Pielke Sr. on media climate science overstatements

Example Of Media Overstatement

global map of sea surface temps with bright orange warm pool

A new study in Nature Geoscience finds that Indian Ocean sea levels are rising unevenly and threatening residents in some densely populated coastal areas, particularly those along the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, Sri Lanka, Sumatra, and Java. This image shows the key player in the process, the Indo-Pacific warm pool, in bright orange. This enormous, bathtub-shaped area spans a region of the tropical oceans from the east coast of Africa to the International Date Line in the Pacific. The warm pool has heated by about 1 degree Fahrenheit, or 0.5 degrees Celsius, in the past 50 years, primarily because of human-generated emissions of greenhouses gases. (Image courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.)

Guest post by Dr. Roger Pielke Sr.

There are quite a few examples of overstatements and errors in media reports on climate science (and in the associated research paper). Today, I present one example that appears in a UCAR press release

Indian Ocean sea level rise threatens coastal areas

‘The key player in the process is the Indo-Pacific warm pool, an enormous, bathtub-shaped area spanning a region of the tropical oceans from the east coast of Africa to the International Date Line in the Pacific. The warm pool has heated by about 1 degree Fahrenheit, or 0.5 degrees Celsius, in the past 50 years, primarily because of human-generated emissions in greenhouses gases.”

The attribution of the positive temperature anomalies “primarily because of human-generated emissions in greenhouses gases” ignores  research that documents in the peer reviewed literature a much more complicated role of human and natural climate forcings and feedbacks in affecting all aspects of the climate system (e.g. see and see).

The current sea surface temperature anomalies are presented below. The attribution of the Indo-Pacific warm pool to human-generated emissions in greenhouse gases without commenting on the reasons for the cooler than average anomalies (e.g. see the developing La Nina and the cool south Atlantic Ocean) illustrates how this UCAR study has selectively chosen data that fits their preconceived assumptions of climate.

From http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/ml/ocean/sst/anomaly.html [see also a larger view of the globe at http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/data/sst/anomaly/2010/anomnight.7.15.2010.gif]

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64 thoughts on “Pielke Sr. on media climate science overstatements

  1. Let’s see, 50 years… that would be from the bottom of the cool PDO cycle to just beyond the recent warm PDO.
    Nothing quite like picking the endpoints to match your conclusion.

  2. There needs to be a title for items like this, something like “Weather is not climate.”
    Perhaps “Regional anomalies are not globally significant.”

  3. It is particularly nice of them to first point out in the first paragraph that sea levels are rising unevenly…as if to suggest that sea levels everywhere in the Indian Ocean are rising. At least they concede later in the press release that there really is a compensation factor at play.
    It is very comforted however, that the research team “used several sophisticated ocean and climate models.” I am glad those models were able to tell them exactly how the Hadley and Walker circulations impacted sea level changes in the past without any uncertainty, so they could come to their conclusion about the human parasite’s threat to itself.

  4. There is a major “warming” activity which I suspect is being overlooked on all sides. Almost all the western side gulf states use the Persian Gulf as a “heat exchanger” for power generation activities and now it is also being used as a heat sink for very large air conditioning plants which draw in cool water to “chill” the air and dump it back into the gulf at a much higher temperature.
    Corals, sea life and flora in the vacinity of these plants is already dying off creating undersea deserts, but exactly what the longterm effect of this is likely to be is, I suspect, unknown. I am told by an unverifiable source, that average sea temperatures in the Gulf have risen by “about a degree”. I also note with interest that the Eco-terrorists still bash the west and make no mention at all of the activities in the Middle East and Far East which are dumping far more of the gases and engaging in other “warming” projects. Could there be a pecuniary interest at work here? Some funding to these organisations to ensure they look the other way?

  5. Nothing quite like picking the endpoints to match your conclusion“…
    Excellent call!

  6. “The warm pool has heated by about 1 degree Fahrenheit, or 0.5 degrees Celsius, in the past 50 years, primarily because of human-generated emissions of greenhouses gases.”
    Why are we still paying for this kind of garbage?

  7. So as long as you put ‘it’s global warming’ then no form of evidence is needed?
    I wonder if the national lottery will accept I’ve won without a ticket?

  8. “Indian Ocean sea levels are rising unevenly and threatening residents in some densely populated coastal areas,”
    Err what?
    Where is the data supporting this preposterous statement?
    I think Nature geoscience need to re-read their own articles before publishing.
    Could it be that they have omitted the reason why oceans warm…..forgotten about the big yellow orb in the sky?
    Man’s emissions of CO2 warming the Indian Ocean by 0.5 degrees C in past 50 years? ……….. I’d like to see the experiment which proves that hypothesis.
    Sorry I just don’t see it, obviously I’ll have to change the types of hallucinatory drugs I’m currently using.

  9. Maybe they haven’t heard of “gravity”… that indomitable force that brings the surface of liquids to the same elevation if given enough time. Certainly, 50 years would be sufficient; nay, 50 weeks would be sufficient, even on a body of liquid the size of the “Indo-Pacific warm pool.”

  10. Yeah, but that Mercator Projection looks really, well, WOW!, what with the dark grey landmasses and black ice caps that enhance the value contrast between those areas and the bright orange in the image; and the choice of the primary blue and the orange to create the maximum hue intensity contrast.
    We are primarily visual creatures. This image was created by an artist who knows how to use principles of color contrast to maximize the perception of extremes. An argument can be made that it is visual propaganda.

  11. In a recent essay “Communicating Scientific Findings”, I attempted to address this issue by comparing press releases to paper abstracts. (retreadresources.com/blog)
    “I think and maybe it is only me that thinks this way, but I think if you are following the scientific method in doing your research, the same standards and rules apply to your conclusions, predictions, prognostications, informed scientific opinions and press releases. …. To allow anything less is to mislead, misrepresent and misinform. This does a disservice to your science, your reputation and to the community at large. I am sure it is thought to bolster their grant funding position and status among the orthodox thinking. Not an excuse, just a reason.”
    That of course applies to researchers attempting to fit data into ideological frameworks instead of falsifying hypothesis. This kind of thing reduces scientists to propagandists and sophists, roles better played by politicians and demigods.

  12. “Indian Ocean sea levels are rising unevenly”
    Well no
    The land is rising and sinking unevenly.
    The India plate is crashing into the Eurasia plate, India is sinking into the mantle.

  13. It will be quite interesting to see, TB, what the L&P Effect will have on your analysis.
    ==========

  14. 75% of the people in China and India heat with wood, coal, charcoal or other waste.
    I suspect it is ATV’s and Jet Skis that are much worse in America.

  15. Dr. Pielke,
    Two questions come to mind. Why does the warm pool exist in the first place, and why would “global” warming selectively cause that too warm more than other areas? I thought that CO2 would cause more warming at the poles.

  16. There is a fault line near this area (I think) where the two plates rubbing together actually drags the plates downward. The appearance on land is that the water level is rising. This fault line causes tsunamis when the tension in the plates is releases and the plates pop back up. I know I’m not citing anything but going from memory of the discovery channel show on tsunamis. Point being I wonder if this effect has more to do with sea level rise than alleged AGW

  17. Better take a look to the link given by Tallbloke above, because just seeing that burning earth makes me mad. WUWT?
    See above.

  18. Just to show this is like changing sides, from skeptics’ to believers’. Can’t believe it!

  19. “…illustrates how this UCAR study has selectively chosen data that fits their preconceived assumptions of climate.”
    Par for the “Climate Science” course.

  20. Good old telegraph,
    Malaysia closes diving reefs to save coral
    Malaysia has closed several of its world-famous diving sites including those surrounding the tropical islands of Tioman and Redang because authorities claim the coral is being killed off by (global warming).
    Twelve reefs that attract half a million tourists from around the world annually are now closed to divers and snorkellers until the end of October to allow the corals to recover from bleaching caused by warmer seas.
    Does that mean global warming will end in october.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/globalwarming/7904497/Malaysia-closes-diving-reefs-to-save-coral.html

  21. No, you are all wrong. See what’s happening is, man emitted CO2 is more susceptible to the trade winds, so as a results, CO2 emitted from the south migrates to the north and emitted in the north to the south. Eventually, going from north to south and south to north the CO2 hits the doldrums where all of the CO2 accumulates and simply just stays there. So, this basically creates the equivalent effect of a giant cosmic water expanding ray gun pointed right at the Indian Ocean thus just the beginning of our impending doom. Unless you buy carbon credits, which are now sold at a very discounted price, purchases at museums notwithstanding.

  22. A new study in Nature Geoscience finds that Indian Ocean sea levels are rising unevenly and threatening residents in some densely populated coastal areas, particularly those along the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, Sri Lanka, Sumatra, and Java.
    It is shame that as the scientist of his repute he has no inclination to widen his investigation into particular area before making such ‘scientific’ pronouncements. I recommend study of two world maps; one showing the strongest gravitation anomaly, the other the sharpest transition of magnetic field (density of the iso lines) anywhere in the world, both located in region of Indian Ocean. This is a sign of strong perturbations in the earth mantle and nothing to do with AGW.
    http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/goce.jpg
    http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/geomag/data/mag_maps/pdf/Z_map_mf_2005.pdf
    I would also recommend a closer look at :
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/NFC1.htm
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/LFC1.htm
    but then I think CO2 is essential component of life on this planet!

  23. The most interesting thing I notice is that there is no mention of how much the sea level rises or lowers. It would have to be more than tidal influences to be significant, wouldn’t it?

  24. It seems to me that regional warm water expansion would in fact have an insignificant effect, measurable in millimeters with an upper limit that is fixed and equally insignificant. If there is the appearance of rising seas it is more likely receding coastal areas or isolated rising land mass that impacts stable areas in a negative way. The Bay of Bengal is a huge unstable delta area given to massive topographic changes on its own accord. Weather, currents, farming,industry, and tectonics all play an active roll. One visible on a real time basis.

  25. But if you look at their map and compare it to the NOAA map you do not see the La Nina in the Pacific. WUWT?

  26. RockyRoad says:
    July 22, 2010 at 7:53 am

    Maybe they haven’t heard of “gravity”… that indomitable force that brings the surface of liquids to the same elevation if given enough time. Certainly, 50 years would be sufficient; nay, 50 weeks would be sufficient, even on a body of liquid the size of the “Indo-Pacific warm pool.”
    The issue is more a combination of low water density (which will raise the equilibrium level), wind patterns (think storm surge on a broader but weaker scale), and likely salinity, subsidence, politics, etc. It’s not just gravity….

    P.F. says:
    July 22, 2010 at 7:54 am

    Yeah, but that Mercator Projection looks really, well, WOW!,

    It’s not a Mercator projection! I’ll grant you it’s not equal area, but but it’s no Mercator projection.

  27. Ric Werme says: July 22, 2010 at 9:55 am “It’s not a Mercator projection! I’ll grant you it’s not equal area, but but it’s no Mercator projection.”
    You are correct, sir. It’s actually a Platte Carre centered on Asia. My bad. I’ll do better next time.

  28. Sea Levels Rising in Parts of Indian Ocean; Greenhouse Gases Play Role, Study Finds
    ScienceDaily (July 13, 2010)
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100713101412.htm
    Patterns of Indian Ocean sea-level change in a warming climate
    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ngeo901.html
    While the media does overstate AWG at times [http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/features/online/1053/climate-porn], this is not an example. GHG do play the major role here and everyone knows there are other factors like deforestation and natural cycles. Why should a story about human caused sea level rise in one region report on natural cooling in another? I don’ see Pielke’s objections as valid in this case.

  29. Robuk says:
    July 22, 2010 at 8:59 am
    “Good old telegraph,
    Malaysia closes diving reefs to save coral”
    Wonderful logic in that article. Global warming kills corals, so you close the area for divers to help them recover. Not only does global warming cause everything, no, now completely unrelated measures are a remedy.

  30. BarryW
    Regarding your excellent questions:
    “Two questions come to mind. Why does the warm pool exist in the first place, and why would “global” warming selectively cause that too warm more than other areas? I thought that CO2 would cause more warming at the poles.”
    First, just as with the associated atmospheric circulations, circulation features in the oceans result in regional patterns of temperatures which vary with time of year and over the long term. For periods of time, therefore, regions are above and below a longer term average. This is what we see in the SST anomaly figure I posted. The El Nino and La Nina ocean SST anomaly patterns are good examples of such time varying patterns (where we clearly see the signature of the new La Nina in the figure).
    For course, there is a human component to the ocean temperatures as there is with the atmosphere. We know this, for example, for the Indian Ocean with respect to the heating from black carbon (e.g. see http://www-indoex.ucsd.edu/) and land use change (e.g. see
    Kumiko Takata, Kazuyuki Saitoa and Tetsuzo Yasunari, 2009: Changes in the Asian monsoon climate during 1700–1850 induced by preindustrial cultivation PNAS published online June 1, 2009, doi:10.1073/pnas.0807346106.
    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/06/01/0807346106.abstract,
    that the temperatures are different than they would be without the human disturbance. Of course, the still unresolved question, is the size of this effect relative to natural regional variations.
    In terms of the radiative forcging of CO2, it is larger at the higher latitudes where the overlap with the radiative forcing of water vapor is much less (since there is much less water vapor in the atmosphere there than in the subtropics and tropics). This is indeed where the IPCC models predict the largest warming.
    I hope these replies are useful!

  31. 24 Apr 2010 … “Bangladesh’s landmass has increased in recent years, thanks to sedimentation in its southern rivers, a study has revealed.” more….
    “Climate scientists have expressed surprise at findings that many low-lying Pacific islands are growing, not sinking…..The findings, published in the journal Global and Planetary Change, were gathered by comparing changes to 27 Pacific islands over the last 20 to 60 years using historical aerial photos and satellite images.” more…
    See Floating Islands [27 January, 2010]
    “When the sea rises, the atoll rises with it, and when the sea falls, they fall as well.
    Atolls exist in a delicate balance between new sand and coral rubble being added from the reef, and sand and rubble being eroded by wind and wave back into the sea.
    When the sea falls, more sand tumbles from the high part, and more of the atoll is exposed to wind erosion.
    The atoll falls along with the sea level. When the sea level rises, wind erosion decreases. The coral grows up along with the sea level rise.” more…
    IPCC – “Based on the few very long tide gauge records, the average rate of sea level rise has been larger during the 20th century than the 19th century. No significant acceleration in the rate of sea level rise during the 20th century has been detected” more…
    Is this the Indo-Pacific cold pool in the months ahead?
    ALWAYS REMAIN SCEPTICAL!

  32. Remember the episode of “Gilligan’s Island” where the Professor thought the island was sinking, but it was just Gilligan moving the Professor’s measuring stick to catch lobsters??

  33. DirkH says:
    July 22, 2010 at 10:41 am
    BTW, i looked at
    http://weather.unisys.com/surface/sst_anom.gif
    and off the west coast of Africa at the equator there is a blob of very cold water that looks like a La Nina, only smaller. Is this a well-known phenomenon? Does it have a name?

    Yes. It is called the “Benguela Nino”, and it starts off the coast of Angola.
    Like the current La Nina building rapidly in the Pacific, the Benguela Nino is building from the same source: The ever-expanding Antarctic cold. Now, all one really needs is for the Arctic to simultaneously cool unexpectedly (DMI 80N ?? is it doing that??) and you have your global cooling running amok.
    We just had a mass of Antarctic Air run up the spine of S. America, which the MSM nonchalantly ignores.

  34. RockyRoad says:
    July 22, 2010 at 7:53 am
    Maybe they haven’t heard of “gravity”… that indomitable force that brings the surface of liquids to the same elevation if given enough time. Certainly, 50 years would be sufficient; nay, 50 weeks would be sufficient, even on a body of liquid the size of the “Indo-Pacific warm pool.”
    Seriously, could somebody explain this? I mean 50 years? 50 weeks? I would think 50 seconds. Wouldn’t you have to empty an absolutely massive amount of water into the ocean all at once to have some sort of local sea level effect? And even then wouldn’t it have to be very close to the shoreline where you’re measuring the anomoly? And wouldn’t it dissipate very quickly?
    Try as I might I just can’t think of how gradually rising global sea levels could possibly translate into any significant, consistent sea level difference from one point on earth to the next. Sure the tides might behave differently. And depending on the grade of the shoreline an x cm rise in global sea level might translate into different amounts of land area lost. But I don’t think that’s what they’re talking about here:
    “Global sea level patterns are not geographically uniform,” says NCAR scientist Gerald Meehl, a co-author. “Sea level rise in some areas correlates with sea level fall in other areas.”
    How does that work? Is the surface of the ocean bulging out in certain areas? If so, why? Yes, I know that’s what’s happening with tides, but again, as far as I can tell they’re not talking about tides here, they’re talking about global average sea level. (Or are they? If a sea level rise in one place has a corresponding sea level fall in another, is it fair to say the sea level has risen?)
    It just seems so fundamental so I can only assume I’m missing something. Can anybody explain this… I mean even if you disagree with the conclusions of this study, is there even an ostensible explanation for how this could be possible? Seriously curious.

  35. Mike says:
    July 22, 2010 at 10:22 am
    You need to explain how you have separated the human component from the naturals before you make that rather banal statement.

  36. “Indian Ocean sea levels are rising unevenly and threatening residents in some densely populated coastal areas,”
    The bit of the Indian Ocean outside my front door shows no sign of rising (apart from its annoying habit of going up and down every six hours or so). But if I stare hard and long at that bit a little short of the horizon, I get the feeling that I can detect the point where it starts to go uphill. Should be pretty good for water skiing.

  37. Billy says:
    July 22, 2010 at 11:14 am
    …It just seems so fundamental so I can only assume I’m missing something. Can anybody explain this… I mean even if you disagree with the conclusions of this study, is there even an ostensible explanation for how this could be possible? Seriously curious.
    _______________________________________________________________
    I think the key here is “Indian Ocean sea levels are rising unevenly” This is an active tectonic area. You can see this in the “Recent Earthquakes – Last 8-30 Days” map The earth it’s self is moving not the ocean.
    Now that I have solved that mystery, where is my share of that million dollar grant money???

  38. Most of the commentors are responding to the visual impact drawing their thoughts and attention to the Temperature effects, I chose to address the original context of the Earth Observatory article. ________
    “”In fact, the more researchers study the Earth’s oceans and atmosphere, the more they are finding that such large-scale cyclical and near-cyclical variations in ocean temperature and air pressure appear to occur all across the planet at many time scales. Some can stir up the weather across half the globe, while others may only affect the coasts of a single country. Some recur twice every decade on average, while others come around every year.
    [snip]
    The effects and origins of these oscillating waters, however, remain something of a mystery. For the past three years researchers based at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, led by atmospheric scientist Vikram Mehta, have been trying to unravel some of the questions surrounding the warm pool. They have been poring over atmospheric and sea surface temperature data from the western Pacific to the eastern United States looking for answers as to why the warm pool oscillates and what effects this oscillation may have on the world’s climate. What they found is that the warm pool’s vacillations may be felt as far away as Arkansas and may be powerful enough to broaden the extent of El Niño.””
    __________________
    The cyclic periods driving the oscillations of the warm pool, are the long term effects of the Lunar declinational tides in the atmosphere interacting with the global mountain ranges and basin patterns of resonance as it shifts from Min, Max, and back every 18.6 years. If they are reading this here is a link they can maybe use;
    http://research.aerology.com/aerology-analog-weather-forecasting-method/
    Describing the processes in action and why the patterns come and go so as to become predictable, the interactions of the global circulation patterns result in repeating features that have been given names, but are not yet looked at as the secondary effects that they are.

  39. “We find that sea level has decreased substantially in the south tropical Indian Ocean whereas it has increased elsewhere.” Nature Geoscience

    What I wanna know is what is the net effect?
    On Tallblokes site I read about Dr. Ferenc Miskolczi who resigned from NASA due to “space agency’s lack of scientific freedom.” See his pdf paper titled ‘Greenhouse effect in semi-transparent planetary Atmospheres’ which has apparently remained unrefuted which encourages climate scientists to think again about whether the greenhouse gas (GHG) theory truly offers an explanation of Earth’s climate. source.

  40. rbateman says:
    July 22, 2010 at 11:12 am
    “Yes. It is called the “Benguela Nino”, and it starts off the coast of Angola.[…]”
    Thanks a lot! Now, it seems that everything is going our way. This is the triumph of the skeptics. And i don’t like heatwaves anyway.

  41. I wonder what Mr. Pielke Sr. would make of this study of ocean temps at deeper levels:
    http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/SGE66J00K.htm
    At least some of Trenberth’s missing heat may be found…
    REPLY: Dr. Roger Pielke senior. While I know he doesn’t care, since people get grumpy here if people leave it off Dr. Hansen or Dr. Mann, I figure you can do the same courtesy – Anthony

  42. R. Gates says:
    July 22, 2010 at 12:05 pm
    “I wonder what Mr. Pielke Sr. would make of this study of ocean temps at deeper levels:”
    That is not a study. It is a sensationalist yellow-press writeup. They interview a person from CSIRO, an Australian organisation known for their wrong weather forecasts and alarmist stance. There seems to be no study published. Or did i miss it?

  43. R. Gates, I think you are assuming quite a bit from an article that makes no such assumptions. The fact that a few measurement over a relatively short period of time can be connected to the spurious notion that greenhouse gasses can heat oceans is quite a reach. The article says that the mechanism behind these findings is not understood. I doubt Dr. Pielke is worried about it, as he likely understands that such a jump as you make is not supported by the research you cite.

  44. Gail Combs:
    “Now that I have solved that mystery, where is my share of that million dollar grant money???”
    =======
    No Money For You—you’ll only get the cash when you tie tectonic shifts to AGW.

  45. Jimbo says:
    July 22, 2010 at 12:01 pm
    “We find that sea level has decreased substantially in the south tropical Indian Ocean whereas it has increased elsewhere.” Nature Geoscience
    What I wanna know is what is the net effect?

    Great big slosh.

  46. “It just seems so fundamental so I can only assume I’m missing something. Can anybody explain this… I mean even if you disagree with the conclusions of this study, is there even an ostensible explanation for how this could be possible? Seriously curious.”
    Well, the surface of the ocean actually *isn’t* quite flat. Mostly for two reasons.
    1. The Earths gravity field is a bit uneven depending on the uneven distribution of mass. This causes difference on the order of a few tens of meters between different parts of the Ocean. The ocean is for example higher near the continents because the mass of the land means that the gravity is slightly stronger there.
    2. Changes in temperature and/or salinity will cause the oceans to “swell” and “shrink” a bit. Since the mass of the water column does not change this will also cause the form of the equipotential surface to change slightly. However the effect goes to zero at the coastline, a fact that is usually ignored.
    The sea level is of course also affected by the barometric pressure, the tides and wind. These are all short-term effects, but long term changes in e. g. weather patterna can cause small semi-permanent changes.
    To complicate things further the land surface everywhere is almost always either rising or falling slowly.
    So changes in relative sea level are far from uniform, and can be quite different even in places quite close to each other.

  47. “Our new results show that human-caused changes of atmospheric and oceanic circulation over the Indian Ocean region—which have not been studied previously—are the major cause for the regional variability of sea level change.”
    Can someone please help me understand how this is known?
    Now time to spot the weasle words:
    “…sea level rise is at least partly a result of climate change.” Duh!
    “…may aggravate monsoon…”
    “…could have future impacts…”
    “…may experience significantly more…”
    “…may also affect precipitation by forcing…”
    “This may favor a weakening of atmospheric convection…”
    How about using the word WILL? What a waste of grant money.

  48. rbateman says:
    July 22, 2010 at 1:51 pm
    It is like a person’s lungs. What is the resting lung volume? When I exhale, the volume goes down, when I inhale it goes up. But it is never at rest. So we could say that temporally, the lung volume varies so that at some times it is higher than the mean of high and low extremes. So a true statement would be that at least half the time period sampled the volume has increased. If one leaves out just a fraction of the exhalation, then the net is positive.
    SO, if I were a warmist, I would begin measuring the lung volume halfway through the exhale, and end the measurement at the end of the inhale, noting that the total volume is net higher than the “average”. Graphing a partial sine curve in this way is a great “Nature trick”, courtesy Mann, Trenbeth and Jones
    The warm-earthers, as Gene pointed out at the beginning of this thread, love to choose the start and end points in this way to suit their conclusions. They are not lying, they are just very bad, abysmal scientists in methodology and/or ethics.

  49. Quickly browsed the comments, did not see it mentioned so here are my two cents: If the sea level is rising near densely populated areas, could it be that the land is sinking and the sea is remaining steady?

  50. From R. Gates’ linked piece:
    “At the moment we can’t really say that the pattern of deep warming that we see is a signal of human-caused climate change,” said Rintoul.
    “And the reason we can’t say that is partly because we only have a few decades of observations and also because we don’t really understand the processes that control variability in the deep ocean as well,” he said.”
    Sound familiar?
    Next!

  51. Jimbo says:
    July 22, 2010 at 12:01 pm
    Our very own Joel Shore refuted Fernencs paper over at RC.
    Unfortunately, his refutation seems to be, “I don’t understand it, therefore it’s crap!”
    DaveE.

  52. “”” tty says:
    July 22, 2010 at 1:52 pm
    “It just seems so fundamental so I can only assume I’m missing something. Can anybody explain this… I mean even if you disagree with the conclusions of this study, is there even an ostensible explanation for how this could be possible? Seriously curious.”
    Well, the surface of the ocean actually *isn’t* quite flat. Mostly for two reasons. “””
    But is it actually “gravitationally flat”. Forgetting for the moment wave action; so we integrate out that noise; would the ocean surface be flat; so that a rolling ball will go nowhere from anywhere on there. Now we do have the daily tidal bulge; but that really just distorts the geometry of what still remains “flat”. The tides, and the acceleration due to rotation; simply reshape the geometry of “flat”.

  53. RockyRoad says:
    July 22, 2010 at 7:53 am
    Maybe they haven’t heard of “gravity”… that indomitable force that brings the surface of liquids to the same elevation if given enough time. Certainly, 50 years would be sufficient; nay, 50 weeks would be sufficient, even on a body of liquid the size of the “Indo-Pacific warm pool.”
    (And Billy, who comments on that)
    When water expands due to temperature, it does not get heavier, so that does not create a pressure difference that would cause a flow to keep the surface level.
    So if you run a cold bath and then run some hot water into it, for as long as the temperature difference remains, the surface at the hot end will be slightly higher than the surface at the cold end.
    Think of thin columns of water of equal area. In equilibrium each column will have the same mass. But the hotter columns have lower density and so the surface is higher above the bottom of the bath.
    So yes, local heating will cause a local sea level rise.

  54. R. Gates says:
    July 22, 2010 at 12:05 pm
    from article re CSIRO “study”:
    “He said the observed warming rate for the deep layers of the Southern Ocean, between Australia and Antarctica, was about 0.03 degrees Celsius per decade.”
    They actually claim to be able to measure a 0.03 C difference over a ten year time period! Caveat emptor, R. Gates.

  55. In many fields, circles, and areas of human reference, this is called “PACKAGEING”. The secret to getting scientific, psyentific, and every other form of ‘…entific’ material read is the “PACKAGEING”. (“PACKAGEING” is also the secret to getting funding proposals approved for studies to develope the material in the first place; I guess I shouldn’t have put the cart before the jackass;-)
    This is all a Madison Avenue trick, gimmick, ploy to get money from idiots (Congress) to pay for the idiots (Xxx-entists) who write the material that the idiots (College Professors) read. Life in the modern world is really quite simple minded once you get the hang of it. The fact that the country is broke because of the unchecked nature of such spending in this area (and countless others) is of little concern to anyone involved in the process.

  56. “Indian ocean sea levels are rising unevenly”
    Except for very short term differences this is physically impossible.
    Possible and quite common is that land masses sink unevenly. Faster sinking areas are often heavily populated due to land use changes, emptying underlying aquifers, buiding heavy infrastructure on loose soils, and things of that nature.
    This speaks pretty poorly of the peer review and/or even editorial oversight at Nature Geoscience.

  57. Gareth Williams says:
    July 22, 2010 at 7:09 pm
    When water expands due to temperature, it does not get heavier, so that does not create a pressure difference that would cause a flow to keep the surface level.
    So if you run a cold bath and then run some hot water into it, for as long as the temperature difference remains, the surface at the hot end will be slightly higher than the surface at the cold end.
    Think of thin columns of water of equal area. In equilibrium each column will have the same mass. But the hotter columns have lower density and so the surface is higher above the bottom of the bath.
    So yes, local heating will cause a local sea level rise.

    The fatal flaw in your explanation is that water is not compressible. Thermal expansion causes a volumetric change. Since the warmer water weighs the same yet occupies a larger volume it creates a pressure differential at the boundary which, due to the incompressibility of water, is felt almost immediately throughout the contiguous volume. No “flow” is required to keep the surface level just as no flow is required to drive a nail into wood. The increased pressure on the head of the nail when the hammer strikes it is almost instaneously transmitted to the far end of the nail.

  58. @gareth
    I tried a little experiment to see what happens to a lower density pocket of fluid in higher density body of water. Motor oil is lower density than water and immiscible so I put a drop of it into a bucket of water. If your hypothesis is correct it should have floated a bit above the rest of the water and since it is immiscible and the water was still it should have remained a droplet floating a bit higher. Instead it very quickly formed a uniformly thin film across the top of the bucket. Why did that happen?

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