A new look at the “global warming hiatus” as a redistribution of energy in the Earth’s system 

Posted: December 17, 2016 by oldbrew in atmosphere, climate, modelling, Natural Variation, Ocean dynamics, Temperature, Uncertainty
Tags: , , ,

A different view - source:  ARGO marine atlas [credit: climatedepot.com]

A different view – source: ARGO marine atlas [credit: climatedepot.com]

This is from US CLIVAR. If their graph is to be believed the ocean heat content went up by a factor of about 6 between 1980 and 2012. The title of their paper is ‘The global warming hiatus: Slowdown or redistribution? (Earth’s Future)’. Of course ‘missing heat hiding in the ocean’ is not exactly a new claim from climate alarm theorists.

Atmospheric greenhouse gases have continued their steady increase in the new century. Logically, one would expect that global mean surface temperature (GMST) would also continue to increase in the same fashion as experienced in the latter decades of the 20th century.

However, between 1998 and 2013 GMST actually plateaued with much smaller increases than the average over the last 60 years and labeled the “global warming hiatus.” The fact that this slowdown in GMST increase was not predicted by most climate models has led some to question the steady increase in heat predicted under increased greenhouse gas conditions.

A new paper in Earth’s Future documents the work of many researchers showing that GMST, while an important climate indicator, is a measure of the Earth’s surface warming, not a measure of total accumulated heat energy in the Earth’s system.

The paper notes that the amount of missing heat that could cause the slowdown in GMST increase would be but a small fraction of the total heat entering the ocean. So the slowdown in GMST increase is most likely a redistribution of excess heat into and within the ocean. Thus, the overall Earth continued to warm with the ocean absorbing the large majority of excess heat.

Present and future research activities are interested in where and under what conditions the ocean experienced increased heat uptake. An important component in achieving this is support of the subsurface ocean observing system – mainly by Argo profiling floats, both in its present form and with more complete global coverage – and subsurface remote sensing.

Improvements in modeling ocean heat uptake are possible and already underway. 

Source: A new look at the “global warming hiatus” as a redistribution of energy in the Earth’s system | US CLIVAR

  1. oldbrew says:

    The Japanese version of ocean heat content (blue line) comes in a lot lower than the US and Aussie versions.

    Source: http://www.epa.gov/climate-indicators/climate-change-indicators-ocean-heat

  2. oldbrew says:

    The ARGO site quotes ‘a warming of the 0 – 2000 m ocean by 0.06°C since the (pre-XBT) early 1960’s.’

    Hardly doomsday stuff.

  3. catweazle666 says:

    If their graph is to be believed…

    This graph?

    Yeah, right!

  4. catweazle666 says:

    What’s all this “ZJ” rubbish – presumably zettajoules?

    I presume they get that from tiny temperature differences that are considerably smaller than the actual error ranges extrapolated over the whole of the World’s oceans from top to bottom (as if!), and all this “zetta” crap is just to make the numbers look big and scary to the gullible. I wonder what the real value is in Kelvin, say.

    If so, they’ve missed a trick – they should use ergs, that would make them seven orders of magnitude scarier!

    More junk science IOW.

  5. oldbrew says:

    ‘The zeptojoule (zJ) is equal to one sextillionth (10−21) of one joule.’

    a cardinal number represented in the U.S. by 1 followed by 21 zeros, and in Great Britain by 1 followed by 36 zeros.’

    That’s a lot of zeros when it’s a fraction. Looks like a case of trying to ‘big up’ a very small unit to get the graph to look good, as catweazle suggested.

  6. IF CO2 increases are the cause, the oceanic heat content increase rate reflects both surface transfer rates AND shallow-to-deep mixing rates. Areas of greater mixing should warm faster. Upwelling won’t warm at all until the cold water in the pipeline is gone.

    Any study on this you’ve seen?

    Global stats are extremely difficult to interpret. The warmists don’t use global but regional surface ice stats for this reason. But oceanic heat content? Only global.

    Wonder why …

    Tim, you are good at this sort of breakdown ….

    I am sitting in the middle of a -25C Canadian winter heatwave. Thank God for global warming. It would be cold here otherwise.

  7. Thanks Roger and everyone else who commented – a really useful article.

  8. dai davies says:

    If they were scientists, keen to understand the Earth and its systems, they could view it quite differently. They measure to 2 km depth. The mean ocean depth is 4 km and goes down to 11 km. Deep ocean circulation has a millennial cycle.

    “Hey, folks, it looks as though we are getting some heat back from the Medieval Warm Period. Perhaps the ocean currents are returning some of the CO2 peak they had then, too.”

    The graph catweazle put up is the really scary one – a factor of five increase in ocean heat in a few decades. Hell’s breaking out! But it does show how insignificant the atmospheric heat content is in the overall energy balance. Same with CO2 – just 5% or so of the total. Do you have a reference for that graph? It’s worth keeping for posterity.

    The 1022 J/y figure works its way back into the official global energy balance (eg. Wild et.al., A new diagram of the global energy balance) as a 0.6 W/m2 imbalance in atmospheric energy, with the net surface flux having an uncertainty of ±25 W/m2. The have a real knack for dredging data out of noise.


    [reply] catweazle’s graph is the US CLIVAR one referred to in the original post

  9. BoyfromTottenham says:

    Oldbrew, thanks for the helpful comments. I note that your first graph of ocean heat content has zero +/- as it’s y axis. Does this mean the graph is purporting to show the change in OHC relative (apparently) to 1990, and if so, what does this translate to in actual ocean temperature change over this period?

  10. dai davies says:

    Ahh. Graph is in the first link. I went to the argo one.

    We just had a 32C max and “highest December temp in 11 years” was trumpeted. Then we had a 15C max. I’m looking forward to another mild summer – perhaps a bit chilly if the La Nina develops.

    WP is dropping sup tags. Ocean heat increase said to be 10^22 J/y. I’ve gone into moderation. Policy change or have I offended?


  11. tom0mason says:

    If the oceans are getting significantly warmer surely this would lead to higher atmospheric humidity and cooling as the damp air precipitates out as rain. Is this happening?

  12. dai davies says:

    Digging deeper, the Yan paper does recognise problems. (The global warming hiatus: Slowdown or redistribution?, Yan, Trenberth etal., Oct. 2016)

    “The problem in detecting changes in the OHC that can account for a decrease in atmospheric heat uptake is that the rate of change in atmospheric temperature, although robust, when converted to units of heat energy is so small relative to the ocean change that it is lost in the noise.”

    Skimming a few related articles, there are references to a new Deep Argo to go below 4 km. Plenty of references to paucity of data (more money, please) and low accuracy – typically around ±50 to ±100%.

    No hint that with slow currents flowing deep, geographical differences become time differences on larger scales than the decades they look at.


  13. Ross Handsaker says:

    Under the AGW hypothesis the additional CO2 in the atmosphere is supposed to absorb more outward long-wave radiation thereby warming the troposphere with the resultant increase in back radiation causing the surface to also warm. If there has been no warming in the troposphere during the period under review it would require some magic for CO2 to be the cause of the additional heat in the ocean.

  14. oldbrew says:

    Boy – the dotted line [December 17, 2016 at 5:06 pm] is the 1971-2000 average.

    Here’s the EPA’s explanation of the graph:

    ‘This figure shows changes in ocean heat content between 1955 and 2015. Ocean heat content is measured in joules, a unit of energy, and compared against the 1971–2000 average, which is set at zero for reference. Choosing a different baseline period would not change the shape of the data over time. The lines were independently calculated using different methods by government agencies in three countries: the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), and Japan Meteorological Agency’s Meteorological Research Institute (MRI/JMA). For reference, an increase of 1 unit on this graph (1 x 1022 joules) is equal to approximately 18 times the total amount of energy used by all the people on Earth in a year.’

    Why ‘missing’ heat in the ocean might have anything to do with a trace gas in the atmosphere is not clear, to say the least.

    US CLIVAR just says: ‘Present and future research activities are interested in where and under what conditions the ocean experienced increased heat uptake.’

  15. p.g.sharrow says:

    Open Water loses energy through evaporation. Average Pan evaporation has been decreasing world wide over the last 50 years. Geothermal from below and Solar heating from above, heat the waters of our world, that carry that energy into the Troposphere thru evaporated water vapor. The condensing of that vapor releases that energy to the atmosphere to be radiated into deep space above. Depressed evaporation results in increased energy levels in the ocean as well as a reduction in the gasses held in suspension, or a reduction in the ability of the ocean/atmospheric interface to scrub the gasses in the atmosphere. An increase in atmospheric pressure will result in increases in ocean temperatures due to a decrease in pan evaporation. Meanwhile a quieting sun is resulting in cooling of the atmosphere. Cool wet would be the forecast…pg

  16. oldbrew says:

    U.S. Colder Now than All of Last Winter
    December 18th, 2016 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

    If it seems like the current cold snap is unusual, you are right.

    As of 7 a.m. EST this morning, Sunday, Dec. 18, the average temperature across the Lower 48 states of the U.S. is colder than any time all last winter.

    And the coldest part of winter is still six weeks away.


  17. linneamogren says:

    Here they go again! Any long-wave radiation would only penetrate the upper wave surface by only a micron or two which would cause evaporation. Thus you should only see cooling regardless of increased C02.

  18. linneamogren says:

    Also the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics might have a little problem with a cooler atmosphere warming the ocean.

  19. linneamogren says:

    @ Oldbrew

    Good article on cold snap. Two weeks ago it was -41C in Fort Yukon Alaska.

  20. Brett Keane says:

    @inneamogren says:
    December 21, 2016 at 4:49 am: But warmists keep claiming they have superseded the LODs. Hope they have to demonstrate this publicly soon, or shut up.
    This meridional jetstream behaviour is currently chopping weeks out of our early SH summer, after a chilly Spring. No joy in being proven right, not when hunger and the other horsemen could be involved before long. I suppose all we can do is keep the records straight, and spread the truth so politicians etc. can understand it.