13 Responses to A public engagement problem?

  1. BBD says:

    In a word, “yes”.

    😉

  2. BBD says:

    Sorry about that, couldn’t stop myself.

    WRT energy balance, I’ve noticed that the supposed warming “hiatus” or slow-down in the rate of surface warming is now contrarian talking point # 1.

    It’s unfortunate that the general public has no idea that most of the energy is accumulating in the ocean. It’s even more unfortunate that the misleaders and the mislead now have a very persuasive – if incorrect – meme to play with.

    Could this have been avoided by a sharper focus on energy rather than on surface temperature change in public engagement over the last two decades? Perhaps, but it’s happened now, and the contrarians are making hay.

    Although I notice that globally, May was the third warmest in the instrumental record…

  3. Your first comment was probably spot-on 🙂

    I agree that what’s happened has happened and we can’t go back. It’s also not clear that there was much of an alternative. The media wants a short, snappy, catchy message; not some convoluted discussion about energy trapping, ocean heat content, radiative imbalances. In a sense, it’s not really a level playing field. The scientists were “encouraged” to produce a simply message and the simplicity of the message has given those who don’t want to AGW to be true (or have reasons to encourage others not to believe it to be true) ammunition against the scientific community. Anyone coming to the defense of the scientists is then also labelled as part of the system and consequently also untrustworthy.

    Just keep plugging away and doing my best, is all I can think of doing.

  4. BBD says:

    Your first comment was probably spot-on

    Oh well, just delete the rest – it’s what Anthony would do 🙂

    Just keep plugging away and doing my best, is all I can think of doing.

    And a fine job you do. For which many thanks.

    All anybody can do is push back against the misinformation, even if it means discussions at the dinner table (though God knows, I avoid this like the plague; idle chat about herpes goes down better, even in mixed company).

    And I cannot spell “misled”.

  5. Skeptikal says:

    Even though surface temperatures appear to have been flat for the last 10 years or so, the energy going into the oceans has continued to rise and provides very strong evidence that global warming continues unabated.

    The missing heat is completely by-passing the sea surface… which is actually losing heat.

    http://woodfortrees.org/plot/hadsst3gl/from:2002/plot/hadsst3gl/from:2002/trend

    With the atmospheric temperature flat, or possibly even declining, and the sea surface temperature showing a decline over the last decade… it appears that the only ‘evidence’ for global warming is heat apparently accumulating somewhere in deep ocean (where nobody can find it) and a reported energy imbalance which can’t be verified because it lies within the instruments error bands.

    You keep saying that the missing energy is going into the deep oceans, but I can’t find any evidence which supports that claim… can you please show me some real, hard evidence of this? Not some ‘expert’ opinion, but hard evidence.

  6. Well, the evidence is the Ocean Heat Content data. Maybe you have reasons to think it has problems, but the evidence exists nonetheless. The other evidence is a measured top-of-the atmosphere energy imbalance that is consistent with the measured increase in ocean heat content. Therefore we have a measurement that tells us how much excess energy is entering the system and we have a measurement telling us how the energy in the oceans is changing with time and these two measurements are consistent. I don’t really know what else to provide. I don’t actually know what you would regard as hard evidence.

    You also choose to show the see surface temperature for the last 10 years. The trend is clearly negative, but the scatter (errors) are clearly large. Claiming that the trend is definitely negative would be rather over-interpreting that data. Let’s consider something else though, the change in ocean heat content since 2002 is about 1022J. The mass of the oceans to a depth of 2000m is about 7 x 1020 kg. The specific heat capacity of water is 4000 J kg-1 K-1. This means that the excess energy going into the oceans would increase the average temperature by about 0.004oC. I appreciate that this is an average and that there will be a temperature gradient and the change may well be different at different depths, but the point is that the sea surface temperature would not be expected to change that substantially on short timescale anyway.

  7. Also, it’s not only the deep oceans. The ocean heat down to 700m has also continued to rise but not at a rate consistent with the energy imbalance.

  8. Skeptikal says:

    0-700m ocean heat content has been basically flat since about 2003 (indistinguishable from zero within the error bars).

    http://oceans.pmel.noaa.gov/

    Do you have data which contradicts this?

  9. Okay, I guess I can’t claim (with statistical significance) that the 0-700m OHC today is definitely higher than in 2003. The trends does appear to be positive, though, so it’s more likely that it is than it is not.

    I don’t really know what else to say to you. There are various bits of evidence that suggest that global warming continues and that there is a 0.5 Wm-2 TOA energy imbalance. You, however, don’t have to believe this. It’s not my job to convince you and you’re not obliged to agree with what I write or with the data that I present.

  10. BBD says:

    skeptikal

    Do you have data which contradicts this?

    Read your own link. The reference is Lyman et al. (2010) Robust warming of the upper oceans. Follow the link:

    Accounting for multiple sources of uncertainty, a composite of several OHCA curves using different XBT bias corrections still yields a statistically significant linear warming trend for 1993–2008 of 0.64 W m^2 (calculated for the Earth’s entire surface area), with a 90-per-cent confidence interval of 0.53–0.75 W m^2.

    Look at the 0 – 2000m layer. Look at all the data.

    You are no more a sceptic than I am the King of Old Siam.

  11. BBD says:

    Another view of 0 – 2000m OHC this time showing the 3 month mean

  12. BBD says:

    The usual melange of misrepresentation and confusion:

    With the atmospheric temperature flat, or possibly even declining, and the sea surface temperature showing a decline over the last decade… it appears that the only ‘evidence’ for global warming is heat apparently accumulating somewhere in deep ocean (where nobody can find it)

    I know “Skeptikal” isn’t remotely interested in the facts, but others might be, so here’s a link to a useful (and usefully referenced) discussion at SkS.

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