained away into the interior.

  48. Bob Tisdale says:

    Ryan says: “0.09C with that volume of water is in no way a “minuscule” amount of heat. Take that amount of heat and put it into the atmosphere. That’ll give you some perspective.”

    If you had read the post, you would have noted that that was not disputed. The reason for this post was to illustrate the absurdity of thoughts that we can determine the temperature of the global oceans to depths of 2000 meters with the accuracy required to claim global warming continues at depths of the global oceans.

  49. jorgekafkazar says:

    It’s no accident that the “missing heat” showed up somewhere no independent researcher can check. I notice izen ignores some of the issues, here, but continues to comment. I’d guess the Warmists are shaking in their boots over this one, given that their favorite bugbear, CO2, is failing.

    As with atmospheric global warming, it’s insufficient to measure a few temperatures hither and thither. To determine whether oceans are warming or not, we’d need to measure the temperatures of all the currents and measure all the heat fluxes.

    Remember those little oven thermometers that have a bimetallic coil in them? They are inaccurate when new and gradually get further and further off. Well, ocean volume is not as good a thermometer as those. Another factor swept under the rug:

    http://www.iceagenow.com/Three_Million_Underwater_Volcanoes.htm

    And then there is friction-generated heat from tidal forces and slippage of tectonic plates…

  50. Bob says:

    Enjoyable and interesting article, Bob T.
    Although I’m not sure that the heat capacity of the deep ocean is all that much different Volume:Volume than the heat capacity of shallower water, if you are going to resolve 0.001636°C/year it should be considered. Given the immense measurement difficulty, currents, thermoclines and other effects, an actual measurement of this would be impossible. Sounds like a number best left to calculation and modeling.

  51. Werner Brozek says:

    The next time someone wants to talk about ocean acidification, do we talk about the 0.09 C rise that would cause more CO2 to come out of water or do we talk of the 24.0 ± 1.9 × 1022 J that would do the same?

  52. wbrozek says:

    Ryan says:
    April 17, 2013 at 7:21 am
    0.09C with that volume of water is in no way a “minuscule” amount of heat. Take that amount of heat and put it into the atmosphere. That’ll give you some perspective.

    If that were done, the atmosphere would warm by about 100 C. However this cannot happen since heat travels from where it is more concentrated to where it is less concentrated. If the average air temperature is 15 C and if the average ocean temperature warmed from 3.00 C to 3.09 C, we have a long way to go before the ocean gets to 15 C. I believe Hansen’s and my grand kids will be OK.

  53. DayHay says:

    Ryan says: “0.09C with that volume of water is in no way a “minuscule” amount of heat. Take that amount of heat and put it into the atmosphere. That’ll give you some perspective.”

    The correct answer is that 0.09C IS a miniscule amount of change, irregardless of perspective.

  54. kent Blaker says:

    “A lack of high-quality CTD and reversing thermometer
    data at depths exceeding 2000 m in recent years” Does this mean that below 2000 meters the temperature is cooling?
    When polar first year sea ice melts it mostly melts at -1.6 to -1.8 C. how far does it sink? Where does it go?

  55. Gary Pearse says:

    wbrozek says:
    April 17, 2013 at 8:50 am

    “If that were done, the atmosphere would warm by about 100 C.” except for the fact that before it got too far, there would be a negative feed back, convective dumping into the upper atmosphere for radiation into space, evap, storms….

  56. izen says:

    Is it excessively cynical to surmise that the enthusiasm with which various posters embrace the idea that measurements of temperature are impossible, inaccurate or invoke unknown or massive tectonic effects to ‘explain’ the warming, expanding oceans would diminish vastly if the measurements indicated the absence of an AGW signal.
    The tectonic explanation I particularly like, the crustal movement to raise total sea level by even just a few millimetres just ‘might’ have been noticed!! As would the volcanic activity and chemical release from undersea eruptions sufficient to have an impact on the measured parameters.

  57. Bob Tisdale says:

    izen, you miss the obvious. In 2011, Church et al estimated that sea level rise was caused by about a 50/50 split between thermal expansion and melting land ice. If now 40% is caused by groundwater contribution, which budget are you going to adjust, thermal expansion or melting land ice?

  58. Dave Wendt says:

    Kasuha says:
    April 17, 2013 at 6:36 am
    One more thing to consider:
    The water at the bottom of the ocean is only as cool as the water downwelling in polar regions is. There is no cooling mechanism at the bottom of the ocean, there is marginal heating mechanism from the sea floor but its effect can be mostly ignored.

    Ignoring the contribution of geothermal heating at abyssal depths is the conventional wisdom, but this work from several years ago suggests that may be a significant error.

    http://www.ocean-sci.net/5/203/2009/os-5-203-2009.pdf

    Geothermal heating, diapycnal mixing and the abyssal circulation
    J. Emile-Geay1 and G. Madec2,*

    “Abstract. The dynamical role of geothermal heating in abyssal circulation is reconsidered using three independent arguments. First, we show that a uniform geothermal heat flux close to the observed average (86.4 mW m−2) supplies as much heat to near-bottom water as a diapycnal mixing rate of ∼10−4 m2s −1 – the canonical value thought to be responsible for the magnitude of the present-day abyssal circulation. This parity raises the possibility that geothermal heating could have a dynamical impact of the same order.”….

    “. Geothermal heating and diapycnal mixing are found to interact non-linearly through the
    density field, with geothermal heating eroding the deep stratification supporting a downward diffusive flux, while diapycnal mixing acts to map near-surface temperature gradients
    onto the bottom, thereby altering the density structure that supports a geothermal circulation. For strong vertical mixing rates, geothermal heating enhances the AABW cell by about 15% (2.5 Sv) and heats up the last 2000 m by ∼0.15◦C, reaching a maximum of by 0.3◦C in the deep North Pacific. Prescribing a realistic spatial distribution of the heat flux acts to enhance this temperature rise at mid-depth and reduce it at great depth, producing a more modest increase in overturning
    than in the uniform case. In all cases, however, poleward heat transport increases by ∼10% in the Southern Ocean. The three approaches converge to the conclusion that geothermal heating is an important actor of abyssal dynamics, and should no longer be neglected in oceanographic studies.”

    For the purposes of this post I would also quote one of the bullet points from the discussion section of the paper

    “– On the other hand, the thermodynamic response is considerable, with bottom waters warming by about 0.3◦C, with a maximum of 0.5◦C in the North Pacific bottom waters (slightly smaller in the strong mixing case), in agreement with Adcroft et al. (2001). This is an enormous contribution to the heat budget of the deep ocean, one that cannot be neglected.”

  59. Box of Rocks says:

    That is well and good.

    The Mariana’s trench is over 35,000 feet deep with a corresponding water temp in the 30s.

    Let’s keep some perspective here folks.

  60. izen says:

    @- Bob Tisdale
    “izen, you miss the obvious. In 2011, Church et al estimated that sea level rise was caused by about a 50/50 split between thermal expansion and melting land ice. If now 40% is caused by groundwater contribution, which budget are you going to adjust, thermal expansion or melting land ice?”

    Neither , both budgets balance.
    Church et al 2011 assume that the extra water pumped from aquifiers is exactly offset by extra water retained by dams and reservoirs. The alternate budget attributes the recent acceleration in sea level rise during the satellite era of measurements as the result of increasing new aquifier pumping but the exhaustion of major new sites for dams and reservoirs. But allows that some of the past sea level rise is also from aquifier pumping.

    The ratio of thermal expansion and land ice melt contributions remains the same, but if aquifier pumping is increasing the rate then that is also limited in extent so it might reduce the yard of predicted sea level rise by 2100 by around 3 inches.

  61. Kajajuk says:

    kent Blaker says:
    April 17, 2013 at 8:55 am
    ———————————–
    Since the late 20th century the current understanding is that the downwelling in the Arctic is part of the “Great Ocean Conveyor Belt” that circulates the oceans…

    http://www.crd.bc.ca/watersheds/protection/geology-processes/globaloceancurrents.htm

    The data from the Argo floaters in the circumpolar Antarctic circulation could be revealing in a century or so. If downwelling started to occur from the region of the North Pacific (Bearing Strait?) that would be a fascinating phenomena.

    btw: Would an increase in evaporation in the open oceans of the Pacific and Atlantic cause vertical mixing due to gradients in salinity?

  62. scarletmacaw says:

    izen says:
    April 17, 2013 at 5:46 am
    The increase in thermal energy reaching the deep oceans may be hard to measure and at the limits of detectability with current methods. However it is supported by the independent methodology of measurement of the thermal expansion of the oceans raising sea level.

    As usual it is the consistancy between different methods of detecting change that give certainty and robustness to the overall conclusion. Quibbling about details of one method that indicates a certain conclusion is pointless if it is validated by other methods of measurement.

    The adjustments to the measurements of thermal energy in the ocean are consistent with the adjustments to the measurements of sea level rise, and that proves what exactly?

  63. Kajajuk says:

    Kasuha says:
    April 17, 2013 at 6:36 am
    “There is no cooling mechanism at the bottom of the ocean”
    ———————————-
    Evidently there are mechanisms at play…

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/04/15/more-on-trenberths-missing-heat/#comment-1276640

    Likely there are more chemical and physical processes buffering the deep ocean temperature towards a constant temp. So any forcing of the deep ocean water to cool or heat would be ‘dealt’ with ASAP keeping the temp constant anyway.

  64. Mac the Knife says:

    Thanks Bob!
    In a response to a comment, you said “The reason for this post was to illustrate the absurdity of thoughts that we can determine the temperature of the global oceans to depths of 2000 meters with the accuracy required to claim global warming continues at depths of the global oceans.”

    I suggest you add that to your conclusion statements in the main story. It wraps up your main post quite nicely!
    MtK

  65. Max™ says:

    Wonder if anyone here has read Flood, by Stephen Baxter, recently went over it myself, neat story, interesting alternative take on the sea level rise, though slightly terrifying (short explanation: what if we were wrong about the rate of sea level rise and there was another source of water besides glaciers, such that tens or hundreds of m per year was possible?) but hey, if I’m going to read sci fi, I’d prefer it be written with some nod to physics.

  66. Kajajuk says:

    Dave Wendt says:
    April 17, 2013 at 9:57 am
    ————————————-

    Thanks for your input; most interesting links and ideas!
    kjjk

  67. Planck says:

    Izen, crustal movement to raise the oceans by just a few milimeters HAS been noticed. Surely you must be aware of continental drift with new oceanic crust forming along mid-ocean spreading ridges and subducting along continental margins. This process causes much of the ocean floor to move mostly horizontally but with a vertical component locally. Rate of movement is measured by magnetic ‘striping’ in the ocean basalt and is occurring over vast amounts of ocean. This is geology 101.

  68. RobertInAz says:

    [blockquote] 0.09C with that volume of water is in no way a “minuscule” amount of heat. Take that amount of heat and put it into the atmosphere. That’ll give you some perspective.[/blockquote]

    And no one said that it is. It is however a minuscule temperature change and when measuring the effect on us all, it is temperature that matters.

  69. Berényi Péter says:

    “corresponding to a rate of 0.39 W/m² (per unit area of the World Ocean)”

    It does not make much sense to calculate imbalance over the oceans, does it? This 0.39 W/m² corresponds to a global 0.275 W/m² imbalance at ToA (Top of Atmosphere), which is the correct metric.

    On the other hand, Trenberth 2009 says
    “The TOA energy imbalance can probably be most accurately determined from climate models and is estimated to be 0.85 ± 0.15 W/m² by Hansen et al. (2005) and is supported by estimated recent changes in ocean heat content (Willis et al. 2004; Hansen et al. 2005).”

    In other words, the actual value (according to this current study) is outside 3 sigma range of estimates based on those “most accurate models”. Well, well, well, khrrrm. Move along folks, nothing to see here.

  70. richard verney says:

    Planck says:
    April 17, 2013 at 5:22 am
    “…I remember an interesting analogy on heating the vast oceans. I cannot recall the author, but a comparison was made between a water filled bath tub (water at air temperature) within a bathroom lit by a single lightbulb. Would a single bulb when switched on, alter the temperature of the water in the bath? I suspect not. Radiant heat would be absorbed by the air in the room. Air Convection via drafts etc would likely dissipate most of the small amount of heat.
    ….
    Lets be realistic – as the first post points out, the average ocean depth is over 4km. There is no way that measurable temperature differences caused by a fraction of a degree rise in average air temperature over a few years will affect ocean temperature. it would take a time frame of millions of years.”
    //////////////////////////////////

    Planck makes a number of strong observations.

    It is important that we do not lose sight of the obvious. When CAGW took off, the conjecture was that backradiation form CO2 heated the atmosphere. Now, it is being suggested that it no longer heats the atmosphere, but instead heats the oceans. This begs the question,

    (i)
    What was the process involved by which CO2 heated the atmosphere?
    (ii)
    If that process is still ongoing, why is the atmosphere no longer showing signs of warming (the heating of the atmosphere has stalled these past 16 to 22 years – depending on data set)?
    (iii)
    If that process is no longer ongoing (atmospheric temperature increase has stalled indicating that the process is no longer on going) why is that process, no longer ongoing today?
    (iv)
    What is the process involved by which CO2 heats the ocean?
    (iiv)
    Why does this process not heat the top layer of the ocean, or at any rate the upper ocean, but instead heats the ocean only below 700m?
    (iiiv)
    When did the process by which CO2 heats the ocean first arise?
    (ix)
    Has that process been ongoing ever since the Earth first acquired an atmoshpere, and if so, why is the deep ocean so cold given the passing of some 4 billion years of this heating?
    (x)
    Why has there been a switch between CO2 heating the ocean rather than heating the atmosphere, and what mechanism has caused the shift in this process?

    Lets face it, the claim that CO2 is heating the ocean below 700m but not the upper ocean is boradering on the ridiculous. Frankly, given the equipment available, it is impossible to ascertain whether this is happening at all. Many have commented upon the size of the ocean. Even if ARGO was increased a million fold. we would have no idea to what extent the oceans are heating.

    I have spent approximately 30 years examining ship’s logs, and I can attest to how variable ocean temperature is over relatively short distances. Bob responded (April 17, 2013 at 5:04 am ) “The warming does not occur evenly at the surface or at any depth.” and (April 17, 2013 at 6:37 am) “Correct. But they show the warming wasn’t uniform. That was my point”. which is an ackowledgment of variability. If there is such variability, and bearing in mind that one is seeking to look at a change in average temperature measured in 100ths or even thousandths of a degree, it follows that one needs substantially more coverage to be able to ascertain the extent of variability and to properly assess representative temperature data. As I say, an increase in ARGO a million fold would not be sufficient and then you would need data for a multidecadel period. Realistically, one might need ARGO buoys no more than 500 metres apart from one another, to even begin to build up a picture.

    The latest contention put forward by warmists is utter rubbish and should be called out as such.

  71. richard verney says:

    izen says:
    April 17, 2013 at 8:58 am
    “… The tectonic explanation I particularly like, the crustal movement to raise total sea level by even just a few millimetres just ‘might’ have been noticed!! As would the volcanic activity and chemical release from undersea eruptions sufficient to have an impact on the measured parameters….”
    ///////////////////////////////////
    Izen

    To take a couple of examples, the Boxing day tsunami that killed a few hundred thousand people was the result of tectonic plate movement. A ridge of approximately 15 metres of height was formed extending almost 800 miles displacing the ocean upwards and causing billions and billions of tons of sea water to form the tsunami wave that engulfed the region.

    The more recent Japanese tsunami was not on the same scale, but I seem to recall that not only was there significant seabed displacement, Japan was moved matters of centremeters as a result.

    The reality is that the tectonic plates are in constant flux, usually the movements are slight, but over a very large scale, but sometimes, the movements are stark but over a much smaller scale (but don’t forget in the Boxing day tsunami the about 15m heightover about 800 mile displacement is just the face of the cliff, the ridge displaced extented a long way back as one plate moved under the other pushing the other pate upwards.

    When you are trying to measure changes in ocean height in millimetres, tectonic movement is a factor, and cannot be ignored.

  72. richard verney says:

    Further to my last post, I did a very quick interet search. That suggested that parts of Japan were moved by as much as 4 metres. Obviously, Japan as a whole was moved less. I would not wish to claim that these came from reliable sources, but if correct, it gives some indication of the power of nature.

    One should not forget that large earthquakes have caused a change in the tilt of the earth’s axis, and a shortening of the earth day. Nature is powerful, and one overlooks this fact at one’s peril.

  73. Bob Tisdale says:

    izen says: “Neither , both budgets balance.”

    That’s a curious reply, since Pokhrel et al (2012)…

    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ngeo1476.html

    …determined that 42% of the total rise in sea level from the 1960s to the early 2000s was caused by groundwater use. If the other studies had assumed groundwater use did not contribute to the rise and now it does contribute, then the contributions of thermal expansion or melting land ice or both have to be reduced accordingly.

  74. bones says:

    “The heat content of the World Ocean for the 0–2000 m layer increased by 24.0 ± 1.9 × 10^22 J (±2S.E.) corresponding to a rate of 0.39 W m−2 (per unit area of the World Ocean) and a volume mean warming of 0.09°C.”

    Presumably, the earth did not experience a steady net radiative input for 55 years. If it received it at all, it would likely have slowly ramped up. If that happened, there would a steadily warming ocean surface for most of the 55 year period, and that would have generated surface radiation losses at least as large as the excess heat absorbed. In the meantime, anthropogenic greenhouse gases would not have been capable of providing an average of 0.78 w/m^2 at any time during the last century.

  75. old construction worker says:

    richard verney says:
    April 17, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    “…….and then you would need data for a multidecadel period. Realistically, one might need ARGO buoys no more than 500 metres apart from one another, to even begin to build up a picture.”

    Please, don’t give them anymore ideas

  76. Wyss Yim says:

    Estimates may not even be close to the truth.

    For example, the surface seawater temperature in the North Atlantic Ocean was reported to be some 3 degrees Celsuis above normal in 2012. This is best explained by the submarine eruption of the El Hierro volcano located in the western Canary Islands from October 2011 to March 2012 (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Hierro_eruption).

    The cause is therefore entirely natural. Heating of the seawater has nothing to do with greenhouse effect induced by man-made carbon emissions.

    It is necessary to factor in submarine volcanic activity in the different oceans.

  77. jc says:

    Wyss Yim says:
    April 19, 2013 at 12:23 am

    “Estimates may not even be close to the truth.”

    “It is necessary to factor in…”

    Necessary to proper understanding. Inconvenient to the simple minded in pursuit of results that support personal elevation and a desirable agenda.

  78. Bob Tisdale says:

    Wyss Yim says: “For example, the surface seawater temperature in the North Atlantic Ocean was reported to be some 3 degrees Celsuis above normal in 2012.”

    +3 deg C? That’s awfully high. They peaked at about 0.7 deg C:

    The graph is from my most recent monthly sea surface temperature update:

    http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/march-2013-sea-surface-temperature-sst-anomaly-update/

  79. Bob Tisdale says:

    Wyss Yim says: “For example, the surface seawater temperature in the North Atlantic Ocean was reported to be some 3 degrees Celsuis above normal in 2012. This is best explained by the submarine eruption of the El Hierro volcano located in the western Canary Islands from October 2011 to March 2012…”

    Actually, the warming last year in the low-to-mid latitudes of the Eastern North Atlantic is better explained as a natural response to the short-lived El Nino conditions:

    Regards

  80. phlogiston says:

    Its worth remembering that there is only one mechanism for transport of water from the surface to the ocean floor deeper than 2000 m, that is cold downwelling at well known locations such as the Norwegian sea. Deep cold water is dense and it takes super-cooled extra saline water formed during ice formation to have the density to sink to the ocean bottom. To propose that warm surface water can sink to the ocean bottom (as Trenberth is proposing in his desperation to salvage AGW) is the same as proposing that ice bergs can fly through the air.

    The mechanisms of changing the deep water temperature profile are only two, change in the rate and pattern of downwelling and upwelling, and change in the depth of the thermocline.

    It has been correctly pointed out that even with thousands of Argo floats, it is unlikely we have enough data for a true global picture of deep ocean temperature. What might be more useful and attainable by these floats is a picture of vertical temperature profile, indicating if globally there is any change in vertical mixing, any increase or decrease in upwelling and downwelling. Due to the strong vertical stratification of ocean temperature (warm at surface, very cold at depth even in the tropics) then any increase in vertical mixing over the whole water column will act to remove heat from the surface and cool the climate.

  81. Wyss Yim says:

    Please also refer to NOAA: Record high ocean temperatures in North Atlantic published on Wednesday Sept. 19,2012 by Common dreams. Source URL: https://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/09/19-3.
    The timing of the the El Hierro submarine volcanic eruption from october 2011-march 2012 is convincing to me.

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