The Oceans can save us!

Although I don’t really feel like explicitly debunking what I see on some “skeptic” sites (Sou does enough for all of us 🙂 ) I do sometimes, to my eternal regret, read them. I recently came across a standard argument that the oceans are warming really slowly, so what’s the problem? The basic argument is that the 0-2000m Ocean Heat Content has increased by about 3 \times 10^{23} J over the last 50 years. The oceans – to 2000m – have a total mass of around 10^{21} kg and a heat capacity of 4000 J kg-1 K-1, and hence this implies an increase in temperature of about 0.1oC, or about 0.02oC per decade. There you go. Nice and slow.

So, what’s the problem? Well, the oceans don’t warm uniformly. If you consider the figure below (from Balmaseda et al. 2013) you can see that about half of the energy goes into the upper 300m, one-quarter goes into the next 400m and another quarter goes into the region between 700m and 2000m. The surface, therefore, warms faster than the deep ocean.

Credit : Balmased et al. (2013)

Credit : Balmased et al. (2013)


One of the reasons I wanted to write this post is partly because I don’t think how energy is distributed in the ocean has been discussed very much and partly because if I write about it and stuff it up, someone will come along and correct me – so I might learn something. As I understand it, there is a well-mixed layer in the upper ocean in which turbulence and other processes act to rapidly mix the energy. In a sense, this well-mixed layer can be regarded as very quickly equilibrating with the rest of the climate system (atmosphere) and so the rate at which the temperature is rising in this well-mixed layer is a reasonable approximation for the rate at which the temperature is rising in the rest of the – non ocean – climate system. Essentially, one can approximate this well-mixed layer and the atmosphere as a single system.

Energy also diffuses down into the deeper ocean, but this tends to be quite a slow process. More correctly, the time it takes for the deep ocean to equilibrate with the rest of the climate system is very long (centuries). For example, if we were to suddenly increase atmospheric CO2 concentrations so as to produce a planetary energy imbalance, the atmosphere and well-mixed layer would initially warm very rapidly. As we approached equilibrium the rate of temperature increase would, however, slow and the system would retain a planetary energy imbalance that roughly matched the rate at which the energy was going into the deep ocean. As the deep ocean tended towards equilibrium with the rest of the climate system, the planetary energy imbalance would tend to zero. This, however, can take a very long time as the total amount of energy required to equilbrate the entire system is large.

At the beginning of the post, I indicated that some use the average rate of increase to argue that we’ll warm slowly because of the heat capacity of the oceans. This, however, is an underestimate since it assume that the temperature rises at the same rate throughout the ocean. This is clearly not correct and one can actually approximate the rate of increase of surface temperature by considering the well-mixed layer, rather than the whole ocean. For example, if we have a planetary energy imbalance of 0.5 Wm-2 then we’re increasing the total energy by about 1023J per decade. If, as per the figure above, about half goes into the well-mixed layer, and we assume this is the upper 300m (this is probably a bit too deep, as its probably more like 100-200m, but given that the energy would be proportionally less, probably good enough for this illustration), then the energy in the well-mixed layer increases at a rate of about 5 \times 10^{22} J per decade. Given the heat content of this layer (300m of ocean with a heat capacity of 4000 J kg-1K-1) the temperature will rise at about 0.15oC per decade – not far off the rate at which the temperature is currently rising.

So, hopefully my explanation is correct, but the main thing I wanted to point out is that if one considers the average rate at which the temperature of the ocean is rising then you underestimate the rise in surface temperature by as much as a factor of 7-8. I should also add that all my numbers are simply estimates and I’m sure one could do this more accurately. The point, though, is that the large heat content of the oceans does not imply that we’ll warm slowly. It does imply that it will take a very long time for the entire system to equilibrate, but we’ll get close pretty quickly. As usual, if I have explained something poorly, or got something wrong, feel free to point that out.

[Edit : I updated some of the numbers as I’d slightly misread the Balmaseda et al. (2013) figure.]

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77 Responses to The Oceans can save us!

  1. Actually, I’ve just looked at the Balmaseda et al. figure properly and it’s more than one-third that goes into the upper 300m. I have to head out, so I may try and fix it at some stage. Doesn’t really change the basic idea, though.

  2. anoilman says:

    Interesting… So ENSO is changing because of Global Warming;
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2013/04/the-answer-is-blowing-in-the-wind-the-warming-went-into-the-deep-end/

    I’m also curious about Argo coverage.

  3. Frankie says:

    The ocean is the ultimate solution.

  4. dikranmarsupial says:

    where everything is dissolved eventually?

  5. BBD says:

    Frankie, gnomically:

    The ocean is the ultimate solution.

    Past greenhouse-forced extinction events* seem to have reduced the equator-to-pole thermal gradient, shifting the latitude of deep water formation away from the poles. The warm, stratified, poorly mixed oceans produced an ever-thickening anoxic deep water layer which resulted in ‘bottom up’ marine extinctions. If anoxic water comes too close to the surface, sunlight drives a massive bacterial bloom and a flux of microbial metabolic hydrogen sulfide to the atmosphere and it’s welcome to the end-Permian event.

    The role of the oceans in extinction events is explored in Peter Ward’s book Under a Green Sky (summary here).

    *Likely candidates include:

    Cambrian 490Ma; late Ordovician ~450Ma; several late Devonian events ~360Ma; the biggie(s) at the end-Permian ~253Ma – ~247Ma; Triassic mass extinctions ~205Ma – 199Ma; Toarcian ~190Ma; Jurassic-Cretaceous ~144Ma; Cenomanian-Turonian ~93Ma and PETM ~55Ma.

  6. jsam says:

    The ocean is the ultimate solution.

  7. BBD says:

    jsam

    Ahhh… missed a cultural reference. Thanks!

  8. Yes, I did too. Showing my lack of culture 🙂

  9. anoilman says:

    Anders… We have an excuse. We’re young.

  10. True, showing my age, rather than my lack of culture….or both?

  11. Eli Rabett says:

    Bill Gates walks into the room and the average wealth goes to a billion. It is a major problem with anything global

  12. jsam says:

    Hmm. Frank Zappa was after my time.

  13. BBD says:

    jsam

    There’s always Death Metal.

  14. jsam says:

    A relative of mine, the drummer in iVardensphere, claims 20/20 and owns an album from each of the bands. Had he also owned each piece of Ikea furniture that would have been forewarning of the Rapture.

    My taste? The Kinks. Cream. Yes, still. In honour of the late Jack Bruce.

  15. EFS_Junior says:

    Eli Rabett,

    And just slightly over half the people in the room have a net worth of $0.00.

    Therefore,median wealth = $0.00.

    The upper 2000 m oceans contain ~48% of the total ocean volume (hypsometry data), if, within the current margin of error, the abysmal ocean deeps have not changed, and are ~52%, then the median ocean warming would be ~0 degrees C. Ah ha, the global have not warmed at all. 😦

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypsometric_curve

    ATTP,

    I posted this over at Sou’s place (slight addendum added):

    Using the full NCDC ocean dataset and fitting a quadratic (R^2 = 0.78) shows the current SST warming to be ~0.12 degrees C/decade (all 3 coefficients significant at the 95% confidence interval).

    So, just a factor of 4 misrepresentation (BT’s 0.03 degrees C/decade for the upper 2000 m oceans). Or, just a factor of 8 misrepresentation (BT’s 0.015 degrees C/decade for the total oceans volume).

  16. captdallas2 0.8 +/- 0.2 says:

    Interesting. Since the NODC has the data available in vertical temperature anomaly which is used to calculate the change in OHC, it would seem to me that when discussing deeper ocean temperature change it would be pretty simple to use the temperature anomaly data.

    Then for the Northern Hemisphere you get something like that, Since the VTA data starts in 1955, you could use the 1955 to present trends, notice the right scale is SST and 0-100 meters using a 1955 to 2013 baseline and the left is for 0-700 meters, or since there is a pretty fair fit between the VAT and SST, you could use the SST trend. Which ever floats your boat.

    If you are a really big fan of CO2 forcing being “the” cause of the SST and VTA warming, I believe you could estimate an “effective” diffusion which would make the oceans about as conductive as copper to explain how the oceans have not stopped or slowed in warming due to the “pause”. If you are a fan of more long term persistent warming from a past cooler period being involved, you could probably come up something a bit less dramatic.

    Since the 0-2000 data is pretty much limited to the ARGO era, I don’t use it that often myself, but if that is your cup of tea you could use that instead of the 0-700 meter data.

    That doesn’t fit quite as well, but there is a newer reanalysis that may changes thing a touch. That would put you in the ballpark of 0.016 C per decade for the 0-2000 meter oceans, 0.037 C per decade for the 0-700 meter layer and around 0.09 C per decade for the surface and 0-100 meter oceans in the northern hemisphere. With very little data for the oceans deeper than 2000 meters exists, I believe that estimating the rate of “all” ocean warming to be a waste of time.

    It does appear that 0-100 meters and SST are pretty much interchangeable, but for 0-300, 0-700 and 0-2000 it would be nice to figure out what is causing what before estimating how much warming is “in the pipeline”, IMO.

    I just did the Northern Hemisphere since its overall rate of warming is higher than the SH, making it “the” go to higher “sensitivity” estimation arena for all the explanations of how land warming, mainly in the NH, is driving ocean warming, ensuring that expected warming cannot possibly be less than 3.0 C per doubling. I kinda doubt that myself, but I believe the actual temperature anomaly data is a lot simpler than converting huge numbers of Joules back to temperature.

    Hope that helps, Happy Holidays

  17. Steve Bloom says:

    The warming and shifting wind patterns due to expansion of the tropics are going to change ocean circulation in ways that are hard to predict. Recent surprises include warmer water melting the WAIS and a slowing in the AMOC. Here’s a new one. At some point this stuff is going to bite.

  18. Cap,

    It does appear that 0-100 meters and SST are pretty much interchangeable, but for 0-300, 0-700 and 0-2000 it would be nice to figure out what is causing what before estimating how much warming is “in the pipeline”, IMO.

    I’m not sure that I understand what you’re getting at here. What do we need to understand? Why most of the energy stays near the surface? I think we broadly understand this.

  19. David Blake says:

    Water is opaque to LW radiation. LW can’t penetrate but to microns depth. And this on the skin layer which results in more evaporation – which cools the skin.

    SW can penetrate to metres depth. Therefore the more likely reason for any increase in OHC is increased SW. Have we had anything that could increase shortwave? Like less clouds? Yes.

    Yes.. We have: http://oi61.tinypic.com/2ql4i90.jpg

  20. David Blake says:

    >>”The oceans – to 2000m – have a total mass of around 10^{21} kg and a heat capacity of 4000 J kg-1 K-1, and hence this implies an increase in temperature of about 0.1oC, or about 0.02oC per decade. ”

    I make it less.
    dT = dQ/mc
    dT= 2×10^23/1.4×10^21*4180

    dT = 0.03 C
    0.006C per decade

    Nice and even slower.

  21. David,
    I’ll approve your comments so that it can give me an opportunity to point you (and others) towards two posts about back-radiation and the oceans, by Science of Doom. I might suggest that you read them but, if you can’t be bothered, others might do so and discover why what you appear to be suggesting is wrong.

    Also, you can indeed use some slightly different numbers and get an ever slower average warming for the upper 2000m of the oceans. That still doesn’t change that the temperature increase in the upper 100m is about the same as the increase in surface temperature and is considerably faster than the average rate of temperature increase. As far as I’m aware, most of us live on the surface.

  22. Oh, and clouds are a feedback not a forcing.

  23. David Blake says:

    Thanks for pointing out the link. It was a good example of dodging and obsfucation.

    Firstly please note this quote from Colombia University:
    Net back radiation cools the ocean, on a global average by 66 watts per square meter.”
    http://eesc.columbia.edu/courses/ees/climate/lectures/o_atm.html

    Here’s SOD’s graph of solar wavelength vs absorbtion depth: http://scienceofdoom.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/solar-absorption-ocean-matlab-499px.png?w=500

    Notice anything? The main CO2 wavelength is off the scale at 13 to 16um. LW radiation from GHGs can only penetrate microns. It’s a fact. His own graph shows it – but he does a nice job dodging the obvious.

    He also seems to ignore (or maybe I missed it?) the *main* process by which the ocean loses heat – evaporation, which happens from the skin layer – the very layer that GHGs can heat.

    “Also, you can indeed use some slightly different numbers and get an ever slower average warming for the upper 2000m of the oceans”

    The numbers were very similar – but the answer is one order of magnitude different.

    “Oh, and clouds are a feedback not a forcing.”
    Clouds change the albedo, and therefore the amount of deep penetrating solar into the ocean. As solar is much more efficient (and the numbers so much larger) that it’s the only thing that makes sense.

  24. David Blake says:

    I should also add (thanks for your indulgence) the sums from Columbia:

    Solar in (168 watts per square meter.) = Back radiation out (66 W^m2) + conduction out (24 ) + eveporation out (78 Wm^2)

    66+24+78 = 168

    Note the only energy in is solar, and back radiation is net cooling.

  25. David,
    Science of Doom is excellent and referring to it is “dodging and obfuscating” is insulting. Try reading it properly.

    Notice anything? The main CO2 wavelength is off the scale at 13 to 16um. LW radiation from GHGs can only penetrate microns. It’s a fact. His own graph shows it – but he does a nice job dodging the obvious.

    Yes, but read the rest of it. Energy is transported in the oceans via conduction, convection and advection. That long-wavelength radiation can only penetrate a few microns does not mean that the energy associated with this radiation cannot be transported to the deeper parts of the oceans.

    He also seems to ignore (or maybe I missed it?) the *main* process by which the ocean loses heat – evaporation, which happens from the skin layer – the very layer that GHGs can heat.

    I don’t think so. I think he just hasn’t mentioned it in that current post because it isn’t really relevant to this particular point.

    Clouds change the albedo, and therefore the amount of deep penetrating solar into the ocean. As solar is much more efficient (and the numbers so much larger) that it’s the only thing that makes sense.

    Firstly, clouds do two things. They both change the albedo and they influence outgoing longwavelength radiation (acting a bit like a greenhouse gas). The net effect of clouds is small. You also appear to misunderstand the concepts of forcings and feedbacks. Clouds respond to changes in temperature a produce a small positive feedback. They amplify the warming but the change in clouds is insufficient to explain our current warming.

    There may be other sites that allow people to continually post scientifically incorrect comments. This isn’t one of them.

  26. Okay, you mean the graph on this site. You need to be careful how you interpret this. If you consider the planet as a whole, in equilibrium we receive 342Wm-2, reflect 107Wm-2 and re-emit 235Wm-2. In other words, it balances in equilibrium (we’re slightly out of equilibrium today, by about 0.5Wm-2). If you consider the surface, it receives 168Wm-2 (Solar), 324Wm-2 (back-radiation) and loses 390Wm-2 (radiation), 24Wm-2 (thermals), and 78Wm-2 (evaporation). Again, in equilibrium, it balances. None of this suggests that energy from long-wavelength radiation cannot end up deeper in the ocean that the top micron or so. It’s simply an energy balance diagram.

  27. David Blake says:

    “A link would be nice.”
    I did give the link:
    http://eesc.columbia.edu/courses/ees/climate/lectures/o_atm.html

    It wan’t to the Kiehl Trenberth energy budget although I note the figures for evaporation and conduction are the same. The important thing to note is that the back radiation is net cooling. LW radiation does not heat the ocean it cools it.

    Regarding clouds:
    Look here: http://itg1.meteor.wisc.edu/wxwise/museum/a2/anicldfrc.html
    It’s an animation of the cooling/warming effect of clouds from the ERBE experiment. Bottom line: clouds have a cooling effect.
    Also note from the same site:
    “The latest results from ERBE indicate that in the global mean, clouds reduce the radiative heating of the planet</b<. This cooling is a function of season and ranges from approximately -13 to -21 Wm-2. While these values may seem small, they should be compared with the 4 Wm-2 heating predicted by a doubling of atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide."
    http://itg1.meteor.wisc.edu/wxwise/museum/a2/a2cloudforce.html

  28. I did give the link:

    Okay, in an earlier comment.

    Bottom line: clouds have a cooling effect.

    Again, you have to be careful. I can’t get your links to work, but I suspect that what they’re showing is the overall radiative effect of clouds (i.e., the difference between there being clouds and there not being clouds). From an AGW perspective what is relevant is how this has changed since 1750 (the forcings are relative to 1750 which is taken to be prior to any significiant anthropogenic influence), not the overall effect. The change in clouds since 1750 is thought to be a small positive feedback (between 0 and 1 Wm-2K-2). Try this.

  29. David Blake says:

    “Again, you have to be careful.”
    Clouds are a tricky one it’s true. The major source of uncertainty in the models. People disagree on even the sign of the effect. Where we all have to be careful is in saying “it can’t be clouds”. It very much can. A few percent change in clouds dwarfs the forcing from a doubling of CO2. Do the numbers: 340Wm^2 solar x 0.7 albedo, Vs 340Wm^2 x 0.693 albedo. A one % change in albedo from less clouds is the same forcing as all the CO2 we’ve ever emitted.

    The ERBE data is quite clear: on average clouds cool the planet.

    And there is good evidence this has happened:
    1) The graph I put up earlier showing the change in mean cloud amount vs an inverted Hadcrut 3.

    It follows the temperature quite nicely

    2) The change in OHC which I argue (you disagree, which is fine) can only be from increased solar.

    ” I can’t get your links to work”
    Even this one?: http://itg1.meteor.wisc.edu/wxwise/museum/a2/a2cloudforce.html
    It’s a plain HTML file. The other was a Java animation of the ERBE data, but the figures are all linked to from the HTML file also.

    And please note; these aren’t “anti-science” sites but from some of the leading universities departments of atmospheric sciences.

  30. We’re going to stop this soon.

    The ERBE data is quite clear: on average clouds cool the planet.

    The may be true relative to there being no clouds, but that’s not the same as the feedback response of clouds.

    It follows the temperature quite nicely

    Yes, because it is a feedback.

    The change in OHC which I argue (you disagree, which is fine) can only be from increased solar.

    It’s not only me that disagrees. A vast majority of professional scientists disagree too.

    And please note; these aren’t “anti-science” sites but from some of the leading universities departments of atmospheric sciences.

    I didn’t say they were anti-science sites. I’m suggesting you’re mis-interpreting what is being presented.

    Maybe we can stop this now. You’ve posted some comments. I’ve responded. It’s not going to get better.

  31. I know wikipedia shouldn’t always be trusted, but from here

    Thus the net cloud forcing of the radiation budget is a loss of about 13 W/m².[1] If the clouds were removed with all else remaining the same, the Earth would gain this last amount in net radiation and begin to warm up. These numbers should not be confused with the usual radiative forcing concept, which is for the change in forcing related to climate change.

  32. David Blake says:

    “Yes, because it is a feedback.”
    And please then note that when there are less clouds it’s warmer. More clouds and it’s cooler. The “feedback” is negative.

    “I’m suggesting you’re mis-interpreting what is being presented. ”
    Then can I suggest you read them?

  33. David Blake says:

    “wikipedia: loss of about 13 W/m².”
    You may want to read your quote again.
    They say -13Wm^2. Fits in nicely with the ERBE results which were ” -13 to -21 Wm-2″

    Clouds are a net cooling.

  34. David,

    The basic argument on, how backradiation affects ocean temperature goes as follows.

    1) Solar radiation heats water over a wide range of depths. About half of the heating happens in the to 0.1 m, but 10% of the energy penetrates more than 10 m.
    2) In stationary state (no warming or cooling) all the energy from solar radiation must exit the ocean. That takes place through evaporation, conduction from liquid water to air, and IR radiation.
    3) Backradiation from the atmosphere is the only other significant input of energy in addition of solar radiation. Backradiation is always less than IR emission. Thus net IR energy transfer is one of the cooling influences. Backradiation is absorbed in the same layer that emits IR. Thus the net effect is cooling at every depth.
    4) If backradiation is suddenly increased, the net heat loss by IR is immediately reduced. That leads to rapid warming of the skin by an amount that brings the heat balance of the skin back to neutral. The higher skin temperature adds to all mechanisms of heat loss (evaporation, sensible heat transfer, and IR emission), and reduces heat flux from below. Evaporation is, indeed, increased but only after the temperature has risen and by an amount that’s only of a fraction of the change in backradiation.
    5) Reduction in the heat flux from below leads over longer periods to warming of the ocean. That effect is fastest in the mixed layer, but affects gradually also the deeper ocean.

    Winds are the main reason for the mixed layer, but the penetration of solar radiation would also guarantee that some mixing takes place to the depth of tens of meters.

    I have also calculated, how much solar radiation penetrates various distances in pure water. As radiation does not always enter vertically, penetration depth is smaller than penetration length. Penetration is also somewhat less in sea water than in pure water. My results are shown in this picture

  35. Clouds are a net cooling.

    Overall, yes, since 1750 – as my link indicated – they are regarded as being a small net warming. However, even if we consider your number, the feedback response due to clouds would be 13/33 = -0.4Wm-2. The anthropogenic forcing is around 2.2Wm-2. Water vapour is about 2Wm-2K-1. Lapse rate is about -1Wm-2K-1. If you put it all together the radiative influence of AGW is around 3Wm-2M (given that we’ve warmed by around 1K) – and, yes, there are uncertainties that I’m not considering here.

  36. David,
    Try this paper. The different feedback responses are (ignoring uncertainties and eyeballed)

    Water vapour – ~ 2Wm-2K-1 (warming)
    Lapse rate – ~ -0.75Wm-2K-1 (cooling)
    Albedo – ~ 0.25Wm-2K-1 (warming)
    Clouds – ~ 0.5Wm-2K-1 (warming)

    Net feedback response is around 2Wm-2K-1 (warming).

  37. David Blake says:

    Hi Pekka,

    Good post. Points 1-3 agreed.
    Point 4. The heat capaciy of the top microns is tiny, and considering the sea is on average a couple of degrees C warmer than the atmosphere the heat processes are overwealmingly in the opposite direction. Changing equilibrium for such a tiny layer would be virtually instantaneous (and we are talking about very slight changes of backradiation over centuries).

    The most obvious solution is increased solar. Occams razor. And changes in cloud amount support it.

  38. David,
    We’re going to stop this soon.

    The most obvious solution is increased solar. Occams razor. And changes in cloud amount support it.

    No, the obvious one is as Pekka suggests; increasing the surface temperature through energy from back-radiation reduces the heat flux from below and hence the ocean retains more of the Solar energy. That’s not the same as “increased solar”.

    I think I’ve been reasonably patient, but in the interest of my site not becoming a place for spreading mis-information, maybe we can stop this now.

  39. David Blake says:

    “”>> Clouds are a net cooling.”
    Overall, yes, since 1750 – as my link indicated – they are regarded as being a small net warming.”

    That’s contradictory! Which is it: -13Wm^2 or +1Wm^2?

    “However, even if we consider your number, the feedback response due to clouds would be 13/33 = -0.4Wm-2. ”

    I don’t follow you. The ERBE data (it’s not my number) says clouds are net -13W^2 or more. The figure is already in Wm^2. What term is the 33?

    “Try this paper. ”
    And you’ve hit the nub of the problem! The paper is describing a model output. The ERBE results are empirical data. The models predict that more clouds will (mildly) warm the planet. The data say that in actual fact clouds strongly cool the planet.

    I prefer to beleive my own lying eyes, rather than the obviously incorrect model output.

  40. David,
    I’ll try one more, but this might be the last

    That’s contradictory! Which is it: -13Wm^2 or +1Wm^2?

    The latter number should be 1Wm-2K-1 and it’s not contradictory. The former is the total radiative influence of clouds compared to a world without any clouds. The latter is the influence of clouds if the world warms by 1K (i.e., feedback). They’re essentially two different things.

    I don’t follow you. The ERBE data (it’s not my number) says clouds are net -13W^2 or more. The figure is already in Wm^2. What term is the 33?

    I made a mistake as it should have been -13/33 = -0.4Wm-2K-1. This is the radiative response of clouds per degree of greenhouse warming. But even this isn’t quite true as it assumes that without the greenhouse effect there would be no clouds. However, it does indicate that the feedback response (Wm-2K-1) is small.

    I prefer to beleive my own lying eyes, rather than the obviously incorrect model output.

    Clearly not a good idea!

  41. David Blake says:

    [Mod : Okay, I think we’ve done enough. This isn’t going anywhere constructive.]

  42. David Blake says:

    A very clever man said this:

    “There is another reason, though. For a long time I’ve felt that genuine dialogue wasn’t possible, but I’ve also thought that maybe I was wrong; maybe someone would surprise me and actually engaged in a thoughtful and pleasant discussion. However, I think I’m now convinced that this really is not possible. I’ve also been reading the posts and comments on some of the more high-profile “skeptic” sites and I just find much of it appalling and objectionable. I’ve realised that I don’t really even want to be associated with the online climate debate anymore. It’s clearly not about science, but about ideology. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with trying to promote your own ideology, but it’s not really what I was trying to do here and isn’t really what I want to do. It appears to involve saying the most appalling things about those with whom you disagree and then whining when they do something similar in return. I find it dishonest and childish and don’t really want to participate anymore. ”

    He said it HERE. I couldn’t agree more. It’s such a shame that such dialogue is never allowed.

  43. David,
    A clever way to get around the “don’t complain about moderation” moderation rule 🙂

    I actually thought we had some dialogue, I just think we were going in circles. If you think otherwise, fine. You got to post a good number of comments. I posted a good number of replies. Maybe we can just leave it at that.

  44. BBD says:

    The supposed change in cloud cover reported by ISCCP is spurious. See Evan et al. (2007) Arguments against a physical long-term trend in global ISCCP cloud amounts:

    The International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) multi-decadal record of cloudiness exhibits a well-known global decrease in cloud amounts. This downward trend has recently been used to suggest widespread increases in surface solar heating, decreases in planetary albedo, and deficiencies in global climate models. Here we show that trends observed in the ISCCP data are satellite viewing geometry artifacts and are not related to physical changes in the atmosphere. Our results suggest that in its current form, the ISCCP data may not be appropriate for certain long-term global studies, especially those focused on trends.

    DB’s argument is based on faulty data.

  45. David Blake says:

    “DB’s argument is based on faulty data.”

    Hot of the presses (published February 2105!):

    “We validated the accuracy of ISCCP mean monthly cloud amount statistics using the state-of-the-art, 36-spectral channel Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument aboard the Terra and Aqua satellites. Based on the MODIS Level 2 Cloud Mask we developed a dedicated Level 3 product for Central Europe (2004–2009). For the first time, MODIS swath data were projected onto an ISCCP equal-area grid, which guaranteed an exact geometrical agreement between both climatologies. Results showed that there was a close correlation between ISCCP and MODIS data (ρ = 0.872, α = 0.99), especially at warmer part of the year (ρ ≥ 0.940, α > 0.99). However, ISCCP estimations were found to be unreliable in wintertime when surface was covered with snow.”

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169809514003639

    Also wrt models Vs observations see:

    “All TOA radiation and the cloud radiative heating/cooling is underestimated in the SMLs
    Areas of over estimated SW /Net cooling due to clouds”
    http://www.atmos.washington.edu/socrates/presentations/SouthernOceanPresentations/Session3/Dolinar.pdf

    ..and ISCCP data over oceans – which is what we’re talking about:

    “The ISCCP cloud amounts appear to be too low over land by about 10%, somewhat less in summer and somewhat more in winter, and about right (maybe slightly low) over oceans.”
    http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abs/ro04500f.html

    So the data (if it once was faulty) is no longer “faulty”. And note that it never was “faulty” over oceans which is what we are talking about. And the pysical properties of sea-water are still the same with regards to long-wave.

    My argument stands: the only logical mechanism for such a large increase on OHC is increased solar. We know that TSI hasn’t changed much, so the only variable left is clouds.

    “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth” Sign of the Four, Sherlock Holmes.

  46. David Blake, if you are convinced your idea is worthwhile, you should not publish it here, but in the scientific literature. That is where the scientific debate takes place. Make a strong case and write a beautiful article that might earn you a Nobel price.

  47. And it is irrelevant how good ISCCP is now, the trend is what is important for your argument. The satellites used have changed enormously over the decades. You will need to show an article that provides evidence that the trend uncertainty is small enough for your conclusions (or write that article yourself), just some correlations over 5 year will not do for that.

  48. BBD says:

    DB

    You are becoming verbose and tedious again.

    I repeat:

    Here we show that trends observed in the ISCCP data are satellite viewing geometry artifacts and are not related to physical changes in the atmosphere. Our results suggest that in its current form, the ISCCP data may not be appropriate for certain long-term global studies, especially those focused on trends.

    By the by, someone called “Rum Runner” was peddling an identical argument right down to the home-made graph showing inverted GAT superimposed on ISCCP cloud. They were wrong too, and subsequently banned for sustained intellectual dishonesty and refusing to admit error.

  49. David Blake says:

    “you should not publish it here, but in the scientific literature. ”
    Thanks Victor, but I would have no idea how to go about it. I’m not a scientist. I’m sure people are “on it” in any case, I would be a bit late to the party.

    When a paper like this, that turns Greenhouse theory on its head, doesn’t get much of a mention, then I think a paper about clouds will get lost in the melee.

  50. captdallas2 0.8 +/- 0.2 says:

    attp, “I’m not sure that I understand what you’re getting at here. What do we need to understand? Why most of the energy stays near the surface? I think we broadly understand this.”

    Just an observation, 0-100 meter temperature anomalies are extremely close to surface temperatures, a 1:1 relationship, 0-700 is close to 3:1.

  51. David,

    When a paper like this, that turns Greenhouse theory on its head, doesn’t get much of a mention, then I think a paper about clouds will get lost in the melee.

    I haven’t had a chance to read that paper in detail but I do not think that it turns Greenhouse theory on its head.

    Cap,

    Just an observation, 0-100 meter temperature anomalies are extremely close to surface temperatures, a 1:1 relationship, 0-700 is close to 3:1.

    Yes, we agree then. That was essentially my point. If you want to use the ocean heat content as a proxy for surface temperature rise, you need to consider the upper regions of the ocean, not the entire ocean.

  52. David Blake says:

    I’ll be brief then:
    “Results showed that there was a close correlation between ISCCP and MODIS data”

    “By the by, someone called “Rum Runner””

    My my he’s a handsome chap! There was a chap over at Sou’s blog, also called BBD, who thought that for a heat balance aproach for ECS that the start and end temperatures had to be in equilibrium? Hilarious I know. Probably no relation. Incredible that someone would think that, right? Especially since that the climate sensitivity (lambda) is an explicit parameter specifially chosen to give an answer at equilibrium.

    To get the IPCC’s standard figure for an ECS of 3C, you start with their explicit parameter of 0.8, thus:

    dT = 0.8 x CO2 forcing
    dT =0.8 x 5.35 x ln2
    dT = 3C

    Note that it’s the choice of specific parameter that gives the final ECS figure. We can see that the IPCC’s figure is way too high. The figure I derived works much better.

  53. Marco says:

    David Blake, straight from that article you claim “turns Greenhouse theory on its head”:

    “The greenhouse effect is well-established. Increased concentrations of greenhouse gases, such as CO2, reduce the amount of outgoing longwave radiation (OLR) to space; thus, energy accumulates in the climate system, and the planet warms. However, climate models forced with CO2 reveal that global energy accumulation is, instead, primarily caused by an increase in absorbed solar radiation (ASR). This study resolves this apparent paradox. The solution is in the climate feedbacks that increase ASR with warming—the moistening of the atmosphere and the reduction of snow and sea ice cover. Observations and model simulations suggest that even though global warming is set into motion by greenhouse gases that reduce OLR, it is ultimately sustained by the climate feedbacks that enhance ASR.”

    The most amazing thing: GCMs, which rely on greenhouse physics, according to David Blake turn greenhouse physics on its head. Hohum.

  54. David,

    Note that it’s the choice of specific parameter that gives the final ECS figure. We can see that the IPCC’s figure is way too high. The figure I derived works much better.

    Your figure compares the equilibrium response with the observed temperature. You should be comparing the transient response (which is about 2/3, or maybe less, of the equilibrium response). I really don’t mean to be rude, but most of what you’ve said makes me think you really don’t understand this topic at all well – and that’s a little bit of an understatement.

  55. David Blake, the Connelly family did it on their own. But if that is too hard for you, you could write your ideas up as clearly as you can. Then ask a scientist in the field to help you make it into a real article. If your idea is good that should be possible, if only someone like Spencer or Curry.

    If you are not able to make your idea so precise that it can be published, you may ask yourself why you are so convinced that you are right and all those people that do have the skills to study a problem like this are wrong. It would, at least, make me formulate things a lot more carefully, I would rather ask for help understanding things, rather than immediately claim that science is wrong.

    Especially as your idea is about something that is no longer state of the art, but more stuff for textbooks (for short: settled science), it is especially important to get an article in a scientific journal. That will help people taking in seriously and study its merits. A fringe claim in blog comments is easily ignored, is a useful political strategy to spread doubt, but does not contribute to science. If you are scientifically interested, you need peer review to give your idea credibility.

  56. BBD says:

    ATTP

    David Blake = Rum Runner.

    You should review the HotWhoppery before allowing this to continue.

    Please search for “Rum” and read on. This man is a dishonest tr0ll of the very worst kind, which is why Sou banned him. And yes, I bear a considerable personal grudge, and he’s just started to repeat his rubbish from HW here.

  57. BBD,
    Thanks. I’ve pretty much had enough anyway. I haven’t had this kind of discussion for a while though. Reminds me of the good old days 🙂

  58. David Blake says:

    [Mod : Okay enough now. I don’t know if you really are Rum Runner or not, but I think I’ve seen enough to convince me that allowing you to continue promoting clearly flawed ideas here is not worth my while.]

  59. BBD says:

    ATTP

    Just trying to spare you the pain 😉

  60. Eli Rabett says:

    Before you get too deep into this nonsense Nick Stokes has already handled it. As he points out absorption of IR photons on the surface has the net effect of offsetting IR radiation from the surface, e.g. limits the rate at which the surface and thus the oceans cool.

    Also FWIW, the penetration depth of 15 micron radiation is not microns, but tens of microns at least that’s physics.

  61. David Blake says:

    [Mod : I’ve read it and you’re wrong. Look up the definitions of TCR and ECS.]

  62. David Blake says:

    TCR:
    “A measure requiring shorter integrations is the transient climate response (TCR) which is defined as the average temperature response over a twenty-year period centered at CO
    2 doubling in a transient simulation with CO2 increasing at 1% per year.[7] The transient response is lower than the equilibrium sensitivity, due to the “inertia” of ocean heat uptake.”

    ECS:
    “By contrast, simpler energy-balance models may have climate sensitivity as an explicit parameter.

    \Delta T_s = \lambda \cdot RF

    The terms represented in the equation relate radiative forcing (RF) to linear changes in global surface temperature change (ΔTs) via the climate sensitivity λ.”

  63. David,
    I really am wasting my time. I’ll post your comment so I can respond, but that’s going to be about it.

    The TCR is the transient response. Typically it is a model metric in which CO2 increases at 1% per year which means it doubles in 70 years. You then determine the change in temperature by averaging the temperature over 20 years, at the end of the 70 year period. In other words, it is the actual change in temperature when CO2 has doubled.

    The ECS is also a model metric. You continue to run the model until the system reaches equilibrium. This can take many decades. Hence the transient response is less than the equilibrium response.

    Now, here’s the crucial factor. We are not in equilibrium. Therefore the correct comparison is between the observed temperatures and the expected transient response, not the expected equilibrium response. With all due respect, this is really simple stuff and that you can’t even get this doesn’t give me any hope that further discussion is remotely worthwhile.

  64. Marco says:

    ATTP, I think his claim of an article that notably uses GCMs to determine what exactly is causing the warming upon increasing greenhouse gases somehow turns the greenhouse theory on its head should have been a pretty strong clue he doesn’t get it.

  65. BBD says:

    You should have seen the car crash in comments at Sou’s, Marco. Rum Runner / ‘David Blake’ is so badly at sea it’s almost – but never quite – funny. And he will *not* be told.

  66. JCH says:

    He argues somewhat like another David that springs to mind.

  67. Brian Dodge says:

    Here’s an experiment one can do at home. You’l need a styrofoam cooler, a thermistor/thermocouple thermometer, a large (~20 qt) stock pot, enough fish gravel and/or play sand to cover the bottom of the pot 2″ deep, a 250 watt halogen flood light, a 250 watt infrared heat lamp, some salt, and a bottle of india ink.

    Pour the sand or gravel into the pot and spread it into a uniform layer
    Add enough water to saturate the bottom half of the sand/gravel, and put the pot into the freezer overnight. This will serve as an analogue of the deep ocean heat sink.

    After the sand/gravel + water has well and truly frozen, mix up enough iced salt water, 12 cup salt per gallon of water, to fill the pot; strain out any floating chunks of ice, add the water to the pot, and smooth out the unfrozen sand on top of the frozen sand/gravel layer. Put the pot in the cooler to eliminate most of the convective heal losses to air through the sides. This is your experimental ocean.

    After 5, 10, 20, & 40 minutes, record the temperature at the surface and every inch to the top of the sand layer on the bottom; do this at the center of the pot, and 1/4″ from the wall. A thermal gradient, will evolve, with warmer, lighter water on the top, getting heat from the room temperature air.

    Dilute the ink with some of the iced salt water, and add extra salt to make it denser than your model ocean. Add a few drops of salted ink to your model ocean. As the drops sink, the trail of diffusion following it will show very low flow & mixing. If you get the salty ink density exactly correct, it will sink onl par way, showing stratification.

    Warm the ink so that it will float on top of the model ocean; start spreading a little at a time on the surface until you can barely see to the bottom. This represents the short wave absorption layer in your model ocean.

    Put the 250 watt floodlight shining down into the pot, and take temperature profiles in the center and near the wall, at 5, 10, 20, & 40 minutes.

    Add the infrared heat lamp shining down into the water, and take temperature profiles again.

    Is the water warmer at the surface with the IR added?

    Does the temperature profile get warmer over time at all depths over time with added IR?

    If the surface is warmer with the added IR, isn’t there more heat conducted to the depths causing warming?

    Does the IR absorbed at the surface supply energy for evaporation that would normally have come from absorbed SWR deeper in the ocean, causing more heat at lower layers?

    David Blake is wrong. Rumrunner is wrong. (Some would say “at sea” with regard to Ocean heating; – +1 – &:>) If they are one person, he’s just twice as wrong.

    BTW, measurements have been made of the warming effect of clouds. “The fact that the downwelling radiance at the surface is similar to a Planck function indicates that there is low, thick cloud cover at this time. The corresponding AERI brightness temperature spectrum shows a similar temperature to that measured by the HIS. Here are some more AERI radiances throughout the day (980518), showing the effect of various clouds on the downwelling infrared radiance at the surface.” http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/fireiii/results/980518/HIS980518.html

  68. anoilman says:

    Brian Dodge: So… and some time later you plan to run a simulation that means something? I don’t get it.

    Wind Wind Wind. There’s no such thing as a ‘dry cold’ near the ocean.

  69. AoM,
    I think Brian was simply trying to illustrate that IR can heat the oceans and, hence, that David Blake (and others) who claim otherwise are wrong. My guess, though, is that the simple experiment suggested may not be quite as representative of the actual processes that take place in the oceans.

  70. BBD says:

    My understanding is that DSW heats the upper ocean layer to a depth of ~100m often less. The temperature of the atmosphere at the ocean surface determines the thermal gradient across the ocean surface skin layer through which all energy in the bulk ocean must pass by conduction in order to leave the ocean. Warming the atmosphere even slightly reduces the thermal gradient and so reduces the rate at which the bulk ocean cools. Energy begins to accumulate in the upper ocean layer.

  71. BBD,
    I think that is essentially right and is essentially what Pekka was getting at here.

    If I can explain it properly, it goes something like this. The heat loss is from the surface and the downwelling IR heats the surface. The surface loses energy which is then replenished by energy from below. The energy from below is then replenished through absorbed solar radiation. So, in equilibrium, the surface gains energy from below (originally direct solar radiation) and from above (downwelling IR) and loses energy through its own IR emission. If the downwelling IR increases, though, the surface is now gaining energy from downwelling IR which changes the temperature gradient and hence reduces how much it gains from below which them means the deeper levels warm. Okay, it’s Saturday morning, so that may not be as clear (or correct) as it should be.

  72. BBD says:

    Thanks ATTP.

    School Christmas Fair now, so not itme for more 🙂

  73. In my argument I didn’t discuss explicitly the role of atmospheric temperature, which is essential as it affects all net fluxes, but it does not do it alone.

    All forms of heat transfer (net IR, sensible heat, and latent heat) depend directly and indirectly on the temperature profile and humidity, latent and sensible heat transfer also on winds, turbulent mixing and vertical convection.

    Ultimately the main throttle is at TOA, the vertical profile changes less than the overall temperature level, when averages are considered. That applies to the atmosphere and to the mixed layer of the oceans, deeper ocean follows much more slowly.

    The differences between ocean and continental areas are also significant and make the overall picture somewhat more complex.

  74. Pekka,

    Ultimately the main throttle is at TOA, the vertical profile changes less than the overall temperature level, when averages are considered. That applies to the atmosphere and to the mixed layer of the oceans, deeper ocean follows much more slowly.

    Yes, a good point. If you increase the total amount of energy in the system, it will eventually increase everywhere – although there will be different timescales for different regions.

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