New paper on ARGO data: Trenberth's ocean heat still missing

Four out of five ARGO data studies now show Ocean Heat Content declining

Latest Argo array

The latest picture of the ARGO array. - click for details

Readers may recall that Dr. Kevin Trenberth said this in one of the Climategate emails:

“The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.”

Using the ARGO ocean buoy data from Josh Willis, Knox and Douglass still can’t find that missing heat in this paper published in the International Journal of Geosciences, currently in press here.

Recent energy balance of Earth

R. S. Knox and D. H. Douglass

Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY

Abstract

A recently published estimate of Earth’s global warming trend is 0.63 ± 0.28 W/m2, as calculated from ocean heat content anomaly data spanning 1993–2008. This value is not representative of the recent (2003–2008) warming/cooling rate because of a “flattening” that occurred around 2001–2002. Using only 2003–2008 data from Argo floats, we find

by four different algorithms that the recent trend ranges from –0.010 to –0.160 W/m2 with a typical error bar of ±0.2 W/m2. These results fail to support the existence of a frequently-cited large positive computed radiative imbalance.

1. Introduction

Recently Lyman et al. [1] have estimated a robust global warming trend of 0.63 ± 0.28 W/m2 for Earth during 1993–2008, calculated from ocean heat content anomaly

(OHC) data. This value is not representative of the recent (2003–2008) warming/cooling rate because of a “flattening” that occurred around 2001–2002. Using only 2003-2008 data, we find cooling, not warming.

This result does not support the existence of a large frequently- cited positive computed radiative imbalance (see, for example, Trenberth and Fasullo [2]).

A sufficiently accurate data set available for the time period subsequent to 2001–2002 now exists. There are two different observational systems for determining OHC. The first and older is based upon expendable bathythermograph (XBT) probes that have been shown to have various biases and systematic errors (Wijffels et al. [3]). The second is the more accurate and complete global array of autonomous Argo floats [4], which were deployed as of the early 2000s. These floats are free from the biases and errors of the XBT probes although they have had other systematic errors [5]. We begin our analysis with the more accurate Argo OHC data. There are issues associated with a “short-time”

segment of data, which are addressed.

2. Data and Analysis

In what follows, we make reference to FOHC, defined as the rate of change of OHC divided by Earth’s area. It has units of energy flux and is therefore convenient when discussing heating of the whole climate system. In W/m2, FOHC is given by 0.62d(OHC)/dt when the rate of change of OHC is presented in units of 1022 J/yr.

Figure 1 shows OHC data from July 2003 through June 2008 (blue data points, left scale) as obtained from Willis [6]. These data appear to show a negative trend (slope) but there is an obvious annual variation that must be “removed.” We estimated the trend in four different ways, all of which reduce the annual effect. Method 1. The data were put through a 12-month symmetric box filter (Figure 1, red curve). Note that the length of the time segment is four years. The slope through these data, including standard error, is –0.260 ± 0.064 × 1022 J/yr, or FOHC = –0.161 ± 0.040 W/m2.

Method 2. The difference between the OHC value for July 2007 and July 2003 is divided by 4, giving one annual slope estimate. Next, the difference between

August 2007 and August 2003 is calculated. This is done ten more times, the last difference being June 2008 minus June 2004. The average slope of these twelve values, including standard deviation, is –0.0166 ± 0.4122 × 1022 J/year, or FOHC = –0.0103 ± 0.2445 W/m2. Method 2’s advantage is that the difference of four years is free

from short-term correlations.

Method 3. Slopes of all January values were computed and this was repeated for each of the other months. The average of the twelve estimates, including standard deviation, is –0.066 ± 0.320 × 1022 J/year, or FOHC = –0.041 ± 0.198 W/m2.

Method 4. The average of OHC for the 12 months from July 2003 to June 2004 was computed, similarly for July 2004 to June 2005, etc. For the five values the slope found, including standard error, is –0.0654 ± 0.240 × 1022 J/yr, or FOHC = –0.0405 ± 0.1488 W/m2.

These results are listed in Table 1.

There have been four other recent estimates of slopes from the Argo OHC data, by Pielke [7], Loehle [8], Douglass and Knox [9], and von Schuckmann et al. [10]. Each of these studies of Argo OHC data with the exception of von Schuckmann’s, which differs in the ocean depth covered (0–2000 m), show a negative trend with an uncertainty of several 0.1 W/m2. Why the von Schuckmann case is an “outlier” is worthy of further study.

3. Discussion and Summary

As many authors have noted, knowing FOHC is important because of its close relationship to FTOA, the net inward radiative flux at the top of the atmosphere. Wetherald et al. [13] and Hansen et al. [14] believe that this radiative imbalance in Earth’s climate system is positive, amounting recently [14] to approximately 0.9 W/m2. Pielke [15] has pointed out that at least 90% of the variable heat content of Earth resides in the upper ocean.

Thus, to a good approximation, FOHC may be employed to infer the magnitude of FTOA, and the positive radiation imbalance should be directly reflected in FOHC (when

adjusted for geothermal flux [9]; see Table 1 caption). The principal approximations involved in using this equality, which include the neglect of heat transfers to land masses and those associated with the melting and freezing of ice, estimated to be of the order of 0.04 W/m2 [14], have been discussed by the present authors [9].

In steady state, the state of radiative balance, both quantities FTOA and FOHC should be zero. If FTOA > FOHC, “missing energy” is being produced if no sink other than the ocean can be identified. We note that one recent deep-ocean analysis [16], based on a variety

of time periods generally in the 1990s and 2000s, suggests that the deeper ocean contributes on the order of 0.09 W/m2. This is not sufficient to explain the discrepancy.

Trenberth and Fasullo (TF) [2] believe that missing energy has been accumulating at a considerable rate since 2005. According to their rough graph, as of 2010 the missing energy production rate is about 1.0 W/m2, which represents the difference between FTOA ~ 1.4 and FOHC ~ 0.4 W/m2. It is clear that the TF missing-energy problem is made much more severe if FOHC is negative or even zero. In our opinion, the missing energy problem is probably caused by a serious overestimate by TF of FTOA, which, they state, is most accurately determined by modeling.

In summary, we find that estimates of the recent (2003–2008) OHC rates of change are preponderantly negative. This does not support the existence of either a large positive radiative imbalance or a “missing energy.”

===============================================================

Read the full paper available here at the authors University of Rcohester website:

http://www.pas.rochester.edu/~douglass/papers/KD_InPress_final.pdf

For those wondering how ARGO works unattended, this image shows how:

Simple Mission Operation: The float descends to cruising depth, drifts for several days, ascends while taking salinity and temperature profiles, and then transmits data to satellites. More here

h/t to Russ Steele

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RobW

Yes but that was the wrong peer review process so we can disregard it. [sarc off]

Looks like good coverage to me. Interesting to note the concentration off Japan and Texas, though.

Mark Wagner

let’s see. no warming in oceans. no warming in satellite measures. no warming in raw/unadjusted land records for locations not subject to UHI.
warming in GISS “adjusted” numbers. warming in models.
am I missing something?

the recent trend ranges from –0.010 to –0.160 W/m2 with a typical error bar of ±0.2 W/m2.

And, of course, the error range exceeds the measured change, as will all CAGW measurements, which only goes to support the argument that there is no significant trend.

Alan Simpson not from Friends of the Earth

Well my Pigeon friends, let me introduce you to Mr Cat. 😉

Well, this just means things are worse than we thought!

If the von Schuckmann paper is correct, I’m asking myself where this increase in heat below the cooling top 700m came from. Further down in the abyss is my current best guess, and that means long sequestered solar energy is starting to rise. A sure sign of cooling in my analysis. Heat is leaving the system faster than it is coming in.
http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2010/12/20/working-out-where-the-energy-goes-part-2-peter-berenyi/

Fred from Canuckistan

Well this is obviously caused by global warming, just like it causes all the cold weather.
Nothing to see here . . . move along now

Kev-in-UK

Naaah – that can’t be right! Has this been reviewed and adjusted by the ‘correct’ people?
Mark Wagner says:
January 6, 2011 at 3:29 pm
great post! No, you’re not missing anything at all – except those warmist blinkers! LOL

Doubting Thomas

This paper and many other (e.g. Soares 2010) show that there is no correlation between CO2 increases and global heat content for at least the past decade. Meanwhile, ignoring that, California and the EPA trudge forward with their plans to tax carbon emissions. To quote the Eagles, “we stab it with our steely knives but we just can’t kill the beast.”
dT

Jason Joice

Tallbloke,
The Purkey and Johnson paper may have the answer you are looking for.
http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/2010JCLI3682.1

Tom Roe

from an observer of the debate… your like has not been seen since the 300. Hero’s all.

latitude

we find by four different algorithms that the recent trend ranges from –0.010 to –0.160 W/m2 with a typical error bar of ±0.2 W/m2.
============================================================
Which means you found nothing.
Did anyone really think all that heat going to the poles was going be replaced forever.

bubbagyro

If we extrapolate the trend for 1000 years, I get a loss by 3011 of 40 W/M2. So we will have the oceans frozen from top to bottom? Worse than we thought. Maybe in 2011 we have already reached the “tipping point”.
That is how a real climate scientist extrapolates, isn’t that so?

KnR

Sooner or later they are going to have to admit that it’s not missing, because it was never in existence to go ‘missing’. They simple got the numbers wrong because they did not understand the issue well enough, which is almost the definition of climate science as practiced.

coaldust

Mark Wagner says:
January 6, 2011 at 3:29 pm
let’s see. no warming in oceans. no warming in satellite measures. no warming in raw/unadjusted land records for locations not subject to UHI.
warming in GISS “adjusted” numbers. warming in models.
am I missing something?

Quick, check for you wallet.

Robuk

How did that get through.

Dave Springer

JER0ME says:
January 6, 2011 at 3:27 pm
“Looks like good coverage to me. Interesting to note the concentration off Japan and Texas, though.”
They are free floating so they drift with the current. There’s a recirculation gyre in the Gulf Stream that evidently rounded them up into a herd like a circling *cattle dog.
http://kingfish.coastal.edu/gulfstream/path.jpg
*Since you mentioned Texas I had to mention cattle, natch.

Dave Springer

Ummm… ignore the box in the picture that says “recirculation gyre”. That’s out in the Atlantic. There’s a smaller gyre to the left in the Gulf of Mexico. That’s the one I’m talking about that rounded up the Argo buoys. Yee ha.
http://kingfish.coastal.edu/gulfstream/path.jpg

phlogiston

Concerning Von Schuckmann et al.‘s finding, I find significant direct heat transfer to the deep ocean from the surface hard to believe. The most significant mechanism of sinking of water to abyssal depths is downwelling related to surface cooling at several locations such as the Norwegian Sea. By its very nature this mechanism only downwells cold and saline water due to its higher density (ice formation dumps salt into freezing water). You cant push down warm, low density water in to higher density water (not very far anyway). And you cant convectively heat water at 2000m depth somehow bypassing the upper 1000m.
However, of course climatic variations can and will vary the volume rate and spatial pattern of cold downwelling; this variation in supply of new cold water to the depths could indirectly impact deep ocean temperatures.
With so little known about the thermal dynamics of the ocean as a whole and the deep ocean in particular, that it cannot be excluded that cooling upper ocean and warming deeper water could reflect a natural mechanism of heat transfer from upper to lower water (somehow) associated with cooling of surface water and consequently of global climate.
The cold deep ocean bottom water is heated gradually from above over most of the earth surface and cooled by supply of downwelling freezing water. Gravity also plays a role limiting temperature variation – temperatures are kept close to the temperature of minimum seawater density (close to zero – not 4C as in fresh water) by huge gravitational pressure. Warming the deep ocean water would lift the whole water column, requiring huge additional energy.
Being a distant outlier, it is also possible that Von Schuckmann’s result is simply wrong.

Kevin Kilty

The uncertainty value is apparently one standard deviation (standard error of mean?), so the 90% uncertainly limits are quite large compared to the best value.

It could turn bad quickly for AGW. This is more evidence that the insanity of extreme AGW is snapping back.

Dave Springer

To be fair, Argo coverage ain’t that great. Argo buoys descend to a maximum of 2000 meters. Average depth of the global ocean is 4000 meters. Argo network completely misses half the ocean. They must assume that, like average albedo, average ocean temperature below 2000 meters never changes. Y’all know the old saying about what happens when we assume, right? Makes an ASS of U and ME.

sky

It’s astounding that anyone thinks that <6yrs of autocorrelated data can indicate any secular global trend. But grasping at any scraps of evidence seems to be the nature of climate science. The idea that we don't really know is anathema.

phlogiston

Jason Joice M.D. says:
January 6, 2011 at 3:56 pm
Tallbloke,
The Purkey and Johnson paper may have the answer you are looking for.
http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/2010JCLI3682.1

Further to my above comment: with so little known about deep ocean thermal dynamics, natural oscillations in temperature at any location cannot be excluded. Indeed, with the likelihood of oceanic dynamics featuring nonlinear oscillators, oscillation rather than stasis may be the more enlightened default assumption(the same is true for atmospheric climate, e.g. PDO, NAO, etc.). The underlying assumption of stasis being the norm in a dynamic system such as climate and ocean dynamics does not seem intelligent.

Dave Springer

tallbloke says:
January 6, 2011 at 3:43 pm
“If the von Schuckmann paper is correct, I’m asking myself where this increase in heat below the cooling top 700m came from.”
I’m just spitballing here but has anyone considered these possibilities:
1. The Lost City of Atlantis
2. An alien spacecraft at the bottom of the Bermuda Triangle with anti-matter warp drives. The dilithium crystals are melting down.
3. Gaia has had enough of her polar nipples being frozen and turned on the heater.
I will of course need a hefty grant to study these possibilities further and would like to begin by studying cold nipples. Well actually that’s a continuing study as I’ve been looking closely at cold nipples whenever I spot a pair since about puberty.

Dave F

Well, I was going to say, ‘The plot thickens’, but in the interest of providing a snarky comment:
The pipeline widens.

I do not understand why the authors publish the paper on such a questionable new journal. It’s no better than a blog.
http://www.scirp.org/journal/ijg/
Scientific Research Publishing : scam or not?
http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?p=5196020

Dave Springer says:
“They must assume that, like average albedo, average ocean temperature below 2000 meters never changes.”
I don’t know their assumptions, but doesn’t it seem unlikely that the deep ocean below 2,000 meters would be, on average, warmer than the water above it?

Curious

>> Why the von Schuckmann case is an “outlier” is worthy of further study.
Perhaps because it went to 2000m and all the others only went t0 700m and below 700m the temps have risen for some reason?

Dave F

Dave Springer says:
January 6, 2011 at 4:43 pm
To be fair, Argo coverage ain’t that great. Argo buoys descend to a maximum of 2000 meters. Average depth of the global ocean is 4000 meters. Argo network completely misses half the ocean. They must assume that, like average albedo, average ocean temperature below 2000 meters never changes. Y’all know the old saying about what happens when we assume, right? Makes an ASS of U and ME.
What does ARGO say about areas where it can sink to the sea floor?

harrywr2

Dave Springer says:
January 6, 2011 at 4:43 pm
They must assume that, like average albedo, average ocean temperature below 2000 meters never changes
It’s more like the changes at 2,000 meters become so small as to question as to how a significant change at 4,000 meters could occur.

jack morrow

I seem to remember an article about the ocean currents not making the paths that we normally see represented. Since the life-span of these buoys is 4-5 years, I was wondering if their paths be plotted to show the ocean currents or do they just send information signals only. The info page is not clear about that.

Neil

Dave Springer says:
January 6, 2011 at 4:43 pm
To be fair, Argo coverage ain’t that great. Argo buoys descend to a maximum of 2000 meters. Average depth of the global ocean is 4000 meters. Argo network completely misses half the ocean. They must assume that, like average albedo, average ocean temperature below 2000 meters never changes.

Could one of those things survive diving down to 4000m? What is the pressure of the water at that depth?

Baa Humbug

Whether at the poles or the equator, ocean temps below 1000 metres are remarkably uniform.
The above makes sense because the well mixed layer is only a few hundred metres and sunlight penetrates to only about 100 metres (3%)
Anyone looking for “lost” energy or climate signals in the depths is wasting their time.
http://www.john-daly.com/deepsea.htm

Gary Hladik

I was struck by this quote from the article: “In our opinion, the missing energy problem is probably caused by a serious overestimate by TF [Trenberth and Fasullo] of FTOA, which, they state, is most accurately determined by modeling.” [emphasis added]
Was that a put-down?

Mooloo

To be fair, Argo coverage ain’t that great. Argo buoys descend to a maximum of 2000 meters. Average depth of the global ocean is 4000 meters. Argo network completely misses half the ocean. They must assume that, like average albedo, average ocean temperature below 2000 meters never changes. Y’all know the old saying about what happens when we assume, right? Makes an ASS of U and ME.
Ah. So the “hidden” heat is hidden even further away than we thought? It’s a shell game isn’t it? No matter what you do, you will never get the pea!
My question is then: if the ARGO buoys had shown increasing heat would their coverage and depth have been sufficient? Is your scepticism of their results dependent more on whether they get the “right” answer?
(There are some other people posting above that they are sceptical of the results, but they are sceptical of any such analysis, hot or cold.)
Personally the “only 2000 feet and not complete coverage” argument is very thin. The bottom of the oceans don’t have much churn, and we all know that. Nor is coverage poor in spacial terms. The real weakness, as point out, is that 10 years’ data is not enough for decent predictions, not matter how accurate each individual reading is.

DR

How did the 700-2000m depths warm without being detected in the upper 700m?
SST do not agree with the Von Schuckmann or Purkey and Johnson assessment. GRACE has been overestimating as was discussed here at WUWT. Sea level has slowed and also was overestimated according to Ablain et al http://tinyurl.com/2vf34tq.
The more accurate and spatially covered the data, the less evidence there is to support AGW tenets. To me the issue is the empirical data does not support the AGW meme, so instead of acknowledging the problem with the hypothesis, new “creative” means to attain the desired answer are formulated. This is just more of the same Mann/Steig/Santer pea-under-the- cup obfuscation game.
Now climate scientology is preparing the masses for global cooling by claiming it is caused by global warming. 20 years ago I may have fallen for it, but not these days.
Someone should collate all the failed predictions and back pedaling.

Dave Springer

Smokey says:
January 6, 2011 at 5:03 pm
“I don’t know their assumptions, but doesn’t it seem unlikely that the deep ocean below 2,000 meters would be, on average, warmer than the water above it?”
Sure. The ocean is stratified since density increases all the way to freezing (please don’t make me link to the temperature/density graph for seawater yet again). Ain’t no way for inversion to be wide or last very long. That doesn’t mean the deep water doesn’t change temperature. It most certainly does. The only question is how long it takes to respond to forcings from above. Eventually even conduction will proceed through from top to bottom (like maybe in 120K years of a complete glacial cycle which explains why the ocean is 3C pretty much everywhere below 400 meters) but I expect convection works faster.
harrywr2 says:
January 6, 2011 at 5:13 pm
“It’s more like the changes at 2,000 meters become so small as to question as to how a significant change at 4,000 meters could occur.”
Easy. Colder water flowing in along the bottom from the poles. You’d miss it entirely because it won’t mix upwards but rather just hug the bottom and spread out sideways. Eventually temperature will equalize with water above through conduction and there’s a probably a math geek reading this who can figure out how long it might take.

Dave Springer

Dave F says:
January 6, 2011 at 5:03 pm
“What does ARGO say about areas where it can sink to the sea floor?”
HELP! I’ve fallen to the floor and can’t get up!

paulID

OK for those warmists who still believe that the oceans don’t have that much to do with the climate or that there is heat trapped WAY down deep now what? As a side note I would tell you that as an outdoor cook I keep a small vessel of water in my barbecue for 2 reasons the least important is that it give some moisture to my cooking, the MOST important thing it does is maintains the level of the heat so spikes don’t happen in the cooking chamber it slows down any heat or cold spikes that happen. think on that before you discount anything the ocean does.

From Peru

To me the greater the depht covered by the data, the better the coverage.
Von Shuckmann definitively is the best paper on the list, because the analysis go down to 2000 meters (this study go down to only 700 m). Their result is:
+0.77 ± 0.11 W/m^2
That implies a an F(TOA) of +0.68 ± 0.11 W/m^2
This paper only confirms that somehow the heat is transferred to the Deep Ocean by downwelling currents, like the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Current (AMOC).

DR

harrywr2 says:
January 6, 2011 at 5:13 pm
Dave Springer says:
January 6, 2011 at 4:43 pm
They must assume that, like average albedo, average ocean temperature below 2000 meters never changes
It’s more like the changes at 2,000 meters become so small as to question as to how a significant change at 4,000 meters could occur.

The more I look at this, the more absurd it is to think that 80% of the OHC that resides in the upper 750m can suddenly show up in the upper 2000m, again without showing up anywhere above.
I believe this is from Josh Willis. The Von Schuckmann account just doesn’t make sense.
http://www.mediafire.com/imageview.php?quickkey=sd29r8yr33g31wc

xyzlatin

The ocean floor is closer to the molten core of the earth and has many fissures and volcanos sending out heat. Why wouldn’t it be able to be hot in many places and able to heat the lower regions of the ocean (which then would rise to the upper layers)? Everyone here so far seem to be thinking that all the ocean’s heat comes from the sun above. There are probably many places in the ocean at great depth that are far hotter than the surface ocean.

Gary Hladik says:
January 6, 2011 at 5:36 pm
I was struck by this quote from the article: “In our opinion, the missing energy problem is probably caused by a serious overestimate by TF [Trenberth and Fasullo] of FTOA, which, they state, is most accurately determined by modeling.” [emphasis added]
Was that a put-down?

I believe it is a statement of fact.
Perhaps the missing heat is in the computers producing the models?
Dunno.

Hey all, there is a new post at Real Climate. It’s a doosie, and timely, because they use the old ARGO data is broke meme to try and debunk a recent article in Forbes. Yet we here at the “Non Science” blog WUWT have the newest ARGO data, which supports the Forbes artcile and makes RC look like fools. I’m writing a blog post about it, but I won’t finish before 10 PM (have to go to band practice). I’ll let you know when I’m done.

Robert of Ottawa

Clearly the atmosphere is cooling the ocean, which is why it’s getting warmer 🙂
Seriously, when the error bars are so much greater than the value, then there is no trend any which way.

mike sphar

Well this certainly confirms, it is a travesty afterall. Sort of like the holy grail. Monty Python anyone ?

Gary Hladik says:
January 6, 2011 at 5:36 pm
I was struck by this quote from the article: “In our opinion, the missing energy problem is probably caused by a serious overestimate by TF [Trenberth and Fasullo] of FTOA, which, they state, is most accurately determined by modeling.” [emphasis added]
Was that a put-down?

That was a smackdown.

It's always Marcia, Marcia

ARGO buoys are an enemy to those who wish to find warming oceans.