The Settled Science Looks A Little Unsettling.

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Al Gore once said:

For a long time, the scientists have been telling us global warming increases the temperature of the top layer in the ocean, and that causes the average hurricane to become a lot stronger. So, the fact that the ocean temperatures did go up because of global warming, because of man-made global warming, starting around in the seventies and then we had a string of unusually strong hurricanes outside the boundaries of this multi-decadal cycle that is a real factor; there are scientists who point that out, and they’re right, but we’re exceeding those boundaries now.

Except the scientist who have been saying it’s the other way around, that the oceans have been driving the temperature rise of the late 20th century. Those who has followed the skeptical arguments over Anthropogenic Global Warming are very much aware of the statistical “output mining” used by Michael Mann and Phil Jones to generate the proof that CO2 is the main driver in the current 50 year warming trend.

A new paper to be published in the climate journal Climate Dynamics supports the notion that most of the observed warming can be explained by changes in ocean temperatures. The study, presented at the U.N.’s Climate Change Conference in Poland this week, was conducted by Gilbert Compo and Prashant Sardeshmukh, who are associated with the Climate Diagnostics Center, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and Physical Sciences Division, Earth System Research Laboratory, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The work was supported financially by the NOAA Climate Program Office. Here is the abstract:

“Evidence is presented that the recent worldwide land warming has occurred largely in response to a worldwide warming of the oceans rather than as a direct response to increasing greenhouse gases (GHGs) over land.”

You could shoot back that the atmosphere warmed the ocean, so what you are seeing is the result of changes in ocean temps due to man made global warming. But how do you prove that that’s the case and not the other way around. What many have assumed over the last thirty years, is that the atmosphere was affecting ocean temps, causing them to rise. Basic thermodynamics would show that the atmosphere, in its current composition, is quick to change temps, use the different between day to night for example. A large body of water, on the other hand, does not change temperature quickly.  Warmer oceans will much more easily change the atmosphere that the other way around. .

I work with spa’s and hot tubs, and based on personal experience I can tell you it takes a heck of a lot of energy and time to change the temperature of water. In a basic spa, heat is generated by applying electricity to a heat element. and water flowing around it absorbs the heat. If I take the heat element out of the water, and use it to heat the air just above the water, you would get almost no heat transfer (plus the heat element would explode, but that’s a different story).

“OK Bright Boy! If the ocean isn’t getting heated by the atmosphere, then where, pray tell, is the heat coming from?????”

Ocean heat can be driven around in all sorts of ways. The ocean is not a standing body of water, there are all sorts of currents and convection occurring within them. You have wind driven currents, which moves surface heat around. You have underwater volcanic activity in various points on the ocean floor, heating the water in the deep. That water will rise toward the surface. You have cold fresh water sinking from melting ice in the arctic, which displaces the warmer waters around it, causing it to rise to the surface. The Pacific Decadal Oscilation and the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscilation are two examples of ocean heat variations. Note that the positive PDO correlates very very well with U.S. temps over the last one hundred years. 1933 and 1998 were peak years in temp, and were among the hottest years in U.S. temps on record. Also notice the drop in PDO anomalies in 2000, and we see the same drop in U.S. temps. The thing to remember is that we do not have nearly as much information bout the goings on in the oceans as we do on land.

But back to the report at hand.

“Atmospheric model simulations of the last half-century with prescribed observed ocean temperature changes, but without prescribed GHG (CO2) changes, account for most of the land warming.”

So, if these guys are right, CO2 and other minute gases only play a small, maybe very small role in the current warming periods.

Al Gore – Stuff It I Your Hat!

No Comments to “The Settled Science Looks A Little Unsettling.”

  1. By Jeff Alberts, December 11, 2008 @ 2:29 am

    Dude, you need to proofread a bit 😉

    As to the question “OK Bright Boy! If the ocean isn’t getting heated by the atmosphere, then where, pray tell, is the heat coming from?????”

    My answer is that the heat was always there and we’ve just started paying more attention to how it’s transported around. There really is nothing to get excited about.

  2. By sonicfrog, December 11, 2008 @ 2:46 am

    Thanks Jeff.

    Just rechecked everything. Hope it’s better.

    Either a draft was published, or more likely, I was in a hurry to get out the door and didn’t take the time to proof and just hit publish. Hey, it happens.

    My answer is that the heat was always there and we’ve just started paying more attention to how it’s transported around.

    Nail On Head! The thing to get excited about is that people are starting to notice.

  3. By Stephen Wilde, December 11, 2008 @ 6:48 pm

    I’ve been pushing this idea since last April and have published a series of articles suggesting how the climate really works.

    Try this for starters:

    http://co2sceptics.com/news.php?id=1487

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