Study: Ocean net heat flow is connected with climate shifts – CO2 not correlated – no "warming in the pipeline"

Related to this story: The Pacific Decadal Oscillation Time Series from the University of Washington, seen below. Emphasis points mine. h/t to WUWT reader Richard Heg. – Anthony

Monthly Values for the PDO Index

Monthly Values for the PDO Index, January 1900 to September 2008. Positive (red) index values indicate a warm phase PDO; negative (blue) index values indicate a cool phase PDO. While short-term flips in PDO phases do occur, evaluation of 20th century instrumental records has shown that PDO phases generally persist for 20-30 years, as indicated in this figure. To download the data, see Nate Mantua’s PDO page.

Press release from the University of Rochester:

Changes in Net Flow of Ocean Heat Correlate with Past Climate Anomalies

Physicists at the University of Rochester have combed through data from satellites and ocean buoys and found evidence that in the last 50 years, the net flow of heat into and out of the oceans has changed direction three times.

These shifts in the balance of heat absorbed from the sun and radiated from the oceans correlate well with past anomalies that have been associated with abrupt shifts in the earth’s climate, say the researchers. These anomalies include changes in normal storm intensities, unusual land temperatures, and a large drop in salmon populations along the western United States.

The physicists also say these changes in ocean heat-flow direction should be taken into account when predicting global climate because the oceans represent 90 percent of the total heat in the earth’s climate system.

The study, which will appear in an upcoming issue of Physics Letters A, differs from most previous studies in two ways, the researchers say. First, the physicists look at the overall heat content of the Earth’s climate system, measuring the net balance of radiation from both the sun and Earth. And second, it analyzes more completely the data sets the researchers believe are of the highest quality, and not those that are less robust.

“These shifts happened relatively abruptly,” says David Douglass, professor of physics at the University of Rochester, and co-author of the paper. “One, for example, happened between 1976 and 1977, right when a number of other climate-related phenomenona were happening, such as significant changes in U. S. precipitation.”

Douglass says the last oceanic shift occurred about 10 years ago, and that the oceans are currently emitting slightly more radiation than they are receiving.

The members of the team, which includes Robert Knox, emeritus professor of physics at the University, believe these heat-flux shifts had previously gone unnoticed because no one had analyzed the data as thoroughly as the Rochester team has.

The team believes that the oceans may change how much they absorb and radiate depending on factors such as shifts in ocean currents that might change how the deep water and surface waters exchange heat. In addition to the correlation with strange global effects that some scientists suspect were caused by climate shifts, the team says their data shows the oceans are not continuously warming—a conclusion not consistent with the idea that the oceans may be harboring “warming in the pipeline.” Douglass further notes that the team found no correlation between the shifts and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration.

“An interesting aspect of this research is that no reference to the surface temperature itself is needed,” says Knox. “The heat content data we used, gathered by oceanographers, was gleaned from temperature measurements at various ocean depths up to 750 meters.” The team also found that the radiative imbalance was sufficiently small that it was necessary to consider the effect of geothermal heating. Knox believes this is the first time this additional source of heat has been accounted for in such a model.

The team notes that it’s impossible to predict when another shift might occur, but they suspect future shifts might be similar to the three observed. Both Douglass and Knox are continuing to analyze various climate-related data to find any new information or correlations that may have so far gone unnoticed.

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So looking at the sun climate ocean connection – if the sun continues in hibernation (almost 40 spotless days and counting, prolonged solar minimum, reduces intensity of sunspots) and the ocean is currently emitting heat rather than absorbing it – what is the climate likely to be in 20 years time? Here in Australia we fare well during colder periods (mini ice ages) but not so for Canada, Northern America and northern europe/Russia.

Jim Masterson

“The team also found that the radiative imbalance was sufficiently small that it was necessary to consider the effect of geothermal heating. Knox believes this is the first time this additional source of heat has been accounted for in such a model.”
Interesting. Geothermal is on the order of tens to hundreds of milliwatts per square meter. Compared to climate heat flows, it is usually too small to bother with.
Jim

We are being caught with our trousers down – negative/going to negative PDO&AMO and a bunch of weak solar cycles to follow.
I wonder how “robust” are the ocean depth temperature data prior to Argo system.

Patrick Davis

Really interesting article.
“These anomalies include changes in normal storm intensities, unusual land temperatures, and a large drop in salmon populations along the western United States.”
I posted a link to an SMH article relating to a significant reduction in salmon populations returning to spawn in N. America recently. I wonder what the correlations are? Cool = low numbers returning or warm = high/normal numbers returning.

Tenuc

Excellent, more proof that CO2 doesn’t have a major effect on GST and that ‘warming in the pipeline’ doesn’t exist. The AGW debate is far from over.

Frank Lansner

OT: Obama has ordered material from Bjorn Lomborgs “Copenhagen Consensus”.
It seems Obamas administration is in fact garthering information certainly not in line with IPCC. Sorry, in Danish, I can translate if asked:
http://jp.dk/indland/trafik/klima/article1784508.ece

Mark Fawcett

Well slap me hard and call me Susan – the giant central heating system we’ve got on this planet (sun for a boiler, oceans for radiators) is the very beasty that’s been keeping us from freezing our cashews off all this time, not the minor outbursts of warm gas coming mainly from bovine backsides and Al Gore (choose your orifice).
Cheers
Mark

timetochooseagain

Hm, can’t wait for a copy to become available. This will take some digesting because it is looking at some new information not assessed very thoroughly yet.
I eagerly anticipate what discussion may come of this.

Mick

I bet the military guys giggling.
Just imagine what ocean temp. data the submarine fleet has! In 3D.
Now that would be classified me think…

Paul Vaughan

NOT a random walk:
Sidorenkov, N.S. (2003). Changes in the Antarctic ice sheet mass and the instability of the Earth’s rotation over the last 110 years. International Association of Geodesy Symposia 127, 339-346.
“The purpose of this paper is to call attention to a close correlation of the decade variations in the Earth rotation with the mass changes in the Antarctic ice sheets.”
“The redistribution of water masses on the Earth entails changes in the components of the Earth’s inertia tensor and causes the motion of poles and changes of the Earth’s rotation speed.”
“Apart from all other reasons, the parameters of the geoid depend on the distribution of water over the planetary surface.”
Climate regime change-points evident in Sidorenkov’s Figure 1:
1902-1905; early 1930s; & early 1970s.
“Most considerable changes in the geoid parameters can result from the redistribution of water between the World Ocean and the polar ice sheets. In cold glacial epochs, when some portion of water was accumulated in the polar ice sheets, the geoid ellipticity was minimal. In warm interglacial epochs, when almost all the water went in the World Ocean, the geoid ellipticity was increased up to its maximal value.”

Roddy Baird

Great stuff. Of course there is no “correlation between the shifts and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration”. It is fairly intuitive that the temperature of the ocean can affect the temperature of the atmosphere to a vastly greater extent than the temperature of the atmosphere can affect the temperature of the ocean. So I can’t see how, even thought it may increase the temperature of the atmosphere a little, CO2 can affect climate – By which I mean the ups and downs in temperature that occur over hundreds and thousands of years.

pinkisbrain

Jim Masterson (23:44:43) :
Geothermal is on the order of tens to hundreds of milliwatts per square meter. Compared to climate heat flows, it is usually too small to bother with.
yes, but geothermal, vulcanic activities under the oceans may initiate little shifts in ocean drifts and may produce a regional heat exchange in deep water aereas.

Stephen Wilde

Exactly as I have been promulgating in the public domain since April 2008.
The oceans vary independently of the air as regards the rate at which they release to the air energy originally derived fom solar input.
Everything else of a climate and weather nature follows from that in the sequences described by me at climaterealists.com in a series of articles.
The systems in the air that deal highly effectively with the changes in energy flow from the oceans deal equally effectively with any energy budget changes induced by the air alone or by any component of the air including water vapour and CO2.
As regards human CO2 the climate adjustment required to deal with it is miniscule and undetectable amongst the natural background variations created by the oceanic variability in the rate of energy release.

lgl

Why did the sea level rise also betweeen 1940 and 1970 if the net radiation was from the ocean? Can’t imagine it was due to melting ice.

irishspecialistnurseries

their data shows the oceans are not continuously warming—a conclusion not consistent with the idea that the oceans may be harboring “warming in the pipeline.”
“The heat content data we used, gathered by oceanographers, was gleaned from temperature measurements at various ocean depths up to 750 meters.”

Umm, will be interesting to read the actual paper, the researchers do realise that the average oceanic depth is nearly 3,800m don’t they?

Ripper

Is it just me or does that graph have a striking resemblance to this one?
http://www.bom.gov.au/cgi-bin/silo/reg/cli_chg/timeseries.cgi?variable=rranom&region=eaus&season=0112

Three climate shifts in ~55 years… Has anyone run into a paper about OHC prior to 1948? That’s the earliest date I’ve seen. The recent Wijffels, Levitus et al, Domingues et al, and Ishii and Kimoto OHC reconstructions all start in 1955. What does the curve look like prior to then. Does the shape mimic global SST anomalies? Does it include the significant dip from the 1870s to 1910 and rebound from 1910 to 1940?
http://i33.tinypic.com/rixdzq.jpg

UK Sceptic

Another nifty piece of scientific study and yet another nail in the coffin of warmism.
Keep these shots of probity and common sense coming guys. It’s all good stuff – at least from a non-scientist’s angle.

Nev

This is particularly useful information given the spin being applied to the Pine Island Glacier this week, and its vulnerability to ocean heat.
O/T but fascinating, did anyone else read Vox Day’s interview today with Air Con author Ian Wishart?
http://voxday.blogspot.com/2009/08/interview-with-ian-wishart.html
This part caught my eye in terms of the geopolitics of this whole debate:
“The eventual target is fifty percent of the 1990 level by 2050, and the same government report suggests a forty percent target will cost $3,000 per person per year, or $15,000 for a family of five, on top of existing taxes and living costs. To achieve emissions cuts at that sort of level will require the equivalent of financially carpet-bombing the industrialized first world back to the Stone Age. And once the UN gets enough countries to agree that agriculture should be included in cap and trade, American farmers will be hit too, because the US administration will already have put the mechanisms in place to recognize the obligations of these international agreements.
“If you look at the economic prize at stake, consider this. We currently have gold markets, but you are not forced to buy and sell gold and only a tiny percentage of the community are active in the gold markets. The financial markets are larger, but even then most of us are not forced to buy and sell shares or trade forex, and only a minority of us actually do so. But if carbon trading becomes compulsory worldwide, effectively every single one of us will be forced to buy and sell through this scheme. No one will be able to go through their daily lives without being represented directly or indirectly in the carbon markets. Those who control the carbon markets will effectively control the world.
“If we are going to cede that kind of control, and money, for a claimed crisis of planetary proportions, shouldn’t we first be absolutely certain that the crisis is real?”
It’s what makes websites like this one so important in providing some scientific balance.

Phillip Bratby

This just goes to prove that climate science should be taken away from “climate scientists” and left to physicists. The climate is driven by the laws of physics, not the laws of computer models or mathematics or statistics. However, just because I’m a physicist, it doesn’t mean I’m biased towards physics.

Bill D

Since the authors only considered the upper 750 m of the ocean, one would assume that geothermal would only be a factor at all in shallower seas. Geothermal is just about always neglible in statified lakes, even if the stratification is permanent.

par5

Wow. The rocks at the bottom of the oceans are pretty cold. The ocean is like a giant ice cube sitting on the sea floor. How does heat from the core pass through this cold layer of rocks without warming them up? I’m sure that a theoretical physicist will come up with a 0.? whatever number, but an engineer would come up with ‘nothing useful, statistically unimportant because of insulation’. I agree with Jim- it is too small to bother with. Entropy. If the core is getting colder, then the sea floor is getting colder.

Allen63

Interesting that they think geothermal heating is a factor.
A relative (here in Ohio) uses geothermal heating to heat his entire house. The heat is gathered by a heat pump at a depth of a few feet in his back yard from a grid of underground pipes. I considered it myself (but have gone with a standard air heat pump/furnace combined system).
The fact that geothermal is practical for home heating at such shallow depths using only part of the area of a “back yard” has lead me to speculate geothermal is a factor in global temperature. Probably more so in the ocean where the crust is slightly thinner and, apparently, thousands of underwater magma vents exist. I wondered when a scientific study might ascertain that connection.

par5

“Douglass says the last oceanic shift occurred about 10 years ago, and that the oceans are currently emitting slightly more radiation than they are receiving.” I remember saying, on this blog, that the earth was capable of receiving more radiation than it emits, and visa-versa. I got hounded for that.

rbateman

Geothermal, while it may be an order of magnitude or two below solar levels, is still significant if it adds to or subtracts from solar levels destructively/constructively.
Given fortuitous circumstances, the Earth could plunge or rise from Ice Age.
And if geothermal is controlled by external forces acting upon the mass of the Earth, it argues for an external mechanism(s) to cause changes in both the Earth and the Sun.
Humans may be alone in the Solar System and nearby stellar neigborhoods, but the Solar System surely is not alone.
This stuff does not exist in a vacuum.

Scafetta in his recent work noted that the AMO & PDO work on a 60 year cycle that correlates with the 60 year cycles of the Sun’s orbit. What is also interesting is looking at the amplitude of the PDO….it also matches the amplitude of the Suns distance from the centre of the solar system.
http://www.landscheidt.info/images/scafetta.jpg

dennis ward

Looking at the PDO Index it is clear that there is no correlation with sun-spot activity either – as the 1950s and 1950s (cycles 18 and 19) saw high sunspot activity.
http://www.physics.unlv.edu/~jeffery/astro/sun/surface/sunspot_butterfly.gif

Stephen Wilde

“lgl (01:10:34) :
Why did the sea level rise also betweeen 1940 and 1970 if the net radiation was from the ocean? Can’t imagine it was due to melting ice”
From 1940 to 1970 the net radiation was INTO the oceans.
The oceans reduced the release of energy to the air so the air cooled and energy in the oceans increased.
There are exceptions to the rule however because what matters is the balance between solar activity levels and the ocean phase state so one can get increasing energy in the oceans whilst the oceans are nevertheless releasing energy strongly which happened from 1975 to 2000.
At present the negative oceans are reducing energy flow to the air so the oceanic energy content should increase but in fact it is decreasing slightly because the weak sun is not supplying full replacement.

Richard Mackey

New paper: LNC drives PDO.
There has been general acknowledgement that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) is now in its negative phase and that this means a colder climate for North America.
The following table shows how air temperatures, precipitation, and related effects in North America have been correlated with extreme PDO anomalies.
Climate Anomalies Warm Phase PDO Cool Phase PDO
Ocean surface temperatures in the northeastern and tropical Pacific Above average Below average
October-March northwestern North American air temperatures Above average Below average
October-March southeastern U.S. air temperatures Below average Above average
October-March southern U.S./northern Mexico precipitation Above average Below average
October-March northwestern North America and Great Lakes precipitation Below average Above average
Northwestern North America springtime snowpack Below average Above average
Winter and springtime flood risk in the Pacific Northwest Below average Above average
From: http://ffden-2.phys.uaf.edu/645fall2003_web.dir/Jason_Amundson/trends.htm
During late April/early May this year there was a good paper, a fascinating and informative discussion and many relevant, authoritative links about the PDO on WUWT here: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/04/28/misunderstandings-about-the-pacific-decadal-oscillation (aka http://tinyurl.com/mt5vwu ).
In a paper published in March this year, Dr. Ichiro Yasuda, Professor, Ocean Research Institute, The University of Tokyo showed that the Luna Nodal Cycle drives the PDO.
The citation is: Yasuda, I. (2009), ‘The 18.6-year period moon-tidal cycle in Pacific Decadal Oscillation reconstructed from tree-rings in western North America’, Geophysical Research. Letters, 36, L05605, doi:10.1029/2008GL036880.
Here is the Abstract:
“Time-series of Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) reconstructed from tree-rings in Western North America is found to have a statistically significant periodicity of 18.6- year period lunar nodal tidal cycle; negative (positive) PDO tends to occur in the period of strong (weak) diurnal tide. In the 3rd and 5th (10th, 11th and 13rd) year after the maximum diurnal tide, mean-PDO takes significant negative (positive) value, suggesting that the Aleutian Low is weak (strong), western-central North Pacific in 30–50N is warm (cool) and equator-eastern rim of the Pacific is cool (warm). This contributes to climate predictability with a time-table from the astronomical tidal cycle.”
The last LNC maximum happened on September 16, 2006. According to Prof Yasuda’s finding the PDO should now be taking a significant negative value, as is being found. The climate consequences are therefore as expected.
There is substantial evidence that the LNC is a significant contributor to our planet’s climate dynamics. I include an illustrated explanation of the LNC and review a lot of the published literature about its contribution to climate dynamics in my paper “The Sun’s role in regulating the Earth’s climate dynamics” published in the Journal of Energy and Environment Vol 20 No 1 2009.
Amongst other things I wrote:
“The ocean currents generated by the northward movement of the tidal bulge, in conjunction with the rotation of the Earth through the bulges in the normal manner creating our experience of the tides, brings warmish equatorial water to the Arctic accelerating the warming that had being going on there because of other forms of solar activity as discussed below.
The LNC has maximum effect at higher latitudes, resulting in higher sea levels at these latitudes. It creates tidal currents resulting in diapycnal mixing, bringing the warmer equatorial waters into the Arctic. The LNC is therefore a major determinant of Arctic climate dynamics, influencing long term fluctuations in Arctic ice. As a result, it is a key driver of European climate.”
There is also a very good paper accompanied by useful discussion and web links about the LNC on WUWT here:
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/05/23/evidence-of-a-lunisolar-influence-on-decadal-and-bidecadal-oscillations-in-globally-averaged-temperature-trends/#more-7965
(aka http://tinyurl.com/mrjq9e )
The effect of the LNC is amplified by the distinct geography of the high latitude oceans, e.g. the North Pacific and the Bering and Okhotsk Seas.
Prof Yasuda and his colleagues have been researching the role of the LNC for several years. Their work is meticulous and rigorous. It builds on other published research in this field over the last forty years, which I’ve reviewed in my Journal of Energy and Environment paper.
The LNC is one of the better demonstrated ways in whch the Sun regulates our climate. The main thing to consider in this regard is the interaction effects between the different solar processes. For example, the LNC may sometimes amplify the effect of other solar processes documented by Willie Soon (see Soon, W. W.-H., 2005. Variable solar irradiance as a plausible agent for multidecadal variations in the Arctic-wide surface air temperature for the past 130 years, Geophysical Research Letters, 32, L16712, doi:10.1029/2005GL023429 ).
Considering the totality of the non-linear, sometimes but not always non-stationary processes (irradiance, plasma, electromagnet and gravitational fields) by means of which the Sun has an impact on climate dynamics, the role of the Sun is significant, but depends noticeably on latitude and longitude, where the Sun induces a non-linear, non-stationary response at any given location. As a result, in response to variable solar activity, the real change in global average temperatures has been smaller than the change in the regional temperatures. Significantly, regional temperatures that have had a greater influence human history since the end of the last ice-age.

Stephen Wilde

“dennis ward (04:14:22) :
Looking at the PDO Index it is clear that there is no correlation with sun-spot activity either – as the 1950s and 1950s (cycles 18 and 19) saw high sunspot activity.
http://www.physics.unlv.edu/~jeffery/astro/sun/surface/sunspot_butterfly
It’s a matter of balancing sun and oceans. Sunspots are merely an adequate proxy for overall solar activity.
During cycles 18 and 19 the sun was highly active, as you say, but the oceans were negative and suppressed the warming of the air.
Cycle 20 was a bit weaker and so the real warming of both air and oceans did not arise until strong cycles 21,22 and 23 coincided with a warming ocean phase after 1975.
Then it all hit a wall when cycle 23 fizzled out and the oceans went negative.
Now we have negative oceans cooling the air but still no energy build up in the oceans while the sun stays so weak.

dearieme

“climate science should be taken away from “climate scientists” and left to physicists.” But surely the Climate Scientologists are physicists? It’s just that they’re fifth-rate physicists.

Phillip Bratby (02:27:14) :
“All science is either physics or stamp collecting. ”
As quoted in Rutherford at Manchester (1962) by J. B. Birks
Once the AGW scam is unwound, the People are going to distrust scientists for a generation or more.

lgl

Stephen Wilde (04:15:40) :
My rewriting: From 1940 to 1970 the PDO was negative, or rather there was stronger upwelling of cold water in general (globally?) perhaps, which overruled an active Sun in setting the surface temp. 1970 to 2000 there were both reduced upwelling and an active Sun and that boosted temps. The sea level rose quite steadily all the way from 1910 because of the active Sun most of the time. Think I can buy that. Are we roughly on the same track? (I would add some CO2 also but we can leave that in this thread)

lgl

Richard Mackey (04:17:56) :
How does the 18.6 yr ‘build’ the 55-60 yr? or doesn’t it?

Ron de Haan

Very good.
“Douglass says the last oceanic shift occurred about 10 years ago, and that the oceans are currently emitting slightly more radiation than they are receiving”.
If we answer the question why our oceans are currently emitting more radiation than they are receiving? Svensmark! and Nicola Scafetti do have a theory.
Have a look at the video here: http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2009/08/11/century-to-decade-climate-change-created-by-planetary-motion/

Frank Lansner

Nev, you write:
“No one will be able to go through their daily lives without being represented directly or indirectly in the carbon markets. Those who control the carbon markets will effectively control the world.”
Besides this: What a huuuuuge waste of time and energy for all people. That we have to sit and use our lives on this.

Mike Lewis

“lgl (01:10:34) :
Why did the sea level rise also betweeen 1940 and 1970 if the net radiation was from the ocean? Can’t imagine it was due to melting ice”
I could be wrong but if the ocean water is cooling, that will cause expansion. Water, unlike just about everything else, expands as it cools and contracts when heated.
http://www.physorg.com/news167040410.html

Stephen Wilde

Note that each time the rate of energy release from the oceans changes then the average latitudinal position of all the air circulation systems then follows in order to change the speed of the hydrological cycle and move the entire system back towards energy equilibrium.
When oceans release more energy to the air then the air works to push it faster to space and thereby reduce the warming of the air.
When oceans release less energy to the air then the air works to pull more energy from the oceans and thereby reduce cooling of the air.
A positive oceanic phase with faster release of energy to the air combined with weak solar input to the oceans is the recipe for fastest cooling of the entire system but that cooling is masked by the short term warming of the air.
A negative oceanic phase with slower release of energy to the air combined with a weak solar input to the oceans is the recipe for slower cooling of the entire system but we get a bit of a fright from the cooling of the air.
The issue of sensitivity is critical in this context but not in the way it is normally meant.
The changes in the solar input to the oceans may appear small in terms of total solar energy available and in terms of total energy content in the oceans but we as a species are extraordinarily sensitive in terms of our day to day perceptions and in terms of the effectiveness of our measuring techniques.
The fact is that in objective terms from the point of view of the planet itself the smallness of the solar and oceanic variations renders them miniscule on time scales of less than millennia.
It is our observational and subjective sensitivity that really matters. An objectively insensitive and relatively unvarying system still feels like a roller coaster ride to us now that we have acquired the abilities to measure, record, compare and recall for generations back.
In that respect those alive today have acquired a new and frightening relationship with our environment unique in the history of life on Earth.

INGSOC
INGSOC

“There are a lot of variations in the ocean,” she said. “They’re all interconnected, so it’s impossible to point to one reason for this happening.”
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gYlWSgTmTbDbwNbzTcw1DHZSjpNw

Roger Clague

Energy and heat
This post includes the term ‘heat flow’. The question is are the words energy and heat interchangeable?
Energy is only ever used as a noun, to describe the state of a system.
Heat is used as a verb and a noun and has an opposite, to cool. So language suggests there is a difference.
The unit of energy is the joule, J. What is the unit of heat? To heat is a process, to change the energy of something. That is heat is change of energy/ time, joules/sec.
Joules/sec is the unit of power. Therefore heat is a form of power.
The term ‘ocean heat content’ leads to confusion. The term ‘ocean energy content’ is clearer.
The term ‘heat energy’ is also confusing and can be replaced by ‘thermal energy’ or ‘kinetic energy’.
‘Heat flow’ is meaningless, there is no such thing. Heat is a flow if energy. It could be ‘energy flow’ or simply ‘heat’.

There is one thing for certain: climate is very complex with many variables that are not fully understood. I find it amazing that people think something as complex as climate can be simply explained away by “more greenhouse gases = higher temperature”. There is a difference between lab work and real world work. Just because something works in a controlled labatory environment does not mean it carries over into an uncontrolled environment. To believe the AGW mantra requires you to throw away basic science.

DB2

Here’s a recent article by Emile-Geay and Madec on the role of geothermal heating in the deep oceans. The authors find the mixing effect underestimated and of the same order of magnitude of mixing due to diapycnal (density) differences. They write, for example:
“Prescribing a realistic spatial distribution of the heat ?ux acts to enhance this temperature rise at mid-depth and reduce it at great depth, producing a more modest increase in overturning than in the uniform case. In all cases, however, poleward heat transport increases by ~10% in the Southern Ocean. The three approaches converge to the conclusion that geothermal heating is an important actor of abyssal dynamics, and should no longer be neglected in oceanographic studies.”
Geothermal heating, diapycnal mixing and the abyssal circulation
http://www.ocean-sci.net/5/203/2009/os-5-203-2009.pdf

Tom

Isn’t this the same Douglass and the same paper that was blogged about on ?WUWT last week?
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/08/11/ocean-heat-content-and-earth’s-radiation-imbalance/#more-9865
The paper is now online if you have free access through a University or want to purchase a copy,
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6TVM-4WS2HSJ-2&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=342b9bd78b1f46189e8627759180620c
REPLY: Yes it is, but we did it with preliminary copy and never covered their press release. In the PR released Friday some points were made that I felt were worth covering. – Anthony

Can we infer from this that the atmospheric greenhouse gas system is indeed saturated, as some have postulated?

IanM

Allen63 (03:40:00) wrote:
Interesting that they think geothermal heating is a factor.
A relative (here in Ohio) uses geothermal heating to heat his entire house. The heat is gathered by a heat pump at a depth of a few feet in his back yard from a grid of underground pipes.
The fact that geothermal is practical for home heating at such shallow depths using only part of the area of a “back yard” has lead [led] me to speculate geothermal is a factor in global temperature. Probably more so in the ocean where the crust is slightly thinner and, apparently, thousands of underwater magma vents exist. I wondered when a scientific study might ascertain that connection.
I make no claim to being an expert in geothermal heating, but I have read and heard a lot about it. The following are jumbled thoughts on the subject. While there is a steady flow of heat from the interior, it is low, and the surface several feet of ground are cooled in winter and heated in summer to a larger extent by the air above the ground. A relatively constant temperature is reached a few feet below the surface which is a very good proxy for the annual average temperature. (Caves have a nearly constant temperature year-round.) Heat from the interior does not play a large role near the surface.
If the ground is wet, preferably with the water flowing through it, the source of energy for heating is the water. If the ground is dry, the rate of extracting heat depends on the thermal conductivity of the soil. Local conditions determine many details of a geothermal system.
I question whether the rate of heat flow from the interior is sufficient to have any measurable effect.

gary gulrud

I suspect current ‘El Nino’ conditions are related to increased cloudiness but am prepared to entertain other causes.

Joe

Phillip Bratby (02:27:14) wrote that climate science should be taken away from “climate scientists” and left to physicists. Why should physicists have all the fun? I would like to claim a significant place in the debate for the geological profession (Disclosure: that’s my profession). Indeed, I would go so far as to say that you can’t really understand what drives climate without understanding at least a smidgin of earth history. Most climate scientists have no time perspective, hence they can’t see or don’t understand the real demonstrable changes that have occcurred over time without CO2 exerting a major influence.
On the discussion of geothermal, it is interesting to note that about 85% of all active volcanoes are located on the sea floor – eg on mid-oceanic ridges. No climate model I am aware of incorporates submarine volcanism, either as a source of heat or various gases. And to be honest, I’m not sure that we understand enough about them to be able to quantify their effects.

Stephen Wilde

The idea of ‘heat in the pipeline’ is interesting because it suggests that the oceans actually ‘store’ heat (I prefer the term ‘energy’ and will use it instead) independently of the ever changing balance from time to time between solar input and release of energy from ocean to air.
I think it is important to say that the oceans will only gain energy for so long as the energy entering them is greater than the rate of energy release by them. They will only lose energy for so long as the release of energy is faster than the rate of energy recived from the sun. All trivially obvious really.
That does, however beg the question as to the existence or otherwise of such a thing as an ‘equilibrium’ temperature for the planet as a whole.
In response I would say that such an equilibrium temperature is just that temperature which the past history of the sun/ocean energy balance has led us to at the current moment. It has no real meaning other than that.
Now, given that the ocean surfaces control the surface air temperatures according to the rate of energy release from the ocean surfaces then it becomes clear that the air quite simply has no independent equilibrium temperature of it’s own.
Thus no change in the air alone can create an independent equilibrium temperature for the air and if there is no such thing then it cannot be influenced by, say, a change in the level or relative proportions of greenhouse gases.
The current temperature of the Earth is the consequence of the past history of the interaction between sun and sea alone.
The greenhouse effect thus appears to be a trivial irrelevance.
Tyndall et al ascribed the paramount role in setting the Earth’s temperature to the characteristics of the air alone. The role of the air is in fact miniscule and probably not even measurable in terms of the entire sun and ocean driven climate system

Nogw

Taking into consideration, what they say: “These shifts happened relatively abruptly” and “rogue wave” :
http://wattsupwiththat.com/?s=rogue+wave
This phenomena requires much more study. Its relation to LOD, plate tectonics,etc.