Plankton Redux

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Back in 2010 I wrote a post called “Walking the Plank-ton“. In that post I baldly stated that claims of a 40% loss in plankton since 1950 were totally bogus. However, I also admitted that I didn’t know why or where they’d made a mistake, and I really had no data to show that they were wrong.

phytoplanktonFigure 1. Global distribution of phytoplankton. Lowest concentration is purple and blue, middle concentration is green, highest concentration is yellow and red. Source

So I was overjoyed today to find an article entitled Ocean’s hidden green plankton revealed by fixing glitch in model. The article totally agreed with me, saying that the claims of a 40% loss in plankton were indeed bogus. The conclusion of the article was:

In other words, estimates of plankton death were previously exaggerated more than sixfold in much of the oceans.

I bring this up for three reasons. First, of course, is so I can say “I told you so”. Hey, I’m not going to deny it, validation is indeed sweet, particularly when it is long-delayed like this.

The second reason I bring it up is to highlight that I made my judgement on the study solely on the basis of a lifetime spent on, in, and under the ocean. I didn’t know why they’d gotten the bad results. Here’s what I said at the time:

So where did the Nature paper go wrong?

The short answer is that I don’t know … but I don’t believe their results. The paper is very detailed, in particular the Supplementary Online Information (SOI). It all seems well thought out and investigated … but I don’t believe their results. They have noted and discussed various sources of error. They have compared the use of Secchi disks as a proxy, and covered most of the ground clearly … and I still don’t believe their results.

If the authors of the study had actually spent the same amount of time observing the ocean that they spent observing their model of the ocean, they might have doubted their own results and saved themselves much grief. So I bring this up to show that sometimes a lifetime of experience may indeed be worth more than a lifetime of study.

Finally, I bring this up to point out that once again, Watts Up With That is not just ahead of the curve—it is years ahead of the curve, five years in this case. My profound thanks to Anthony and the moderators for the creation and maintenance of this marvelous scientific agora, where ideas can get peer-reviewed immediately by some of the best minds in the game.

Best of life to everyone,

w.

My Usual Request: If you disagree with me or anyone, please quote the exact words you disagree with. I can defend my own words. I cannot defend someone’s interpretation of my words.

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126 thoughts on “Plankton Redux

  1. If it had all died off we would be starting to run out of O2, which we are not.
    So ‘multiple lines of evidence’ do not support a mass death of plankton.

    • indeed. some of the issues surrounding plankton surveys are similar to those with fish surveys. timing and location are everything. currently fish populations in the north east atlantic (the eastern part anyway) are booming with some species showing tremendous increases year on year (haddock, cod and a few others) ,this indicates plankton levels (phytoplankton and zooplankton) are not only increasing but the timing of production is coinciding with the end of the larval stage of the gadoid species.

      there have been many changes in species distribution in the north sea, the irish sea and celtic sea in the last two decades due to the increase in temperature of these waters during the warm phase of the amo. mackerel have expanded their range along with european sea bass as have invertebrates like spider crabs and velvet swimming crabs, all in a northerly direction. in my area the velvet swimming crabs appeared inshore virtually overnight in the late nineties at the same time the spider crab disappeared, i fully expect this to reverse as the amo moves into the cool phase and the nao trends negative in the coming years.

      • Surely Anthony needs thanks for keeping this up despite of all the cack-throwing. But,

        Finally, I bring this up to point out that once again, Watts Up With That is not just ahead of the curve—it is years ahead of the curve, five years in this case.

        This could well be explained on the contrarian nature of people present by itself. If you always disagree, you are bound to be provably right sometimes. Kinda like what I think about FB. I’m not using and not going to use, and I say I’m years ahead, not 10 years late. I hope. The same way I do claim climate change happens and some global warming is human-induced, and I hope I am right when I say there is no reason to expect C-AGW.

    • So according to the map, the highest plankton is in the Great Lakes, and other similar global fresh water bodies.

      Just for the record, the California Coastal region currently has mucho plankton, and it is also colored red, so you can see it. Unfortunately, critters like the Dungeness Crab like to eat the red plankton so it makes them taste bad. Eat enough and you can get sick, so they are calling off the commercial “fishing” season for Dungeness crab.

      Now they haven’t made a big news deal out of it yet, but if you check your grocery store in the vegetables section, you cannot find Oleander there at the present time, because it too apparently can make you sick, like red tide Dungeness crab.

      Now between you and me, I wouldn’t waste my time or money on Dungeness crab at any time. Simply isn’t worth the effort trying to get the meat out of the tiny legs.

      But the waters off Northern California still have plenty of fishes that don’t eat red tide plankton, and I would rather have a good piece of Hawaiian Opah from Monterey Bay, in an el nino year, than all the Dungeness crab you can stack on your boat.

      And don’t let your children try to make tea for their dolls, out of Oleander flowers. There are probably other things besides Dungeness crab, and Oleander, that are inedible for humans.

      g

      • Thanks, George. I can see the ocean from my house, a small blue triangle between the hills. The whole coast where I live has been affected by the Dungeness crab ban. Neither the sport nor the commercial seasons have opened. The Dungeness are currently being affected by what is often called a “red tide”. Red tides occur periodically and not uncommonly around the planet, and have since forever. They contain poisonous dinoflagellates, which can accumulate in filter feeders. Filter feeders are the animals that make a living filtering the ocean water and eating whatever gets filtered out. Examples are anchovies, sardines, oysters, mussels, and clams.

        Note that “red tides” containing such poisonous dinoflagellates are so common, and have been understood for so many years, that we have the long-standing rule to only eat oysters during months that have an “r” in them (because they “r” safe, you see …). The dangerous months are the summer months, when such red tides are most common.

        Here on the northwest coast of the US, of late the ocean has been anomalously warm. This is suspected of being the reason for the late-season red tide. However, the real reasons for such outbreaks of poisonous dinoflagellates remains unknown. You can get algal blooms both with and without poisonous dinoflagellates.

        The good news is, as you point out, there are lots of kinds of seafood that are not affected by the red tides. The bad news is that there are hundreds of businesses up and down the coast that depend on either the crabs or the crab fishermen, and they will feel the pinch.

        All the best,

        w.

      • Hi Willis,

        As the resident expert on oceans and fishing, I have a question:

        Will the crabbing ban result in lots more Dungeness crabs after the ban is lifted? It would seem so, but I’m just a landlubber. I figure you’re the one to ask.

        Also, I heard that many years ago the restaurants in S.F. used to pile their food refuse/waste onto garbage scows and dump it into the bay, or off the coast, where the crabs feasted on it. But for some reason that was made a no-no. As a result of all the food being dumped every day, there used to be a lot more crabs.

        Have you heard about that? Or is it just someone’s SWAG? If it’s true, bring back the garbage scows!

      • There are a lot of instances in which tasty sea food species sometimes are not so tasty.

        For example the very tasty and also hard fighting ” yellowtail ” also known as Kingfish ( Kingie) in New Zealand; Seriola Dorsalis, has a bigger Atlantic cousin, Seriola Dumerili, aka the Greater Amberjack. It also can be quite tasty (smaller ones) but the larger ones, which are primarily a reef fish, often have a toxin which they get from devouring other reef species that concentrate it. Great barracudas are also a no eat fish for the same reason. It causes a condition which has a name I can’t bring to mind.

        So what is the big deal about a temporary situation that might certainly be caused in part by weather / climatic effects such as el Nino that changes the ocean food chain for a while and makes some otherwise good human food species to be off limits.

        Yes it is an economic hit for Commercial Fisherfolk. Hey my central valley neighbor lost his otherwise $23,000 table grape crop to a 30 minute hail storm that came out of nowhere, and made the streets of San Francisco damp, when it went through the Bay area. So my neighbor got $800 for his grapes to make brandy.

        I notice we don’t eat Monarch Butterflies either.

        The biosphere does not exist, ust to provide overpriced supposed food delicacies for humans. Other critters got eat too, and often do well on what we reject.

        g

  2. Willis, your gut feeling has been validated. Although intuition is not evidence, it can, at times, cause the raising of an eyebrow. It would seem to me that if the extra CO2 has caused a greening of the semi arid zones, why would plankton not also enjoy the same trend?
    Extend this to the oceanic food chain and, voila!

    • CarbobFarmerDave,

      For land plants, CO2 in the atmosphere is one of the limiting factors, reason why greenhouse owners inject 1,000 ppmv (and more) in their greenhouses, boosting plant growth while other limiting factors are kept abundant (water, nutrients).
      In seawater, CO2 is hardly a limiting factor as levels are high in the form of bicarbonates. Other nutrients, mainly iron, phosphor and nitrogen are the main limiting factors…

      They have tried to enhance the CO2 uptake by seeding the surface with extra iron: indeed the whole food chain increased but the net result (dropping out of organic and inorganic carbon from the surface into the deep oceans) was trivial…

      • There is a very well known inverse relationship between fertility on land and fertility at sea, because fertility at sea depends very much on minerals brought by wind from deserts. As the Earth greens due to the fertility effect of CO2 we should expect some reduction in sea fertility, included phytoplankton. You cannot reduce Earth’s deserts without reducing phytoplankton. But the reduction should be moderate because the increase in vegetation cover is moderate.

      • In seawater, CO2 is hardly a limiting factor as levels are high in the form of bicarbonates.
        ==================
        Carbon Dioxide (Bicarbonate)
        Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a gaseous waste product from metabolism. The blood carries carbon dioxide to your lungs, where it is exhaled. More than 90% of carbon dioxide in your blood exists in the form of bicarbonate (HCO3).
        http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/bicarbonate
        ================
        If bicarbonate in the blood is a waste product of metabolism, perhaps the bicarbonate in the oceans are the waste product of life? Doesn’t blood serve much the same function as seawater? Transporting nutrients.

  3. “So, where will the balance between the positive and negative effect be? “My own feeling is that the balance is going to be for decreased productivity driven mostly by nutrient limitations,” Beardell says.”

    Of course there is no diminution of the negative conclusion, plankton are still, apparently, doomed.

    • decreased productivity driven mostly by nutrient limitations
      ====================
      it does seem strange that after billions of years that plankton have not consumed ALL the nutrients in the oceans. Surely plankton are not sustainable, because they are consuming nutrients from the oceans much of which settle to the ocean floor and are lost to the food chain as the plankton die.

      For example, as the plankton consume the carbon, oxygen and calcium from the oceans to build shells. These shells rain out on the ocean floor, building the future White Cliffs of Dover. These nutrients are mostly lost forever, which means that eventually the earth will run out of viable oxygen, calcium and carbon. All thank to plankton, we are doomed.

      This could explain why the earth’s atmosphere is only 20% oxygen today, while it was 35% oxygen during the time of giant flying insects. It is slowly being turned into limestone by plankton, dooming us all to certain death. It is much worse than we thought.

      • >>These shells rain out on the ocean floor,
        >>building the future White Cliffs of Dover.

        One presumes that without plate tectonics and crustal renewal, a world would indeed become sterile as all its nutrients are exhausted.

        Ralph

      • It is the moon, which is large enough to squeeze the planet and help move the plates around, constantly exposing new-old material to the effects of rain and flowing water. The ultimate recycling machine.

    • The nutrition limitation in warm oceans is often iron. That is why iron fertilisation works. It is so effective it scared the daylights out of Calamity Janes so they mounted a vigorous campaign against it as soon as the first trials were conducted which is something like 30 years ago. A small amount of iron powder removes a huge amount of CO2 from the air by this mechanism. I think the ratio is something like 4000:1 CO2 mass to Fe mass.

  4. Very interesting. That’s 2 items about phytoplankton this week. Joanne Nova posted the first. Had you told me 10 years ago I’d be spending so much time reading about these little guys and gals, I’d a said “No way!”

    Mystery of phytoplankton

  5. I think it’s great that this latest study is checking the claims of the earlier studies, I just wish they’d apply that same scrutiny to whether or not the oceans are warming as much as those earlier studies thought.

    That was bad news, considering the oceans are now hotter than ever in the modern record and continue to warm at a breakneck pace. This is happening as they absorb about 90 per cent of the excess heat created by our carbon emissions.

    Sigh…

    • I look to the next 5 or 10 years as the empirical test of almost all the climate theories out there.
      Certainly Joe Bastardi has opined this and vowed to change his position if negative ocean oscillations, coupled with a solar grand minimum do not erase recent warming and reverse arctic ice losses (as history predicts).
      As honest skeptic followers of scientific method, we look ahead with excitement and wonder, anticipating the validation or invalidation of theories on both sides of the argument, while objectively observing what reality unfolds before us. This is when honest science will return to the drawing board and charlatans will resort to more political and religious chicanery instead.

  6. I note in the linked “overjoyed” article, there is this:
    … levels are caused by acclimatisation to different …

    … warns that phytoplankton are still in trouble, with a combination of things that will affect them. These include …

    So here’s a thought. If acclimatisation works for one thing, might one assume it might work for another, different, thing? So, I’m not buying into the plankton in trouble thing. At least not this week.

    • the latest one is now?
      the evil acid oceans in antarctica eating the 1mm snails shells(they found thin shells n chipped ones- though they avoided sample size and duration mentions…?) that the entire food chain is supposed to now depend on..
      I kid you not
      reported on ABC australia in the last 7 days.

  7. Willis, years ago in corporate business I had the benefit of working for a dour Welshman who was a stickler for all us line managers having “back of the envelope” calculations about revenues, costs, cashflow of our divisions to compare and validate all our monthly trading reports from the company’s humungous centralised computer system.

    Our “at-the-coalface” observations were almost always more reliable than the yards of printout inflicted upon us from the central computer system.

    To this day I exhort everyone to ponder the likely realities of a situation based upon first-hand observations before they accept at face value any complex computer results.

    As you have just starkly illustrated, if something jars with what you have actually observed, back your lyin’ eyes every time.

    • Yes, Mick. For two or three years, I had managed stores of a specific retail line.
      I visited a family member who was eager to tour me through their retail store, although not the same product line at all.

      At the end of it all, I said, “Let me guess – you have 2.5 million of on-hand inventory.” The family member looked shocked, and said, “close – 2.2 million.” I had only been there an hour, and the informal tour was a half hour.

      With five hours, three good auditors, and a team to count/scan inventory, I could have it to the penny. But a half-hour walk got me within 10%. This was all witnessed by another family member, too.

  8. Thanks Willis. I am enjoying your vindication.

    I visited Antarctica about 7 years ago. What I found was that fishermen had been there decades before the Official explorers like Captain Ross (Ross Sea) 1820’s or Captain Bellingshausen 1840’s. But they did not write anything (which could be printed in academic journals) so their observations were ignored.

    • Peter Champness

      I visited Antarctica about 7 years ago. What I found was that fishermen had been there decades before the Official explorers like Captain Ross (Ross Sea) 1820’s or Captain Bellingshausen 1840’s. But they did not write anything (which could be printed in academic journals) so their observations were ignored.

      And, like the Grand Banks, where inconclusive but interesting evidence shows that fishermen from north Spain “found” the cod long before the mapmakers drew them on paper, those Antarctic fishermen may not have wanted anybody else finding their secret spot.

      • I met a half-Basque young man a couple years ago who told me that Christopher Columbus’ navigators were Basques who deliberately led him far South of the cod they did not want him to see.

        I have concluded that the real “discoverer” of America was Johannes Gutenberg, who movable type printing allowed news to spread across Europe in a way it had not before.

  9. Thanks Willis. I had lived and worked several years in desert regions before I heard of ‘global warming’. My experiences helped me understand why the AGW claim is a total fraud.

  10. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. It seems they didn’t spend nearly long enough or spend enough time and effort doubting their own extraordinary claim in the first place.

    Gut feelings may not be the be all and end all, but they sure make a good place to start.

  11. Good result Willis. But what do you think is the likely result for temp increase if we double co2 emissions from about 280 to 560 ppm? If you had to make a bet today about sensitivity to that extra co2 and WV feedbacks, would you guess 0.5 C, 1 C , 1.5 C 0r 2.5 C or much higher? Just asking?

      • So how do you answer your question now if co2 were to double to say 800ppm by 2090. I understand every doubling should show a temp increase of about 1 C and then there’s feedbacks from WV . So what’s your answer?

      • Neville:

        To stop your off-topic questioning I reply that opinions don’t matter when nature says the answer to your question is 0.4°C.

        Empirical – n.b. not model-derived – determinations indicate climate sensitivity is ~0.4°C for a doubling of atmospheric CO2 equivalent. This is indicated by the studies of
        Idso from surface measurements
        http://www.warwickhughes.com/papers/Idso_CR_1998.pdf
        and Lindzen & Choi from ERBE satellite data
        http://www.drroyspencer.com/Lindzen-and-Choi-GRL-2009.pdf
        and Gregory from balloon radiosonde data
        http://www.friendsofscience.org/assets/documents/OLR&NGF_June2011.pdf

        These findings indicate that feedbacks in the climate system are negative and, therefore, any effect of increased CO2 will be too small to discern because natural climate variability is much, much larger.

        Indeed, it is physically impossible for the man-made global warming to be large enough to be detected because climate sensitivity is less than 1.0°C for a doubling of CO2 equivalent. If something exists but is too small to be detected then it only has an abstract existence; it does not have a discernible existence that has effects (observation of the effects would be its detection).

        In other words, the increase will be indistinguishable from zero.

        Richard

      • @ Neville – November 9, 2015 at 12:12 am

        But what do you think is the likely result for temp increase if we double co2 emissions from about 280 to 560 ppm?

        Neville, the following is a factually true statement that was posted above by Ferdinand E, to wit:

        Ferdinand Engelbeen – November 9, 2015 at 12:50 am

        For land plants, CO2 in the atmosphere is one of the limiting factors, reason why greenhouse owners inject 1,000 ppmv (and more) in their greenhouses, boosting plant growth ………

        Now me thinks that if anyone is seriously interested in honestly answering your above question …. then they would take their trustworthy thermometer to one or more of the above noted greenhouse(s) ….. and measure (monitor) the internal air temperature to see and/or confirm iffen a “double-doubling” of CO2 (280 to 1,000+ ppm) will actually cause a measurable increase in said temperature.

        But don’t be holding your breath …… waiting for someone to actually perform such a “fact-finding” venture. It ain’t gonna happen if they have to publish their “findings”.

      • Why is your best guess zero?
        ===================
        because to warm the surface you must make the upper atmosphere colder, or you have created energy out of nothing. but to make the upper atmosphere colder, you must change the lapse rate. but you cannot because this is set by gravity and the condensation of water. and since you cannot change gravity, to make the upper atmosphere cooler you must REDUCE the evaporation of water, but you cannot unless reduce the surface temperature.

        thus, to warm the surface you must cool the surface. Since this is a contradiction, CO2 cannot have an effect, because it is already exactly balanced by gravity and the condensation rate or water. this can be confirme mathematically.

        the wet air lapse rate is approximately 6.4C/km. the 1/2 mass height of the troposphere is approximately 5 km. this predicts the surface should be warmed by about 6.4*5 = 32C as compared to an atmosphere without convection. The scientific community sets GHG warming at 33C.

        This is much, much too co-incidental to be an accident.

      • Neville,

        NCAR explained why, many years ago:

        Adding more CO2 has no measurable effect. Which is why no rise in global T has been measured, as CO2 went from 360 ppm to 400 ppm.

      • Re: Adam Gallon’s chart on November 9, 2015 at 1:14 am
        depicting the Central England Temperature Record, which starts with the date of 1659: Daniel Fahrenheit developed his scale in 1724 whilst Anders Celsius developed his in 1742.

    • Doubling is not linear. Its not every doubling there comes a point, and we are very close right now, when the co² quantum absorption will be saturated.

      • Stephen Richards:

        You say

        Doubling is not linear. Its not every doubling there comes a point, and we are very close right now, when the co² quantum absorption will be saturated.

        Really!? “we are very close right now” to exceeding the linear logarithmic relationship?

        That disagrees with the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) who say the relationship holds for up to 1000 ppmv which is more than a doubling from present concentration.
        Perhaps you should tell the IPCC that you know they are wrong?
        And please tell us which warmunist propaganda source told you the IPCC is wrong.

        Richard

      • richardscourtney — hmmm, like Willis I have a gut feeling that you don’t know what you are talking about — Eugene WR Gallun

      • Eugene WR Gallun:

        I suggest you take some antacid pills to correct the problem with your gut.

        Richard

      • relationship holds for up to 1000 ppmv
        ========================
        why stop there?

        the problem is the pesky lapse rate. the conversion to potential energy to kinetic energy in a convecting atmosphere. the 1/2 mass height of convection is 5km. the wet air lapse rate is about 6.4 C/km. this gives us a surface warming due to convection of 32C. which is almost identical to the 33C predicted for GHG. Given the approximations, these numbers are close enough to be identical.

        This cannot be a coincidence. thus GHG warming and PE to KE convresion due to convection must be flip side of the same coin. You cannot change one without changing the other.

      • Not to be argumentative here, but if “the relationship holds for up to 1000 ppmv”, does that mean that a doubling of 500 ppmv would possibly give 1 degree C rise, but a doubling of 501 ppmv would be very slightly less, and a doubling of 502 even slightly less than that, … ?

        Or, does the 1 degree C rise become less BEGINNING at the 1000 ppmv level, a doubling of 1001 is slightly less, etc.?

      • ferdberple and JohnWho:

        Your points may be true but they are not relevant.

        Stephen Richards was wrong to assert that “we are very close right now” to the atmospheric CO2 concentration at which IPCC claims of climate sensitivity cease to have meaning. The IPCC says that concentration is 1000 ppmv and we are more than 300 years away from reaching that concentration at present growth rate.

        Richard

      • Richard:
        You quoted Stephen correctly then immediately responded incorrectly to a statement revision you created.

        Stephen stated

        “…we are very close right now, when the co² quantum absorption will be saturated.”

        Where in Stephen’s statement is

        “…linear logarithmic relationship…”?

        That is your misunderstanding. Swallow your own diatribe against Stephen as you are the one making the linear logarithmic statement, not Stephen. Stephen’s statement addresses the IR absorption bands.

      • ATheoK:

        Instead of trying to start a pointless discussion about an irrelevant nit-pick, read my reply to Stephen Richards (that you call my “diatribe against Stephen”) and try to fault it.

        Hint: the linear logarithmic relationship exists because we are so near to saturation that CO2 absorbtion of the 15 micron IRA band is only occurring by band broadening. As I said, the IPCC states the linear logarithmic relationship holds for up to 1000 ppmv, and – at present growth rate – we are more than 300 years away from reaching that concentration.

        Richard

      • when the co² quantum absorption will be saturated

        HA, ….. the CO2’s quantum absorption will be saturated today …. but will be gone (unsaturated) tonight …… and the “satuation” will have to begin anew each and every new morning.

        Desert climates of extremely low atmospheric H2O vapor (humidity) confirms the above scientific fact.

    • Neville November 9, 2015 at 12:12 am

      Good result Willis. But what do you think is the likely result for temp increase if we double co2 emissions from about 280 to 560 ppm? If you had to make a bet today about sensitivity to that extra co2 and WV feedbacks, would you guess 0.5 C, 1 C , 1.5 C 0r 2.5 C or much higher? Just asking?

      My hypothesis is that the temperature of the planet is regulated by emergent phenomena to within a very narrow range (e.g. ± 0.3°C over the 20th century, which is a variation of a mere one tenth of one percent). The surprising thing is not that the temperature varies. It is that it varies so little.

      IF my hypothesis is correct, the temperature is NOT a function of the forcing. This is because the thresholds for the emergence of the temperature-regulating phenomena are temperature based, not forcing based. For example, consider dust devils.They do not emerge when the forcing is high. They emerge when the surface temperature is high, and they act to cool it down. The same is true of thunderstorms. Thunderstorms emerge when the surface is warm, no matter how strong the solar forcing might be. The forcing makes no difference at all.

      So my answer to your question is that “climate sensitivity” is a meaningless concept in a thermally regulated system. The problem is that the central paradigm is simply not true. The central paradigm says:

      Change in Temperature = Climate Sensitivity * Change in Forcing

      While that relationship might be valid in unregulated systems without emergent phenomena, it is not true in regards to the climate.

      Best regards,

      w.

      • temperature is NOT a function of the forcing
        ==================================
        is does seem much too coincidental that warming calculated for GHG is pretty much exactly what is predicted for PE/KE conversion in a moist convecting atmosphere. Both give a back of the envelope number of 32-33C.

        This suggests they are flip sides of the same coin. And since you cannot change gravity, you can only warm the surface if you make the lapse rate steeper, but increased evaporation due to warming will make the lapse rate shallower.

        so you can only make the surface warmer if you make it cooler.

      • w. – great comment.

        I say “zero” is the best answer since the heat will escape into space. I don’t really see us reaching the heat sink capacity of outer space any time soon.

      • So my answer to your question is that “climate sensitivity” is a meaningless concept in a thermally regulated system.

        Interesting. I’d never seen you state your position so succinctly. I’m pretty sure I’ve also seen you state that pressure has no impact on temperature…so what do you think sets the lapse rate? And what (if anything) in your mind could change it?

    • IF (big if) the natural cycles are taken in account and that the warming towards a new optimum continues, i would say we reach 1.5°C from pre industrial levels by 2100. count a anthropogenic factor of land use change, CO2 and other gasses, ground water drainage,… all combined it would maybe add an extra 0.5°C max.

      note that i count land use change as the biggest anthropogenic factor as a city produces far more heat then the forest that was once there before.

    • A lot of these blooms are more nutrient based than temperature based. Take the Chesapeake Bay for instance. Runoff from all the farms in the watershed into a basically closed body of water has boosted the algae growth. The Bay temperatures have been fairly constant over the years.

      • Take the Chesapeake Bay for instance. Runoff from all the farms in the watershed into a basically closed body of water has boosted the algae growth. The Bay temperatures have been fairly constant over the years.

        The Chesapeake is a ria, a “drowned river,” in this case the Susquehanna. Owing to its peculiarities and its proximity to densely-populated areas, the bay’s biome has long been a subject of interest (and an opportunity for study) among undergraduate Biology majors trying to come up with research topics to meet their degree requirements.

        Lots of great softshell crab restaurants and plenty of good beer all up and down both shores, too.

    • That is an absurd bald statement, Chaam.

      Just how is ‘climate change’ causing algae blooms? Explicitly, please.

      A) I can’t be because of the water temperature since even the ‘claimed’ change is too small to truly measure.
      B) It can not be because the oceans are rising, because the ocean have been rising at the same rate for over a century.
      C) I doubt it is the increase in CO2. CO2 increase is nearly equivalent globally. Algae globally receive the same effects. Why is the global increase of CO2 a cause for an algae ‘bloom’ locally?
      D) Then there is ‘climate change’ itself. Where is the climate actually changing? It sure looks ‘same old, same old’ climate to me.

      The main trouble is; outside of the rabid alarmist shrieks of doom, we haven’t found anything climate to worry about yet.

      • I don’t think Chaam was saying the new thing is toxic algal blooms brought on by climate change. I think he was pointing out that seems to be the next new bogeyman the warmists will try to spew on us.

  12. Of course if their calculations 5 years ago had shown a 40% increase in plankton it wouldn’t have got published. It’s only because the result supported their and Nature’s preconceptions that they accepted it at face value. I don’t suppose this correction will get a lot of publicity in Paris this month, though I wouldn’t be surprised if the original paper is mentioned!

  13. “The second reason I bring it up is to highlight that I made my judgement on the study solely on the basis of a lifetime spent on, in, and under the ocean.”
    A friend told me of his airline pilot dad. He would do all his calculations by hand and then see if the onboard computer agreed with him. If it did he would go with that. In his case the judgement was, does it look right? That can only come with experience and having a healthy skepticism of the instruments and onboard computers.
    With this story it’s extraordinary that such an outlandish drop in plankton was not checked before publication.

    • Today, with school children using calculators in class and engineering students no longer using slide rules very few are capable of doing hand calculations, back-of-the-envelope calculations or Fermi type mental verification. Most can’t even notice errors on the wrong side of zero, much less the wrong order of magnitude. And, if/when their computers hiccup, they won’t even notice. You friend’s dad sure has the right (and the only safe) attitude today’s around automation.

  14. At the moment, the MSM in the UK are full of alarmist squeals about sea level rise pushing the claim that we are in for a 38 feet (about 10m) sea level rise by 2100 unless we stop our CO2 emissions. These articles are full of colourful photo-shopped pictures illustrating the claim. A pity that they are not based upon some hard empirical observational science rather than the computer models that are so hopelessly wrong about all that they project.

    See: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3309760/Cities-sinking-feeling-Researchers-predict-major-capitals-look-like-100-years-cut-carbon-emissions.html

    And;

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/11983115/How-our-megacities-will-slip-under-the-waves-with-two-degree-rise-in-temperatures.html

    • Richard, those photoshops are great, but I can think of a better use. Bikini models on a tropical beach, doing a photoshoot. Bikini on {swipe} Bikini off. It would be great.
      And 38! ft. of sea level rise. That is nearly half a foot per year. Do you think somebody, somewhere, might notice and say “wait a minute”?

      But all this pales to insignificance compared to this gem:

      not only adding water to the oceans, but tipping entire continents as the weight is removed

      Speechless.
      These people have no shame, no shame whatsoever.

      • Leaving aside the comically idiotic notion of tipping continents, wouldn’t removing weight cause the continents to rise?
        And what weight are they talking about anyway?

      • Reminds me of the senior Congresscritter who worried that expanding a military base on Guam would tip over the island into the ocean. Seems he thought it was too narrow. The Admiral who was testifying was very patient.

      • Menicholas:

        You ask

        Leaving aside the comically idiotic notion of tipping continents, wouldn’t removing weight cause the continents to rise?
        And what weight are they talking about anyway?

        I don’t know the answer to your second question. I write to answer the first.

        Yes, “removing weight” does “cause the continents to rise” in some places and to sink in others. But it takes time.

        The glaciation of the last ice age applied weight to continents and the weight pushed continental shelf down into the mantel while adjacent continental shelf rose up (like ends of a see-saw). Following the end of the ice age about 10,000 years ago, the continental shelf that went down is still coming back up, and that which went up is still sinking back down. This recovery from the last ice age is called isostatic rebound.

        For example, Britain is tilting because of isostatic rebound. Scotland (i.e. northern Britain) is rising and South East England (i.e. southern Britain) is sinking.

        However, the glaciation of the last ice age loaded the continents with kilometers thickness of ice. This was orders of magnitude more loading than could be postulated for coming decades.

        Richard

    • I saw those too and my thought was “what did those cities look like 85 years ago?” Even if the claims were true, the cities have changed massively over that time-scale and no doubt will do so again.

      • From what I gather, these people are under the impression that we’ve progressed as far as we can and now the end is near, and a reversal will happen. They share myopic pessimism with the survivalists.

    • 10m sea level rise
      ==============
      You can tell this is true. Look at the fire sale prices on ocean front property. Movie stars and politicians are tripping over themselves trying to give their sea-side properties away to charities to help house the homeless, they are just so worthless given the rate the seas are flooding in.

      do your part. offer to take these worthless waterfront houses off the hands of the afflicted. see if they truly believe the nonsense they are spouting daily.

      • Movie stars and politicians are tripping over themselves trying to give their sea-side properties away to charities to help house the homeless, they are just so worthless given the rate the seas are flooding in.

        Hm. Great places to house all of the illegal immigrants our governing class (emphasis on Obozo, our own Illegal-Immigrant-in-Chief) is determined to ram down our throats.

        See how one element of the Social Justice Warriors’ “Narrative” can be made the solution of another?

  15. From my poem — Al Gore, American Bloviator

    “The Ocean Conveyor ceasing to flow
    Where water goes stagnant algae will grow
    A grow in plant life that carbon promotes
    Green seas where sargasso seamlessly floats”

    Yes, the Bloviator himself predicted greater ocean polluting plankton not less.

    Eugene WR Gallun

  16. “If the authors of the study had actually spent the same amount of time observing the ocean that they spent observing their model of the ocean, they might have doubted their own results and saved themselves much grief.”

    This observation is just so true. My first use of CFD modelling gave me results (of the wave pattern around a ship hull) which I knew had to be wrong – because I had seen the ship in operation and the waves were not nearly as big. Had I not had that ‘field observation’ in my mind it is interesting to speculate what I might have concluded. It was a salutory lesson in reality check and there seems to be a very large number of climate scientists who desperately need a dose.

    • Roy Spencer November 9, 2015 at 3:54 am

      Good call, Willis. :-)

      Thanks, Dr. Roy, your opinion is always welcome and means a lot.

      w.

  17. Interesting — high plankton in the Bering Strait & even north. Could it be that more & longer-lasting open water in that area is increasing plankton and the resulting biological productivity? Heaven forbid….

    • Could it be that more & longer-lasting open water in that area is increasing plankton and the resulting biological productivity?

      Might could more likely be the greater concentrations of bioavailable iron in those colder, less insolated waters which accounts for increased phytoplankton densities relative to the tropical and subtropical ocean regions.

      Did these “scientists” bother to sample even sparsely for chemical analyses of dissolved mineral contents?

      Betcha you’ll get a great big echo on that.

  18. Once again, the “researchers” were so sure of their model that they reported the results it produced, regardless of whether or not the results made sense.

  19. Whyever in hell would anybody use “Secchi disks as a proxy” for concentrations of marine phytoplankton when dropping a Nansen bottle or the equivalent to get a measured aliquot at exactly specific depths is so wonderfully easy?

    Yet again, incompetence in metrology brings the pseudoscientists of the AGW-corrupted “consensus” elaborately but inevitably into ridicule.

  20. Same can be said for oral histories of weather-related hardships from the pioneer days. Sweltering heat, drought, floods, snowmaggedons, good crops, and destroyed crops pepper my family history from 1876 on here in the NE corner of Oregon.

  21. I never bought it at the time. My wife’s family is in the cattle business. It really does not get any simpler than this: If you have half the food you use to, you can only support half the number of cattle you used to, or the same number at a significantly reduced weight.

    Phytoplankton is the basic food of the ocean. If you have lost half of your food, then the oceans can only support half the number of fish/etc, and there was zero evidence that was occurring.

  22. And what about baleen whales? Surely these used to eat massive amounts of plankton before they were hunted to extinction. How can we really be sure that this has not affected the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, given that plankton play the leading role in maintaining the O2/CO2 balance in the atmosphere.

    While the simplistic view would be that less whales means more plankton and less CO2, this may not actually hold true in the real world. plankton may require the grazing whales to stay healthy, as they are quite possible co-evolved over millions of years. So changes in plankton levels and CO2 may be related to whale hunting.

  23. Nice.
    WUWT needs a wall of “told you so” or some organized reference set of overturned studies to look back on, topic by topic.

  24. All fishing should have been banned in Oregon if the earlier study at Oregon State had been believed. Was it?

  25. Many folks criticize Willis for a lack of academic credentials. Academic credentials are a product of a “publish or perish” academic atmosphere. Look at Dr. Paul “Always Wrong” Ehrlich of many scientific studies. Common sense is no longer required; actually, it is being sneered at. Thank you, Willis.

  26. At the time, I had the same reaction as Willis did, though for somewhat different reasons.

    If a slightly warmer ocean caused a 40% decline in 60 years, that sounds like an even more drastic decline would occur with greater warmth than that circa 2010. And we have seen that greater warmth as recently in geological time as the previous interglacial period, the Eemian, when Greenland was 6 to 8 degrees warmer than today for 60 centuries.

    With a plankton decline of that size, we would see reduced oxygen in the atmosphere, since plankton (as plants) are one of the main sources of oxygen in our atmosphere (roughly 50% of oxygen). During the Eemian, as far as I can tell from various articles, there was no reduction of oxygen in the atmosphere, nor have I seen any such trend in the last 60 years (far shorter time frame). When the article came out in 2010, I emailed a leading scientist in this field, and asked his view. He agreed that the 40% reduction was bogus, and he agreed with the notion that we would have seen a reduction in oxygen if there were any truth in the article.

  27. “If the authors of the study had actually spent the same amount of time observing the ocean that they spent observing their model of the ocean, they might have doubted their own results and saved themselves much grief.”

    This is just what I’ve said about the IPCC Himalayan glacier debacle. They had a scenario which envisioned melting them by year 2350, and somehow it became 2035 in the report. If any of the authors or proof readers had actually spent some time on Himalayan glaciers, they would have realized the ludicrous error in an instant.

    • nc

      In the link you just gave, Patrick Moore, one of the founders of Greenpeace, states that :

      “When that H-bomb exploded in November 1971, it was the last hydrogen bomb the United States ever detonated. Even though there were four more tests planned in the series, President Nixon canceled them due to the public opposition we had helped to create. That was the birth of Greenpeace.”

      That is not true. The U.S. continued, very regularly, to conduct nuclear (nucular, G. W. Bush style), tests underground until 1992. He sure takes some undue credit for his protest successes with Greenpeace. I believe all of the further tests were done at the Nevada test site.

    • Patrick Moore made some rather radical suggestions to the effect that so much limestone (i.e. accumulations of the shells of calcareous shellfish, subsequently compacted and lithified) is being deposited that it would have depleted the CO2 content of the atmosphere/hydrosphere at a rate that would make the earth unliveable in a few million years, but we have saved the day by burning fossil fuels. I accept that a competent sedimentologist could make a meaningful estimate of the mass of CaCO3 deposited each year, but the other side of the account, destruction of limestones by weathering once they exposed, plus impure limestones being subducted and metamorphosed to calc-silicate rocks, would appear to be exceptionally difficult to quantify without massive uncertainty. I have to say he’s on dangerous ground there, making that kind of assertion, because it could be potentially proven false.

      Unless anyone knows if those numbers come from a comprehensive and reliable study of the matter? (Me being too busy hustling a living from a comatose mining industry to investigate the literature).

  28. Willis, isn’t this the logic that leads to the global warming bandwagon?
    Scientists that reach results that show global warming is not a problem, well they just ‘know’ that’s wrong.

    • MikeN November 9, 2015 at 11:34 am

      Willis, isn’t this the logic that leads to the global warming bandwagon?
      Scientists that reach results that show global warming is not a problem, well they just ‘know’ that’s wrong.

      Thanks, Mike, interesting question. No, in their case (if I understand you) they are ignoring their own results because they “know” they are wrong.

      This is different in a couple of ways. The original paper made a clear and testable claim about the ocean, that plankton had fallen by almost half since 1950. Since that claim was about the past history of the real-world ocean, I could compare it to my own extensive past history of observing the real-world ocean. For a half-century now, I’ve been around the ocean as a commercial and a sport fisherman, as a coastal and trans-oceanic sailor and seaman, as a commercial and sport diver, and as a surfer. I based my disbelief on that lifetime of experience.

      The people you refer to (again if I understand you) are dealing in theories and hypotheses, not with observable historical facts. Their disbelief is not founded in extensive practical experience regarding the question, as is mine. Their disbelief is based in theory.

      Regards,

      w.

  29. dbstealey November 9, 2015 at 11:33 am

    Hi Willis,

    As the resident expert on oceans and fishing, I have a question:

    Will the crabbing ban result in lots more Dungeness crabs after the ban is lifted? It would seem so, but I’m just a landlubber. I figure you’re the one to ask.

    Hardly the “resident expert” … but you are right, it will just postpone the annual harvest. As soon as the levels of domoic acid in the crabs drops, they’ll open the season.

    Also, I heard that many years ago the restaurants in S.F. used to pile their food refuse/waste onto garbage scows and dump it into the bay, or off the coast, where the crabs feasted on it. But for some reason that was made a no-no. As a result of all the food being dumped every day, there used to be a lot more crabs.

    Have you heard about that? Or is it just someone’s SWAG? If it’s true, bring back the garbage scows!

    Haven’t heard that. It could be true.

    w.

  30. The scientists publishing in Nature spent all their time and all their budget tweaking their models to give the result that they required and so there was no time left over for any field work or observations of what was really happening.

  31. Congratulations, and let me aboard the bandwagon, ahead of the Great Retraction of 2020.

    I declare the the atmospheric models and climate projections are wrong and overstate CO2 sensitivity six-fold. Anyone who has examined basic satellite and weather data knows they’re wrong.

  32. This video shows exactly what Willis is talking about when it gets too hot somewhere on the surface of the earth. Notice the cloud like formation and how the heat rises in order to cool the area.

  33. The claim of a dramatic decline in plankton was not credible even at first glance. Planktonic productivity underpins most of the world’s marine fisheries and global fisheries production has remained on a similar level for the past quarter century.

  34. I wonder if their defective study was similar to the polar bear investigation conducted by some academic “experts”, the results of which was heartily disputed by the Eskimos – reported by Jim Steele in his excellent book.

  35. Very good, Willis.

    You might find this interesting as well…
    http://www.standeyo.com/NEWS/06_Earth_Changes/060625.Greenland.html

    “…Zwally joined his colleagues there on May 8 in the regular spring migration of scientists to the Arctic.

    He has been coming to Swiss Camp every year since 1994 and has been studying the polar regions since 1972, monitoring the polar ice through satellite sensors.

    Eventually he realized he had to study the ice firsthand…”

    Zwally studied polar ice for over 2 decades before he actually went too take a look at it for himself. Unbelievable.

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