The Tempering Effect of the Oceans on Global Warming

There are now 2 UPDATES at the end of the post.

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Guest Post by Bob Tisdale

This post presents a very simple way to illustrate the tempering effect of the oceans on global warming. The idea for this simple presentation came from the response of the reality-impaired wing of the catastrophic human-induced climate change movement to the deep-ocean-warming portion of yesterday’s blog post On The Blog Post “Hiatuses in the rise of temperature” at ClimateLabBook. The cross post at WattsUpWithThat is here, and an archived edition of the response from Miriam O’Brien (a.k.a. Sou) at HotWhopper is here.

It is often said that more than 90% of the heat caused by manmade greenhouse gases is absorbed by the oceans.  But as skeptics often note, the absorbed heat has little impact on the temperatures of the oceans to depth, and that’s because of the seemingly limitless capacity of the oceans to store heat.


More than 3000 ARGO floats were distributed around the global oceans in the early 2000s to the measure temperature and salinity in all ocean basins for the depths of 0-2000 meters, about 1.25 miles…from the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica to the Arctic Ocean.  From that ARGO-based data and other measurements, the National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC) now determines and provides data for the annual change in the heat stored by the oceans, starting in 2005.  Ocean heat content data from the NODC for the depths of 0-2000 meters are presented in terms of Joules*10^22 (here), and the NODC provides the vertically average temperature anomaly data (here) from which the heat content is calculated (along with the salinity data).  The temperature data are presented in terms many people are familiar with, degrees C.

The units used to present the ocean heat content (Joules times 10 to the 22nd power) look like an astronomically large number. Feel free to add 22 zeroes in your mind to the following graphs.  And since few people have any idea what those units mean, we helpful people try to present them in more-familiar terms (deg C) as well.

The reality-impaired wing of the catastrophic human-induced climate change movement doesn’t like it when we present data in familiar terms.  They claim silly things like we don’t want our readers to know data indicate the oceans are absorbing heat. Again, see the archived version of the post here.  What’s really strange about that is, if you were to do a Google Image search of “NODC ocean heat content” the vast majority of the images presented by Google are those I prepared for my blog posts and the posts at WattsUpWithThat. In Figure 1, I’ve highlighted all of the illustrations I prepared or that were prepared by others and included in my posts that show up on a screen cap.

Figure 1

Figure 1

To me, it doesn’t look like I’m trying to hide the fact the oceans have absorbed heat.  In fact, I’ve explained, using data, the naturally occurring processes that cause the oceans to warm at the surface and at depth. See the free illustrated essay “The Manmade Global Warming Challenge” (42MB).


Well, I came up with a very simple way to keep alarmists AND skeptics happy.  I’ve presented the NODC ocean heat content data in terms of Joules*10^22 and the NODC vertically averaged temperature data in terms of deg C—ready for this?—on the same graph. See Figure 2.  In it, the data have been zeroed at 2005.

Figure 2 Tempering Effect of Ocean on Global Warming

Figure 2

The caption for it and Figure 3 reads, A hypothetical energy imbalance resulting from the emissions of manmade greenhouse gases has caused the oceans to absorb heat from 2005 to 2013 at a rate of about 8.6*10^22 Joules/decade, according to the NODC data for the depths of 0 to 2000 meters, but due to the heat capacity of the oceans, the oceans for those same depths have only warmed at a rate of about 0.03 deg C/decade, also according to NODC data.

For those who would prefer the NODC data to not be zeroed at 2005, see Figure 3.

Figure 3 Tempering Effect of Ocean on Global Warming

Figure 3

Again, the warming rate illustrated in Figure 2 and 3 is only +0.03 deg C/decade. Let me repeat a portion of yesterday’s post:

That’s read 3 one-hundredths of a deg C per decade, which is a very tiny warming rate.  It would be even tinier if we had data for the oceans from the surface to the ocean floor.

The oceans are deeper than the 2000 meters reached by the ARGO floats.  So we have to look elsewhere to see if the deep oceans below 2000 meters have warmed. The title of Llovel et al. (2014) explains the findings of the paper Deep-ocean contribution to sea level and energy budget not detectable over the past decade.  “Not detectable” says it all. Phrased differently, there has been no detectable warming of the deep ocean (below 2000 meters) from January 2005 to December 2013, the time period covered by Llovel et al. (2014), which happily coincides to the period we’re discussing.

From the NOAA OceanToday webpage Deep ARGO, we learn that the depths of 0-2000 meters include only about one-half of the volume of the global oceans.

Based on those findings, we can assume the trend in the temperature of the oceans, from surface to ocean floor, from 2005 to present, is one-half the +0.03 deg C/decade trend calculated for the depths of 0-2000 meters, or a warming rate of +0.015 deg C/decade. That’s read 15 one-thousandths of a deg C per decade.

That minuscule warming rate of the oceans serves only as the background for the surface warming.  It can’t magically come back to haunt us.


I want thank Miriam O’Brien (Sou) from HotWhopper. Without her nonsensical response, I would not have come up with the idea for this post. Now, in the not-too-distant future, every time someone performs a Google Image search of “Tempering Effect of the Oceans on Global Warming”, or some derivative thereof, they’ll see Figures 2 and 3 from this post…and read the all-important caption.

(Sarc on.) I’d like to also thank the always-helpful William Connolley of Wikipedia fame and the blog Stoat for trying to post my full name and address on that thread at HotWhopper. A special thanks to Mariam O’Brian for leaving the U.S. Copyright Office website address for my book Who Turned on the Heat?  (On sale for only U.S.$5.00.) Now global warming skeptics from all around the world can easily find my name, address, phone number and email address.  When they’re in the neighborhood, they can take me out for a cup of coffee*. Or those who have always wanted to tip me for my work, but didn’t want to use PayPal, can now send me checks by mail.  How convenient! (Sarc off.)

*PS: Please call first.

*PPS: Skeptics can also use my new-found home address to send me Christmas cards

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UPDATE: The following is a screen cap of a Google Image search (from the morning of December 1, 2014, a day after this post was originally published): The Tempering Effect of the Oceans on Global Warming

Google Image Search Tempering Effect of Oceans on Global Warming

That didn’t take long. Never does. As I wrote above… every time someone performs a Google Image search of “Tempering Effect of the Oceans on Global Warming”, or some derivative thereof, they’ll see Figures 2 and 3 from this post…and read the all-important caption.

Once again, thank you, Sou (Miriam O’Brien). Someday Miriam will figure out she’s helping skeptics, not hurting them. Will that stop her rants? I think not. It will simply make her madder.

UPDATE 2: Believe it or not, this is one of the posts that Sou (Miriam O’Brien) has chosen to comment on at HotWhopper. See my post Miriam O’Brien says: Warmer oceans matter. It includes an archived version of her painfully flawed rebuttal. Miriam has also given me another idea for a post on ocean warming.


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I find it incredible that after just 10years of data there is an assumption in the warmist camp that we now know what the oceans are doing when it comes to heat. Also I note that a lot of CAGW graphs on the top 2000m use a start date in the 1950s as if the data accurately and continuously goes back to then.
Until we have completed a global warming and cooling cycle we cant possibly know what, how and when the oceans are storing/releasing heat. 60 years maybe…..that would be 2 climate cycles at least. I would think that it is more likely to be centuries before full sense of the data can be made


Yes, but you are suggesting a measured and rational approach which depending on the flavor of the alarmist is either incapable of or is purposely avoiding.
I imagine the next phase of the propaganda campaign will have the oceans boiling, which at 3 hundredths of a degree centigrade per decade will mean in about 15,000 years saunas will go out of business.

Olaf Koenders

In 1000 years we’re off this planet, providing religion doesn’t get in the way again..

Crispin in Waterloo

Speaking of measured and rational approaches, I went for the first time to see what’s at “Sou’s” blogsite. Initially intended to leave at least a single message asking some basic question such as how she can support her statement that the warming in the next 30 years will be as rapid as the last 30.
But, it is simply such a dreadful, sorry, pained place I was unable to bring myself to contaminate my evening by contributing a single word. Generally I do not ascribe a condition of spiritual illness to someone, but based on what I read there from “Sou” I believe genuine pity is the only reasonable response.
The attack on anyone who educates themselves about the climate was particularly strange given that she is obviously no expert in anything scientific that relates to the climate. For her, an “expert” is rare and I suppose it is her task to repeat those things they deign to communicate to the lesser mortals who should be rightly worshipping at their golden feet.
Wow. Even Gavin at his worst over at the suffocating Real Climate cannot hold a candle to the bile generated at Hotwhopper. Strangely, without WUWT it seems she would have nothing to talk about. I guess we can thank her for sending so many new people here to have a broadening experience.
Carry on Bob. It’s great. I am still waiting to find out how the sun knew it was time to stop heating the atmosphere and start heating the oceans. I am looking forward to more warming. It was -34.9 C in Western Alberta last night, without the wind chill. And winter has not yet officially arrived.

With regards to ocean heat we suffer from a lack of historic data of quality and also that the data we do have does not measure the deep ocean adequately.
Bob has posted material showing data to a depth of 2000 metres. The average depth of the Oceans is 4000 metres. We have a study by Purkiss et all attempting to quantify the oceanic heat content at this depth. However, according to Thomas Stocker speaking in June at a climate conference held at Exeter University and assisted by the Met Office, which featured a panel of IPCC reviewers, we do not have the technology to measure the deep ocean, which was that below 2000 metres.

Ernest Bush

I question the capability of the devices in question to actually measure .03 degree centigrade accurately. The data noise has to be much larger than that. Any trend seen inside that noise band is the equivalent of the Mann Hockey Stick trick. Perhaps the .03 change represents the deterioration of the equipment in a rough environment second only to space. Who knows.
Equations will give you very precise answers and they look great on graphs. But my electronics and science instructors were close to violent about the difference between precision and accuracy.
There is another example of this available with the satellites measuring ocean height. I have been told that the wavelengths being used can only measure with an accuracy of centimeters. Yet Warmists try to get us excited about millimeter changes that may not even be there.
On strictly technical grounds I am one hundred percent in agreement with what you are trying to say. Talk to my great-grandson about it in a hundred years of data collection. Develop a system that can be used to cross check results, meanwhile.


The temp is not measured but an average of an extrapolation, I presume of a vertical column of water, arrived at from the ARGO data. Yes average upon average upon average with nary a nod to error bars, explains the certitude.

george e. smith

“””””…..But my electronics and science instructors were close to violent about the difference between precision and accuracy……”””””
Well they should take a powder then.
Accuracy is not essential to repetitive measurements of the same thing; but precision surely is.
And Temperature changes of milli-degrees are easily measurable. Referring them to absolute standards of Temperature is not so easy, and knowing exactly what it is, whose Temperature you are measuring, is even harder.
And no ! I did not say that a global oceanic Temperature rate of increase of 0.03 deg. C is measurable.
That’s why we do calculate from physical principles, so we know what the expected order of magnitude of some purported change should be.
I believe Bob has established that the expected rate of oceanic Temperature rise is quite un-measurable; but not for lack of precision.

Ernest Bush

DEEBEE, I understand the temperature is a calculation. Just to be clear, I question the ability of the instruments to give accurate enough readings to make those calculations reflect real world temperature changes. I am not the first to suggest what is being calculated is the deterioration of the actual instrument.

David Chappell

The whole concept is an exercise in futility. Each Argo float is, in effect, measuring a volume of water equal to several BILLION Olympic-sized swimming pools (I forget the exact/precise figure,it’s a while since I did the calculation) and when you take into account the deeper half of the ocean not covered by the floats, that is two times several billion. So where does any idea of accuracy, precision or even reality fit in?


David Chappell – thanks,
But, with respect, I suggest an under-estimate for the ‘Olympic Swimming Pool’ comparison.
I appreciate you haven’t revisited calculation done years – or more ago.
May I refresh your memory – and the memory of those suggesting an ARGOS float is – after cleanliness, next to godliness . . . . .
Global Oceans – about 120,000,000 square miles.
3,000 ARGOS buoys: – 1 ARGOS buoy per ~ 40,000 square miles.
(Indiana, US, has – per the peerless Wikipedia – an area of 36,419.55 square miles.
Same peerless source – The land area of Scotland is 30,414 square miles (78,770 km2);
Indiana get nearly one buoy to itself, Scotland – about three-quarters.
Even Texas – at about 270,000 square miles (per the Wiki source again), would get a tad less than seven ARGOS buys (sampling stations) across its formidable area!
An Olympic swimming pool [Osp] is 50m x 25m.
A Mile is ~1600m – so 32 x64 Osp’s areas per square mile.
32 x 64 = 2048. Let’s say 2000. Hey – even close order of accuracy will suggest that invoking ARGOS buoys may have some problems with accuracy and/or precision.)
Average swimming pool depth [for an Olympic job, not a swimming/diving/teach the nippers to swim (and that is ” r e a l l y ” important – can your kids/grandkids swim?? They should be able to do so . . . . .)] – perhaps 2m.
Average depth of the waters sampled by Argo – 2000m.
So, an ARGOS buoy samples 40,000 square miles of ocean – each square mile of which is some 2,000 Osp’s – => about 80 million Osp’s by area.
But the depth sampled by each ARGOS buoy is about 1000 times deeper than an Olympic swimming pool, and, consequently, the volume sampled is greater by a factor of a thousand.
So an ARGOS float – doing sterling work – samples a volume of some 80,000 million Osp’s.
But a narrow water column – metres not many miles across.
And – even if the ARGOS float can measure temperature to 0.03 degree – is it reasonable to suggest that that that very precise, and jolly accurate temperature is truly representative, in all seasons, in all weathers, day and night, calm and storm, for a volume of water equivalent to Scotland drowned beneath water some 8000 feet deep.
One probe.
One ARGOS Buoy.
One magic probe?
I ask. No /.sarc here. Absolutely not
A query, because it may be that some – on both sides of our friendly discussion of what payback the fraudsters should give (their claims to be within touching distance of someone who saw a Nobel prize, their pensions, their kidneys, etc. Not their first-born, as their sons and daughters {should that be in alphabetical order??] are not complicit!) – are, possibly lots of many orders of magnitude out with respect to the ocean.
The oceans are very – that is: very, very – big.
The former Soviet Union had an area of some 11,000,000 square miles.
The Indian Ocean is about 28,350,000 mi² [Above mentioned peerless source [All sampled tonight – about 2100 Z]]
The oceans are jolly big, don’t you know. I’ve sailed some . . . . . . . . . . .
Do not imply consistency if such is not shown to be likely, I suggest.

Uncle Gus

Once again, I wish there were a “Like” button.
What he said.

george e. smith

Bob, I believe your simple depiction of the inability of the deep ocean heat storage to manifest itself, as a perceptible rate of ocean Temperature rise, also explains Willis Eschenbach’s inability to find a signature of the 90 W/m^2 p-p annual TSI cycle.
When the TOA solar insolation is at its annual maximum, the earth’s deep oceans are pointed at the sun, to sop up all that extra 10^22 joule units of solar radiation, and hide it where the sun doesn’t shine; deep in earth’s protective oceans.
And when the northern land masses are pointed at the sun, they quickly reach high daytime surface Temperatures, that can radiate at nearly twice the rate for earth’s mean Temperature of 288 K.
So get some sleep Willis; your signature ain’t there to find. Bob has buried it !

David A

“Willis Eschenbach’s inability to find a signature of the 90 W/m^2 p-p annual TSI cycle.”
And yet the signature clearly is there, only it is the opposite sign of the increase in insolation. The atmosphere cools. Apparently much of the more intense insolation falling on the SH oceans is aborbed into the oceans, and thus, for a time, denied to the atmosphere Of course the NH albedo increases, thus reflecting more insolation, thus cooling the atmosphere as well.
1. Query, does the earth gain r lose energy during the SH summer?
2. Is there published error bars for the argo T estimates?
3 Do the Argo floats drift? Has the average latitude of the Argo floats changed over the years?

The funning thing about deep ocean heating is if surface temperature ever becomes an issue, we could accelerate the process of dumping the heat in the ocean depths using ocean thermal heat pumps. The best part is since the ocean depths are cold, and the surface is warm, the process will produce useful work – you could generate electricity from it. This dumping process would delay for centuries any possible consequence of global warming.

That sounds more effective that carbon capture and storage.

It’s a non-starter. How do you tax it?

Global cooling

Stockholm, Sweden, has 180 MW sea water heatpump for heating the city.


With respect, sir, sounds inefficient. Reason being, there should be lots of wood/waste/coal driven energy available as sideproduct of electricity production. Combiplants.
In order to get one 10E22 J with 180 MW plant you have to run it over 10E13 seconds. That is millions of years.


And yes, its 1.0E22, not 10E22.Missing dots.

Let’s not even get into the fact that the absorbtion of 8.6*10^22 joules is a hypothetical number based on an assumption that man made CO2 is responsible for “back radiating” this energy in the first place!



CC Reader

The Greenhouse Equation predicts temperatures within 0.28°C throughout entire troposphere without radiative forcing from greenhouse gases


It simply is. The only question is of the amount, which can be rightly disputed.


…….but only once when, as we should understand, once this back-radiation cycle is started it can never end, until…………………………………..

Same comment I was going to make.
That 8.6*10^22 joules is the amount of energy the AGW crowd needs the oceans to absorb in order for there to be no atmospheric warming. (That of course raises the question: how can you have Oceanic warming without Atmospheric? As I understand it, the Atmospheric warming would have to occur first.)


I would prefer that the graphs not be zeroed at all. Refer to all the heat stored in the ocean above absolute zero. People tend to look at the huge number for the increase in heat in the ocean. They don’t know about the much much huger* number that describes all the heat stored in the ocean. Compared to that, the increase is puny.
*huger is a real word and is legal for Scrabble. 😉


Yeah. Anything with a zero intercept is an anomaly, and not a real physical variable.

Paul Hanlon

Hmm, let’s see if we can have some fun with this.
Per this, the total amount of energy per Kelvin is 5.6 * 10²⁴
Average temp at the surface is 14°C
Average temp at the bottom is 4°C
So let’s say 9°C or 282K
Multiplying these gives us
1,579,200,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 Joules
Amount added in a decade
            86,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 Joules

Paul Hanlon

Damn, should have added two extra spaces to the last line to get them to line up, and added
The amount added in a decade is 1/18,362 of the total Ocean Energy content. It’s the Hiroshima Bomb FUD all over again.

Ken Chapman

Paul, Just a rough check using 1.3 trillion cubic kilometers of ocean water @ 282K gives 3.7E26 calories.
The 10 year trend is 2.06E22 calories which is 1/17,836 of the total heat energy. Close enough!

Paul Hanlon

Many Thanks for the check, Ken.


@Ken . . Thats 1.3 Billion cubic kilometres surely.


December 1, 2014 at 9:46 am
@Ken . . That’s 1.3 Billion cubic kilometres surely.
120,000,000 million square miles, at arm-waving 2,5 lie depth – about 300.000.000 cubic miles.
300,000,000 cubic miles – is about 1,250,454,547.6 cubic kilometres
Mine is an estimate – Keitho is right [as far as I know . . . . . .]


I was more concerned with ken referencing “trillion” rather than “billion” rather than the rounding error.

Steve Keohane

Keep up the good work Bob. Thank you for the same.

Otter (ClimateOtter on Twitter)

One thing I have long since learned from conflicts with climate alarmists / LIARS, is that they cheerfully re-write everything one says, to make it sound to their clueless cronies like you’ve said / believe something else entirely.

Due to the thermosteric expansion of sea water, it is easier to detect a rise in sea level than it is to detect a 0.003C/year rise in temperature. If the rise of the oceans since 1900 at a fairly steady 2mm/year were 100% thermal expansion, with no melting glaciers, etc., then given the average ocean depth of about 4000m, 0.002m/4000m = 0.5ppm/year. That translates to a temperature change of 0.5ppm/(150-300ppm/°C) = 0.0033 to 0.0067°C/year. If you multiply that by the ocean volume of 1.37×10^9 cubic km at 1cal/degree/cc, and divide by the surface area of the Earth, you get (1.37×10^24 cc)(1cal/degree/cc)(4.184watts/(cal/sec))(0.0033 degrees/year)/(31,536,000 seconds/year)(5.1×10^14m2) = 1.18 – 2.36 W/m2.
The total net anthropogenic radiative forcing is estimated by the IPCC to amount to 1.6W/m2. So, if “The Pause” is from heat going into the ocean, then it accounts for just about all of the sea level rise, with no room for ice to melt.


Much appreciated.
I think the lesson from your comment – and from many other comments – is that the science is – in truth – not yet fully settled, shall we say. . . . .

DD More

Or you can work out if it was all ice melt.
4.13 x 10^17 joules / KM^3. What does that number represent? That is the energy it takes to convert one cubic kilometer of continental ice from -30 oC to water at 4 oC
Useful information:
heat of fusion of water = 334 J/g
heat of vaporization of water = 2257 J/g
specific heat of ice = 2.09 J/g•°C
specific heat of water = 4.18 J/g•°C
Step 1: Heat required to raise the temperature of ice from -30 °C to 0 °C (for temp see average profile temp Antarctica) Use the formula
q = mc?T Per Kg 1000 x 2.09 x 30 = 62700 Joules
Step 2: Heat required to convert 0 °C ice to 0 °C water
q = m•?Hf Per Kg 1000 x 334 = 334000 Joules
Step 3: Heat required to raise the temperature of 0 °C water to 100 °C water
q = mc?T per Kg 1000 x 4.18 x 4 = 16720 Joules
Total -30 oC ice to +4 oC water per Kg = 413420 Joules / KG
q = heat energy
m = mass
c = specific heat
?T = change in temperature
?Hf = heat of fusion
One metric tonne of water has a volume of one cubic meter (1 tonne water(1,000 KG = 1 m³)
One gagatonne of water has a volume of one billion cubic meters, or one cubic kilometer.(1 Gt water = 1 km³)Of course, one gigatonne of ice has a greater volume than one gigatonne of water. But it will still have a volume of 1 km³ when it melts.
413420 Joules/KG x 1000 KG/t x 1,000,000,000 t/KM^3 = 4.1342E+17 Joules / KM^3
But you say ‘DD’ how does this compare to the well known ‘Hiroshima bomb’ measurement.
By today’s standards the two bombs dropped on a Japan were small — equivalent to 15,000 tons of TNT in the case of the Hiroshima bomb and 20,000 tons in the case of the Nagasaki bomb. (Encyclopedia Americana. Danbury, CT: Grolier, 1995: 532.)
In international standard units (SI), one ton of TNT is equal to 4.184E+09 joule (J)
Hiroshima bomb TNT 15000 x TNT to Joules 4.18E+09 = Joules total 6.276E+13 =>
or 1 KM^3 of ice melt (4.1342E+17 / 6.276E+13) = # HiroBmb per Km^3 = 6587
That is correct. Place one Hiroshima bomb in a grid every 54 meters apart to melt the ice.
How about all that ‘Missing Heat’? Ocean heat content has increased by about 2.5 X 10E23 Joules since 1970 (IPCC AR5).
So 2.5 X 10E23 Joules / 4.1342 x 10E17 Joules/KM^3 = 604,712 KM^3
Well that sounds like a lot of ice, but Antarctica has between 26 and 30 million and Greenland has 2.5 million of those KM^3, so in reality it works out to 604,712 / 30,000,000 = 2.02% of the total.
Please tell me to what accuracy in percentage has the volume of ice has been measured since 1970?

Noted. Good reference for land ice-to-water volume heat exchange.

Wow, Again Thank you for so informative and concise post here. So , the oceans to depth have warmed by a hot whopping three hundredth’s of a deg. C. Holy split hair Batman! There have been some great comments in other threads here regarding temperature measurement and accuracy that noted the near impossible precision of hundredth’s of degree with regard to the variety of measurement tools and mechanical limitations as well as the challenge of measuring the vast medium of water in the oceans. Sooooo 3 hundredth’s deg. C warming of the oceans is a stunning number in my mind because it seems impossible to measure something so big to such a fine precision worthy of a Swiss watch. How close can we measure a warming trend to Zero warming? becomes my question….

I love that precision as well. If I do the math right (using Cp for plain water) in order to heat the ocean’s mass of 1.4 x 10²² kg up by 0.01°C would require something like 5.87 x 10²² Joules of energy. The surface area of the ocean (according to that awful source, Wikipedia) is 361 million km² or 3.61 x 10^14 m². Now simple division says each square meter of ocean surface needs to absorb an additional 1.62 x 10^8 Joules of energy over x amount of time and lose none of it through evaporation, convection or radiation. That Mann made part of the atmospheric CO2 must be some really powerful stuff to overcome all those obstacles while being less than 0.00005% of the atmosphere’s gases.

But…but…that is 0.3degC per CENTURY. We are DOOMED.

David A

You forgot about the other 2000 feet of ocean. Supposedly that will slowly warm as well, which means .15 per century.


0.3 degree/century.
At 0.3 degree/year – possibly a cause for concern, but – what about adaptation?
The natural world adapted to this coming out of the Little Ice Age [and going into it, and the Roman . . . . ahhh, sugar, it’s normal.
At 0.3 degree/decade – even if we agree a smooth increase, which, despite the spin there has not been for two decades . . . . – well, noted, I suppose, until the cycles turn.
And still within natural variation it is suggested!
0.3 degree/century.- right. Warn me if an Ice Age comes, please.
And some – not all – recent Ice Ages have befallen our planet in a matter of a decade or three it seems.
Be very wary.

The top couple of microns of the ocean surface is totally opaque to long wave radiation (atmospheric radiation) so 100% of greenhouse radiation will be absorbed there.
I have made careful detailed measurements there with IR guns and there is no surface temperature difference between a clear sky and a fully overcast sky even though there is up to 140 watts difference in radiation. (The surface temperature should rise several degrees a second)
What atmospheric radiation does is directly cause evaporation which instantly cools the surface.
Solar shortwave radiation though, is absorbed in the ocean and warms it. The ‘regulator’ for that is clouds. More clouds mean ocean cooling, less clouds mean ocean warming.


What atmospheric radiation does is directly cause evaporation which instantly cools the surface.

Evaporated water mixes with air. What happens then? Does it cool ground by blocking sunshine or does it warm it by preventing IR outflow? How latitude, time of day, humidity etc affect? For how long the increased water vapour is supposed to stay? This is not really trivial.

Indeed it’s not trivial, some water molecules may fall back to the surface again, condensing and releasing latent heat in the boundary layer between water and air. However increased evaporation makes the total air lighter as lighter water molecules (molar mass 18) mixes with air (molar mass 29). This makes it rise by convection and adiabatic cooling of the rising parcel makes the waper vapor to condense again, hence forming clouds, hence shielding the sun and providing a formidable negative feedback to heating.

Hugh, I agree it isn’t trivial. The vapor is transparent to sunshine and the convection is adiabatic so it doesn’t heat the surrounding air. The water vapour expands and rises so it doesn’t stay around long.

Hence if there are less clouds, then the ocean can take up more heat, now, guess what, there were less clouds roughly in the last 1.5 decade:
Hence. it appears to be that simple, the reason of the unbalance of radiation at the TOA and why the ocean took about 90% of the missing heat.
But it has nothing to do whatsoever with greenhouse effect, just cloud variation.

leftturnandre, “But it has nothing to do whatsoever with greenhouse effect, just cloud variation.”
You are 100% correct as far as I can tell.

And it is the sun that did it as described here:

Just look at that change of trend at 2000.
I’ve been drawing attention to that since 2007.
That is when the change in the level of solar activity began to create a change in global cloudiness.
It also coincided with a cessation of stratospheric cooling.
And a recovery of the ozone holes.
Not only was AGW a fantasy but so was the CFC panic.
Nobel prize awaited 🙂

Genghis, the essays Humidity is still wet and Cloudy Clouds in Blowing Smoke show how nontrivial your ocean evaporation example is. And essay Models all the way Down explains why climate models will not be able to model the essential processes for decades, if ever at all.

Rud, that was funny, (and accurate).
They have to show how increasing CO2 decreases evaporation and cloud coverage in order to increase the radiative imbalance.
Obviously it doesn’t. So they are left with nothing more than false circular reasoning.

Ghengis said:
“I have made careful detailed measurements there with IR guns and there is no surface temperature difference between a clear sky and a fully overcast sky even though there is up to 140 watts difference in radiation. (The surface temperature should rise several degrees a second)
What atmospheric radiation does is directly cause evaporation which instantly cools the surface.”
Excellent, Ghengis.
You have experimentally confirmed a contention I have been putting forward for some years.
Due to evaporation being a net cooling process it follows that if DWIR from GHGs causes more evaporation then the amount of energy taken up in evaporation as latent heat will EXCEED the energy required to provoke that evaporation.
Thank you.
See here:

Stephen, I read your new climate model and let me point out a couple of differences in how I see it.
Atmospheric (not solar) radiation decreases the net radiation from the ocean surface and increases the evaporation and convection rate.
Solar radiation bypasses the atmosphere and warms the ocean. The average temperature of the Ocean is apx. ~5˚C, while the apx. surface temperature of the Ocean is 22˚C.
There is where the Greenhouse warming is, just below the surface of the ocean.

Genghis, atmospheric radiation doesn’t descrease ‘net radiation’ from the ocean surface. The atmospheric TEMPERATURE does that. There is no radiative FLUX (energy transfer) from the cool atmosphere to the warmer surface. There is only a temperature POTENTIAL facing the surface temperature potential, generating a spontaneous radiative (heat) flux from warm to cool, from sfc to atm. If the atmosphere warms without the surface doing the same, the difference in temperature potentials is reduced and the heat flux from the surface to the atmosphere is consequently reduced as well.
P/A = es(T_sfc^4 – T_atm^4)
P/A is the only radiative flux involved here, the heat transfer. The righthand side of the equation simply shows the temperature POTENTIALS. These potentials would constitute real radiative heat fluxes only if the two bodies were isolated from each other and surrounded by perfect vacuums at 0 K.
Don’t look at this formula thinking that you see two physically opposing thermodynamic fluxes (transfers) of energy. That concept is only mathematically derived. In reality, in the real physical world, there is but one flux, one transfer of energy, and in a spontaneous heat transfer situation, it always and only moves from hot to cold.


I agree Genghis; I’ve seen (in numerous places) that radiated IR from carbon dioxide can only affect the very top layer of the ocean. The net effect is to increase evaporation, thus causing a small amount of cooling at the surface (via loss of latent heat).

Thank you xyxxy, also the surface is generally cooler than the water just below it, never warmer.

Frans Franken

Can you please elaborate on the detailed measurements you made with IR guns? Thanks in advance.


The top couple of microns of the ocean surface is totally opaque to long wave radiation (atmospheric radiation) so 100% of greenhouse radiation will be absorbed there.
100% of nuthin is nuthin Genghis……………………..

John Larson

This is why we use water to cool engines instead of air – although I used to have a 1959 VW bug with an air cooled engine. Using water is much more efficient.

Except the VW’s were not a good car for winter driving. They were COLD and what little heat you did get had to be used to keep the windshield clear.

But having the engine right on top of the drive wheels helped a lot in the snow and slush, right?

Steve Case

I can’t get past Dr. Josh Willis and the story about his Correcting Ocean Cooling.


Is that the one where he threw out the ARGO data which didn’t fit his predetermined theory?


I am surprised that the alarmist didn’t use erg’s instead of joules. That would seem to fit their narrative better.


I don’t think greens make a difference between 1e10J and 1e30J. Thats a scientist thingy.


What’s a few zeros, when we’re talking about the end of the world?

That magnitude thing is evil and the eco-loons want no part of them… Dirty Harry had one he clung to.

Gary Pearse

Or electron-volts (1.6e^-19 joules).

lol, that is so funny!

Mr Pettersen

If the oceans are warm how come we have more seaice than ever?
According to we have 11.million square km in the arctic and 15 millionsquare km in the Antarctic. In 1979 when record begins we have 24,7 million square km total. At first look it seems that 24-25 is the normal average.


Because the missing heat is hiding in the deep ocean, where conveniently it cannot be measured. Kevin is clever. You have to be nimble to stay on top in CACA Crazytown.

This discussion of heat absorption assumes the Earth is a closed system; the heat comes in to the planet, but it does not leave the planet. However, hurricanes and typhoons are the air conditioning units of our planet. As the heat of the ocean builds up, it generates cyclones, which have a strong vertical column of rising hot air. As the column rises high enough to puncture the upper atmosphere, the heat becomes radiated into space as infrared light and the resulting cold damp air returns to Earth. Factor the radiated heat during cyclones into the equation and it should all balance out.

David, “As the heat of the ocean builds up, it generates cyclones, which have a strong vertical column of rising hot air. As the column rises high enough to puncture the upper atmosphere, the heat becomes radiated into space as infrared light and the resulting cold damp air returns to Earth. Factor the radiated heat during cyclones into the equation and it should all balance out.”
The problem with that theory is that the tops of the cyclones are extremely cold. The cyclones radiate less IR radiation to space.
But the process does do a lot of things, it extracts heat from the ocean, expands the atmosphere (work) and blocks Solar long wave radiation from entering the system and increases LW radiation in the surrounding area.


Is a rate of rate of about 0.03 deg C/decade within the error bars of the measurements? In other words is it real?
The extra heat absorption is hypothetical. It is extra only if all else remains the same.
Thus a hypothetical extra heat produces little or no actual temperature rise. Some heat seems to be missing? Maybe its warming Pachauri et als homes?


“Is a rate of rate of about 0.03 deg C/decade within the error bars of the measurements? In other words is it real?”
As a result of having had some experience of measuring the temperature of liquids under laboratory conditions – let alone measuring the temperature of the whole of the World’s oceans, I very much doubt it.
As with so many of the numbers bandied about by the WGW religionists it just looks like another example of False Precision Syndrome to me.

Bruce Hall

If the vast oceans temper any atmospheric warming, do the much smaller Great Lakes have the same effect? Given last year’s freeze-over followed by a cold year in the Central USA followed by an early freezing this year, does this portend a reinforcing cycle? Or, like heat waves, is this just weather.


Bob, it’s enjoyable to learn from you and simultaneously be entertained at the way you pull the drain plug every time Sou thinks her settled science holds water. Would gladly treat you and yours to chicken dinner at the Do Drop Inn so you could meet the ‘dawter farmers’ from “Hooterville”.


Thanks to you, Bob, I now visit HotWhopper regularly.

Otter (ClimateOtter on Twitter)

I Do hope you bathe afterwards…..

Steve Keohane

Once seemed more than enough.

Steve Oregon

It’s illuminating that there is NO ONE from “The reality-impaired wing of the catastrophic human-induced climate change movement” capable of producing presentations for their case like Bob Tisdale does for skeptics.
In all of their vastness of government, academia and so called settled science they remain shackled with their mendacious bromides, red herrings, analogies and tall tale suppositions.
Interestingly someone sort of tried at RealClimate and it relates to Bob’s work today.
Pielke chimed in.
Roger A. Pielke Sr. says:
20 Oct 2014 at 2:07 PM
Dr. Rahmstorf
You have presented several reasons not to use ocean heat content changes as the metric to diagnose global warming and to present this information to policymakers. Unfortunately, you have not properly framed your reasoning.
First, all physicists would agree that heat is measured in Joules. Thus an increase in Joules is heating. In the context of global warming, it must involve an accumulation of Joules. The ocean is the largest component of the climate system in terms of its heating and cooling. I assume you agree with this…..
…..more at link.

Brandon Gates

Steve Oregon,
I read that thread when it first hit with some interest. Pielke Sr. makes a great point, if I may restate, that Joules are the the only SI unit to use when the question is net change in energy. I don’t think there’s any scientific dispute about that here. However, the science cannot limit itself to Joules when studying the rates of change, or more typically flux per unit area, hence Watts per sq. meter. Ultimately though, one needs to know what effect those energy fluxes have on the system, and in weather (thence climate) pretty much everything is temperature dependent, hence Kelvins. I can’t remember from that thread whether it was Gavin or Stefan who said it … probably both at one point … temperature at or near the surface is most important for them to understand because that’s where the majority of the appreciable effects will occur. Not that they ignore net energy change, or change per unit time — they absolutely cannot ignore them — but they’re most interested ultimately in starting and ending temperature of things since that drives pressure, phase changes, etc. on down the line.
From a policy and public communication perspective, temperature has been the go-to because “nobody” understands Joules, nor cares really. We want to know when we switch on the weather report how warm or cool it’s going to be tomorrow, how cloudy or clear it will be, and whether there will be precipitation — not how many Joules the driveway is going to accumulate from dawn until noon.
Of course, as Tisdale has amply demonstrated an ability to take advantage of, talking change in ocean temperature is not real impressive since “nobody” understands heat capacity, or cares, any more than they do Joules.
Once again the laws of physics in conjunction with Mother Nature work against the consensus policy and public communication efforts because ignorance is bliss. Especially the willful sort.


That is not a helpful graph. All that you have shown is that the heat capcacity of the oceans is much greater than 10^22 J/K. They use units of 10^22 J because that gives whole numbers. You used whole degrees because it is a common unit. But the two data sets do not go together that way. If you wanted to plot together I recommend using mK as the temperature axis or use 10^24 J for the heat axis.

Maurice Strawn, Mike Mann, and assorted members of the climate gate e-mail exchanges,
A Hopi Indian Nation language for them would be “Those Who Make Numbers Dance”, but only to their tunes. Clear case of “Life Out of Balance”.


By a strange coincidence I was using the WUWT data yesterday to check, by the simplest of sums , whether Trenbeth might be correct in his assertion about the oceans storing the heat .
The starting point was the IPCC 4th report (2007) , specifically section 2.9.2 with its charts of :
GHG radiative forcing at 3 W/m^2 and net forcing after aerosol correction at about 1.4W/M^2 .
Assuming a 15 year pause , the Joules accumulated are : 7.1×10^23 and 3.4 x10^23 Joules respectively for the whole earth surface ( 5.1×10^14 m^2).
Now in the data available here , only the ocean heat content and sea level measurements show any consistent, if unsteady, increase during the last 15 years . The estimates that I made from the graphs were , for the last 15 years ;
0-700 m data : 8 x 10^22 Joules accumulated
0-2000 m 1.0 x 10^23 joules .
Not identical to the figures above , but not an order of magnitude out.
Given that some posts here have suggested that the clear air forcing is <3 w/m^2 and that a recent monte carlo study of aerosol scattering of solar input suggests that the cooling effect is greater than IPCC have allowed , then the difference becomes even lower. This to me suggests that Trenbeth's assertion may be correct , but of course there are assumptions , such as that the forcing is the same over land and ocean . Also the mechanism for storing land generated heat in the ocean needs some explanation – but that is what the vast army of climate scientists is being paid for is it not?
Incidentally, I followed some leads from an earlier post of yours which led me to a paper by the paleoclimatologist R A Berners who claimed that during Cretaceous era the depths of the oceans may have reached 14C. And this of course made me think of the coelacanth who , for the last 350 million years has been quietly evolving in whatever ocean plate tectonics has allowed it , whilst continents have collided, asteroids have wreaked mayhem and ice ages have come and gone . Hopefully the clip below will take you to a National Geographic photo of one such individual with a " what me worry " expression;


I made the unfortunate choice of clicking on a link in the article which brought me to hot whopper. In an earlier response to a comment I suggested alarmists would be soon claiming boiling oceans, but yet was still surprised to see this heading to the article the link brought me to.

Why did the water in the kettle boil? Because it got hot!

Yes, that is correct the ocean temperatures rising at a rate of 3 hundredths of a degree centigrade per decade warrants a comparison to a kettle of boiling water. Hot Whopper, apparently a place where common sense is avoided like Ebola. I was tempted to a add a comment telling them to no longer invest in saunas since in 15,000 years the oceans will be boiling, but then thought better of it. Who knows maybe stupid is more contagious than Ebola at Hot Whopper.


Alx, at a rate of 3 deg C per 1000 years, the temperature of the oceans will increase by about 45 deg C in 15,000 years. Did you underestimate the number of years it will take to get the oceans to the boiling point? Or are you saying that the average temperature of the oceans is currently about 55 deg C?


I don’t know many saunas at 100C

I recall getting some warmist numpty (Pekka something) over at Climate etc to acknowledge that if the oceans were absorbing the energy from our CO2 emissions it would take some 3000 years to notice any difference.
In the meantime,note my acknowledgment of the primary importance of the oceans here:
Many thanks to Bob for his continuing efforts in relation to ocean behaviour.

Another buried lede: NODC data “1955.500, -0.013 2013.500, +0.071”
So, in 58 years the oceans of the world changed temperature by 0.084 degrees C. Measured by thermometers that until very recently were accurate to +-0.5 degrees C. In other words the world’s oceans have not warmed measurably.
Bob Tisdale, serial climate lede-burier, great information presented in the most incomprehensible way. Thanks, keep up the good work. I could help with your next one if you like…


I have a point of confusion here. I hope people can help out. I took graph 3, the not zeroed one, and extrapolated the heat content line back to 0 on the Y axis. The graph hits 0 at the year 1993, so at that point the oceans had a heat content of 0.0. The temperature line back to 1993 gives a temperature of -0.043 deg. This obviously makes no physical sense, so the “Joules*10^22” is still being scaled to something? Thanks for any clarification. It is an important point, because the way the data gets presented, it looks like the the ocean’s heat content, and by extension, it’s temperature is doubling every 12 (or so) years.

buck smith

“It is often said that more than 90% of the heat caused by manmade greenhouse gases is absorbed by the oceans. ” The ratio of ocean heat content to atmosphere heat content is more like 1000 to 1 than 9 to 1. How do we know the ocean won’t adsorb 99% of he heat caused by manmade greenhouse gases?

First someone has to explain how the deep oceans absorb any percent. It doesn’t of course, the oceans warm the atmosphere not the other way around.


If it’s going into the Oceans then AGW is not a danger. The world can take it.
But why would the missing heat be going into the Oceans? It wasn’t – supposedly – in the latter part of the 20th Century. What changed?

What has changed is the weather.
In the beginning of the CAGW scare, CO2 killed frogs, spread malaria, increased droughts, created refugees, increased sea level etc. ad nauseum.
In the beginning I don’t recall any mention of CAGW causing bad winters or arctic vortices or temperature hiatuses but, sure enough, these things happened. I’m sure surprising many warmistas.
Now we see them scramble to blame “No warming” on CO2.
Chasing heat around the depths of the seas is the newest tack in obfuscation.
The CAGW theory is dead.

And if its not there no there’s no danger either!

Bob, and or others. Can some one please tell me where I find one of these heat content measuring devices? Last time I studied heat, we called them “thermometers”. Has something changed?


The Challenger Deep at the southern end of the Marianas Trench lies lower than 36,000 feet down. From Wiki:
“At the bottom of the trench the water column above exerts a pressure of 1,086 bars (15,750 psi), over 1000 times the standard atmospheric pressure at sea level. At this pressure the density of water is increased by 4.96%, making 95 litres of water under the pressure of the Challenger Deep contain the same mass as 100 litres at the surface. The temperature at the bottom is 1 to 4 °C. The trench is not the part of the seafloor closest to the center of the Earth.”
Today the sea surface temperature at Guam is 29.4°C. Lots of cold water down there to absorb whatever scant back radiation might be emitted from an extra CO2 molecule out of 10,000 dry air molecules above the western tropical Pacific. Given the amount of H2O in the air, that hypothetical minuscule increase in radiation probably doesn’t occur to any appreciable extent anyway.

Brandon Gates


Lots of cold water down there to absorb whatever scant back radiation might be emitted from an extra CO2 molecule out of 10,000 dry air molecules above the western tropical Pacific. Given the amount of H2O in the air, that hypothetical minuscule increase in radiation probably doesn’t occur to any appreciable extent anyway.

Couple of problems with this. I’ll start with what isn’t a problem. Given water’s short lifetime in the atmosphere and it not being well-mixed, estimating its global percentage of the atmosphere is notoriously difficult. The canonical value is 5,000 ppmv. CO2 at 400 ppmv means there is 12.5 times more water vapor than CO2 in the atmosphere. 5,400 ppmv / 1000 = 5.4% of the atmosphere, or if you like 540 / 10,000 molecules in the atmosphere — and 40 of those 10,000 being CO2. So your “one extra CO2 molecule out of 10,000 dry air molecules” is correct — generous even as you’ve awarded CO2 0.2 of a molecule extra.
Now for the first problem: the balance of the dry atmosphere is mostly composed of diatomic molecules which, by virtue of their symmetric vibrational modes, don’t appreciably absorb/emit in the IR spectrum. So the 0th approximation you’re going for here is that 8% of the greenhouse effect is up to CO2 and 92% is due to water vapor. Right?
Well, no and that’s actually a second problem. Did I mention water vapor is not well-mixed? Where water isn’t in the atmospheric column above the surface, CO2 is. Only now the water molecules aren’t masking a generous portion of CO2’s absorption spectrum, so the CO2 has a greater relative effect in dry conditions. How much? Hold that question because there’s more. Most of the water that evaporates eventually precipitates out in relatively short order (esp. compared to CO2), which generally means being part of a cloud. Clouds are far better emitters than water vapor alone. But … clouds also reflect downwelling solar radiation back out into space. Zillions of other dynamics here to consider as well.
In short, simple ratio calculations aren’t going to cut it.
The only thing for it is to do a lot of theoretical work from first principles — yes, with the help of models because there aren’t enough napkins in the world for the math involved — and then go out and check the resulting hypotheses against observation. Andy Lacis and Kevin Trenberth + friends put together a very readable paper in 2013 which breaks it down for us: Scrolling down about 1/8 of the page, they kindly break down the results of their work. The most relevant figures are the two rightmost columns of the following table:
Table 2. Single-addition and single-subtraction normalised LW greenhouse flux attribution (after Lacis et al., 2010)
LW absorber W m−2 Fraction
H2O 74.70 49.0%
Cloud 37.30 24.4%
CO2 31.00 20.3%

So we’ve gone from 8% of GHGs by volume — which is nothing to sneeze at — to 20% by net global effect. Water in vapor and cloud form combine for 75% of the total GH effect, which by the way according to this paper, sums up to 152.6 W/m^2. Which is a whopping great amount of energy, and it’s quite fortunate that we’ve got CO2’s contribution. If I understand the middle (single subtraction) column of Table 2 correctly, pulling out CO2 completely would lose us 24 W/m^2 of our greenhouse. Multiply that by the canonical rule-of-thumb value of 0.8 K/W*m^-2 = 19.2 K lower temperature at the surface. Brrr.
Not bad for 0.8 molecules / 10,000 in the dry atmosphere. Why shouldn’t we like a molecule that we’ve grown used to having around to keep us warm? All the fuss is, of course, about the 108 ppmv CO2 we’ve added since 1880. (Or sometimes the 122 ppmv since 1750). Another rule of thumb calculation is 5.35*ln(CO2 doubling) gives the change in radiative forcing for a given increase (or decrease) of CO2. So 5.35*ln(1-398/291) = 1.7 W/m^2. By coincidence, factoring in all the other positive and negative forcings from here: and the net change since 1880 is also 1.7 W/m^2.
Which still is a whopping great amount of energy. There are various calculations out there for comparison; mine works out to that being 60 times the flux generated by human industrial activity. If you like Watt hours, it’s 7.774E18 Wh due to increased radiative forcing, vs. 1.317E17 Wh consumed by humans per year.
Apropos the Joules / OHC conversation, it’s 2.799E22 J/year increased forcing, vs. 4.74E20 J/year human energy consumption.
If you’d rather see those figures in terms of the estimated energy imbalance at TOA (0.43 +/- 0.15 W/m^2) multiply the above by 0.2471. About now I’m a bit weary of math, so I’ll leave 0.2471 * 2.799E22 J/year against OHC heat content change for someone else to look at.


Here’s the deal. Over most of the planet, H2O swamps out CO2. The global average is around 30,000 ppm, not 5000. It’s over 40,000 in the moist tropics, but drops to a level comparable to CO2 in the cold polar desert regions, which is where CO2 can have an effect.
But here’s the rub. In those regions, the GHE occurs mainly at night and in the long winters, when it makes little to no difference. If Barrow, Alaska’s average winter (night) temperature is, say, -26 degrees C, then adding one degree from a doubling of CO2 (which of course hasn’t happened yet & well might not do so over the next century), raises this only to -25 degrees.
Allowing for CO2’s higher radiative effect doesn’t compensate for its bands already being swamped by H2O over most of the planet, where it might matter.
The upshot is that adding about one CO2 molecule per 10,000 dry air molecules since AD 1750 has so far had no detectable effect, especially since the global average of H20 is two orders of magnitude higher. Will adding two more (to make six) CO2 molecules be measurable? Maybe, but it will also be negligible, restricted in effect & geographical range.
So for a first order approximation, just taking straight percentage of GHG molecules in the air is close enough for government work. There is no basis for concern, let alone alarm, over the so far beneficial increase in CO2 & none even for two more molecules per 10,000, should that ever happen, which is unlikely.

Brandon Gates


Over most of the planet, H2O swamps out CO2.
Known since 1896 when Arrhenius scripted ΔF = α*ln(C/C0). Nailing down alpha has taken some doing, but the genius was figuring out the natural log.

The global average is around 30,000 ppm, not 5000.

Oh goody, dueling citations. Here’s what I’ve got: What are you packing?

So for a first order approximation, just taking straight percentage of GHG molecules in the air is close enough for government work.

Well then I guess Lacis and Hansen are overachievers:
The really good stuff starts about midway down, where they meticulously detail day/night differences, overlaps with water vapor, temperature and pressure considerations, reference a TON of previous work on line by line spectral analysis …
… but a simple analogy may work here as well. Which would you expect to effect the greatest change in pH of 1 liter of distilled water, 10 mL of a 1 M solution of acetic acid, or 2 mL of a 1 M solution of sulfuric acid? Your ratio calculation would get you an F- on that question fer dang sure.

There is no basis for concern, let alone alarm, over the so far beneficial increase in CO2 & none even for two more molecules per 10,000, should that ever happen, which is unlikely.

I’m not big on alarm. Every time I look at Fig. 13 in the Lacis, Hansen paper I cited I do gnash my teeth a bit. Specifically I just don’t cotton to the climate disaster and runaway danger captions just north of 450 W/m^2. There’s no scenario in the worst IPCC nightmares that gets us to that in a 100 year planning horizon, much less 50. Plus it’s a ridiculously busy plot.
At the same time, I’m not real impressed with the “more CO2 is more better argument”, especially as delivered by a community who so often trades in arguments that rely on how much we don’t know — a la your “no noticeable effect” argument. We’re awash in paper after paper pointing out detectable, directly observable, traceable effects. I’m not talking photos of “cute” polar bears stranded on ice floes, insect populations creeping to higher latitudes, etc., but direct evidence backed by physics, chemistry, spectroscopy — the hardest of hard sciences.
I’m more than happy to discuss forward looking uncertainty when it comes to models. The sociological/economic impacts alone are about as unpredictable as it gets, let alone stuff that, say, big agra is going to need to know about to keep us fed and themselves profitable at the same time. But no detectable influences looking back in time? Methinks it takes either very devoted blind-spot cultivation or complete ignorance due to total lack of interest to say that with a straight face.

Brandon Gates

Aargh, blockquote tag fail …


Bob, Please can you add the word “ANOMALY” to “Ocean Heat Content” at the top of Figures 2 and 3.
The Ocean Heat content was not zero in 2005 😉

Jim G

As more than one of my calculus professors were delighted to do when skipping multiple steps in a proof, I would comment that with a globe covered with 70% water the fact that the oceans have a substantial and moderating effect upon climate should be intuitively obvious. And I use “moderating” in the absolute sense, not to be understood as causing a moderate climate, but that the effects of oceans substantially change the effects of all other variables effecting climate. And there are many, most of which have not been quantified, particularly their complex interactions.

Good post Bob Tisdale.
The Cult of Calamitous Climate seems to deny the obvious, that our planet is 70% covered by water.
I guess one deprogramming technique would be to force the believer to share a room with a large tank of water, no amount of fiddling with the thermostat will provide the instant gratification we desire.
I have noticed a trend of late an increasing use of weaselling phrases and a twisting away from the consensus standard, the land surface temperature record is apparently no longer a reliable prop for the cause.


Katastrophic Klimate Kult?

Global cooling

Yes, indeed. Heating the swimming pool room is hopeless and heating the swimming pool requires a lot of energy.

Dead on

Eugene WR Gallun

Cult of Calamitous Climate — got to love it.
Eugene WR Gallun


CCC is not KKK.
The original reference was meant to… Sigh, the internet is a slough of despond.


The CACA Cult.
{Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Alarmism Cult}


Oops–sorry for using brackets.

Great work Bob, and very interesting to read. However I think that our ability to read ocean temperatures is a lot less than 0.03 degrees C./decade at present and the error and noise is larger than the result. Also the fact that the oceans are sucking up heat, only really shows that there have been less clouds recently (since the 1980s) and has absolutely nothing to do with poor old CO2.

Eugene WR Gallun

i have a question.
It seems to me that the oceans did not magically start absorbing heat when CO2 rose a few years back. The oceans must have been absorbing heat before CO2 rose. Even if we grant that there has been a rise in surface temperature of a couple degrees with the rise in CO2 — that rise in temperature is very small compared to the previous surface temperature. (Starting surface temp. +_extra CO2 heat of a couple of degrees is still almost the same as the starting surface temperature.)
Therefore most of the heat absorbtion occurring now was occurring before the rise in CO2. So if you measure the heat rise of the oceans now — it must be rising at almost exactly the same rate as it was before the rise in CO2 and the extra heat that CO2 has supposedly generated.
So it seems to me whatever rise is being measured in ocean temperature is “natural” and is a function of the surface temperature and has been occurring for thousands of years — with the new extra CO2 heat adding practically nothing to that rise.
You seem to be attributing all the rise in ocean temperature (as small as it may be) to CO2 heat. But really on a tiny tiny percentage of that tiny tiny rise could possible be caused by CO2 heat.
My question? What am I missing? I drank more Wild Turkey for Thanksgiving than I ate of turkey and seem to have suffered extensive brain damage. So is my idea a turkey that can’t fly???
Eugene WR Gallun

Brandon Gates


Therefore most of the heat absorbtion occurring now was occurring before the rise in CO2. So if you measure the heat rise of the oceans now — it must be rising at almost exactly the same rate as it was before the rise in CO2 and the extra heat that CO2 has supposedly generated.

For your conclusions to be sound, you’d have to have (at a bare minimum) a pretty good handle on where the energy was coming from and going, how much CO2 was in the atmosphere, when those changes happened, at what rates, and why. Which brings me to …

So it seems to me whatever rise is being measured in ocean temperature is “natural” and is a function of the surface temperature and has been occurring for thousands of years …

… from what source have you determined the trends in ocean and surface temperatures over the past thousand years?

Eugene WR Gallun

So are you saying that the oceans just started absorbing heat when the pause began? That before the pause the heat absorption and heat loss of the oceans were in perfect balance?
And so before the pause, even though air temperatures were rising, the oceans were not absorbing heat? Then suddenly when air temperatures reached a certain level Mother Nature waved her hand and the oceans began absorbing heat like a son-of-burp? And thus we have the pause?
My common sense says that seems unlikely.
I think about this and say either the oceans absorb a truly tiny tiny amount of heat (or no heat at all) or the oceans have been absorbing heat for millions (sorry about that thousands written above) of years.
So if you want a factor affecting climate over millions of years i announce the continual warming of the oceans. So have the oceans been warming over millions of years? Damned if i know. I am the theorist and leave the petty details (like data) to others. (We theorists don’t need no stinkin’ data.}
For the oceans to be warming long term they would have to absorb more heat then they emit — but as they continued to warm, still the heat they were emitting would also rise ( a warming ocean emits more heat but what it emts, of course, never exceeds what it absorbs.
So anyway, to get back to my original post if the oceans are continually warming you have subtract the amount of “natural” warming from the warming shown by recent collected data.
if the deep oceans have been warming over millions of years that warming would have to be very very small. You would be surprised how big numbers get when you start to multiple them by many millions.
Is this too looney for WUWT. Should i try posting on Real Clear Science.
Eugene WR Gallun
I still have not recovered from the Wild Turkey.


The oceans warm by insolation. CO2, GHE, IR, none of these contribute heat to the ocean. There is a small, indeterminable amount of geothermal heat contributed to the oceans but nothing from the atmosphere.
This is what Tisdale neglects to make clear. Here is the truth: IR does not, cannot warm water.
The keerap about CO2 and missing heat is just more bogus science from the evermore desperate AGW crowd.
Your common sense serves you well, but the global warmers have little of that.


“The oceans warm by insolation. CO2, GHE, IR, none of these contribute heat to the ocean. There is a small, indeterminable amount of geothermal heat contributed to the oceans but nothing from the atmosphere.
This is what Tisdale neglects to make clear. Here is the truth: IR does not, cannot warm water.”
“For absorbency of water with respect to IR, it is measured as less than ten microns.”
Surely a discrepancy here?
If the water absorbs the IR it must heat up, if it heats up some might be lost by evaporation but some heat will conduct to the water below.
It is part of insolation, you know?

Thanks, Bob, for putting things in perspective and context.
Figure 3 and its caption are excellent!


Well it is just as well the heat is hiding in the oceans. I remember reading that the top 3 metres of the ocean has as much heat capacity as the whole of the atmosphere. So if enough heat is accumulating that the top 2000 metres is raised by 0.03C/decade, just think what would have occurred if all that heat had ended up in the atmosphere – better hope we don’t get any 1998 style El Nino’s soon.

Spice Cat

Looking at the CO2 graph on the CO2 page at WUWT, on the 160K timescale the track is very spiky and seems to generally track global temperatures. We are in a spike at present but the Ocean temperatures are not changing! From my personal experience of fizzy beverages I would expect more CO2 in the headspace when the liquid is warmer, however CO2 concentration in the air is increasing, but temperature in the ocean is not.
Also there was a spike during the last interglacial and that could not have been caused by man.
Anyone know what causes these spikes? In any event there looks to be an efficient negative feedback process in place, not that higher CO2 levels appear to be a problem.

Thanks for this, Bob. I have always been suspicious of the ocean energy content thing because it was not reflected in sea level change. This is much better.
A simple analysis at “agwunveiled” identifies two factors that explain average global temperature change since before 1900, including the flat of the last decade or so, with 95% correlation. It also posits a mechanism for why CO2 change has no significant effect on climate.

Bruce Sanson

I have real trouble accepting the accuracy of the ARGO data–see adjustments

Bill Illis

The ocean heat content absorption is actually a small number. It is again about half of what was originally expected.
It is equivalent to 0.55 W/m2/year which is far less than the human-made forcing of 2.3 W/m2/year and the feedbacks which should be on-top of that of 1.7 W/m2/year. In other words, the energy is escaping almost as fast as CO2 is supposed to be slowing it down.
Slightly rising temperatures and slightly rising ocean heat content is not what the 3.0C per doubling of CO2 theory predicts.
0.8 10^22 joules/year can also be compared to the annual solar radiation budget which is 386.4 10^22 joules/year.

Robert B

The oceans are warming at a rate of 1 billion Hiroshima bombs per decade, not 0.003°C per year.


You are quite wrong.
The oceans are warming at the rate of 6.03 x 10^23 barbecued chickens per annum.

Come on M Painter, this is a science site. How much do these chickens weigh? And were they sauced or is it just me?

Robert B

Just pointing out of the preferred units of alarmism, Bob. I forgot the \sarc

Don Gleason

Your graph seems to say that OHC increased about 70% in eight years….not sure that’s what you mean.

Bill Illis

The figures are in anomalies from some baseline.
Just did a little number crunching. The absolute heat content of the oceans is somewhere around 1.5 10^27 joules in total just using the average temperature of the oceans on average (3.9C). (And also ignoring the energy contained inside the atom structure of the ocean molecules which would be a shockingly monstrous number).
So, if the ocean heat content is rising at 0.8 10^22 / year, that is only 0.0005% of total per year.

Don Gleason

Missed the reference to ‘anomalies’ in the OHC data.

Somehow I can’t wrap my brain around joules. How much has the global ocean temperature increased since 1979 in F or C??

Bill Illis

For those trying to understand joules.
1 joule is the equivalent of 3,018,412,315,122,250,000 photons from the Sun.
In 1 second at mid-day, the Sun provides about 1000 joules over 1 metre by 1 metre (or 3 10^21 photons).
In 1 year, the Earth gets about 11,663,145,185,632,400,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 photons from the Sun.
So generally, we are talking about a huge number of photons from the Sun being absorbed in the electrons in the trillions upon trillions of molecules on Earth every second.
These electrons in the trillions upon trillions of molecules emit that energy back to space and back to the atmosphere as Infra-Red (IR) photons. Each 1 joule of IR energy at Earth temperature is equivalent to 15,092,061,575,611,200,000 photons (yes there are more of them). The earth emits, …
…. 58,315,725,928,161,800,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 IR photons back to space each year.
Are you starting to see the picture here. There is just an untold amount of photons flying through everything and being absorbed by everything and being emitted by everything all the time and every single picosecond. And not just an untold amount, it is a staggering monstrous number hitting you every single second.
How many solar photons are being absorbed into the electrons of the oceanic molecules each year?
– 24,147,298,520,978,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.00 that is.
Did that help? Probably not. But I dare you to figure out how a doubled CO2 effects any of those numbers. Climate science just faked it.

David A

Bill, are all photons =?


You really loved those Calvin and Hobbes comics, didn’t you Bob? You have that mischievous “Calvin’esque” type slant to this article. I love it. Keep your sense of humor.

John Finn

While Bob’s post is undoubtedly correct, it is worth noting that the accumulation of energy in the oceans looks to be reasonably consistent with Hansen’s energy imbalance estimate of 0.85 watts/m2.
If we assume all ‘excess’ energy has gone into the oceans since 2005, i.e. the surface/air temperature has remained unchanged and nothing has gone towards melting ice then the 8.64×10^22 Joules per decade equates to an imbalance of ~0.76 watts per m2. That’s based on a quick calculation made after a couple of pints and a brandy so I could be wrong – but I don’t think I’m too far out.
If correct, though, it does suggest that surface warming could pick up quite strongly again in the future.


Hansen’s guess [sorry, estimate] may be incorrect.
There may be no “excess” energy to go into the oceans as it is all hypothetical.
If it follows the current pattern there is no logical reason to expect surface warming to change at all as the hypothetical energy has not caused a rise in 18 years [RSS].
Therefore how could it cause one in the next 18 years.
Wishful thinking is not rational thinking.

Bill 2

If there’s no excess energy going into the ocean, why is ocean heat content increasing? Magic?

Brandon Gates

Bill 2,

If there’s no excess energy going into the ocean, why is ocean heat content increasing? Magic?

[chortle] May as well be since Bob only trusts adjusted data when it suits his argument.

Bill Illis

John Finn, Hansen’s estimate of ocean heat content is in W/m2. It is not the same as the heat content in joules that Bob is noting here.
There are conversion formulae. 1.0 W/m2 equals 1.13 10^22 joules over one year across the whole oceans.
1.0 W/m2 across the whole Earth surface over one year equals 1.62 10^22 joules.
Since the Earth land surface and the atmosphere are accumulating basically 0.0 joules right now, maybe 0.02 10^22 joules going into ice-melt if that is not exaggerated, …
… One can calculate that only 0.5 W/m2 is being absorbed by the Earth each year.
Then there is also a question about how Hansen came up with his 0.85 W/m2 should be there, because his earlier work was much higher than that. He would have had to up his estimate of the increased outgoing long-wave radiation to lower his estimate. That was not shown however.

John Finn

There are conversion formulae. 1.0 W/m2 equals 1.13 10^22 joules over one year across the whole oceans.

Quite, So 1.0 w/m2 over a decade = 11.3 x 10^22 per decade. Bob reports an increase of 8.64 x 10^22 Joules per decade and therefore
Energy absorption = 8.64/11.3 = 0.76 w/m2
Exactly as I calculated using a long-winded method.

… One can calculate that only 0.5 W/m2 is being absorbed by the Earth each year.

Not if you use the data presented in Bob’s post you can’t. This is a bit of a concern. I was expecting much lower rates of OHC uptake particularly given the weak solar activity since 2005.

Ian Schumacher

Isn’t heat content approximately proportional to temperature? Therefore, the percentage change in temperature should equal the percentage change in heat content (and the slopes of the two lines should look the same on a percentage change basis). This isn’t strictly true if one considers state-changes (i.e. ice to water), or an increase in volume due to melting glaciers or aquifer depletion. Presumably there IS a difference due to these factors (otherwise why even mention it), but to appreciate the difference we need to see both temperature and heat-content plotted as percentage change, otherwise we are comparing apples and oranges. Does anyone know of a plot comparing percentage difference?

Doug Proctor

Oops. With even a sarcastic suggestion, I’m expecting you to receive enough offers for coffee that your tonsils will be floating in caffeine to 2050.


So we’re talking 0.3 deg C / century … about 1/10th of the IPCC guessamate

Pete Brown

Seriously, does anyone honestly think 3000 is a suffiently big number when referring to the number of devices used for measuring the temperature of the Earth’s oceans?
It is a drop in the ocean…

Catherine Ronconi

The floats are also adrift and poorly distributed, but better than what came before them.
It will probably never be possible adequately to take the planet’s average temperature from its surface. That would require millions (5.1 million if one per 100 sq km, ie an area a little smaller than San Francisco) of perfectly sited, perfectly functioning thermometers, requiring power sources which would introduce error for which adjustments would not be standard, simple and easy.
In Gavin’s simple faith, data from a surface station 1200 kilometers distant is OK. In that case, only 113 stations would be required, of which the US would merit just two, possibly at sea level in Florida and atop Mt. McKinley, Alaska, with an intermediate station in southern Saskatchewan.

Jeez, I can’t even get a first comment past moderation at hot slopper. Go figure!

Brandon Gates

gymnosperm, I believe every comment from everyone at HW is moderated and that Sou manually reviews each one before approving. Try back during waking hours in Australia.


Why bother?

douglas cassel

I am not an expert, but a large portion of the overall heat of the earth comes from radioactive decay within the earth itself. The conduction of this heat to the earth’s surface is quite dependent upon lave flows beneath the oceans. Seemingly substantial variations in heat flow related to changes in lava flow could have far greater impact upon Ocean temperatures than atmospheric conditions. Has anyone considered this?

Brandon Gates

douglas cassel,

Has anyone considered this?

But of course. In consideration of it we might want to ask some questions:
1) How much a portion of the energy put into the oceans can be explained by heat rising up from the mantle through the crust?
2) How do fluids behave when they’re heated from the bottom up vs. top down?
3) Are undersea volcanoes responsible for the 100k/40k year glaciation cycles?
4) With all that energy coming up from below, why isn’t the day/night temperature more constant?


According to Al Gore it is ‘millions of degrees’ just two kilometres below the surface. So yes it has been considered.
Do I need /sarc?