Jason and the Argo Notes

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Like Jason, I proceed into the unknown with my look at the Argo data, and will post random notes as I voyage.

Come, my friends,

'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.

Push off, and sitting well in order smite

The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds

To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths

Of all the western stars, until I die.

I have no great insights at this point, just some interesting results. Thanks to a commenter who pointed me to where to get the Argo data in one block. It’s at the Asia-Pacific Data-Research Center.

I downloaded it, and I’ve looked first at the file containing the surface data. It’s where I swim, so it’s the most interesting data to me. Figure 1 shows all Argo measurements of the ocean surface temperature taken to date.

Figure 1. All Argo ocean surface temperature data. There have been 696,872 Argo measurements to date of the ocean surface temperature. 

So far, so good. The results look real, which is always good to see, it means I’ve graphed them up properly. You can see the warm ocean along the coast of Europe, for example. But there is one curiosity about the Argo data.

Here’s the oddity. I took the data arranged by latitude as shown in Figure 2. I averaged it by 1° latitude bands, and then took an area adjusted average to give a global mean. The mean is 19.7°C ± 0.02 (95% CI).

Figure 2. All Argo ocean temperatures, sorted by latitude. NOTE: several people commented correctly below that I had not included the variation in ocean area by latitude band in the calculations. They are correct, I was wrong, and the actual corrected 60N-60S average is slightly higher, at 19.9°C.

Note that there is an obvious upper limit to the ocean temperatures, the “flat-top” on the graph at just above 30°C. No matter how much incoming solar there is, the ocean doesn’t get any warmer than that. This provides a “cap” on how hot the ocean can get. Above that temperature, any extra incoming energy is converted to latent and sensible heat, rather than warming the surface.

But I digress, that part’s just interesting. It’s not the curiosity.

The curiosity is the other ocean data sets give the following values for the average ocean surface temperature 2000-2011:

Hadley Center HadISST1 60N – 60S: 20.5°C ± 0.02°C (95%CI)

Reynolds Optimally Interpolated SST 60N – 60S: 20.4°C ± 0.02°C (95%CI)

NCDC Extended SST 60N – 60S: 20.3°C ± 0.02°C (95%CI)

The curiosity is that the Argo average ocean surface temperature data is significantly cooler than the other datasets, half to three-quarters of a degree …

Always more to learn. I do love real data. Look how much colder and more uniform the Southern Ocean is than the northern oceans, for example. Fascinating stuff.

Best to everyone,

[UPDATE]

The data I used is available at the website listed above, identified as “Near-real time Argo profile data interpolated on standard levels”. It’s the largest file on this page, 895 Mb, titled “Argo_TS.tar”.

The info sheet detailing the arrangement of the data is here.

It’s a tarball containing all of the depth files, one for each layer. The one I used was the zero depth file, “Argo_TS_0000.dat”. I downloaded them all, because I wanted the full set. If you only want surface temps you can download just that one file.

To read it in once it was downloaded (in the “R” computer language), I used:

depthcolumns=c("Longitude", "Latitude", "Level", "Depth", "Julian", "Temperature", "Salinity", "Potential Temperature", "Potential Density", "Dynamic Depth Anomaly", "Spiciness", "Extrapolation", "Error Temperature", "Error Salinity", "Error Potential Temperature", "Error Potential Density", "Error Dynamic Depth Anomaly", "Error Spiciness", "Ocean Code", "Region Code", "Argo Float ID", "Cycle Number", "Dynamic Depth", "Dynamic Depth-2")

depthwidths=c(9, 9, 3, 7, 10, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 2, 11, 11, 11, 11, 11, 11, 2, 3, 8, 4, 9, 9)

depthinfo0=read.fwf("/Users/willis/Argo_TS/Argo_TS_0000.dat",depthwidths, col.names=depthcolumns)

You’ll need to change the filepath in the final line to wherever you have put the “Argo_TS_0000.dat” file.

w.

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Robert of Ottawa

I scuba dive and have never had hotter surface waater than in Darwin Bay, Australia. 30C alright! Bloody hot – but then I am used to diving in Canada.

OT and apo;ogies to Willis for going OT.
BBC radi0 4 Material World has broadcast an interview with Dr Cohen of MIT which states satellite data reveals that the world is not only warming up but the warming is causing winter cooling.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b01bmn02

Charlie A

Argo data being cooler is extra puzzling since Argo doesn’t measure temps of ice covered areas, which I assume would lower the average temp.
What regions ar.e excluded from the other estimates you quoted ?

Rick Bradford

Surely the Southern Oceans are more tepmperature-uniform because of the absence of the large blocking landmasses in the Northern Oceans.

JJ

One thing that stands out to me, Willis, is that you report four measures of the same thing – global ocean surface temperature. They all report “95% confidence intervals”. If those were truly 95% confidence about the actual value, one would expect that four such measures would all lie within such a confidence interval. Yet four confidence intervals about four measures of the same thing dont even overlap, let alone coincide. You have presented four measures of global ocean surface temperature, all claiming to be +/- 0.02C, but not one of them is even within 0.04C of any other…

Gixxerboy

Robert of Ottawa
You’re a braver man than I, Gungha Din. The only reason Darwin Harbour is not infested with sharks is because the Saltwater Crocodiles eat them all.

Doug Proctor

Okay, obvious context for data:
1)
a) data covers oceans for 2/3 planet, 19.7*C, not top 1/3 and bottom 1/3 of each hemisphere.
b) total planet is supposed to be 14.7*C (?)
c) GISTemp has temp for both NH and SH (? & ?).
d) Oceans cover 70% (?) planet, land 30% (?), broken up by hemisphere (?).
Taking the Argo data as the best, then what the missing data must be for the polar areas and the land masses can be determined by what must be missing to make the Hansen numbers work. What is required to exist outside this dataset is, I’ll bet, greater than can be documented. The Arctic will have to be a tropical paradise, I expect. And Africa is burning up.
2)
a) the Argo data has hundreds of thousands of data points.
b) the error/accuracy limits show up as outlier “fuzz” at the edge of the data and is visible to the naked eye. Especially at the warmer end and in the northern hemisphere.
c) the world’s oceans are supposed to be determined to 4/1000th of a degree accuracy.
This data does not need cross-checking with Peruvian mountaintops to correct for UHIE or observer error/changes of protocol/station equipment. Whatever the accuracy limit is, it is certainly not to the thousandth of a degree. This data puts to boots to any “certainty” as to today’s temperature, let alone yesterdays.
Wow. What an annoyance it must be for the alarmists to know that technically minded people can get at the data for themselves. I’m not saying I/we can reproduce what their prophets can, but I/we can see how reasonable their claims of certainty are.
Fuzzy-wuzzy.

Latitude

Willis, thank you for this…I’ve been waiting
and it’s just what I thought….
Argo SST’s are not confirming other SST’s

AncientOfDays

Not Jason, but “Ulysses” by Tennyson. Both Greeks though. You get 1/2 a point.

J.H.

@ Robert of Ottawa ……….. Scuba diving in Darwin bay! Geez, you’re keen. 😉

Ian H

Argo doesn’t measure shallow areas. Look around Indonesia for example. There is an awful lot of warm surface water there that is not being measured. My first guess would be that this alone is enough to explain the discrepancy. Argo also doesn’t measure temperatures in ice covered areas but these are usually excluded from other measures of average SST as well. This is not unreasonable since if the sea is covered by ice then by definition there isn’t a surface there whose temperature you can measure.

little polyp

willis
is there a mechanism for ensuring or adjusting the data base so that the sample population is geographically evenly distributed ? (ie one point per grid cell or an equivalent)

Phil.

A thought Willis, that satellite measurements will measure the surface skin layer whereas the Argo may measure a few cm below the surface and during daytime there is a significant difference between them.

Willis-san, Don’t worry yourself about those inconvenient temperature discrepancies between ARGO and other ocean temperature data sets.
I’m sure Hansen et al will find the “fatal flaw”, which accounts for ARGO’s lower temperatures and will have those numbers “get their mind right” in no time.
I’m sure it’s just a, um,…calibration issue….
Always remember, Willis-san, “if you torture data long enough, it will confess….”~ Ronald Coase (1991 Economics Nobel Prize Laureate)

Manfred

maybe the current, cool temperature compared with a ten year average ?

“Argo doesn’t measure shallow areas”
Well by definition these are not ocean. They are continental shelf. Ocean depth is rarely less than a couple of km except around hotspot activity (Hawaii or Iceland).

Jim Higson

You know what this indicates to me? No more raw data will be released. The ‘experst’ will tell us what the raw data indicates.

Andyj

So, with CO2 heating the air via the “greenhouse effect” to an average of 14C. The oceans average (for an argument) 20C……
Point of interest:
How do you boil your cup of coffee by breathing on it?

TerryS

Re: Ian H
> Argo doesn’t measure shallow areas. Look around Indonesia for example. There is an awful lot of warm surface water there that is not being measured.
Let’s assume that the shallow areas between 60N and 60S (the area Willis is talking about) makes up 5% of the total surface area ( looks a bit generous but… ) then in order for it to raise the average from 19.7 to 20.3 the average surface temperature of the shallow water must be 31.7 degrees.

A. Scott

From an entirely layman view – I can see a benefit in not including shallower areas when looking at ocean heat content or overall ocean temp averages – (a.) the shallow areas tend to be much more reactive/sensitive to short term fluctuations and thus not a good measure of long term trends, and (b.) the “volume” of these areas represent a small portion of the overall oceanic volume … couple the much higher sensitivity to short term changes with the small volume and it would seem including would have an adverse impact at long term ocean trends

DougK

Is the Argo data being corrolated with ENSO, ADO events??

conrad clark

It seems somewhat misleading to report SST measurement averages from 1854 and 1870 to 5 decimal places. The average does have many decimal places, but the underlying observations during that period wouldn’t have been precise to more than 1 or 2 decimal places.
Also, wouldn’t the earlier measurements, taken before telemetry, have systemic artifacts as the thermometer was raised from the water to the deck (due to wind and evaporation, or sunlight and ambient air temperature)? Unless, of course, some corrections were applied to remove the artifacts. Somehow I doubt that that those corrections would be the case – you would have to correlate original observed air temp., wind speed, ship speed, sunlight condition, relative humidity, instrument type, etc. etc. against imprecise measurements, so there would be little definitive gain in accuracy, with great cost. The transition to better measurement technology and telemetry would have taken place ship-by-ship over some time. How can you correct for that?
Other systemic problems with earlier measurements might involve ships avoiding hurricane nurseries (off West Africa), Saragossa Sea (and other becalming traps for sailing ships), and places where there is nothing to sail to (equatorial Pacific) – that is, some of the warmest areas in the warmest part of the year. And avoiding icebergs (colder geodesic route from North America to Europe).
All these metadata issues, and I only browsed the 1st page of each dataset. I’m beginning to have some understanding (if not sympathy) for why some prolific authors seem to prefer models to data.
Conrad

H.R.

The white in Figure 1 is really good for showing what hasn’t been measured. I had a little trouble with the dots in the Argo post prior to this that showe what had been measured. Very nice.

Philip Bradley

The flat top of ocean surface temperatures in the tropics is interesting. The atmospheric temperature above the ocean surface is what controls the transfer of heat from the oceans to the atmosphere. And this says to me that there is a limit to atmospheric tropical temperatures. Release more heat from the oceans and all that happens is it gets transmitted to space faster.

jollygreenwatchman

@Andyj re: “How do you boil your cup of coffee by breathing on it?”
Easy, coincide said breathing with a considerable change in altitude. 😉 🙂

Dodgy Geezer

“The curiosity is that the Argo average ocean surface temperature data is significantly cooler than the other datasets, half to three-quarters of a degree …”
That’s because you haven’t applied a CORRECTION! You obviously can’t be a true climatologist if you don’t know about corrections. Ring up Phil Jones and ask him what the correction should be..

Seek. Strive. Find. Not yield. Sic’em good man.

Tim Channon

Currents seems less obvious than I expected but the primary one is showing, warm projected up past Scotland and (maybe just showing) the cold water surfacing northern temperate Pacific.

Gary Hladik

Andyj says (February 9, 2012 at 5:22 pm): “Point of interest:
How do you boil your cup of coffee by breathing on it?”
For single cups, I generally heat the water to (near) boiling in a microwave oven. Thank Gore for the miracle of longwave radiation!

Bill Illis

Just noting that the average Land Temperature is much lower than the average Ocean sea surface temperature.
The main reason is that Antarctica and its sea ice covers the bottom 30 degrees of the planet (and then there’s Greenland and Ellesmere island) so that the Land is actually weighted more to the cold poles than the ocean is.
But there should not be so much difference as the numbers Willis quoted above.

Mike

Latitude graph looks too cold on the North side. There aren’t any waters at 40 degrees north under 3 degrees, and you even have some hovering around zero.

David Falkner

This kind of neat, also:

Sort of off topic.

AJ

Hi Willis… when I downloaded the data and had a quick peek, I noticed that there was an interpolated/extrapolated flag. At the surface, the vast majority of profiles were extrapolated. I also noticed that the minimum latitude reported on was 80S. I’m assuming that was interpolated as there is no ocean at that latitude… or maybe some penguins hijacked a float?
I think an interesting graph would be the number of observations per 100km by latitude. It might highlight your findings about spatial coverage.
The APDRC also has a nice interpolated gridded time series dataset. I used one last year to plot the temperature variance by latitude and depth. This seems to be observational data that the AR4 models had a problem matching. Here’s my plots with a link to the source at the bottom of the page:
https://sites.google.com/site/climateadj/ocean_variance

DocMartyn

according to your figure the Mediterranean is about the same as the North Sea and North Atlantic.That is, as the English say, bollocks.
The Gulf stream is also missing, which is a bit odd as you can observe it from the IR signature from space.
http://eoimages.gsfc.nasa.gov/images/imagerecords/54000/54734/gulf_stream_modis.gif
If they can’t find the Gulf stream they might as well just make the whole dataset up.

pouncer

Zac says: (at February 9, 2012 at 4:16 pm)
“Dr Cohen of MIT … reveals that the world is not only warming up but the warming is causing winter cooling.”
Following the digression… If warmer temperatures now in North American mean harsher winters, now; in Siberia and Northern Europe; how do thinner Yamal and other Siberian tree rings of long ago,indicate harsher temperatures globally comparably long ago?

General P. Malaise

maybe in the southern water the current is less impeded and a more constant mixing with colder subsurface water.

Mark James

Aren’t we getting a little worked up here over 1/2 – 3/4 of one degree?
I can’t even sense that small a difference in my bath water.
This is like trying to smash the alarmists with a sponge mallet.

Another odd pattern. In the Northern hemisphere, the orange band heads north, up the west coasts of Europe & Nth America. In the Southern hemisphere, the orange band heads north, up the west coasts of Africa & Sth America – but not Australia. I’m upset that we Australians don’t have a west coast orange anomaly. Anyone know why?
It’s a little interesting because if you continue on to the North coast of Australia (where much water is too shallow for the floats) this is where the El Nino story becomes involved. There are separate projects to measure SSTs here. It would be interesting to splice them – assuming that no stepwise adjustment is needed.

Austin

30 C is real close to a number I recall from somewhere else. I just cannot recall what it is.
A more interesting number would be total heat potential for a given column of water.

richard verney

Willis
You state:
“Note that there is an obvious upper limit to the ocean temperatures, the “flat-top” on the graph at just above 30°C. No matter how much incoming solar there is, the ocean doesn’t get any warmer than that. This provides a “cap” on how hot the ocean can get. Above that temperature, any extra incoming energy is converted to latent and sensible heat, rather than warming the surface..”
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
That statement cannot possibly be correct.
I have reviewed thousands of ships logs and I can advise that I have seen numerous temperature entries where the temperature has exceeded 30degC, particularly on voyages from Far East/Malaysia where temperatures of up 34degC (and even slightly more) are commen.. These are engine manifold intake measuremenst with sea water being drawn typically at about 9 to 12 m below the surface. The surface temperature (by which I mean say a couple of mm below the top layer) would be even warmer (although in tropical oceans there is often not so much difference bewteen surface temperature and temperature at 10m)..
I seem to recall that you speak French. I know that the French Hydrographical Institute SHOM do some very good maps showing ocean temperatures.I have used them many times.
I haven’t had time to properly search, but a very quick search of NOAA produced the following:
http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/data/sst/contour/global100.cf.gif
You will note that this is not the height of summer and temperatures of up to 31.7 degC are recored. A one month earlier map may be a degree or so warmer..

Try this verse instead:
The Argonautica by Rhodius Apollonius
The ship, as former bards relate, Argus wrought by the guidance of Athena. But now I will tell the lineage and the names of the heroes, and of the long sea-paths and the deeds they wrought in their wanderings; may the Muses be the inspirers of my song!

StuartMcL

Mark James says:
Aren’t we getting a little worked up here over 1/2 – 3/4 of one degree?
—————————————————————————————
But isn’t that the about the same size as the whole warming over the 20th Century that everyone is so worried about?

richard verney

Robert of Ottawa says:
February 9, 2012 at 4:07 pm
I scuba dive and have never had hotter surface waater than in Darwin Bay, Australia. 30C alright! Bloody hot – but then I am used to diving in Canada
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
Robert
You should try diving in the Red Sea, Very warm and good corals. Hey even Wikipedia don’t claim that the warm water is destroying the coral. See:
“A recent underwater expedition to the Red Sea offshore from Sudan and Eritrea[14] found surface water temperatures 28 °C in winter and up to 34 °C in the summer, but despite that extreme heat the coral was healthy with much fish life with very little sign of coral bleaching, and there were plans to use samples of these corals’ apparently heat-adapted commensal algae to salvage bleached coral elsewhere” Per Wikipedia
I can confirm that 34 degC is quite common and I have seen ship’s logs where 35 and even 36 degC has been recorded.

Greg Cavanagh

You didn’t get close the the other temperatures, because the Argo data is not uniformly distributed.
All you did was get the mean of all of the data, not the mean of the area.
You’ll first need to identify a temperature for an area even though there are many measurements of the same location over time, then get the mean of all of the areas.
You’ve got some work to do, lol.

Mr Black

Mark James, a difference of 1C per century in temperature change would be enough to expose their entire scheme as a fraud. Small errors matter because we are dealing with small numbers.

Willis.
Note the spatial coherence of the data. Think about the physics of conducting heat in water.
then ask, how many samples does one need to capture a trend in temperature change.
Interesting analytical question.

John Brookes

Thanks Willis. Real data, displayed nicely – always a pleasure.

Oh well, we’ve found Trenberth’s missing heat at last – the Argonauts need a couple less noughts in their error bars.

So all we need to do is use Hadley SST data until Argo floated, then tack on the Argo data, which is, after all, so accurate – smooth out the step and, bingo, 0.7 degrees of global cooling in an instant. (Don’t anyone mention that satellite data showing above 21 degrees.)

Willis Eschenbach

Charlie A says:
February 9, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Argo data being cooler is extra puzzling since Argo doesn’t measure temps of ice covered areas, which I assume would lower the average temp.
What regions ar.e excluded from the other estimates you quoted ?

Sorry for the lack of clarity. All averages are for the region 60N – 60S. I’ll spell it out in the head post.
w.