# Energy content, the heat is on: atmosphere -vs- ocean

Jeff wrote to me with this article which visually illustrates his point quite well. Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. has given his take on it here, saying:

The post on The Air Vent is worth adding to the reasoning why we need to move away from the use of the global average surface temperature anomaly as the metric to diagnose global warming and cooling.

I decided to make this graphic to put it all in perspective:

Background image from Tiago Fioreze via Wikipedia, values from the calculations below.

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Global Temperatures and Incomplete Rationale of My Own Skepticism

Guest Post by Jeff Id

Ok I admit it!  Apparently I can’t quit blogging completely, but doing software calculations is way beyond the scope of my time abilities.   There is a detail which may interest some here that has too little discussion in the ‘climate wars’ .  It’s a matter of reason, again which doesn’t disprove AGW but which seems to me should be cause for pause in the alarmist message.

Heat capacity of ocean water: 3993 J/kg/K

Heat capacity of air: 1005 J/kg/K

This is the number of Joules (energy) to raise temperature 1 degree Kelvin which is the same as 1 degree Celcius. Energy cannot be created or destroyed to my knowledge so these are physically knowable values.  Since they are in kilograms, we only need to look at kilograms atmosphere vs kilograms of ocean to make the following graphs.

From Wikipedia – The atmosphere has a mass of about 5×1018 kg

From Wikipedia – The total mass of the hydrosphere is about 1,400,000,000,000,000,000 metric tons (1.5×1018 short tons) or 1.4×1021 kg,

So multiplying out, the energy content of the atmosphere is – 1005 *5×1018 kg =5 x1021 Joules/Degree Kelvin

Energy content of the ocean is – 3993 *1.4×1021 =5.6×1024 Joules/Degree Kelvin

So we know increasing CO2 captures more heat in the lower atmosphere and we know that this heat is claimed to be the cause of global warming. Where everything gets real fuzzy is when the energy content of the ocean is taken into consideration.  Models do use the ocean heat content, but in order to demonstrate warming, only the energy of the surface ocean layers can be considered.    Of course there are layers and layers (pun intended) of papers that discuss the issues, but in reality very little is actually ‘known’.

Why is it important that climate models only look at surface layers?   Because subsurface ocean temps exhibit little variance and even with the worst IPCC scenario’s would exhibit little variance from AGW.   It is assumed that all ‘significant’ heat comes and goes from the ocean surface.  I wonder though if anyone would be able to demonstrate a tenth of a degree change in the deep ocean over the last 100 years?   The answer again is we don’t know if it did, but we do know that a 0.1C release of oceanic subsurface energy would measurably change the surface temperature of the earth in that time period.  All that would be required would be ocean current changes but we really don’t have a clue if deep ocean current’s have changed. CO2 atmospheric temp change depends on the assumption of stability 0f heat flow from the deeper oceans. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this but in case you wonder why many of us are skeptics of catastrophic global warming:

Click for full size Fig1

So when they show you the scary graphs of UHI contaminated surface temperature as compiled by Zeke, including graphs from myself using what I believe are superior anomaly combination methods developed by Roman M:

Global Land Air Temps Fig 2

Remember, they/we are showing you the increase in atmospheric energy of the near zero thickness PANCAKE on the left side of Figure 1, the huge energy column on the right is not included in air temperature graphs of Fig 2 or on the left side of Fig 1.  When you see the reconstructions of global temperature including ocean surface temps,  the energy pancake on the left isn’t much thicker.

If you were to transfer enough ocean energy directly to the atmosphere to create 4 degrees of atmospheric warming, how much would that change the average temperature of the Earth’s water?

Would you believe –  0.001 Degrees C of ocean temp change?  The left side pancake wouldn’t look any different in Fig 1!   Hell, it wouldn’t change if we were in another oceanic current inspired ice age — think about that.

It’s just math folks.   The ocean contains so much energy that a thousandth of a degree change can throw 1C into our air temp instantaneously.  Unfortunately the discussion is more complex than this because we need then to look at what happens to the release of that heat to space.  The real balance is about energy flow vs content rather than instantaneous heat, but realistically tenths of a degree C of atmospheric  warming over 30 years are absolutely NOT proof of CO2 global warming doom.

Of course climate models take all of this into account.  They also take Hadley cells and cloud formation into account.  They take convection, conduction, evaporation, precipitation etc. all into account.  The whole exercise is layers of guesses and estimations.  Some with less scientific honesty than others but before chucking them all to the wind, some of these people are good people and even good scientists.

I’ve spent enough time on this today, but continued overconfidence in the meaning of UHI contaminated surface temperatures IS one of the main reasons I’m a skeptic of catastrophic global warming.   Every time you see a plot of surface temperatures, we should shoulder shrug and ask – what about total oceanic energy?

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Jeff L
April 6, 2011 12:20 pm

Love this post as I have done similar calculations.
The bottom line – The atmosphere itself has very little to do with it’s own temperature in this context.

Neo
April 6, 2011 12:28 pm

Isn’t this the basic theory behind those open top freezers at the supermarket ..
the heat content of the air is far lower than the contents of the freezer

mkelly
April 6, 2011 12:31 pm

Just wondering about the 3993 value for ocean water. Is it different than what Engineering Tool box has at 15 C of 4.186 Kj/kg K for water. Small difference but wondering.

Jeremy
April 6, 2011 12:32 pm

This goes back to what I was told a long time ago. The drake equation ruined science. The introduction of unfalsifiable ideas via guesswork equations into the scientific culture (via SETI) has ruined science.

Alan S. Blue
April 6, 2011 12:40 pm

The problem with dumping the GMST is that it effectively concedes the argument for thirty years.
That is: There are a long list of more-applicable or better-accuracy or better-coverage types of information to be gathering or studying. I’m all for using and granting money for all of them. But they generally haven’t been sufficiently accumulated -historically-. The thirty years of the satellite record is barely adequate.
The hundred-fifty years of surface data is “long enough” – even conceding the complete inadequacy of the error bars – that people like Mann can apply hockey-stick-finding filters to it.
This has the effect of (erroneously IMNSHO) eliminating the MWP/LIA from the entire memescape of the climatologists.
We already know that “just” using the satellite data and reapplying Mann’s method to that would be discarded out-of-hand by the climatologists: The trees his method picked out during the ‘instrumental period’ are the exact same trees that are the decline under the satellite period. Mann’s own method would invert those proxies if it was applied during just the satellite period.
I happen to think the method of “fixing” the ground stations isn’t optimal though. Take an individual ground station and cross-calibrate it with the best calculation from the satellite data of the value for that exact site. This should allow the determination of the actual error of using a point measurement to determine a grid temperature – as opposed to the insane propagation of the instrumental error.

Mac the Knife
April 6, 2011 12:45 pm

A 4000 to 1 ratio, for heat transfer to total atmospheric mass from total oceanic mass….
Thanks! I had not thought of it that way, but it illustrates the point that ‘There are much greater ‘sensitivities’ betwixt heaven and earth (including the oceans, Horatio!), than are dreamt of in the AGW philosophies!

Laurie Bowen
April 6, 2011 12:46 pm

I think the same approach as chart one should be taken with the temperature changes over time . . . here (where I live) the temperature over the seasons is is about 20 degrees in the lows of winter to about 110 in the highs of summer that a 90 degree change, on a thumbnail, . . . and if you are talking about a one or two degrees over 100 years that is insignificant .
Thus the deceit of the hockey stick . .
Anyone can make anything look like a hockey stick.

Urederra
April 6, 2011 12:50 pm

mkelly says:
April 6, 2011 at 12:31 pm
Just wondering about the 3993 value for ocean water. Is it different than what Engineering Tool box has at 15 C of 4.186 Kj/kg K for water. Small difference but wondering.

4.18 j = 1 cal sounds more accurate to me.

Clive
April 6, 2011 12:50 pm

Thanks Jeff
A few years ago for a class, I calculated that there are 200,000,000 tonnes of ocean water for every person on earth. A family of five “owns” enough sea water to fill a lake 10 km by 10 km by 10 m deep. (That’s 40 square miles by 33 feet deep! A decent sized lake.)
And I ask myself what conceivable effect can that family have on that mass of water by heating their home, driving, eating and just living compared to the sun. and we know the answer. Nada. Nil. Zip.
Thanks again!
Clive

April 6, 2011 12:50 pm

“Energy content of the ocean is – 3993 *1.4×1021 =5.6×1024 Joules/Degree Kelvin”
I think you mean heat capacity. But the figure is meaningless without some notion of heat transfer rate, which determines the timescales. The heat capacity of the Earth will be about 5×1027 Joules/Degree Kelvin, but that is equally meaningless, because the time requiresd to heat it is billions of years.
And so it is with the ocean. The time taken to transfer heat in the depths is extremely long.

Urederra
April 6, 2011 12:51 pm

ummm…. sorry for the double posting, but maybe the difference has to be with salty water versus pure water. After all it is not much of a difference.

SSam
April 6, 2011 12:55 pm

Something similar came up in a discussion I was in regarding the removal of heat from oceanic ridges ( really long volcanoes that are in a constant eruptive phase somewhere along the track ). Basalt has a heat capacity that is roughly one quarter that of water. This means that for every degree of cooling that 4 kg of basalt experiences, 1 kg of water takes on that energy and rises one degree.

D. J. Hawkins
April 6, 2011 1:02 pm

mkelly says:
April 6, 2011 at 12:31 pm
Just wondering about the 3993 value for ocean water. Is it different than what Engineering Tool box has at 15 C of 4.186 Kj/kg K for water. Small difference but wondering.

Salt water vs. fresh water. See: http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/specific-heat-fluids-d_151.html

April 6, 2011 1:05 pm

On the matter of the heat transition for the ocean-air boundary it is important to discuss what is meant by ‘surface layer’. For example, satellites only measure the top few millimeters, which can be quite warm depending on what is in the water (e.g., are we talking the Sargasso Sea and its floating biomass). The mixing depth for the ocean ‘surface layer’ is highly dependent on wave action, etc.
Water tends to set up Bernoulli layers where mixing is limited, and the osmotic path of temperature transport is limited. In seas with high turmoil (wave action, etc) the Bernoulli layers break down in the upper meters. At some point meters down there is a more challenging current/Temperature boundary.
In addition, there are currents, which pipe water of one temp through regions of water with another temp. Think of the Gulf currents which traverse the North Atlantic. This is an example of a lateral Bernoulli like boundary.
The point is mixing promotes temperature dissipation, these currents (surface and subsurface) all play another role in that they can inject heat well into a cold sink, which if you only measure the current and not the sink (below the surface) then you have an incorrect model of the total water heat content and transport mechanism.
Atmosphere and ocean capture, transport and dissipate heat/energy differently.
How much ocean heat gets dissipated in wave energy? If the ocean model is a thin layer without any transport to the massive heat sinks below and at high latitudes, and accelerated with waves or slowed by biomass, it is so far off as to be useless.

Bruce
April 6, 2011 1:08 pm

Is anyone sure that the albedo of the ocean is exactly the same as it was 50 years?
Of course not.
Is anyone sure the amount of bright sunshine is exactly the same as it was 50 years ago?
Of course not. In fact there is a lot of evidence that bright sunshine is up. How much extra energy is that?

Laurie Bowen
April 6, 2011 1:09 pm

So . . . . how much has the ocean heated up in the last one hundred and fifty years . . . If they are still talking about anything like the bull hockey stick of air temperature . . . I rest my case . . . for now . . .
And, I will make one prognostication . . . . it wouldn’t really matter because 150 years ago the data would be sparse . . . so I’ll not bait the de-bate.

Don V
April 6, 2011 1:11 pm

EXACTLY! RIGHT ON! and AMEN! When I was taught about how to design experiments, it was drummed into us time and time again to focus on the variables that had the largest, direct, and measureable impact on the system under study. Its all about scale. Focus attention on the variable that CONTROLS the system – or in this case buffers the system to limit any significant deviation from a fixed set point.
The world’s oceans are the most insanely huge energy buffer, how can any sane scientist even think any other variable has a chance of affecting change . . . .and you’ve only illustrated the heat content contained in liquid water. It becomes even more insanely stabilizing when you consider the massive amounts of energy necessary to affect change when phase change comes into play! There is good reasons why all successful cooling towers, and nearly all heat exchangers rely on water’s amazing properties instead of CO2’s mythical IR absorbing magic. As an energy storage buffer water is king. CO2? – insignificant and even necessary for life.
Equatorial energy content in the world’s oceans drive local and even distant weather. Likewise the long term systemic energy content of oceans drive climate – period.

D. J. Hawkins
April 6, 2011 1:11 pm

What about the solid surfaces of the earth? Common materials such as brick, asphalt, granite, sand, limestone etc have a Cp of about 800 J/Kg/K but a density around 8 times that of water. What depth of the earth’s landmass is considered coupled to atmospheric/global temperatures?

Tim Folkerts
April 6, 2011 1:13 pm

A couple quick comments. They are little things, but little things can make the difference between sounding correct and sounding incorrect.
“Heat capacity of ocean water: 3993 J/kg/K”
This is officially the “specific heat capacity”
“So multiplying out, the energy content of the atmosphere is – 1005 *5×1018 kg =5 x1021 Joules/Degree Kelvin”
1) this quantity of J/K is the heat capacity, not the “energy content”.
2) the unit is “Kelvin”, not “degree Kelvin”
“The left side pancake wouldn’t look any different in Fig 1! Hell, it wouldn’t change if we were in another oceanic current inspired ice age — think about that.”
Since Fig 1 plots J/K, changes in temperature, by definition, will not change the figure. Whether the atmosphere changed 0.001 K or 1K or -10 K, the left side will still be 5 x10^21 J/K.

R. de Haan
April 6, 2011 1:17 pm

Forget common sense, it’s tipping points we want.
Steven Chu: climate modelers should fabricate lots of tipping points
http://motls.blogspot.com/2011/04/steven-chu-climate-modelers-should.html

KR
April 6, 2011 1:21 pm

This is an excellent point – the ocean makes up the major mass for the climate, and we should be watching that.
Here’s a link to the on ocean heat content, 1955-present.
Oddly enough, it looks very much like the surface air temps – increasing. It appears that the air temps are closely tracking the oceanic heat content. I’m not reassured.

David A. Evans.
April 6, 2011 1:25 pm

Actually Jeff it’s 1.12°C/0.001°C.
5.6 x 10^24/(5 x 10^21)
Unless I’ve messed up that is.
DaveE.

David A. Evans.
April 6, 2011 1:27 pm

Scrub that. I’ve messed up!
DaveE.

Harold Pierce Jr
April 6, 2011 1:34 pm

I once read the the Navies of the major powers have many mega gobs of temperature data on all of the oceans, and they use these data for calculating the speed of sound at various depths and temperatures which is important for their sonar systems.
They also use these data to find locations in the ocean to hide their submarines to avoid detection by sonar whose sound waves can be reflected off of a layer of deep ocean water whose density and temperature are much different for shallower layers.

mkelly
April 6, 2011 1:38 pm

D. J. Hawkins says:
April 6, 2011 at 1:02 pm
Thanks.

mkelly
April 6, 2011 1:45 pm

D. J. Hawkins says:
April 6, 2011 at 1:11 pm
What about the solid surfaces of the earth? Common materials such as brick, asphalt, granite, sand, limestone etc have a Cp of about 800 J/Kg/K but a density around 8 times that of water. What depth of the earth’s landmass is considered coupled to atmospheric/global temperatures?
Up north we have to have the footers for houses below 4 feet to ensure we are below frost line. So I would argue that that depth of surface takes warmth out of the air during spring/summer to heat the earth down to approx that depth.

Ian W
April 6, 2011 1:47 pm

Nick Stokes says:
April 6, 2011 at 12:50 pm
“Energy content of the ocean is – 3993 *1.4×1021 =5.6×1024 Joules/Degree Kelvin”
I think you mean heat capacity. But the figure is meaningless without some notion of heat transfer rate, which determines the timescales. The heat capacity of the Earth will be about 5×1027 Joules/Degree Kelvin, but that is equally meaningless, because the time requiresd to heat it is billions of years.
And so it is with the ocean. The time taken to transfer heat in the depths is extremely long.

Alternatively, one could think about it as the time taken to transfer heat in the atmosphere is extremely short.

Andrew30
April 6, 2011 1:49 pm

D. J. Hawkins says: April 6, 2011 at 1:11 pm
” What depth of the earth’s landmass is considered coupled to atmospheric/global temperatures?’
At about the frost line, in southern Canada that is about 4 feet, that is why you need to sink a foundation at least that far or when the water at that depth freezes in the winter it will lift and crack the foundation. If you go much below that line temperatures remain more or less constant. This is also why you basement is cool in the summer althout it is less than 8 feet below the ground floor in the same insulated container (your house).
In the Arabian desert (the red parts) it you stick you hand in the sand in the early afternoon it more or less much burns your skin, dig a hole a couple of feet deep and the temperature is closer to the temperature of the surface at night, in that part of the world I would guess the coupling goes about 3 or 4 feet tops.
So, not too much.

vboring
April 6, 2011 1:53 pm

So, the “ocean goes from CO2 sink to source as it gets warmer” tipping point is total bunk?

April 6, 2011 1:58 pm

Good to see you back Jeff!!
Excellent post !

April 6, 2011 2:00 pm

The general point is correct, even though some details and language made need some polish. The atmosphere reacts to ocean (and then land) thermal drivers that effect transport, capture and dissipation of energy in all its forms. It does not respond to CO2 – that is way down the list of forces it is pathetic.
It is like saying the raised lettering of a truck tire produces a drag on a semi-truck as it drives down the highway at 60 MPH.
Yes it does, but all the other forces of drag simply swamp it. That is the point about the 4,000-1 ratio. And while Hansen and is myopic crew of alarmists have produced questionable data showing that fuel efficiency would be dramatically cut if we reduced the size of tire letters 50%, their blinders to the real forces at work is a testament to the durability of the one-track-mind.

Andrew30
April 6, 2011 2:03 pm

KR says: April 6, 2011 at 1:21 pm
“This is an excellent point – the ocean makes up the major mass for the climate, and we should be watching that.”
Yes, we have been, and it too has gone down with the current solar minima, by coincidence so has the temperature of the thermosphere, stratosphere, troposphere, sea surface temperature and the sea level. The only things that have been consistently increasing in the past few years are Arctic sea ice, ice and snow cover on Kilimanjaro, Northern hemisphere snow cover, vegetation, about 1/3 of the glaciers and of course the amount of carbon dioxide in the air.

George E. Smith
April 6, 2011 2:10 pm

I notice you graphed six different Global Temperature “Reconstructions”; except the y-axis is in Anomalies; not Temperatures.
Not to worry; there isn’t a lick of difference between the six of them anyway. All the more reason to believe that none of them is telling us anything.

George E. Smith
April 6, 2011 2:15 pm

There’s that degrees Kelvin again .
To me the message is that the claim is made that the tail wags the dog. Or to put it another way. Meteor showers are the result of the earth landing on thousands of nano planets that are in orbit around the sun. In most cases it is fatal to the nano-planet.

cal
April 6, 2011 2:20 pm

Nick Stokes says:
April 6, 2011 at 12:50 pm
“Energy content of the ocean is – 3993 *1.4×1021 =5.6×1024 Joules/Degree Kelvin”
I think you mean heat capacity. But the figure is meaningless without some notion of heat transfer rate, which determines the timescales. The heat capacity of the Earth will be about 5×1027 Joules/Degree Kelvin, but that is equally meaningless, because the time requiresd to heat it is billions of years.
And so it is with the ocean. The time taken to transfer heat in the depths is extremely long.
———–
This would be true if the only way heat can enter the oceans is by infrared absorption which takes place at the surface. However blue light and UV can penetrate to tens of metres (if it did not you would not be able to see the bottom of a lagoon or indeed a swimming pool). Thus short wave radiation warms the depths. I believe this is important because an increase in short wave radiation is characteristic of an active sun. We heard from Courtillo that an active sun may increase warming through increased cloud seeding but this more direct warming is also possible. The key thing is that warming by infrared will increase the surface temperature and trigger increases in convection, evaporation and radiation. In other words infrared radiation has strong negative feedback. In contrast shortwave absorption will have virtually no surface effect and therefore increased shortwave energy will lead to energy accumulation. This accumuation could carry on for centuries without affecting surface and air temperatures (and therfore heat lost to space) simply because the heat capacity of the oceans is so enormous. I think it is possible that this accumulation of energy (or depletion during periods when short wave energy is low) can explain the sudden climate changes, such as ice ages and interglacials, shifts as deep see currents eventually change to bring the warmer (or colder) waters to the surface.

Editor
April 6, 2011 2:20 pm

KR says: “Oddly enough, it [OHC data] looks very much like the surface air temps – increasing. It appears that the air temps are closely tracking the oceanic heat content. I’m not reassured.”
To attempt to determine what caused the rise in OHC prior to 2003, it’s best to divide the data into subsets, with the tropics separated from the extratropics on a per-basin basis. That way you can see how ENSO causes much of the rise for many of the basins:
http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2009/09/05/enso-dominates-nodc-ocean-heat-content-0-700-meters-data/
And you can see how a change in Sea Level Pressure caused a sudden rise in the OHC of the North Pacific north of 24N:
http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2009/12/30/north-pacific-ocean-heat-content-shift-in-the-late-1980s/
And of course, the North Atlantic OHC is impacted by ENSO, Sea Level Pressure, and AMOC:
http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2009/10/04/north-atlantic-ocean-heat-content-0-700-meters-is-governed-by-natural-variables/

Jeff B.
April 6, 2011 2:20 pm

I’m not a scientist but I am an engineer. I was saying this five years ago to anyone who would listen. Engineers have to make trade offs with the largest aspects of any system. So to me it was obvious that most of the energy coming from the sun was absorbed in the oceans. The oceans can and do throw their heat around and we just sit back and watch. This whole CO2 thing is just laughable to anyone with any technical sense at all.
As another thought experiment, think about where humans are on the earth versus the total surface area of the earth. Two thirds of that being water, and another large percentage being ice, or completely inhospitable areas. Based on surface area, the earth is essentially uninhabited by humans. And we’re supposed to be having an effect?

barn E. rubble
April 6, 2011 2:23 pm

RE: “Every time you see a plot of surface temperatures, we should shoulder shrug and ask – what about total oceanic energy?”
Just wondering if there’s been any updates on Kevin Travesty – sorry, I mean – Trenberth’s holy quest – sorry, I mean – search for the missing heat? Last I read, he was adamant that there was indeed a heat sink far below the 700-900m mark that has yet to be detected. And to-date, the transfer of this heat has yet to be detected either. Apparently the problem is with both current instrumentation and data (such as it is) analysis . . .
-barn

1DandyTroll
April 6, 2011 2:34 pm

Wouldn’t the supposed linearity of IPCC’s case of the surface “heat” indicate that there is balance between water and air and therefor nothing that can be canceled out but something that is a major player as in the more “heat” that need to be balanced gets to be balanced.
And to think all that “heat” evaporates to space eventually. OMG, it’s like we’re on the plate on the stove and as soon as the stove is turned off, we go cold. :p

Andrew30
April 6, 2011 2:41 pm

Jeff B. says: April 6, 2011 at 2:20 pm
“Two thirds of that being water, and another large percentage being ice … Based on surface area, the earth is essentially uninhabited by humans. And we’re supposed to be having an effect?”
Humans are more than 2/3 water and a few are ice (the Vikings buried in the permafrost in Greenland) , so humans must have at least a effect equal to their proportional volume of the water on the earth. For example it you fly from Dallas to San Francisco you have removed energy from Dallas and added energy to San Francisco. This is why California is trying to prevent businesses from operating there, as people leave they extract the energy and reduce the drought and increase the snowfall.
Although if you actually did fly from Dallas to San Francisco they would likely lock you up for being insane and so your actual effect would be moderated by the concrete cell walls, which would take about seven seconds to warm and about 1,000 years to cool.

Editor
April 6, 2011 2:49 pm

KR says: April 6, 2011 at 1:21 pm
Here’s a link to the on ocean heat content, 1955-present.
http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/OC5/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/heat_content55-07.png

While I included NOAA’s National Oceanographic Data Center ocean heat content graph on the WUWT Ocean Reference Page;
http://wattsupwiththat.com/reference-pages/ocean/
I consider it highly suspect. If you look at the measurement location data that it is based on (and use the top right arrow to page from 1955 – to present);
you’ll see that coverage doesn’t become sort of adequate until this century when, “Argo deployments began in 2000 and by November 2007 the array is 100% complete.”
http://www.argo.ucsd.edu/
If you use the down arrow on the prior measurement location data map to go deeper in the ocean you’ll see that coverage gets much worse with depth.
Furthermore, they are still sorting out how to accurately measure heat content using Argo, per the changes that were made to the heat content graph last year;
ftp://ftp.nodc.noaa.gov/pub/data.nodc/woa/DATA_ANALYSIS/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/PDF/heat_content_differences.pdf
Their findings included;
“Largest differences 2004-2008 in the Southern Hemisphere, where consistent data collection begins ~2004.”
“Major factor in differences is new/changed data, updated quality control”
“Questions to be answered: Are quality control differences related to Argo delayed-mode quality control, NODC handling of data, or both?”
Point being that our historical record of ocean heat content is highly suspect and our current measurement capabilities are reasonably suspect, yet some “scientists” claim that we can confidently exclude ocean heat as a potential source of 20th century warming. Laughable I say…

R. Gates
April 6, 2011 2:51 pm

As there are indications the deeper oceans are warming:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110127141659.htm
http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2010/20100920_oceanwarming.html
It seems we have glimpses of Trenberth’s “missing heat” if it is there, it has to be in the deeper oceans. Look for many more studies showing similar findings (and more widespread) than the two link above in the next few years. Yes, the heat capacity of the oceans is tremendous, but not limitless. Despite the fact that OHC has increased over the past several decades, it is not measuring the deeper oceans, and if this region is warming as well and can be consistently quantified, then a new metric for total OHC needs to be developed.

Jim G
April 6, 2011 2:54 pm

Does anyone have any idea how much volcanic heat is going into the ocean at any time from underwater eruptions and vents let alone how much was going in 150 yrs ago compared today? One more unknown variable that could change temperatures of the ocean and ultimately the air, amount of sea ice, etc.

R. Gates
April 6, 2011 3:01 pm

Jeff B. says:
“Based on surface area, the earth is essentially uninhabited by humans. And we’re supposed to be having an effect?”
____
Surface area is a rediculous metric to guage whether one object can affect another. Compared to your body, one thousandth of a gram of plutonium is small, but would destroy your body. Compared to New York City, a suitcase nuke is small, but would reap untold damage.
From a multitude of real metrics, from land use such as tropical rainforest clearing, to ocean acidification, air pollution, toxic oil spills in the ocean, etc. the impact of humans can be very large indeed, and a remote intelligent civiilzation simple viewing the composition of our atmosphere from 1000 light years away could not only tell that there was an intelligent species present on earth, but they could pretty accurately tell which general stage of technological development we were in. If they could peer down at the surface and oceans of the planet, the affects of human activity would be impossible to miss as it would be everywhere.

Gary Pearse
April 6, 2011 3:17 pm

Gee is that why you notice a difference between holding your hand up above a boiling kettle and plunging your hand into the kettle (this is for experts, don’t try this at home).

gh
April 6, 2011 3:20 pm

Look up thermohaline circulation on wikipedia. Read carefully. It has a “transit time” of 1600 years. What is the time-delay between CO2 and warming on Al Gore’s graphs? It is 800 years. This is an obvious candidate for the cause. Also remember that water has a large capacity to absorb CO2.
Now read about the Hawaiian CO2 measurements. They show no short-term correlations with temperature fluctuations. Well, of course not. They reflect the global temperatures 800 years ago.
I found the wikipedia article a couple of years ago. I’m waiting for someone to model this properly but I suspect that they’ll have a hard time to get funding.

steveta_uk
April 6, 2011 3:22 pm

Isn’t most of the expected catastrophic sea level rise supposed to be due to thermal expansion of the oceans if the ‘global temps’ rise by 2-4C?
IIRC the temp rise expected by the IPCC is atmospheric and ocean surface layers. Using these numbers, to get a similar rise of bulk oceans temps would require 4000 times more energy. Where is this energy supposed to be coming from? And without a bulk ocean temp rise, the sea level won’t change.

April 6, 2011 3:32 pm

R. Gates says:
“…a remote intelligent civiilzation simple viewing the composition of our atmosphere from 1000 light years away could not only tell that there was an intelligent species present on earth, but they could pretty accurately tell which general stage of technological development we were in.”
Not an intelligent civilization at our current level. Sure, if an advanced civilization had a thousand mile diameter reflecting telescope, they could probably see you in your mom’s basement, posting on WUWT.
As for the human effect, termites put out more methane than all human activity and animals combined. CO2 has been much higher many times in the past. And if you put every human being on earth into a 1 km diameter sphere, there would be room to spare. There are about 148,429,000 km^2 of land area on earth, so stop it. You’re scaring yourself.

Tom Harley
April 6, 2011 3:51 pm

Good article, confirms what most fishermen know, a brine at -10C freezes fish way faster than a blast freezer at -30C.

April 6, 2011 4:21 pm

David pointed out at tAV that the 4C number is inaccurate. It should be 0.001C ocean for 1C atmosphere – the result of a poor edit last night.
REPLY: OK point out what edit you’d like to make here and I’ll fix it. – Anthony

April 6, 2011 4:32 pm

Tom Folkerts and Nick are correct above. Sorry for the loose terminology. Of course if you use the correct terminology it is more accurate for technical readers, I decided it made things more complex while adding little to the concept.
I mean, what is the average temperature of the atmosphere and the ocean, this delta would skew the ocean/air values above ‘energy content’ vs ‘energy capacity’ imperceptibly. My choice was to sloppily use the terms interchangeably. This way engineers, physicists, chemists, already know the difference, economists, lawyers, doctors and differently educated readers get the point without having to understand all the nuance.
Thanks to Anthony for carrying the post.

April 6, 2011 4:48 pm

Jeff B,
From one engineer to another – excellent point. How could creatures living on 85% of the surface over run the power of the oceans???
Idiotic!

April 6, 2011 4:49 pm

Dr Rubble – clearly Kevin was correct, since the oceans lie well under 700 km???

Jeff Id
April 6, 2011 5:34 pm

Anthony,
“The ocean contains so much energy that a thousandth of a degree change can throw 4C ”
Just change to 1C – sorry for the difficulty.

richard verney
April 6, 2011 5:37 pm

Obviously, I would observe that this is a good article since I have observed similar points many times before on this site. The oceans are the key to all of this AGW theory/hypothesis/conjecture.
There are numerous reasons why the land based instrument record should be dropped in favour of measuring sea temps, eg., the latter is a measurement of energy whereas the former is not a metric of energy, the land based instrument record appears to have been corrupted by station dropouts, unknown and possibly unjustified adjustments, uhi etc whereas the sea temps are not as badly affected and most importantly (ignoring geothermal factors) the oceans account for about 99.9% of the stored heat content. Further, and it is because of the latter point, it is the oceans that drive the weather/climate.
I have often argued that there can be no global warming unless the oceans are warming (and this extents to more than just ocean surface temperatures). There can be no manmade global warming unless back radiation from CO2 can actually warm the oceans. Given the wavelength of this, the energy from this source can penetrate only a matter of a few microns and I have never seen any convincing explanation how penetration to this depth can effectively warm the ocean. Penetration to this depth is no more than windswept spray andor the first few microns of evaporation and it would appear incapable of imparting energy into the main body of the ocean. I have had arguments with Willis and others on this point but no one has explained the physics behind any effective ocean heating.
Of course, the oceans have been warming (at least the SST) over recent times (but perhaps at a lesser rate compared to the land based records). IF backradiation from CO2 cannot effectively heat the oceans, this means that the source of the heat must be from some other source, the obvious souce being the amount of solar energy received. This may be due to fluctuations in the bandwith of solar radiation but more likely simply due to a change in cloudiness. There is quite some evidence for there having been an increase in effective sunshine hours and I would suggest that part of the evidence for this is the observed warming of the oceans (on the basis that backradiation from CO2 can’t warm the oceans and therefore does not explain the observed warming).
The point made by steveta_uk says: April 6, 2011 at 3:22 pm, is bang on and appears another crass error by the Team and one which is too often overlooked.
In conclussion, we should spend more time on studying the oceans and how they are heated and how they transport their heat since these hold the key.

jorgekafkazar
April 6, 2011 5:55 pm

Jim G says: “Does anyone have any idea how much volcanic heat is going into the ocean at any time from underwater eruptions and vents let alone how much was going in 150 yrs ago compared today? One more unknown variable that could change temperatures of the ocean and ultimately the air, amount of sea ice, etc.”
There are something like 3 million sub-sea volcanoes. Their heat and CO2 emissions are huge, but getting it to the surface is a problem. Generally, volcanism is declining over the eons, but 150 years isn’t even an eyeblink on a geological scale. Lake Nyos is, I believe, one of the very few total capture volcanic vent systems in the world.

Jerry Haney
April 6, 2011 6:43 pm

Should we expect the surface layer of the Pacific Ocean to change due to the recent tsunami off the Japanese coast? How many tsunami’s would it take to start another ice age?

David A. Evans.
April 6, 2011 7:23 pm

If you were to transfer enough ocean energy directly to the atmosphere to create 4 degrees of atmospheric warming, how much would that change the average temperature of the Earth’s water?

You caught one but that should also be 1 not 4.
DaveE.

savethesharks
April 6, 2011 8:19 pm

“Every time you see a plot of surface temperatures, we should shoulder shrug and ask – what about total oceanic energy?”
==============================
Bravo! Great post, Jeff.
Truly another Air Vent. Thank you.
Chris
Norfolk, VA, USA

savethesharks
April 6, 2011 9:03 pm

Smokey says:
April 6, 2011 at 3:32 pm
@ R. Gates
“As for the human effect, termites put out more methane than all human activity and animals combined. CO2 has been much higher many times in the past. And if you put every human being on earth into a 1 km diameter sphere, there would be room to spare. There are about 148,429,000 km^2 of land area on earth, so stop it. You’re scaring yourself.”
===================================
Smokeeeey.
Wow….I don’t ever think we have disagreed before and I pretty much usually got your back forever…and I can’t believe that I am agreeing with RGates two times in one day [or century].
But R has a major, major point here: Our impact IS noticeable….indeed perhaps to aliens viewing us from space.
And sorry, all of the stuff about termites and fitting humans in a 1 km sphere or whatever, are all red herrings.
Homo Sapiens are a ridiculously opportunistic species. Yeah….we have our incredible bright spots [architecture, music, art, literature, engineering, science, intellect, reason, humor, problem-solving, civilization, etc.] and I LOVE us and all that.
But the net effect of human environmental damage via air pollution [mostly China, understood], ecosystem destruction, nutrient runoff, disastrous overfishing, [but not “ocean acidification”, R!] and yet many other issues, are real, REAL problems….no matter how much [or little] of the Earth’s mass we take up.
And the worst part [unlike the methane-producing termites]…is that we, with conscience and intellect…know…we KNOW what we are doing!!
We can calculate it. We can make a profit off it. We can figure it out. But that’s just the convention.
The convention has been…the tradition in our recent historical past [from at least the 20th century onward] …has been Man against Nature. We’ve always built against what we are trying to protect.
[ Hell…my property sits on an infilled 4th order estuary which they did without thinking in the late 1800s. Guess what happens every time a nor-easter or a tropical cylone blows up. The worst part, besides the flooding after it subsides, is seeing all of the cigarette butts and other nasty refuse. 🙁 ]
With our intellect, evolution, and hopefully common sense, the new model really SHOULD be…Man with Nature.
Maybe if we do…we will lessen the horrific tolls on our species in natural disasters…the most recent notwithstanding.
Look…all I am saying is:
A termite is going to do what it does.
A pig will do what it does.
Hell, the noxious weed of English Ivy…will do what it does [banned in some states for good reason].
We have to do better….than just doing what we do.
Our intellect should… *should* override our opportunistic impulses….so that we leave the planet at least the same, if not better, than we found it.
[And I know you agree.]
“To much that has been given, much shall be required.”
Chris
Norfolk, VA, USA

phlogiston
April 7, 2011 12:51 am

I have this kind of proto-hypothesis based on the massive heat capacity of the oceans. Note that there is strong temperature stratification in the ocean – that is to say, as you go deeper down in the true ocean water column where the depth averages 4 km (2.5 miles), it gets much colder, particularly at a definitive interface called (for this reason) the thermocline. Thus, surface temperatures depending on your latitude may be up to 30 degrees C but the bottom temperature is always 2-3 C. It is sort of exponential, at about 200-400m depth it is already 4-5 degrees only even in the tropics.
So take these two facts – (a) nearly all climate energy of atmosphere-ocean is in the ocean, and (b) temperature rapidly falls with depth. What follows is this: if there is any vertical mixing, bringing deep water to the surface and vice versa, this will always result in a significant downward movement of heat energy. The surface will be cooled, and some warmer water injected into the cooler depths. In the presence of strong temperature stratification, it cant be any other way.
Therefore (here’s the punch-line) – deep vertical mixing of the oceans, alone, is a mechanism that can suck heat out of the climate and cause a cooling of global temperatures. Or to put it another way, assume there is some average rate of deep vertical mixing. Increasing the mixing rate will cool climate, decreasing it will warm climate. Due to the magnitude of the thermal energy in the oceans, this hypothetical mechanism – single handedly – could essentially control global temperatures. Like a big cold hand from below.
Some people dismiss the role of deep ocean water by assuming that deep vertical mixing is insignificant, and the discussion focuses only on sunlight, clouds and sea surface phenomena. However deep ocean measurements such as by the Argos floats are finding a surprising amount of thermal structure in the deep. As much is known about thermo-haline circulation (THC) which is significant globally.
In fact AGW-ers have even latched onto this as a possible refuge for their theory, that CO2 induced heat is somehow magically being transported even to Abyssal ocean depths of many km. It could be for instance Trenberth’s missing heat. R Gates for example is earnestly preaching this new “CO2 is heating the deep ocean” gospel in this and all related threads.
Observations (with limited precision due to the scale and complexity of the ocean) give indications of decreasing OHC in the upper few hundred meters, but some indications of heat being added much deeper down. What happens if we put 2 + 2 together? – it looks like deep vertical mixing. However rather than a last-ditch refuge for AGW, this could be simply a signature of global climate cooling being driven by an increase in deep oceanic vertical mixing.
Why would ocean deep vertical mixing change? The oceans themselves should be aware that to change is a politically incorrect thing for them to do. As we all know, current climate science, climate models and the IPCC etc. are based on the assumption that the global climate is a simple fully linear system at complete and instantaneous equilibrium, and the only thing that is permitted to drive or change anything is CO2 – and only the CO2 from humans, not from any other source.
However if you take the heretical view that the climate system is deeply complex with chaotic-nonlinear characteristics, then change and oscillations should be expected. Periodic changes in vertical mixing might be expected on this basis. It would be interesting to look for experimental systems that show something similar. I think that liquid crystal films are a possible example.
Vertical mixing, or upwelling, has been observed anecdotally to be increasing in the north atlantic, southern oceans as well as the Pacific (in recent reports that I dont have links to just now).

Richard111
April 7, 2011 1:02 am

Okay, I’m lost! I have been led to believe that as ocean water cools it sinks, when it reaches 3.8C it starts to expand again and any further cooling results on ice forming on the surface.
Thus the deep oceans must be stuck at 3.8C unless deep currents drive the the water towards rising sea bottom and up towards the surface. There is a cold current off South Africa where this effect is noticed.
To me this implies heat cannot be absorbed to any great depth in the oceans. Most of the reading I have done indicate 700 metres is where calculations stop. This seems reasonable to me as the first 2.6 metres of ocean has the same heat capacity of all the air above.
The changeing heat content of the top 700 metres of the ocean is not the same as the changing heat content of global ocean which averages over 3,000 metres in depth.

John Marshall
April 7, 2011 2:12 am

And for CO2 to increase the atmospheric heat it would have to create it, ie. to make energy. Law 1 violation.
The CO2, and water vapour, does react with the incoming heat but it will immediately share this heat with the other atmospheric gasses, oxygen and nitrogen, this warmer gas will convect and form cloud.
It is impossible to store heat, unless you wish to violate law 2.

Matt
April 7, 2011 2:20 am

So if the oceans have much higher specific heat capacity, wouldn’t that imply that they are, in fact, moderating the warming of the planet? That without the oceans acting as a giant heat sink, the atmosphere would be much, much warmer than it currently is?

Joe Lalonde
April 7, 2011 3:43 am

This is a good presentation!
Now add in the changed ocean surface salt content.

JohnL
April 7, 2011 4:14 am

The heat storage capacity of the ocean is the three orders of magnitude greater than the atmosphere. But there is another issue that presents an additional three orders of magnitude. If the ocean is heated, the evaporation rate increases, putting more water vapor into the atmosphere until it comes back into equilibrium. The amount of energy needed to heat water is (in the archaic units of measure of my youth) 1 BTU per pound per degree F. But the conversion of 1 pound of water to one pound of water vapor requires almost 1,000 BTU per pound with NO CHANGE IN TEMPERATURE. The reverse is also true during cooling.
This is a massive flywheel effect. Changing the atmospheric temperature of the Earth is a lot harder than it looks. The air/water interface of the planet is a huge heat sponge. Changes in water vapor will be a first or second order variable in any successful model.

barn E. rubble
April 7, 2011 4:48 am

RE: AJStrata says:
April 6, 2011 at 4:49 pm
“Dr Rubble – clearly Kevin was correct, since the oceans lie well under 700 km???”
I’m guessing it’s that acute attention to detail that makes Dr. Strata so much fun to work with . . . where did you get 700 KM ??? . . .
I do have another question along the lines of deep ocean heat however:
RE: R. Gates says:
April 6, 2011 at 2:51 pm
“As there are indications the deeper oceans are warming:”
http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2010/20100920_oceanwarming.html
In the above link there is the line:
“If this deep ocean heating were going into the atmosphere instead – a physical impossibility – it would be warming at a rate of about 3°C (over 5°F) per decade.”
Could someone explain the “physical impossibility” here? IE: Are they suggesting deep ocean heating works in only one direction? What cooling mechanism is at work here?
-barn

phlogiston
April 7, 2011 5:25 am

Richard111 says:
April 7, 2011 at 1:02 am
Okay, I’m lost! I have been led to believe that as ocean water cools it sinks, when it reaches 3.8C it starts to expand again and any further cooling results on ice forming on the surface.
Thus the deep oceans must be stuck at 3.8C unless deep currents drive the the water towards rising sea bottom and up towards the surface. There is a cold current off South Africa where this effect is noticed.
To me this implies heat cannot be absorbed to any great depth in the oceans. Most of the reading I have done indicate 700 metres is where calculations stop. This seems reasonable to me as the first 2.6 metres of ocean has the same heat capacity of all the air above.
The changeing heat content of the top 700 metres of the ocean is not the same as the changing heat content of global ocean which averages over 3,000 metres in depth.

You are quite correct. It takes exceptional circumstances to get surface water to sink to the ocean floor 4km or more down. The normally accepted scenario is that this only takes place in certain near-polar locations, such as the NE Atlantic / Norwegian Sea, where seawater is (a) cooled to near zero and (b) becomes more saline – thus more dense – due to formation of salt-less ice, thus becoming super-dense seawater dense enough to sink all the way to the bottom. There is also a region far to the SE of Australia/NZ where this happens.
Downwelling water at these sites is the starting point of the round-the-world thermo-haline circulation (THC), a global circuit of deep water currents. The ride time to complete the whole THC circuit is about 1000 years.
This makes all the more extraordinary and desperate the recent claims – including published research articles – that claim that CO2 warming in the last half-century has by some miraculous mechanism, resulted in measurable cooling of not only deep ocean water, but even Abyssal water (there is no limit to the ambition of human dishonesty) 10 or so km down. By the accepted downwelling and THC mechanism this would require many centuries, not decades, to occur. And anyway, you cant downwell warm water, although you could influence deep ocean currents by changing the rate of downwelling.
Some researchers – probably influenced by watching the closing scenes of Pirates of the Carribean – At world’s end – are now proposing that ocean gyres can compress surface water so that it is propelled, at balmy surface temperatures, all the way to the ocean floor.
Notwithstanding these far-fetched and desperate claims, there are probably mechanisms of ocean mixing that we may not nkow about, and the Argos floats, measuring temps down ot about 2000 m, are finding unexpected amounts of temperature variation at deep levels. However they have only gone down to 2000m, so have a very long way to go before seeing the whole picture down to the bottom.
My conjecture about vertical mixing influencing climate does not necessarily involve surfacing of ocean bottom water several km down – even mixing own to 1500-1000 m would be sufficient. It is well known of course that upwelling of the Peru coast is the source of cooling in La Nina Pacific ENSO events.
Measurements of apparent abyssal warming are almost certainly experimental errors due to lack of knowledge of the pattern of deep currents and inaccuracy of location of sensors, combined with wishful thinking and the desire to be published and stay in work.

Joe Lalonde
April 7, 2011 6:01 am

JohnL says:
April 7, 2011 at 4:14 am
It is the pseudo science of centrifugal force.
So far, the lower atmospheric pressure has allowed salt to come to the oceans surface through planetary rotation.
This in turn is blocking solar penetration.

phlogiston
April 7, 2011 8:33 am

Correction to last post:
This makes all the more extraordinary and desperate the recent claims – including published research articles – that claim that CO2 warming in the last half-century has by some miraculous mechanism, resulted in measurable cooling warming of not only deep ocean water, but even Abyssal water
Abyssal warming, not cooling.

Gary Krause
April 7, 2011 8:47 am

Assuming the air is heated by surface radiation, is half that radiation aborbed in the lower half of atmospheric pressure?
When the amtosphere is compressed it heats, and vice versa. Are there more areas of higher pressure than lower pressure during periods of global warming that might affect surface readings?
Given the heat from oceans and continents vary so dramatically, to what can we contribute heat from the sun versa the planetary volcanism?
The temperature on the Moon ranges from daytime highs of about 130°C = 265°F to nighttime lows of about -110°C = -170°F. Does our atmosphere then must trap some surface heat from day heating and at the same time prevent the surface from reaching moon like daytime conditions. Conversly the atmosphere transfers or blanket heat back to the surface during night preventing the surface from moon like night conditions. True?
Do thermometers read infared radiation from solid objects, or from the air temperature? If from infared, then do UHI temperatures only reveal the ability of concrete, etc., to absorb/reflect solar radiation?
WUWT?

KR
April 7, 2011 10:13 am

Just The Facts
I will definitely agree – the ARGO data is still very early, still being refined, combinations with the previous XBT data sets are quite arguable, etc. I look forward to more solid numbers down the road.
But from what we see so far, it does appear to match the surface air temperature (SAT) fairly closely. It certainly doesn’t disagree with it.
“…yet some “scientists” claim that we can confidently exclude ocean heat as a potential source of 20th century warming. Laughable I say…”
Are you claiming that ocean variations are responsible for the last 30+ years of warming? That would, I believe, require that ocean temperatures decline as air temps went up, in order to conserve energy – that’s not visible in the data we have. Meanwhile, CO2 forcing continues…

R. Gates
April 7, 2011 11:35 am

John Marshall says:
April 7, 2011 at 2:12 am
“It is impossible to store heat, unless you wish to violate law 2.”
_____
? You don’t seriously believe this do you? If the oceans could not store and release heat we’d not have the ENSO cycle. The oceans are constantly storing heat in one area, releasing it in others.

R. Gates
April 7, 2011 12:01 pm

phlogiston says:
April 7, 2011 at 8:33 am
Correction to last post:
This makes all the more extraordinary and desperate the recent claims – including published research articles – that claim that CO2 warming in the last half-century has by some miraculous mechanism, resulted in measurable cooling warming of not only deep ocean water, but even Abyssal water
Abyssal warming, not cooling.
____
Indeed, all indications are that the deepest parts of the ocean are warming, and hardly by some “miraculous” mechanism. I think some here would greatly benefit by reading this:
http://www.research-in-germany.de/60032/2011-01-28-atlantic-water-warms-the-arctic,sourcePageId=8240.html
And here is a quote from it:
“Today, temperatures of the Atlantic Water in the Fram Strait are approximately 1.5 degrees higher than during the climatically warm early Medieval Period. We assume that the accelerated decrease of the Arctic sea ice cover and the warming of ocean and atmosphere in the Arctic, as measured during the past decades, are in part related to an increased heat transfer from the Atlantic”, says palaeoceanographer Robert Spielhagen.
So while air temps have been increasing around the Arctic, the heat stored in the ocean and brought to the Arctic through the Fram strait (and other areas) has been increasing, and this of course, has had a dramtic effect on the sea ice. With the warmest water in at least 2,000 years coming through the Fram strait, what mechanism would AGW skeptics attribute these higher ocean temps to?

R. Gates
April 7, 2011 12:07 pm

barn E. rubble says:
April 7, 2011 at 4:48 am
RE: AJStrata says:
April 6, 2011 at 4:49 pm
“Dr Rubble – clearly Kevin was correct, since the oceans lie well under 700 km???”
I’m guessing it’s that acute attention to detail that makes Dr. Strata so much fun to work with . . . where did you get 700 KM ??? . . .
I do have another question along the lines of deep ocean heat however:
RE: R. Gates says:
April 6, 2011 at 2:51 pm
“As there are indications the deeper oceans are warming:”
http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2010/20100920_oceanwarming.html
In the above link there is the line:
“If this deep ocean heating were going into the atmosphere instead – a physical impossibility – it would be warming at a rate of about 3°C (over 5°F) per decade.”
Could someone explain the “physical impossibility” here? IE: Are they suggesting deep ocean heating works in only one direction? What cooling mechanism is at work here?
_____
The atmosphere could not absorb as much heat as the ocean has during this time frame…i.e. it is physically impossible for the gases of the atmosphere to absorb and retain as much heat in as short a time as the oceans have. Not sure what you meant here by “mechanism” for cooling. During the La Nina cycle, the oceans are absorbing more net heat then they are gaining, and hence, the troposphere will always show cooling. During El Nino, the exact opposite is true, as there is a net release of heat to the atmosphere.

phlogiston
April 7, 2011 3:08 pm

R. Gates says:
April 7, 2011 at 12:01 pm
phlogiston says:
April 7, 2011 at 8:33 am
Correction to last post:
This makes all the more extraordinary and desperate the recent claims – including published research articles – that claim that CO2 warming in the last half-century has by some miraculous mechanism, resulted in measurable cooling warming of not only deep ocean water, but even Abyssal water
Abyssal warming, not cooling.
____
Indeed, all indications are that the deepest parts of the ocean are warming, and hardly by some “miraculous” mechanism. I think some here would greatly benefit by reading this:
http://www.research-in-germany.de/60032/2011-01-28-atlantic-water-warms-the-arctic,sourcePageId=8240.html
And here is a quote from it:
The paper you are repeatedly citing is a paleo study of sedimented plankton remains. This puts it in context – we are not talking about actual measurements of water temperatures here. Paleo records have to be taken with a pinch of salt. (Except when they show a strong MWP 🙂
If the recent 2C change had been downwards rather than upwards, I guess the academics in question would be discreetly emailing eachother about a “divergence problem”?
Again, it takes sea water many centuries to reach the abyssal depths from the surface. So what mechanism do you propose by which 20th century CAGW can warm abyssal sea water?

R. Gates
April 7, 2011 4:04 pm

phlogiston says:
April 7, 2011 at 3:08 pm
R. Gates says:
April 7, 2011 at 12:01 pm
phlogiston says:
April 7, 2011 at 8:33 am
Correction to last post:
This makes all the more extraordinary and desperate the recent claims – including published research articles – that claim that CO2 warming in the last half-century has by some miraculous mechanism, resulted in measurable cooling warming of not only deep ocean water, but even Abyssal water
Abyssal warming, not cooling.
____
Indeed, all indications are that the deepest parts of the ocean are warming, and hardly by some “miraculous” mechanism. I think some here would greatly benefit by reading this:
http://www.research-in-germany.de/60032/2011-01-28-atlantic-water-warms-the-arctic,sourcePageId=8240.html
And here is a quote from it:
The paper you are repeatedly citing is a paleo study of sedimented plankton remains. This puts it in context – we are not talking about actual measurements of water temperatures here. Paleo records have to be taken with a pinch of salt. (Except when they show a strong MWP 🙂
If the recent 2C change had been downwards rather than upwards, I guess the academics in question would be discreetly emailing eachother about a “divergence problem”?
Again, it takes sea water many centuries to reach the abyssal depths from the surface. So what mechanism do you propose by which 20th century CAGW can warm abyssal sea water?
____
With all due respect, I think you suggestion that it takes “centuries” for sea water to reach abyssal depths is incorrect. By strict definition, the abyssal depths start at around 2000m and run to about 4000m.
See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Oceanic_divisions.svg
But more to the point…the water entering the Arctic through the Fram Strait is not at abyssal depths anyway but rather only a few hundred meters.

Editor
April 7, 2011 5:06 pm

KR says: April 7, 2011 at 10:13 am
But from what we see so far, it does appear to match the surface air temperature (SAT) fairly closely. It certainly doesn’t disagree with it.
I’m not seeing it, what are you seeing that I’m not?
Temperature Lower Troposphere (TLT) – 1979 to Present
Global Ocean Heat Content – 0-700 Meters – 1955 to Present
http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/OC5/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/heat_content55-07.png
Are you claiming that ocean variations are responsible for the last 30+ years of warming?
No. No claim, no inference, not even a supposition. Just a statement that it is impossible to eliminate potential variables when you cannot even measure them.

savethesharks
April 7, 2011 9:45 pm

R. Gates says
But more to the point…the water entering the Arctic through the Fram Strait is not at abyssal depths anyway but rather only a few hundred meters.
========================
Oh…OK….not a problem.
Just your unconscionably artificially-inflated ego talking….backed into a corner.
Chris
Norfolk, VA, USA

phlogiston
April 8, 2011 8:44 am

R. Gates says:
April 7, 2011 at 4:04 pm
phlogiston says:
April 7, 2011 at 3:08 pm
R. Gates says:
April 7, 2011 at 12:01 pm
phlogiston says:
April 7, 2011 at 8:33 am
____
With all due respect, I think you suggestion that it takes “centuries” for sea water to reach abyssal depths is incorrect. By strict definition, the abyssal depths start at around 2000m and run to about 4000m.
See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Oceanic_divisions.svg
But more to the point…the water entering the Arctic through the Fram Strait is not at abyssal depths anyway but rather only a few hundred meters.

In my undergraduate oceanography many years ago, abyssal meant not the general ocean floor of average 4 km depth, but the exceptionally deep trenches of greater depths.
You have promoted this new German Fram Strait plankton sediment paleo-data in the discussion of the current PDO phase (in a question to Joe Bastardi a few threads back) and the Arctic ice question. However it is not really relevant to a discussion of multi-decadal ocean and climate oscillation to bring in palaeo-data. The decadal scale precision and reliability of such proxy data does not really make it appropriate to a discussion of which PDO phase we are in.
In the last century the oceanography data is clear that OHC has increased in many ocean basins including the Arctic, so this palaeo data is not saying anything that is new in that regard. But Bob Tisdale’s data suggests that in the last decade Arctic OHC has overturned and is in a falling phase, and I dont think the Fram strait plankton sediment palaeo data has much to say about this.

KR
April 8, 2011 12:56 pm

Just The Facts
I said surface temperatures (not lower tropospheric), as shown in the chart in figure 2 of this thread (http://noconsensus.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/picture-1021.png).
If you compare the surface temperatures to the ocean heat content (http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/OC5/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/heat_content55-07.png) there’s quite a lot of agreement there – a decline from 1955 to the early 70’s, an increase from there on, albeit with considerable noise on both data lines.

Editor
April 8, 2011 1:50 pm

phlogiston says: “But Bob Tisdale’s data…”
It’s not my data. I present data created by others.