ENSO Dominates NODC Ocean Heat Content Data

ENSO Dominates NODC Ocean Heat Content Data

Guest post by Bob Tisdale, BTW here is the current SST map. – Anthony

clickable global map of SST anomalies

Click for a larger image

The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) recently added the National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC) Ocean Heat Content (OHC) dataset to their Climate Explorer website, allowing users to download data based on user-defined global coordinates.
http://climexp.knmi.nl/selectfield_obs.cgi?someone@somewhere
This OHC dataset was presented in the Levitus et al (2009) paper “Global ocean heat content(1955-2008) in light of recent instrumentation problems” [GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 36, L07608, doi:10.1029/2008GL037155, 2009]
ftp://ftp.nodc.noaa.gov/pub/data.nodc/woa/PUBLICATIONS/grlheat08.pdf

There are differences in the presentation of the data. The NODC illustrates their OHC data in 10^22 Joules, but KNMI presents the data on an area-averaged basis, in units of Gigajoules (10^9 Joules) per square meter. The data is the same; the units in which the data is presented are different. Also, the NODC provides the data on a quarterly basis; that is, the data is grouped in three-month averages. KNMI presents the NODC OHC data on a monthly basis by listing the quarterly data for each of the three months. This is why the OHC data appears to be squared off in the graphs of monthly raw data. This can be seen in Figure 1.
http://i32.tinypic.com/29de5ow.png
Figure 1

Figure 1 is a comparison graph of the Global OHC anomaly data (NODC), scaled NINO3.4 SST Anomalies (HADISST), and scaled Sato Index (GISS) data. This is the same format used in the graphs of the subsets illustrated in this post. The NINO3.4 SST anomalies are used to illustrate the timing of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events. The Sato Index of Mean Optical Thickness at 500nm are provided to illustrate the timing of explosive volcanic eruptions. I’ve also smoothed the data for each OHC anomaly subset with a 13-month running-average filter, Figure 2. As you will see later, some of the subsets are noisy in their raw form.
http://i32.tinypic.com/sno57l.png
Figure 2

In the following, I’ve provided links to the graphs of the raw data, for those who are interested in seeing it in that form, but I have only posted the graphs of the data smoothed with a 13-month running-average filter. It’s much easier to see the step changes when the data is in that form.

TROPICS

The Tropical Pacific OHC anomaly data is illustrated in Figure 3. A number of things to note: The tropical Pacific OHC anomalies fall during El Nino events, but then recharge during the La Nina. For the most part, when the El Nino events occur at the same time as volcanic eruptions, the recharge does not return the OHC anomalies to the value they were at before the El Nino, but if the El Nino occurs without the influence of a volcanic eruption, the La Nina recharges the Tropical Pacific OHC anomalies to the pre-El Nino level. And it does it quickly. Note also how the 1972/73 El Nino event causes an upward step in the OHC anomalies of the Tropical Pacific. The OHC anomalies then decrease gradually, being influenced by the eruptions of El Chichon in 1982 and Mount Pinatubo in 1991, until they rise suddenly in 1995. In an earlier post, I illustrated how a shift in Tropical Pacific Total Cloud Amount may have caused the 1995 rise in Tropical Pacific OHC, providing fuel for the 1997/98 El Nino. Refer to my post Did A Decrease In Total Cloud Amount Fuel The 1997/98 El Nino?
http://i25.tinypic.com/wrz71x.png
Figure 3

http://i31.tinypic.com/2s96hd1.png
Figure 3 Raw

However, the Tropical Indian Ocean OHC anomaly data reveals a sudden decline in 1995. Did a shift of warm water from the Tropical Indian Ocean to the Tropical Pacific also fuel the 1997/98 El Nino? I’ll investigate this in a future post. Note how the Tropical Indian Ocean OHC anomalies correlate with NINO3.4 SST anomalies over a large portion of the term of the data, but after 1995, the amplitude of the variations changes drastically.
http://i25.tinypic.com/atkaa8.png
Figure 4

http://i30.tinypic.com/xfnk14.png
Figure 4 Raw

In Figure 5, I’ve combined the OHC anomaly data for the Tropical Indian and Pacific Oceans. The OHC anomaly data for this subset follows the base of the NINO3.4 SST anomalies remarkably well. The OHC anomalies of the Tropical Indian and Pacific Oceans follow the rise in NINO3.4 SST anomalies after the 1972/73 and 1997/98 El Nino events. In other words, like the Tropical Pacific, there also appears to be a 25-year decay after the upward step from the 1972/73 El Nino (also influenced by the 1982 and 1991 volcanic eruptions), until the 1997/98 El Nino causes another upward step.
http://i26.tinypic.com/2j60dfp.png
Figure 5

http://i28.tinypic.com/2a3y2a.png
Figure 5 Raw

The step changes in the Tropical Atlantic OHC anomalies are obvious. The first occurred three years after the peak of 1972/73 El Nino, as the NINO3.4 SST anomalies rose from the secondary minimum of the two-year La Nina event. The same thing occurred with the next significant El Nino that was strong enough to generate a La Nina that lasted through two ENSO seasons, and that was the 1997/98 El Nino. Note also how the OHC anomalies of the Tropical Atlantic have been dropping quickly since 2005. Click on the link to the raw data (Figure 6 Raw) to see just how precipitous that drop has been in recent years.
http://i28.tinypic.com/1jnp87.png
Figure 6

http://i28.tinypic.com/2a3y2a.jpg
Figure 6 Raw

MID-TO-HIGH LATITUDES

The North Pacific OHC anomalies are like no other OHC subset. In 1967, there was a sudden drop in the North Pacific OHC anomalies. Twenty plus years later North Pacific OHC anomalies rebounded. I’ll have to investigate this dataset further in a later post, to try to isolate where the majority of that variability takes place.
http://i28.tinypic.com/f56pfm.png
Figure 7

http://i29.tinypic.com/rwp8ut.png
Figure 7 Raw

As illustrated in Figure 8, the South Pacific OHC anomalies show a sharp upward step change following the 1997/98 El Nino. Between 1971 and 1996, the OHC anomalies oscillate at or near 0 GJ/sq meter. The cause of the small rise between the 1960s and 1970 is elusive, but it’s not a significant rise compared to the upward step after the 1997/98 El Nino.
http://i26.tinypic.com/xuhkn.png
Figure 8

http://i27.tinypic.com/25s5ta1.png
Figure 8 Raw

The South Indian Ocean OHC anomaly data, Figure 9, shows a decrease from 1955 until the late 1960s. Then the 1968/69/70 El Nino caused a minor rise in OHC anomalies. This was followed by a major upward step from the 1972/73 El Nino. OHC anomalies in the South Indian Ocean remained relatively flat until the eruption of Mount Pinatubo, when the OHC anomalies dipped. The upward step change after the 1997/98 El Nino is hard to miss. The decay until 2006 almost returned the South Indian Ocean OHC anomalies to the pre-1997/98 values, but the El Nino of 2006/07 bumped it back up again.
http://i31.tinypic.com/34jamtj.png
Figure 9

http://i31.tinypic.com/2dqvpfl.png
Figure 9 Raw

The North Atlantic OHC anomaly data, Figure 10, with its gradual climb, is clearly dominated by the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. The impacts of ENSO events are visible, however. In a future post, I may detrend the North Atlantic OHC anomaly data to emphasize the ENSO impacts on this dataset.
http://i25.tinypic.com/2s17wpt.png
Figure 10

http://i32.tinypic.com/swa4xf.png
Figure 10 Raw

There is a clear step change in the South Atlantic OHC anomaly data, Figure 11, following the 1972/73 El Nino. In this case, however, the response appears to be lagged an extra couple of years. The response is so long, it appears to result from the lesser El Nino of 1976/77. The South Atlantic OHC anomalies remain relatively flat until they appear to respond to the 1997/98 El Nino with an upward step that starts again many years after the peak of the El Nino. Why so long?
http://i30.tinypic.com/2n9xsv6.png
Figure 11

http://i25.tinypic.com/2qdcx7l.png
Figure 11 Raw

Could the variations in the South Atlantic OHC anomalies simply be lagged responses to the Tropical Atlantic OHC anomalies, with surface and subsurface currents transporting the waters from the tropics to the mid-to-high latitudes of the South Atlantic? Refer to Figure 12.
http://i28.tinypic.com/2uffyfr.png
Figure 12

ARCTIC AND SOUTHERN OCEANS

I’ve provided the Arctic and Southern Ocean OHC anomaly data in Figures 13 and 14, without commentary, for those who are interested in seeing what those curves look like.
http://i31.tinypic.com/23u23cz.png
Figure 13

http://i28.tinypic.com/wa0tu0.png
Figure 13 Raw
############
http://i28.tinypic.com/53ve2w.png
Figure 14

http://i28.tinypic.com/2niwilg.png
Figure 14 Raw

CLOSING

It is clear that significant El Nino events can and do cause upward step changes in Ocean Heat Content. This indicates that ENSO events do more than simply release heat from the tropical Pacific into the atmosphere. Apparently, El Nino events also cause changes in atmospheric circulation in ways that impact Ocean Heat Content. If and when GCMs are able to recreate the variations in atmospheric circulation that cause these changes in Ocean Heat Content, GCMs may have value in predicting future climate variability. At present, they do not.

SOURCES

The NINO3.4 SST anomaly data is based on HADISST data available through the KNMI Climate Explorer:
http://climexp.knmi.nl/selectfield_obs.cgi?someone@somewhere

Sato Index data is available through GISS:
http://data.giss.nasa.gov/modelforce/strataer/
Specifically:
http://data.giss.nasa.gov/modelforce/strataer/tau_line.txt

Advertisements

72 thoughts on “ENSO Dominates NODC Ocean Heat Content Data

  1. My biggest problem is…

    How the hell can you measure the energy, (not heat,)content of something as vast as the Earths oceans?

    DaveE.

  2. Wow.Bob you did good work.I’m going to have to digest this one..
    _I still say Nino’s no relevant by Winter…

  3. Might not this be one aspect of the negative feedback of water vapor? With greater atmospheric temperature may there not be relatively less water vapor in the atmosphere, and fewer clouds, lesser albedo, and greater absorption of the sun’s energy by the oceans during episodes of El Nino?
    =========================================

  4. Looking at Fig. 14, I am not sure if the 2006 0.08 peak in the Southern Ocean Heat Content (green) is a result of the 1998 El Nino event ( a two year start to finish upward ‘blip’),or the slower 1999-2004 rebound of the anomalies (blue).
    In other words the slower and less pronounced (1999-2004,0.044 peak) SST rebound may play a larger part in the Ocean Heat Content that the rapid 1998 spectacular SST rise and fall, because more time has been spent in the heating phase.

  5. I’m looking and the SST anomaly graph. Seems strange to have cold (negative anomaly ) water near the equator at 120 W during a developing El Nino. There are several other small areas of negative anomaly where I expect to see warmer water.

  6. Bob Tisdale wrote:
    1) “Did a shift of warm water from the Tropical Indian Ocean to the Tropical Pacific also fuel the 1997/98 El Nino?”
    2) “The North Pacific OHC anomalies are like no other OHC subset […] I’ll have to investigate this dataset further in a later post, to try to isolate where the majority of that variability takes place.”

    These 2 items caught my attention.


    It is really unfortunate that the OHC series don’t cover pre-1940 (i.e. we only have OHC series for an era when the period of Earth’s Chandler wobble has been stable).

  7. Looks like the arctic ocean heat content peaked about 2005 and has been dropping like a rock since then.

    Very interesting view of ocean heat content when you break it out as you have by basin and location. There are obviously things going on that need to be investigated, and would likely throw some very interesting light on how and why the SST changes like it does.

    Does anyone else get the feeling that recently some important new information is coming out as an unintended consequence of trying to validate or debunk the AGW news releases and studies?

    It seems that the intense examination of all the data is bringing to the surface hidden info that has been there all along but was simply ignored as the AGW dog chased the CO2 car down the street.

    Larry

  8. hotrod (23:24:53) :

    Looks like the arctic ocean heat content peaked about 2005 and has been dropping like a rock since then.

    Tell me about it. When we get fronts off the North Pacific they are brisk even in summer. Makes you run & grab your sweater even in August.

  9. “It is clear that significant El Nino events can and do cause upward step changes in Ocean Heat Content”

    Is it possible that heat is being redistributed such that the estimate of OHC is changed while actual OHC remains constant?

  10. Re: hotrod (23:24:53)
    Well said Larry. Lol at your car-chasing dog analogy. As many have noted recently, some of the scientists are perfecting the use of this game to fuel the climate industry. For sure the play on alternate tensions is one way the clever encourage awareness of true vibrations, but we can be sure that this vitamin is time-released to suit financial & political purposes.

  11. Who determines what is anomalous and who has set the standards? Is there some kind of standard as with weights and measures so there is agreement on what is average?
    It seems that the use of anomalies and averages for the Earth’s climates are for a closed system. In addition what affect would the widening of the Atlantic have on weather / climates over time? I understand that the Atlantic has been widening by 2cm per year.

  12. Thanks as always Bob for your excellent and thorough work. Much to digest and consider here, it’s a step forward in teasing out the OHC puzzle.

    The shift of the locus of warmth from the Indian to Pacific ocean in the ’90’s is particularly interesting. Is this the warm water travelling east, or is it the loss of heat to the air from the Indian ocean, and the gaining of heat from the sun in the Pacific? Maybe a regional study of cloud anomalies could help determine this? Unfortunately, the ISCCP website isn’t the easiest to get data from.

    One question about KNMI’s units. How do they measure a volumetric quantity (OHC) in terms of energy/area (Gw/m^2) ?

  13. davidc: You asked, “Is it possible that heat is being redistributed such that the estimate of OHC is changed while actual OHC remains constant?”

    I can’t fathom how that could take place. A major component of OHC is SST, and that has risen. They’ve also had buoys in place for decades (ARGO are just the latest).

  14. I expect this is a naive question, but why is heat content here expressed in joules per square metre? That seems more like a unit for expressing exposure rather than content so I assume it results from the form of the calculation used, but what is that?

  15. Unfortunately, I see only a lot of noise in the graphs. I don’t even see eyeball correlations being very strong. Where are the error terms?

    Is the HADISST measured over a sufficient volume to contribute enough heat content to make the energetics balance quantitatively? One can envisage some processes being well fed if the top 500 m was raised 1 deg C in a decade, but I can’t imagine it being adequate if it’s only the top few m that has a temp change of 0.2 deg in a decade.

  16. tallbloke: You asked, “One question about KNMI’s units. How do they measure a volumetric quantity (OHC) in terms of energy/area (Gw/m^2) ?”

    The raw data from the NODC is provided for each 1deg grid, in terms of either Joules*10^x/grid or Joules*10^x/meter^2. The rest are functions of the surface area of each grid and which grids are being “sampled”.

  17. I just spent an hour over at real climate reading their comments and to tell you the truth, I almost vomited a few times. This “stuff” has gone way, way too far. How did “climate” become such a political volleyball? Is there some actual truth in the “Club of Rome” writings regarding a plan to dominate?

    I see this sad part of history as being akin to how we look at the witch burning of our past, total nonsense. Whatever happened to the common sense joke about everybody complains about the weather but no one does anything about it? Sea temps, cap temps, anomalies, desertification, wildfires, cloud cover, sunspots, volcanoes, coral reefs, bark beetles, sand crabs, butterflies, flutterbies, etc. etc. … when will it ever end? Probably like it always does. When a REAL adversary causes us to take notice. But until then, bogus science is taking us all down the path to socialistic form of existence. And that in not deniable.

    So chase your global temperatures as if there is one and feel good about your findings whether you be pro warming or anti warming or maybe just milktoast. Amazing what happens to mankind when things are going too good and they feel guilty about it . Hey, maybe we should create a religion…..oh, that’s already been done…..then how about some alarmism…. yeah, that’s the ticket…

  18. Very Nice analysis
    any theory as to why there is a coincidence with the 13 month smoothing , it seems to show a considerable lag of up to two years to recover from events: is that how long it takes the tropical storm belt to vent heat back into space or how long it takes the ocean currents to shift surface waters to where there is an equilibrium betweeen ocean heat uptake and atmospheric absorption.
    Still seems to be a lot of noise in the data .

    but very interesting

  19. Roy, you asked, “but why is heat content here expressed in joules per square metre? That seems more like a unit for expressing exposure rather than content so I assume it results from the form of the calculation used, but what is that?”

    The KNMI Climate Explorer calculates weighted averages of the grids (with data) that are enclosed by the coordinates selected by the user.

  20. Hans Henrik Hansen: You wrote, “And it remains unclear to me whether the OHC data presented are (solely/mainly) based on SST?”

    They use temperature measurements to depths of 3000 meters, I believe. The paper linked in the text of the post and those referenced will answer your questions:
    ftp://ftp.nodc.noaa.gov/pub/data.nodc/woa/PUBLICATIONS/grlheat08.pdf
    And:
    ftp://ftp.nodc.noaa.gov/pub/data.nodc/woa/PUBLICATIONS/grlheat05.pdf
    And:
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/287/5461/2225

    You wrote and provided a link, “The OHC data presented appear to be strongly at odds with other presentations (e.g. Loehle) – and Pielke:
    http://climatesci.org/2009/05/05/have-changes-in-ocean-heat-falsified-the-global-warming-hypothesis-a-guest-weblog-by-william-dipuccio/

    There is no agreement on the year-to-year variability between OHC datasets:


    Both of those are from my post here:
    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/07/ohc-trends-presented-by-levitus-et-al.html

    Levitus et al provided access to their data. KNMI included it in their Climate Explorer. And I wrote a post about it.

  21. Geoff Sherington: You asked, “Where are the error terms?”
    They are not included with the output from Climate Explorer. Refer to the linked paper and to the earlier ones by Levitus referenced:
    ftp://ftp.nodc.noaa.gov/pub/data.nodc/woa/PUBLICATIONS/grlheat08.pdf

    You wrote, “Is the HADISST measured over a sufficient volume to contribute enough heat content to make the energetics balance quantitatively?”

    The only HADSST data is the NINO3.4 SST anomalies I provided as reference for timing.

    You wrote, “One can envisage some processes being well fed if the top 500 m was raised 1 deg C in a decade, but I can’t imagine it being adequate if it’s only the top few m that has a temp change of 0.2 deg in a decade.”

    The units are GJ/meter^2, not deg C.

  22. Stephen Skinner: You asked, “Who determines what is anomalous and who has set the standards?”

    The anomalies are the difference between the value for a given month and the average of the values for that same month from 1971 to 2000.

  23. coaldust: You wrote, “I’m looking and the SST anomaly graph. Seems strange to have cold (negative anomaly ) water near the equator at 120 W during a developing El Nino. There are several other small areas of negative anomaly where I expect to see warmer water.”

    Here’s another graph of the only SST anomaly data included in those graphs.

    The dataset covers the SST anomalies of the grid with the coordinates of 5S-5N, 170W-120W. El Nino conditions only exist if the SST anomalies are above 0.5 deg C. So your statement confused me.

  24. I think ocean heat content is a far more important AGW parameter than global temperature. After all, the oceans’ heat capacity is roughly a thousand times that of the atmosphere,

    How does one “reliably” measure oceanic heat content of the entire ocean volume?

    I presume its done (historically) with temperature sensors of questionable accuracy measuring mostly ocean surface temperatures. I assume the coverage is “spotty” on the ocean surface and very lacking at depth. These data are subsequently “manipulated” to provide an “estimated” global ocean heat value that includes the ocean depths. These days satellites come into play.

    Are the raw data and methods public? Have they been independently audited and proven to provide the information and accuracy needed to make trillion dollar policies?

    Skeptical minds want to know.

  25. kim: “Might not this be one aspect of the negative feedback of water vapor? With greater atmospheric temperature may there not be relatively less water vapor in the atmosphere, and fewer clouds, lesser albedo, and greater absorption of the sun’s energy by the oceans during episodes of El Nino?”

    The ISCCP Global Total Cloud Amount data tends to agree with your thoughts:

    From Leif’s comment here (#397)
    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=2983

    But ICOADS ocean cloud cover data does not agree:
    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2008/12/ocean-cloud-cover-data.html

  26. There can’t be an AGW equation for heat content. The way we’re told climate works is that longwave causes warming. Longwave doesn’t penetrate oceans – they require a large amount of SW radiation to heat because of their high heat capacity.

    Its a little known fact that water contracts (at around 4C) when it heats and expands when it cools.

    nothing about water is mechanical

  27. Good stuff Bob.

    Can we see all the ocean basins charted against each other (there is a difference in the scale for one thing. Maybe one with the Nino 3.4 and one without since there will be many lines on the chart).

  28. I asked why heat content is expressed in joules per [unit of area] and Bob Tisdale was kind enough to post the following: “The KNMI Climate Explorer calculates weighted averages of the grids (with data) that are enclosed by the coordinates selected by the user.”

    Unfortunately I am now even more mystified. Does this mean there is some standard column of water presumed by this measure? And does that mean we’re looking at the energy content of a relatively thin shell of ocean?

    (I will attempt to find my own answers independently now, but I am pretty sure I am not the only person puzzled by this.)

  29. I sense that I am missing something. I have heard astute scientists say that “there is no warming in the pipeline” but the Global Ocean Heat Content in the first graph would seem to suggest otherwise. There has been a quite persistent increase in the brown line for the last forty years.

  30. An Inquirer: You wrote, “I sense that I am missing something. I have heard astute scientists say that ‘there is no warming in the pipeline’ but the Global Ocean Heat Content in the first graph would seem to suggest otherwise. There has been a quite persistent increase in the brown line for the last forty years.”

    Looking at the global dataset, there has been no increase in OHC in the past few years. Also, this post illustrated that most if not all of the rise over the past forty years is a function of a natural variable, ENSO.

  31. Roy, you asked, “Does this mean there is some standard column of water presumed by this measure? And does that mean we’re looking at the energy content of a relatively thin shell of ocean?”

    The data that KNMI downloaded from NODC presented the OHC for each 1 deg ocean grid, from 0 to 700 meters in depth. I apologize for not listing the depth in the post.

  32. Bob Tisdale

    How difficult would be for you to run Southern Hemisphere Heat Content and HADCRUT3? Also where would I find Southern Pacific SST anomalies table data . I have found a close correlation between Southern Hemisphere SST and Hadcrut3gl

  33. Bill Illis: You asked, “Can we see all the ocean basins charted against each other (there is a difference in the scale for one thing. Maybe one with the Nino 3.4 and one without since there will be many lines on the chart).”

    A future post. I’ll provide a link in a couple of days when its done. But in the mean time, I’ve already posted that from the yearly data available at the NODC website:

    From this post:
    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2009/05/levitus-et-al-2009-ocean-heat-content.html

  34. An Inquirer: Sorry, I missed responding to the pipeline portion of your comment. Dr. Pielke’s argument is provided in this post:
    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/03/05/pielke-sr-no-climate-heating-in-%E2%80%9Cthe-pipeline%E2%80%9D/

    It reads:
    #########
    By “unrealized warming in the pipeline”, they mean heat that is being stored within the ocean, which can subsequently be released into the ocean atmosphere. It is erroneous to consider this heat as ”unrealized warming”, if the Joules of heat are actually being stored in the ocean. The heat is “realized”; it would just not be entering the atmosphere yet.

    As discussed in the Physics Today paper

    Pielke Sr., R.A., 2008: A broader view of the role of humans in the climate system. Physics Today, 61, Vol. 11, 54-55,

    there has been no heating of the upper ocean since mid-2003. Moreover, there has been no heating within the troposphere (e.g. see Figure 7 of the RSS MSU data).

    Thus, there is no “warming in the pipeline” using the author’s terminology, nor any heating within the atmosphere! Perhaps the heating that was observed prior to 2003 will begin again, however, it is scientifically incorrect to report that there is any heat that has not yet been realized within the climate system.

    The answer to the question posted in this weblog “Is There Climate Heating In “The Pipeline”? is NO.

    ##########

  35. It seems to me like that sudden cooling in Tropical Indian Ocean heat content, with a double dip first at about 1997, and than the bigger dip in 1999-200, could be best explained by a sudden upwelling of deep cold water in the Indian ocean.

    Perhaps an overturning event of some sort?

    The Thermohaline circulation it usually depicted as a continuous flow or conveyor belt chain of currents as shown here in wikipedia.

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

    Note that the blue deep current surfaces in mid-Indian Ocean, which would bring deep cold water to the surface. What if the Indian ocean is in a marginally stable stratified condition and periodically over turns large cells of deep water?

    That could explain such a sudden plunge in apparent heat content of the upper 700 meter layers.

    There was interesting research done on fluid flows several decades ago, called “fluidics” which described fluid flow switches and analogs to transistors. One of those was a system where fluid flowed into the base of Y connection and remained attached to the wall of the Y and most of the flow passed out of only one branch of the Y. By injections of very small amounts of fluid near the point that the tube bifricates, that attached flow could be “flopped” to pass out the other branch where it would remain attached until the switching process was reversed. This formed a fluid flow bistable switch or fluidic flip flop circuit.

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

    http://physics.ucsd.edu/~groisman/windows/field2.htm

    http://books.google.com/books?id=3TzYnijxbo8C&pg=PA173&lpg=PA173&dq=fluidic+flip+flop&source=bl&ots=ZUxlulZGLJ&sig=Kp-Vy5YUo-smfRZ9kEVKBq1RGvQ&hl=en&ei=I9ujSpaWJpPgsQOvua2NDw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=7#v=onepage&q=fluidic%20flip%20flop&f=false

    To speculate than, another possibility is that the Thermohaline circulation might be in a similar bi-stable flow situation in some locations and relatively small local disturbances (like from out flow from flood a swollen river delta, or salinity over turning ) could “switch” the flow to the other flow path.

    As I understand it, the Indian Monsoons are driven by SST’s of the Indian Ocean. When it gets warm enough it “switches on” the drenching monsoon rains.

    I would think it reasonable to guess, that during that Monsoon cycle, the evaporating pool of the Indian Ocean surface would change dramatically in both salinity and temperature as billions of tons of water are evaporated off the surface, and swept inland by the winds. Were there unusual monsoon conditions during those periods that had sharp down turns in Indian Ocean heat content?

    Then after some time delay for transport inland, rain out, and return flow in the rivers, a large fraction of that fresh water comes gushing back into the Indian Ocean basin as muddy (high density ?) flood waters from the major rivers like the Ganges .

    Would this muddy fresh water be dense enough to plow down under the sea water and like an outflow boundary in a thunderstorm system provide lifting to bump deep cold water up to the surface?
    If so such a sudden drop in SST should abruptly shut off the monsoon or weaken the pending monsoon season.

    It would take some historical research to see if there is any massive flooding event , or unusual monsoon cycle, during that time period, or other likely trigger event prior to and closely timed to those two plunges in SST in the Indian ocean.

    As I have speculated in the past on this forum, the thermohaline circulation is also in a sense a delay line memory storage device. The water that surfaces in the Indian ocean sunk in the North Atlantic several hundred years ago (according to the current thermohaline circulation model). If the density/temperature/salinity profiles in the Indian ocean are subject to mass overturning occasionally due to some external trigger, it could significantly alter the 0-700 meter heat content if a large bolus of cold deep water were for some reason forced to the surface.

    There is also a paper that questions if the traditional interpretation of the thermohaline circulation is entirely correct.

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v459/n7244/full/nature07979.html
    (paid viewing document – the abstract looks interesting, perhaps our academic friends here on the forum can give an executive summary of it for the “masses”)

    Larry

  36. Bob Tisdale

    Good popst as always.

    I am trying to find out the temperatures of arctic waters (which will vary considerably according to specific location) both close to the surface and under the ice. I want to compare it with historic records. I really need them to be location specfic rather than covering a huge area. Any ideas where to look?
    Thanks.

    tonyb

  37. Good work from Bob identifying differences in the different bodies of oceanic water and bringing volcanic events into the scenario too.

    As I have been saying what matters for global air temperatures is the combined netted out behaviour of all the oceans at any given moment. Sometimes they all work together but more usually the various time lags mean that there is normally some offset from one or more oceans against the others.

    Beyond that there is century scale variation in solar input to provide a general background trend such as that from the Little Ice Age to the recent Modern Maximum.

    Then comes the chicken and egg problem as regards the interaction between air and water. My view is that the variations in the oceanic rates of energy release occur first from some feature within the oceans and the air then follows. It is mentioned in someone’s post here that El Nino causes changes in the air that then feed back more solar shortwave into the oceans but I’m doubtful on that.

    When there is an EL Nino the air above does warm and as warmer air can hold more water in vapour form then at first there would be a reduction in low level cloudiness. However that is a very short lived effect. Very quickly the speed of the hydrological cycle increases with more medium and high level cloud which would more than offset the effect of the initial reduction in low cloud cover. El Nino reduces ocean heat content as Bob says.

    In the process the air warms globally (as long as cool SSTs in other ocreans are not offsetting it), the equatorial air masses expand and the air circulation systems are pushed poleward. The faster hydrological cycle expels the surplus energy in the air to space faster.

    Whenever ocean SSTs change (the overall net effect that is) the latitudinal position of all the global air circulation systems changes and the speed of the hydrological cycle changes to neutralise the oceanic effect over time.

    The same system must also dispose of extra energy in the air alone from any other cause because the air temperatures must always move towards sea surface temperatures and never vice versa except locally and very temporarily.

  38. “warming in the pipeline” refers to a global radiative imbalance which has not yet been relieved by warming because the heat capacity of the system is so large. It exists in the theory of AGW, but has not actually been measured because it is so small (Hansen says somewhat less than 1 W/m2). If the climate system is insensitive, though, then any radiative imbalances are fairly rapidly eliminated by temperature change.

    Which brings up a point of confusion…a very sensitive climate system takes longer to equilibrate to a new temperature, but it’s time rate of change of temperature is actually larger than for an insensitive system. Let’s see if anyone here can figure out how that can be true.

  39. NODC’s OHC data prior to 2005 is of questionable accuracy.

    2005 onwards is the much more accurate ARGO data.

    Note the upward trend in OHC stops in 2005. This could be due to a real effect or caused by an upward bias in the pre-2005 data not present in the ARGO data.

    The estimates, adjustments and extrapolations in the OHC data pre-2005 make the surface temperature data look positively pristine.

    A highly technical paper on the subject.

    ftp://ftp.nodc.noaa.gov/pub/data.nodc/woa/PUBLICATIONS/grlheat08.pdf

  40. How can anyone make a post in disparate geographic, time, instrument quality data AND still call it Science?

  41. Re: gtrip (03:37:21)
    I think you need to take a more careful look at the opportunism in play. These issues don’t divide along socialism-capitalism nor left-right lines. Here in BC the ‘socialists’ oppose the carbon tax that the right-wingers introduced (& now the right-wingers are introducing yet more taxes …yes, you heard that right – right-wingers). At the federal level in Canada, the right-wingers fear-monger about ‘Arctic sovereignty’ and international Arctic resource development conflict in the coming years (which won’t happen if the Arctic goes into the deep freeze). Capital-oriented forces are eager for Arctic resource speculation & development. The Green Party here in Canada tries to attract disgruntled fiscal-conservatives (partly because they have stiff competition from the New Democratic Party for the ‘socialist’ vote). What I am trying to say is: Don’t underestimate opportunism. People with an aim to dominate, whether politically or economically, are going to have a finger on the pulse of the general public and they won’t be abandoning common sense about opportunity.

    Bob, if warm Indian water moved to the Pacific in a ‘bubble’ or burst in the 90s, I’ll be curious to see (in a future post) which path(s) you figure it might have taken. Politics & economics aside, there is something fundamental about nature to be learned here.

  42. Apparently sanity prevailed at the recent World Meteorological Organization’s World Climate Conference in Geneva last week:
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17742-worlds-climate-could-cool-first-warm-later.html?full=true&print=true
    Not a mea culpa, but definite progress in terms of climate rationality. Maybe some will rub off on some other UN activities.
    BTW, the terminology seems to have transitioned to the threat of “climate variability and change”:
    http://www.wmo.int/wcc3/documents/WCC-3_Statement_Ex_Summary_04-09-095PM.pdf

  43. gtrip wrote:

    “So chase your global temperatures as if there is one and feel good about your findings whether you be pro warming or anti warming or maybe just milktoast.”

    gtrip, I have found the people that post on wattsupwiththat are not pro AGW, pro cooling, pro anti-AGW, or any thing else. Well, that is not totally true, they are pro-truth. They are brainstorming on this website to gain more knowledge about our incredibly complex climate system.

    Another trait that most posters on this site posess is they understand how difficult it is to prove scientific theories about solar influence and our climate.

    I am hazarding another guess, many of the people who post on this website would probably be here with or without the AGW hoax.

    Our solar system is absolutely incredible, we should study it. And our conclusions should be based on sound science.

  44. hotrod: You wrote, “It seems to me like that sudden cooling in Tropical Indian Ocean heat content, with a double dip first at about 1997, and than the bigger dip in 1999-200, could be best explained by a sudden upwelling of deep cold water in the Indian ocean…”

    I’ll look into those dips in the Indian Ocean in a follow up post. I believe we’ll find that those dips are strongest in the eastern tropical Indian Ocean. The second dip in 1997 should be part of the 1997/98 El Nino. That El Nino was so strong it drew warm water from the eastern Indian Ocean. (Remember, the Pacific Warm Pool is also known as the Indo-Pacific Warm Pool because it stretches into the Indian Ocean at times.) Here’s a video if SSH anomalies. Note how the eastern tropical Indian Ocean anomalies drop during the 1997/98 El Nino, about one minute into the video.

    And I believe the rise in the western Indian Ocean during the 1997/98 El Nino is a response to the cooling in the east. It would have increased the temperature difference, which in turn would have kicked up the trade winds in the Indian Ocean, which would have pushed more waters to the west, draining more warm water from the east, and adding more positive feedback to the process.

    But if the dips in 1995 and 1997 in OHC are located in the western or central tropics of the Indian Ocean, leaving the eastern Indian Ocean untouched, then we’ll have to look for other answers.

    We shall see.

  45. lucklucky: You wrote, “How can anyone make a post in disparate geographic, time, instrument quality data AND still call it Science?”

    You must be referring to the wiggle matching in my post and not the Levitus et al, HADISST, and Sato Index data. Apparently you only looked at the graphs and didn’t bother to read the post, because you would have noted that I discussed the reasons for including the NINO3.4 SST anomaly and Stratospheric Mean Optical Thickness data. Let me repeat it for you, “The NINO3.4 SST anomalies are used to illustrate the TIMING of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events. The Sato Index of Mean Optical Thickness at 500nm are provided to illustrate the TIMING of explosive volcanic eruptions.” [Caps on the word TIMING added.] They’re simply time markers.

    Have a nice day.

  46. TonyB: You wrote, “I am trying to find out the temperatures of arctic waters (which will vary considerably according to specific location) both close to the surface and under the ice. I want to compare it with historic records. I really need them to be location specfic rather than covering a huge area. Any ideas where to look?”

    The HADISST data is presented in 1 deg geographic grids through the KNMI Climate Explorer, but that’s only surface. I have not found (also haven’t looked for) subsurface ocean temperatures at given depths presented on a webpage anywhere, but the NODC had to compile it for the OHC data.

    Sorry that I couldn’t be more help.

  47. Paul Vaughan: You wrote, “Bob, if warm Indian water moved to the Pacific in a ‘bubble’ or burst in the 90s, I’ll be curious to see (in a future post) which path(s) you figure it might have taken. Politics & economics aside, there is something fundamental about nature to be learned here.”

    As I just noted to hotrod…

    The second dip in 1997 should be part of the 1997/98 El Nino. That El Nino was so strong it drew warm water from the eastern Indian Ocean. (Remember, the Pacific Warm Pool is also known as the Indo-Pacific Warm Pool because it stretches into the Indian Ocean at times.) Here’s a video if SSH anomalies. Note how the eastern tropical Indian Ocean anomalies drop during the 1997/98 El Nino, about one minute into the video.

    And I believe the rise in the western Indian Ocean during the 1997/98 El Nino is a response to the cooling in the east. It would have increased the temperature difference (between east and west), which in turn would have kicked up the trade winds in the Indian Ocean, which would have pushed more waters to the west, draining more warm water from the east, and adding more positive feedback to the process.

    What happened in 1995 is beyond me at the present time. I still haven’t narrowed down the location of the dip. I’ve assumed it was in the eastern Indian Ocean.

  48. matt v.: You wrote, “How difficult would be for you to run Southern Hemisphere Heat Content and HADCRUT3? Also where would I find Southern Pacific SST anomalies table data . I have found a close correlation between Southern Hemisphere SST and Hadcrut3gl”

    All of those datasets you seek are on the KNMI Climate Explorer.
    http://climexp.knmi.nl/selectfield_obs.cgi?someone@somewhere

    It’s easy. Select a dataset. On the next page, enter the coordinates. Next page, scroll down to the third graph (anomalies) and click on “raw data”. Convert the data to a format useable by your spreadsheet.

  49. Lindsay H: You asked, “any theory as to why there is a coincidence with the 13 month smoothing , it seems to show a considerable lag of up to two years to recover from events…”

    Sorry, Lindsay, I just found the apparent relationship between significant ENSO events and OHC. No theories yet. I agree that two (plus) years appears to be a long time before an apparent response from some datasets, like the Atlantic. Is it the magnitude of the La Nina that follows the significant El Nino that shifts cloud cover and causes what appears to be a delayed response to the El Nino? That is, are those shifts responses to the significant La Ninas, not the El Ninos themselves? Dunno.

  50. “Roy Spencer (10:34:43)
    “warming in the pipeline” refers to a global radiative imbalance which has not yet been relieved by warming because the heat capacity of the system is so large. It exists in the theory of AGW, but has not actually been measured because it is so small (Hansen says somewhat less than 1 W/m2). If the climate system is insensitive, though, then any radiative imbalances are fairly rapidly eliminated by temperature change.

    Which brings up a point of confusion…a very sensitive climate system takes longer to equilibrate to a new temperature, but it’s time rate of change of temperature is actually larger than for an insensitive system. Let’s see if anyone here can figure out how that can be true.”

    Reply:
    If, say, there is a rapid and proportionate response to a temperature forcing then that would be an indication of a system that is sensitive to forcings.

    If the system is sensitive in that way then it will delay a temperature rise by immediately and proportionately initiating a neutralisation process and in due course cancel that temperature rise so in that separate sense the system is insensitive to such forcings. It would take a very powerful forcing to make any significant temperature difference for any length of time.

    That is exactly how a change in the speed of the hydrological cycle would work and it operates through changes in the latitudinal position of all the air circulation systems.

    Sorry if I’m getting to be a bore.

  51. Roy Spencer 10:34:43

    That’s easy unless I’m wrong; the sensitive system cycles above and below the equilibration temperature, before settling, and the insensitive system goes straight to it
    ====================================

  52. Re: Bob Tisdale (14:40:04)

    Thanks for the comments Bob.

    If you find an ACC (Antarctic Circumpolar Current) link, that will be very interesting.

  53. Bob, I’ve just been thinking about methods of visualization that might help with this mystery that has arisen. It will be great if someone designs a tool that will allow a user-defined hovmollering reference-line (via mouse-trace, for example) rather than the usual fixed- lat or long. I’ll continue pondering other alternatives…

  54. Paul Vaughan: I’ve been trying to create SSH anomaly Hovmollers like so…

    http://www.aviso.oceanobs.com/en/data/data-access-services/live-access-server-las/lively-data/2003/dec-22-2003-longitude-time-diagram-2/index.html

    …at the AVISO site, but I keep getting error messages. Here’s their Live Access Server link:
    http://www.aviso.oceanobs.com/en/data/data-access-services/live-access-server-las/index.html

    Maybe you’ll have better luck.

    Regards

  55. Bob Tisdale (04:42:15)

    I was refering to the first graphic, although I wrote graph titled “NOAA/NESDIS SST Anomaly”. There is an area of relatively cool water in that graphic at about 118 W 5 N. I’m wondering if it is common during a develpoing El Nino to have an area of relatively cool water such as that. Perhaps someone can enlighten me.

  56. The first sentence in my previous post should read “I was refering to the first graphic titled ‘NOAA/NESDIS SST Anomaly’, although I wrote graph”.

  57. Great stuff – even if it is complex and raises more questions than it answers! At least these questions are being approached. I have tried, as a general ecologist, to get a handle on the relationship of ENSO, the PDO, NAO and Arctic cycles from the point of view of mass movements of warm water generated in the equatorial regions by what appear to be pulses in the short-wave flux to the ocean surface. If you look at Hadley and NOAA (Scripps Inst., papers by Lyman and others) where they subtract various years of upper ocean heat content to get a sense of change according to the surface grid, it is clear that accumulated heat is primarily stored at depth in northern waters – in the main gyres of the north Pacific and north Atlantic. If we can figure out how these heat stores are built up over time and then how they are depleted over time, we may find our way to understanding the long term natural cycles that are missing from AGW models.

    Cloud cover correlations are not easy to find. ISCCP data contradicts ship-board data, Earthshine data gives another picture. The ISCCP low level cloud data does show a 4% decline globally from 1983-2000 and this is certainly enough to account for the ocean warming (and land warming is a consequence of heat transfer).

    With regard to Levitus’s new analysis – I am not sure how reliable it is. Prior to this 2008 paper, his previous estimates (before 2005) were used by climatologists to confirm their models (with much trumpeting) – but three further analyses (Gouretski and Koltermann, Palmer and others at Hadley, and Domingues and team) all held that these previous estimates were out by a factor of two – which is rather a lot when considering the planetary budget – this gave rise to Pielke’s conclusion that there was no more ‘warming in the pipeline’. Obviously, Levitus has responded to the critiques – at least to Gouretski’s and he cuts by half their previous cut – it is still lower and still a problem for the modellers than used the early analysis as validation of their models. But we might expect Levitus not to agree with the other three, and must wait until they respond. As you note, Bob, it is a complex field and not one for the generalist to second-guess.

    I am surprised, however, at the size of the 21st century rise to 2000-2003, though not by the plateau thereafter, or the fall in the northern Atlantic. As many comments point out, it is this upper ocean heat content that is the only real measure of global warming or cooling that we have – and despite the vast array of monitors, there is still great uncertainty.

    The spatial distribution of the deeper warm water pools holds the key to future patterns – I would like to see how these respond to the shifting jetstream as they are both in its track. Lower cloud in northern latitudes will lead to loss of heat and in equatorial latitudes, heat gain. More cloud in the north will insulate the waters and delay release, whereas in the tropics it will lower the heat gain.

    Right now, I think the massive shift in the jetstream of the past 3 summers has depleted the Atlantic warm water pool (if SST is anything to go by) – the heat has been dumped in the UK and western Europe as rain! Hadley’s SSTs are showing a growing cold patch in the central northern Atlantic – this is the NAO on the turn, and the reason some modellers are now predicting cooling for the next decade. Hadley has such a model but they seem rather shy about, only publicising what they call the more certain outcomes of their long-term model to 2050-2080 (i.e. warming).

    Once again, great work – a tribute to this blog and to the quest for truth!

  58. coaldust: Sorry. I forgot that Anthony put up the map that wasn’t part of my post. Here’s another map (Sept 6, 2009) that show the little cool spot just east of the NINO3.4 region.
    http://weather.unisys.com/surface/sst_anom.html

    That cool spot also shows up in the subsurface anomalies:
    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/enso_update/wkxzteq.shtml

    It’s definitely not a stong El Nino. There was a preliminary pool of warm surface water that appears to be breaking up. However, as shown in the animation above and in the following map of SSH, there’s still some more warm water in the equatorial Pacific that hasn’t made it’s way to the surface.

    The archive of those SSH maps is here:
    http://sealevel.jpl.nasa.gov/science/jason1-quick-look/archive.html

  59. Re: Bob Tisdale (03:31:33)

    The software is very slow, the series only seem to go back to 2001, and frames are forced to be parallel & perpendicular to lines of longitude & latitude (i.e. it won’t even allow angled-straight-lines, let alone curved reference-lines & area-averaged hovmollers (as an integrated alternative to line-transects)), but I encounter few problems otherwise plotting from here:
    http://las.aviso.oceanobs.com/las/servlets/dataset

    Online software like this is a step in the right direction, but there are miles to go.

    Data visualization needs to move up in the climate funding hierarchy. (The complex stuff we are going after isn’t going to show up in computer fantasies if no human has ever detected or imagined it.)


  60. Indian-Pacific Hovmoller 2001-2009

    Note the temporal variation in the pattern at ~75E. Sometimes what appears to be a wave from the South Pacific summer keeps propagating within the annual band, but in other instances (2 in particular) it appears to slow down (&/or split) thereby spilling into the next year. This is the sort of thing we need to be looking for to understand interannual variations (such as ENSO).

    Clearly a longer temporal window (and more control over the geometry of the reference area/line) would be helpful.


  61. Indian-Pacific Hovmoller 11S 2001-2009

    Looking 5 degrees further south (at 11S), reveals 1, 2, & 4 year waves. It looks like there are also 8 year waves, but the record is short. Note particularly how the 1 year waves cross the 2 years waves south of the tip of India (~75-80E) in some years.

    Thanks for pointing out another useful site Bob.


    Here’s a look at 61S.

    Note the structure just east of NZ and off the tip of S.America. Considered in conjunction with the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC), the Antarctic Circumpolar Wave (ACW), the Antarctic Oscillation (AAO), and Bob’s findings about the Southern Ocean, this continues becoming more & more interesting.

  62. Thanks, Bob, for this extremely helpful thread, and thanks, Peter, Paul, and all the other Harrys, for the tips about ocean heat content. You have it, as did Arnd Baerndt:

    Climate is the continuation of the oceans by other means.
    ====================================

  63. I think Stephen Wilde & Kim above have the right answer to Roy Spencer’s question above. The sensitive system will oscillate around the mean (“ring”) for an extended time, while the insensitive will be “damped” and in a short time quickly return to the mean. Essentually the sensitive system “stores” energy (in the pipeline, which then takes a while to come out), while the insensitive does not store much if any.

    We see this action in the global temp records when a global impulse (+ or -) occurs, like Pinatubo or the 1998 El Nino (the time period for recovery is less than a yr!) We’ve even seen it last month on a much shorter time scale (because the impulse was prb’ly not global & more localized) when temps spiked up and in less than a month lost most of the “spike”.

    IOW, little to no heat energy in the pipeline.

Comments are closed.