300 soundings from 19th century compared to Argo data

From the University of California – San Diego Scripps Institute, you gotta love the subheading in this PR. I didn’t know robots could travel back in time. Gosh, I learn something new every day. Apparently 300 soundings done by the HMS Challenger between 1872-1876 are enough to establish a “new global baseline” for the last century. The temperature rise is pretty much what we’d expect from LIA recovery. Though, for an outfit that hauls Titanic Chicken of the Sea debate ducker James Cameron to the bottom of the deepest ocean trench, I’d take this PR with a grain of sea salt, especially since it provides no supporting graphics or documentation. I’d sure like to see how the distribution of those 300 sounding looks.  – Anthony

New comparison of ocean temperatures reveals rise over the last century

Ocean robots used in Scripps-led study that traces ocean warming to late 19th century

A new study contrasting ocean temperature readings of the 1870s with temperatures of the modern seas reveals an upward trend of global ocean warming spanning at least 100 years. 

The research led by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego physical oceanographer Dean Roemmich shows a .33-degree Celsius (.59-degree Fahrenheit) average increase in the upper portions of the ocean to 700 meters (2,300 feet) depth. The increase was largest at the ocean surface, .59-degree Celsius (1.1-degree Fahrenheit), decreasing to .12-degree Celsius (.22-degree Fahrenheit) at 900 meters (2,950 feet) depth.

The report is the first global comparison of temperature between the historic voyage of HMS Challenger (1872-1876) and modern data obtained by ocean-probing robots now continuously reporting temperatures via the global Argo program. Scientists have previously determined that nearly 90 percent of the excess heat added to Earth’s climate system since the 1960s has been stored in the oceans. The new study, published in the April 1 advance online edition of Nature Climate Change and coauthored by John Gould of the United Kingdom-based National Oceanography Centre and John Gilson of Scripps Oceanography, pushes the ocean warming trend back much earlier.

“The significance of the study is not only that we see a temperature difference that indicates warming on a global scale, but that the magnitude of the temperature change since the 1870s is twice that observed over the past 50 years,” said Roemmich, co-chairman of the International Argo Steering Team. “This implies that the time scale for the warming of the ocean is not just the last 50 years but at least the last 100 years.”

Although the Challenger data set covers only some 300 temperature soundings (measurements from the sea surface down to the deep ocean) around the world, the information sets a baseline for temperature change in the world’s oceans, which are now sampled continuously through Argo’s unprecedented global coverage. Nearly 3,500 free-drifting profiling Argo floats each collect a temperature profile every 10 days.

Roemmich believes the new findings, a piece of a larger puzzle of understanding the earth’s climate, help scientists to understand the longer record of sea-level rise, because the expansion of seawater due to warming is a significant contributor to rising sea level. Moreover, the 100-year timescale of ocean warming implies that the Earth’s climate system as a whole has been gaining heat for at least that long.

###

Launched in 2000, the Argo program collects more than 100,000 temperature-salinity profiles per year across the world’s oceans. To date, more than 1,000 research papers have been published using Argo’s data set.

The Nature Climate Change study was supported by U.S. Argo through NOAA.

Advertisements

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of

This seems barely credible. I wrote an article on the numerous flaws in the historic SST data
http://judithcurry.com/2011/06/27/unknown-and-uncertain-sea-surface-temperatures/
To believe that 300 readings tells us anything seems something akin to either desperation or bad science.
tonyb

Robert Clemenzi

Based on the accuracy of the older thermometers, it is more likely that the data should be used to prove that there has been no change in temperature.

data is a good thing.

Here is an article on the Challenger.
http://life.bio.sunysb.edu/marinebio/challenger.html
It was a genuinely impresive effort, especially in comparison to the poor methodology which characterised the collecting of many SST samples. However 300 readings is neither here nor there. Having said that I don’t doubt that the oceans have probably warmed since the end of the little ice age but in truth we don’t know by how much
tonyb

To believe that 300 readings tells us anything seems something akin to either desperation or bad science.
tonyb
##################
Tony. These are historical records. You should applaud the publication of them.
If it was a diary you found, you’d note it. If it was a record of warm month in 1720,
you’d note it.
Why do people who cherish data, who collect anecdotes, as you do, have a problem with
somebody else doing the same thing. It’s data. That’s good.

Tony
‘ Having said that I don’t doubt that the oceans have probably warmed since the end of the little ice age but in truth we don’t know by how much”
Well, you better hope they have warmed otherwise your records of a cool LIA on land are
a shambles.
There is a pretty consistent relationship between the change in temps over land and those in the ocean. That’s just physics. In fact, If you have land temps you can make an estimate of ocean temps. With error bars of course. So we do have an idea of how much the SST has warmed.
That idea, that knowledge, LIKE ALL KNOWLEDGE, comes with error bars. Sometimes tight, sometimes wide. It’s knowledge nevertheless.

Gav Jackson

If we accept this data, surely it proves no anthropogenic influence. Given no increase in warming correlating with human activity growth. Oh the hypocrisy !

Bill Illis

And then over the following year, the biggest Super El Nino in history occurred and global sea surface temperatures spiked by up to +0.6C and Land temperatures by more than +1.5C in a matter of months.
In fact, 1872-1876 was dominated by a nearly continuous La Nina.
Where were the soundings taken?
.

Glacierman

Too bad they didn’t sample deeper…….maybe could have found Trenberth’s missing heat hiding in the pipeline.

Bryan A

Given the timing of the article, is this a hoax?
“The new study, published in the April 1 advance online edition of Nature Climate Change and coauthored by John Gould of the United Kingdom-based National Oceanography Centre and John Gilson of Scripps Oceanography, pushes the ocean warming trend back much earlier.

dorsai123

300 records vs argo’s hundreds of thousands of records is not even a rounding error … they should never be discussed in the same study … its not just bad science but magical thinking …

Mosh
If I had published a new diary of 300 observations covering a 4 year period as the basis for a new global record for the ocean you would have poured scorn on it and muttered the word ‘anecdotes.’
Of course I applaud the release of new data but we need to put it into perspective. I agree with you about error bars but sometimes they are so large they have little scientific meaning as the basis for hugely important political decisions. To requote Lamb on temperatures ‘We can know the tendancy but not the precision.’ A good motto for the IPCC.
I’ve just come across the 7 year diary of William Merle who compiled a weather diary in the 1340’s in Britain. I’ll remember your approval of small numbers of observations as the basis for a new global record if I ever come to write about them. 🙂
tonyb

Miss Grundy

Steven Mosher : “That idea, that knowledge, LIKE ALL KNOWLEDGE, comes with error bars. Sometimes tight, sometimes wide. ”
Did the proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem come with error bars?

Auto

H.M.S. Challenger’s voyage lasted some three or four years, so 300 temperature soundings are, jolly roughly, two a week.
As noted by the excellent Robert Clemenzi, we do not kow whether the thermometers used were as accurate as the ones used today. I’d like to think that Queen Victoria’s Royal Navy had state of the art equipment, but rather doubt it.
How were the sub-surface temperatures recorded? Double-walled container? Triple-walled? do we have any idea of the recovery time from 700 metres? wre the containersat least slightly open [a couple of pin-hles would allow the pressure to equalise, from 70 bar to zero (gauge), as the ontainer is recovered.
Even if the temperatures were taken in the same location [and in the 1870s I’d guess deep-sea accuracy to well under a mile, perhaps nearer a quarter-mile, with good Sun sights alone], were they at the same date, same local recent weather, and same phase of the Moon [so tides, too].
Without that, claiming accuracy to one hundredth of a degrre Fahrenheit, from three hundred observations [that are comparisons] may be a little doubtful. I suggest.
[Perahps it as a third of a Kelvin, and three-fifths of a degree Fahrenheit, but it does say “.59-degree Fahrenheit”

Steven Mosher says:
April 2, 2012 at 12:18 pm
…………
Steven, is there a link to the data file?
There is a pretty consistent relationship between the change in temps over land and those in the ocean.
Not always (or not in 1970) http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/GT-AMO.htm
Thanks for the note on the JC’s blog, left you a reply there.

D. Patterson

A Webpage devoted to the voyage of the HMS Challenger provides a global map with the track of its voyages and comments about the soundings. See:
http://www1.btwebworld.com/challengeroceanic/chal.htm

George E. Smith

Well isn’t it amazing that “climate scientists” who asssert that Physics and Chemistry and Mathematics simply are NOT pertinent to their educational specialty, which is “climate science”, so they are experts because they can study some prehistoric mud snail and deduce the climate history of the earth; but a mere physicist is quite unable to apply rather simple basic and universal principles to figuring out what effects seem to be important.
And in all of this appeal to authority, I have not yet encountered one single “climate scientist”; who understands even the most basic concepts of sampled data systems, or that there even is such a discipline.
So boring a single hole at a single angle , at a single height, in a three dimensional object like a tree, and one single and not typical tree at that, is adequate to precisely determine the Temperature record of an entire climate zone.
So I’m going to be really impressed by 300 “soundings” at quite unknown oceanic locations, in waters that meander like other rivers, from day to day or year to year.
Well it is of course the same thing as GISSTemp or HADCRud. They may be excellent data records of GISSTempp and HADCRUd; they just don’t relate to anything else that might be interesting. So they are akin to the average telephone number in the Manhattan Telephone directory. Of no earthly use to anybody, unless that average number just happens to be your telephone number.
And the impossibility of monitoring anything like the global ground level influence of clouds on the net solar energy captured at the surface, renders the whole exercise a farce.
But, it could be of historical curiosity interest, to see how ancient sailors tried to gather some data on their travels. Captain Bligh’s efforts to try to get some exotic plants back to Europe comes to mind.

“Ocean robots used in Scripps-led study that traces ocean warming to late 19th century”
Did they use Mr. Peabody’s WABAC machine?

George E. Smith

“”””” Miss Grundy says:
April 2, 2012 at 12:38 pm
Steven Mosher : “That idea, that knowledge, LIKE ALL KNOWLEDGE, comes with error bars. Sometimes tight, sometimes wide. ”
Did the proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem come with error bars? “””””
Well one thing we know for sure about “the proof of Fermat’s last theorem”, is that it most certainly is NOT Fermat’s proof of Fermat’s last theorem; which evidently he considered hardly worth writing down.

The paper does indeed have error bars and while the Challenger data set may be relatively small the comparison is valid – I think.
Simple arithmetic tells us that if the rate of warming over the last 100 years was twice that of the last 50 years then the rate of ocean warming in the first 50 years (1880’s – 1930’s) was 3 times higher than in the second 50 years. And man-made carbon-dioxide then was – I do believe – somewhat lower than in the second half of the twentieth century.

KnR

The real ‘usefulness ‘ of the oceans is that for alarmists great claims about ‘hiding heat’ can be made , with virtual no way to call them out as BS’ing as its not possible to measure in any meaningful way.

Resourceguy

Hey, if you add in Herodotus dipping his toe in the ocean and some Chinese data you might get a few dozen more data points. Go for it, all data is the same right? at least for publication mill purposes

DaveG

Maritime Museums of San Diego and Liverpool UK are full of such recordings and the old thermometers, and yes they were accurate even then (not to 100 of a degree). I find the Ocean rise in temperature quite exceptable since we are recovering from the LIA. As many here would know this is natural recovery from a cold period and yes it is mostly natural global warming, as any sane person would expect. Warm or Cool we have to live with it and as our for bearers have done, adjust or die. And NO Co2 reduction or tax will fix that.

ghl

Fascinating. I’d love to see a trial of their equipment alongside a modern rig.

HADSST says there was a big temperature drop from 1872 to 1910.
1910 Oceans were .34C COLDER than 1872.
http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/hadsst2gl.txt
Notice – Sea temperatures rose .751C from 1910 to 1941
1910 -0.615
1941 0.136
And as of Jan 2012, Sea temperatures are a miniscule .065C warmer than 1941.

MarkW

How precisely did HMS Challenger measure deep ocean temperatures?
If memory serves, they lowered a tube, open at both ends, then when it got down to the layer they wanted to sample, they pulled a rope that snapped both ends of the tube shut and hauled the tube back to the surface where temperature data was taken.
Possible problems.
1) Did they give the tube time to adjust to the local temperature before sampling?
2) How well insulated was the tube, and what was the temperature of the water the sample was hauled through on the way to the surface.
3) How was the sample handled while it’s temperature was taken once it reached the surface?
4) DId they use the same sampling hardware for all 300 samples?

MarkW

300 samples is sufficient to give us a knowledge of the ocean’s temperature to 0.01C????
I don’t think so.

MarkW

Steven Mosher says:
April 2, 2012 at 12:11 pm
data is a good thing.

Good data would be even better.

wsbriggs

Personally, I think the mean telephone number in the Manhattan Telephone Directory is the most important.
/sarc
Sometimes the pettiness of the comments here gets in the way – we really do need more Willis, that is, thoughtful musings.

Why only the 300 from HMS Challenger? Sailing Ships coming into port, leaving port, and in unfamiliar waters would take soundings, which would then be entered into the sailing master’s logbook and the captain’s logbook. This was true for merchantmen and military vessels. A quick stroll down to the Admiralty in the UK, or Navy Department would get you all of the soundings you could hope for, cross referenced by air temperature, latitude, longitude, time of day, phase of moon,and high/low tides.

Funny. HADSST2 has 1878 at 0.0 and Jan 2012 at .201
Not much of a rise.

Oh, and bottom conditions, broken shell, soft and sandy, etc.

clipe

The awful silence was impressive: unwilling to break it I sat me down.
“I felt her presence by its spell of might,
Stoop o’er me from above—
The calm majestic presence of the night,
As of the one I love.”
Suddenly a distant roar boomed along the water and echoed amongst the rocks: again and again I heard it, when, to my astonishment, several huge icebergs in the offing commenced to break up. A fearful plunge of some large mass would clothe the spot in spray and foam; a dull reverberating echo pealed on; and then, merely from the concussion of the still air, piece after piece detached itself from icebergs far and near, and the work of demolition was most rapid: truly did Baffin boast, that he had laid open one of Nature’s most wonderful laboratories; and I thought with Longfellow, in his Hyperion,—
“The vast cathedral of nature is full of holy scriptures and shapes of deep mysterious meaning: all is solitary and silent there. Into this vast cathedral comes the human soul seeking its Creator, and the universal silence is changed to sound, and the sound is harmonious and has a meaning, and is comprehended and felt.”

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/24891/24891-h/24891-h.htm
Thursday, 27th June, 1850, found us still cruising about under canvas; northward and westward a body of dirty ice, fast decaying under a fierce sunlight, bergs in hundreds in every direction; and, dotted along the Greenland shore, a number of whalers fast in what is called “Land water,” ready to take the first opening. The barometer falling, we were ordered to make fast to icebergs, every one choosing his own. This operation is a very useful one in arctic regions, and saves much unnecessary wear and tear of men and vessel, when progress in the required direction is no longer possible.
The bergs, from their enormous depth, are usually aground, except at spring-tides, and the seaman thus succeeds in anchoring his vessel in 200 fm. water, without any other trouble than digging a hole in the iceberg, placing an anchor in it called an ice-anchor, which one man can lift, and, with a whale-line, his ship rides out under the lee of this natural breakwater, in severe gales, and often escapes being beset in a lee pack.

John Finn

“The significance of the study is not only that we see a temperature difference that indicates warming on a global scale, but that the magnitude of the temperature change since the 1870s is twice that observed over the past 50 years, ” said Roemmich, co-chairman of the International Argo Steering Team. “This implies that the time scale for the warming of the ocean is not just the last 50 years but at least the last 100 years.”

Interesting. Let’s not be too quick to reject these findings. If there was significant warming from the 1870s through until 1960, say, it suggests CO2 is not responsible. For the first 30 years or so there were no cars, no aircraft and fossil fuel burning was confined to just a few industrialised locations in the NH (not in China, India etc). Atmospheric CO2 concentrations in 1900 were supposedly only about 295 ppm which is equivalent to a forcing of ~0.2 w/m2 since 1850. If warming were the result of CO2 forcing alone it would not be detectable. In 1958 atmospheric CO2 concentration was ~315 ppm – equivalent to a forcing of ~0.5 w/m2. Again it’s doubtful if any ocean temperature increase could be detected – particularly as we’re forever being told that there is a lag before warming is fully realised.
Accept these findings at face value then ask for an explanation as to how they fit with the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. They don’t!
ktwop says:
April 2, 2012 at 1:06 pm

I’ve just noticed your post and I think you’re more or less making the same point as me. This study does not support a significant CO2 influence.

HADSST2 again …
Jan 1878 = 0.247
Jan 2012 = 0.201
As Mosher says … isn’t data great!

300 spartan soundings against hundreds of thousands from the Argo.
It’s the battle of Thermopylae all over again.

RHS

I think almost any data is better than no data. I think it is most important outcome from this study is that a non skeptical group begins to realize/recognize that our climate has been changing for a lot longer than expected. Whether or not this will lead to a new idealized baseline is yet to be determined.

RobW

“Scientists have previously determined that nearly 90 percent of the excess heat added to Earth’s climate system since the 1960s has been stored in the oceans.”
I thought they couldn’t find the missing heat. What gives?

Ted Swart

What amazes me is that the CAGW believers seem to think that if they constantly plug the line that there HAS been warming of the Earth since the industrial revolution that this will — in the end — force skeptics to concur that the warming is due preponderantly to the atmospheric CO2 increase. Their ability to change colour like chameleons is noting short staggering. They started out by talking about global warming and then switched to climate change and more recently to climate uncertainty — all because they find these switches to be useful when it comes to hoodwinking the public. And now they say that us skeptics/realists are not scientists, don’t believe there has been any warming and don’t think that there has been any climate change. How can they be so totally out of touch with reality. What calumny.

phlogiston

John Finn says:
April 2, 2012 at 1:38 pm
ktwop says:
April 2, 2012 at 1:06 pm
Isn’t a 100 year OHC rise problematic for CAGW? – not enought anthro carbon back then.
but that the magnitude of the temperature change since the 1870s is twice that observed over the past 50 years
Hmmm – that’ll make it harder for them to squeeze an acceleration out of it – but no doubt they will try.

AlexS

“It’s data. That’s good.”
It is not good for 0.x Cº differences. It doesn’t says us anything relevant except that in 1870 there wasn’t any Ice Age or Warmist Age. Something we already know.
The study doesn’t support anything other than the temperatures have been stable for the generous precision and definition brackets necessary. The conclusions of the article are pure and simply a scientific fraud.

P. Solar

Another interesting article at Judith Curry’s site on HadSST and magic bucket syndrome.
http://judithcurry.com/2012/03/15/on-the-adjustments-to-the-hadsst3-data-set-2/
This article shows between half and 2/3 of the variation from the earlier 2/3 of the raw data gets removed as “bucket bias”. The remaining 1/3 (post-war period) just gets a gentle warming boost.

Bill

we need to wait for the homogenization to give us a real steep rise.
it may be as well to also suggest that they go and repeat the 300 sample temperature execise at the exact locations and times of year for the next 5 years to see how stable they are or not. they will have that all very precisely or else the data is simply BS. ( the old boys were very careful about this stuff)
i dont remember but there was a bit of discussion about data errors on the 3500 units and 100,000 sample points. I forget but is std error some sort of inverse squareroot formulae and thus a 3 std dev error of 5.7% is a lot.
i remmember when i studied physics the experiment was grade at zero if the errors were not fully calculated and discussed. that was undergrad, these folk jumped the fense to post grad while no one was looking.

Kasuha

Putting things into perspective, these 300 readings may be of about the same statistical significance as all currently available proofs of medieval warm period being really warm and global. Of course it’s possible to pull both right and wrong conclusions out of them, but most people here can hadly decide which are which.

David A. Evans

Sorry but even though this doesn’t support the AGW meme, I call BS.
1) There’s no way to cross calibrate
2) The precision is ridiculous. the error bars must be over 1°C.
3) There’s no way we know for certain the ENSO states over those four years.
DaveE.

JKnapp

The study seems to be saying that the warming from 100-50 years ago is the same as the last 50 years. While the data can be questioned, this is one more study that is NOT consistent with CAGW. Like the studies showing the LIA and the data showing no warming for the last 10-15 years, this study adds to the growing evidence that “the CO2 is the thermostat” hypothesis is false.
As the warmista’s like to say, no single study proves it but there are multiple independent studies that verify that the earth’s climate changes for reasons not yet understood and CO2 is just a bit player at worst.

Peter Miller

If you had to choose between HMS Challenger’s ocean data and the new improved adjusted data from GISS et alia, which would you choose?
Stupid question – well it would be if you are one of those who believe GISS’ increasingly large adjustments to drive down historic temperatures bear any resemblance to reality.

DD More

From the voage route map shown here –
http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/03mountains/background/challenger/media/route.html
it doesn’t look like they got above 45Deg north except for into and out of England & around Newfoundland, Canada. Didn’t do much in the Indian Ocean either.
From – http://www.fathom.com/feature/60885/index.html
She had spent more than half of the intervening days in harbour, providing her sailors and scientists with the opportunity for exotic port calls in North and South America, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Japan and a series of Atlantic and Pacific islands.
Also a first for science junket travel and you thought it was just the IPCC .

Billy Liar

Steven Mosher says:
April 2, 2012 at 12:11 pm
data is a good thing.
A statistical sample size of one is a bad thing.

P. Solar

I’ve just started reading “Late Victorian Holocausts” by Mike Davis. It details the severe famines that affected most of India, north China, Brazil , northern and southern Africa from 1876-79.
Estimates of between 30 to 60 million starved to death. This was related to ENSO.
Must be the earliest recorded event of the now popular “climate weirding”.