New paper in Nature on ocean cycles finally causes recognition in media

From OceanCycles.com - click

Our sceptical connection in Germany, Pierre Gosselin, has taken notice of an article in Der Spiegel that speaks of the link to ocean cycles for climate. Of course we’ve known this for some time, but like with the New Scientist catching up to solar recognition, the previous denial of natural variability in climate seems to be weakening. BTW if you want to track the status of ocean cycles, our WUWT ENSO/Sea Level/Sea Surface Temperature Page has a lot to offer. Right now the Niño 3.4 index continues to drop, and looks to rival 2008’s plunge.

Der Spiegel: The Ocean’s Influence Greater Than Thought

By Pierre Gosselin

Alex Bojanowski at Germany’s online Der Spiegel reports here on a new paper appearing in Nature that shows climate change in the 1970s was caused by ocean cooling. Climate simulation models once indicated that the cooling in the 1970s was due to sun-reflecting sulfur particles, emitted by industry. But now evidence points to the oceans.

I don’t know why this is news for the authors of the paper. Ocean cycles are well-known to all other scientists. The following graphic shows the AMO 60-year cycle, which is now about to head south.

Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). Source: http://www.appinsys.com/globalwarming/SixtyYearCycle.htm

Computer models simulating future climate once predicted that it would soon get warm because of increasing GHG emissions, but, writes Der Spiegel, citing Nature:

Now it turns out that the theory is incomplete. A sudden cooling of the oceans in the northern hemisphere played the decisive role in the drop of air temperatures.

The paper was authored by David W. J. Thompson, John M. Wallace, John J. Kennedy, and Phil D. Jones. The scientists discovered that ocean temperatures in the northern hemisphere dropped an enormous 0.3°C between 1968 and 1972. Der Spiegel writes:

A huge amount of energy was taken out of the oceans. The scientists said that it was surprising that the cooling was so fast.

This shows, again, that the climate simulation models used for predicting the future are inadequate. It’s not sure what caused the oceans to cool. But scientists are sure that aerosols were not the cause. Der Spiegel describes a possible scenario how the oceans may have cooled:

Huge amounts of melt water from Greenland’s glaciers poured into the Atlantic at the end of the 1960s, and formed a cover over the ocean. The melt water cooled the ocean for one thing, and acted to brake the Golf Stream, which transports warm water from the tropics and delivers it to the north. The result: the air also cools down.

But, as Spiegel reports, that hardly explains why there was also cooling n the north Pacific. Der Spiegel:

The scientists will have to refine their climate simulations. The new study shows one thing: The influence of the oceans is greater than previously thought.

I’d say that’s a very polite way of saying: Your models have been crap, and it’s back to the drawing board. This time don’t forget to properly take the oceans and every thing else into account. Yes, there’s a quite a bit more to climate than a single trace gas in the atmosphere. Hooray – the warmists are finally beginning to realize it! (Maybe)

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There is a natural source for the Atlantic and Pacific quasi-cycles but they are not synchronised with each other, or with the solar cycles either.
For the North Atlantic:
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/CETnd.htm
For the Pacific:
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/PDO.htm

And for those new to discussions of ocean cycles, I’ve prepared three introductory posts. The first presents El Niño and La Niña events:
http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2010/08/introduction-to-enso-amo-and-pdo-part-1.html
The second discusses the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO):
http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2010/08/introduction-to-enso-amo-and-pdo-part-2.html
And the third covers the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO):
http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2010/09/introduction-to-enso-amo-and-pdo-part-3.html

amicus curiae

truly a red letter day:-)
they admit both the oceans and the sun…have an effect on the planet.
I need a Bex and a cuppa..

Vince Causey

The modelers will just replace the aerosol cooling algorithms with some new ocean cooling algorithms, and hey presto! the late 20th century warming is recreated.

phlogiston

“The Golf Stream” – thats a new one. Is that the one that brings all those golf balls from Florida to the beaches of Western Europe?

Gary Pearse

I don’t say ‘Hooray’ the climate consensus is starting to get it. The climate consensus is starting to steal it! We need a sang froid accounting of who we should be thanking for these new discoveries – don’t forget, if they are not in peer-reviewed journals they are fair game for the plagiarists. Phil Jones has been gradually getting his feathers cleaned of CAGW sludge and will be preening and spreading his wings once again. I note he is the 4th author behind a string of newbies. Watch him move up and start presenting more “sceptical science” and also watch is biography development into the vanguard of the new climate science.

Casper

Anthony,
you wrote that ocean cycles finally causes recognition in media. But you don’t live in Germany and you perhaps don’t know that the German government depends on the industrial lobby.
Best greetings from Germany.

JDN

That Greenland melt water sounds like fiction. Want to be that human soot will be blamed for that? You see, there’s a new ice age coming, and wouldn’t ya know it, profitable industry is responsible and must be stopped.

Jim Clarke

I am thinking of all the people who have been saying this exact same thing for the last 10 to 20 years (Prof. Bill Gray leading the pack) and how much they have been vilified for speaking the obvious truth. God bless them all!
Still, there is a lot of spin at play in the above article. This statement: “Climate simulation models once indicated that the cooling in the 1970s was due to sun-reflecting sulfur particles, emitted by industry. But now evidence points to the oceans.” is simply a lie. The sulfur particle theory was never “indicated” by the models. It was an extremely poor assumption forced into the models to take natural climate variability out of the man-made global warming equation. It was a con; a ruse. There was never any evidence for it and the fact that the ‘sulfur free’ Southern Hemisphere cooled in lock step with the north, was very strong evidence against it.
This article makes it sound like the models were to blame for throwing us of the scientific track. Models are the innocent pawns of the modelers. The sulfur particle theory was a deliberate attempt to derail climate science in favor of environmental activism.

simpleseekeraftertruth

“The idea that changes in the sun’s activity can influence the climate ……. major advances in our understanding of the atmosphere.” “The oceans’ influence greater than thought.”
And the claimed effects of anthropomorphic CO2 that were so robust are now what exactly?
Next headline;
The idea that man’s emissions of CO2 can not influence the climate is making a comeback, after years of sceptical vilification, thanks to major advances in our understanding of the atmosphere.

simpleseekeraftertruth

Oops, scientific vilification! Although vilification of sceptics also applies.

Old Goat

Well, we’re getting there. How long, I wonder, before they grudgingly concede that CO2 isn’t the demon it’s portrayed to be, and quite useful, really…

Stephen Wilde

Taking this thread with the earlier one about solar effects I see complete vindication for my oft expressed view that the observed climate is a consequence of a complex interplay between top down solar effects and bottom up oceanic effects with the latitudinal position of all the air circulation systems shifting as necessary to try and retain equilibrium between those two forcings.
I am not aware of any recorded or observed climate change anywhere on Earth that cannot be explained by a simple change of a location’s geographical position in relation to the nearest components of the global air circulation system.
See this:
“Unfortunately we know too little about the flow of ocean currents and the thermal behaviour of the oceans to be able to draw any helpful conclusions from oceanic features. I have my own theory on that point which I’ve expressed in my earlier articles so that it may be possible to use the more recently discovered decadal oceanic oscillations as a diagnostic tool but this article is about weather so I will leave the oceans to one side in this article.
We have to look at the flow of air in the atmosphere to see if we can find anything that helps.
The most noticeable airflow phenomenon in the atmosphere is the jet stream. It guides the movement of mid latitude depressions and effectively marks an interface between warmer equatorial air and colder polar air. The intensity of the flow affects the depth and speed of the depressions and the speeds of the winds around them.
My submission is that one needs only to observe whether the net movement of air over the entire globe at the surface is either from poles to equator or vice versa.”
from here:
http://climaterealists.com/index.php?id=1458
(June 18th 2008)

Cold Lynx

Be aware
The reason, and only reason, why AGW now say sun and ocean cycles do have an impact on climate are because they need it to defend the lack of CO2 heating.
If the global temperature goes up is it because of increased CO2.
If the temperature goes down is it because of natural reason as solar and ocean cycles.

Yuba Yollabolly

As usual Der Speigal misses the point of the paper, and their claim: “The influence of the oceans is greater than previously thought.” are without merit if one actually reads the paper.
The opening paragraph the paper discusses the significant influence ENSO in particular has on the exchange of heat between the atmosphere and the ocean.
The paper goes on to conclude:
“The spatial and temporal structures of the drop in NH − SH sea-surface temperatures suggest that the hemispheric differences in surface temperature trends during the mid-twentieth century derive not from hemispheric asymmetries in tropospheric aerosol loadings or oscillatory decadal variability in the ocean Rather, the hemispheric differences seem to derive in large part from a discrete cooling event in the Northern Hemisphere oceans that was not geographically localized, but had its largest amplitude over the northern North Atlantic.”
The facts that SSTs influence global temps, and that there are oscilations in SSTs are givens by the authors, and have been well established in the literature. The point is the SST anomoly itself that is not explained by oscilations.

Gunnar

–Der Speigel– is called: Der Spiegel
(like mirror)
REPLY: Thanks for the spell check, fixed

“Climate simulation models once indicated that the cooling in the 1970s was due to sun-reflecting sulfur particles, emitted by industry. But now evidence points to the oceans.”
Dumb
http://www.volcano.si.edu/world/find_eruptions.cfm
Agung
Indonesia
1963  Feb 18  1964 Jan 27  VEI 5
Shiveluch
Russia
1964  Nov 12  1964 Nov 12  VEI 4+
Taal
Philippines
1965  Sep 28  1965 Sep 30  VEI 4
Awu
Indonesia
1966  Aug 12  1966 Oct  VEI 4
Kelut
Indonesia
1966  Apr 26  1966 Apr 27  VEI 4
Fernandina
Ecuador
1968  Jun 11  1968 Jul 4 (on or before) VEI 4
Just like what’s happening now only squeezed into 3 years.

Jimash

Let’s hear it for the Gurus and mucky-mucks , for recognizing reality, at long last .
Just remember folks, when you say something it is anti-science skepticism.
When they say it , it is received wisdom

Doug in Seattle

phlogiston says:
September 25, 2010 at 8:33 am
“The Golf Stream” – thats a new one. Is that the one that brings all those golf balls from Florida to the beaches of Western Europe?

Not quite. The Golf Stream is what brings golfing weather to Northern Europe. Without it Scotsmen would have had to discover fluorescent orange balls before they could invent the sport.

Jimmy Haigh

Well, “the influence of the oceans is greater than previously thought” by ‘climate scientists’, perhaps, but most of us here on WUWT have known this all along.

Jim Clarke

Yuba Yollabolly says:
“The facts that SSTs influence global temps, and that there are oscilations in SSTs are givens by the authors, and have been well established in the literature. The point is the SST anomoly itself that is not explained by oscillations.”
No, that is not the point. The SST anomaly you are referring to took place from 1968 to 1972 and may very well be a part of the larger ocean oscillations. That singular event is certainly not responsible for the mid-20th Century cooling that started decades before.
While the paper may want to extract that singular event from the decadal oscillations, they do so only with a magic wand. Natural oscillations are rarely smooth transitions. One can not look at the gradual temperature decline from summer to winter and exclude a strong fall cold front and proclaim that it is separate from the annual oscillation. Likewise, proclaiming that a sudden drop in the SST of the Northern Hemisphere is not part of the larger, recognized oscillations is arbitrary.
Nonetheless, the most important point here remains the fact that sulfur aerosols are not responsible for the mid-20th Century cooling. The oceans are responsible. Which means that the oceans have a larger impact on global surface temperatures than increasing CO2. There is no other conclusion possible and the models must be re-initialized with a climate sensitivity to CO2 much below the current value.
There is no crisis!
That is the significance of the study!

Larry

Wow! Tells me something WUWT has been on to for years. It’s about time! Better late than never, I always say. So, who are the “denialists” now?

rbateman

Gee, Phil D. Jones, what did you know and when did you know it?
What took you so long to tell the rest of us?
Ah, that silly old GCM warming output from those hot mega-processor banks, that’s whut dunnit.
Better late than never, still.
Now, if a cooling AMO will slow down the Gulf Current, so too will a cooing PDO slow down the Japan Current.
Right?
So let’s see a similar graph of the PDO just below the AMO, and that should tell us how much lag is in the lockstep gait.

Anybody else thinking that the “CO2 must explain everything” mentality which has afflicted most climatologists since the early 90’s has set the whole science back about 20 years ?
They remind me of the 14th & 15th century astronomers who devised all sorts of weird and wonderful plenetary orbits to corroborate observations with the article of faith that the Earth was the centre of the Universe.
Can somebody PLEASE step forward and play the role of modern-day Copernicus..

ShrNfr

It is interesting to me that the 1970 sunspot max was something of a wimp in comparison to the ones surrounding it. I wonder how much of a pile on effect that caused?

Chuck

What caused the ocean temperatures to match sunspot cycle strengths?
Strange.

Cliff

Cold lynx,
“The reason, and only reason, why AGW now say sun and ocean cycles do have an impact on climate are because they need it to defend the lack of CO2 heating.”
Since when did AGW theory say that sun and ocean cycles had no impact on climate? Seems like the theory has always acknowledged those impacts but they maintained it wasn’t sufficient to explain the warming and GHGs were needed to explain the warming.
And where is the lack of heating?

Yuba Yollabolly

Uhm- Jim Clark…please read the paper. If you would like to make a comment about the methodology used to remove known cycles by the author please make it.
Please also please reread Mr Watt’s original post. It is carefully worded and attacks “the press” He actually makes no claim that scientists themselves have not been aware of the influence of SST cycles on the climate.
Since you think the climate models should be reworked because they did not account for influence of a drop in SST in the climate (this is not in evidence in the paper BTW) then shouldn’t one conclude that CO2 sensitivity is actually higher than it has previously appeared?

Quite a turnaround for Spiegel. In the past, its environment pages have combined the daffiness of The Guardian with the pompous finger-wagging of the New York Times to make an unlikely kunstform: German High Comedy.

Douglas DC

Were are a couple of good eruptions away from the little Ice Age. Oceans, volcanic,
and solar influences are seeming to come together..
Got Coal?

Invariant

Jim Clarke says: September 25, 2010 at 8:50 am It was an extremely poor assumption forced into the models to take natural climate variability out of the man-made global warming equation.
Exactly! Simulation models rely on facts and fiction. In many engineering simulations assumptions are few and well founded and simulations results are useful. Now in order for simulations to be useful, they must result in some knowledge we did not already know. My question is then whether they assume too much in climate simulation models? While soot and CO2 cannot be predicted, but certainly must be based on empirical observations, I would argue that water vapour feedback, evaporation, precipitation, cloud coverage and ocean cycles should.
If we assume too much simulation results will just reflect our assumptions. For Boeing simulations are highly useful because assumptions are few and well founded – CFD has joined the wind tunnel and flight tests as a principal technology for aerodynamic design.
http://www.soton.ac.uk/~nwb/lectures/AeroCFD/Other/Boeing30yearsReview2005.pdf
Another question is whether it is at all possible to develop a climate model without too many assumptions?

Yuba Yollabolly

Anything is possible wrote:
“Anybody else thinking that the “CO2 must explain everything” mentality which has afflicted most climatologists since the early 90′s has set the whole science back about 20 years ?”
Any climetologist that might have this mentality would have to deny the obvious irregularities in the climate record. Please name them so I can write them off also.

Most of us have heard or know of oceans and climate 30-60 year cycles. However, few are aware of geomagnetic pulses of similar period.
The compiled new declination curve for Munich shows general agreement with previously published curves for London and Paris and allows to detect geomagnetic jerks with a temporal uncertainty of ±10 years. More or less regular impulses, on a decadal time-scale ranging from 30 to 60 years, are identified for most of the time interval 1400–2000, but the century from about 1760 to 1860 seems to be devoid of sudden secular variation changes.
More here

Stephen Wilde

“Can somebody PLEASE step forward and play the role of modern-day Copernicus.”
Well I’ve been trying. 🙂

Third Party

This finding by Scientists is truly unexpected and the the case of PDJ, likely unprecedented.

Huge amounts of melt water from Greenland’s glaciers poured into the Atlantic at the end of the 1960s, and formed a cover over the ocean.

My best interpretation of this passage in the original article reads,

“Probably it was triggered by a long-time [langjähriger] surge of glacial melt from Greenland, the so-called Great Salt Anomaly,” experts said.

This is a horrible translation. It leaves stuff out and inserts stuff spuriously.
The original German sentence reads:

Vermutlich habe ein langjähriger Schub Gletscherschmelze aus Grönland die sogenannte Große Salzanomalie ausgelöst, meinen Experten.

A.) The original German does not even mention “at the end of the 1960s” AT ALL.
B.) The translation left out the word “Probably.” The expert is speculating, yet this is completely left out of the translation.
C.) “Langjähriger means “long-time” – long-year, literally – and this conflicts with the term “surge” (or “thrust”), even though both are in the original. I would suggest “long-term flow,” but that may add a wrong spin to it.
D.) No where in this German sentence does it say, “huge amounts.” Perhaps a long-term flow amounts to huge amounts, but that is NOT what the sentence says, taken literally.
I am not an expert on German, but have been translating (fairly badly, but getting better) some documents for an existing project. For better or worse, I use Google Translator and then beat the hell out of them till they make decent English sentences.
Every day I receive the English version of Der Spiegel online, but this article is not yet translated by them, so I had to do my best with it.
If someone else can improve on my translation, it would be appreciated.
My main reason for commenting here is that I wonder at this “huge surge of meltwater from Greenland” IN THE LATE 1960s. This was the HEIGHT of the mid-1900s cool-down. WHY would Greenland have had a melt surge???

David L

When will Mann jump on the solar and ocean cycle bandwagon?

Stephen Wilde says: September 25, 2010 at 12:25 pm
“Can somebody PLEASE step forward and play the role of modern-day Copernicus.”
Well I’ve been trying. 🙂
Mr. Wilde
Unfortunately if any of us are to be taken even half seriously, it is necessary to break through the barrier of ‘academia and peer review’ publishing.
Your and my ideas are not exactly on the same lines, but are not necessarily exclusive. You have ‘mechanism’ idea worked out but you lack numerical analysis with a strong correlation. My case appear to be the opposite, lots of ‘numerical’ but as yet no ‘mechanism’.
Keep good work going.

Chuck

Der Spiegel mentioned sunspot activity at the beginning of an article about a year ago as Climate-Gate reached fruition.

Nonetheless, the most important point here remains the fact that sulfur aerosols are not responsible for the mid-20th Century cooling. The oceans are responsible.
But what caused the oceans to cool? The sulfur aerosols from industry were not responsible, but bodies of water certainly cool as a result of solar dimming… from volcanic sulfur aerosols? Aerosols, locations and altitudes?
Do bodies of water warm from solar brightening? Like when there’s a lack of aerosols?

kwik

“Now it turns out that the theory is incomplete…”
Yes, well, that must be the understatement of the century.

Yuba Yollabolly

Those who wish to balance their perspective on this paper may wish to read the summary article that accompanied it in this week’s Nature. It appears to be outside the pay wall:
http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100922/full/467381a.html
Some of you (besides David L) may be interested to note that Michael Mann disagrees with the potential explanation proposed by the paper and thinks the ocean cooling was probably the steep end of a natural climate oscillation spanning several decades.

feet 2 fire,
You aint kidding your German aint the best. You’re looking at the wrong paragraph!
I’m quoting the 2nd to the last paragraph, which reads as follows:
” Von Grönlands Gletschern stürzt Ende der sechziger Jahre vermehrt Schmelzwasser in den Nordatlantik und legt sich wie ein Deckel aufs Meer. Zum einen kühlt das Schmelzwasser von selbst das Meer. Zum anderen hemmt es den Golfstrom, der warmes Wasser aus den Tropen in den Norden schwemmt. Die Folge: Auch die Luft kühlt ab.”
My translation is fine, your assertion is “daneben”.

@ kwik :

“Now it turns out that the theory is incomplete…”
Yes, well, that must be the understatement of the century.

Yes, just as it was incomplete in 1985-1990, when the consensus was formed, when all these arguments should have been taking place – when the uncertainty, due to massively conflicting evidence, should have been recognized and a way forward should have been determined – IF any direction forward was even needed.
If ANY human activity was contributing, it was land use, not CO2.
If back then they’d gone in that direction, screamin’ and a-hollerin’, it is entirely possible that no “skeptical” community would ever have formed.
Now they are beginning to acknowledge all the doubts they would have heard back then – if they had not excluded other voices from the discourse. And we are all supposed to do what? Praise them? Pat them on the back? Pat them on their wet noses? Give them a doggy biscuit? Scratch them behind the ear?
Just for waking up to the obvious?
It is like having a little brother who is a bit more than a little bit “slow.”
LOL, at least Phil Jones is a bit less slow than before. (But I have to wonder if there wasn’t some kind of “blessing” for the other authors, to have Dr Jones on their paper. I wonder if he did anything other than sprinkle some holy water on it.) But, Hey, Phil, welcome to the sane side of the room!

feet2fire
You aint kidding your German aisn’t the best. I was quoting the 2nd to the last paragraph!! You’re talking about a completely different paragraph.
My translation is fine. Your accusation is “völlig danaben”.

Stephen Wilde

vukcevic says:
September 25, 2010 at 12:43 pm
“Your and my ideas are not exactly on the same lines, but are not necessarily exclusive. You have ‘mechanism’ idea worked out but you lack numerical analysis with a strong correlation”
Yes vuk, I’ve noticed that your ideas could fit in with mine because I’ve been leaving space in the description for various components that could be slotted in once evidence becomes available and your suggestions are some amongst several that could fit the bill.
As regards beefing up my stuff with numbers and stronger correlations I confirm that I am aware of that weakness but the fact is that the data I need has never been collated and if the professionals have never done it then it’s a bit of a stretch to dump the burden on me.
Suffice it to say that I’m content to let ongoing observations confirm or rebut what I say but I must point out that a good deal of new information is fitting in very nicely.

feet2fire
Concerning the melt surge at the end of the 60s,
I had the same question. Here Der Spiegel seems to be alluding to a possible scenario floated out by Gavin Schmidt. So of course it would make no sense!

This Greenland melt surge is just fishing for an expnantion, a refusal to admit the obvious.

And if you have to use Google to translate…forget it dude.

North Atlantic oscillations:
http://climexp.knmi.nl/data/ihadsst2_280-360E_0-70N_na.png
Unbelievable, but all that fuss was based on 1975-2005 warming trend, indistinguishable from 1910-1940 warming trend, with distinctive cooling trend in between despite the fact, that the composition of atmosphere has changed by 0.003%.
Theory about melting Greenland covering the ocean with a layer of cold water is nonsense. The Gulf stream takes all water northwards! How could the cold water layer swim against it to cool tropical Atlantic?