Trenberth's missing heat? Look to the deep

From the National Center for Atmospheric Research/University Corporation for Atmospheric Research  an explanation for Global Ocean Heat Content Is Still Flat.

Graph by Bob Tisdale - not part of the NCAR/UCAR press release

Key point from the press release:

Observations from a global network of buoys showed some warming in the upper ocean, but not enough to account for the global build-up of heat. Although scientists suspected the deep oceans were playing a role, few measurements were available to confirm that hypothesis.To track where the heat was going, Meehl and colleagues used a powerful software tool known as the Community Climate System Model

This new paper (which hasn’t been put online yet at NCC as of this writing, I’ll post a link as soon as I have one) from Trenberth is simply modeling, and modeling so far hasn’t done a very good job of accounting for the oceans:

I’d like to see some supporting observations, otherwise this is just speculation for something that Trenberth is doggedly trying to explain away. My question is; show me why some years the deep ocean doesn’t mask global warming. It’s not like that big heat sink was suddenly removed.

Deep oceans can mask global warming for decade-long periods

BOULDER — The planet’s deep oceans at times may absorb enough heat to flatten the rate of global warming for periods of as long as a decade even in the midst of longer-term warming, according to a new analysis led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

The study, based on computer simulations of global climate, points to ocean layers deeper than 1,000 feet (300 meters) as the main location of the “missing heat” during periods such as the past decade when global air temperatures showed little trend. The findings also suggest that several more intervals like this can be expected over the next century, even as the trend toward overall warming continues.

“We will see global warming go through hiatus periods in the future,” says NCAR’s Gerald Meehl, lead author of the study. “However, these periods would likely last only about a decade or so, and warming would then resume. This study illustrates one reason why global temperatures do not simply rise in a straight line.”

The research, by scientists at NCAR and the Bureau of Meteorology in Australia, will be published online on September 18 in Nature Climate Change. Funding for the study came from the National Science Foundation, NCAR’s sponsor, and the Department of Energy.

Where the missing heat goes

The 2000s were Earth’s warmest decade in more than a century of weather records. However, the single-year mark for warmest global temperature, which had been set in 1998, remained unmatched until 2010.

Yet emissions of greenhouse gases continued to climb during the 2000s, and satellite measurements showed that the discrepancy between incoming sunshine and outgoing radiation from Earth actually increased. This implied that heat was building up somewhere on Earth, according to a 2010 study published in Science by NCAR researchers Kevin Trenberth and John Fasullo.

The two scientists, who are coauthors on the new study, suggested that the oceans might be storing some of the heat that would otherwise go toward other processes, such as warming the atmosphere or land, or melting more ice and snow. Observations from a global network of buoys showed some warming in the upper ocean, but not enough to account for the global build-up of heat. Although scientists suspected the deep oceans were playing a role, few measurements were available to confirm that hypothesis.

To track where the heat was going, Meehl and colleagues used a powerful software tool known as the Community Climate System Model, which was developed by scientists at NCAR and the Department of Energy with colleagues at other organizations. Using the model’s ability to portray complex interactions between the atmosphere, land, oceans, and sea ice, they performed five simulations of global temperatures.

The simulations, which were based on projections of future greenhouse gas emissions from human activities, indicated that temperatures would rise by several degrees during this century. But each simulation also showed periods in which temperatures would stabilize for about a decade before climbing again. For example, one simulation showed the global average rising by about 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit (1.4 degrees Celsius) between 2000 and 2100, but with two decade-long hiatus periods during the century.

During these hiatus periods, simulations showed that extra energy entered the oceans, with deeper layers absorbing a disproportionate amount of heat due to changes in oceanic circulation. The vast area of ocean below about 1,000 feet (300 meters) warmed by 18% to 19% more during hiatus periods than at other times. In contrast, the shallower global ocean above 1,000 feet warmed by 60% less than during non-hiatus periods in the simulation.

“This study suggests the missing energy has indeed been buried in the ocean,” Trenberth says. “The heat has not disappeared, and so it cannot be ignored. It must have consequences.”

A pattern like La Niña

The simulations also indicated that the oceanic warming during hiatus periods has a regional signature. During a hiatus, average sea-surface temperatures decrease across the tropical Pacific, while they tend to increase at higher latitudes, especially around 30°S and 30°N in the Pacific and between 35°N and 40°N in the Atlantic, where surface waters converge to push heat into deeper oceanic layers.

These patterns are similar to those observed during a La Niña event, according to Meehl. He adds that El Niño and La Niña events can be overlaid on top of a hiatus-related pattern. Global temperatures tend to drop slightly during La Niña, as cooler waters reach the surface of the tropical Pacific, and they rise slightly during El Niño, when those waters are warmer.

“The main hiatus in observed warming has corresponded with La Niña conditions, which is consistent with the simulations,” Trenberth says.

The simulations were part of NCAR’s contribution to the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5). They were run on supercomputers at NCAR’s National Science Foundation-supported Climate Simulation Laboratory, and on supercomputers at Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility and the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, both supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy.

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The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research under sponsorship by the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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h/t to WUWT reader Bradley Fikes

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rokshox

Not just any software tool, but a *powerful* software tool.

John M

The planet’s deep oceans at times may absorb enough heat to flatten the rate of global warming for periods of as long as a decade even in the midst of longer-term warming

Hmmm….as long as a decade
Well I guess we ought to know pretty soon.
http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:2001.7/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:2001.7/trend
Of course, who’s to know what meme they be trying next.

Brian H

It went into the “deep”, all right. Deep Space, you gormless cadets! As Spencer demonstrated, the OLR and albedo feedback is so quick and powerful that the supposed influx to the oceans never actually happens.

Where oh where is my little heat? It has to be hiding somewhere..
It is not in the ocean, it is not in the atmosphere, it must be somewhere and my model confirms it. Medieval alchemists x10.

Ibrahim

This is getting pathetic.

son of mulder

So if this is correct how come the GCM’s only started to diverge from the temperature record around 2000ish?

Anything is possible

Which model are they using this time?
Miss Rhode Island again?

Eternal Optimist

I understand their theory of CAGW (although I dont agree with them)
what I dont understand is why the deep is not part of the ‘g’. since when did it become a seperate entity ?
If the globe is warming, then the globe is warming. Maybe they should admit that they have never measured it properly, never will do, and dodgy proxies and models are no substitute for the real thing. It’s nothing less than a travesty.

richard verney

I thought that in climate science, the magic period is 30 years (although why 30 years should be regarded as a magic number, nobody trully knows why this period is justified). On that basis, Trenberth has plenty of time to still be looking for his missing heat. What a pity, since this will be a long drawn out saga, but matters will not become easy for him if the oceans are now in a cold phase excaserbated by a quiet sun No doubt he will be drawing his ‘gold plated’ pension by the time the search is called off.
On a related matter, which goes to the heart of assessing the sensitivity of the system to GHGs, is 2 fundamental errors made in th greenhouse climate theory. First, that the Earth can be considered as a blackbody. Second, that the average temperature.of the Earth is circas 14 to 16 degC such that greenhouse gases raise the temperature by about 33 degC.
The Earth does not behave like a blackbody since it is a water world with a huge heat sink, a hydrological cycle and the unusual characteristics of water phase changes and changes in latent heat involved in those processes.
The average temperature of the Earth is better regarded as circa 4degC. The oceans contain 99% of the stored heat/energy capacity of the Earth system (ignoring geothermal) and the average temperature of the oceans is circa 3.9degC. The ocean is suposedly well mixed. That being the case and given that the mixing has been on going for about 4 billion years, it is easy to see that the average temperature of the Earth is in fact approximately 4 degC. It is material that after about 4 billion years of mixing, the ocean is not at 15 deg C and this confirms that the average temperature of the Earth is not 15degC.
Sooner or later the relatively cold temperature locked into the ocean will surface (excuse the pun) and this will play a major role in the next ice age.
Once you appreciate that the average temperature of the Earth is a lot less than climate scientists use in their theory/conjecture, it follows that GHGs play a less significant role and that the sensitivity to GHGs is less than climate scientists would have one believe. This is part of the reason why Trenberth cannot find his missing heat. Another obvious (part) explanation being that the oceans do not absorb significant amounts of DWLWIR (due to its wavelength) and the oceans are heated by solar irradiance not by DWLWIR..
PS I have not checked when the Earth first aquired oceans. It does not matter whether this was 3 billion or 4.5 billion years ago. The point still stands that there has been plenty of time (epochs) for the mixing to take place such that one can safely conclude that the average temperature of the Earth is about 4degC (not about 14 -16 degC)… .

Lars Jonsson

Whenever the models and their predictions fails new sophisticated and even more powerful models are created in order to force the stubborn real world to fit the theories.

philincalifornia

Wow, I bet that purported missing heat outgassed some serious purported CO2 !! Part II of the powerful model, no doubt …..

Bill Yarber

“Yet …, and satellite measurements showed that the discrepancy between incoming sunshine and outgoing radiation from Earth actually increased.”
Not according to Spencer & Braswell, or any other analysis as far a I know. Is this a case of making up the data to support the desired conclusion? Anyone see any data which supports the above claim?
Bike

DirkH

With “powerful” they mean a model with an especially large number of eipcycles.

Yet emissions of greenhouse gases continued to climb during the 2000s, and satellite measurements showed that the discrepancy between incoming sunshine and outgoing radiation from Earth actually increased. This implied that heat was building up somewhere on Earth, according to a 2010 study published in Science by NCAR researchers Kevin Trenberth and John Fasullo.
Hmmm… Dr. Trenberth is still searching for his missing heat and Dr. Spencer announced his explanation before Dr. Trenberth could announce his. Why is Dr. Trenberth so active in the Remote Sensing affair? Look no further…. his “We found it! We found it!” moment was pre-empted.

Simple people just guess.
Some simple people make wild-assed guesses.
Some “scientists” make SWAGs; scientific wild assed guesses.
Really cool “scientists” make SSWAGs. Software-enhanced Scientific Wild Assed Guesses. (note, this normally takes government funding)
Sounds to me like we have another SSWAG as the topic of this post.

Latitude

Doesn’t he know the science is settled……….
This seems like a lot of work….
….why didn’t they just do it the easy way and lower past temperatures
I guess he’s saying that surface temperatures would have been a whole lot colder…
….if all that deep water heat wasn’t keeping it warm

richard verney

One of the problems with the greenhouse thoery (lets be generous and call it that) is that there is nothing within the theory that allows for a hiatus in the warming. The properties of GHGs does not change from year to year (ie., it does not on some years stop absorbing and re-radiating LWR, or re-radiating only upwards and not downwards etc). The theory dictates (and allows no other option) that as GHGs increase in concentration (at least until a saturation point is reached), the temperature of the atmosphere must go up. IT IS A ONE WAY ONLY CYCLE.
Saying that periods of hiatus may develop is in effect saying that the upward effect of temperature rise is subordinate either to:
(1) a change in aerosols/particles in the atmosphere which have caused a negative cooling exceeding the underlying warmiing which has been caused by the increase in GHG emissions and this additional heat is in the system but blinded/masked by the the opposite effect caused by the change in aerosols/particles, or
(2) natural variation, ie., some unkown unidentified factor which has a greater (and in the present case) opposite effect to the underlying GHG warming which has been caused by the increase in GHG emissions and this additional heat is in the system but blinded/masked by the the opposite effect caused by the natural variation change.
The second explanation is a real problem for the greenhouse gas theory. If climate scientists concede that natural variation exists and can have a negative effect exceeding the warming caused by GHGs, there is no reason why the natural variation can not have a warming effect. That being the case, climate scientists/the IPCC cannot validly argue that as for the warming since the mid 1940s this must be CO2 since we cannot think of any other possibility. There would now be another possibility, ie., warming cdaused by natural variation.
Thus conceding that there can be a hiatus due to natural variations (or even ocean cycles) is the thin edge of the wedge on a slippery slope demonstrating the weakness in the GHG theory.

Doug in Seattle

This is simply hilarious. They tuned the model to explain why the model was out of sync with the ARGO buoys.
Gotta wonder though why it took so long to tune, why they chose this particular model, what other models they worked with, and what they chose to omit from their paper.
I eagerly await the deconstruction after the study is published.

P Walker

Will the paper explain the mechanism through which the heat sinks deep in the oceans and remains there for about a decade before it reemerges and cooks us all ?

Mike

When it comes to heat what goes down must eventually come up.

michel

This is a very naive question, but is it not possible to simply measure the heat content of the ocean depths? Why cannot one lower probes or measure by submersibles? The engineering challenges may be great, but what is wrong with doing this? Are they insuperable?

Ed Scott

Memorializing Global Warming in song.
Dedicated to high priest Almore Gortry.
RayStevens – The Global Warming Song

John W

Just more contortions in attempt to make the CAGW “SSWAG” (thanks, joseph) fit reality. A sure sign of a failed hypothesis.
“This study suggests the missing energy has indeed been buried in the ocean,” Trenberth says. “The heat has not disappeared, and so it cannot be ignored. It must have consequences.”
It MUST? Why must it?

rbateman

A fishing expedition has been launched by a Computer Model to explain why observations don’t match theory. The cold phase of the PDO does not look to me to have changed until 2007, so there was more El Nino than La Nina. If AGW is to be explained by missing heat, the heat left the building, and so too did the La Nina that is supposed to be responsible for masking the AGW that wasn’t.

The post states. “The study, based on computer simulations of global climate, points to ocean layers deeper than 1,000 feet (300 meters) as the main location of the “missing heat” during periods such as the past decade when global air temperatures showed little trend.”
But as Anthony has illustrated with the two Ocean Heat Content graphs, even the temperatures to depths of 700 meters have stopped rising. And for those interested, here’s a comparison graph of Global Ocean Heat Content anomalies and Global Sea Surface Temperature anomalies:
http://i51.tinypic.com/64frf4.jpg
It’s from this post:.
http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2011/05/22/sea-surface-temperature-versus-ocean-heat-content-anomalies/

Stephen Wilde

If they want to concede that some of the solar energy has gone into the deeps then so be it.
That raises the possibility that at least some of the recent ocean surface warming is from such energy resurfacing from the MWP 1000 years ago which is the approximate length of the thermohaline circulation.
That would help to explain the apparently steady change in ocean CO2 absorption characteristics recorded at Mauna Loa despite current or recent atmospheric variability.
I wish they would approach their speculations from a more holistic point of view.

Garry

I get it: hot air sinks, cold water rises.
Not what we were taught in middle school science class, but I guess if Trenberth can model it with “powerful software tools” then it must be so.

John W
Gary

We can’t actually measure the heat energy in the deep ocean, but we can make a really complex simulation of where we would like it to be so that’s where it is and it must have consequences.
Sounds an awful lot like magical thinking. Or pre-school thinking.

Bob Diaz

RE: “The study, based on computer simulations of global climate,…”
That raises a big red flag. While a computer simulation can be useful, it can also be wrong. Garbage In = Garbage Out.
The study might have some credibility IF there were measurements over time showing the change in heat at different depths.

DirkH

michel says:
September 18, 2011 at 12:28 pm
“This is a very naive question, but is it not possible to simply measure the heat content of the ocean depths? Why cannot one lower probes or measure by submersibles?”
The ARGO buoys do that up to a depth of 2,000 m. If the missing heat hides below that depth, it must have sneaked by the ARGO buoys undetected for the first 2,000 m. In the words of the IPCC: “Highly unlikely”.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argo_(oceanography)

P Walker

Bob Tisdale ,
700 meters isn’t deep enough . The missing heat is obviously hiding in the Marianas Trench where it is warming Atlantis and the sea monkeys .

Dale

Isn’t science supposed to be:
1. Come up with theory
2. Model it to make sure it’s possible
3. Find empirical data (through experiment or observation) to confirm theory?
Seems Kevin believes it is:
1. Come up with theory
2. Model it to confirm theory

Sean Peake

A powerful software tool AND a dessert topping!

Any theory that relies on hidden variables is prima facie NON-SCIENCE.
Oceans are an integral part of the system. Their effects are not accidental, temporary, or extraneous.
My car is actually going 500 MPH every time I drive it, but miscellaneous extraneous factors like air drag, friction, brakes and finite fuel-pump capacity are hiding the real speed. I am uniquely aware of its truly awesome real speed, because I have secret knowledge.

R. Shearer

Can we just settle where the missing heat is by a show of hands?

David, UK

“To track where the heat was going, Meehl and colleagues used a powerful software tool known as the Community Climate System Model.”
She must be one powerful model. With powers like that, someone should tell her to track which balls are going to drop at the next national lottery.

Theo Goodwin

‘“This study suggests the missing energy has indeed been buried in the ocean,” Trenberth says. “The heat has not disappeared, and so it cannot be ignored. It must have consequences.”’
Yo, Warmista! If you want people to have confidence in your models, you should create the model first and then use it to forecast coming events. Apparently, you have not noticed, and I guess no one told you, that you are doing it in reverse. You are discovering heat phenomena that you cannot account for and then – thirteen years later – creating a model which finds the heat in the deep oceans where there is no observable evidence!
In all of this, you do nothing to give people confidence that your models are in touch with observable reality. Your models do not track observable phenomena in any way whatsoever.
Your method is the method of the con man. You want trust from citizens today for the output of a model that will be available Tuesday after next. Just stop it! You are embarrassing not only genuine scientists but genuine academics of all sorts.

Green Sand

R. Shearer says:
September 18, 2011 at 1:19 pm
Can we just settle where the missing heat is by a show of hands?

Only if I can keep my gloves on!

Gary Swift

Hey, I designed a powerfull software tool that says I’m going to be a billionair within the next decade? Is that how this works?
Ternberth, you need to bring some data that supports your powerfull software tool or it’s no better than my powerfull sofware tool.
All your models are belonging to me.
Muahahahah.

Jason Joice

I love how they don’t even say something like the model gives a possible explanation for where the heat might be. They seriously indicate that the models are equal to or superior to direct observation. This truly is post-modern science.

rbateman

Looking at this link: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ensostuff/ensoyears.shtml
where we find the ENSO index numerics for 2000 to 2010, I calculated the average:
0.07878787879
There has been no significant La Nina ENSO absorbtion by the Pacific from 2000 to 2010, being that it is slightly positive. I call that trace positive. A meteorological neutral.
Whoops, no overwhelming absorbtion to feed Trenberth’s Missing Heat.
We’re sorry, the Pipeline is disconnected or is no longer in service.
Please hang up and Model again.

Green Sand

Maybe Trenberth is on to something, is this an world domination attempt by the the genus Electrophorus? Who else could store and hide energy in the deep?
Be afraid, be very afraid, they walk swim amongst you.

Eyes Wise Open

Problem is, this is the “model” they used:

kwik

“To track where the heat was going, Meehl and colleagues used a powerful software tool known as the Community Climate System Model.”
Just like the (G)Oracle of Delphi.

Jim Barker

Nothing up my sleeve and Presto: the missing heat! Super models saving the planet one byte at a time:-)

I just came back from the Sorce meeting in Arizona
http://lasp.colorado.edu/sorce/news/2011ScienceMeeting/
It was a very nice meeting. Our dear friend Leif was there too. Unfortunately he did not have time to listen me explaining him why his criticism to the planetary theory of the solar oscillations is flawed, which would have prevented him to do further damage.
About Trenberth.
Trenberth presented his theory that the lack of warming observed since 2000 was nothing but an occasional decadal variation of the ENSO. Essentially, he used his GCM to prove that sometime the computer simulations could run flat for periods of 10 years from where he deduced his interpretation of the lack of warming as a momentarily red noise fluctuation.
One day after Trenberth, I presented my own results regarding the quasi 60-year climate oscillation that explains the observed patterns in the temperature since 1850 quite better than Trenberth’s hypothesis.
After my talk Trenberth appeared quite shocked, he could not believe it. Of course he started claiming that my way to analyzing the data was not acceptable but he was not able to prove why. On the contrary, I proved him that his GCM model was totally unable to reproduce the warming from 1910 to 1940 and the cooling from 1940 to 1970. His model essentially runs flat until the 1960s and then starts to rise!
After, I gave him my three last papers on the 60-year cycle which would seriously question the AGW theory.
A. Mazzarella and N. Scafetta, “Evidences for a quasi 60-year North Atlantic Oscillation since 1700 and its meaning for global climate change,” Theor. Appl. Climatol., DOI 10.1007/s00704-011-0499-4 (2011).
C. Loehle and N. Scafetta, “Climate Change Attribution Using Empirical Decomposition of Climatic Data,” The Open Atmospheric Science Journal, 5, 74-86 (2011).
N. Scafetta, “Empirical evidence for a celestial origin of the climate oscillations and its implications”. Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics 72, 951–970 (2010), doi:10.1016/j.jastp.2010.04.015
Let us see if something happens 🙂

Iskandar

I really do give a sh** about the outcome of models. They are 110% artificial, a competent modellist can tune them to give you any liked response. A model is never, ever proof that a particular theory is correct, it only indicates that that particular theory can be reproduced by a model.
Which is likely to evoke my claim: I can model any process on this planet, proving that increasing CO2 is the culprit.
Challenge me?

Dale

Hey Trenberth!
I currently have on my PC a very powerful software model of the entire Earth and its systems. The model is over 20 years old, in its fifth major iteration. The model is backed by hundreds of programmers, designers and testers over the full 20 years, funded by a company worth billions, and run by millions of people worldwide. I would estimate that this model has been run through literally hundreds of millions of times.
The science is in and settled!
This very powerful software model proves, after hundreds of millions of runs simulating 4000BC to 2100AD, that:
– Spearmen beat tanks in a battle
– Knights can shoot down helicopter gunships
– Rifles don’t use gunpowder
– You can build a modern navy without iron
And best of all,
– Human industrialization has no effect on the planet
– Global warming does not exist.
I suggest you take a look at this very powerful software model. Easy to find, just Google “Sid Meier’s Civilization V”.

Dr A Burns

Are these people serious ? Surprise, surprise, ‘look what the model has produced, it must be true’, rather than ‘look what the model has been programmed to produce”.