NODC revises ocean heat content data – it's now dropping slightly

NODC Ocean Heat Content (0-700 Meters) – 2007, 2008 & 2009 Corrections

Guest post by Bob Tisdale

The National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC) recently updated its 4th quarter and annual 2009 Ocean Heat Content (OHC) data. The data that was presented in conjunction with the Levitus et al (2009) Paper now covers the period of 1955 to 2009. There have been changes that some might find significant.

This post presents:

1. A brief look at the revisions (corrections) to the data in 2007 and 2008 OHC data

2. A comparison of the NODC OHC data for the period of 2003 to 2009 versus the GISS projection

REVISIONS (Corrections) TO THE 2007 AND 2008 NODC OHC DATA

Figure 1 is a gif animation of two Ocean Heat Content graphs posted on the NODC GLOBAL OCEAN HEAT CONTENT webpage. It shows the differences between the current (January 2010) version and one that appears to include data through June or September 2009. So this is an “Official” correction (not more incompletely updated data posted on the NODC website discussed in NODC’s CORRECTION TO OHC (0-700m) DATA, which required me to make corrections to a handful of posts). I have found nothing in the NODC OHC web pages that discuss these new corrections. Due to the years involved, is it safe to assume these are more corrections for ARGO biases? As of this writing, I have not gone through the individual ocean basins to determine if the corrections were to one ocean basin, a group of basins, or if they’re global; I’ll put aside the multipart post I’ve been working on for the past few weeks and try to take a look over the next few days.

Figure 1


One of the posts that needed to be corrected back in October was NODC Ocean Heat Content (0-700 Meters) Versus GISS Projections (Corrected). The final graph in that post was a comparison of global ocean heat content observations for the period of 2003 through year-to-date 2009 versus the projection made by James Hansen of GISS of an approximate accumulation of 0.98*10^22 Joules per year. Figure 2 is an updated version of that comparison. Annual Global OHC data was downloaded from the NODC website (not through KNMI). The trend of the current version of the NODC OHC data is approximately 1.5% of the GISS projection. That is, GISS projected a significant rise, while the observations have flattened significantly in recent years. The apparent basis for the divergence between observations and the GISS Projection was discussed in the appropriately titled post Why Are OHC Observations (0-700m) Diverging From GISS Projections?

Figure 2

Note: The earlier version of that graph (with the NODC’s October 15, 2009 correction)…

…shows a linear trend of ~0.08*10^22 Joules/year. The current linear trend is ~0.015*10^22 Joules/year. Some might consider that decrease to be significant.






NODC Annual Global OHC data used in Figure 2 is available here:


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Hide the incline?


A million thanks for all you do Bob!

I am just reading James Hansen`book “The Storms of my Grand Children”. He is competely sure about his conclusions that CO2 emissions are the main climate forcing agent. Most of the rest is a very emotional appeal for measures to be adopted to prevent the unavoidable catastrophe. He worries a lot, how to communicate his “truth” efectively.
It strikes me that he doesn`t express not a hint of any doubt!

Leo G

Just an opinion, but in my mind the CRUmail release has been a tectonic shift point in climate science.
Maybe I am just projecting, but it seems that since the release, more data/papers are coming out that are dampening down the hysteria of GW. There seems to be more calls to work with sceptical scientists and trash the trashtalk. Maybe this release has finally freed the science?

Adam from Kansas

That’s one of the first adjustments I’ve seen going down for sure.
Currently SST-wise there’s been a very significant rise in SST’s in the Southern Hemisphere (according to Unisys) and the daily SOI has dropped by nearly -30 today (hinting at a new ENSO peak if it continues at that level even as the models say otherwise.)
What it means for the Summer though, Joe D’Aleo talked in an article on Intellicast showing that some of the hot summers like 1998 was due to El Nino having decayed to La Nina by the summer, if I remember right if there’s still El Nino conditions by Summer there shouldn’t be blockbuster heat in the U.S according to his analysis.


Could someone do me a favor. I know what looks like a big jump between 2003 and 2005 is also when the Argo buoy data became the basis of the ocean heat content rather than a more dispersed surface measurement. Would it be possible to put some shading in the period covered which showed which were Argo, which were determined from a different data sets and different analytica methods.


Someone needs to tell the pentagon, seems they are planning to reduce carbon emissions and take account of global warming into conflict planning.
And the guardian gets caught out using wrongly captioned pictures again, says dried lake bed is due to global warming but actually due to a new dam Doh!!!

Dr. Hansen is often wrong, but never uncertain.


Are they finally getting honesty worked back into the science?
Are we going from “hide the decline” to “decline the hide”?

Dan in California

Could it be some agencies are starting to realize there’s someone looking over their shoulders? It’s getting harder to publish results that don’t match observations. Now if we could backtrack and verify previous data and plot trendlines based on observations rather than corrected data……


I still would like them to correct the obvious and incorrect jump in the data when ARGO went active in 2003.

James F. Evans

So, the Sun’s total energy output is down as evinced by a lack of Sunspots and evinced by decreased solar magnetic flux (and has been for a while).
Now, this is starting to show up in ocean heat content data.
Lag times are common in Nature: The hottest time of the Summer is late July and early August, the coldest time of the Winter is often late January and early February.
It seems reasonable that a lag time exists, too, for Ocean heat content.
Should this quiet Sun and low magnetic flux continue unabated into next Winter, expect this Winter to look like a tropical picnic and to freeze your rear end in the Northern Hemisphere next Winter…as if we haven’t already done so this Winter!
The Sun controls Earth’s temperature and thus climate.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out…

Richard deSousa

Thank God you’ve finally pulled Pachauri off the front page of WUWT!


Perhaps they were holding the thermometer upside down.

Does this mean the NASA GISS “2009 2nd warmest year on record” will be changed?

Robert E

Although this graph shows the heat content it’s obvious from the shape that it also follows the temperature. As we should expect.
Since the oceans cover about 71 percent of the earth:s surface it will have a major impact on global mean temperature anomalies. I suspect that GISS temperature will soon have a downward trend for the last 8 years like the CRU-temp curve did. It does not matter if they include the poles, cherry picks stations or do usual corrections.


In previous threads the work of David Douglass at Rochester, who found a recent change to negative in ocean thermal budget, was visciously rubbished by AGW posters. They said it never should have been published. Douglass himself posted on the long struggle to publish in the International Journal of Climate.
Refer to this thread:
This post shows how hard they tried to obstruct Douglass from publication. (Jones and Wigley even discuss the topic of getting Douglass to lose his job.) Now there is a hint that part of the establishments attack on his work was modification of the OHC data to conceal the truth of his finding? Or is this conspiracy paranoia? In any case, the data adjustment reported in today’s posting vindicates Douglass and Knox 2009.
I’m not sure of the International Journal of Climate paper ref but here is another by the same group:
DH Douglass, RS Knox, Ocean heat content and Earth’s radiation imbalance. Physics Letters A, Volume 373, Issue 36, 31 August 2009, Pages 3296-3300.


I’ve always thought you had to be a top notch scientist to make it into NASA.
James Hansen has proven me wrong.


“Are they finally getting honesty worked back into the science?”
Temperatures have been trending up and trending down since the dawn of time…roughly 30 years up followed by 30 years down..along with some longer cycles.
To be fair…if the only reliable data one has is from the ‘uptrend’. Quantifying how much is man manmade is almost impossible.
One needs to wait for the down trend. We are now in the downtrend.
We haven’t decreased out CO2 emissions, yet the temperature is trending down.

tim c

Good post, science is making a comeback. Now NASA will study the sun for effects on earth as if they could do something about it!

Steve Oregon

Well knock me over with peer reviewed paper.
What’s next?
Gore admitting he’s not a scientist?
Or Gavin Schmidt admitting he’s not Al Gore?
Or how about James Hansen admitting he likes Romance Novels?
Or Jane Lubchenco admitting she hates seawater?
One more,
Joe Romm admitting he is sort of an angry dude.


Dr. Bob (12:03:07) :
Does this mean the NASA GISS “2009 2nd warmest year on record” will be changed?
No. But if any change is made it will be alterations in the data so the result will make 2009 the warmest year, not the 2nd warmest, on record.


Now there has to be some tricky, sneaky way this current administration can take credit for this downturn?


I notice a huge jump in heat content circa 2003. Would that by any chance correspond to NODC’s initial correction of the ARGO “bias?”


A bit off topic, but: Just watched a report on Davos (on Al Jazeera … seems to be the only place to get unbiased news these days 🙁 ).
The fanatics have not given up. They are trying to get the legal binding agreements that failed in Copenhagen done at Davos.
Watch for back-door deals!

John Peter

I was just looking at
and noted again the following comments to Ocean temperature and heat content,
namely “For the upper 700m, the increase in heat content was 16 x 1022 J since 1961. This is consistent with the comparison by Roemmich and Gilson (2009) of Argo data with the global temperature time-series of Levitus et al (2005), finding a warming of the 0 – 2000 m ocean by 0.06°C since the (pre-XBT) early 1960’s.”
Looking at Figure 1 above the 16×1022 J seems to be reproduced there as well (1961-2009) so would it be right to conclude that Figure 1 actually represents a heating of the ocean since 1961 of 0.6 degrees C?????.
If that is indeed the case I must admit I am slightly “underwhelmed” by the impact of AGW on ocean temperatures down to 700 metres. (Perhaps I have misunderstood the whole thing). If that warming is correct then I would say that figure 1 distorts the “warming picture” by having the X axis compressed in relation to Y, but perhaps that is how you “frighten” the uninitiated.


“aMINO aCIDS iN mETEORITES (12:16:35) :
I’ve always thought you had to be a top notch scientist to make it into NASA.
James Hansen has proven me wrong.

I hear they get out of the astronaut business. I suggest they concentrate on Hansen style work some more and change their name to
N ational
A gency for
S caremongering and
A larmism


James F. Evans (11:56:26) :
So, the Sun’s total energy output is down….this is starting to show up in ocean heat content data.
This was in an earlier thread at WattUpWithThat
A calorimeter is a device which measures the amount of heat given off in a chemical or physical reaction. It turns out that one can use the Earth’s oceans as one giant calorimeter to measure the amount of heat Earth absorbs and reemits every solar cycle.
from here


OT but perhaps not entirely unrelated, 69.7% of the Continental US is now snow-covered:

“Hide the lack of incline”!!!!
Amazing how far off the GISS projection is over just in a 5 year span.


Sean (11:44:01) :
It sure does look out-of-place, that 2002-3 jump.
What say we ‘remove’ the jump and examine what things might look like?
Be right back.


Dr. Bob. You have my thanks too.
I must admit I stopped at Fig. 1 for a moment and wondered how the oceans could have negative heat content before about 1987.
And wondering what negative heat content could mean.


Curious, was the original increase in temperature there before Copenhagen started?

Stanley Ipkus

They probably based these original projections off of some random prediction by a radical environmentalist, or perhaps it was Nostradamus. After all, apparently the WWF and Greenpeace were cited AGAIN by the IPCC!!

James F. Evans

phlogiston (12:12:27) wrote: “Or is this conspiracy paranoia?”
It’s pretty clear from the Climategate emails that individuals in certain groups got together and discussed how to refuse Freedom of Information requests and how to keep contradicting scientific papers out of peer-reviewed publications and likely how to manipulate data to “hide the decline”.
Conspire: To join in an a secret agreement to do an unlawful or wrongful act or to use such means to accomplish a lawful end.
People are prosecuted and convicted for conspiracy on a regular basis.
When people try and smear others by labeling them “conspiracy theorists”, they often do so to keep those people’s evidence from being seriously considered and to block investigation into the people working in agreement to achieve a wrongful objective.
The Climate Change fiasco is littered with such examples.

Douglas DC

As the oceeans lose heat the cooler it gets,oh,and here is the latest UNISYS
SST anomaly-Nino’s appearing a bit blue around the gills..
Thanks, Bob, for all that you do…


Maybe it really should look like this:
Where the progression from 1998 to present is similar but on a higher plane than 1977 to 1997. And that makes more sense to me if the 1998 El Nino shot the ocean temps up and they stabilzed there after the El Nino dissipated.

David Harington

Dr. Hansen is a religious zealot and totally immune to any opinions or evidence that questions his belief system.
For that reason attempting to debate with him is a total waste of time and energy.


I’m very curious about the origin of the correction; I know the company that makes the temperature sensors in ARGO floats – they are one of my competitors. I believe it highly unlikely that there is any significant performance or calibration change in those sensors since they were introduced. They are good. Very very good. We are talking a couple of millidegrees over that time frame – to understand what that means, think of the temperature change you would introduce by sticking your finger in a bucket of tap water for 5 seconds. That would be about 5 millidegrees or so.
My point is that any modifiction to the data is highly unlikely to come from a manufacturer’s “whoops -we made a mistake” moment. And measuring in the sea is a lot more immune to external factors than air – no need for screens, no UHI effect. And as I said, if this company’s sensor says the temperaure is X°C, then it is X°C ±0.001°C (ish). So what manner of data tweaking is going on?

Chris F

Actually showing the decline for a change. Smart move.


Leo G and others re effect of climategate on shifting climate papers of late:
Two things are happening – scientists. coerced by AGW-biased institutional employers have been liberated and the too deeply commited are fighting their own personal Alamos. On the one hand real science is trying to re-emerge and on the other scientists are circling the wagons, protesting that, yes a few errors have been made but the ipcc science remains “robust” (a fine word forever to be associated with the end of the world economy ipcc manifesto). Oh and on the third hand, there will be the ‘tweeners’ who will be attempting to bend their curves gradually back to match the real trends.. I’m not sure whether nodc is #s 1 or 3.

Michael Larkin

Couldn’t wrap my head around 10^22 joules. If Wikipedia is right and my sums are too, then that’s the energy equivalent of 166,666,667 Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs. Kind of puts in perspective the heat capacity of the oceans.


You have to wonder how much professional embarrassment one organisation can take before major internal changes happen to try to get out of the hole they’ve dug.
Could the real scientists be begining to take control?

old construction worker

Where is all that “heat” in the pipe line? O where O where did it go?

Mike Ramsey

From :
“As of November, 2, 2009, the WOD09 standard depth level data for the expendable bathythermograph (XBT) and mechanical bathythermograph (MBT) datasets will include adjustment for documented time-dependent temperature biases as described by Levitus et al. (2009). This is in addition to the correction of depths to the Hanawa et al. (1995) fall-rate for all XBT data which can be corrected. OBSERVED LEVEL DATA DO NOT HAVE ANY ADJUSTMENTS. The corrected standard level data are the data as they were used to calculate the World Ocean Atlas 2009 temperature climatologies. Those XBT data with a second-header 33 (depth_correction) value of -1 (not enough information on fall-rate used) do not have any fall-rate correction applied, they do have the temperature bias correction applied. These XBT data without sufficient fall-rate information were not used in the World Ocean Atlas temperature climatology. This subset of data consists of XBT only for years 1996-present, the period when the Sippican and TSK XBT software included two choices for fall-rate for T4, T6, T7, and Deep Blue XBTs. Prior to this period, when a probe type and fall-rate were not identified in the data, if the maximum depth of measurement was <= 840 meters, the depths were adjusted to the Hanawa fall-rate equation. Until the Deep Blue was manufactured to reach depths deeper than 900 meters, the only probe type which measured below 840 meters was the T5. Data for T5s have either no adjustment (Sippican) or a small adjustment (for TSK models) (Kizu et al., 2005). Information on the decision made on depth adjustment is included for each XBT in second-header 54 (depth_fix).
The bias adjustment (and fall-rate equation) is an area of current study, and may change in the future. The addition of more XBT and CTD data to the World Ocean Database may also cause adjustments in the temperature bias calculation. The temperature bias data provided by Levitus et al. 2009 along with other temperature bias/ fall-rate recalculations are available on XBT bias page. The XBT temperature bias and MBT temperature bias adjustments for World Ocean Database 2009 are slightly different from Levitus et al., 2009, especially for recent years, due to the addition of more XBT (MBT)/CTD data.”
And for reference:
Mike Ramsey


ED to ME.
From: Ed Miliband (
Sent: 22 January 2010 13:05:37
Earlier this week, I was shocked to read that a survey of Conservative candidates placed climate change at the very bottom of their list of priorities.
I believe we need people in parliament who really care about these issues if we are to see any progress.
To do this you can now use our website to find out what your MP or candidate really thinks about climate change.
Send a message to your MP and/or candidates to find out their views on climate change
You and I are committed to pushing further than the Copenhagen deal.
But for this to happen we need committed people in Parliament.
We deserve to know the views of those who seek to represent us
Working together over the past few months, this campaign has shown that we can put real pressure on the climate change sceptics.
Make MPs and candidates talk about OUR issue by sending them a message they can’t ignore
Let’s campaign on our beliefs – and force them to campaign on theirs.
Thank you
ED provided the links, I reworded the email and sent as instructed.

Mike Ramsey

Mike Ramsey (13:41:07) :
And I forgot to add: 
Mike Ramsey


The Times Online (UK) has discovered the SDO.
Nasa mission to unravel sun’s threat to Earth
A new probe could help scientists predict the solar storms that cause chaos for us

Among the interesting tidbits:

Scientists have long been aware that disturbances on the sun can trigger dangerous x-rays, charged particles and magnetic fields that can disrupt power supplies, communication signals and aircraft navigation systems on Earth.

Therefore the Sun always has disturbances. Now if they had said those disturbances trigger excessive amounts of

Barbara Thompson, project scientist, said: “It is Nasa’s first weather mission and it aims to characterise everything on the sun that can impact on the Earth and near Earth.

First solar weather mission? So SOHO was only for taking pretty pictures?


The fact that ocean heat anomaly since 2003 is approximately zero, was pointed out by Roger Pielke sr in his climate science blog, and is imo, the single greatest piece of evidence against the AGW hypothesis.
About ten years ago James Hansen made a prediction that CO2 forcing causes a radiative imbalance averaging about 0.85 watts/metre squared which would “melt the ice, heat the atmosphere and warm the oceans.” Obviously, this must be true: if the greenhouse theory is true, there must be a radiative imbalance and it must cause this to happen.
Then, about a year ago, Roger Pielke posted on his site, the fact that whereas Hansen’s prediction required an ocean heat accumulation of about 10^22 joules per year, the Argo dataset showed no heat accumulation at all. Nobody can account for this missing heat, and I suppose, if you were of a particular mindset, you would consider this to be “a travesty.”
This latest revision, if anything, seems to confirm Pielke and refute Hansen’s claim. Surely, there can be little doubt, that without being able to locate this ocean heat accumulation, AGW just ain’t happening – “it’s global warming Jim, but not as we know it!”