Uh, oh. 50 year old ocean thermohaline model sinking fast, climate models may be disrupted

Another “observations are not models” story is emerging. For more on the status quo of thermohaline circulation, see this Wiki  article – Anthony

Deep Ocean Conveyor Belt Reconsidered

thermohaline_circulation_2x

Science Daily is reporting that just because they teach you something in graduate school doesn’t make it right. A 50 year old model of global thermohaline circulation that predicts a deep Atlantic counter current below the Gulf Stream is now formally called into question by an armada of subsurface RAFOS floats drifting 700 – 1500m deep. Nearly 80% of the RAFOS floats escaped the Deep Western Boundary Current (DWBC), drifting into the open ocean.

This confirms suspicions that have been around since the 1990’s, and likely plays havoc with global models of climate change. The findings by Drs. Amy Bower of Wood’s Hole and Susan Lozier of Duke University et al. are published in a forthcoming issue of Nature.

The implications would be for more cold, oxygenated water along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, but I’m just making that last part up. Best to read for yourself. As I recall, the DWBC was notoriously slow. You have to wonder whether a big yellow float responds to these currents the same as suspended matter, like plankton and particulates. Either way, the research represents a major paradigm shift in ocean circulation theory.

Citation:

Bower, A., Lozier, M., Gary, S., & Böning, C. (2009). Interior pathways of the North Atlantic meridional overturning circulation Nature, 459 (7244), 243-247 DOI: 10.1038/nature07979

Image above from Wikimedia Commons.

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139 thoughts on “Uh, oh. 50 year old ocean thermohaline model sinking fast, climate models may be disrupted

  1. So that science aint settled either.
    Just goes to show that science is settled – until it is unsettled.

  2. As always Humboldt’s current is lacking, a cold current which runs from south pole northwards along the south american coast and which is opposed by the El Nino eastward and then southwards conter current, making humboldt’s current retreat and sink (taking with it, of course, in such events, all cold water fish fauna).

  3. Does this mean that the whole Thermohaline circulation is made up — that no one ever really measured it?
    The article that you can read for free doesn’t explain much.

  4. I wouldn’t worry too much about this article. The existing climate models are robust and have already anticipated and internalized this so called news. These currents could all be going backwards or doing loop de loops and it would not change the fact that the world is burning up. Besides, the science is settled. If you don’t believe me just ask the scientists at CT… (sarc)

  5. Oh dear, established concensus overturned again. On the other hand this is true science. Keep learning, discovering, and dont assume dogmatically that you are correct in your assumptions

  6. The Slashdot story also links to the Woods Hole press release.
    Yet again, real world measurements don’t agree with theory. And note that after getting a few measurements, the researcher simulated 7,000 buoys. We don’t know in what ways the assumptions in the simulation have contaminated the study.

  7. Listen, the models will be adjusted to take this into account and….. they will show rapid runaway Global Warming much sooner than previously predicted; you know, like five years ago.

  8. Well, that could bring some work only for the most sophisticated global climate modelers because as Gavin Schmidt and many others have explained, most of the modelers are still very happily ignoring the existence of the oceans and their interactions with the atmosphere. 😉

  9. But, but, we thought we knew all about the climate, and now all what we know about the climate is falling down all around us O.O
    Just goes to show the reality may be we know little about how climate even works, so it’s not a good time to even think of CO2 causing the Earth to warm.

  10. Frederick Michael (09:56:51) :

    Does this mean that the whole Thermohaline circulation is made up — that no one ever really measured it?

    Why does the return current in the Atlantic being somewhere than the western boundary invalidate the concept of a meridional overturning circulation? Why is it even that surprising?
    The Gulf Stream, the Agulhas, and the Kuroshio aren’t always easy to measure either. And those are the parts we can see on the surface.

  11. But,but, but,but
    How many legs does the AGW stool have anyway? Between McIntryre and Watts and others they’ve kicked out DOZENS? Maybe it’s not a stool. Maybe AGW is more like a Hydra? I know one thing, you can’t shake the faith of the true believers.

  12. Does this mean the climate modelers don’t know what they’re talking about? Come on man. Watts you got to cut these guys some slack. Everytime I pull up your page your cuttin their knees out from under them. Hehehehe

  13. I think the study is just saying the deep ocean current moving south in the mid-north-atlantic did not follow the expected path of sinking and flowing along the deepest part of the ocean.
    Should be able to see it in this map.
    http://maps.google.ca/maps?hl=en&ie=UTF8&t=h&ll=39.707187,-51.152344&spn=32.17618,56.25&z=4
    Theoritically, the densest water is the saltiest water at a temperature of just under 3C. This is the most dense water and it should seek the lowest depths of the ocean (or just be at the lowest depths). Any colder or any warmer or any less salty ocean water will rise above this level.
    With all the sinking and rising that goes on over long time scales, it should effectively flow at the deepest part of the ocean (very slowly of course).
    The study just didn’t find a definable region or flow in the expected location.
    The area is almost all the same depth so there should just be a very slow, very diffuse general movement anyway and there should not be a river-like flow as the graph shows.

  14. I have a big problem with this study.
    They dropped floats in the water and took measurements for 2 YEARS (count them, 1, 2). They then use that brief snapshot of data to come to a conclusion about a long term (and I thought well documented) oceanic climate phenomena ?
    It is analogous to measuring the temperature at midday in Phoenix in July and coming to the conclusion that the average temperature of the Earth’s surface everywhere and at all times of the year is 105F.
    I don’t buy it.

  15. So.-What I get from this is we really_don’t_ understand what is going on?
    (I’m tempted to do a Captian Renault -Claude Rains-‘Shocked!Shocked!)

  16. Mr Pofarmer said (10:46:13) :
    “How many legs does the AGW stool have anyway? Between McIntryre and Watts and others they’ve kicked out DOZENS? Maybe it’s not a stool.”
    Oh it’s a stool alright.

  17. This is a major problem. We have researchers who are constantly rocking the boat by learning new things. That must be stopped immediately. We have millions, perhaps billions invested in policies reflecting the current knowledge base. New knowledge will possibly be contradictory to the existing knowledge and could threaten vital programs costing us a lot of money when people are sensitive to unnecessary costs. The ending of research that could potentially conflict with existing policy could therefore save billions of dollars in what might otherwise become useless programs.
    Therefore, from this day forward, I propose that only research that is intended to validate current policy be funded. This nonsense of simply studying things out of curiosity with no regard as to what conclusions could result is reckless and expensive. All requests for research grants must now include a statement of intended conclusion. This conclusion must agree with current policy. As policy is subject to change, rejected research can be resubmitted when official policy changes.
    We must stop this reckless and unbounded research into areas where policy has already been established in order to maintain the integrity and relevance of existing programs and rhetoric. Should such unbounded research continue, policy makers could end up looking like total idiots, which must be avoided at all costs.
    The confidence of the people in our spending and policy is much more important than understanding the realities involved. Besides, our understanding pf the realities will probably change as yet more of this rogue research transpires. This could result in serious whipsawing of policy decisions and millions of dollars in consulting fees in order to develop new catch phrases, buzz words, and program titles to reflect the new reality. For the sake of stability, all this “learning” simply has to stop.

  18. How ironic would it be for climate alarmists to dismiss this on the grounds that much of this research was carried out in computerised simulations?
    Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
    Nothing would surprise me at this point.

  19. Lubos …

    Well, that could bring some work only for the most sophisticated global climate modelers because as Gavin Schmidt and many others have explained, most of the modelers are still very happily ignoring the existence of the oceans and their interactions with the atmosphere.

    I’m not aware of what exactly Gavin Schmidt said but I’m sure he’s aware that the “C” HadCM3 (and its predecessors) stands for “Coupled”, as in “we run an ocean model coupled with an atmospheric model”.
    Hard to model the ocean if you’re ignoring it …

  20. Can someone explain how this changes current theories about the THC rather than filling in some of the details of it east of N. America – the DWBC? Also where does the Nature article mention any implication for global climate models?

  21. Yep, it’s not just that they don’t know what they don’t know. . . it’s also that some of what they think they know just ain’t so.
    Scientific hubris is rampant in most fields –not just climatology– the last twenty years. They are measuring from where they’ve come from over the last hundred years and getting much too full of themselves instead of having a proper appreciation for how much they don’t know yet.

  22. As usual, this study is being severely misrepresented by WUWT.
    You can read it yourself.
    As for the impact on global warming or climate science? Here’s what the one of the authors said:

    And since this cold southward-flowing water is thought to influence and perhaps moderate human-caused climate change, this finding may impact the work of global warming forecasters.
    “This finding means it is going to be more difficult to measure climate signals in the deep ocean,” Lozier said. “We thought we could just measure them in the Deep Western Boundary Current, but we really can’t.”

    The difficulty isn’t to climate science, per se, but rather a whole lot more data gathering in the deep sea is going to be necessary when looking for climate signals. In other words a lot more $$$ and most likely time to both gather and analyze such data.

    Another “observations are not models” story is emerging.

    The paper’s conclusions are based on models. Are you saying the paper’s wrong?

  23. “Can someone explain how this changes current theories about the THC”
    I am not sure it would change much about the theories themselves but it would change what to infer from measurements of the return current along the continental shelf. In other words, we know that the Gulf Stream, for example, is there and flows North from the Gulf of Mexico. We also know that this water must somehow return. So that there is circulation is not in question, we already know that it must be.
    What it changes are measurements in the return current that was thought to account for the majority of the “conveyor belt”. For example, a slowing of that current might have led someone to the conclusion that the entire conveyor belt was slowing when it might simply mean that the proportion of return flow taking that route has changed, and not a change in overall volume of return flow. It pretty much invalidates any conclusions that were drawn based mainly on data from that part of the return flow with regards to inference of the status of the system as a whole. What was thought to be the major portion of the system turns out to be a very minor part.
    In short, it turns out they were touching only a small portion of an elephant.

  24. LOL read the article first then jump to wild ass conclusions, the only point here is we may not know what we think we know. See how I used that may in that sentence, it is called uncertainty.
    Does that mean we reprint the textbooks in the morning? No! it just means that we have some more observational data to digest and possibly integrate into our heat transfer models to see what effect that would have. If the new circulation patterns better explain observable climate then we move the science train a little farther down the track.
    Really people we need to keep perspective. It is this arm waving finger pointing jubilation that defines the AGWers, IMHO we really need not behave the same way.
    Of course pointing out that this is how science works might help the policy makers deal with their plans of “elevating science (that agrees with our policy) back to rightful place” so that it’s rightful place is equal to the reality of what science is and is not.
    Good comment geo(11:45:51)

  25. This is another example of assumptions being trumped by more acute observation & measurement.
    Laboratory science is the “wonder” that has fuelled the Technological Revolution — field sciences, not so much.
    Why?
    Because assumptions are made by “strong personalities” that can’t be falsified.
    And Group-think takes over and creates a “consensus” which can be very hard to change — consider it socio-psychological inertia.

  26. Could someone explain to me the difference between thermohaline circulation and simple convection?
    My home is well insulated to reduce the convection between the cold outside temperatures of Minnesota winters and our comfortable rooms on the inside.
    Reducing the circulation of the air between warm and cool surfaces, is what home insulation is all about.
    To my knowledge, nobody has suggested that I could insulate my home more efficiently, by reducing the salt content of the air.

  27. “This confirms suspicions that have been around since the 1990’s, and likely plays havoc with global models of climate change.”
    Another example of Nature’s flagrant and total disregard for computer models.

  28. “…beware what you learned at school”
    Seems to me that started in earnest about 1975 (certainly well established by 1988…)
    So, we have a female member of an institute that is unabashedly pro-AGW, publishing a paper in Nature that purports to provide data which will upset established settled climate models (ESCMs), calling into question the unabashedly pro-AGW stance of the institute. What can we draw from these observations:
    1) The unabashedly pro-AGW institute will allow anyone on staff to write anything to get published, or,
    2) The original grant application said nothing about ocean circulation, or,
    3) The Woods Hole boat needs a refit and there’s nothing like open-ended dramatic multi-year research invoking Climate Change AND using the boat, to load the bilge with cash, or,
    4) The young lady got tired of the sexism and decided to upset the front office, or,
    5) WH wanted to find a way to tap into all of the money available for climate research, but couldn’t find anybody in the GAO who knew what a veliger was, or,
    6) Steig finally found a topic that would take some of the bloody heat off his Antarctic boondoggle.

  29. This appears to be the “Nature” letter:
    “Interior pathways of the North Atlantic meridional overturning circulation” Nature 459, 243-247 (14 May 2009) | doi:10.1038/nature07979; Received 24 April 2008; Accepted 5 March 2009
    Abstract:
    To understand how our global climate will change in response to natural and anthropogenic forcing, it is essential to determine how quickly and by what pathways climate change signals are transported throughout the global ocean, a vast reservoir for heat and carbon dioxide. Labrador Sea Water (LSW), formed by open ocean convection in the subpolar North Atlantic, is a particularly sensitive indicator of climate change on interannual to decadal timescales1, 2, 3. Hydrographic observations made anywhere along the western boundary of the North Atlantic reveal a core of LSW at intermediate depths advected southward within the Deep Western Boundary Current (DWBC)4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. These observations have led to the widely held view that the DWBC is the dominant pathway for the export of LSW from its formation site in the northern North Atlantic towards the Equator10, 11. Here we show that most of the recently ventilated LSW entering the subtropics follows interior, not DWBC, pathways. The interior pathways are revealed by trajectories of subsurface RAFOS floats released during the period 2003–2005 that recorded once-daily temperature, pressure and acoustically determined position for two years, and by model-simulated ‘e-floats’ released in the subpolar DWBC. The evidence points to a few specific locations around the Grand Banks where LSW is most often injected into the interior. These results have implications for deep ocean ventilation and suggest that the interior subtropical gyre should not be ignored when considering the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation.
    And the link
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v459/n7244/full/nature07979.html
    Link to the Figures:
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v459/n7244/fig_tab/nature07979_ft.html
    Link to Supplements:
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v459/n7244/extref/nature07979-s1.pdf

  30. They dropped floats in the water and took measurements for 2 YEARS (count them, 1, 2). They then use that brief snapshot of data to come to a conclusion about a long term (and I thought well documented) oceanic climate phenomena ?
    My take on it, is that what they thought they’d find, (and what the Climate models are based on) they didn’t. Somehow, warming theory says that the atmosphere is supposed to be warming the oceans, and the currents are taking this warmth to the depths and storing it now to be released later and really ramp up the warming. Now, never mind that the volume of the oceans is much larger than the volume of the atmosphere. Never mind that he ocean absorbs much more heat than the atmosphere. Never mind that the ocean can transfer much more heat than the atmosphere. So, you’ve got this theory of how the atmosphere is supposed to be heating the oceans, and you put some buoy’s out there and it- Just. Ain’t. Happenin. And the AGW true-believers will do what they always do-ignore it, degrade it, villify the researchers. It really IS treated as a religion. I’ve seen it on some blogs that are not climate related. You get a true believer and NOTHING will dissuade them from their “facts,” especially not evidence.

  31. Slightly off topic (but I don’t know where else to put it here), I saw a “skeptical” article/interview on Fortune/CNN about AGW. I thought I’d note it here as it’s “mainstream media” covering the other side of the story more honestly than usual. It starts with a discussion of research conducted by John Christy of U of Alabama-Huntsville and ends with a short Q&A between the interviewer and him.
    Link: http://money.cnn.com/2009/05/14/magazines/fortune/globalwarming.fortune/index.htm
    Note: I don’t always keep up with all the comments on articles, so this might have been mentioned already yesterday. Thanks!
    Robert

  32. Second commendations of crosspatch and geo.
    Sure am glad I don’t have hard won insights to discard here!

  33. Let’s remember to keep perspective. While a single fact can disprove a theory or falsify an hypothesis, it still needs to be debated, reviewed, verified and repeated before we rewrite the textbooks entirely.

  34. Well I’m not a fan of the “thermohaline” circulation; despite its bloated name.
    Oh I believe the oceans circulate all right; and I also believe that salinity can determine when and if and where water will decide to sink. But I also believe that the energy driving this is essentially the rotation of the earth. I have always had a plan to reverse the rotation of the earth so they could have cold water and Atlantic salmon running down the East coast of the USA, and we could have warm water and Mahi Mahi swimming up the West coast of the USA.
    And because I believe the earth rotation is the drive behind the ocean circulation, I also believe it won’t ever stop in our liftimes; salt or no salt.
    But I suppose that actual salinity could decide just where the currents will meander to.
    I also found I couldn’t understand what they are even talking about in the article; other than some buoys moved.

  35. “And since this cold southward-flowing water is thought to influence and perhaps moderate human-caused climate change, this finding may impact the work of global warming forecasters.”
    What is this, excuse number 329 as to why their AGW models don’t work?
    The statement also takes the position that human-caused climate change is a proven fact and that it is large enough to have a natural condition moderate it.

  36. Dhogaza,
    You are so right.
    Read the paper, see the problems. More money for research/ refining the models. Results were based on models therefore we don’t know if they are correct or not because they were based on models. More money for research/ refining the models. Results were based on models therefore we don’t know if they are correct or not ……ad infinitum

  37. dhogaza (11:47:38) :
    As usual, this study is being severely misrepresented by WUWT.
    You can read it yourself.

    I read it. I don’t see how WUWT is misrepresenting it. Of course, anything that even hints at a crack in your facade, even if only indirectly doing so, is something folks like you need to pounce on to set the record straight. “Phew! Our ivory tower isn’t being threatened by this!” Oh heaven forbid…
    The difficulty isn’t to climate science, per se, but rather a whole lot more data gathering in the deep sea is going to be necessary when looking for climate signals. In other words a lot more $$$ and most likely time to both gather and analyze such data.
    And this implies a mis-representation by WUWT how? The last line of the OP clearly says:
    “As I recall, the DWBC was notoriously slow. You have to wonder whether a big yellow float responds to these currents the same as suspended matter, like plankton and particulates.”
    or, in other words, “was the experiment even legitimate?” Hardly a mis-representation and, in fact, it reads more like WUWT called into question the conclusions.
    The paper’s conclusions are based on models. Are you saying the paper’s wrong?
    Wow, way to erect a strawman. The conclusions are also based on real-world observations that the models can’t account for. I.e., models aren’t the end-all be-all of science. They are merely a tool, and scientists need to keep that in perspective.
    Mark

  38. FYI, the jpg ad block in front of this thread is Nature Canada’s two polar bear “Let’s Stop Global Warming” pitch. Funny.

  39. Pofarmer says:

    So, you’ve got this theory of how the atmosphere is supposed to be heating the oceans, and you put some buoy’s out there and it- Just. Ain’t. Happenin.

    No, that’s not what they’re saying. They’re saying that the cold water flowing south is more dispersed than thought before. They’re not saying anything at all about whether or not the ocean’s cooling.
    I provided a link to commentary by one of the author’s above. Please read it rather than jump to the conclusion that it says something it doesn’t.

  40. Steve Huntwork (12:33:31) :

    Could someone explain to me the difference between thermohaline circulation and simple convection?

    When the density is affected by both temperature and salinity, then you get a thermohaline circulation, which may not always follow the intuition from heat convection alone.
    Wikipedia on Thermohaline circulation.

    To my knowledge, nobody has suggested that I could insulate my home more efficiently, by reducing the salt content of the air.

    The heat convection in (or out) of your home isn’t driven by differing density between salty air masses.
    George E. Smith (13:40:37) :

    Oh I believe the oceans circulate all right; and I also believe that salinity can determine when and if and where water will decide to sink. But I also believe that the energy driving this is essentially the rotation of the earth.

    Depending on how much you believe Newton’s laws, the rotation of the earth doesn’t “drive” anything at all in a large-scale geophysical flow. The Coriolis force is normal to the velocity (and hence does no work).

  41. More heresy!
    The science is getting unsettled.
    Quick, somebody get a respirator handy – Al Gore’s gonna need it soon.

  42. Anthony, please change the tag in the Wiki link to if possible. Thanks!
    REPLY: Sorry, but your request is very unclear. The link works, what is wrong with it? – Anthony

  43. Dear Anthony,
    The link is meant to be closed with an /a; instead I had put a /quote tag so that the entire rest of the post appears as part of the link.
    REPLY: I’m sorry but, you are making subzero sense here. The link is properly closed, the html IS CORRECT. Whatever problem you are having is likely local to whatever setup your are using, and that is not some I can control. Besides why are your reading the HTML anyway? The link works, end of problem from my end. – Anthony

  44. “Could someone explain to me the difference between thermohaline circulation and simple convection?”
    It is sort of like what happens with inversion layers in the atmosphere. Air warms, becomes less dense and rises but if it hits a layer of air less dense than it is, it can’t rise beyond it.
    Temperature can impact density and there can be layers of water that have different temperature and salinity. So while a layer might be warmer and normally want to rise, it is also saltier and therefore more dense. So as you drop in depth, it is possible you might come to a warmer layer of deeper water but it is saltier than the water above. Or as you rise, you might experience a colder layer that is fresher and can’t sink through the saltier layer below it.
    So thermohaline would imply changes in layers of water where both the temperature (thermo) and salt content (hal) play a role in stratification.

  45. George E. Smith (13:40:37) :
    Well I’m not a fan of the “thermohaline” circulation; despite its bloated name.
    Oh I believe the oceans circulate all right; and I also believe that salinity can determine when and if and where water will decide to sink. But I also believe that the energy driving this is essentially the rotation of the earth.

    Would cycles or perturbations in the earth’s rotation, reflected in LOD (length of day), then likely be reflected in ocean circulation? Makes sense to me.

  46. One thing I never quite understood about those thermohaline models… but never really asked about.
    By what mechanism does deep “more saline” water become less saline and thus rise to the surface in the North Pacific, and yet become more saline and thus heavier to sink in the North Atlantic?

  47. If the paper is in Nature (Green Peace East) it is biased as hell when it comes to AGW. You will never see a paper that shows the full picture with even a hint that there might be a problem to the AGW story. I have dropped my membership to Nature, guess I will miss this one.

  48. “”” Basil (14:56:41) :
    George E. Smith (13:40:37) :
    Well I’m not a fan of the “thermohaline” circulation; despite its bloated name.
    Oh I believe the oceans circulate all right; and I also believe that salinity can determine when and if and where water will decide to sink. But I also believe that the energy driving this is essentially the rotation of the earth.
    Would cycles or perturbations in the earth’s rotation, reflected in LOD (length of day), then likely be reflected in ocean circulation? Makes sense to me. “””
    Basil, while i believe the earth rotation provides the drive to keep this water flowing; be it coriolis effect or what have you; I think the actual nature of the circulations is way to complex to discern any behavioral linkage to changes in LOD. That would be some kind of spectacular if such an influence could be detected.
    I’m not saying it doesn’t happen; but I think it is so far down in the noise mud; you’d never prove the linkage.

  49. I remember when I was learning about the cosmos in college. We were taught that the rings on Saturn were of a specific composition and they even had names… zooom Saturn gets a drive by…. gee its just random rubble. My point is that sometime science gets ahead of itself. Theorys are not facts, they are educated guesses. At any time a theory can be proven false. That is supposed to be the beauty of science, so when someone says the science is settled you can count on it being disproved, improved or totally tossed. True science is observation. I hate that every scientist has a conclusion to their research now. What happened to observing and pushing the envelope of what we know now rather then figuring out where it all should end?

  50. “”” oms (14:21:11) :
    Steve Huntwork (12:33:31) :
    Could someone explain to me the difference between thermohaline circulation and simple convection?
    When the density is affected by both temperature and salinity, then you get a thermohaline circulation, which may not always follow the intuition from heat convection alone.
    Wikipedia on Thermohaline circulation.
    To my knowledge, nobody has suggested that I could insulate my home more efficiently, by reducing the salt content of the air.
    The heat convection in (or out) of your home isn’t driven by differing density between salty air masses.
    George E. Smith (13:40:37) :
    Oh I believe the oceans circulate all right; and I also believe that salinity can determine when and if and where water will decide to sink. But I also believe that the energy driving this is essentially the rotation of the earth.
    Depending on how much you believe Newton’s laws, the rotation of the earth doesn’t “drive” anything at all in a large-scale geophysical flow. The Coriolis force is normal to the velocity (and hence does no work). “””
    So taking your word for it, that the rotation of the earth is not driving anything; I take it that the gulf stream, and the Japan current could one day decide to flow the opposite direction. By inference I might also expect the trade winds and other atmospheric flows to change direction since they are unrelated to the earth’s rotation.
    Well that will be nice to one day get yeloowfin tuna running along our California coast, instead of salmon.

  51. Jeremy (15:14:53) :

    One thing I never quite understood about those thermohaline models… but never really asked about.
    By what mechanism does deep “more saline” water become less saline and thus rise to the surface in the North Pacific, and yet become more saline and thus heavier to sink in the North Atlantic?

    Nothing wrong with asking. Evaporation and other cooling as the Gulf Stream moves northward, plus ice formation, make cold, saline water in the North Atlantic. That water sinks. The water in the Pacific is by contrast much less saline, taking on more rainful and facing less intensive evaporation.
    By what mechanism does the salty water rise back up? That is an open question in oceanography. It seems safe to say it has to happen somehow.
    -oms
    P.S. Apologies to Anthony about the earlier requests; apparently my browser wasn’t refreshing properly. I had no idea it would cause such a reaction, as no badgering was intended.

  52. “By what mechanism does deep “more saline” water become less saline and thus rise to the surface in the North Pacific, and yet become more saline and thus heavier to sink in the North Atlantic?”
    Water coming out of the Gulf of Mexico is VERY salty compared to the rest of the Atlantic but it rides on top because it is so much warmer. Once it gets up North, it finally cools to a point where it is finally denser (but still a bit warmer) than the water below it and it plunges under. The North Atlantic surface water is generally fresher than the rest of the ocean because it contains a lot of melt water and runoff from N. America / Eurasia.
    Not up on what is going on with the Pacific side. The two oceans wouldn’t be expected to behave exactly the same because the surrounding geography is different.

  53. Re: geo (11:45:51)
    Well-said.
    – – –
    Re: Bill Illis (11:05:40)
    I think I see your (perhaps subtle) point: too many “should”s.
    – – –
    Re: crosspatch (11:30:54)
    Maybe you meant for that to be sarcastic & humorous; I want to convey that that is actually how it works (in my neck-of-the-woods, at least) — far from humorous, it is absolutely tragic. Thank you for drawing attention to this real plight.
    – – –
    dhogaza (11:47:38) “The difficulty isn’t to climate science, per se, but rather a whole lot more data gathering in the deep sea is going to be necessary when looking for climate signals. In other words a lot more $$$ and most likely time to both gather and analyze such data.”
    Don’t forget the other problems:
    1) No time-travel (to go back in time to get the samples needed).
    2) No replication (i.e. only 1 Earth).
    Can this even be settled..? Not within the lifetime of anyone living, I would venture (…but [clearly] many will continue in misguided-attempts to convince the innocent [assumed-naive] public otherwise).

  54. So as I learn new things in my quest for understanding:
    In 2009 “We know that a good fraction of the human caused carbon dioxide released since the Industrial revolution is now in the deep North Atlantic”
    I am immediately perplexed by this from 2006:
    “Dr. Peter Flynn, the Poole Chair in Management for Engineers in the U of A Department of Mechanical Engineering, has studied whether down-welling ocean currents can carry more dissolved carbon into the deep ocean. He learned they can’t, … http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/02/060206230019.htm
    Clearly someone isn’t part of the “we know” or am I just “cherry picking”.
    But at least there is hope for real practical science in these dark times:
    “To learn more about how the cold deep waters spread, we will need to make more measurements …” (please send more money)
    but you just can’t go past a good ole model:
    “… also used a modeling program to simulate the launch and dispersal of more than 7,000 virtual “efloats” from the same starting point. ….. “The spread of the model and the RAFOS float trajectories after two years is very similar,” they reported.”
    You would bloody well hope so! Isn’t that what models are meant to do? (Slap me – I forgot these are climate models)
    As an aside, if floats escape, do e-floats e-escape ?
    But if I understand this, 8% went down the conveyor, 75% followed some other “pathways” and no mention of the other 17%.
    But oh how times have changed when you can actually challenge settled science:
    “studies in the 1990s using submersible floats that followed underwater currents “showed little evidence of southbound export of Labrador sea water within the Deep Western Boundary Current (DWBC),” …. Scientists challenged those earlier studies, ….. data could have been “biased… etc etc
    and if I understand it, come to exactly the same conclusion ????
    I too am a bit unsettled …

  55. I look at the Earth with the oceans and air as a single entity obstructing the flow of energy from the sun.
    Short wave solar energy hits the Earth, some gets absorbed by Earth, oceans and air and is then radiated out as long wave energy.
    In the course of that process heat energy is released around the planet and radiated out with the rest of the electromagnetic energy received from the sun. The shift from short wave to long wave is just like the reduction in voltage as a current passes through a resistor thereby generating heat.
    That entire process, taken as a whole, sets the so called equilibrium temperature of the planet.
    The air is a contributor to the equilibrium temperature albeit miniscule as against the effect of the oceans.
    CO2 is a contributor to the equilibrium temperature albeit miniscule as against the effect of the air.
    Human CO2 is a contributor to the portion of the equilibrium temperature provided by CO2 albeit miniscule as against the effect of the rest of the CO2.
    The climate scientist Tyndall and his successors upon whom so many now rely was concerned only about human produced CO2 which is but a tiny bit of the natural CO2 which is but a tiny bit of the air which is but a tiny bit of the entire effect. He ignored the oceans completely as do all climate change alarmists to this day.
    He is 100% right about that tiny, tiny, tiny bit but 100% wrong about the significance of that tiny, tiny, tiny bit for the equilibrium temperature of the planet.
    That is why all attempts to date at modelling the climate have failed and they will continue to fail for the foreseeable future until we know a great deal more about the oceans.
    That’s the clearest and simplest way I can put it.

  56. “By what mechanism does deep “more saline” water become less saline and thus rise to the surface in the North Pacific, and yet become more saline and thus heavier to sink in the North Atlantic?”
    …become less saline…
    There are in some places, apparently, fresh water springs that still emit beneath the oceans. Apparently these were in existence during the last glacial period and enabled man to survive (in terms of available fresh water) as the initial exodus of Homo sapiens from East Africa to the Asian continent via the Arabian Peninsula took place despite local desert conditions. (Disclaimer: Possibly total misrepresentation as it came from a recent BBC documentary on early human migrations.)
    …become more saline…
    When brine freezes each year,at the underside of the sea ice near the poles, salt in the brine becomes more concentrated in the water, and the ice formed ice contains a greater proportion of the fresh water.
    Despite being warmer than less briny surrounding water, concentrated brine may have a higher density, and thus sink. “solar ponds” work on this principle- with hot concentrated brine at the bottom, and cooler, less salty water at the top.

  57. I am immediately perplexed by this from 2006:
    “Dr. Peter Flynn, the Poole Chair in Management for Engineers in the U of A Department of Mechanical Engineering, has studied whether down-welling ocean currents can carry more dissolved carbon into the deep ocean. He learned they can’t, … http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/02/060206230019.htm
    Clearly someone isn’t part of the “we know” or am I just “cherry picking”.

    Craigo, what’s being discussed there is whether or not enhancing downwelling is a practical geoengineering approach to pulling more CO2 into the ocean (thereby mitigating against increasing CO2 concentrations).
    I think the major problem here has nothing to do with science or engineering, but rather a really badly written blurb in Science Daily.

  58. Jeremy asked the correct question, and why I was teasing about insulating my home during the Minnesota winters.
    I have a cartoon picture in my mind:
    Warn water from the equator rushing to the poles along the gulf stream and gushing into space like a fountain, because there is no salt to make it sink!
    The replies have been rather funny to read….
    Thanks Jeremy.
    Jeremy (15:14:53) :
    One thing I never quite understood about those thermohaline models… but never really asked about.
    By what mechanism does deep “more saline” water become less saline and thus rise to the surface in the North Pacific, and yet become more saline and thus heavier to sink in the North Atlantic?

  59. Chris Knight:
    As a scuba diver and cave explorer, I know all about how fresh water will float over salt water in a calm cave environment. The transition between the layers in a cave can be rather amazing. However, a cave is a very special environment and rather unique.
    This model fails when you have any mixing of the water layers and they merge into each other.
    That is what currents, convection and other motions will do to water layers. They all get mixed up!

  60. oms (15:48:36) :”…By what mechanism does the salty water rise back up? That is an open question in oceanography. It seems safe to say it has to happen somehow.”
    ♪…Tiny bubbles in the brine,
    Make me happy, make me feel fine…♫
    [TINY BUBBLES © Don Ho & Jessee Jay]

  61. Todays Climatology is number one in wrong bias science and misunderstanding of other scientific principles. A lacking of knowledge in basic science and a homogenization of their own science because of computer models. When your science conclusions are all based around 50 years of wrong theory/data, you have to start from scratch with the new data and a new theory.
    If a science BLOG (including http://www.climateaudit.org/, http://www.surfacestations.org/) community can educate people, to the point of making them as informed( if not better informed) then data extrapolating Climate Technicians?
    Climate science of AGW CO2 is in a tail.
    One reason being operation and download of programs on a computer is basic knowledge to us now, and we have access(of course when pressured) to your methods/proxies used in warmest science.
    This article is just another reason to inform people who don’t know. To check it out for themselves.
    ARGO already showed us,
    http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/story.html?id=8c21e2dd-1945-43be-b04d-217c415f5a6b
    The same conclusion in the years of real data, before added proxies to correct the program from a unexplained real measurements of cooling.
    To make it show no change. Hmmm?
    Skip to today and now “Warmers” are admitting that there’s no heat being trapped in the oceans, just all natural CO2 and man made CO2.
    All life loves CO2 for growth and living in the oceans and land, which we’ve known as fact for at least a few hundred years of science.
    Are there any Climatologists out there who can’t see the data showing natural cycles of climate change or believe CPU modeled predictions over lengthy observation in data?
    Oh yeah I forgot, they’ve already jumped the shark tank and the truth is inconvenient.
    The truth. http://publishing.royalsociety.org/media/proceedings_a/rspa20071880.pdf

  62. Stephen Wilde (16:47:31)
    Effortless and fluid logic. Thanks for that post.
    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  63. and by model-simulated ‘e-floats’ released in the subpolar DWBC
    What the heck is an “e-float” and how do you simulate one?

  64. What the heck is an “e-float” and how do you simulate one?

    Models are always wrong, as we’ve been taught by our leaders here at WUWT.
    Therefore the conclusions of this paper are wrong.
    Strange that it’s been published here.
    REPLY: Sorry birdman, but that’s YOUR take away conclusion.
    Cheers, Anthony

  65. George E. Smith (13:40:37) :

    I’m with you on this. I think it is rather arrogant for those who essential overlook some rather dramatic factors that drive or hugely contribute to ocean circulations, and this does not stop at planetary rotation either. What about the pull of the moon? Tidal effects and mixing? And probably a million other things that have not been thought of. I think it is a rather interesting conundrum, whereby Climate is extremely complex and greatly affected by the world’s ocean’s, which in term are themselves extremely complex. One lends hand to the other to exponentially multiply the complexities and their relationships to one another. Face it folks, there is no way we can ever fully understand ocean circulations and in turn never full understand climate, and thus absolutely no way to predict anything.
    AGW = [meaningless]

  66. So, you’ve got this theory of how the atmosphere is supposed to be heating the oceans, and you put some buoy’s out there and it- Just. Ain’t. Happenin.
    No, that’s not what they’re saying. They’re saying that the cold water flowing south is more dispersed than thought before. They’re not saying anything at all about whether or not the ocean’s cooling.

    May not have been clear. What I’m saying is that the system appears to be working quite a bit differently than the theory suggested, which, is, essentially what you’re saying.

  67. Lance (19:50:08) :

    Todays Climatology is number one in wrong bias science and misunderstanding of other scientific principles. A lacking of knowledge in basic science and a homogenization of their own science because of computer models…If a science BLOG (including http://www.climateaudit.org/, http://www.surfacestations.org/) community can educate people, to the point of making them as informed( if not better informed) then data extrapolating Climate Technicians?

    They do serious statistical inquiry over at ClimateAudit. I hope you don’t conflate their hard work with some of the idle speculation that gets posted right beside it in some of the discussions.
    It really also is a bit over the top to suggest that everyone working in the climate sciences is somehow ignorant of basic science or involved in a conspiracy.
    savethesharks (20:37:05) :

    Stephen Wilde (16:47:31)
    “Effortless and fluid logic. Thanks for that post.”

    If only the facts supporting the effortless logic were also correct.
    There is a lot wrong with the state of climate science, but IHMO pulling facts out of a hat isn’t the right way to find the flaws.
    jorgekafkazar (19:23:05) :

    ♪…Tiny bubbles in the brine,
    Make me happy, make me feel fine…♫

    You really think it’s the champagne, eh? 😉

  68. George E. Smith (15:45:40) :
    So taking your word for it, that the rotation of the earth is not driving anything; I take it that the gulf stream, and the Japan current could one day decide to flow the opposite direction. By inference I might also expect the trade winds and other atmospheric flows to change direction since they are unrelated to the earth’s rotation.
    George, I know from your previous posts that you have a substantial amount of education and experience in science and engineering. I think you can appreciate the difference between forces which do no work on a system and forces that do. The Coriolis force is the former kind, while a “driver” usually describes the latter.
    Squidly (21:36:02) :

    George E. Smith (13:40:37) :
    I’m with you on this. I think it is rather arrogant for those who essential overlook some rather dramatic factors that drive or hugely contribute to ocean circulations, and this does not stop at planetary rotation either.

    Squidly, nobody has said that the earth’s rotation is not hugely important to ocean circulation. It is not the “driving” force, meaning it is not the energy source. It certainly shapes all fluid flow on this planet at anything larger than “sub-mesoscale.”

    What about the pull of the moon? Tidal effects and mixing?

    Yes, those are potentially very important; in another post said quite seriously that the deep water mixing problem is an open question in oceanography.

    Face it folks, there is no way we can ever fully understand ocean circulations and in turn never full understand climate, and thus absolutely no way to predict anything.

    If this is truly the case, then we should give up on all science endeavors, since we have very little hope of fully understanding much of anything at all!

  69. “If this is truly the case, then we should give up on all science endeavors, since we have very little hope of fully understanding much of anything at all!”
    Well, this much is true: we understand more about the surface of Mars than we understand about the environment of 2/3 of the surface of the Earth’s crust. I have been thinking for a long time that if you want to understand what the overall climate of Earth is doing, you need to measure temperature on the abyssal plains of the oceans. Changes in those temperatures will be very slow and will probably lag surface changes by several years. It wouldn’t surprise me of the temperatures on the abyssal plains are still recovering from the LIA.
    Getting that data is extremely difficult. Having temperature sensors built-in to deep transoceanic cables would be a nice first step, though.

  70. Hilarious Lance, particularly considering:
    a) this is a mainstream newspaper.
    b) many think of Vancouver as an “eco-freak hot-bed”.
    “Little ocean tattletales fail to find right facts”; Lorne Gunter, Canwest News Service; March 29, 2008; The Vancouver Sun
    http://www2.canada.com/vancouversun/news/story.html?id=8c21e2dd-1945-43be-b04d-217c415f5a6b

    =
    “So why are some scientists now beginning to question the buoys’ findings? Because in five years the little blighters have failed to detect any global warming. They are not reinforcing the scientific orthodoxy of the day, namely that man is causing the planet to warm dangerously. They are not proving the predetermined conclusions of their human masters. Therefore they, and not their masters’ hypotheses, must be wrong.” – The Vancouver Sun 2008
    “A slight drop in the oceans’ temperature over a period of five or six years probably is insignificant, just as a warming over such a short period would be. Yet if there had been a rise of any kind, even of the same slightness, rest assured this would be broadcast far and wide as yet another log on the global warming fire.” – The Vancouver Sun 2008
    =———————————=
    Laughed-Out-Loud at this part:
    “Just look how tenaciously some scientists are prepared to cling to the climate change dogma. “It may be that we are in a period of less rapid warming,” Willis told NPR.
    Yeah, you know, like when you put your car into reverse you are causing it to enter a period of less rapid forward motion. Or when I gain a few pounds I am in a period of less rapid weight loss.” – The Vancouver Sun 2008
    =——————————–=
    “But if the oceans aren’t warming, then (please whisper) perhaps the models are wrong.
    The supercomputer models also can’t explain the interaction of clouds and climate. They have no idea whether clouds warm the world more by trapping heat in or cool it by reflecting heat back into space.” – The Vancouver Sun 2008
    “[…] it would be nice to hear some alternatives to the alarmist theory.” – The Vancouver Sun 2008
    =

  71. It is interesting that ideas which were a good first guess at the time when there were almost no hard data at all (the t-h circulation idea predates the space age for instance) turn out to be just that, a first guess, when real data come in.
    But let’s be charitable. At least these researchers could find the funds to have go at it. In climate “research” you now have to have the “save mankind” angle built into your proposals. A colleague of mine tried to get funding for research into the interaction of the Sun’s magnetosphere and climate and, of course, he was turned down, as the science “was settled”. But now NASA is quietly starting to fund that kind of research and I expect that some quite unexpected things will come out of it.

  72. “It really also is a bit over the top to suggest that everyone working in the climate sciences is somehow ignorant of basic science or involved in a conspiracy.”
    I understand what you’re saying, but I didn’t mean a conspiracy at all.
    My comment about including CA was not about climate change conspiracy, I respect that site for bringing the science of real data forth right and with real debate and data.
    But since you feel it’s “over the top” to lump all modern climatologist as unknowing and speculative at the best times. WHY?
    Their jobs can cost world countries billions of $$$ with the “Greed wE con-you-me” (green economy ) BS being set up by big banks and investors with truck loads of cap and trade bucks to trade. An economy based on us paying carbon taxes for just living and stimulating population growth.
    Future birth restrictions could be instituted and abortions used to cull the herd so to speak.
    Ok, now that’s over the top!:p lol!

  73. oms 21:50:36
    Er, which facts are wrong or, as you elegantly put it, were pulled out of a hat ?

  74. In other words while the so called Paradigm shift occurs, it’s a very old one presented in Oceanographic litterature in 1920’s that reoccurs 🙂
    Could it be that the last 30 years of global graduate studies have been taught from assumptions rather than old knowledge?

  75. I think this is a great study, and would like to see more. Of course, the data they gathered is much more meaningful than the models they concoct.
    It was exactly this sort of study that Dr. Bill Gray urged back in the 1980’s, but the politics of the time (Clinton, Gore, Hansen) refused to fund him and basically told him to mind his own business and stick with hurricanes. The funding all went to Hansen’s super-computers.
    Dr. Gray had noticed correlations between what happened in the North Atlantic and what happened in the Pacific, especially in terms of the alternations between La Ninas and El Ninos. The old gentleman has been given a very hard time about “not having facts to back his ideas,” however when he tried to get to the bottom of things (pun) and gain actual data, the funding was denied. I think a reason funding was denied may have been that his ideas went against the idea that CO2 caused warming.
    Jeromey (15:14:53) asks a crucial question, “By what mechanism does deep “more saline” water become less saline and thus rise to the surface in the North Pacific, and yet become more saline and thus heavier to sink in the North Atlantic?”
    While both surface and deep-sea currents are rotation-driven and wind-driven, there is a third factor, the salinity and temperature of water. This is important because it allows water to be segregated into different pools and different streams.
    I have all sorts of questions about these pools and streams. How do they know it takes roughly 1200 years for water that sinks off Greenland to reappear in the North Pacific? Do the water molecules that reappear in the North Pacific have long, silver beards?
    Why don’t these segregated pools and streams simply get integrated (IE mix?)
    There is no actual membrane between differing types of water, yet one sees the thermocline drawn on various graphs and charts, as if a membrane existed.
    I imagine it is likely no clear boundary exists. When one looks at shots of the Gulf Stream from outer space, one notices the edge is not a clear line, but involves all sorts of interesting whirls and eddies. However, even though the edge isn’t a clear membrane, there is no denying the Gulf Stream exists.
    One fascinating thing about the thermohaline circulation is that, both where water enters in “sinks,” and where water emerges at “upwellings,” there are pulses and surges. The simple fact water is freezing for half the year and thawing for half the year, at the poles, must make a dramatic difference in how much water descends into the thermohaline circulation. Then you have surges of the Gulf Stream’s most northern branches into the Arctic Sea during the warmest parts of the AMO, followed by times when these branches apparently dry up or wander elsewhere. If these pulses and surges of descending water survived, as bulges traveling as waves in the thermohaline circulation, (perhaps shown by lifting and subsiding of the thermocline,) then it might explain why water abruptly starts upwelling off the coast of Peru, even when it goes against wind-driven dynamics.
    The water off Peru is in a state of precarious balance. The difference between that water upwelling and not-upwelling is likely quite small, but makes a huge difference to both the fishermen of Peru and the World’s Weather, for it is the difference between El Nino and La Nina.
    The question then becomes, what teeters this balance one way or the other? Is it entirely wind-driven? Or might not the intuition of Dr. Gray have been correct, and thermohaline circulation is involved?
    There is only one way to find out, and it sure isn’t to fund more models. We have blown more than a quarter century diddling with models. I think its high time to boot young scientists outdoors, out into the sunshine and onto the heaving decks of small vessels surging over the briny depths of the shifting sea, to get data, data, DATA.
    It not only would do those young scientists good, but it also might show a bit of respect for old Dr. Gray.
    By the way, Craigo (16:14:33) wondered what happened to the missing 17% of the floats. I believe the answer is that they were swallowed by endangered Right Whales.

  76. It may that the graphic for thermohaline circulation is simplified, but why does the Atlantic gulf stream stop and descend somewhere between Iceland and Spitsbergen? In reality warm(ish) water appears to reach all the way to the Russian coast as observed with all arctic information. Is there also a correlation between the min. and max. SST at say the Bahamas and how long that takes to reach the Russian coast and could this explain why the min and max. ice extent is offset by months?

  77. RIP “Thermohaline Catastrophe”
    In the movie The Day After Tomorrow global warming caused a rapid onset of glaciation because meltwater shut down the “conveyor” current and the Gulf Stream.
    For 50 years it had been assumed that the northward flowing warm Gulf Stream had a southward flowing cold counterpart deeper in the ocean. This “conveyor belt” is known as Thermohaline Circulation (THC).
    One of the threats of global warming was the possibility of a “Thermohaline Catastrophe”. If too much fresh water suddenly was dumped into the North Atlantic from melting ice…the “conveyor belt” would shut down. This theory has taken a beating over the past few years.
    According to Wallace Broecker, the father of the THC catastrophe theory, “the threat (of an anthropogenic thermohaline catastrophe) will be far smaller than previously envisioned.” (Geological Perspectives of Global Climate Change edited by Lee Gerhard). Dennis Quaid’s character in The Day After Tomorrow was very loosely based on Wallace Broecker.
    The best evidence for a past THC catastrophe had always been the Younger Dryas mini-ice age early in the Holocene. For quite a long time it was believed that the failure of an ice dam holding bake glacial Lake Agassiz in Canada had dumped so much water into the North Atlantic that it shut down the “conveyor belt” and caused a THC catastrophe. But then a few years ago, it was shown that the Agassiz ice dam failed well after the Younger Dryas…Testing the Lake Agassiz Meltwater Trigger for the Younger Dryas, Lowell, EOS, October 4, 2005.
    Well, recently it was also determined that Pleistocene changes in ocean circulation followed and did not lead climate changes…
    Ice Age Ocean Circulation Reacted To, Did Not Cause, Climate Change At Glacial Boundaries, Science Daily, May 1, 2005.
    Now it appears that there is no such thing as a “conveyor belt” current…Cold Water Ocean Circulation Doesn’t Work As Expected, Science Daily, May 14, 2009.
    This sentence from the Science Daily article is really funny…
    ”And since cold Labrador seawater is thought to influence and perhaps moderate human-caused climate change, this finding may affect the work of global warming forecasters…”
    The only “evidence” for “human-caused climate change” comes from General Circulation Models. All of those models assumed that there was a “conveyor belt” current.
    All of those models were already wrong…Now they are all even wronger…:))
    In the meantime, the Earth continues to ignore the models and ignore the CO2…
    [url]http://i90.photobucket.com/albums/k247/dhm1353/UAH_vs_IPCC.jpg[/url]

  78. RIP “Thermohaline Catastrophe”
    In the movie The Day After Tomorrow global warming caused a rapid onset of glaciation because meltwater shut down the “conveyor” current and the Gulf Stream.
    For 50 years it had been assumed that the northward flowing warm Gulf Stream had a southward flowing cold counterpart deeper in the ocean. This “conveyor belt” is known as Thermohaline Circulation (THC).
    One of the threats of global warming was the possibility of a “Thermohaline Catastrophe”. If too much fresh water suddenly was dumped into the North Atlantic from melting ice…the “conveyor belt” would shut down. This theory has taken a beating over the past few years.
    According to Wallace Broecker, the father of the THC catastrophe theory, “the threat (of an anthropogenic thermohaline catastrophe) will be far smaller than previously envisioned.” (Geological Perspectives of Global Climate Change edited by Lee Gerhard). Dennis Quaid’s character in The Day After Tomorrow was very loosely based on Wallace Broecker.
    The best evidence for a past THC catastrophe had always been the Younger Dryas mini-ice age early in the Holocene. For quite a long time it was believed that the failure of an ice dam holding bake glacial Lake Agassiz in Canada had dumped so much water into the North Atlantic that it shut down the “conveyor belt” and caused a THC catastrophe. But then a few years ago, it was shown that the Agassiz ice dam failed well after the Younger Dryas…Testing the Lake Agassiz Meltwater Trigger for the Younger Dryas, Lowell, EOS, October 4, 2005.
    Well, recently it was also determined that Pleistocene changes in ocean circulation followed and did not lead climate changes…
    Ice Age Ocean Circulation Reacted To, Did Not Cause, Climate Change At Glacial Boundaries, Science Daily, May 1, 2005.
    Now it appears that there is no such thing as a “conveyor belt” current…Cold Water Ocean Circulation Doesn’t Work As Expected, Science Daily, May 14, 2009.
    This sentence from the Science Daily article is really funny…
    ”And since cold Labrador seawater is thought to influence and perhaps moderate human-caused climate change, this finding may affect the work of global warming forecasters…”
    The only “evidence” for “human-caused climate change” comes from General Circulation Models. All of those models assumed that there was a “conveyor belt” current.
    All of those models were already wrong…Now they are all even wronger…:))
    In the meantime, the Earth continues to ignore the models and ignore the CO2…

  79. Well had it ONLY been the graphic for thermohaline circulation that had been simplified, that would have been understandable. Some never learn.
    But it’s more than that. The so called scholars pleading for Climate threat seems to have forgotten all about the water cycle and many other elementary factors learnt during school years… You can read my own comment in this question under The natural processes Al Gore forgotten about

  80. Beware what you learned in school.
    Actually, that depends on when you went to school.
    Like the petals on the flower, she loves me, she loves me not.
    The universe is expanding, shrinking, expanding, shrinking.
    Enter the pulsating consensus theory.
    A form of energy that has a wavelength measured in modelometers.

  81. “…I think it is rather arrogant for those who essential overlook some rather dramatic factors that drive or hugely contribute to ocean circulations, and this does not stop at planetary rotation either. What about the pull of the moon? Tidal effects and mixing? And probably a million other things that have not been thought of. ”
    like the effective contribution of geothermal heating on the ocean floor through the efforts of plate tectonics… Twitter gives me 2-6 earthquake (>5mag) reports every day – there’s a a lot of internal heat on the move on this rock.
    rbateman (06:44:55) :
    “…
    Enter the pulsating consensus theory.
    A form of energy that has a wavelength measured in modelometers.”
    Derived from the theoretical construct known as the Pulsating Universal Kleptocratic Environment currently being promoted around the world. P.U.K.E. for short. The concept is so unique that a new mathematics had to be created to measure it, called Mannometrology. Relies heavily on AlGorithms .

  82. My fluids background opinion is that the big yellow float will travel the same as a small particle in this case. The only way to see a difference would be in turbulent flow where different pressures are placed across different surfaces of the float. I doubt ocean currents are turbulent to the degree required to create real differences in long term paths.
    I see you’ve caught Dhogitis lately. Don’t they have some kind of ointment or something for that.

  83. To be clear, there are two types of ocean current. The top layer currents, well known and studied as a result of ship jetsam and flotsam always ending up in the same dumpsite/beach coupling, and the deep ocean current, assumed to be true based on top layer conveyor belt circulation. The floats in this study were not surface floats but deep ocean floats that were sent down to measure temperature, salinity, and movement along the assumed deep ocean current. Since 80% escaped into open ocean (IE same depth but where the deep ocean current is assumed not to be), there are several questions to ask:
    1. the deep ocean bottom current isn’t very strong?
    2. isn’t strong enough to move the suspended float from point A to point B?
    3. is somewhere other than where the floats were initially placed?
    4. isn’t very active right now?
    5. doesn’t exist?
    Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. This is a hot button issue and should be investigated further before #5 can be answered. That said, I don’t think it matters in relation to decadal weather pattern variation. I think the goodies are at the surface layers, surface currents, and surface winds.

  84. Dave Middleton: The paper doesn’t say that THC doesn’t exist. It says the deep ocean portion is not where they expected to find it. That’s all.

  85. Jeff Id (07:45:52) :
    I see you’ve caught Dhogitis lately. Don’t they have some kind of ointment or something for that.

    Cream of ideologue.
    Mark

  86. “Bob Tisdale (09:35:54) :
    Dave Middleton: The paper doesn’t say that THC doesn’t exist. It says the deep ocean portion is not where they expected to find it. That’s all.”
    I agree, that’s all it says. And nowhere do the authors suggest that their findings invalidate the GCMs or AGW theory. Indeed, the abstract to their study suggests that they are Believers. As usual, many WUWT readers are jumping to conclusions based on an article about an article about a study. Here’s an idea: Why doesn’t somebody read and critique the actual study? You can purchase it here for $32: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v459/n7244/full/nature07979.html.

  87. May not have been clear. What I’m saying is that the system appears to be working quite a bit differently than the theory suggested, which, is, essentially what you’re saying.

    The difference is simply that the cold water, instead of returning in a fat pipe, is returning in a wide but shallow ditch (figuratively speaking).

    And nowhere do the authors suggest that their findings invalidate the GCMs or AGW theory.

    Not at all. It’s going to be harder to find any warmer signal in the return current because rather than being (relatively) localized, its widespread.

    For 50 years it had been assumed that the northward flowing warm Gulf Stream had a southward flowing cold counterpart deeper in the ocean. This “conveyor belt” is known as Thermohaline Circulation

    The paper is not saying that the Thermohaline Circulation does not exist.
    Only that the part deep in the ocean – the path that the cold water follows south – has a different topography than assumed before (and that *assumption* has always been, explicitly, an *assumption*, which is why this experiment was designed, funded, and run).
    Assuming that the computer models upon which this paper depends are correct, of course.

  88. oms (21:50:36) :
    jorgekafkazar (19:23:05) :
    ♪…Tiny bubbles in the brine,
    Make me happy, make me feel fine…♫
    “You really think it’s the champagne, eh? ;)”
    What happens when you mix warmish, high saline solution with deep, cold, CO²-saturated seawater? Hint: It’s wunna-ful, wunna-ful, but you can’t drink it. ☺

  89. “The only “evidence” for “human-caused climate change” comes from General Circulation Models”
    Laughable nonsense. Understanding of greenhouse effect + observations of rising CO2 = evidence for human caused climate change. General circulation models are not in any way evidence for human caused climate change.

  90. Replying to…
    Bob Tisdale (09:35:54) :
    Dave Middleton: The paper doesn’t say that THC doesn’t exist. It says the deep ocean portion is not where they expected to find it. That’s all.

    You are correct. This paper does not say that THC does not exist.
    But…
    Broecker did write that Bond’s discovery that the Dansgaard-Oeschger and Heinrich-type events continued on past the Holocene…Right up until the Little Ice Age…And this led him to back off on his “THC Catastrophe” theory.
    Lowell’s work (to which Broecker contributed) showed that the Younger Dryas occurred after the Agassiz flood. Kind of knicking one of the assumed proofs of THC-driven climate change.
    The 2005 paper on Pleistocene oceanic circulation showed that the climate changes were probably not caused by changes in oceanic circulation…The circulation problems were cause by climate change.
    kind of reminiscent of the ice core CO2 changes following temperature changes in the Pleistocene.
    So…Most of the evidence for a THC-driven climate model has actually turned out to more likely be symptoms of climate change and not a cause of climate change.
    Now, the basic THC model turns out to be wrong.
    So…Yes I am jumping to conclusions. I’ll stop jumping to conclusions when the climate modelers and AGW’ers get <something right.
    BTW…Sorry about the double post. I thought the Spam filter had reacted to my links.

  91. Replying to…
    RW (14:29:07) :
    “The only “evidence” for “human-caused climate change” comes from General Circulation Models”
    Laughable nonsense. Understanding of greenhouse effect + observations of rising CO2 = evidence for human caused climate change. General circulation models are not in any way evidence for human caused climate change.

    If you understood the atmospheric greenhous effect, you would know that CO2 is a very minor greenhouse gas. And that it is only capable of trapping outgoing IR radiation within very limited bandwidths (most of which overlap water vapor’s bandwidths). This means that CO2 follows a logarithmic function…Each additional unti of CO2 provides less warming effect than the previous unit. If CO2 drove climate change…CO2 and temperature would have a strong correlation in the giologic record. It does not.
    The only signifcant correlation occured during the Pleistocene…But the temperature changes always preceded the CO2 changes…On average by 800 years. So the CO2 could not have been driving the climate changes; but the climate changes could have been causing the CO2 changes.
    If the ice cores are right (they probably aren’t)…During the last interglacial, the Sangamon (~130,000 years ago), Earth was about 3C-4C warmer, sea level was ~15m higher, and CO2 was ~100ppm lower than it is now.
    As far as, “observations of rising CO2″…Fossil plant stomata data (as opposed to ice cores) show that atmospheric CO2 routinely was in the 330ppm-360ppm range during the early Holocene (~12,000 years ago). So, modern CO2 levels are not anomalous…Even by recent geological standards.
    Mankind’s carbon emissions account for less than 3% of the Earth’s carbon budget…Possibly less than 1%. The Earth was not in some pristine carbon source-sink balance prior to the invention of the internal combustion engine…The Earth’ climate has never been in such a pristine balance.
    Apart from models, there is ZERO evidence that changes of the atmospheric concentration of CO2 on a scale of a few hundred ppm has ever driven climate change. There is scant evidence (outside of models) that CO2 changes on the order of 2,000ppm has ever driven climate change.

  92. “E.M.Smith (21:02:34) :
    What the heck is an “e-float” and how do you simulate one?”
    It’s the same thing as e-temperatures, e-sealevels, e-seaice and e-climate. I wonder if it’s really e-climatologists coming up with all this nonsense. The robots are taking over as soon as the get all our e-money.

  93. rbateman (06:44:55) “Enter the pulsating consensus theory. A form of energy that has a wavelength measured in modelometers.”
    Effective – particularly this notion of “pulsating consensus theory”.
    – –
    dhogaza (12:28:06) “[…] and that *assumption* has always been, explicitly, an *assumption*, which is why this experiment was designed, funded, and run […]”
    Glad to hear of such sensible actions.

  94. Replying to…
    Jeff Alberts (18:08:06) :
    Understanding of greenhouse effect + observations of rising CO2 = evidence for human caused climate change.
    Laughable nonsense.

    It would be “laughable” if it wasn’t for the fact that so many people – particularly our political leadership – believe in the “nonsense”.
    Even if the “logical equation” was factually accurate, it isn’t mathematically sound.

  95. Caleb (02:58:16) “There is only one way to find out, and it sure isn’t to fund more models. We have blown more than a quarter century diddling with models. I think its high time to boot young scientists outdoors, out into the sunshine and onto the heaving decks of small vessels surging over the briny depths of the shifting sea, to get data, data, DATA.”
    Bravo, bravo, BRAVO. This needs to be shouted from the housetops.
    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  96. “If you understood the atmospheric greenhous effect, you would know that CO2 is a very minor greenhouse gas”
    If you understood the greenhouse effect, you would know that H2O is the most important greenhouse gas and that CO2 is the second most important. But you think it’s ‘very minor’, and therefore you don’t understand the greenhouse effect.
    “And that it is only capable of trapping outgoing IR radiation within very limited bandwidths (most of which overlap water vapor’s bandwidths)”
    And?
    “This means that CO2 follows a logarithmic function…Each additional unti of CO2 provides less warming effect than the previous unit”
    Yes, and?
    “If CO2 drove climate change…CO2 and temperature would have a strong correlation in the giologic record. It does not.”
    It does.

  97. Ed Zuiderwijk (01:00:48) :

    It is interesting that ideas which were a good first guess at the time when there were almost no hard data at all (the t-h circulation idea predates the space age for instance) turn out to be just that, a first guess, when real data come in.

    Real hydrographic data were being collected quite a long time before the space age — not only for science, but for ship navigation.
    Meanwhile, even spaceships don’t help us much with the interior of the ocean.
    Caleb (02:58:16) :

    I have all sorts of questions about these pools and streams. How do they know it takes roughly 1200 years for water that sinks off Greenland to reappear in the North Pacific? Do the water molecules that reappear in the North Pacific have long, silver beards?…Why don’t these segregated pools and streams simply get integrated (IE mix?)

    Those ventilation times come from studies of tracers carried by the water, such as temperature, salinity, gas content and isotope mixes, solid particulates, etc. The water you find at some depths and places in the ocean can look much different from water elsewhere, suggesting that it isn’t all that well-mixed.

    There is no actual membrane between differing types of water, yet one sees the thermocline drawn on various graphs and charts, as if a membrane existed…I imagine it is likely no clear boundary exists.

    The boundaries occur because the diffusion of heat and salt are orders of magnitude slower than turbulent mixing. You really do get sharp divisions (on oceanic scales).
    Of course, it should go without saying that thick black lines and big red arrows drawn on ocean-scale maps are meant as simplifications.

    There is only one way to find out, and it sure isn’t to fund more models. We have blown more than a quarter century diddling with models. I think its high time to boot young scientists outdoors, out into the sunshine and onto the heaving decks of small vessels surging over the briny depths of the shifting sea, to get data, data, DATA.

    There are young scientists doing just that. It would be great if there were more, but ship time is hard to come by. For starters it’s expensive. Very expensive.
    Why “small” vessels?

  98. “Understanding of greenhouse effect + observations of rising CO2 = evidence for human caused climate change.”
    Laughable nonsense: click

  99. Understanding of greenhouse effect + observations of rising CO2 = evidence for human caused climate change.”
    Laughable nonsense: click

    But, the answer is in that link! It’s this: if you leave the tap trickling you can fill a bath in a surprisingly short length of time.

  100. re
    Peter Hearnden (01:51:11) :
    if you leave the tap trickling you can fill a bath in a surprisingly short length of time.
    ——————-
    And by the same token, if the drain is periodically opened and closed, the level goes up and down in the ‘tub’ over time.
    If the ‘trickling tap’ is energy stored in the oceans from the sun, the various ocean circulations move that energy to other latitudes. The atmosphere is driven by the oceans overall, not the other way around. We are seeing the affects of that heat distribution as ENSO, AMO, PDO, etc switch between their positive and negative phases.

  101. Replying to…
    RW (20:48:38) :
    “If you understood the atmospheric greenhouse effect, you would know that CO2 is a very minor greenhouse gas”
    If you understood the greenhouse effect, you would know that H2O is the most important greenhouse gas and that CO2 is the second most important. But you think it’s ‘very minor’, and therefore you don’t understand the greenhouse effect.

    It’s the second most important greenhouse gas…But it’s still an extremely minor greenhouse gas that follows a logarithmic function of diminishing returns.
    “And that it is only capable of trapping outgoing IR radiation within very limited bandwidths (most of which overlap water vapor’s bandwidths)”
    And?

    And…Once those bandwidths are being trapped, additional CO2 provides very little additional trapping on the side lobes.
    “This means that CO2 follows a logarithmic function…Each additional unit of CO2 provides less warming effect than the previous unit”
    Yes, and?

    And that’s why CO2 and temperature have no long-term correlation in the geologic record. If it was a linear function, they would have such a correlation
    “If CO2 drove climate change…CO2 and temperature would have a strong correlation in the geologic record. It does not.”
    It does.

    A plot of the geologic record would normally entail at least one axis being plotted in something called “time”. Your chart lacks such a novel feature. Over what time period did you plot CO2 vs. Temperature?
    Over the Phanerozoic Eon (~600 million years), there is ZERO correlation between atmospheric CO2 and temperature…
    http://i90.photobucket.com/albums/k247/dhm1353/CO_vs_Temp.jpg
    There was a correlation during the Pleistocene; however the CO2 changes lagged behind the temperature changes. If the ice core CO2 data used in the Pleistocene reconstruction are quantitatively correct or indicative of a causal relationship, the Earth would be about 4C-8C warmer now that it actually is…
    http://i90.photobucket.com/albums/k247/dhm1353/IPCCchart.jpg
    Either the ice cores’ quantitative record of CO2 is wrong; or there is no quantitative correlation.
    CO2 and temperature correlated for about 25 years in the late 20th Century because both happened to be moving up at the same time…
    http://i90.photobucket.com/albums/k247/dhm1353/UAH_LowerTrop_12_78to11_08_CO2.jpg
    Over the satellite record, there is almost no correlation between CO2 and temperature…
    http://i90.photobucket.com/albums/k247/dhm1353/UAH_Lean_Keeling.jpg
    TSI has a far better graphical correlation over the satellite era than CO2…And the TSI correlation is very poor.

  102. A post I just made appears to have been grabbed by the Spam filter. I assume it’s because of the four Photo-bucket links I included. So here’s the post without links. My apologies if the original shows back up and this results in a duplicate post…
    Replying to…
    RW (20:48:38) :
    “If you understood the atmospheric greenhouse effect, you would know that CO2 is a very minor greenhouse gas”
    If you understood the greenhouse effect, you would know that H2O is the most important greenhouse gas and that CO2 is the second most important. But you think it’s ‘very minor’, and therefore you don’t understand the greenhouse effect.

    It’s the second most important greenhouse gas…But it’s still an extremely minor greenhouse gas that follows a logarithmic function of diminishing returns.
    “And that it is only capable of trapping outgoing IR radiation within very limited bandwidths (most of which overlap water vapor’s bandwidths)”
    And?

    And…Once those bandwidths are being trapped, additional CO2 provides very little additional trapping on the side lobes.
    “This means that CO2 follows a logarithmic function…Each additional unit of CO2 provides less warming effect than the previous unit”
    Yes, and?

    And that’s why CO2 and temperature have no long-term correlation in the geologic record. If it was a linear function, they would have such a correlation
    “If CO2 drove climate change…CO2 and temperature would have a strong correlation in the geologic record. It does not.”
    It does.

    A plot of the geologic record would normally entail at least one axis being plotted in something called “time”. Your chart lacks such a novel feature. Over what time period did you plot CO2 vs. Temperature?
    Over the Phanerozoic Eon (~600 million years), there is ZERO correlation between atmospheric CO2 and temperature.
    There was a correlation during the Pleistocene; however the CO2 changes lagged behind the temperature changes. If the ice core CO2 data used in the Pleistocene reconstruction are quantitatively correct or indicative of a causal relationship, the Earth would be about 4C-8C warmer now that it actually is.
    Either the ice cores’ quantitative record of CO2 is wrong; or there is no quantitative correlation.
    CO2 and temperature correlated for about 25 years in the late 20th Century because both happened to be moving up at the same time.
    Over the satellite record, there is almost no correlation between CO2 and temperature.

  103. I’m in total agreement with Bill Illis and Caleb – not too much should be made of this paper, and a shift in emphasis to real measurement as compared with computer simulation using old data and concepts is long overdue.
    But the majority of posts disturb me – its like a feeding frenzy, as if the AGWs soft underbelly is open to attack, with little regard to the meaning of the paper and in particular how it relates to global warming computer models such as coupled-GCMs.
    How many commentators have any idea just how GCMs model the thermo-haline circulation, over what timescales, and how much it impinges on a) the replication of the past 150 year patter, and b) the projection of the next 100 years? The THC circulation from area of downwelling to area of upwelling is of the order of 1000 years because bottom ‘currents’ (which are actually ebbs and flows) are very slow. There has not been enough time for a significant effect over the past 150 years, nor will there be much over the next 100 years.
    No serious modellers reckon that the warming observed in the oceans from 1800 to 1950 had much to do with carbon dioxide – and many would accept that it was a long term recovery from the Little Ice Age. The modellers case hinges on the period 1950-2000 when both CO2 and global temperatures took off.
    The IPCC’s main argument rests on the modellers inability to replicate this rise other than by incorporating the CO2 equations – if they just leave the simulator on natural, it generates a flatline or slight fall.
    The fact that temperatures actually fell into a trough from 1950-1978 was explained by the apparent effect of sulphur emissions rising rapidly with accelerating industrialisation – and this effect then ceased when emissions of SO2 were controlled.
    The models are flawed – but the THC is not a big deal compared to the other major flaws which the modellers are seldom brought to task on:
    1. the replication of the trough was false – as shown by a flurry of papers in Science in 2005 and since accepted by IPCC (2007) without indicating its importance! The SO2 effect was localised and not global. Almost everyone now understands that this period of global cooling was brought about by the PDO and AMO in joint negative mode and then switching to positive (with amplified ENSO effects) – but when the GCMs were first used, nobody knew the PDO existed (first identified fully post 1995).
    2. the really big effect on the next 100 years according to the IPCC models is the projected effect of stored heat in the upper 200m of the oceans – where 84% of the past warming is stored (difference between heat and temperature!) – BUT the estimated heat content used as late as 2005 (and in the IPCC 2007 report) has since been revised – not just that the oceans have not stored any extra heat since 2002, but that what they stored before that was over-estimated by 200%!
    Thus, the projected future component of warming that uses this heat store is seriously overplayed. This is far more a potent point that the THC data. However, extactly how much of the projected 2.5-4.5C warming by 2050 is down to the stored heat component is not transparent.
    Further – there were comments in this thread that the models do not accurately simulate cloud. This the modellers freely admit – with top NASA scientists writing such in NASA’s recent newsletters that summarise the satellite data. It is clear that the 1980-2000 warming was entirely due to extra Short Wave radiation being absorbed by the ocean surface waters (and redistribute to land) – the signal is very clear in the radiation fluxes. There is no equivalent clear signal of the Infra Red downwelling expected from CO2 because it is so small compared to the downward IR from clouds.
    As NASA experts discuss – the models cannot tell you whether the thinner clouds drive the ocean warming, or the ocean warming drives the thinner clouds (and hence amplifies the simulated GHG effect) – but in their hearts, the real experts know that the sheer size of the SW (6 watts/sq metre) signal and thinning cloud over this period (4% drop) militates against the GHG theory.
    And of course the fact that the signal changed radically in 2001 – with increased cloud cover, increased albedo, increased SW reflection at the top of the atmosphere and lower SW at the ocean surface – all explaining the oceans either cooling slightly or simply failing to warm, meaning that the natural cycle shifted and is quite capable of dominating the presumed GHG effect.
    One could just about argue for a 20% GHG effect from the flux data – not exactly proven, but within the parameters. If 3/4 of that is CO2 and 3/4 of CO2 is from human industry and consumption – then Mr Obama’s trillion dollar intervention in the markets will deal with just 8% of the driving force. THIS is what WWUT bloggers should be telling him!
    And actually, I would still argue for a massive intervention in the markets funded by taxation – because a Maunder type minimum will stress both food and water supplies for 3/4 of humanity (the rest will buy their way through). That money is needed to create a fairer system of adaptive responses to climate change. And it is money that would be well spent out of self-interest too – because there are going to be a lot of desperate people.

  104. Taxation to mitigate a cold snap? No. No. No. It will weaken the economic system, not strengthen it. Taxation (a false capitalization system) creates a false bottom line that cannot withstand market forces (a true capitalization system). Long haul stress is best weathered with need-based entrepreneurial business responses, which begin locally. Once local need is met, these same businesses than naturally look for ways to expand. Taxation does not work locally thus creates a weakened baseline, not a stronger one.

  105. Re: Peter Taylor (09:08:33)
    Thanks for the valuable notes on climate modeling deficiencies.
    – –
    Re: Pamela Gray (13:34:58)
    Makes no sense – it’s like an alien culture. I respect differences of opinion, but don’t expect a friendly welcome if you’re aim is to force that (vile) stuff on folks from other cultures.

  106. This is why government funded alternative fuel businesses will fail. It is a false capitalization of a business start up that is nor sourced from local customers. When the need for alt fuel goes away, there is no local buyers market when times are tough. That is why government funded subsidies funded through taxes for expansion of established business, or restructuring into another business, etc, will fail. It is a false start without a real market base. Any business that uses subsidies or bail-out funds will likely eventually fail. It’s like putting a bandaid over an already deeply infected wound.

  107. @ Peter Taylor
    May I have links to points #1 and 2 that you raised, please? Your post was really informative and I’m hoping for more backing when and if I employ those findings. Many thanks.

  108. *******
    Dave Middleton (05:16:22) :
    The best evidence for a past THC catastrophe had always been the Younger Dryas mini-ice age early in the Holocene. For quite a long time it was believed that the failure of an ice dam holding bake glacial Lake Agassiz in Canada had dumped so much water into the North Atlantic that it shut down the “conveyor belt” and caused a THC catastrophe. But then a few years ago, it was shown that the Agassiz ice dam failed well after the Younger Dryas…Testing the Lake Agassiz Meltwater Trigger for the Younger Dryas, Lowell, EOS, October 4, 2005.
    *******
    Dave, there’s more & more evidence that the Younger Dryas was caused not by the Agassiz Lake ice dam failure, but by some sort of extraterrestrial event, like a comet/meteor impact. Extraterrestrial-source metals like iridium & iron grains have been found in sediments all over N Amer at the time of this event, which also coincides w/NA mammal extinctions. What exactly happened isn’t clear because there’s no apparent impact crater, but some suggest an object struck the N Amer ice-sheet near the Great Lakes.
    Googling brings up alot of stuff on this.

  109. @ beng (08:59:42)…
    Yeah, I’ve read about that theory. There’s certainly a fair amount of evidence that something like an impact could have resulted in Canadian-sourced placer-like deposits of gold, silver, diamonds and other odd minerals in places like Ohio. The problem is a lack of a crater or astrobleme.
    I personally think that Younger Dryas was somehow related to solar variations. In Geological Perspectives of Global Climate Change edited by Lee Gerhard (AAPG publication, #47 in their “Studies in Geology Series”) Broecker authored Chapter 4, “Are We Headed for a Thermohaline Catastrophe.”. Dr. Broecker makes the case that the Younger Dryas was caused by a shut-down of the Atlantic Ocean’s thermohaline circulation due to a massive influx of fresh water into the North Atlantic, probably caused by the sudden release of glacial lake waters trapped during the retreat of the Laurentian ice sheet.
    The key evidence that Dr. Broecker cites in connecting the Younger Dryas to a THC shut down is changes in the Carbon-14 ratio in deep sea sediment cores and its coincidence with the Younger Dryas cool down and subsequent warm up. The14-C/C ratio rose 5% in the Cariaco Trench in the first 200 years of the Younger Dryas. Over the last 1,000 years of the Y.D., the 14-C/C ratio returned to pre-Y.D. levels. Dr. Broecker refers to this as a “smoking gun.”
    Well what other process could lead to a simultaneous jump in 14-C and a sudden cooling of Earth’s climate? The answer is the Sun. A decline in the Solar Wind coupled with an increase in the Cosmic Ray Flux, resulting in an increase in low cloud cover and the Earth’s albedo could also have caused the Younger-Dryas cold spell. Braun et. al. (2005) linked the Dansgaard–Oeschger events to a convolution of the 87-year and 210-year solar cycle in their 2005 paper published in Nature (Possible solar origin of the 1,470-year glacial climate cycle demonstrated in a coupled model). Dr. Broecker’s “smoking gun” is further weakened by Goslar et. al. (1999) point our that the same variations in 14-C ratios occurred in lake sediments in Poland during the Younger Dryas as Broecker found in the Caribbean in their 199 paper published in Nature (Variations of Younger Dryas atmospheric radiocarbon explicable without ocean circulation changes). Since the lake sediments would not have bee influenced by oceanic circulation changes, they suggest that the Younger Dryas “might have been caused by variations in solar activity. If so, there is no indication that the deep ocean ventilation in the Younger Dryas was significantly different from today’s.”
    I know that Svensmark’s “Chilling Stars” theory brings hoots and hollers from some of the solar science community…But…If the Younger Dryas wasn’t due to changes in “deep ocean ventilation”…And it certainly wasn’t anthropogenic – Unless campfires have REALLY BIG carbon footprints…And it doesn’t appear to have a volcanic origin…That kind of elevates “Chilling Stars” and impact events on the list of possible causes.

  110. >> “Are We Headed for a Thermohaline Catastrophe.”. Dr. Broecker makes the case that the Younger Dryas was caused by a shut-down of the Atlantic Ocean’s thermohaline circulation due to a massive influx of fresh water into the North Atlantic, probably caused by the sudden release of glacial lake waters trapped during the retreat of the Laurentian ice sheet.
    — I read somewhere that one line of evidence against the THC shutdown is that the Southern Hemisphere cooled before the Northern, when the reversed should have occurred in a shutdown. Is there any credence to this, or is our knowledge of the THC still insufficient?

  111. @ VinceW (23:01:11) :
    According to what Broeceker wrote in Geological Perspectives of Climate Change…The weakness of his theory is that a disruption of the THC should only have affected the climate in the area north of Gibraltar, from the western Atlantic margin to the Eurasian boundary…While the Younger Dryas appears to have been a “global” event.

  112. Oms,
    Thanks for the information. I really enjoy learning about this stuff.
    You asked, “Why small boats?”
    I suppose I could get off the hook by saying, “Funding is scarce, and small boats would be cheaper,” but that wouldn’t be entirely honest.
    At the risk of drifting off topic, let me say this:
    Having been far out to sea on both liners and small boats, I find liners allow people to avoid something striking about the sea, (for they can just go indoors,) while small boats make what is so striking unavoidable. I fear I’ll sound a bit sadistic stating this, but I feel young scientists need a salty wave to slap them in the face.
    I run a day-care with my wife on a small farm. Originally I thought it would just be fun to share elements of the country life with children, but it became more than that.
    I was amazed to meet kids who quite literally never have been outside, even though their parents moved out to the country for the “country life.” They instead play indoors on computers, and view the world through computers, and it creates a hard-to-describe myopia, as if everything is viewed through a port hole, and they are never out on deck with the wind in their hair. A connection to reality is missing, and various problems develop.
    Quite accidentally my wife and I started solving these problems, simply by letting kids run about and get muddy and fall down and scrape their knees. Of course, some parents backed out. Too risky. However we got a truly strange amount of praise from teachers, and others who care for kids. Apparently we were part of some sort of movement, which I’d never heard about. To me, the sight of muddy kids with scraped knees is perfectly natural, but I now understand it isn’t so normal, any more.
    (There’s a book called “The Last Child In The Woods,” which describes the social dynamic, and my wife and I have just started a blog to describe our own ups and downs at http://ebenezer-farm.blogspot.com/ , if you’re interested.)
    However, to get back on topic, I think there is a big difference between reality and virtual-reality. Perhaps we are seeing the social failure to make a clear distinction between the two realities manifest, when we see young scientists utterly engrossed in models, even to the point where they spend very little time gathering actual data.
    In terms of gathering the raw data, a big boat is just as good as a small boat. It might even be better. However in terms of making the distinction between reality and virtual-reality, a small boat wins every time.

  113. So THC is dead? or we are just learning the finer details with new experimentation and observation?
    I’d say the latter, but reading some of the comments here it seems the former!
    I think folks are making more of this than they should.
    Anything to “stick it” to those agenda driven, conspiracy AGW CMers!

  114. Caleb (06:38:06) “Perhaps we are seeing the social failure to make a clear distinction between the two realities manifest, when we see young scientists utterly engrossed in models, even to the point where they spend very little time gathering actual data.”
    In the abstract sciences the competition is so phenomenally intense and the literature so phenomenally deep & expansive that those frequently pausing to consider reality (carefully) risk rapidly falling very far behind their (more “pure”) peers.
    Like many others who have spent a number of years doing a variety of ecological field work, I concluded that statistical skills were a limiting factor in ecological research. I decided to take a number of statistics graduate courses. Disappointingly, almost every lecture started with “Assume …” and carried on with “further assume …”. All of the logic rests on assumptions.
    The nature I know from field work & other pursuits categorically does NOT obey the standard assumptions.
    The most useful stats course I ever took was one on data analysis. It asked simply: What are the data saying? (without ever leaning on hypothesis testing underpinned by untenable assumptions) The methodology was complicated – but practical.
    When modeling assumptions fail, stick to descriptive statistics – and gather more data. A fashionable alternative is to abandon reality. (Fiction is marketable – easy to supply; easy to stimulate demand…)

  115. I was amazed to meet kids who quite literally never have been outside,

    Really? They never went to school? Never went to the mall with their parents? never went grocery shopping, never went to a friend’s house? Or perhaps “quite literally” doesn’t really mean “quite literally”.

  116. Caleb (06:38:06) :

    Having been far out to sea on both liners and small boats, I find liners allow people to avoid something striking about the sea, (for they can just go indoors,) while small boats make what is so striking unavoidable. I fear I’ll sound a bit sadistic stating this, but I feel young scientists need a salty wave to slap them in the face.

    Well, I have been slapped in the face by a salty wave more than once, thanks. 😉
    My idea of a big boat and yours might be a little different. To me, a 40′ sailboat on the open ocean is a “small” boat. A 277′ oceanographic vessel is a “big” boat. It’s certainly no luxury liner, and it doesn’t seem all that “big” when it’s out in the southern atlantic for a month or more at a time.
    What you seem to be saying is that scientists (who haven’t done so) need to go out and get some respect for nature. On that, I agree with you wholeheartedly.

    In terms of gathering the raw data, a big boat is just as good as a small boat. It might even be better. However in terms of making the distinction between reality and virtual-reality, a small boat wins every time.

    One thing you ought to know though… a full-ocean-depth mooring chain ain’t small, and it ain’t light. Deploying one (or several) in seas takes a “big” boat (see disclaimer above)!
    oms

  117. Jeff Alberts (13:03:30) :
    OK. You got me. By “quite literally” I referenced a definition of “outside” which probably is incorrect. My definition of “outside” isn’t a mall, however I doubt Webster’s agrees with me.
    oms (14:22:24) :
    If you’ve been slapped in the face by salty waves, you know what I’m talking about.
    Good point about the size of the scientific buoys. Plop one of those babies on a small boat, and the small boat promptly sinks at the wharf (or marina.)
    Paul Vaughan (12:24:37) :
    Wow. I had no idea the competition was so intense. However it reminds me a bit of that part of “Alice In Wonderland” where everyone has to run as fast as they can to stay in the same place.
    I really like your observation: “The nature I know from field work & other pursuits categorically does NOT obey the standard assumptions.”
    I agree. Of course, we all have to base life on a set of assumptions, but one assumption I make is that Mother Nature will make me look like a chump on a regular basis.
    For example, I might assume my goats will only leap a fence and sample my blazing hot chili peppers once, and swiftly learn their lesson. For most goats this is a safe assumption. But then you get one goat who actually, upon consideration, decides he or she enjoys scalded lips, and that one bleeping goat demolishes the entire patch of blazing hot chili peppers.
    This reality is quite different from a virtual reality, where after playing a game a few thousand times, (and consulting the “cheat sheet,”) one can safely assume certain things about the Donkey Kong (or whatever,) and never run into a case where the assumption is challenged.
    I once generated a tremendous uproar (at another site) by suggesting a person (who was far more knowledgeable about computers than I am) was guilty of “digital thought.” I suggested reality simply isn’t digital, and that for computers to understand chaos and “strange attractors” we needed to somehow develop better analog computers.
    I had to beat a hasty retreat from that discussion, because, if even the experts must work full time simply to stay “up-to-date,” a non-expert like myself will never “catch up,” and my ignorance swiftly becomes apparent in any sort of debate.
    However I highly recommend accusing people of “digital thought,” if you are ever in the mood to see the fur fly.

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