Pielke Senior: Misinformation on the Website “Skeptical Science – Getting Skeptical About Global Warming Skepticism”

By Dr. Roger Pielke Senior

There is a weblog called “Skeptical Science – Getting Skeptical About Global Warming Skepticism” that has a misleading post on ocean heat content titled

Ocean cooling: skeptic arguments drowned by data

The post starts with

In 2008, climate change sceptic Roger Pielke Sr said this: “Global warming, as diagnosed by upper ocean heat content has not been occurring since 2004”. It is a fine example of denialist spin, making several extraordinary leaps:

•that one symptom is indicative of the state of an entire malaise (e.g. not being short of breath one day means your lung cancer is cured).

•that one can claim significance about a four year period when it’s too short to draw any kind of conclusion

•that global warming has not been occurring on the basis of ocean temperatures alone

So much for the hype. What does the science say about the temperature of the oceans – which, after all, constitute about 70% of the Earth’s surface? The oceans store approximately 80% of all the energy in the Earth’s climate, so ocean temperatures are a key indicator for global warming.

No straight lines

Claims that the ocean has been cooling are correct. Claims that global warming has stopped are not. It is an illogical position: the climate is subject to a lot of natural variability, so the premise that changes should be ‘monotonic’ – temperatures rising in straight lines – ignores the fact that nature doesn’t work like that. This is why scientists normally discuss trends – 30 years or more – so that short term fluctuations can be seen as part of a greater pattern. (Other well-known cyclic phenomena like El Nino and La Nina play a part in these complex interactions).

The post starts by mislabeling me as a “climate change sceptic” and a “denialist”.  Not only is this completely incorrect (as can be easily confirmed by reading our article

Pielke Sr., R., K. Beven, G. Brasseur, J. Calvert, M. Chahine, R. Dickerson, D. Entekhabi, E. Foufoula-Georgiou, H. Gupta, V. Gupta, W. Krajewski, E. Philip Krider, W. K.M. Lau, J. McDonnell,  W. Rossow,  J. Schaake, J. Smith, S. Sorooshian,  and E. Wood, 2009: Climate change: The need to consider human forcings besides greenhouse gases. Eos, Vol. 90, No. 45, 10 November 2009, 413. Copyright (2009) American Geophysical Union),

but it sets the tone of their post as an ad hominem attack, rather than a discussion of the issue.

The author of this post documents in the figures that they present, that upper ocean heat, in terms of its annual average, did not accumulate during the period ~2004 through 2009. This means that global warming halted on this time period. There is no other way to spin this data.

The claim in the post (apparently written by Graham Wayne) Does ocean cooling prove global warming has ended? that

“The most recent ocean measurements show consistent warming”

is false (unless the author of this post has new data since 2009 which may show warming).  The recent lack of warming (the data do not support a cooling, despite what the Skeptical Science weblog reports) does not prove or disprove whether global warming over a longer term has ended.

However, the ocean heat content provides the most appropriate metric to diagnosis global warming in recent (since ~2004 when the Argo network became sufficiently dense) and upcoming years, as recommended, of example, in

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

The author of the post on Skeptical Science continues to present misinformation in their Intermediate level post where it is stated

“Early estimates of ocean heat from the Argo showed a cooling bias due to pressure sensor issues. Recent estimates of ocean heat that take this bias into account show continued warming of the upper ocean. This is confirmed by independent estimates of ocean heat as well as more comprehensive measurements of ocean heat down to 2000 metres deep.”

This is an erroneous statement. There was not continued warming for the time period 2004 to 2009, as confirmed by Josh Willis in

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

Recently, Josh Willis reported that an updated analysis will be available this Fall.

What the Skeptical Science fails to recognize is that with respect to the diagnosis of global warming using Joules of heat accumulation in the oceans, snapshots of heat content at different times are all that is needed. There is no time lag in heating or cooling. The Joules are either there or they are not. The assessment of a long-term linear trend is not needed.

For example, if the ocean lost its heat in one or two years (such as from a major volcanic eruption), the global warming “clock” would be reset. The Skeptical Science statements that

“Claims that the ocean has been cooling are correct. Claims that global warming has stopped are not.”

illustrates their lack of understanding of the physics. If ocean cooling does occur, it DOES mean global warming as stopped during that time period.

What would be useful is for the weblog Skeptical Science authors to discuss the value of using (and issues with using) the accumulation of Joules in the climate system as the primary metric to monitor global warming.

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119 thoughts on “Pielke Senior: Misinformation on the Website “Skeptical Science – Getting Skeptical About Global Warming Skepticism”

  1. Joules? You’re looking for Joules?
    Arghhh… They’d be in the Argo treasure chests.
    Captain Keith (Briffa) buried them on one of them thar islands.
    Can’t see no islands? … must’ve capsized and sunk from the weight of all those Joules!

  2. Pielke Sr: “If ocean cooling does occur, it DOES mean global warming as stopped during that time period.”
    It boggles the mind that anyone with a basic science education could miss this simple concept. Heck! Anyone that has a swimming pool, let alone some science education, should get the idea. I’m glad you called them out on it.

  3. “Skeptical Science” is an alarmist blog. That’s why it is listed under RealClimate in the sidebar. Its name is based on misinformation. Every honest scientist is a skeptic, first and foremost. SkepticalScience is anything but skeptical.
    The SS bloggers don’t understand scientific skepticism, and the Scientific Method is apparently beyond John Cook’s grasp. Ad-hominem attacks are the stock in trade of SS, as Dr Pielke observes. Mr Cook is not a skeptic, he is simply a climate alarmist promoting a scary agenda — and using his disingenuously named blog to do it.
    “Alarmist Pseudo-Science” would be a far more accurate name.

  4. I have been to that site and several others. If one Googles science skeptic, astronomy skeptic or many other terms where one might obtain the other side of an issue, most of the results now seem to be skeptical of the skeptics. There must be an army of spin doctors out there to protect whatever bandwagon the various branches of science are presently riding. I am still trying to find alternative theories to dark matter/energy which I know are out there but it is hard to find data or detail on the web regarding these or, in many cases, even mention of them. If one does find anything it is usually a trashing of these alternatives to the commonly accepted theories even though all of those accepted theories have their own problems and come to dead ends: string theory is a good example with many of the rats now jumping off that ship..

  5. Posit
    “No straight lines”
    Mental leap jump leap
    “This is why scientists normally discuss trends – 30 years or more – so that short term fluctuations can be seen as part of a greater pattern.”
    Which is straight lines.

  6. Skeptical Science was conceived by, of and for mendacity. Thanks for adding your statement to their history of abuse.

  7. And of course, the ocean basin that’s leading the decline in OHC is the North Atlantic:
    http://i49.tinypic.com/11wbm3a.jpg
    Its anomalous rise since the mid-1970s represents more than 30% of the rise in global OHC, so if it’s governed by AMO/AMOC and if it continues to decline at the present rate, global OHC should be relatively flat for a few decades.
    The graph is from this post:
    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2010/06/january-to-march-2010-nodc-ocean-heat.html
    Hopefully, the NCDC will update the dataset for April to June 2010 sometime in the next month or so. Lots of data to sort through with all of those ARGO floats bobbing around.

  8. Tim Channon says:
    September 11, 2010 at 8:37 am
    “Posit
    “No straight lines”
    Mental leap jump leap
    “This is why scientists normally discuss trends – 30 years or more – so that short term fluctuations can be seen as part of a greater pattern.”
    Which is straight lines.”
    I see many long term trends which are not striaght lines, sinusoidal seems quite common, as in the history of the various ice ages, and no they are not PURELY sine waves. Yes, one can plot a straight line through any data series but it is not necessarily as descriptive of what is actually happening.

  9. Dr. Pielke, surely you know by now, there are some people are able to be reasonably engaged and others not. They didn’t like the tone of your statement, so they attack.
    That said, using Joules as the primary metric may open to more issues than you’re aware. Although I like the idea, I can easily see where is takes an entirely different direction of skeptics vs. alarmists. Obviously, the mass of the oceans are not uniform, so Q = c * m * (T2 – T1) must be altered in (how many?) areas. While energy and temps are simply different forms of expression for essentially the same thing, the global populations understanding of both is not uniformly adequate. Although, it does raise interesting thoughts such as capacitance and triggers for release. I’d fear another few years just sorting out the definitions, much less implications and changes of past metrics to the new one.

  10. Perhaps Skeptical Science could run a post on what, exactly, would falsify “global warming”? This would seem to me to be an a good line of inquiry for a sceptical site.

  11. I’ve been a victim of their attacks as well for posting a little common sense aboujt (alleged) AGW. It is correct to say they are not “skeptical” of skepticism, but rather they are “deniers” of skepticism.

  12. What are the total Joules (perhaps KiloJoules, kJ) during the 2004 to 2009 absorbed by the oceans? Was all or most of this heat absorbed into the oceans removed from the atmosphere? If so, does atmospheric satellite data show this same result? Does the ARGO project show a slight gain in heat at deeper depths of our oceans while showing a cooling sea surface temperature during the 2004 – 09? Also, how many kJ of heat was released into our atmosphere from the most recent 2009/10 El Nino? How many kJ of heat was absorbed from our atmosphere by the current 2010 La Nina?

  13. slow to follow says:
    September 11, 2010 at 8:55 am
    “Perhaps Skeptical Science could run a post on what, exactly, would falsify “global warming”? This would seem to me to be an a good line of inquiry for a sceptical site.”
    There is no such data nor will there ever be such, that is why the name was changed to “Climate Change” as the climate is always changing and anything and everything can be blamed on CO2.

  14. Dr. Pielke writes,
    “This means that global warming halted on this time period. There is no other way to spin this data.”
    Although this is the only way that Dr. Pielke spins the data, it is not the interpretation made by many other scientists, who point out the large uncertainties and measurement questions surrounding ARGO-based estimates, and the evidence from many other sources showing that global warming has not halted.
    An alternative hypothesis is that we do not yet measure ocean heat content well enough to speak conclusively (as Pielke chooses to do) about its short-term trends. That is honesty, not “spinning.”

  15. slow to follow raises an interesting point.
    I have asked some pretty well educated people who make a living off of climate that exact question.
    Their answers, if they even acknowledge the question, is usually ‘if CO2 is proven to not act as a GHG, then I will say AGW is falsified.’
    The answer demonstrates that either they do not realize a distinction between greenhouse effect and AGW, or choose not to admit there is one.
    But usually the question is ignored or they try a feeble deflection by asking about evolution or if I work for ‘big oil’.

  16. 30 years is no more valid for discerning a “trend” or a “significant” shift than 3 years. The shorter the time scale the more likely it is that all you are seeing is insignificant bumps. An ant approaching a 3″ deep pot hole in the road would see it as a huge crater, yet we roll over those at 80mph and barely notice it. Why not 300, or 30,000, or 3o,000,000 years? Because we are like the ant looking at the pothole.

  17. Monckton, Pielke Sr., Montford,… are all coming under sustained attack at the moment. The alarmist sophists’ stock in trade is of course Ad hominem, but the most pernicious are the straw men they continuously set up because these demand time and energy wasting meticulous replies from meticulous people, not easily followed by lay persons. There is also a tit-for-tat twisting of the arguments against those who have advanced them; that clogs up the debate and takes it nowhere, but the aim of course is to score points and reaching tangible truth is last of a sophist’s concerns. The first time I noticed this was a few months ago during the “debate” between George Monbiot and Ian Plimer whose only defence was to get up on his high horse: that certainly did not put him in a good light. Monbiot seems particularly to favour the tit-for-tat tactic and his setting up of the ultimate straw man in the shape Abraham to champion him in his most difficult battle I see as an integral part of this process. The victims should quickly move on and avoid wasting energy on all this.

  18. Doesn’t Josh Willis also say that multi-annual flat or cooling periods in the ocean temperature record are not unusual?
    If you were cast as a denialist, Roger Pielke Snr, I agree that’s quite wrong. I think you are one of the most reasonable critics of the IPCC etc.

  19. I’m afraid the ARGO system is about the only useful thing that has come out of the billions of dollars we have spent on climate science. Sure, like most scientific experiments, it has had its early teething problems, but they are getting those ironed out and the data are getting more accurate and more reliable as they learn the details of the system.
    Pielke, Sr is certainly right about ocean heat content. Changes in ocean heat content are the definition of changes in climate. All that garbage about trying to measure (and average) land surface temperatures and/or sea surface temperatures and think that you have come up with any useful information is ridiculous. .Anyone that’s been through thermodynamic or even first year electrical theory can see that the ocean is nothing but a large heat sync (capacitor in electric) that stores all changes in energy-in minus energy-out for the entire climate system.

  20. This is recent pattern.
    Fact 1: Global temperature is dropping
    http://climexp.knmi.nl/data/ihadcrut3_gl_1998:2011a.png
    ..but this prove nothing, 2010 was warmest on record, this is just short-term fluctuation, 30-year linear trend is still positive..
    Fact 2: OHC is dropping since 2004
    http://climexp.knmi.nl/data/iheat700_global_2004:2011a.png
    .. but this is not the only indicator, warming is continuing unabated, you do not see the broader picture..
    Fact 3: Sea levels is stabilizing
    http://climexp.knmi.nl/data/l3a.png
    http://climexp.knmi.nl/data/l2a.png
    .. but Maledives and Tuvalu are drowning and IPCC told, that…
    They are losing, they know it and time and mother Nature is working against them. You can not forever ride on finished 30-year natural trend.

  21. RE: “Bob Tisdale says:
    September 11, 2010 at 8:50 am
    And of course, the ocean basin that’s leading the decline in OHC is the North Atlantic:
    http://i49.tinypic.com/11wbm3a.jpg
    Also the CFS (for what it’s worth,) is suggesting most of the Atlantic between 40 degrees north and 40 degrees south will be slightly below normal by the March-April-May period of 2011, which is quite a change from it being largely warm in that area now.
    See page 28 of: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/lanina/enso_evolution-status-fcsts-web.pdf

  22. gneiss says:
    September 11, 2010 at 9:15 am
    “An alternative hypothesis is that we do not yet measure ocean heat content well enough to speak conclusively (as Pielke chooses to do) about its short-term trends. That is honesty, not “spinning.”
    ========================================================
    So, in your “honest” estimate, what is the time frame to make an accurate assessment of ocean heat content? If the above statement is true, then there shouldn’t even be a AGW debate.

  23. gneiss,
    “scientists, who point out the large uncertainties and measurement questions surrounding ARGO-based estimates, and the evidence from many other sources showing that global warming has not halted.”
    Funny how something that was initially billed as a way to measure OHC with “unprecedented accuracy” has now become fraught with uncertainties and questions because it no longer supports the prefered hypothesis. And funny too how the same sceptical sceptics continue to trumpet land based thermometers despite them having enough holes to sink a flotilla of Argo’s.
    I must be missing something.

  24. This post is actually a copy of a post from Pielke’s blog, from about a week ago. It has already been discussed very extensively (and interestingly) at skeptical science, including many posts by Pielke Sr.

  25. SkepticalScience is a complete [snip] of a website. It is filled with more misinformation than almost any other website I’ve ever seen. Why even give it “credit” by acknowledging its existence?

  26. Juraj V. says:
    September 11, 2010 at 9:43 am
    Useful post, especially the links on lea level. Agree totally on the warmist 30 year cherry picking.
    Something I have wondered for a while – should not sea level – specifically rate of change of sea level – be an indicator of changes in OHC? So levelling off of sea level rise is confirmation of OHC decline.

  27. “Claims that the ocean has been cooling are correct. Claims that global warming has stopped are not.”
    I think to the author, global warming is a process not just an outcome. It’s the only way that statement could have ever made sense to them. That way (in the author’s mind) the process can keep functioning without the observable result. The problem to my mind is why evidence of the outcome isn’t undermining his evidence of the process.
    Or perhaps I’m trying to understand that which makes no sense in the first place.

  28. Dave in Canmore,
    “I think to the author, global warming is a process not just an outcome.”
    Bingo!
    And the outcome to which you allude, is that which is forecast to occur by computer models. Without such models there would be no difference between process and outcome, since the latter is just a projection from the past into the future.
    The statement to which the article refers: that lack of increasing OHC does not mean global warming has stopped, is an oxymoron. Of course it has stopped, because the statement is a statement on process. A statement of outcome should have read: that lack of increasing OHC does not mean that global warming will not resume in the near future. That is what the culprit should have said. Dr. Pielke is quite right to pull him up about it.

  29. @Jim G
    For one alternative to dark stuff w/ references, find on line; “Dirac’s Equation and the Sea of Negative Energy” pts 1 and 2 (pt 3 adds little new info) by Don Hotson. For me, a chemist, what he has pulled together in pt 1 makes sense (but that doesn’t mean it is correct or even going the right direction -it’s just my opinion). Pt 2 may be just numerology, … but I suspect not.
    After studying Hotson’s report I came to realize that there is something seriously wrong w/ our understanding of physics today and the ever more complicated explanations for what we observe, w/string and brane theories and dark stuff falling into that catagory. (IMO – these theories are just mathematician’s mental masturbation, because what have observed is that Nature likes to keep things simple.)
    Happy reading,
    BC

  30. Dr. Roger Pielke Senior,
    First, thanks for your user friendly post. Please keep doing it.
    You recommended discussion should continue on, ” . . . [edit] . . . the value of using (and issues with using) the accumulation of Joules in the climate system as the primary metric to monitor global warming.”
    The measurement of the energy content of major earth subsystems (such as the oceans, land mass, ice caps and atmosphere) at appropriate time intervals is a concept with some merit worth futher consideration. The forcings that have been used appear to be the transitory effects of the processes, the energy flux as it were. Whereas the comparison of energy content values over time would show the results of the those processes, which is more to the point in climate discussions. Thanks for the ideas.
    Anthony and mod team, thanks.
    John

  31. The above quote from Graham Waynes post shows their supposedly skeptical science is also shoddy science – several mistakes in 2-3 paragraphs:
    The oceans store approximately 80% of all the energy in the Earth’s climate
    Actually, no, its about 99.8%. This is if you assume:
    – mean ocean depth 3800m
    – oceans occupy 66% of earth surface
    – heat capacity of water 4.2 (J/g.K)
    – heat capacity of air 1.0 (J/g.K)
    – water 784 times more dense than air
    – atmosphere approximated as 10 km layer of air at 1 atmosphere (sea level pressure)
    – air contains 1% water by mass (but still counted as “air” heat)
    The atmosphere’s heat can almost be neglected. (The above does not include ice.)
    This is why scientists normally discuss trends – 30 years or more – so that short term fluctuations can be seen as part of a greater pattern.
    Wrong again, 30 years is a half cycle of the PDO/AMO and far too short a time frame for looking at climate oscillation. But it is a very good time-frame for cherry-picking data to support AGW.

  32. For the sake of your children, you had better be right.
    Otherwise the lot of you will be seen by history as blocking much needed action to mitigate climate change.

  33. Jim G says:
    September 11, 2010 at 8:33 am brings up an observation when searching on google. Google as a corporation is pro anhtropogenic global warming. Could there be some bias injected into thier search engine, aka wiki. Just wondering as I find it difficult to do a skeptic search and come up with results or is that just my bias as a skeptic. Just wondering.

  34. isthereintelligentlifeintheuniverse says:
    “For the sake of your children…”
    Ever heard of cost/benefit analysis?

  35. I am amazed by the alarmist claim that 2010 is the warmest year on record. The year was only half over when that claim began appearing (probably made to support looming legislative efforts).
    My calendar says it’s September. Can’t they wait until 2010 is history to claim victory (or defeat)?

  36. Smokey
    Sure
    If the scientists are right the benefit is a planet that supports life, the cost is immense.

    If you guys are right we’ve wasted a lot of money for nothing
    Are you a gambler? Are you willing to gamble with your kids lives?

  37. “For the sake of your children, you had better be right.”
    I have only one child because I took the decision to minimise my future impact on our resources.
    What about you, how many do you have?

  38. isthereintelligentlifeintheuniverse,
    It doesn’t take a gambler to reject “what if…” scenarios. That fallacy is an argumentum ad ignorantium: because we don’t know all the factors involved in the planet’s fluctuating temperature, then of course temperature changes must be due to CO2??
    First, show us convincingly that CO2 has ever caused runaway global warming. Then we can discuss this rationally. “For the children” is a purely emotional response.

  39. isthereintelligentlifeintheuniverse says:
    September 11, 2010 at 11:06 am
    For the sake of your children, you had better be right.
    Otherwise the lot of you will be seen by history as blocking much needed action to mitigate climate change.
    Could you please tell us by which means and in how this blog, or any of the peolple posting here, is “blocking much needed action”? And whilst you are about it: Do me a personal favour and explain in clear words – to make it easy for me to understand – just how one action which has been taken – CO2 taxation, certificate dealings – helps “to mitigate climate change”?
    Take your time and read the posts in this blog – I´d highlight those of Curiousgeorge, John Wright, Joe Crawford, Juraj V. and Vince Causey – but the others are well worth you time, too. Then, take more time and think about it, and stop worrying about climate change. IF you really want something to worry about, try meteorites. Some just passed by and had only been discovered three days before their passage. Mabe we should rather build an international meteorite defense, instead of windmills?!
    Finally, thank you Dr. Pielke sr. for your interesting article, and thanks too to all the participants and Mr. Watts. I have learned a lot since I follow WUWT!

  40. @isthereintelligentlifeintheuniverse
    The same could be said about all the deniers of the “predictions” that form the basis of the nonsense movie 2012. If we’re wrong, there will be hell to pay. That doesn’t mean we should, therefore, concentrate all our resources preventing a “2012” outcome. AGW, as promoted by Mann, etc., seems only slightly more believeable than “2012”. But, since the consequences of any significant AGW are much much less than the consequences of a “2012” scenario, prudence would dictate we devote all of the world’s resources towards preventing a 2012 scenario and ignore AGW.

  41. From Pielkes “A broader view of the role of humans in the climate system.”:
    1. “The 2007 IPCC report estimated that global average total net anthropogenic radiative forcing in 2005 was 1.6 W/m2 with 0.12 from solar irradiance. This estimate
    corresponds to a heat accumulation in the climate system of 2.8 x 10^22 joules per year.”
    What they fail to recognize is that with radiative imbalance the surface will warm until balance is restored, so the accumulation will be nowhere near the stated value.
    2. “Unlike temperature at some specific depth in the ocean or height in the atmosphere, where there is a time lag in its response to radiative forcing, no time lags are associated with heat changes, since the actual amount of heat present at any time is accounted for.”
    This is an erroneous statement, only valid for the well mixed layer. It takes centuries to heat 3800 meters of water from the top.

  42. Smokey
    You don’t trust the science… and science is the evidence.
    It’s like telling a creationist evolution is real… it can’t be done.

  43. @isthereintelligentlifeintheuniverse
    For the sake of the children? Some of the most prominent orgainizations and people behind the AGW agenda appear to believe there are six billion too many people and surely have plans to deal with that issue.
    If you care about children, you’re on the wrong side.

  44. Isthere, etc.
    You are being silly. The Earth could heat quite a bit and be even more hospitable to life than at present. It has done so in the past, and likely will do so in the future.
    KW

  45. isthereintelligentlifeintheuniverse,
    AGW proponents regularly trot out this line of arguments known as Pascal’s wager.
    If you subscribe to the logic, which states according to Wikipedia:

    Pascal’s Wager (or Pascal’s Gambit) is a suggestion posed by the French philosopher, mathematician and physicist Blaise Pascal that, even though the existence of God cannot be determined through reason, a person should wager as though God exists, because living life accordingly has everything to gain, and nothing to lose.

    So, if you subscribe to the logic in the video you cited and if you wish to be logically consistent you will go to church every Sunday for the rest of your life and constantly pray to be forgiven for your sins. Every AGW proponent who cites this video either goes to church every single Sunday or they don’t really believe the logic contained within.

  46. isthereintelligentlifeintheuniverse:
    “Are you a gambler? Are you willing to gamble with your kids lives?”
    Do you drive a car isthereintelligentlifeintheuniverse with your kids in it?
    Because statistically that is the most likely accidental death of a child.

  47. BTW I am not a troll
    Don’t try to convince me the science is wrong, it isn’t, it’s founded in basic physics.
    But this article is being critical of a scientific blog that is respectfully correcting the mistakes of the skeptics.

    • … it’s founded in basic physics.

      Which is a cop out when it comes to discussing any of the real issues, such as sensitivity, feedbacks, and metrics, all of which are quite complex, and while it uses “basic physics”, is quite subject to different formulations and interpretations.
      Tell me isthereintelligentlifeintheuniverse,
      How does one calculate cloud feedback from basic physics? What are the equations?

  48. Joe Crawford:
    Way back in the early fifties when I was in engineering school we referred to them as “heat sinks”.

  49. isthereintelligentlifeintheuniverse
    The last defense of shaky science is the precautionary principal.
    Unfortunately CAGW will have to get in line with other potential candidates with a much better cost/benefit ratio.
    The earth WILL get hit by an asteroid which will destroy all of civilization if we don’t prepare a defense against it. The question is not if just when ! The cost is mere billions and the benefit is civilization itself.
    We should be practicing moving asteroids right now so the first time we do it civilization isn’t hanging in the balance.
    After that AIDS world poverty and so on all give more bang for the buck. CO2 removal even if valid gives less value per dollar spent than almost any other use of the money.
    There is no actual measurement which shows warming in excess of 1 ° C warming in 100 years to be in progress. Theories galore but no measurements worth believing.
    Here is the data for the last 11 years where s the warming ?
    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/uah/from:1998/to:2009/plot/uah/from:1998/to:2009/trend

  50. Climate models are complex… and you don’t need a model to understand the basic science behind global warming… which BTW has been understood since the mid 1800s.
    Say you have water dribbling into a bathtub at a certain rate, and the drain set so that the water going out is the same as the water going in. The level of water in the tub will remain the same.
    Then increase the water going in by a small amount, but do not change the amount going out… eventually the tub will overflow.
    The natural carbon cycle was in equilibrium before we started dumping tons of CO2, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. Now ma nature can’t absorb it fast enough and it is accumulating.
    That’s all you need to understand.
    The forcings thus far appear to be making it worse.
    “Mother Nature is just chemistry, biology and physics. That’s all she is. You cannot sweet-talk her. You cannot spin her. You cannot tell her that the oil companies say climate change is a hoax. No, Mother Nature is going to do whatever chemistry, biology and physics dictate”
    “Mother Nature always bats last, and she always bats 1.000”
    -Rob Watson

    • isthereintelligentlifeintheuniverse

      Say you have water dribbling into a bathtub at a certain rate,…

      Your analogy simply demonstrates that you know far less than you think you know. You have been told “it’s basic physics”, “It’s been known for over 100 years”.
      These are truisms. I asked about feedback, which is just as likely to be negative as positive, and current measurements lean toward negative. Does CO2 affect the the effective albedo and absorption of energy in the system, yes (despite what some of the more adamant anti-agw advocates may say).
      Yet, what is the sum total of the behavior in the system? Are there feedbacks which diminish the CO2 effect or even cancel it out? These are the unanswered scientific questions.
      You can parrot “The science is basic and accepted” meme if you like, and think that makes you smart, but you have not demonstrated an understanding of the issues that matter. Perhaps you do have an understanding, but nothing you have written indicates it. Your bathtub analogy certainly does not.
      The climate system has been relatively stable for millions of years even as CO2 levels in the past far exceeded those of today. This would indicate a likelyhood of stabilizing negative feedbacks in the system

  51. jeez says:
    September 11, 2010 at 1:13 pm
    How does one calculate cloud feedback from basic physics? What are the equations?
    before you get started with equations about cloud, understand that you are dealing with a quasi-chaotic system – some of the implications of this were discussed in a post last month:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/08/12/cloud-cellular-communication/
    phlogiston says:
    August 12, 2010 at 7:22 am
    This fits in very nicely with the nonequilibrium dynamics of atmospheric transport of heat and water. Compelling and retrospectively obvious.
    All the ingredients are there for nonequilibrium nonlinear pattern dynamics (NNPD): (a) a system of heat, convective and water vapour flux far from equilibrium, (b) friction (or damping or dissipation) from fluid friction and energy requirement for water condensation, (c) the inter-cloud responsiveness via adiabatic rain cooling of air and consequent convection, qualify the system as a “reactive medium” (term coined by Matthias Bertram in the context of chemical NNPD systems) which will sustain the establishment of emergent nonlinear pattern.
    The pattern types described are also classics from chemical NNPD and turbulence – a blend of chaotic cellular structures with labyrinthine and dendritic patterns.
    When the authors describe these NNPD structures as “coherent structures that tend to repair themselves and resist change” what they are alluding to is Lyapunov stability, a mathematic formulation of the development of NNPD attractor-structures which establishes their fundamental robustness and stability. Lyapunov stability in terms of clouds makes cloud weather systems more stable than they might otherwise be. This is probably why one can often look out of the window in the morning and get a pretty good idea what the day’s weather holds in store.
    What implications does this have for understanding and modeling climate and for AGW? “The stone that the builders rejected becomes the cornerstone”. It is no longer possible to simply bolt onto climate models some arithmetic conditions for cloud formation in conjunction with convection, and imagine that you have “done clouds”. By exhibiting NNPD behaviour with Lyapunov stability, clouds move toward being independent entities in the climate system.
    A more fundamental reassesssment is needed, perhaps along the lines of the “Constructal law” described by Willis Eschenbach, emphasising attraction to a stable state and resistance to change.

  52. What is astounding about the claim that Pielke’s baseline is too short is that this is EXACTLY the problem with looking at ‘global’ temperatures only considering the last 300 years (which is what most folks do when they want to show a “monotonically increasing” average temperature). When you start looking at temperatures at the depth of a big dip among the many ups and downs over the past 4000 years, and then attribute the start of the recovery from that dip to the industrial revolution and carbon burning, well.. you’re going to “discover” a link between human burning of fossil fuels and rising temperature.
    False correlations occur in statistics all the time when you’re trying very hard to see something.

  53. jason says:
    September 11, 2010 at 12:14 pm
    “For the sake of your children, you had better be right.”
    I have only one child because I took the decision to minimise my future impact on our resources.
    What about you, how many do you have?

    Three. They’re making a disastrous impact on our fridge.
    (you can be my offset for a stable population 🙂

  54. phlogiston says:
    September 11, 2010 at 10:20 am
    Something I have wondered for a while – should not sea level – specifically rate of change of sea level – be an indicator of changes in OHC? So levelling off of sea level rise is confirmation of OHC decline.

    I calculated the amount of energy required to account for the steric sea level rise from 1993 to 2003 and discovered it required a ~4w/m^2 forcing. This must be down to extra solar energy due to cloud reduction hitting the ocean surface, since downwelling IR can’t penetrate the ocean beyond it’s own wavelength and just causes evaporation at the surface.

  55. Simply this: The oceans are the main storage of heat energy, by an overwhelming margin, for incoming W/m^2.
    It’s common sense and back of the envelope stuff.
    If the main storage shows no more charge being stored, then the logical conclusion is that equilibrium has been reached, and there is no more warming.
    The oak leaves are turning NW Ca. over 1 month ahead of time as La Nina entrenches. Morning fog in lower river valleys returns 2 months ahead of time. The Western Hemisphere is showing signs of cooling season to season, so a least half the globe is cooling. It will only take a slight cooling of the Eastern Hemisphere to set a cooling phase in motion.
    Swirls of slush are forming in the NW Passage areas as the Arctic temps plunge, even though the graphs show open seas, as seen from Google Planet Earth satellite photos.

  56. Err yea… I got about as far as …climate change sceptic Roger Pielke Sr said…
    Sorry Roger (if I may address you so), welcome to the wonderful world
    of “denial (ism)”. While I can see that someone in your position might feel the need to respond to attacks from the shills of “Big Carbon” I would recommend that, in future, you don’t bother. Responding really is a waste of your time and energy.
    What you are looking at is the output of “useful idiots”, adherents of a rapidly collapsing religion. You are either in or out here – the science/data has nothing to do with anything. In your position I would stick with the science wherever it leads you.
    The reality is that, even if your next paper makes a most convincing case for (C)AGW, I would trust (even as a sceptic) that I am reading your “current best interpretation” and would treat it as such.
    “…climate change sceptic Roger… ” should have given the game away really.

  57. Dr. Pielke,
    When you engage a site like ‘Skeptical Science’, you are engaging a site that is neither scientific or skeptical, much less amenable to reason.
    But your integrity and good will, to say nothing of the excellent science and dedication to accurate results, shows in even higher contrast when compared to those who run that site.
    Keep up the good work.

  58. OHC is unquestionably pivotal in setting temperatures throughout the globe. Yet, I’m not convinced that it is the best metric for studying climate or detecting changes, natural or otherwise.
    To begin with, we simply don’t have a historical baseline of global OHC data even in the well-mixed layer, let alone down to 700m, which is quite isolated from processes at the surface. Second, because IR is completely absorbed within a fraction of a millimeter of the surface, changes in backradiation scarcely affect OHC. Backscattered IR energy largely feeds evaporation from the ocean surface. Because of the great thermal “inertia” of the oceans, OHC should respond very slowly to great changes in atmospheric temperatures. Thus, we’re looking for minute changes in a very large number, whose determination even with the ARGO program is not very certain.
    For practical analytic work, give me the surface energy fluxes (not just dry-bulb temperatures) instead of OHC.

  59. Dr. Pielke-
    I am very proud to reveal that I have been banned at that other website. I’m not even allowed to log in.
    I bothered them with too many facts from the scientific literature that did not match their political agenda, so eventually they blocked me.

  60. Orkneygal says:
    September 11, 2010 at 2:17 pm
    Congratulations 😉
    sky says:
    September 11, 2010 at 2:09 pm
    I have sympathy with your views of measuring energy not just temperature. It’s a view I have expressed several times here over the past few years.
    DaveE.

  61. Curiousgeorge says:
    September 11, 2010 at 9:20 am
    30 years is no more valid for discerning a “trend” or a “significant” shift than 3 years.
    _____
    Hmmm…and so where do you draw the line of a valid period of time? 30 years is almost 3 solar cycles, and just about the length of time of the Dalton minimum. I guess then we can discout this peroid as not “significant”?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sunspot_Numbers.png
    I would suggest that when looking at climate, you should look to periods of time in which known forces that act on climate can show themselves. A change which is consistent over a few decades is certainly long enough as it goes beyond weather cycles such as ENSO.

  62. James Sexton says:
    September 11, 2010 at 8:54 am
    While energy and temps are simply different forms of expression for essentially the same thing,

    No, no and hell no. Specific heat, latent heat, differing masses, and differing mixtures (think humidity) all completely shoot that down in flames.
    After that, there’s the more complicated differences.

  63. Lets start with the proven fact the “greenhouse effect and the “greenhouse gas effect” are totally different. The” greenhouse effect” has been proved by R.W. Wood to be caused by “confined space heating” not by back IR radiation. The Greenhouse gas effect is a 200 year old Hypothesis that has never been demonstrated by creditable experimental data. In fact it has been shown by many physicists that the concept violates fundamental of physics thus it can never be demonstrated by any experimental data. References will be provided for anyone wanting to learn the Facts including Roger Pielke Sr.
    Now let’s talk about the lack of scientific knowledge and discussion above.
    1. The oceans are heated by at least three sources- the sun, the magma of the earth’s core, and biological oxidation. It appears that at least two of these heat sources are totally ignored.
    2. The oceans are cooled by at least four common actions of “nature” Conduction to the atmosphere, convection, evaporation; wind action affects these- evaporation, convection, evaporation, and radiation. The effects of thunderstorms, hurricanes, Tornadoes (water spouts) and snow / ice storms are beyond our ability to even begin to calculate.
    3 .Cloud cover a significant variable is affected by air temperature, solar radiation, Solar flares (new research being investigated) and Evaporation (humidity).
    You will notice that there is no mention of “ghg’s” because there is no such thing as “ghg’s”-there are IR absorbing materials, that include Water in three phases of Mater, liquid, vapor and solids then there are about 5000 IR absorbing gases (IRag, IRam), of which two are found in measureable quantities in the atmosphere-CO2(a gas approximately 300 ppm a significant variable) and Methane(CH 4,also a significant variable about 4-10ppb-this is absolutely un- important. as the “ghg effect does not exist)
    With the number of variables that can affect water and air temperatures, it is impossible for any existing computer and “climate Model” to predict any temperature conditions next week let along 100 years from now. The IPCC is absolutely a bunch of crocks. Anyone that believes that the “ghg effect” exists is either mentally ill or smoking dope. True scientists want data to prove Hypotheses not circumstantial innuendos!
    List of references:
    The paper “Falsification of the Atmospheric CO2 greenhouse effect within the frame of physics” by Gerhard Gerlich and Ralf D. Tscheuschner is an in-depth examination of the subject. Version 4 2009
    Electronic version of an article published as International Journal of Modern Physics
    B, Vol. 23, No. 3 (2009) 275{364 , DOI No: 10.1142/S021797920904984X, c World
    Scientific Publishing Company, http://www.worldscinet.com/ijmpb.
    Report of Alan Carlin of US-EPA March, 2009 that shows that CO2 does not cause global warming.
    Greenhouse Gas Hypothesis Violates Fundamentals of Physics” by Dipl-Ing Heinz Thieme This work has about 10 or 12 link
    that support the truth that the greenhouse gas effect is a hoax.
    R.W.Wood
    from the London, Edinborough and Dublin Philosophical Magazine , 1909, vol 17, p319-320. Cambridge UL shelf mark p340.1.c.95,
    The Hidden Flaw in Greenhouse Theory
    By Alan Siddons
    from:http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/02/the_hidden_flaw_in_greenhouse.html at March 01, 2010 – 09:10:34 AM CST
    The below information was a foot note in the IPCC 4 edition. It is obvious that there was no evidence to prove that the ghg effect exists.
    “In the 1860s, physicist John Tyndall recognized the Earth’s natural greenhouse effect and suggested that slight changes in the atmospheric composition could bring about climatic variations. In 1896, a seminal paper by Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius first speculated that changes in the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could substantially alter the surface temperature through the greenhouse effect.”
    After 1909 when R.W.Wood proved that the understanding of the greenhouse effect was in error and the ghg effect does not exist. After Niels Bohr published his work and receive a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922. The fantasy of the greenhouse gas effect should have died in 1909 and 1922. Since then it has been shown by several physicists that the concept is a Violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
    Obviously the politicians don’t give a dam that they are lying. It fits in with what they do every hour of every day .Especially the current pretend president.
    Paraphrasing Albert Einstein after the Publishing of “The Theory of Relativity” –one fact out does 1 million “scientist, 10 billion politicians and 20 billion environmental whachos-that don’t know what” The Second Law of thermodynamics” is.
    The bottom line is that the facts show that the greenhouse gas effect is a fairy-tale and that Man-made global warming is the World larges Scam!!!The IPCC and Al Gore should be charged under the US Anti-racketeering act and when convicted – they should spend the rest of their lives in jail for the Crimes they have committed against Humanity.
    Web- site references:
    http://www.americanthinker.com Ponder the Maunder
    wwwclimatedepot.com
    icecap.us
    http://www.strata-sphere.com
    SPPI
    many others are available.
    The only thing more dangerous than ignorance is arrogance.”
    —Albert Einstein
    .

  64. isthereintelligentlifeintheuniverse says:
    September 11, 2010 at 12:23 pm
    Smokey You don’t trust the science… and science is the evidence. It’s like telling a creationist evolution is real… it can’t be done.
    There is no evidence that climate now is any different than periods of climate in the past. It’s been much hotter, and a lot colder too, but life has adapted and survived.
    Back in the 1970’s they thought we were heading for an ice age, and had computer models to ‘prove’ it too. Today they scream we are going to fry! In both cases climate scientists have been fooled by the deterministic chaos inherent in our climate, and have no understanding of the energy balance at any moment in time or how the different climate mechanisms interact to produce weather/climate.
    My own view, base on the 200y warm/cool quasi-cycle, is that the planet will be cooling for the next 90 years of so (see table below). It is no good trying to plan for tomorrow, as nobody in the world knows what it is going to bring. Live for today and be prepared to jump if you find a bus heading your way.
    Long term weather/climate regimes:
    1410-1500 cold – Low Solar Activity(LSA?)-(Sporer minimum)
    1510-1600 warm – High Solar Activity(HSA?)
    1610-1700 cold – (LSA) (Maunder minimum)
    1710-1800 warm – (HSA)
    1810-1900 cold – (LSA) (Dalton minimum)
    1910-2000 warm – (HSA)
    2010-2100 (cold???) – (LSA???)

  65. cleanwater says:
    September 11, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    cleanwater, should this be published or posted 😉 Quite a work, but I like it.

  66. I understand that the leap in the global ocean heat content 2003 – 2005 is due to the stitching together of the Argo and the previous series.
    =======================================================
    “…..that one symptom is indicative of the state of an entire malaise (e.g. not being short of breath one day means your lung cancer is cured)….” John Cook.
    Sort of begs the question doesn’t it.
    In Mr Cook’s mind, a 0.4 – 0.5°C temperature rise in 30 years is an indication of a ‘global disease’.
    The lung cancer/CAGW analogy is often mentioned, mainly for the benefit of the hoi polloi.
    It has a special resonance because you can also drag in The Heartland Institute’s alleged support from and for the tobacco industry.
    Until the early 20th century, lung cancer was a very rare disease and the correlation with the smoking (mainly a 20th century habit) is solid.
    Also, many people still identify CO2 with smoke, soot and smog — all associated with breathing difficulties.
    This is where the ‘hockey stick’ graph has been so useful. It was a very powerful image which lingers and implies that until the 20th century, there was little temperature variation. I often come across comments in the MSM referring to this year or decade as “the hottest ever”.

  67. I think this speaks for itself:
    “Climate models are complex… and you don’t need a model to understand the basic science behind global warming…”
    DFTT

  68. I am amazed by the alarmist claim that 2010 is the warmest year on record.
    Could you provide a cite? For some temp records, 2010 is the warmest on the record ‘so far’. I haven’t seen anyone making a more absolute pronouncement than that.

  69. cleanwater,
    Your claims are completely off the charts ridiculous. I think there are many people who would take issue with your clearly falsified anecdotes and I suggest you remove them as even individuals who read this site know the difference about the Greenhouse effect.

  70. Tamino won’t be happy about this. You can’t say global warming has stopped even when it has stopped. The only way you can say it has stopped is if you balance out the long term warming trend, with a severe cooling, so that the long term trend has dropped to zero.
    REPLY: Tammy is a great litmus test, if he’s unhappy about it, then we know it’s right. – Anthony

  71. Second attempt…
    REPLY: That didn’t work, but I fixed the offending characters in Alvin’s comment above – Anthony

  72. jeez:
    Every AGW proponent who cites this video [referring favorably to Pascal’s Wager, I assume] either goes to church every single Sunday or they don’t really believe the logic contained within.
    Nice catch! Great for a very personal one-liner, I think. “Hey, buddy, God might be watching your every move!”

  73. What difference does it make if the email address is real or not? The comments are perfectly valid and contain no abuse.
    The email policy is merely a way for you to avoid posting comments that you dislike or that contradict you.
    I repeat: Skeptical Science is a purely scietific site and you do yourself a disservice by allowing lies to be told about it. Do the right thing and remove the comments and practice what you claim to preach.
    REPLY: The difference is that I need to be able to contact any commenter. If a commenter like yourself says something that becomes a legal issue, I need to be able to get in touch. You’ve been warned about this previously.
    Tough noogies if you don’t like the policy. Thousands of others have no problem with it. Don’t talk to me about lies when you are one yourself. Last chance to provide a valid email, next stop is banned. – Anthony

  74. isthereintelligentlifeintheuniverse says:
    September 11, 2010 at 12:23 pm
    “Smokey
    You don’t trust the science… and science is the evidence.”
    That’s not accurate at all. Empirical evidence is “evidence.” Real world, testable, raw data, such as ice cores, or unadjusted, signed and dated temperature records like B-91 forms are examples of evidence. Computer climate models are not evidence — but they are scientific tools. Science is not ‘the evidence.’ Science is verified via the scientific method.
    If an hypothesis is not falsifiable, or refutable, or testable, it is not science. It is merely a conjecture; an opinion. See Popper and Feynman.
    Read the WUWT archives. There are only 3 years of them. Get up to speed, otherwise it’s too easy to deconstruct your comments. It’s not much fun if there’s no challenge.

  75. (Thanks for sorting out the formatting upthread, Anthony)

    Tamino won’t be happy about this. You can’t say global warming has stopped even when it has stopped. The only way you can say it has stopped is if you balance out the long term warming trend, with a severe cooling, so that the long term trend has dropped to zero.

    Well, 4 data years is pretty meaningless in terms of climate (20 – 30 years). I doubt Pielke would disagree. But I can at least demonstrate that the global warming trend didn’t slow down after 1998, using statistically significant time periods WRT climate, using as much data as possible here.
    If you run the same analysis using 2003 as one of the endpoints, the overall trend gets lower in this case, but ‘no warming since 2004’ is about weather variations, not climate.
    I realize I’ve plotted land+oceans, when Roger’s point is that oceans provide a better metric. Even so, 4 years is not enough. For interests sake, I plotted the 1998 ‘turning point’ using SSTs only here. No drop-off in trend.
    Again, if you run SSTs using 2003 as an endpoint, the overall trend is lower, but not by much. Using statistically significant time periods, it would appear the global seas are still warming at pretty much the same rate, but low confidence is attached to that qualification due to only 4 years data being the difference.

  76. Rocky Balboa says:
    September 11, 2010 at 10:19 am
    SkepticalScience is a complete [snip] of a website. It is filled with more misinformation than almost any other website I’ve ever seen. Why even give it “credit” by acknowledging its existence?

    Because we are sceptics, not censors. It’s the warmists who wish to stifle debate.
    And as for those tauting the ARGO floats data as currently unreliable…
    * Thermometre records left in the hands of advocates are OK
    * Temp. proxies deduced from 1000yr old stumps dug out of bogs in the hands of advocates are OK
    * Impending doom predicted by green advocacy groups are OK
    But ARGO are no good
    But satellites are out of calibraton
    But the hot-spot is there, we just can’t measure it
    But the heat is missing, it must be in the oceans….deep deep oceans
    yada yada yada
    get a life you lot, it’s the only one you’re gunna get

  77. Dr Pielke never said 4 years was ample regards climate. He did say 4 years is enough regards OHC, and he is absolutely correct.
    Unlike the atmosphere, which warms and cools due to many factors, and mixes and churns in many ways, the oceans mix very very slowly and can (reasonably) only be heated by direct sunlight. Therefore, 4 years of data is sufficient to allow reasonable determination of OHC.
    Dr Pielke is going somewhere with this. If/when he convinces people that OHC is the most important factor in determining our climate, where he is going will be abundantly clear. (He is “very likely”{90% probability} a sceptic)

  78. Dr Pielke never said 4 years was ample regards climate. He did say 4 years is enough regards OHC, and he is absolutely correct.

    What does the latter sentence mean? What is 4 years ‘enough’ to establish as opposed to say, 2 years or 6 months? What does it relate apart from itself?
    I think he uses the term ‘global warming’ in the post in a way that confuses. ‘Global warming’ in these here debates refer to climatically significant periods, not fluctuations. The globe could be cooler today than yesterday, but does that tell us anything other than the globe was warmer yesterday? Pielke uses the phrase to describe short-term events. I think this should be more clearly distinguished. He sort of does it here:

    The recent lack of warming (the data do not support a cooling, despite what the Skeptical Science weblog reports) does not prove or disprove whether global warming over a longer term has ended.

    But, looking at following commentary in this thread, this is not the message that got through.

  79. barry says:
    September 11, 2010 at 11:27 pm
    Dr Pielke never said 4 years was ample regards climate. He did say 4 years is enough regards OHC, and he is absolutely correct.
    What does the latter sentence mean? What is 4 years ‘enough’ to establish as opposed to say, 2 years or 6 months? What does it relate apart from itself?

    According to Phil Jones, there has been no statistically significant warming since 1995.
    Get over it.

  80. isthereintelligentlifeintheuniverse says:
    September 11, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    Climate models are complex… and you don’t need a model to understand the basic science behind global warming…
    The natural carbon cycle was in equilibrium before we started dumping tons of CO2, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. Now ma nature can’t absorb it fast enough and it is accumulating.
    That’s all you need to understand.
    The forcings thus far appear to be making it worse.

    You’re first comment is right – climate models are complex – and that’s because the climate itself is very complex.
    While the effect of increasing CO2 – on its own – is likely to increase global temperatures, the reaction of the overall climate system may be very different. You might like to read Dr Roy Spencer’s latest paper here:
    http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/Spencer-Braswell-JGR-2010.pdf
    … which examines the feedback effects of water vapour/clouds in the climate system and which indicates that the feedbacks to increasing CO2 are negative, meaning that the overall influence of CO2 is limited. You might then also like to ask yourself the question of how big the influence of CO2 actually is relative to all the other things in the climate system. Remember that the biggest greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is actually H2O.
    As for the idea that anything in the climate system “is in equilibrium” – that is simply a fallacy akin to the belief that there was in the past some “golden age” when everything was perfect. The global climate has been changing – and substantially – on any time scale that you care to examine. It has been warmer and a (lot) colder within the past million years or so, let alone over the longer history of the Earth – and CO2 levels have similarly varied substantially.
    As for my children and grandchildren, I’d prefer to base decisions on the best information available rather than on a knee-jerk reaction to the latest scare story. It is not at all clear that human CO2 emissions are having a significant impact on the climate – neither is it at all clear that the current changes in the global climate are any different to those that have taken place in previous interglacial periods (note: the last 4 interglacials have ALL been warmer than the current one – and who is to say that we have reached the warmest point in the current interglacial?).
    We may well face a warmer future. However, I am not convinced that we can do anything about it – so that it would be best to prepare ourselves for what that might bring. On the other hand, the real doomsday scenario is actually the ending of the current interglacial and the beginning of the next ice age. The disappearance of our hugely productive croplands under snow and ice will for sure mean that many fewer humans could be supported on the planet. That will not be a pleasant experience.

  81. Phlogiston says:
    —————-
    The oceans store approximately 80% of all the energy in the Earth’s climate
    Actually, no, its about 99.8%. This is if you assume:
    – mean ocean depth 3800m
    – oceans occupy 66% of earth surface
    – heat capacity of water 4.2 (J/g.K)
    – heat capacity of air 1.0 (J/g.K)
    – water 784 times more dense than air
    – atmosphere approximated as 10 km layer of air at 1 atmosphere (sea level pressure)
    – air contains 1% water by mass (but still counted as “air” heat)
    —————-
    you included the ocean depths but not the heat capacity of the land?

  82. tallbloke says:
    September 12, 2010 at 12:29 am
    According to Phil Jones, there has been no statistically significant warming since 1995.
    Get over it.
    Indeed he did. But snapshots of upper level ocean temperatures from an imperfect monitoring system are perfectly significant to declare that global warming has stopped?

  83. In my mind the important part of the lack of heat accumulation in the oceans, even for a few years, is in regards to the radiative imbalance which has been used to justify the CAGW hypothesis. How does one not get warming when the only reason we aren’t much warmer is ocean lag? The lack of warming indicates that the lag of the oceans is not as great as some have presumed or that natural variability is much greater then these individuals presumed.

  84. A sceptic, I read argumements for and against AGW,by contributors on both sides much more knowledgable than myself. if I feel my scepticism beginning to waver I take alook out the bloody window! very little has changed in the past 60 years,with the possible exception that summer temperatures aren’t as searingly hot as they were back in the 1960’s. MMGW? Bah humbug indeed!

  85. Curiousgeorge says:
    September 11, 2010 at 9:20 am
    30 years is no more valid for discerning a “trend” or a “significant” shift than 3 years. The shorter the time scale the more likely it is that all you are seeing is insignificant bumps. An ant approaching a 3″ deep pot hole in the road would see it as a huge crater, yet we roll over those at 80mph and barely notice it. Why not 300, or 30,000, or 3o,000,000 years? Because we are like the ant looking at the pothole.
    ______________________________________________________________-
    Especially given the KNOWN 60-70 year ocean oscillations. The Spin Meisters know their days are numbered and are already discussing “global cooling” in private.
    Global Cooling on the Agenda:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/blog/2010/jun/14/charlie-skelton-bilderberg-2010
    Discussion of the Bilderberg Group in the EU Parliament:
    http://therearenosunglasses.wordpress.com/2010/06/03/daniel-estulins-historic-speech-on-bilderberg-group-in-the-european-parliament/
    They already made the change from “Global Warming” to “Climate Change” I wonder what the planned spin is for when a cooling world becomes obvious to the “The Great Unwashed“ as they relate to us?”

  86. isthereintelligentlifeintheuniverse says:
    September 11, 2010 at 11:06 am
    For the sake of your children, you had better be right.
    Otherwise the lot of you will be seen by history as blocking much needed action to mitigate climate change.

    —————–
    isthereintelligentlifeintheuniverse,
    Yes, there is intelligent life in the universe. That is why the position you are taking is losing in the intelligence discussions of open, independent, un-biased science (thanks Anthony for creating a place to do so). That discussion is why my children will be protected as much as any adult is ever able to protect their children.
    John

  87. Tim Williams says:
    September 12, 2010 at 3:50 am snapshots of upper level ocean temperatures from an imperfect monitoring system are perfectly significant to declare that global warming has stopped?

    The ARGO data is as good or better than anything the hockey jockey’s have been using to make doom prophesies with. Josh Willis says no warming of the upper 700m of the ocean since 2003. Craig Loehle finds a slight cooling from his look at the data.
    It fits with my own calculations and hypothesis too. My calcs show the ocean isn’t going to acquire heat when the sunspot number is below around 42. It has been below this value since mid 2003.
    Back radiation from the atmosphere doesn’t heat the ocean because it can’t penetrate the surface beyond it’s own wavelength. It therefore just causes evaporation at the surface. The sun heats the ocean, the ocean warms the atmosphere, the atmosphere loses heat to space. Water vapour and the clouds it forms are the biggest factor in modulating the rates at which these things happen by a long way. Co2 is a bit part player.
    That’s the physics of the big picture, no matter what statistical games people play.

  88. LazyTeenager says:
    September 12, 2010 at 2:36 am
    you included the ocean depths but not the heat capacity of the land?
    An important point, this overlooked factor must be a big player. Land heat capacity is linked to land / soil water levels or moisture, as well as land temperature. Since Willis Eschenbach demonstrated some months back that cave temperatures (and consequently isotope ratios in stalagtites / speleothems) are integrators of air temperature for a few years, they must play a role in storing and releasing heat.
    But how do you quantify it? Maybe a global network of underground thermometers and hygrometers.

  89. steven said (September 12, 2010 at 4:06 am):

    In my mind the important part of the lack of heat accumulation in the oceans, even for a few years, is in regards to the radiative imbalance which has been used to justify the CAGW hypothesis. How does one not get warming when the only reason we aren’t much warmer is ocean lag? The lack of warming indicates that the lag of the oceans is not as great as some have presumed or that natural variability is much greater then these individuals presumed.

    The lack of increase in ocean heat content says that there has been no radiative imbalance. Heat loss of the entire earth system must have equaled heat gain for the time period.

  90. “The lack of increase in ocean heat content says that there has been no radiative imbalance”
    I should have written assumed radiative imbalance to make my meaning clear.

  91. isthereintelligentlifeintheuniverse says:
    September 11, 2010 at 1:26 pm
    Climate models are complex… and you don’t need a model to understand the basic science behind global warming… which BTW has been understood since the mid 1800s.
    Say you have water dribbling into a bathtub at a certain rate, and the drain set so that the water going out is the same as the water going in. The level of water in the tub will remain the same.
    Then increase the water going in by a small amount, but do not change the amount going out… eventually the tub will overflow.
    The natural carbon cycle was in equilibrium before we started dumping tons of CO2, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. Now ma nature can’t absorb it fast enough and it is accumulating.
    That’s all you need to understand.

    Not if the earth has a thermostat (clouds):
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/08/28/congratulations-finally-to-spencer-and-braswell-on-getting-their-new-paper-published/

  92. Allenchemist says:
    September 11, 2010 at 9:27 pm
    Meanwhile at the Telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/amazon/7996749/The-truth-is-getting-lost-in-the-Amazon.html
    they say that Amazon has discarded all skeptic books and only charts warmist books in their ranking of global warming books even when the skeptic books hugely outsell warmist books. Theocracy is getting in the way of business

    That’s only Amazon UK he’s talking about. (Bezos is a libertarian.)

  93. Why are the OHC stats updated so infrequently? What adjustments are made to the raw sensor measurements? It is mystifying that so little attention is paid to OHC and so much more attention is paid to surface temps.
    One great thing about OHC is that it is a measure of a process of integration (also it implicitly includes mass since the sensors are at a particular depth).
    Does the amount of energy that is released from the ocean during an el nino make any measurable difference in the OHC?

  94. Oceanographer Dr Robert E Stevenson, (deceased), wrote this in 2000,
    “Yes, the Ocean Has Warmed; No, It’s Not Global Warming” by Dr. Robert E.
    Stevenson
    http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/articles/ocean.html
    “Contrary to recent press reports that the oceans hold the still-undetected
    global atmospheric warming predicted by climate models, ocean warming occurs in
    100-year cycles, independent of both radiative and human influences.
    For 15 years, modellers have tried to explain their lack of success in
    predicting global warming. The climate models had predicted a global temperature
    increase of 1.5°C by the year 2000, six times more than that which has taken
    place. Not discouraged, the modellers argue that the heat generated by their
    claimed “greenhouse warming effect” is being stored in the deep oceans, and that
    it will eventually come back to haunt us. They’ve needed such a boost to prop up
    the man-induced greenhouse warming theory, but have had no observational
    evidence to support it. The Levitus, et al. article is now cited as the needed
    support.
    The atmosphere cannot warm until the underlying surface warms first. The lower
    atmosphere is transparent to direct solar radiation, preventing it from being
    significantly warmed by sunlight alone. The surface atmosphere thus gets its
    warmth in three ways: from direct contact with the oceans; from infrared
    radiation off the ocean surface; and, from the removal of latent heat from the
    ocean by evaporation. Consequently, the temperature of the lower atmosphere is
    largely determined by the temperature of the ocean.
    Because of the high density/specific heat of sea water, the entire heat in
    the overlying atmosphere can be contained in the top two meters of the oceans.
    This enormous storage capacity enables the oceans to “buffer” any major
    deviations in temperature, moderating both heat and cold waves alike.
    Sunlight penetrates the water surface readily, and directly heats the ocean up to a
    certain depth. Around 3 percent of the radiation from the Sun reaches a depth of
    about 100 meters.
    The top layer of the ocean to that depth warms up easily under sunlight. Below
    100 meters, however, little radiant energy remains. The ocean becomes
    progressively darker and colder as the depth increases. (It is typical for the
    ocean temperature in Hawaii to be 26°C (78°F) at the surface, and 15°C (59°F) at
    a depth of 150 meters.
    The infrared radiation penetrates but a few millimeters into the ocean. This
    means that the greenhouse radiation from the atmosphere affects only the top few
    millimeters of the ocean. Water just a few centimeters deep receives none of the
    direct effect of the infrared thermal energy from the atmosphere! Further, it is
    in those top few millimeters in which evaporation takes places. So whatever
    infrared energy may reach the ocean as a result of the greenhouse effect is soon
    dissipated.
    It is clear that solar-related variations in mixed-layer temperatures penetrate to between 80 to 160 meters, the average depth of the main pycnocline (density
    discontinuity) in the global ocean. Below these depths, temperature fluctuations
    become uncorrelated with solar signals, deeper penetration being restrained by
    the stratified barrier of the pycnocline.
    Consequently, anomalous heat associated with changing solar irradiance is stored
    in the upper 100 meters. The heat balance is maintained by heat loss to the
    atmosphere, not to the deep ocean. ”
    The whole article is well worth reading. What a pity that Dr Stevenson is no longer around to join in the debate.

  95. barry says:
    “For some temp records, 2010 is the warmest on the record ‘so far’.”
    “So far,” eh?
    Here are some real-world records:
    click1
    click2
    click3
    click4
    click5
    Natural climate variability has made the planet much warmer, and much, much colder in the past, as shown in these records. So your statement: “2010 is the warmest on the record” is demonstrably wrong.

  96. Argo is everything (90% say of the energy in the climate system???)
    My background is Physics, Geophysics/Oceanography followed by postgrad in Meteorology (climate modelling). Whatever Argo says ‘has’ to be a leading indicator of future ‘air’ temperature changes – It is the cutting edge in Earth temperature measurements.

  97. peakbear
    “Whatever Argo says ‘has’ to be a leading indicator of future ‘air’ temperature changes – It is the cutting edge in Earth temperature measurements.”
    They said that about the MSU temperature measurements (and they were, sorta, once all the bugs in the hardware and software were worked out). Pielke Sr. has had his faith in ARGO tested more than once.

  98. Eli, do you prefer to use SLR as a proxy for temperature? After reading the critique of GRACE by Quinn and Ponte (granted, only the abstract since $52 seemed a bit steep) I wonder if Church et al shouldn’t have been using the tide gauges to correct the noise in GRACE instead of visa vera. Attribution of sea level is very suspect also. One can’t just wave their hands and say all the attributing factors from AR3 such as ground water use and deforestation no longer matter. Where are the studies supporting the assumptions these aren’t important? Faith has been tested all around it seems to me.

  99. gneiss says:
    September 11, 2010 at 9:15 am
    An alternative hypothesis is that we do not yet measure ocean heat content well enough to speak conclusively (as Pielke chooses to do) about its short-term trends. That is honesty, not “spinning.”

    An honest alternative, but one that opens a can of worms. Simply put, the alarmists are arguing about hundredths of a degree of warming and showing that small a change to be proof of their claim of AGW. Yet if they cannot even measure the temperature of 70% of the planet to any degree (much less hundredths) then the whole claim is worthless. It would be better if they were hones and scientific about it and stated truthfully “We just do not know”.

  100. R. Shearer says:
    September 11, 2010 at 12:06 pm
    My calendar says it’s September. Can’t they wait until 2010 is history to claim victory (or defeat)?

    Why? 10 years after the fact they now say that 1998 was not as hot as it was back in the day. It appears they want to “strike while the iron is hot”, because tomorrow, their data and statements will change.

  101. It depends a bit on how you define Global Warming, if you think it’s strictly a measure of Joules Dr. Pielke may be correct, but if you see it as an ongoing process driven by CO2, and CO2 is still rising, you’d say it hasn’t stopped. If The first two weeks of December are cold, but the third week warm, would you say that winter has stopped?

  102. @Andrew W: Bad analogy. Better: If my furnace is lit, and the temperature stops rising, I would assume that the fire had gone out while I wasn’t looking. If there has been no atmospheric warming since 1995 (according to Phil Jones, maybe the most “authoritative voice” in the AGW camp), and no ocean warming since 2004 (when we started measuring it with ARGO, the “most accurate measurement possible”) I would say that something is wrong with your predicate.
    Hint – when your theory fails to comport with measured fact, you need to reevaluate your theory.

  103. Warmists are so fascinating when they try to talk about science.
    A few years ago, I was in the waiting room of a garage while my car was being fixed. Also waiting was a young mother with her daughter of (best guess) four or five. Apparently bored with her mother, the daughter came over and accosted me, holding her favorite book. After I read it to her (she obviously knew it by heart already), she looked for another interesting subject, and announced, “I can speak French.”
    “Wonderful,” I said. “Bonjour,” she said.
    “Bonjour,” I said, “Comment tu t’appelles?” — my French being almost as rusty as my calculus.
    “Bonjour,” she said.
    “Quelle est ta couleur favorite?” I said.
    “Bonjour,” she said.
    “You speak French very well,” I said. Which she apparently found boring, because she returned to her mother.
    “It’s settled basic science, basic physics” says the warmist.
    “What about feedbacks?” I ask.
    “Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas.”
    “What about ocean heat content?”
    “Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas.”
    “What about upper-atmosphere humidity?”
    “Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas.”
    “Why is the rate of late-20th-century warming no different from the rate of 1860-90 and 1910-40?” I ask.
    “Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas.”
    “What about the albedo of low-level clouds? Convection? Latent heat transfer?”
    “Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas,” they reply.
    Ah, yes, they understand basic physics very well. But I won’t tell them so; they’re not cute enough — mostly (except for Hollywood, of course) — and they refuse to sit on my lap…

  104. DennisA says:

    September 13, 2010 at 1:13 am
    Oceanographer Dr Robert E Stevenson, (deceased), wrote this in 2000,
    “Yes, the Ocean Has Warmed; No, It’s Not Global Warming” by Dr. Robert E.
    Stevenson
    http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/articles/ocean.html

    Many thanks, Dennis, for that excellent link. The paper is excellent and readable– I say this in spite of my envy, here in Indiana with winter fast approaching, when Dr. S says, “… Hanalei, Hawaii is just down the hill from where I write …”
    Recommended reading for everyone. If Dr. P has any comments, I would be very interested in them.

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