Deep Oceans Are Cooling Amidst A Sea of Modeling Uncertainty: New Research on Ocean Heat Content

Guest essay by Jim Steele, Director emeritus Sierra Nevada Field Campus, San Francisco State University and author of Landscapes & Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism

Two of the world’s premiere ocean scientists from Harvard and MIT have addressed the data limitations that currently prevent the oceanographic community from resolving the differences among various estimates of changing ocean heat content (in print but available here).3 They point out where future data is most needed so these ambiguities do not persist into the next several decades of change. As a by-product of that analysis they 1) determined the deepest oceans are cooling, 2) estimated a much slower rate of ocean warming, 3) highlighted where the greatest uncertainties existed due to the ever changing locations of heating and cooling, and 4) specified concerns with previous methods used to construct changes in ocean heat content, such as Balmaseda and Trenberth’s re-analysis (see below).13 They concluded, “Direct determination of changes in oceanic heat content over the last 20 years are not in conflict with estimates of the radiative forcing, but the uncertainties remain too large to rationalize e.g., the apparent “pause” in warming.”

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Wunsch and Heimbach (2014) humbly admit that their “results differ in detail and in numerical values from other estimates, but the determining whether any are “correct” is probably not possible with the existing data sets.”

They estimate the changing states of the ocean by synthesizing diverse data sets using models developed by the consortium for Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean, ECCO. The ECCO “state estimates” have eliminated deficiencies of previous models and they claim, “unlike most “data assimilation” products, [ECCO] satisfies the model equations without any artificial sources or sinks or forces. The state estimate is from the free running, but adjusted, model and hence satisfies all of the governing model equations, including those for basic conservation of mass, heat, momentum, vorticity, etc. up to numerical accuracy.”

Their results (Figure 18. below) suggest a flattening or slight cooling in the upper 100 meters since 2004, in agreement with the -0.04 Watts/m2 cooling reported by Lyman (2014).6 The consensus of previous researchers has been that temperatures in the upper 300 meters have flattened or cooled since 2003,4 while Wunsch and Heimbach (2014) found the upper 700 meters still warmed up to 2009.

The deep layers contain twice as much heat as the upper 100 meters, and overall exhibit a clear cooling trend for the past 2 decades. Unlike the upper layers, which are dominated by the annual cycle of heating and cooling, they argue that deep ocean trends must be viewed as part of the ocean’s long term memory which is still responding to “meteorological forcing of decades to thousands of years ago”. If Balmaseda and Trenberth’s model of deep ocean warming was correct, any increase in ocean heat content must have occurred between 700 and 2000 meters, but the mechanisms that would warm that “middle layer” remains elusive.

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The detected cooling of the deepest oceans is quite remarkable given geothermal warming from the ocean floor. Wunsch and Heimbach (2014) note, “As with other extant estimates, the present state estimate does not yet account for the geothermal flux at the sea floor whose mean values (Pollack et al., 1993) are of order 0.1 W/m2,” which is small but “not negligible compared to any vertical heat transfer into the abyss.3 (A note of interest is an increase in heat from the ocean floor has recently been associated with increased basal melt of Antarctica’s Thwaites glacier. ) Since heated waters rise, I find it reasonable to assume that, at least in part, any heating of the “middle layers” likely comes from heat that was stored in the deepest ocean decades to thousands of years ago.

Wunsch and Heimbach (2014) emphasize the many uncertainties involved in attributing the cause of changes in the overall heat content concluding, “As with many climate-related records, the unanswerable question here is whether these changes are truly secular, and/or a response to anthropogenic forcing, or whether they are instead fragments of a general red noise behavior seen over durations much too short to depict the long time-scales of Fig. 6, 7, or the result of sampling and measurement biases, or changes in the temporal data density.”

Given those uncertainties, they concluded that much less heat is being added to the oceans compared to claims in previous studies (seen in the table below). It is interesting to note that compared to Hansen’s study that ended in 2003 before the observed warming pause, subsequent studies also suggest less heat is entering the oceans. Whether those declining trends are a result of improved methodologies, or due to a cooler sun, or both requires more observations.

 

 

Study Years Examined Watts/m2
9Hansen 2005 1993-2003 0.86 +/- 0.12
5Lyman 2010 1993-2008 0.64 +/- 0.11
10von Schuckmann 2011 2005-2010 0.54 +/- 0.1
3Wunsch 2014 1992-2011 0.2 +/- 0.1

 

No climate model had predicted the dramatically rising temperatures in the deep oceans calculated by the Balmaseda/Trenberth re-analysis,13 and oceanographers suggest such a sharp rise is more likely an artifact of shifting measuring systems. Indeed the unusual warming correlates with the switch to the Argo observing system. Wunsch and Heimbach (2013)2 wrote, “clear warnings have appeared in the literature—that spurious trends and values are artifacts of changing observation systems (see, e.g., Elliott and Gaffen, 1991; Marshall et al., 2002; Thompson et al., 2008)—the reanalyses are rarely used appropriately, meaning with the recognition that they are subject to large errors.3

More specifically Wunsch and Heimbach (2014) warned, “Data assimilation schemes running over decades are usually labeled “reanalyses.” Unfortunately, these cannot be used for heat or other budgeting purposes because of their violation of the fundamental conservation laws; see Wunsch and Heimbach (2013) for discussion of this important point. The problem necessitates close examination of claimed abyssal warming accuracies of 0.01 W/m2 based on such methods (e.g., Balmaseda et al., 2013).” 3

So who to believe?

Because ocean heat is stored asymmetrically and that heat is shifting 24/7, any limited sampling scheme will be riddled with large biases and uncertainties. In Figure 12 below Wunsch and Heimbach (2014) map the uneven densities of regionally stored heat. Apparently associated with its greater salinity, most of the central North Atlantic stores twice as much heat as any part of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Regions where there are steep heat gradients require a greater sampling effort to avoid misleading results. They warned, “The relatively large heat content of the Atlantic Ocean could, if redistributed, produce large changes elsewhere in the system and which, if not uniformly observed, show artificial changes in the global average.” 3

 

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Furthermore, due to the constant time-varying heat transport, regions of warming are usually compensated by regions of cooling as illustrated in their Figure 15. It offers a wonderful visualization of the current state of those natural ocean oscillations by comparing changes in heat content between1992 and 2011. Those patterns of heat re-distributions evolve enormous amounts of heat and that make detection of changes in heat content that are many magnitudes smaller extremely difficult. Again any uneven sampling regime in time or space, would result in “artificial changes in the global average”.

Figure 15 shows the most recent effects of La Nina and the negative Pacific Decadal Oscillation. The eastern Pacific has cooled, while simultaneously the intensifying trade winds have swept more warm water into the western Pacific causing it to warm. Likewise heat stored in the mid‑Atlantic has likely been transported northward as that region has cooled while simultaneously the sub‑polar seas have warmed. This northward change in heat content is in agreement with earlier discussions about cycles of warm water intrusions that effect Arctic sea ice, confounded climate models of the Arctic and controls the distribution of marine organisms.

Most interesting is the observed cooling throughout the upper 700 meters of the Arctic. There have been 2 competing explanations for the unusually warm Arctic air temperature that heavily weights the global average. CO2 driven hypotheses argue global warming has reduced polar sea ice that previously reflected sunlight, and now the exposed dark waters are absorbing more heat and raising water and air temperatures. But clearly a cooling upper Arctic Ocean suggests any absorbed heat is insignificant. Despite greater inflows of warm Atlantic water, declining heat content of the upper 700 meters supports the competing hypothesis that warmer Arctic air temperatures are, at least in part, the result of increased ventilation of heat that was previously trapped by a thick insulating ice cover.7 That second hypothesis is also in agreement with extensive observations that Arctic air temperatures had been cooling in the 80s and 90s. Warming occurred after subfreezing winds, re‑directed by the Arctic Oscillation, drove thick multi-year ice out from the Arctic.11

Regional cooling is also detected along the storm track from the Caribbean and along eastern USA. This evidence contradicts speculation that hurricanes in the Atlantic will or have become more severe due to increasing ocean temperatures. This also confirms earlier analyses of blogger Bob Tisdale and others that Superstorm Sandy was not caused by warmer oceans.

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In order to support their contention that the deep ocean has been dramatically absorbing heat, Balmaseda/Trenberth must provide a mechanism and the regional observations where heat has been carried from the surface to those depths. But few are to be found. Warming at great depths and simultaneous cooling of the surface is antithetical to climate models predictions. Models had predicted global warming would store heat first in the upper layer and stratify that layer. Diffusion would require hundreds to thousands of years, so it is not the mechanism. Trenberth, Rahmstorf, and others have argued the winds could drive heat below the surface. Indeed winds can drive heat downward in a layer that oceanographers call the “mixed-layer,” but the depth where wind mixing occurs is restricted to a layer roughly 10-200 meters thick over most of the tropical and mid-latitude belts. And those depths have been cooling slightly.

The only other possible mechanism that could reasonably explain heat transfer to the deep ocean was that the winds could tilt the thermocline. The thermocline delineates a rapid transition between the ocean’s warm upper layer and cold lower layer. As illustrated above in Figure 15, during a La Nina warm waters pile up in the western Pacific and deepens the thermocline. But the tilting Pacific thermocline typically does not dip below the 700 meters, if ever.8

Unfortunately the analysis by Wunsch and Heimbach (2014) does not report on changes in the layer between 700 meters and 2000 meters. However based on changes in heat content below 2000 meters (their Figure 16 below), deeper layers of the Pacific are practically devoid of any deep warming.

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The one region transporting the greatest amount of heat into the deep oceans is the ice forming regions around Antarctica, especially the eastern Weddell Sea where annually sea ice has been expanding.12 Unlike the Arctic, the Antarctic is relatively insulated from intruding subtropical waters (discussed here) so any deep warming is mostly from heat descending from above with a small contribution from geothermal.

Counter‑intuitively greater sea ice production can deliver relatively warmer subsurface water to the ocean abyss. When oceans freeze, the salt is ejected to form a dense brine with a temperature that always hovers at the freezing point. Typically this unmodified water is called shelf water. Dense shelf water readily sinks to the bottom of the polar seas. However in transit to the bottom, shelf water must pass through layers of variously modified Warm Deep Water or Antarctic Circumpolar Water. Turbulent mixing also entrains some of the warmer water down to the abyss. Warm Deep Water typically comprises 62% of the mixed water that finally reaches the bottom. Any altered dynamic (such as increasing sea ice production, or circulation effects that entrain a greater proportion of Warm Deep Water), can redistribute more heat to the abyss.14. Due to the Antarctic Oscillation the warmer waters carried by the Antarctic Circumpolar Current have been observed to undulate southward bringing those waters closer to ice forming regions. Shelf waters have generally cooled and there has been no detectable warming of the Warm Deep Water core, so this region’s deep ocean warming is likely just re-distributing heat and not adding to the ocean heat content.

So it remains unclear if and how Trenberth’s “missing heat” has sunk to the deep ocean. The depiction of a dramatic rise in deep ocean heat is highly questionable, even though alarmists have flaunted it as proof of Co2’s power. As Dr. Wunsch had warned earlier, “Convenient assumptions should not be turned prematurely into ‘facts,’ nor uncertainties and ambiguities suppressed.” … “Anyone can write a model: the challenge is to demonstrate its accuracy and precision… Otherwise, the scientific debate is controlled by the most articulate, colorful, or adamant players.” 1

 

To reiterate, “the uncertainties remain too large to rationalize e.g., the apparent “pause” in warming.”

==================================

Literature Cited

 

1. C. Wunsch, 2007. The Past and Future Ocean Circulation from a Contemporary Perspective, in AGU Monograph, 173, A. Schmittner, J. Chiang and S. Hemming, Eds., 53-74

2. Wunsch, C. and P. Heimbach (2013) Dynamically and Kinematically Consistent Global Ocean Circulation and Ice State Estimates. In Ocean Circulation and Climate, Vol. 103. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-391851-2.00021-0

3. Wunsch, C., and P. Heimbach, (2014) Bidecadal Thermal Changes in the Abyssal Ocean, J. Phys. Oceanogr., http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JPO-D-13-096.1

4. Xue,Y., et al., (2012) A Comparative Analysis of Upper-Ocean Heat Content Variability from an Ensemble of Operational Ocean Reanalyses. Journal of Climate, vol 25, 6905-6929.

5. Lyman, J. et al, (2010) Robust warming of the global upper ocean. Nature, vol. 465,334-

337.

6. Lyman, J. and G. Johnson (2014) Estimating Global Ocean Heat Content Changes in the Upper 1800m since 1950 and the Influence of Climatology Choice*. Journal of Climate, vol 27.

7. Rigor, I.G., J.M. Wallace, and R.L. Colony (2002), Response of Sea Ice to the Arctic Oscillation, J. Climate, v. 15, no. 18, pp. 2648 – 2668.

8. Zhang, R. et al. (2007) Decadal change in the relationship between the oceanic entrainment temperature and thermocline depth in the far western tropical Pacific. Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 34.

9. Hansen, J., and others, 2005: Earth’s energy imbalance: confirrmation and implications. Science, vol. 308, 1431-1435.

10. von Schuckmann, K., and P.-Y. Le Traon, 2011: How well can we derive Global Ocean Indicators

from Argo data?, Ocean Sci., 7, 783-791, doi:10.5194/os-7-783-2011.

11. Kahl, J., et al., (1993) Absence of evidence for greenhouse warming over the Arctic Ocean in the past 40 years. Nature, vol. 361, p. 335‑337, doi:10.1038/361335a0

12. Parkinson, C. and D. Cavalieri (2012) Antarctic sea ice variability and trends, 1979–2010. The Cryosphere, vol. 6, 871–880.

13. Balmaseda, M. A., K. E. Trenberth, and E. Kallen, 2013: Distinctive climate signals in reanalysis of global ocean heat content. Geophysical Research Letters, 40, 1754-1759.

14. Azaneau, M. et al. (2013) Trends in the deep Southern Ocean (1958–2010): Implications for Antarctic Bottom Water properties and volume export. Journal Of Geophysical Research: Oceans, Vol. 118

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108 thoughts on “Deep Oceans Are Cooling Amidst A Sea of Modeling Uncertainty: New Research on Ocean Heat Content

  1. “So it remains unclear if and how Trenberth’s “missing heat” has sunk to the deep ocean. ”

    Personally, I think he is hiding it in his pants.

  2. 20 years of alarmist “worse than we thought” bleatings followed by 20 years of nowhere near as even the least apocalyptic prognostications supported by science.

  3. This is a very significant paper. The deep oceans are cooling. There is NO net energy imbalance on planet Earth. The full oceans have actually been losing energy since mid-2009.

    There have only been two other studies looking at deep ocean heat content, one dealing with a small area next to Antarctica (slight warming) and one for most of the North Atlantic (slight cooling). This study now covers basically all of the deep oceans.

    This will re-write the climate books.

    How does the deep ocean cool while the upper ocean is warming? It would come from the deep water formation (bottom water sinking) next to and under the sea ice. It can completely skip the upper ocean numbers.

  4. uncertainties = we dunno

    Sorta backaswards way of looking at it…..the deeper you go, the colder it gets
    If the deep warms a tad..it doesn’t transfer heat up….it just doesn’t buffer as much heat down

  5. I have spent some time collecting and collating tectonic data. There is reasonable correlation (positive in N. Atlantic and N. Pacific, negative in the sub-equatorial Pacific) with the local climate indices.
    Is there any and what a mechanism might be (vertical mixing, temporary break or an interference the termohaline layers integrity, or something else) I have no idea.
    Impression is that the most climate ‘scientists’ and many other minor players in the field have vested interests or ‘pet hypothesis’, which they are prepared to guard with whatever it takes, as it is often witnessed on the various climate blogs.

  6. actually, it is the CO2 who dunnit

    CO2(gas) + water (liquid) + cold => HCO3- + H3O+
    More CO2 (produced by man and nature ) and more cold (made by nature) makes the equilibrium going to the right.Hence the upper oceans are “absorbing” some of the global cooling.

  7. Knowledge of ocean heat content prior to Argo is highly suspect.Charts like the Balmesada one are manufactured from a position of deep faith and confirmation bias. While the best metric of global temperature change would certainly be ocean heat content, there is insufficient data presently to reach any conclusions.

  8. Just arrived at a Finnish hotel for a business trip on Oulu, sat in a sauna then jumped in cold water. Deeply refreshing. And now this – intellectual refreshment to a similar degree. What a day.

    This could easily be the most important climate post (that I have seen) this year on WUWT.

    I have been drawn increasingly to the conclusion that the whole ocean, all the way down to the bottom, has to be the 99% driver of climate trends on decadal and longer timescales. Think of all the heat in the ocean – an almost unimaginable amount, something like 99% of the atmosphere plus ocean heat.

    So the authors are dead right to point to conservation of all this heat, and to smack down trivial and nonsensical warmist fansasies posing as scientific studies claiming impossible ocean warming. With the atmosphere accounting for such a tiny fraction of climate heat, it makes perfect sense to treat the oceans over timescales of years to decades as an ADIABATIC system, if one part warms another must cool. For it to be otherwise needs an impossibly large heat flux that would be impossible not to notice.

    So the supposed apocalyptic warming over the last half century has been nothing more than oceanic housekeeping or rearrangement, shifting of heat from the lowest depths toward the surface. This could be brought about on a global scale by (1) changed pattern of cold deep water formation at the principal sites such as the Norwegian sea and around Antarctica, and (2) changed pattern of deep upwelling.

    The authors are also dead right to point to how much is not known – in contrast to the bragging all-knowing arrogant warmists whose “mouths claim the heavens and tongues claim the earth”.

    But at least we know where to look. Down, not up.

  9. So, as I’ve commented before, water is densest at 4C. Above 4C water expands. That’s what warmists think is driving sea level rise along with the essentially non-existent land ice losses. Below 4C water expands, then expands a lot when it goes through the transition from liquid to solid. A quick look at Figure 2 from the paper shows that everything below 400m is below 4C. So the deep ocean cooling is causing the ocean to expand. The sea level is rising because of GLOBAL COOLING.

  10. If only they could get rid of the “Modern Pause” (MP) the same way they got rid of the MWP.
    Oh wait, they didn’t.
    Still, they manage to put a brave face on it: “changes in oceanic heat content over the last 20 years are not in conflict with estimates of the radiative forcing”…
    Sure, just keep telling yourselves that.

  11. Robert Austin (July 21 @ 10:40 AM)

    Spot on!
    Further comment on the matter is a waste of space.

  12. Merrick says:
    July 21, 2014 at 10:43 am
    So, as I’ve commented before, water is densest at 4C. Above 4C water expands. That’s what warmists think is driving sea level rise along with the essentially non-existent land ice losses. Below 4C water expands, then expands a lot when it goes through the transition from liquid to solid. A quick look at Figure 2 from the paper shows that everything below 400m is below 4C. So the deep ocean cooling is causing the ocean to expand. The sea level is rising because of GLOBAL COOLING.

    Hold your horses – saline seawater has its maximum density at a lower temperature of 0-2C, while for fresh water it is 4C.

    I seem to remember being told in university oceanography classes that the huge pressure of the deepest ocean water keeps it at the temperature of minimum volume – too much energy would be needed to raise the whole water column. This raises some interesting thermodynamic questions. Such as what happens to the warm water that Jim Steele explains is entrained downwards with cold downwelling. My guess would be that it never makes it to the bottom – to displace denser water would require the lifting of the water column several miles deep.

  13. Anthony

    i hate to say this, but i think you are going lose all of your followers. Without the AGW crowd who are we going to have to argue with. I am afraid that i will have to move to some boring political site or something to find someone to argue with.
    Next time don’t be so good a your job maybe the competition will be able to hang in there a little longer.
    I give you another year and half before you have to find another bogus crisis to expose but take your time milk it a little next time.

  14. Trenberth’s “missing heat” is doing such a good job of hiding that it’s masquerading as cooling.

  15. “the uncertainties remain too large to rationalize”

    We don’t even know fully what are the uncertainties.

  16. So in Climatology; The more things change, the more they stay the same.
    What next, climatology will discover that approx 70% of earth is covered by water?

  17. ” Those patterns of heat re-distributions evolve enormous amounts of heat and that make detection of changes in heat content that are many magnitudes smaller extremely difficult.”

    s/b(?) ” Those patterns of heat re-distributions INvolve enormous amounts of heat and that make detection of changes in heat content that are many magnitudes smaller extremely difficult.”

  18. I’ve been somewhat depressed over the last 12 months or so, as nothing of real significance has come along in that time. Or if it has, I wasn’t able to recognize it as such. All the excitement around the papers positing lower atmospheric sensitivity had long since dissipated. Finally! Something that strikes me…and many others…as a major advance….or rather a major humbling with its recognition of how much we really don’t know.

    Another blow to the disingenuous warmists. One of these days, some bright young MSM journalist is going to come along and realize this CAGW nonsense is the greatest scientific mistake ( to be kind) in modern history. It’s a great story waiting only to be written.

  19. I posted this here a couple years ago but this seems an appropriate time to re-post it.

    TRENBERTH LOSES HIS STRAWBERRIES
    (See the courtroom scene from the Caine Mutiny)

    As greenhouse gases still accrete
    This captain of the climate wars
    Is searching for the missing heat
    That he believes the ocean stores

    He’ll prove to all humanity
    That danger in the deep resides
    The Kraken that he knows to be
    That Davy Jones’s locker hides

    The soul’s more heavy than we think
    A truth that everyone must face
    And to what depths a soul may sink
    Oh! To what dark and dismal place!

    Does Captain Trenberth understand
    That data offers no appeal?
    He tumbles in his restless hand
    Three clacking balls of stainless steel

    MY GEOMETRIC LOGIC PROVES
    HEAT TELEPORTS FROM PLACE TO PLACE
    FROM SKIES INTO THE DEEPS IT MOVES
    AND IN BETWEEN IT LEAVES NO TRACE!

    When silent faces stare at you
    Its always best to shut your jaw
    But Trenberth is without a clue
    As he believes they stare in awe

    Eugene WR Gallun

  20. phlogiston says:
    July 21, 2014 at 10:50 am
    Hold your horses – saline seawater has its maximum density at a lower temperature of 0-2C, while for fresh water it is 4C.

    Hold your own horses. See figure 3. Greater than 95% of the ocean’s volume is below 0C and greater than 90% is below -2C. A proper treatment requires taking the tremendous pressures into account, as you suggest, but a colder ocean overall (not just the surface) is a BIGGER ocean, and a warmer ocean overall (not just the surface) is a SMALLER ocean.

    If the deep ocean temperature was static and the upper ocean warmed then the overall sea level would rise due to warming. If the deep ocean were warming (a la Trenberth) the contraction of that volume would so overwhelm anything going on at the surface that ocean expansion would be absolutely impossible.

    In response to your comment about the deep sea being unable (or at least highly unwilling) to expand due to all the pressure (which is really nothing, last time I checked the gravitational force constant which gives rise to pressure is still many many orders of magnitude lower than the electrical force constant which directs the water to expand or contract according to temperature and salinity. And, in this case, if Trenberth were right the deep ocean would have an additional entropic benefit to warming because it could allow itself to contract with warming.

    Sorry. This dog don’t hunt.

  21. @Everyone who thinks they have hit on the abject stupidity of all climate scientists who are ignorant of the fact that water is at its densest at 4 °C. Geez, don’t those guys know anything? Well… That is only true of *fresh* water. Sea water is at its densest just above its freezing point. Hence, “The oceans’ cold water near the freezing point continues to sink.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Properties_of_water

  22. Just a thought, but maybe before trying to build models that forecast or predict global climate it might be advantageous to better understand how global climate works, including not only with ocean processes but with all the other various and diverse eco-processes across the planet. I guess that goal is incredibly difficult and not as sexy as being the next Nostradamus.

  23. Here’s another admission of something we can’t really be sure about. The list is steadily getting longer!

  24. Merrick says:
    July 21, 2014 at 11:55 am
    phlogiston says:
    July 21, 2014 at 10:50 am
    Hold your horses – saline seawater has its maximum density at a lower temperature of 0-2C, while for fresh water it is 4C.

    Hold your own horses. See figure 3. Greater than 95% of the ocean’s volume is below 0C and greater than 90% is below -2C. A proper treatment requires taking the tremendous pressures into account, as you suggest, but a colder ocean overall (not just the surface) is a BIGGER ocean, and a warmer ocean overall (not just the surface) is a SMALLER ocean.

    You misread figure 3 of the Wunsch paper. Temperature is on the right, not left. The left color scale is a logarithmic scale of relative volume.

    Thus most bottom water from bottom up to ~2000m is around 0-3C.

    The maximum density of seawater is at -3.7 C although this is attained only by supercooling, normally it freezes at -2C. See this page – and the seawater density calculator near the bottom of the page:

    http://www.es.flinders.edu.au/~mattom/IntroOc/lecture03.html

    Thus with respect I dont think that expansion of seawater due to cooling (rather than warming) is a possible factor causing sea level rise – you would be talking about a huge amount of highly supercooled seawater below -4C. Wunsch’s figure 3 shows such water is not to be found.

    Nonetheless I dont exclude that the oceans are cooling. I think the important conclusion from the paper discussed by Jim Steele is that (1) surface layer apparent ocean warming is borrowed heat from lower down so no overall warming, and (2) we dont have enough knowledge to say for sure if there is an overall trend of cooling/warming in the ocean as a whole – but warmist claims of signifcant warming are almost certainly dead wrong.

  25. Why would you have shallow and deep analyzes and not middle? Same data source, right?

    I can’t get a post 2004 decline from the first, color graph. Why?

    The northern Atlantic hot region: historically stable, existed the same prior to 1975?

    The growing divergence shallow, middle and total energy content: just temperature change or temp plus salinity plus increased data control? Unstable OR a reversion to how things used to be, previous heat at depth was released earlier, causing the recent atmospheric warming?

  26. I would expect the sea level to be rising because the ice age is over and the glaciers are net shrinking as they have been for millennia.

    Indeed, the fact the rate of sea level rise is reasonably constant implies to me that we don’t need fancy thermodynamics to explain it.

  27. The U.S. Navy’s nuclear-powered submarine fleet regularly traverses the Earth’s oceans often at a considerable depth. I would be surprised if the subs don’t sample the temperature of the waters through which they pass on a very regular basis. This is necessary for them to understand the limitations of their sonar at any particular time. While their lat-long positions may only be approximations, this data could be of significant value in improving our understanding of the ocean’s heat content.

    • @RayG – the maximum effective depth (at least published) of submarines is about 1000 meters (some can go deeper, but they are more exploratory). So that is only half of the “2000″ meters that Trenberth thinks the heat is hiding under.

  28. RayG;
    I would be surprised if the subs don’t sample the temperature of the waters through which they pass on a very regular basis.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.

    I’d be even more surprised if the US Navy would tell you where their subs have been and when they were there ;-)

    • @DavidmHoffer

      I’d be even more surprised if the US Navy would tell you where their subs have been and when they were there ;-)

      Yea, that too!

  29. IPCC AR5 TS.6 Key Uncertainties

    This final section of the Technical Summary provides readers with a
    short overview of key uncertainties in the understanding of the climate
    system and the ability to project changes in response to anthropogenic
    influences. The overview is not comprehensive and does not describe in
    detail the basis for these findings.

    OHC:
    • Different global estimates of sub-surface ocean temperatures have
    variations at different times and for different periods, suggesting
    that sub-decadal variability in the temperature and upper heat
    content (0 to to 700 m) is still poorly characterized in the historical
    record.
    • Below ocean depths of 700 m the sampling in space and time is
    too sparse to produce annual global ocean temperature and heat
    content estimates prior to 2005.
    • Observational coverage of the ocean deeper than 2000 m is still
    limited and hampers more robust estimates of changes in global
    ocean heat content and carbon content. This also limits the quantification
    of the contribution of deep ocean warming to sea level
    rise.

  30. Wunsch and Heimbach (2014) humbly admit that their “results differ in detail and in numerical values from other estimates, but the determining whether any are “correct” is probably not possible with the existing data sets.”

    C’mon guys, just make up the data and average the models to get a “best” result and then claim it matches observations.

    It’s not like you would be the first to do that.

    Oh, and then submit it to Nature to be published.

    /sarc

  31. All this heat over all this cold… At least the study authors acknowledge with the quotation marks that the pause is a claim, and further that it is simply apparent, not real. Hence does not require any rationalization. Thanks for clearing *that* up!

  32. “Because ocean heat is stored asymmetrically and that heat is shifting 24/7, any limited sampling scheme will be riddled with large biases and uncertainties.”

    Obviously …

    ( my emphasis )

  33. I’m not a scientist, but simple logic would seem to dictate that any scientist who claims to know what controls the earth’s climate has to be one arrogant person. It is obviously a complex, massive system with all sorts of factors involved. To put all this weight on CO2 increase as reason for panic about “climate change and global warming” has always seemed beyond the pale to me.

  34. I’ve read and read this and I can’t accept the title, “Deep Oceans Are Cooling Amidst A Sea of Modelling Uncertainty: New Research on Ocean Heat Content”.

    It seems to me that we just don’t know if it’s cooling, warming or circulating round and round and round.
    And we certainly don’t know if it’s changed.

    Is the meaningless the point?

  35. M Courtney

    - I hear you. The longer this idiocy goes on, the more convinced I am that we’re all characters trapped in a Kafka novel.

  36. RayG says:
    July 21, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    The U.S. Navy’s nuclear-powered submarine fleet regularly traverses the Earth’s oceans often at a considerable depth. …

    Not at those depths. The Virginia class subs have a max depth of “greater than 800 feet,” purportedly as much 1,000 to 1,600 feet according to guesses, so, possibly somewhat more than 300 meters max. The zone of interest here is from two to more than ten times that what fleet submarine is likely to be able to reach safely.

  37. The propensity to hide scientific ignorance by postulating physically implausible mechanisms operating deep in the oceans is endemic in “climate science.” Good to see real oceanographers exposing this scam.

  38. The article says:

    “Unfortunately the analysis by Wunsch and Heimbach (2014) does not report on changes in the layer between 700 meters and 2000 meters.”

    The von Shuckmann and Le Traon paper cited in the table above (0.54 +/– 0.1 W/m^2) covered depths from 10m to 1500m. They are therefore covering from 700 metres to 1500 of the stratum in question. They also released a paper in 2009 which went to 2000m but was reliant on earlier and more scant Argo data. This earlier paper cited a warming corresponding to 0.77W/m^2 with similar error bars. Both these papers were all the more surprising in that earlier studies had shown cooling in the top 700m and so all the warming they found had to come from 700-1500m (2011) or 700-2000m (2009). This problem was discussed in the following paper in 2010 (Knox et al):

    http://www.scirp.org/journal/PaperDownload.aspx?paperID=3446

    von Schuckmann has a website. On her Expert Developer Guidance page she says in reference to her 2011 paper:

    “The 6-year trend is calculated using a weighted least square fit and accounts for 0.54±0.1 Wm-2 for the ocean surface, i.e. 0.38±0.1 Wm-2 for the Earth’s surface.”

    Quote is from this page:

    https://climatedataguide.ucar.edu/climate-data/ocean-heat-content-10-1500m-depth-based-argo

    ////////

    So the radiative forcing should surely be cited as 0.38W/m^2. But this doesn’t account for geothermal flux (0.1W/m^2) so it should be reduced further to .28W/m^2. If the lower error bar is considered, it would bring it down to 0.18W/m^2. I think this is commensurate with the minimum (non alarmist) CO2 forcing scenario that most skeptics are happy to go along with.

    Moreover, von Schuckmann states that the whole edifice rests on the assumption that there are no systemic biases in the Argo floats which is far from certain. The extent of that biasing will become apparent over several more years of data accumulation.

    von Schuckmann’s main OHC page:

    https://climatedataguide.ucar.edu/climate-data/ocean-heat-content-10-1500m-depth-based-argo

  39. There are meany misconceptions about what can cause ocean temperature changes. To hopefully clear up a couple:

    1) Cold water in the deep and middle ocean DOES rise, very slowly…in response to convective sinking of cold deep water (DW) and bottom water (BW) mainly originating around Antarctica. The same kind of thing happens on a clear day in the atmosphere, when mid-tropospheric air is forced to sink against the buoyancy force (because the lapse rate is sub-adiabatic) by upward convection in rainfall systems hundreds or thousands of miles away.

    2) Deep water cooling and upper ocean warming can occur just through a decrease in vertical mixing, which is mostly mechanically driven by the wind and by tidally forced flows over bottom topography.

  40. also, the geothermal heat flux is only one small term in the heat budget of the average ocean state…it can only cause deep ocean warming or cooling from the average state if the geothermal flux increase or decreases from its average value (~0.1 W/m2)

  41. Duster says:
    July 21, 2014 at 2:42 pm (replying to)

    RayG says:
    July 21, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    The U.S. Navy’s nuclear-powered submarine fleet regularly traverses the Earth’s oceans often at a considerable depth. …

    Not at those depths. The Virginia class subs have a max depth of “greater than 800 feet,” purportedly as much 1,000 to 1,600 feet according to guesses, so, possibly somewhat more than 300 meters max. The zone of interest here is from two to more than ten times that what fleet submarine is likely to be able to reach safely.

    Well, yes, you are correct: The sub itself “may” only get to that deep of the water when it is outside of the continental shelf.

    But … The subs work with sound waves – which DO bend and “dip” and “bounce” off of the bottom, off of deeper colder water near the bottom, and also off of warmer shallower water “above” the sub itself. Then again, the sound (both coming and going away from the submarine) literally bounces off of colder water far, far below the submarine and also off of intermediate layers of water that may be above or below the sub’s depth. To say ” it gets complicated” is the trivialize some of the first super-computer programming – which was coded specifically to figure out “how” sound waves propagate in deep water of varying temperatures, pressures, salinities, and reflectivities … Regardless, the USN (and Brit’s and Russians) know much much more about water properties down deep than they will ever tell. And that knowledge does NOT require a sub actually go to 15,000 or 20,000 feet below the surface. Only that the sub be able to listen to sounds coming from that deep below the surface.

    The whole subject gets classified not because of the numbers themselves, but because knowing the numbers exactly lets one side track an unsuspecting enemy, or – lets one side hide from an unsuspecting enemy by using better physics. In WWII for example, we did NOT tell the Germans that their torpedoes were failing to explode. On the other hand, we (the USN) did NOT know that our torpedoes were failing in depth control, aiming control, and in fuse technology.

    Lost a lot of lives because of our ignorance.

    And out “trust” in technology that “the experts” Knew was perfect.

  42. Here is the elevator speech, the final paragraph regarding the research and before the future directions section.

    “The globally integrated heat content changes involve small differences of the much larger regional changes. As existing estimates of the anthropogenic forcing are now about 0.5W/m2, the equivalent global ocean average temperature changes over 20 years are mostly slight compared to the shorter term temporal variations from numerous physical sources. Detailed attention must be paid to what might otherwise appear to be small errors in data calibration, and space-time sampling and model biases. Direct determination of changes in oceanic heat content over the last 20 years are not in conflict with estimates of the radiative forcing, but the uncertainties remain too large to rationalize e.g., the apparent “pause” in warming. The challenge is to develop observations so that future changes can be made with accuracies and precisions consistent with the conventional rule of thumb that they should be better than 10% of the expected signal.”

    My thoughts:
    1. To reduce it’s gist to a simple sentence: “So we are suggesting that we should be concerned with our measuring stick used to determine the size of a gnat’s ass hair.”

    2. Now let me with equal swift sword play, dispense with the obligatory, “…[we are] not in conflict with estimates of the radiative forcing…” part. To translate into the proper and much longer thought, “We are genuflecting to thee oh Lord, the Anthropogenic Funding Source, Blessed Gravy Train of our existence to look humbly on our contrite efforts here to see that we are focused only proving your [tiny barely measurable] existence, not that you don’t exist at all. Amen”

  43. Roy, somewhere in my memory is a paper that addressed the notion related to deep water upwelling. The paper postulated that, based on the age of abysmal ocean water, there was mixing occurring in more than the two polar regions. In other words, abysmal water was younger than expected under the scenario of upwelling occurring only at the poles. In order to explain the younger age, mixing was occurring in many places on the globe.

  44. Maybe someone can answer this question. When icebergs that are freshwater in nature are released by glaciers into salt water they do not cool the deep water below them and melt slower in salt water then if they were in fresh water. Has there ever been a study paper done on this and the effects on sea surface temperatures and the time it takes for the fresh cooler water to mix with deeper warm waters.
    The reason I ask is since mankind has been increasing salinity?? of ocean water from so much salt use is that having effect on sea surface temperatures at all. Also after the big melt in 2012 from Greenland and in the Arctic did that fresh melted water ever have time to mix to deeper water. I know during 2013 sea ice increased 60% so did that melt water have effect onbhow that new ice formed.
    Just cautious.

  45. @HenryP
    HCO3- + H3O+ => CO2(gas) + water (liquid) + cold
    So the Oceans is cooling ? and the reaction should be the other way around and there is part of the natural cause of the CO2 raise ?

  46. “Alas, poor Trenberth, I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy.

  47. What a lovely, refreshing read, complete with caveats and uncertainties, and quite accessible to someone like me who hasn’t cracked open a science textbook in decades. Thanks for the analysis, Jim!

  48. While the deep ocean below 2000 meters appears to be cooling based on these several thousand observations, …

    … But there might be a question of what “time” this cooling originated in. It takes time for bottom water formation to spread across the ocean depth into the North Pacific from Antarctica or the central Atlantic from the Arctic Bottom Water.

    This could easily be the deep water cooling trend originating in the Little Ice Age for example.

    A bigger quandary it seems to me and something climate science would be unable to come to grips with given their inability to put time into the physics.

  49. @rolf
    Any (good) chemist knows that there are giga tons and giga tons of bi-carbonates dissolved in the oceans and that (any type of) warming would cause it to be released:

    HCO3- + heat => CO2 (g) + OH-.

    This is the actual reason we are alive today. Cause and effect, get it? There is a causal relationship. More warming naturally causes more CO2. It is not the other way around, as Al Gore alleges in his movie. Without warmth and carbon dioxide there would be nothing, really. To make that what we dearly want, i.e. more crops, more trees, lawns and animals and people, nature uses water and carbon dioxide and warmth, mostly. The fact that humanity adds a bit of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere is purely co-incidental, and appears to be beneficial, if you want to have a green world.

    Anyway, my recent updates on my tables

    http://blogs.24.com/henryp/2013/02/21/henrys-pool-tables-on-global-warmingcooling/

    showed that there is no man made warming whatsoever. The climate is changing due to natural reasons. I also figured out why.

  50. pokerguy says:
    Another blow to the disingenuous warmists. One of these days, some bright young MSM journalist is going to come along and realize this CAGW nonsense is the greatest scientific mistake ( to be kind) in modern history. It’s a great story waiting only to be written.

    Pokerguy, you’re being far too charitable to the warmists. A mistake is something that is done unintentionally. The warmist research is full of deliberate “mistakes”. Warmist climatology is no more science than astrology or scientology are.

  51. Geothermal warming is in fact only near the ocean ridges, where the basalt crust is exuded as the ocean plates part tectonically. The waters in contact with the ocean floor average 0-2C because the ocean floor steadily cools to that temperature and the crust shrinks thermally deepening the waters from 2.5Km at the ridges to 5Km(average) elsewhere. Thermal conduction is very poor for basalt so little heat gets into the waters.

  52. Wunsch and Heimbach (2013)2 wrote, “clear warnings have appeared in the literature—that spurious trends and values are artifacts of changing observation systems (see, e.g., Elliott and Gaffen, 1991; Marshall et al., 2002; Thompson et al., 2008)
    ==================
    such as grafting thermometer data to tree ring proxies?

  53. Obviously OHC is the most important metric in climate science, but unfortunately, prior to ARGO there is no reliable data,.

    Even ARGO has issues, notably its sparse sampling coverage. In addition, it is not clear whether ARGO data is biased (it was adjusted downwards shortly after coming on stream because it was not showing that the oceans were warming) and, being free floating, the buoys get carried along in currents, and currents are temperature anomalies and this could in itself lead to bias. proper evaluation studies have yet to be made.

    So what we have is one data set of very short duration, which may have issues of bias and the coverage of which is very sparse in relation to the vast volume of the ocean. That is not much to base an assessment and from which to extrapolate anything meaningful.

    I am not at all convinced that we have a proper handle on the energy budget of the ocean, and therefore it is difficult to say “Direct determination of changes in oceanic heat content over the last 20 years are not in conflict with estimates of the radiative forcing…,”

    This begs an issue, what are the radiative forcings, and where are they? What are these estimates?

    I raise this point since Is a watt of energy the same, no matter where that watt of energy is inputted, or no matter where it lies?

    As I see matters there is an issue regarding the absorption of DWLWIR, which is not present in the absorption of solar. This is that due to the omnidirectional nature of DWLWIR about 80% of all DWLWIR is absorbed within just 4 MICRONS of the sea surface. That is a huge amount of energy being inputted into a very small volume of water, and unless that energy can, in some way, be diluted and dissipated to depth at a rate quicker than the rate at which evaporation would be drivenn by that energy, there would be vasts amounts of ocean evaporation which we are not observing.

    The problem is that there is no obvious process that can dissipate that energy to depth at a speed quicker than it would drive evaporation; It cannot be by conduction since the surface temperature is lower than the top few millimemetres and hance the energy flux at the very top of the ocean (the top few micron layer) is upwards not downwards. It cannot be by ocean over-turning since that is a slow mechamical process, and one which may largely be limited to diurnal activity. So how is this vast energy dissipated quickly enough?

    This issue does not arise with solar since solar irradiance is not absorbed within the top few micron layer. At most only 2 or 3% of solar is absorbed in the first 4 microns of the oceans. By contrast Solar is predominantly being absorbed within the first metre (or so) of the oceans. Thus the energy from solar is absorbed in a very large volume of water and is therefore dissipated accordingly.

    If you work out seperately the Solar energy, and the DWLWIR energy being absorbed by water not per sq metre, but instead per cubic micron, you will see the difference.

    Becausse Solar is absorbed at depth into a very large volume, it does not boil off the ocean but rather gently heats it.

    On the other hand, if DWLWIR is absorbed by the oceans and goes towards heating the ocean, because of the optical absorption characterics of LWIR in water all that energy is concentrated in just a few microns and there is so much energy in those few microns that copious evaporation would occur.

    The warmists need to do a radiative balance equation not for the ocean as a whole, but rather for the layers of the ocean, bit by bit, eg., the top few microns, the top few millimetres, the top metre, the next few metres, the mid ocean, the deep ocean, the bottom ocean. That would tell a very interesting story, and would reveal a potential problem with the K&T energy budget. .,

  54. Leo Smith says: July 21, 2014 at 7:36 pm
    @pamela gray
    “Isn’t the word you want abyssal rather than abysmal?”
    Why yes. Apparently my ‘similar’ words spelling list needs a polish as it is rather abysmal at the moment.

  55. Richard, it is through mixing that energy is dissipated and sent to deeper layers. The oceans have a complicated web of currents. Most people think only of the overturning grand current. Here is a link to a more accurate depiction of currents that have the ability to readily send warmer water into the sea, even under colder water. I know it is Wikipedia so take it with a grain of salt but it is generally a pretty good basic overview. Read especially about the counter and undercurrents. The entire thing is quite complicated and easily allows for rapid mixing.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean_current

  56. Pamela Gray says:
    July 22, 2014 at 7:03 am
    ///////////////////

    Thanks, but the issue is the speed at which the energy being absoprbed per second, is taken downward to depth at a rate faster than that energy would drive evaporation.

    Ocean currents, are slow (in relative terms) mechanical processes taking along time to mix the water, so whilst I accept that “the entire thing is quite complicated” I disagree that it “easily allows for rapid mixing.”

    According to The Encyclopaedia Britannica on ocean currents, “…Vertical movements, often referred to as upwelling and downwelling, exhibit much lower speeds, amounting to only a few metres per month…” (see: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/424354/ocean-current ) So we are talking about say 2 to 3 centimetres per day

    Further, currents are far from uniform depending not only on localised topography but also weather patterns (prevailing or temporary) and not infrequently have a diurnal signature such that of the 2 to 3 centimetre movement, very little of that may be during the daylight hours of the day, and the vast majority may be at night. So during the day, the vertical mixing may be a few millimetres, the rest of the 2 to 3 centimetre mixing take place at night. So in reality we have 12 hours of high level DWLWIR (DWLWIR being greater during the day than at night), and only a millimetre or so of vertical mixing during the day.

    And what about lakes and swimming pools where vertical mixing rates will be even slower. If the top 4 microns of those are absoprbing circa 260 w/m2 of DWLWIR on a 24/7 basis, one would expect to see rapid evaporation from them. But this also is not seen.

    I do not know where the answer lies, and I accept that the point I raise may not have merit but it is difficult to heat water that is free to evaporate by LWIR, and the point I raise is consitent with that.

    As I say, i would like to see a real time energy budget for what is going on at the very top of the ocean and energy budgets for layers thereunder, as well as a detailed explanation of the physical processes involved..

  57. Further to my post above, the vertical rate should have been about 6 to 10 cm per day.

  58. @Richard, Pamela

    Perhaps I should tell you again that I have tried to heat my pool to beyond 30C and it was just impossible (1000m altitude here). Just like the oceans also do not warm [much] above 30 anywhere. It seems there is a certain threshold pressure and temp. (around 30C) whereby water than evaporates rather then ” that energy is dissipated and sent to deeper layers”
    H2O (l) + energy = > H2O (g). (mostly SH)
    This energy is released into the atmosphere when it is taken with the wind (mostly to NH)
    Hence, temps. in SH have not changed much, whatever the cycle is we are in.
    You can see this from the Means table

    http://blogs.24.com/henryp/files/2013/02/henryspooltableNEWa.pdf

    (the one in the middle)

  59. Roy Spencer on July 21, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    2) Deep water cooling and upper ocean warming can occur just through a decrease in vertical mixing, which is mostly mechanically driven by the wind and by tidally forced flows over bottom topography.

    I agree with this statement by Dr Spencer about vertical mixing. As I have commented before, the strong vertical gradient in temperature in the ocean with temperature declining sharply with depth, has an important and simple implication: any increase in vertical mixing will result in downward movement of heat and cooling at the ocean surface (and of “climate” as perceived by people).

    Thus research attention should focus on sites and processes of deep mixing, such as downwelling at the Norwegian sea and Antarctica, and major upwelling sites at western continental borders such as Africa and South America.

  60. HenryP on July 22, 2014 at 8:59 am

    @Richard, Pamela

    But my kettle heated all the way up to 100 degrees – WUWT?

  61. Jim Steele said:
    “CO2 driven hypotheses argue global warming has reduced polar sea ice..”

    I don’t see how they can get away with that. The warming of the Arctic and AMO since 1995 is associated with the increase of negative NAO/AO values, while the climate models all predict increases in positive NAO/AO values with increases in GHG forcing.

  62. richard verney says:
    July 22, 2014 at 8:47 am

    The ocean surface is not placid. It is frothy. Depending on wind speed.

    Vertical movements, often referred to as upwelling and downwelling, exhibit much lower speeds, amounting to only a few metres per month

    Is not all that is going on.

  63. M Simon says:
    July 22, 2014 at 11:02 am
    ////////////////

    I am very well acquainted with ocean states (prevailing wind, current, swell, temperature), at least as far as those encountered by commercial shipping, having reviewed hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of entries in ship’s logs, wherein entries are recorded every 4 hours, and if conditions are particularly unusual or of concern, even more frequent notes may be kept..

    There is another, but related problem that arises when you get severe weather, say BF7 and above, and that is that the very surface of the ocean gets detached from the bulk ocean below in the form of windswept spray and spume.

    This is a very fine mist of water droplets of varying sizes but probably not less than a few microns (it is very different to the fine atomised mist produced by forcing a liquid at high pressure through a very restricted nozzle), each of which would (according to the absorption characteristics of LWIR) fully absorb about 50% of the DWLWIR, thereby energising that droplet promoting evaporation of that droplet.

    Some of these energised water droplets will no doubt get returned to the bulk ocean in a relatively short order, but others will not being swept up and along by the wind. For that latter group of droplets they will be absorbing so much DWLWIR whilst airborn that they will/should simply evaporate before.they get an opportunity to be retunred to the bulk ocean And this is material to the energy budget of the ocean.

    Now of course these conditions are not encountered all the time over all the oceans, however even if such conditions are encountered for just 15% to 20% of the time (and the average wind conditions over the oceans is more than BF4 such that wind condions of BF7 is not particularly unusual) we might be talking about as much as at least 1 w/m2 of DWLWIR that never reaches the oceans and instead remains in the atmosphere.

    This becomes an issue when you start discussing potential energy imbalance, and in particular when you start looking for a missing watt or part thereof. As the authors of this paper are seeking to do.

    The K&T energy budget assumes a quiet and docile world, and completely fails to take account that what powers the climate is variance. One important point is that the climate is powered by the fvery act that the energy is not some homogonised average 24/7, but is in practice a constantly changing energy budget 24/7.

    I consider that there are strong reasons to consider that not all the DWLWIR in his budget is absorbed by the oceans, in fact some of it never reaches the oceans in the first place since windswept spray and spume is an effective LWIR block and a certain element of that windswept spray and spume would simply be evaporated and carried upwards into the atmosphere before the DWLWIR that was absorbed by the mist of water droplets gets a chance to be returned to the ocean.

    This may only be a small component, but when seeking to check wether a budget balances, it takes on a special importance. After all, in acounting terms, small errors in a budget (that is supposed to balance), often suggest more fundamental problems. .

  64. Richard V., my physics is weak but I seem to recall that evaporation is only skin deep, meaning that mixing can keep lots more heat than is evaporated away. Evaporation is a surface process whereas mixing is a water column process.

    It is an amazing thing that surface skin tension. It can kill a human to break through that skin and gave me my first and only slap in the face when I was learning how to dive. STING!

  65. It’s a misconception that the oceans manifest a circulation analogous to “when mid-tropospheric air is forced to sink against the buoyancy force (because the lapse rate is sub-adiabatic) by upward convection in rainfall systems hundreds or thousands of miles away.” Water is virtually incompressible and a mid-ocean parcel sinks/rises only if it’s denser/lighter than the mass below/above it. The exception occurs with wind-driven upwelling along coasts, where Ekman drift may drive the warm surface layer seaward and expose the cooler layer underneath, which rises through hydrostatic adjustment.

  66. I know I’m going to get hammered here for bringing up the solar cycle, but might there be some connection between less intense blue/UV wavelengths during this cycle and some of the cooling?

    I ask because blue/UV penetrates sea water very well while IR/red is mostly absorbed near the surface.

    It seems that if the sun where going to directly warm the deeper part of the oceans over time, it would be primarily through the shorter wavelengths. Any energy in the longer yellow/red/IR wavelengths is going to wind up creating more water vapor.

  67. The cooling of the deep oceans is probably the signal of the Little Ice Age.

    Boreholes on land have been used to read paleo-temperatures for decades. I see no reason why the oceans should not reveal the warm and cold periods of the past 2000 years and perhaps longer.

  68. scot says:
    July 22, 2014 at 9:27 pm
    ////////////////

    There could be merit in your point. I for one do not consider a watt of energy wherever it may be in the system is the same. The precise location where energy is absorbed (or released) is important.

    So whilst TSI may not vary much, any spectral change may well have an impact. Given than the over turning of the ocean is on a millenium timescale, what impacts upon us, in today’s time scale, is the heat content of the top 100 metres of the oceans. If there are changes not in the total amount of energy absorbed (perhaps this mainly being a factor of TSI and clouds) but changes in the distribution of the amount absorbed within say 10 metres, 11 metre, 12 metre bands going down to say 50 or so metres, then that could have a measurable effect on SST in a relatively short time scale.

    Of course, we have yet to observe such changes, but that is why a ‘quiet’ sun (if that does occur) may be of interest.

  69. Bill Illis, 1sky1, or any other sensible, competent commentator:

    I request assistance locating trustworthy information on the following spatial pattern:

    …which is figure 12 (p.48) here:

    http://ocean.mit.edu/~cwunsch/papersonline/heatcontentchange_26dec2013_ph.pdf

    Links to concise info on spatial patterns in the following figures would also be helpful:
    13 (p.49)
    8 (p.44)
    11 (p.47)

    More generally, links to reliable info on the spatial pattern of absolute (NOT ANOMALY) center & spread (mean & SD) as a function of depth would be greatly appreciated.

    Regards

  70. Jim Steele wrote:
    “Indeed winds can drive heat downward in a layer that oceanographers call the “mixed-layer,” but the depth where wind mixing occurs is restricted to a layer roughly 10-200 meters thick over most of the tropical and mid-latitude belts.”

    The preceding is inconsistent with the following:

    animation of ocean MLD (mixed layer depth) climatology:

    Credit:
    de Boyer Montegut, C.; Madec, G.; Fischer, A.S.; Lazar, A.; & Iudicone, D. (2004). Mixed layer depth over the global ocean: An examination of profile data and a profile-based climatology. Journal of Geophysical Research 109, C12003.

    http://www.ifremer.fr/cerweb/deboyer/publications/2004_deBoyerMontegut_et_al_JGR.pdf

    Figure 5 = MLD climatology
    Figure 14 = annual maximum of MLD

  71. The spin Judy Curry put on her parallel article reminded me of my suspicion towards mainstream climate “scientists” for minimizing the wind’s role in standard thermohaline circulation narratives. I suspect many of these theorists are divorced from firsthand observation of wind ripping apart rotten ice and wrecking vertical stratification.

  72. Paul

    I agree with your comment about wind. It rips apart rotten ice, churns up the ocean and in its many guises in warmer waters as waterspouts and hurricanes transfers heat from ocean to atmosphere in astonishing amounts

    Some decades are much windier than others and it is reasonable to think that the quiet periods will exhibit different temperature patterns than the windier ones on land and oceans.
    tonyb

  73. In terms of the temperature changes used for the heat content calculations in this paper, they are extremely small, on the order of less than 0.001C over the period.

    The Pacific/Indian/East Atlantic is cooling and the far Southern Ocean/West Atlantic is warming.

    The deep ocean is mostly close to 0.5C. It can’t really get much colder than this. Even in the deepest parts of the ice ages, it might only have been 1.0C cooler. As ocean water cools below -1.0C, (approaching -1.6C for example given the average salinity), it will become less dense and it will rise, so that it warms as it rises in the ocean column. The ocean is stratified with cold,salty water around 0.0C to 1.5C at the bottom (and all of this originated next to and under the sea ice at Antarctica and the Arctic).

    Figure 2 in the paper shows the average ocean temp profile from the surface to 6000 metres (about 0.5C)

    Here are more-detailed cross-section profiles from World Ocean Atlas for the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans.

    Central Atlantic cross-section, dominated by Antarctic Bottom Water in the south until it reaches the mid-Atlantic Ridge about at the equator, 0.5C at the bottom, (with some parts in the Weddell Sea reaching 0.0C), while the northern Atlantic is dominated by the Arctic Bottom Water at about 1.5C.

    East Atlantic: [Note there are points in the western Atlantic and the far eastern Atlantic where the Arctic Bottom Water pushes south to the 20S since it has greater momentum/forward pressure and the mid-Atlantic ridge deviates to east here.

    Central Pacific cross-section: dominated by Antarctic Bottom Water at about 1.0C at the bottom, 0.5C and 0.0C next to Antarctica.

    Indian Ocean; dominated by Antarctic Bottom Water with some sinking areas next to Antarctica in the Ross Sea reaching as low as 0.0C.

  74. Climate cooling and glacial expansion episodes in the Holocene with ~2500 year periodicity may be caused by intermittent inter-layer turbulence in ocean circulation.

    Phlogiston

    WUWT Journal of Climate Science 2014

    During the Holocene there have been acute episodes of cooling and glacial expansion with approximately 2500 year periodicity:

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0033589473900409

    The most recent and most acute of these has been the “little ice age” between 100-700 years ago. Other such episodes occurred at 2400-3100, 5000-6100, 7800-8800 and 1300+ years ago.

    http://www.whoi.edu/science/GG/paleoseminar/pdf/obrien95.pdf

    While ocean depths of 2-5 km might seem deep, in the context of the thousands of km width of ocean basins the oceans can be considered as a thin film. The literature of fluid flow and turbulence in thin films thus is applicable to ocean circulation patterns on all timescales, including the phenomenon of intermittent turbulence.

    There are two distinct layers of ocean circulation, the deep and surface circulation systems. A frequent feature of bounded fluid flow such as in a thin film is intermittent turbulence – i.e. acute and separated episodes of turbulence interspaced with periods of more stable laminar flow.

    Meneveau and Sreenivasan (1989) illucidated the (Kolmogorov) fractality of the intermittence of turbulent mixing of two separate circulating fluid layers “A ad B” analogous to the surface and deep circulation systems of the world’s oceans.

    http://users.ictp.trieste.it/~krs/pdf/1990_002.pdf

    Here it is proposed that during the Meneveau and Sreenivasan’s description of intermittent turbulence between two layers is applicable to the deep and surface ocean circulation systems. Over the Holocene period – the last 12000 years – the several acute episodes of cooling and glacial advance are proposed to be caused by intermittent outbreaks of increased turbulent mixing between the deep ocean and ocean surface layers. On a global scale, increases in vertical mixing caused by turbulent mixing of deep and surface layers will move heat downward and cool the climate on account of the strong vertical stratification of temperature with sharp decrease in temperature with depth, especially near the surface.

    Analogous intermittent turbulence of air flow in the surface boundary layer has also been studied:

    http://edepot.wur.nl/30174

    Other papers on intermittent turbulence:

    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1019993703820

    http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4612-2150-0_15

    http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/3-540-05716-1_20

  75. I commend anyone who tries to identify gaps in data coverage that need to be filled.

    My Missouri Position is that no analyses of climate are valid, because data is not there.

  76. Paul Vaughan:

    I’m not a good source for on-line references, especially in subject areas that have not been the focus of my attention in recent years.

    Your observation that the “mixed layer” extends deeper at higher latitudes than Jim Steel suggests for the “tropics and mid-latitudes” is correct. This is the result, however, less of direct turbulent mixing by the surface winds than of intrusions/entrainments by fast-flowing currents, such as the Gulf Stream and the Circumpolar Current. Their development peaks in the winter in each hemisphere, corresponding to the season of most intense westerlies and extra-tropical storms.

  77. Why do we bother with these intense discussions of ocean heating? Any ocean warming is unconnected with the hypothesis of dangerous anthropogenic global warming (DAGW). It’s unconnected because, though the CO2 we emit can warm the atmosphere a little, there’s no mechanism for the atmosphere to significantly heat the ocean. Only the sun does that. I remain open to correction.

  78. “Richard Treadgold says:
    July 24, 2014 at 10:25 pm
    there’s no mechanism for the atmosphere to significantly heat the ocean. Only the sun does that. I remain open to correction.”

    I can think of a couple, but they’d pretty much be one-offs and cook just about everything on the planet, anyway, because to do so, you would need the atmosphere’s contribution to be larger than the sun’s.

  79. Richard Treadgold says:
    July 24, 2014 at 10:25 pm
    Why do we bother with these intense discussions of ocean heating? Any ocean warming is unconnected with the hypothesis of dangerous anthropogenic global warming (DAGW). It’s unconnected because, though the CO2 we emit can warm the atmosphere a little, there’s no mechanism for the atmosphere to significantly heat the ocean. Only the sun does that. I remain open to correction.

    I agree that talk about heating or cooling of the oceans misses the mark.
    There is very strong temperature stratification in the oceans as a whole – warm water at the surface, very cold water at the ocean floor even in the tropics.
    Thus big changes in climate, driven by sea surface temperatures, require only re-distribution of heat in the ocean, not necessarily a change in total ocean heat.
    For instance any global increase in deep ocean mixing will always cool the surface and move heat downward, since its so much coolder deep down than up top.
    In any case, the sheer amount of heat in the ocean is so large, so much larger than that present in the atmosphere, that it is practically impossible over short (few years) timescales for enough heat to enter or leave the oceans (net) to significantly change OHC. Heat fluxes required for this would be impossibly large.
    For instance there was a paper a while back showing that during ice ages, sea floor water temperatures near the Arctic were higher than normal.

  80. Scot, there is far less energy available from UV compared to infrared radiation (UV is a much smaller portion of the entire spectrum of solar input). So little in fact that ordinary mixing and layering is the far more likely source of deeper layer warming and cooling than any variation in UV.

    When thinking of connections between two things, it is wise to consider the energy needed to change the affected “thing” (in this case the ocean temperatures at deeper layers) and the energy available from the source “thing” (in this case UV light) to make the proposed link work. Your proposed link cannot work. Not enough energy in UV variation to drive a measurable temperature change in something as big as the ocean.

  81. “CO2 driven hypotheses argue global warming has reduced polar sea ice that previously reflected sunlight, and now the exposed dark waters are absorbing more heat and raising water and air temperatures.”

    That’s pretty meaningless without knowing what the cloud cover is doing, as with a weaker polar vortex, there would be increased humidity events into the Arctic, and an increase in cloud cover that could easily compensate for the reduced sea ice albedo losses.
    In fact the strong rebounds in sea ice extent following summers with much less sea ice, suggests that the exposed sea surface cools more rather than warms more:

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