Archive for the ‘Ocean dynamics’ Category

Panama Canal ship size limit linked to El Niño

Posted: August 8, 2015 by oldbrew in Ocean dynamics

Sea surface height relative to normal ocean conditions on Dec. 1, 1997 [image credit: NASA/JPL]

Sea surface height relative to normal ocean conditions on Dec. 1, 1997 [image credit: NASA/JPL]

This type of restriction was also imposed due to the ‘super El Niño’ of 1998, inviting comparisons with what’s happening to El Niño this season. No doubt various claims will be made about the causes. BBC News reports:

The Panama Canal Authority says it will temporarily cut the size of ships allowed through because of drought caused by El Niño. From 8 September, the maximum draft of ships will be cut to 39ft (11.89m), which may affect up to 20% of traffic. A similar restriction was imposed for the same reason in 1998.

The authorities say a further cut in the draft could be imposed on 16 September if the situation does not improve.The authority has taken the action because water levels in the Gatun and Alhajuela lakes has reduced as a result of the El Niño weather phenomenon. The current draft limit is 39.5ft, which will be cut to 39ft on 8 September and then potentially to 38.5ft on 16 September. Shipping companies had been warned the cuts could be coming.


Ocean crisis or hot air?

Posted: July 3, 2015 by oldbrew in alarmism, climate, Ocean dynamics, opinion, propaganda

The carbon cycle [credit:]

The carbon cycle [credit:]

The BBC enthusiastically churns out another alarm-filled report on the supposed state of the climate, this time focussing on the oceans. But look closer and there are some awkward questions. First the report:

Scientists have warned that marine life will be irreversibly changed unless CO2 emissions are drastically cut.

Writing in Science, experts say the oceans are heating, losing oxygen and becoming more acidic because of CO2.

They warn that the 2C maximum temperature rise for climate change agreed by governments will not prevent dramatic impacts on ocean systems.


Paul Vaughan has produced a six page .pdf document crammed with the fruits of his research into the ways in which solar variation affects Earth’s climate. Several of the observations and concepts coincide with the work we have been doing here at the talkshop over the last six years to unravel the mysteries of solar system dynamics and their effect on Terrestrial variation. Paul has applied his stats and visualisation skills and thorough approach to referencing, including direct links to data. This has resulted in a landmark document which readers will find both useful and inspiring. It demonstrates the progress that has been made in solar-terrestrial theory, (with hints about the underlying planetary solar relations too).




Relevant to current discussions on the talkshop concerning changes in Earth’s length of day (LOD) and the effect of planetary orbital resonances on the Moon’s orbital parameters and Earth climatic variation; this is a repost from Ian Wilson’s excellent Astro-Climate-Connection website. Ian very generously opens with a hat tip to this blog, (at which he is one of the ‘collaborators’ he mentions). 

Connecting the Planetary Periodicities to Changes in the Earth’s LOD
Monday, October 14, 2013 : Ian Wilson PhD

[(*) Some of the findings in this blog post concerning the connection between the Earth’s rotation rate and the planetary configurations have also been independently discovered by Rog “Tallbloke” Tattersall and his collaborators]

A. The Connection Between Extreme Pergiean Spring Tides and Long-term Changes in the Earth’s Rotation Rate as Measured by the Rate-of-Change of its Length-of-Day (LOD). (*)

If you plot the rate of change of the Earth’s Length of Day (LOD) [with the short-term atmospheric component removed] against time [starting in 1962] you find that there is a ~ 6 year periodicity that is phase-locked with the 6 year period that it takes the lunar line-of-nodes  to re-align with the lunar line-of-apse [see the first note directly below and reference [1] for a description of the method used to determine the time rate of change of LOD].

NB: The pro-grade precession of the lunar line-of-apse once around the Earth with respect to the stars takes 8.8504 Julian years (J2000) while the retrograde precession of the lunar line-of-apse line-of-nodes once around the Earth with respect to the stars takes 18.6000 Julian years (J2000). Hence, the lunar line-of-apse and the ascending node of the lunar line-of-nodes will realign once every:

(18.6000 x 8.8504) / (18.6000 + 8.8504)  = 5.9969 Julian years

Figure 1



The Climate Water Wheel

Posted: April 22, 2015 by oldbrew in climate, Ocean dynamics


Planet Earth or Planet Ocean? Ron Clutz offers a water-based model.

Originally posted on Science Matters:

I recently came across this comment:

“During the height of the day at the equator, 1361 joules/m2/second (less 30% Albedo) is coming in from the Sun but the surface temperature only increases as if 0.0017 joules/m2/second is absorbed (or impacts the temperature at 2 meters). The extra 959.9983 joules/m2/second flows away from the surface effectively almost as fast as the energy is coming in.

Your calculator says surface temperatures should increase to 87C.

At night, virtually no radiation is coming in (and the upwelling less downwelling radiation) says the surface should be losing about 100 joules/m2/second but it actually only loses 0.001 joules/m2/second.

This is the real-world now versus the theoretical.” Bill Illis

And then Derek John posted this:

I was intrigued by the wheel in the diagram, but also puzzled about the numbers. In comparison to the moon, the earth’s temperature decrease is small, but still the image…

View original 1,973 more words


The idea that shipping could be releasing heat from the oceans has not been discussed much before.

Originally posted on Science Matters:

In response to my water world post, I was shown the wonderful phrase coined by Dr. Bernaerts:

“Climate is the continuation of oceans by other means”.

In was in 1992 he wrote in Nature appealing to the Rio conference to use the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) to better manage human impacts on the oceans, and thereby address climate concerns. Needless to say, that call fell on deaf ears.

He later elaborates: “Presumably science would serve the general public better when they would listen to Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) who said: “Water is the driver of nature”. Some say that nature rules climate, but water rules the nature on this earth, and the water on earth is so synonymous with the oceans and seas that it can be said: Climate is the continuation of the oceans by other means.”

Dr. Bernaerts is certainly a man worthy of…

View original 679 more words

Paul Vaughan writes in suggestions:

It’s the wind.

Rial (2012) drew my attention to a fundamental correction that’s underway in oceanography (more notes forthcoming on this later) ….

Lozier, Susan (2010). Deconstructing the conveyor belt. Science 328, 1507-1511.

Though appealing in its simplicity, the ocean conveyor-belt paradigm has lost luster over the years […] the ocean’s eddy field, unaccounted for just decades ago […] figures prominently in the dismantling of the conveyor-belt paradigm. Another player in this dismantling is the ocean’s wind field. The traditional assignation of surface ocean gyres to wind-forcing and overturning to buoyancy forcing has ignored the vital impact of winds on overturning pathways and mechanics. […] the conveyor-belt model no longer serves the community well […] because it ignores crucial structure and mechanics of the ocean’s intricate global overturning.

[…] wind forcing, rather than buoyancy forcing, can play a dominant role in changing the transport of the overturning […]


Well known hockeyjockey Michael Mann has a post up on Huffpo, claiming the ‘hiatus’ or ‘plateau’ in global warming which he says doesn’t exist, only happened because oscillations. To prove this he introduces a new one, which he calls the NMO. I think it stands for Numerically Magical Obfuscation.


NMO is derived from some twisty manipulation of the AMO (in blue) and the PMO (in green).

Just because Mann ‘invented’ the AMO doesn’t mean he gets to fiddle with the underlying data does it?


Glimmers of understanding are percolating through into mainstream climate science, this time through the journal Climate Dynamics. I can’t remember if Marcia Wyatt and Judy Curry explicitly linked these oscillations in their stadium wave paper, but it’s more evidence that our cycles driven theory of climate is correct, and that the 1976-2005 warming was mostly a natural phenomenon. It is likely to be followed by a 2006-2035 cooling phase, possibly accentuated by the lowest solar activity levels in two centuries or more. Unfortunately, the luni-solar dimension to the multidecadal variability is not explored. Nonetheless, this paper represents some joined up thinking in terms of the cyclic chain of cause and effect which connects the northern hemisphere oceanic oscillations.


A delayed oscillator model for the quasi-periodic multidecadal variability of the NAO
Cheng Sun, Jianping Li, Fei-Fei Jin Date: 06 Jan 2015
Wavelet analysis of the annual North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index back to 1659 reveals a significant frequency band at about 60 years. Recent NAO decadal variations, including the increasing trend during 1960–1990 and decreasing trend since the mid-1990s, can be well explained by the approximate 60-year cycle.


  • GC33H-07Atmospheric controls on northeast Pacific temperature trends and variations, 1900-2012
Wednesday, December 17, 201403:16 PM – 03:28 PM
    • Moscone West
    • 3005
    Over the past century, northeast Pacific coastal sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and land-based surface air temperatures (SATs) display multidecadal variations associated with the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, in addition to a warming trend of ~0.5 to 1°C. Using independent records of sea-level pressure (SLP), SST and SAT, this study investigates NE Pacific coupled atmosphere-ocean variability from 1900 to 2012, with emphasis on the coastal areas around North America. We use a linear stochastic time series model to show that the SST evolution around the NE Pacific coast can be explained by a combination of regional atmospheric forcing and ocean persistence, accounting for 63% of nonseasonal monthly SST variance (r = 0.79) and 73% of variance in annual means (r = 0.86).

    Writing from Australia Ian Wilson will be familiar to Talkshop regulars expounding his interest in astronomical connections with earth. He has three related recent articles and now a summary binding them together. Tim adds, the subject has a long history including false accusations of astrology by detractors; in this linked 1999 paper by a veteran scientist some of the origins and history is briefly mentioned and also that as data and computing power becomes available progress is being made. It mentions El Nino [paper see ref 1].  Strangers may need to get a conceptual understanding of the regular alignment of the earth moon and sun, where self evident effect on earth is the cyclic variation is ocean tidal height.

    Over to Ian


    If you are unfamiliar with this topic you may wish to read the following three post in order to understand this current covering post.

    Observations of the Earth rate of spin (i.e. LOD) show that there are abrupt decreases in the Earth’s rotation rate of the order of a millisecond that take place roughly once every 13.7 days. These slow downs in spin occur whenever the oceanic (and atmospheric) tidal bulge is dragged across the Earth’s equator by the Moon. They are produced by the conservation of total angular momentum of the Earth, its oceans and its atmosphere.


    Over on realclimate, (remember them?), Stefan ‘there is no pause’ Rahmsdorf has posted an article about why OHC makes a lousy climate policy target. I’ve left a comment concerning a sentence further down in the post, but here’s the intro:

    donkey-cartThe New York Times, 12 December 2027: After 12 years of debate and negotiation, kicked off in Paris in 2015, world leaders have finally agreed to ditch the goal of limiting global warming to below 2 °C. Instead, they have agreed to the new goal of limiting global ocean heat content to 1024 Joules. The decision was widely welcomed by the science and policy communities as a great step forward. “In the past, the 2 °C goal has allowed some governments to pretend that they are taking serious action to mitigate global warming, when in reality they have achieved almost nothing. I’m sure that this can’t happen again with the new 1024 Joules goal”, said David Victor, a professor of international relations who originally proposed this change back in 2014. And an unnamed senior EU negotiator commented: “Perhaps I shouldn’t say this, but some heads of state had trouble understanding the implications of the 2 °C target; sometimes they even accidentally talked of limiting global warming to 2%. I’m glad that we now have those 1024 Joules which are much easier to grasp for policy makers and the public.”


    GRL publishes letter on 18.6 year and SST

    Posted: October 15, 2014 by tchannon in Cycles, ENSO, Ocean dynamics

    A number of Talkshop regulars will raise eyebrows over this paper highlighted at Hockeyschtick  and perhaps like to learn about the references in a paywalled paper.

    Role of the oceanic bridge in linking the 18.6-year modulation of tidal mixing and long-term SST change in the North Pacific

    S. Osafune, S. Masuda and N. Sugiura


    The impact of the 18.6-year modulation of tidal mixing on sea surface temperature (SST) in the North Pacific is investigated in a comparative study using an ocean data synthesis system. We show that remote impact through a slow ocean response can make a significant contribution to the observed bidecadal variation in wintertime SST near the center of action of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation in the eastern Pacific. A comparative data synthesis experiment showed that the modified SST variation is amplified by bidecadal variation in the westerly wind. This relationship between SST and wind variations is consistent with an observed air–sea coupled mode in the extratropics, which suggests that a midlatitude air–sea interaction plays an important role in enhancing the climate signal of the 18.6-year modulation. This result supports the hypothesis that the 18.6-year tidal cycle influences long-term variability in climate; thus, knowledge of this cycle could contribute towards improving decadal predictions of climate.


    Guest post from Ben Wouters

    Geothermal flux and the deep oceans.

    To appreciate how the small geothermal flux of ~100 mW/m2 can play a significant role in our climate we’ll take a look at a cross-section of the Pacific in Fig 1.


    Fig 1

    A typical temperature profile is given in Fig 2 below

    Fig 2

    Fig 2

    First the profile below ~1000 m. Slowly decreasing temperature with depth, more or less the same for all latitudes. The dark blue layer (~30 C) can be regarded as the top of the cold deep oceans. From 1000 m. upward the temperature increases rapidly, warmest water at the surface in the (sub) tropics. The dark blue layer only reaches the surface at high latitudes (red arrows). All water above this dark blue layer is warmed from above by the sun, either directly or indirectly. This layer also loses its energy again at the surface to the atmosphere, and eventually to space. Solar energy only warms the upper ~1000 m. between ~50N and 55S. How high the surface temperatures will be, depends on the temperature of the deep oceans and how much the sun can warm the upper layer above the deep ocean temperature.


    Emperor penguins, Antarctica [image credit: USAF / Wikipedia]

    Emperor penguins, Antarctica [image credit: USAF / Wikipedia]

    We’ll highlight some points from the official reaction later but first the opening details from a press report. Note the eagerness to talk down the relevance of Antarctic sea ice.

    ‘Sea ice surrounding Antarctica reached a new record high extent this year, covering more of the southern oceans than it has since scientists began a long-term satellite record to map sea ice extent in the late 1970s. The upward trend in the Antarctic, however, is only about a third of the magnitude of the rapid loss of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean.’

    ‘The new Antarctic sea ice record reflects the diversity and complexity of Earth’s environments, said NASA researchers. Claire Parkinson, a senior scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, has referred to changes in sea ice coverage as a microcosm of global climate change.’


    Hot off the press release press, NASA tells us what I’ve been telling everyone who will listen for the last four years – large amounts of heat cannot magically descend through a marginally warming (or cooling) upper ocean to lurk in the abyss… The second law of thermodynamics doesn’t like that sort of thing.

    image shows heat radiating from the Pacific Ocean as imaged by the NASA’s Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System

    While the upper part of the world’s oceans continue to absorb heat from global warming, ocean depths have not warmed measurably in the last decade. This image shows heat radiating from the Pacific Ocean as imaged by the NASA’s Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System instrument on the Terra satellite. (Blue regions indicate thick cloud cover.) Image Credit:  NASA

    The cold waters of Earth’s deep ocean have not warmed measurably since 2005, according to a new NASA study, leaving unsolved the mystery of why global warming appears to have slowed in recent years.

    Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, analyzed satellite and direct ocean temperature data from 2005 to 2013 and found the ocean abyss below 1.24 miles (1,995 meters) has not warmed measurably. Study coauthor Josh Willis of JPL said these findings do not throw suspicion on climate change itself.

    “The sea level is still rising,” Willis noted. “We’re just trying to understand the nitty-gritty details.”

    In the 21st century, greenhouse gases have continued to accumulate in the atmosphere, just as they did in the 20th century, but global average surface air temperatures have stopped rising in tandem with the gases. The temperature of the top half of the world’s oceans — above the 1.24-mile mark — is still climbing, but not fast enough to account for the stalled air temperatures.


    bare-arsed2No reply from the eminent atmospheric physics professor… any takers?

    Dear Professor xxxxxxx,

    I am trying to better understand the physics underlying atmospheric science and wondered if you could answer a question for me.

    The Modtran model successfully predicts the local temperature throughout the troposphere, but how do we determine the extent to which the level of radiative activity at a particular altitude is the effect of the local temperature at that altitude rather than the cause of it?

    I ask because it appears from my limited reading and understanding that the theoretical underpinning of radiative-convective models neglects the effect of sea level pressure on the rate of evaporation, which must surely have a significant effect on the rate at which the ocean is able to shed the energy input to it by solar radiation.


    Paul Vaughan has suggested we hold a discussion on bi-decadal climatic variation, which exhibits quasi-cyclic patterns in various datasets. To get the ball rolling, Paul has kindly given some time to producing some very interesting plots which he has introduced across a few recent threads. This posts puts these in one place and acts as an invitation to those interested in a focussed discussion on the topic.

    The Bidecadal Oscillation

    Is it caused by the solar Hale Cycle as suggested by Tim Channon or is it caused by the velocity of the sun with respect to the solar system barycenter as suggested by Nicola Scafetta?


    Clams [credit: Wikipedia]

    Clams [credit: Wikipedia]

    El Niño and its twin La Niña are under the spotlight this year as climate-watchers hunt for signs of expected activity that seems to have gone largely missing in recent years if compared to, say, the 1990s.

    Has the strength of these phenomena changed in modern times? Apparently not.

    ‘The charts created by the research team suggest that the ENSO cycle does not have a predictable cycle and also that it has not been increasing in strength over the course of the Holocene as others have suggested.’


    Paul’Vaughan posted a link to this plot on the tail end of a long running thread which has dropped off the front page now, so I thought I’s give it prominence today. It’s a ‘food for thought’ starter – the main course will be served as and when Paul has time.


    It’s all coming together. Both Paul and I have been working on the sunspot integral over the last several years. Back in 2009 I found that by subtracting the average sunspot number at which the ocean neither gains nor loses energy from the monthly value and summing the running total, I could make use of the sunspot integral as a proxy for ocean heat content (OHC).