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Climate Hustle

Pielke Sr and scientific equivocation: don't beat around the bush, Roger

Posted on 8 September 2010 by gpwayne

When I wrote a ‘basic’ rebuttal on ocean heat, I didn’t expect one of the world’s foremost climate scientists - and one who is frequently associated with climate change scepticism - to take issue with me, or to take it so personally. But he did, and he chose to do so on his own blog, with comments turned off so I couldn’t respond or defend my work. Since Dr. Pielke didn’t care to pop in to Skeptical Science and talk to us, I’ll just have to consider his arguments, and my responses to them, in this post instead.

Setting the scene

Let’s start by considering the skeptical arguments I was rebutting. We employed a statement by Pielke Sr as a stand-in for a broader issue – that global warming has stalled or stopped during the last decade because the oceans have not continued to heat up. As far as oceans are concerned, the broad assertion made by many skeptics depends on a rather odd assumption – that temperature changes in the ocean or atmosphere will be linear – steady, regular rises that march in step with GHG increases. Unfortunately, we’re talking about a chaotic system, so nothing is likely to be quite so tidy. But that isn’t Pielke’s specific argument; in this case, his is a subset of this wider misinterpretation of climate science and the evidence for it.

What then are his specific arguments? There are two; the first is that the oceans have not been accumulating heat since 2004. The second is, and I quote “Global warming, as diagnosed by upper ocean heat content has not been occurring since 2004”.

Does Pielke Sr still think this? Apparently so, because in his indignant response, this is what he wrote about my rebuttal:

“The author of this post [that’s me] documents in the figures that they present, that upper ocean heat, in terms of its annual average, did not accumulate during the period ~2004 through 2009. This means that global warming halted on this time period. There is no other way to spin this data”.

The emboldening is Pielke’s, not mine. (I might also suggest he refrains from suggesting he couldn’t think of any other way to “spin this data”. He was probably being ironic, right? Let’s hope so).

Have the oceans been cooling?

It stands to reason that if the oceans haven’t been cooling, the wheels come off Pielke’s argument pretty quickly. So what does the science say? To examine the evidence, I used Lyman 2010, which created a meta-study of various measurements for the last two decades. This choice eliminated one key problem with Pielke’s assertion – dependence on too small a data sample. It also gave us a clearer indication of overall trends, because as usual it is necessary to screen out noisy signals to ascertain the valid long-term trend. What Lyman 2010 shows very clearly is that although upper ocean heat increases are irregular, the trend is very clear:

Source: Lyman 2010

But I’m just a journalist writing about science. Perhaps we should look to someone who has hands-on expertise in the field, someone like Kevin Trenberth, who also takes issue with Pielke’s claims about ocean heat:

Trenberth, April 2010: We are well aware that there are well over a dozen estimates of ocean heat content and they are all different yet based on the same data. There are clearly problems in the analysis phase and I don’t believe any are correct. There is a nice analysis of ocean heat content down to 2000m by von Schuckmann [Global hydrographic variability patterns during 2003–2008] but even those estimates are likely conservative. The deep ocean is not well monitored and nor is the Arctic below sea ice... [An article going to press] highlights the discrepancies that should be resolved with better data and analysis, and improved observations must play a key role.

So what does Pielke think about these discrepancies in ocean heat content? This is part of his response to Trenberth:

Pielke: We both agree on the need for further data and better analyses...However, I do not see how such large amounts of heat could have transited to depths below 700m since 2005 without being detected.

Source (both quotes): Post on Pielke’s blog

Now call me picky if you like, but if there’s a lot of discussion about the accuracy of the data, the methods of analysing it, and what it all means, then surely it would be more prudent to make clear the uncertainty, and certainly make clear the arbitrary nature of one’s scepticism e.g. “I do not see how such large amounts...” Incredulity is not science. Yet there’s very little uncertainty in Pielke’s claim that “global warming halted on this time period”, which appears to be based on arbitrary assumptions, especially when you look at Von Schuckmann’s paper. This is the graph of ocean heat content down to 2000 metres:

Figure 11: Time series of global mean heat storage (0-2000m).

This is what the von Schuckmann paper had to say about the graph: Figure 11a shows the variability of globally averaged deep ocean heat content computed from the monthly temperature anomaly fields. A considerable warming is visible from the year 2003 to 2008. The 6-year heat increase implies an average warming rate of 0.77 ± 0.11Wm2. Much of this increase in heat storage comes from the Atlantic [Fig. 5,Levitus et al., 2005].

Compare that statement to this one, from Pielke’s post:

“What the Skeptical Science fails to recognize is that with respect to the diagnosis of global warming using Joules of heat accumulation in the oceans, snapshots of heat content at different times are all that is needed. There is no time lag in heating or cooling. The Joules are either there or they are not. The assessment of a long-term linear trend is not needed”.

Sorry, but if you take ‘snapshots’ (isn’t that another name for cherry-picking?) and come to a conclusion at odds with the trend demonstrated by the full data, perhaps the snapshot technique isn’t very suitable? The statement about ‘no time-lag’ is puzzling, since latency is a big issue in ocean studies. Heat moves around the ocean in mysterious ways, and as Trenberth notes there are considerable areas of uncertainty in deep water measurements, Arctic heat content and the analysis techniques themselves. Since Pielke appears to agree, it is hard to understand how he can defend his claims, based as they are on certainties that the data don’t support.

So, on the science, it appears that in the first place, the premise that the oceans have not been heating may not be correct, and the science certainly isn’t settled. Pielke Sr may simply be wrong, he most certainly cannot provide definitive, unequivocal evidence to support his claim, and statements investing so much inappropriate certainty on something so uncertain are not worthy of a reputable scientist.

Pielke Sr claims I have misrepresented the science. It seems to me the boot is on the other foot, and it isn’t just me:

“I had noted that Pielke Sr. loves to cherry-pick climate data over short time spans to make misleading scientific claims about climate. Climate, of course, is about long-term trends”.

Joe Romm, July 2009

And for completeness, Realclimate respond on several issues following an attack on them by Pielke. Read it and decide for yourself if there isn’t a bit of a pattern emerging here.

Did Global Warming stop during this period?

So far I’ve dealt with uncertainty, our requirement to acknowledge it, and the inadvisable nature of making assumptions based on short term data. There is much more to all this, as you can read at Realclimate and Pielke’s blog, where ocean heat arguments come up regularly. To this journalist, they seem rather circular; what I do take from all this is that nobody really know that much for certain. Including Pielke.

When we turn to the other issue I believe is important, things seem a little clearer, because there is a pervasive logic that must surely apply. It is this statement that troubles me:

“This means that global warming halted on this time period”.

It cannot be controversial to suggest that if you are considering whether a phenomenon is taking place or not, one would evaluate all the manifestations of that phenomenon. Ocean heating –whatever the hell is going on down there – is only one part of the jigsaw. Let’s just assume for a moment that the oceans did not heat up for five years. In order to assert that global warming has halted in this period, we would also expect to see no negative mass balance in the Arctic or Greenland ice cap for the same period. Since Pielke insists there is no time lag there should be no lag in cryrospheric responses either where those responses are so closely coupled to ocean temperatures. Yet the ice has melted at prodigious, and accelerating rates - something else that Pielke denies.

Another response we would expect to see in the data would be sea level rise. It is curious to note that Pielke also disputes this area of study in much the same fashion; according to him, reports that sea levels are rising at an accelerating rate are simply ‘not true’.

So according to Pielke, for five years oceans did not heat up, ice did not melt and sea levels did not increase. This is too much research for one man to debunk. It goes against a heap of science across several disciplines, the same science summarised in the Synthesis Report of the Copenhagen Climate Congress. It is at this point that Pielke’s position begins to assume the characteristics ascribed to him by Romm, Schmidt and others (including me). It does not look like good science, it looks like partisan obfuscation, smacking not so much of scepticism but confirmation bias. I will refrain from invoking the ‘D’ word.

I will conclude with a broad sweep of my own: the NOAA 2009 State of the Climate Report. The link is to their news story of the release, which they title “Past Decade Warmest on Record According to Scientists in 48 Countries”. In the report they catalogue ten key indicators of a warming world. All of them have demonstrated phenomena consistent with anthropogenic climate change, the same phenomena Pielke says were not happening.

Roger Pielke Sr is a well-credentialed man. He is widely published, a bona-fide expert, and his competence cannot be questioned. He is also a human being, and we are all from time to time victims of our beliefs, where ideology and resistance to change are justified using all the tricks, the clout and the guile we learn throughout our lives. But data doesn’t change because you don’t like it. Disingenuous claims about climate change are used to obfuscate, delay and hinder any progress on this subject, be it scientific, commercial, industrial, social or political.

Scientists like Pielke have a responsibility not to put dangerous myths into the hands of those whose interests are very different from that of the majority. Science and politics may not mix very well, but each can provide sufficient fuel with which to burn each other’s books.

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Comments 1 to 50 out of 226:

  1. gpwayne

    "indignant" really?

    You should reread his post and your post and note how many times each of you refer to the other authors emotional state, ideological outlook or ulterior motives, it should be obvious who's taking this personally.

    The NODC near realtime update of OHC shows that the oceans haven't been warming since 2004ish. This is based on the best data available to us. It's less than perfact but the best we've got. We have to make the most of that.

    Kevin Trenberth can't believe the ARGO data because he is unwilling to question the quality of his own data. It's a common fault with all flavours of scientists. It doesn't mean he's wrong but it does mean we have to take this good scientists word with a pinch of salt. Josh Willis also took part in the email exchange published on Pielkes website, He looks like the real expert on ARGO to me. Instead of simply critising the data he has been willing to accept errors in the ARGO data and actively sort to correct them. His feelings now on the data is that it's now robust and unlikely to see any future large corrections. Given the choice is now between Willis and Trenberth who's expert opinion should we trust?

    You haven't dealt with Pielkes main reason for being interested in this subject. The fact that good quality OHC data would be a far better metric for measuring global warming than air temperature. It seems he makes that point over and over again not because the short term trend suits his outlook but because of specific features of the climate system. If you truely want to have a scientific discussion with Pielke snr you should try addressing that issue.
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    Moderator Response: [Graham] It seems to me that you are studiously avoiding the issues being discussed. You keep trying to move the debate towards something else - the validity of various metrics or the emotional nature of certain remarks - and away from the following: Pielke says the ice wasn't melting, the oceans were not heating and the sea has not been rising. And building on this array of claims for which there is plenty of evidence to the contrary (or insufficient evidence to make any claims at all), he makes the statement that global warming stopped during this period. It is these claims, the unequivocal nature of them, and the lack of rigour inherent in such assertions, that is under discussion, not issues surrounding measurements or analysis.
  2. Well, you did accuse him of 'denialist spin,' which in most circles would pass as an ad hominem comment.

    You say you're just a journalist writing about science.

    And I'm just a psychiatrist looking at a human interaction played out in the blogosphere.

    While Pielke Sr's intense reaction is a backhanded compliment to the influence of this site, it's also a reminder that we need to observe basic civility in our dealings with folks.

    On this occasion, I'm afraid your presentation would have got anybody's back up.

    I'll let HR tackle you on the science - he's better at it than I am :-)
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    Moderator Response: [Graham] I agonised over this during the last 24 hours. Should I remove the remark and apologise in a footnote? Was it really lacking in civility? I made my decision. My remark stands because I don't think it is uncivil, I think it's calling a spade a spade (and compared to Joe Romm, I'm almost a fan of Pielke's). I also find the indignity expressed on this issue - what you call 'an intense reaction' - reminds me of the standard diversionary tactics I see all the time in debates like this. And in no circles would a remark about denialist spin pass as an ad hom unless it stood without any substantiation. I've now written over 3000 words on this issue, of which that remark was a single line. My remark is not an ad hom - it is an ideological association based on Pielke's record.
  3. Scientists like Pielke have a responsibility not to put dangerous myths into the hands of those whose interests are very different from that of the majority.

    As do journalists :-)
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  4. I tend to agree about the need for weighing words in characterizations better.

    But, at the same time, it is really hard to take Pielke, HR (plus BP here) quite seriously. Looking at the historical data, there is clearly a rather low signal-to-noise ratio here, which means that heat content may be suddenly "increasing" (like after 2000), only to "decrease" slightly for several years thereafter. And both Pielke and HR simply fail to draw the only sensible conslusion from the data: Avoid talking about short-time trends when the inherent variance renders such measures wildly variable. Necessitating longer observation periods.

    In the case of OHC, we also have a rather simple giant-scale thermometer in sea level, and that has turned out to be a much better indicator of warming than most direct temerature estimates.

    Any claims about warming or not warming must be checked against the basic set of indicators. Failure to do so, in my view qualifies for "denialist" or "warmist" characterizations. And in particular, to qualify as a skeptic, I have to always be on the conservative side in quality and precision assessments. Thus, for example, rather go with well established long time trends, and give up on catching eventual trend shifts early on. Drawing wide-ranging conclusions from sparse and rather crude data, looks more like superstition to me - I really can't see what that has to do with skepticism.
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  5. I read the article that Pielke snr linked to in his reply:

    He is skeptical about the IPCC for its emphasis on CO2 and long range computer modelling and some of the findings of James Hansen and associates. This is based on ocean heat measurements by Joshua Willis over a 4 year limited time frame. He is saying that ocean heat is the most reliable measure we have of global warming because the ocean is the largest reservoir of heat change. Hence, ocean heat change measured in joules is a superior measure to average surface temperature. He concedes that 4 years is a narrow time frame. All he claims in that article is that it raises issues about our level of understanding. He raises other points about other contributors to climate change and prefers to take a regional approach rather than rely on unreliable global average metrics. These are the sort of points that scientists ought to be discussing about this issue.

    He asserts that:
    "Humans are significantly altering the global climate ..."
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  6. SN Ratio @ 4:

    BP hasn't even posted a comment yet (and may or may not want to) and you say a priori that you won't take him seriously.

    Sorry, guys, but 'superstition' kind of also fails the civility test.

    I really don't want to see this thread degenerate and drag this site down to the lowest common denominator (pun intended :-) ).

    Graham, whether Pielke Sr is right or wrong is one issue. However, he returned fire with fire.

    I also don't think it's fair to suggest HR is 'studiously avoiding the issues.' He's addressed them pretty clearly and directly as best as I can tell.

    Whether he's right or wrong is again a separate issue.

    But let's not get caught up in a ****fight.

    For what little it's worth,I actually think you do owe Pielke Sr an apology. I don't think you really need to agonise about it - all of us sometimes have to do it. You also need to be charitable to those with whom you disagree. Labels dehumanise and impute bad intentions where sometimes none exist.
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  7. HR@1- "Given the choice is now between Willis and Trenberth who's expert opinion should we trust?"

    Hey, everybody makes mistakes, but now that you bring up this very issue, in your appeal to authority: Correcting Ocean Cooling

    "That February evening, Willis says, he was updating maps and graphs with the data that had become available since the 2006 ocean cooling paper was published. He was preparing for a talk he had been invited to give at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. The topic was “Ocean cooling and its implications for understanding recent sea level trends"

    He was looking at a map of global ocean temperatures measured by a flotilla of autonomous, underwater robots that patrol the world’s oceans. The devices—Argo floats—sink to depths of up to 2,000 meters, drift with the currents, and then bob up to the surface, taking the temperature of the water as they ascend. When they reach the surface, they transmit observations to a satellite. According to the float data on his computer screen, almost the entire Atlantic Ocean had gone cold. Unless you believe The Day After Tomorrow, Willis jokes, impossibly cold."

    “Oh, no,” he remembers saying.

    “What’s wrong?” his wife asked.

    “I think ocean cooling isn’t real.”
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  8. This question is, I'm afraid, off-topic but I don't know where else to post it. At least it deals with oceans...

    I've read that agriculture first developed in the Fertile Crescent, maybe around 8,000 BC. I've also read that around that time (c. 6,000 BC), sea level was about what it is today.

    My question: is there any relationship between the rise of agriculture and sea level?
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  9. If RP, Sr. wishes to be "The Loyal Opposition" he should remain focused on the uncertainties without making such ridiculous claims that "global warming has halted" in some very short time scale. He knows better so there must be some motivation to feed the contrarian crowd.
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  10. billkerr writes: He is saying that ocean heat is the most reliable measure we have of global warming because the ocean is the largest reservoir of heat change. Hence, ocean heat change measured in joules is a superior measure to average surface temperature.

    This is a slightly confusing point. Ocean heat would absolutely be one of the best measures of global warming if we could measure it well. Unfortunately, the actual global measurement of ocean heat is still in its infancy.

    This is in contrast to many other areas (sea surface temperatures, land surface temperatures, sea level rise, mass balance of ice, etc.) where we have longer records and/or more alternative measurement options.

    So by all means, let's do collect as much OHC data as we can, and let's try to wring as much information as possible from the spatially and methodologically inconsistent historical record of pre-ARGO OHC measurements.

    But let's also recognize that while the land, the atmosphere, and the cryosphere may not soak up as many joules as the ocean, we've been studying them much longer and much more robustly, and they can tell us a great deal about the state of the climate. We need to avoid making a fetish of any one subject -- like OHC -- to the point where you override or throw out useful information provided by people studying other parts of the Earth system.
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  11. If we look at the data over a multi-decadal time scale there is no question that 'oceans heated up, ice melted, and sea levels increased'. None. The changes in each of these areas are significant enough to dismiss any concerns about measurement error or random fluctuation producing the apparent trend. Thus, if Pielke were arguing that these things had not happened or the data could not be believed he'd be firmly in the 'denial' camp... maintaining a position solely by denying overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

    However, as I understand it, he is applying a narrower focus and claiming that these changes WERE happening, but have now stopped. This goes back to his underlying theory that global warming has been more due to land use changes than CO2 increases. If warming and its effects were to level off while CO2 continued to rise that would tend to validate his theory.

    The problem, as John pointed out in the article, is that he is basing his claim on a time frame too short to support it and, if anything, with the balance of the evidence even over that short span against him. He is making a definitive statement of global warming having stopped founded almost entirely on statistical uncertainty (i.e. all data contradicting it must be erroneous and OHC data that most think is very incomplete and uncertain being the best indicator) and his own preconceived views. Yes, it is true that highly accurate OHC data would likely be one of the best gauges of ongoing global warming... but Pielke is only assuming that the current data is that accurate (sufficient to show a change in trend over just four years), in the face of quite alot of evidence to the contrary.

    To me that doesn't reach the level of 'denial', but certainly demonstrates 'unfounded advocacy' rather than mere 'skepticism'. If he'd throw in a few qualifying statements (e.g. 'global warming MAY have stopped', 'ice MIGHT not be melting', et cetera) he'd be fine. However, he simply doesn't have anything like the proof needed to be making definitive statements. If anything I'd say he's reaching.
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  12. Darnit Ned... if you're always gonna say the same things I want to better than me then you need to type slower. :]
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  13. Re: Hunt Janin (8)
    "I've read that agriculture first developed in the Fertile Crescent, maybe around 8,000 BC. I've also read that around that time (c. 6,000 BC), sea level was about what it is today.

    My question: is there any relationship between the rise of agriculture and sea level?"
    While this is OT, I don't believe that Skeptical Science has an appropriate post (perhaps the climate sensitivity thread comes closest) anyway, so I'll feebly attempt to answer you here. Or at least give you some leads to follow for an answer.

    As I mentioned previously, William Ruddiman has developed his "early anthropocene hypothesis, the idea that human-induced changes in greenhouse gases did not begin in the eighteenth century with advent of coal-burning factories and power plants of the industrial era but date back to 8,000 years ago, triggered by the intense farming activities of our early agrarian ancestors." Tied in with that is his overdue-glaciation hypothesis, in which "Ruddiman claims that an incipient ice age would probably have begun several thousand years ago, but the arrival of that scheduled ice age was forestalled by the activities of early farmers." This is possibly supported by the existence of evidence that the Amazon supported societies in excess of 20 million at one time where now stands rainforest.

    Related conceptually is the existence of sophisticated societies that predate that of Egypt, such as on Malta. Even older is the Jomon Culture of Japan, which also inhabited many of the islands in the archipelagos extending from Japan towards Guam.

    The temple of Mahabalipuram, India, are said to be the 7th. The first was located miles away, under what is now the Indian Ocean. Rising sea levels forced the building of a new temple further inland, which was then inundated. This process continued through the current iteration, the 7th. The remains of what is said to be the 6th temple are located offshore and discussed here and here.

    That second link references the submerged "temple" of Yonaguni, Japan. Where situated, if indeed a manmade structure, it would have been constructed more than 10,000 years ago, the last time the site was above the waters of the Pacific Ocean.

    Here's a quick timeline to keep in mind. Keep in mind that evidence exists for a human-decimation of North American megafauna around the time of the Laurentide deglaciation. It is theorized that human predation of megafauna 13,800 years ago caused the extinction of the wooly mammoth, allowing various plants kept in check by browsing of the herds to proliferate, changing the albedo of the Arctic and warming it.

    What we know: Climate sensitivity (of a doubling of CO2 concentrations) to fast feedbacks is about 3 degrees C, more or less. Hansen believes long-term feedbacks add another 3 degrees C on top of that. We know from looking at the ice core records that there is a narrow range of CO2 concentrations between glacial and interglacial periods, with a temperature range of about 6 degrees C from hottest to coldest. Effectively, even a tiny change in albedo of the planet can drive large changes in climate.

    So, conjecturally, if by driving the megafauna to extinction precipitated the demise of the last glaciation, giving rise to advanced agricultural societies, which through agricultural activities maintained the climate to a range conducive to the development of our modern societies (the climate "sweet spot").

    A lot of hoo-hah, right? 30 years ago, who among us would've thought of this communication medium such as this? Or of what we know now of global warming?

    Email me if I can make better sense of this for you.

    The Yooper
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  14. HR #1, DW #7 and Ned #10

    All good comments gentlemen.

    Although Dr Pielke puts his case a little clumsily, his basic point is right. If you can't find an increase in OHC between times T1 and T2, then as oceans are the main store of heat in the Earth system - there is no warming imbalance between T1 and T2.

    Where else are you going to store the heat energy?

    Dr Trenberth reckons on a yearly imbalance of 145E20 Joules. He puts 2E20 Joules into land heat up, 1E20Joules into Arctic sea ice melt, and 2-3E20 Joules into Total land ice melt.

    Thats a total 5-6E20 Joules/year out of 145E20 Joules of supposed imbalance which must go somewhere in the system. Total ice melt and land heat up is only 4%.

    So where is the other 140E20 Joules/year?

    Dr Trenberth accounts for only 20-95E20 in the oceans (a wide range), 16E20 in reduced TSI (which should probably be deducted from the 145 to start with), and a "residual" of 30-100E20 Joules which is unaccounted for.

    It could be in the deep oceans or 'exited to space' - ie. it was never there to start with.

    So in answer to Ned - the oceans have a storage capacity at least 30 times that of all other combined sinks - thats about 96% - so I would think that what happens in the oceans is crucial to the whole AGW story.

    Willis: DW #7

    I must admit that I was unimpressed by the story of the Willis 'Eureka' moment. Argo is not anywhere near a complete story for measuring OHC - but I would expect a helluva lot better than what preceded it (XBT etc). See my next post.

    Von Schukmann:

    BP produced a comprehensive demolition of the Von Schukmann chart - pointing out the impossibilities of the bumps in the curves in terms of TOA imbalances. This is similar to the the Lymann chart above which has similar impossible jumps coinciding with the Argo-XBT transition

    I noted that Dr Trenberth started quoting von Schukmann to Dr Pielke Snr in an email tete-a-tete as a 'nice analysis' in April this year.

    Well Dr Trenberth was unaware of the Von Schukmann paper in February this year, and had expressed frustration with the inconsistency of the OHC measurements in his Aug09 paper which came to light after his now famous 'travesty' in the Climategate emails.

    As far as snapshots go - Dr Pielke Snr might have been reading my July 15 post revisited below.
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  15. In order to assure that my view is accurately presented, I am posting a comment on your weblog. I appreciate that you have provided this opportunity.

    There are several incorrect statements in your post.

    First, as long as the sampling of the ocean heat is sufficiently dense, a snapshot is not cherry picking, as there is no lag involved.

    A simple analog is a pot of water on the stove. When the burner is on, heat is added in Joules per second which results in the temperature increasing. By measuring the total heat of the water in the pot at any time, we can diagnosis the average rate of heating between sampling times. This integrated assessment is much more accurate than seeking to measure the heating rate itself.

    In terms of the climate system, the heating rate is the global average radiative imbalance (which is made up of the radiative forcings and feedbacks). The difficulty of monitoring the fluxes, as contrasted with the integrated heat changes, is discussed in a series of weblog posts involving Kevin Trenberth and Josh Willis on my weblog; i.e.

    My Perspective On The Nature Commentary By Kevin Trenberth

    The issue of sea ice and glacial melt is not a significant component in the global average climate system heat changes, as presented in Table 1 in

    Levitus, S., J.I. Antonov, J. Wang, T.L. Delworth, K.W. Dixon, and A.J. Broccoli, 2001: Anthropogenic warming of Earth's climate system. Science, 292, 267-269.

    As I wrote in

    Pielke Sr., R.A., 2003: Heat storage within the Earth system. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 84, 331-335.

    "[T]here are several major reasons that the assessment of the earth system’s heat budget is so valuable.

    • The earth’s heat budget observations, within the limits of their representativeness and accuracy, provide an observational constraint on the radiative forcing imposed in retrospective climate modeling.

    • A snapshot at any time documents the accumulated heat content and its change since the last assessment. Unlike temperature, at some specific level of the ocean, land, or the atmosphere, in which there is a time lag in its response to radiative forcing, there are no time lags associated with heat changes.

    • Since the surface temperature is a two-dimensional global field, while heat content involves volume integrals, as shown by Eq. (1), the utilization of surface temperature as a monitor of the earth system climate change is not particularly useful in evaluating the heat storage changes to the earth system. The heat storage changes, rather than surface temperatures, should be used to determine what fraction of the radiative fluxes at the top of the atmosphere are in radiative equilibrium. Of course, since surface temperature has such an important impact on human activities, its accurate monitoring should remain a focus of climate research (Pielke et al. 2002a).”

    The recent data (2004-2008), according to Josh Willis, is quite robust in showing no global annual averaged upper ocean warming. This is also documented in the papers

    Cazenave et al. Sea level budget over 2003-2008: A reevaluation from GRACE space gravimetry, satellite altimetry and Argo. Global and Planetary Change, 2008; DOI:10.1016/j.gloplacha.2008.10.004.

    Willis J. K., D. P. Chambers, R. S. Nerem (2008), Assessing the globally averaged sea level budget on seasonal to interannual timescales, J. Geophys. Res., 113, C06015, doi:10.1029/2007JC004517.

    as I discuss in my post

    Sea Level Budget over 2003–2008: A Reevaluation from GRACE Space Gravimetry, Satellite Altimetry and Argo by Cazenave et al. 2008.

    If the ocean data is further corrected for the period 2004 to 2008, I would, of course, change my conclusion.

    The more important issue, however, is the recommendation that upper ocean heat content in Joules be used as the primary metric to monitor global warming.

    In terms of the time since 2008, I suspect (and am waiting until the latest data is released this Fall) that upper ocean heating content increased during the recent El Nino. The radiative imbalance during this time period can then be compared with the models.

    With respect to responding to comments, I would be glad to reply on your weblog in order to further clarify my perspective.

    Finally, I propose that you discuss the conclusions that we reached in our paper

    Pielke Sr., R., K. Beven, G. Brasseur, J. Calvert, M. Chahine, R. Dickerson, D. Entekhabi, E. Foufoula-Georgiou, H. Gupta, V. Gupta, W. Krajewski, E. Philip Krider, W. K.M. Lau, J. McDonnell, W. Rossow, J. Schaake, J. Smith, S. Sorooshian, and E. Wood, 2009: Climate change: The need to consider human forcings besides greenhouse gases. Eos, Vol. 90, No. 45, 10 November 2009, 413. Copyright (2009) American Geophysical Union.
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    Moderator Response: [Graham] Dr. Pielke - thank you for your comments. I am obliged to point out, with the greatest respect, that my argument seems to be validated by what you have written. Given the range of discussions regarding measurement, metrication and analysis, it is clear there is much work to be done, and that there is considerable uncertainty about ocean heat, its distribution and effects. On that basis, I must ask you how you come to make such definitive statements about one five year period. Your claim that the oceans did not gain heat during this period may be correct, but it is hardly proven, and certainly not representative of any consensus among those with sufficient expertise, such as Trenberth and von Schuckmann. This point of course must lead to my second observation: you have not addressed here the remark that so concerns me, and that was central to my entire argument. If ocean heat is not yet well understood, and many other indicators of global warming show warming - the cryrosphere in particular - how can you claim, as you did yesterday on your own blog, that a disputed measure of OHC "...means that global warming halted on this time period". I do not find this claim at all convincing because you do not appear to have any evidence to support it (indeed the evidence, including your own comments here, suggest the assertion is flawed), and you have not addressed these points, which are the essential premises on which my argument stands.
  16. The serendipitously-named commenter "SNRatio" writes: [...] it is really hard to take Pielke, HR (plus BP here) quite seriously. Looking at the historical data, there is clearly a rather low signal-to-noise ratio here, which means that heat content may be suddenly "increasing" (like after 2000), only to "decrease" slightly for several years thereafter.

    chriscanaris objects: BP hasn't even posted a comment yet (and may or may not want to) and you say a priori that you won't take him seriously.

    True, BP hasn't commented in this thread. But he has provided recent comments on this specific topic in another thread earlier this week. It's possible he has changed his position in the past 48 hours, but it seems unlikely.

    chriscanaris continues: Sorry, guys, but 'superstition' kind of also fails the civility test.

    This is in response to the final paragraph from SNRatio's comment. I wish that every one participating in this site would read that paragraph. Note that SNRatio phrases it in an objectively "centrist" position -- people on all sides should be conservative in their interpretation of noisy data, and avoid claims of significance for what may be short-term, spurious trends.

    That said, chriscanaris is one of the most polite and reasonable commenters on this site, and one of the very, very few commenters from the "skeptic" side whose comments I always look forward to reading. I can see cc's point about the use of the word "superstition"; and more generally speaking, it seems to me that we should take cc's perceptions of language and civility seriously. I know it's very easy for me personally to lapse into dismissive and contemptuous responses to those with whom I disagree, and it would be better if I could restrain that impulse in all my dealings on this site.
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  17. As I have suggested elsewhere, measurement of OHC changes needs a baseline viz. a snapshot of the 'tiled' oceans.

    The 'ideal' system would be a global array of tethered buoys measuring the same 'tile' at the same time. A tile might be 500m deep by 1 degree square to have enough resolution.

    The gold standard would be a snapshot of temperatures of each tile at time T1 and another snapshot at T2. A summation of each would give accurate changes in OHC for the whole.

    The Argo buoys are at present about 3500 in number covering on average a square of ocean 330km x 330km down to 2000m. The average ocean depth is 3700m.

    Not all the Argo buoys are measuring down to 2000m.

    How close the drifting Argo come to the 'ideal' is hard to determine. For sure, strong currents will tend to coagulate drifting buoys so that the same 'tile' of ocean might might not be measured at time T2 as was measured at T1. Two or more buoys might enter a tile of ocean and leave none where a prior measurement was taken.

    Now this might even itself out with some sort of statistical correction, but currents moving at 3-4 knots would move buoys and water out of a tile in a matter of hours, so it would seem a difficult problem to correct back to the 'ideal' measurement system of tethered buoys. Those more expert that I might explain how this is done.

    I suspect that the noisy and inconsistent nature of OHC reconstructions might be due to this problem.
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  18. Ken Lambert writes: Although Dr Pielke puts his case a little clumsily, his basic point is right. If you can't find an increase in OHC between times T1 and T2, then as oceans are the main store of heat in the Earth system - there is no warming imbalance between T1 and T2.

    Just a word of caution, Ken. Our inability to find X does not mean that there is no X. Let's imagine that, through some remarkable case of short-sightedness, we had collected vast quantities of data about the climate system but had somehow neglected to ever measure the temperature of the ocean. Would that failure to record a rise in OHC somehow mean that the ocean could not be warming? Obviously not! In reality, of course, the problem is not that we haven't ever measured temperature in the ocean, but that there is a great deal of uncertainty in the measurements.

    For those of us who have been observing this field for a long time, the experience of the MSU data from the late 1990s is a cautionary tale. Satellite microwave data from MSU showed a cooling trend that was in direct conflict with both the predictions of climate models and the trends from other data sources. And people certainly argued -- with some validity -- that the MSU data ought to be a more objective and reliable source of information on the climate.

    Of course, we all know the history -- a series of corrections and improvements to the methods used for processing MSU data repeatedly brought those data into closer and closer correspondence with surface temperature trends, such that today the 1979-present trends from RSS, GISSTEMP, and NOAA NCDC are all within less than 0.01 C/decade of each other.

    The moral of this story is that we need to look at all the pieces of the puzzle, not just one.
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  19. CBDunkerson writes: Darnit Ned... if you're always gonna say the same things I want to better than me then you need to type slower. :]

    Great minds think alike? Or folie à deux? Who can say...
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  20. Ken says: So in answer to Ned - the oceans have a storage capacity at least 30 times that of all other combined sinks - thats about 96% - so I would think that what happens in the oceans is crucial to the whole AGW story.

    Yes, nobody disputes this. The questions are how do we interpret what is happening in the ocean, and how much weight do we give our interpretation of that vis-a-vis our understanding of other components of the climate system.

    You keep citing BP's remarks earlier, which seem to have impressed you greatly. Others, however, are less impressed. With a certain degree of trepidation lest I be misrepresenting something, I would characterize his argument as follows:

    (1) If we assume that individual year-to-year wiggles in the OHC data were valid representations of interannual variability in OHC, that would lead to physically unrealistic conclusions about the planetary radiative imbalance.

    (2) Therefore, there's no reliable evidence of long-term warming in the OHC data.

    (3) From this, we conclude there's no long-term warming in the ocean.

    That is, at least, how BP's (and your) claims appear to me. But (1) is obviously a straw-man argument, (2) does not follow from (1), and (3) does not follow from (2).

    Again, Ken, I've seen you refer to this line of reasoning many times on this site, so clearly it seems convincing to you. I think there are serious flaws in it. We can't both be right; presumably, science will continue to progress and sooner or later the answer will be obvious to everybody, one way or another.
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  21. HumanityRules writes The NODC near realtime update of OHC shows that the oceans haven't been warming since 2004ish.

    That's exactly the problem. You're picking out a specific year and saying there's no warming after that. We already know the data fluctuates quite a bit, look at the few years before that for an example. The ocean didn't warm that quickly, the data bounces around because we lack sufficient measurement of it.
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  22. Can someone clue me in on how anyone can declare the ocean is adequately monitored enough to say that the warming has stopped?

    I find it strange that people draw conclusions about the Argo data when the Argo team themselves declare that there is not enough data to perform adequate analysis.

    This interesting video clip shows Argo floats as they travel around the ocean. At the 24 second mark, Jan 2004, there are just over 1000 floats deployed. Each float is on average measuring more than 1,000,000 cubic kilometres of ocean! They aren't evenly spread so there are huge pieces of ocean completely unmonitored. One section of the South Pacific greater than the size of Australia is completely free of a float.

    The floats spend most of their time drifting so they seem to be measuring the same section of water many times over.

    The Argo floats cannot measure under the sea ice, and they only go down to a maximum of 2,000 meters, in an ocean that has an average depth of about 3,730 meters.

    Is there a scientific paper that can tell me why definitive conclusions can be drawn from this data? I'm very skeptical.
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  23. Eyeballing from the graph presented so authoritatively by HR and using short periods as approved by expert climate scientist Dr Pielke Sr I can firmly conclude that global warming did not happen in the periods:
    1977 - 1982
    1985 - 1990
    1991 - 1996
    1996 - 2001
    2004 - 2009

    So, there has been no global warming or it even cooled 25 of the 32 year period between 1975 and 2010! Shock..horror!!!

    Lots of ice has melted this year too as glaciers and Arctic sea ice shrunk which means the ocean is even cooler after 2010 (everyone knows that melting ice cools water).

    We must therefore conclude that a new ice age could be imminent. We need to burn more carbon quickly!
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  24. Simple question from a layman... If, what Dr Pielke claims is correct, that "global warming has stopped during this time" should there not be a corresponding measurement in the satellite record showing that incoming and outgoing radiation are in balance? Would that not be the smoking gun to prove the statement?

    Conversely, if we are still seeing an energy imbalance then shouldn't we be discussing where the heat is instead of saying there is no warming?
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  25. Were we able to close the energy budget (i.e. better measurements) we could take advantage of the integral nature of OHC. Unfortunately we still can not.

    It is unfortunate that reputable scientists like Prof. Pielke Sr. have recently shown the attitude to downplay the need of decades long datasets to assess the trends. This tendency has led him to the highly unlikely, and for sure unproven, claims that global warming has stopped since 2004 or that there has been a recovery of the arctic ice since 2008.

    I'm with ProfMandia (#9) hoping for the always wellcome loyal opposition to any mainstream scientific theory.
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  26. I have read the Reply [as Moderator] to my comment [I would appreciate if you could identify yourself. :-)]

    On the issues, you seem to be assuming that climate change is synonymous with global warming. Global warming, however, is a subset of climate change.

    "Global warming" occurs when Joules accumulate within the climate system, of which the oceans is the largest reservoir for heat changes within the climate system.

    I agree that other climate indices have changed (e.g. Arctic and Antarctic sea ice), but these are not direct measures of global warming.

    With respect to the quantitative accuracy of the upper ocean heat data, even Kevin Trenberth admits there is "missing heat" as discussed in the web posts that are in my Comment that I provided the links for earlier today.

    Josh Willis, also, places uncertainly bars around his data in his figure in my paper

    Pielke Sr., R.A., 2008: A broader view of the role of humans in the climate system. Physics Today, 61, Vol. 11, 54-55.

    so the statement such as "there was no global average warming in the upper ocean from 2004 to 2008" are consistent with his analysis. If they find an error, of course, that would need to be changed, but until it is, it is a robust, peer-reviewed scientific finding.

    I still feel you are missing my main point. With all of the remaining unresolved uncertainties and systematic biases in the land surface portion of the multi-decadal global surface temperature trend, as we reported, for example, in

    Pielke Sr., R.A., C. Davey, D. Niyogi, S. Fall, J. Steinweg-Woods, K. Hubbard, X. Lin, M. Cai, Y.-K. Lim, H. Li, J. Nielsen-Gammon, K. Gallo, R. Hale, R. Mahmood, S. Foster, R.T. McNider, and P. Blanken, 2007: Unresolved issues with the assessment of multi-decadal global land surface temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., 112, D24S08, doi:10.1029/2006JD008229.


    Klotzbach, P.J., R.A. Pielke Sr., R.A. Pielke Jr., J.R. Christy, and R.T. McNider, 2009: An alternative explanation for differential temperature trends at the surface and in the lower troposphere. J. Geophys. Res., 114, D21102, doi:10.1029/2009JD011841.

    we should move towards the more appropriate global warming metric of heat which is Joules, most of whose changes occur in the ocean. The ocean below 700m does not seem to be a major reservoir for this heat, as discussed in the web posts I sent in my first Comment.

    Even with the remaining issues with the quantitative accuracy of the ocean heat content measurements, it should become the primary metric to diagnose global warming and as a measure to compare with the IPCC models. Until about 2004, the comparisons between the GISS model and the upper ocean heat content changes, for instance, were quite good as I reported on in my post

    Update On Jim Hansen’s Forecast Of Global Warming As Diagnosed By The Upper Ocean Heat Content Change.

    Since 2004, however, the model predictions have not been as good. Perhaps, this is a short term effect associated with natural variability. If so, we should see a resumption of heating rates that were seen up to 2004. This comparison with models, as a test of their accuracy, is the basic scientific method of hypothesis testing.

    Why you chose to label me a skeptic or a denier, besides being completely incorrect in this labeling, obscures the actual scientific issues and valuable discussions that could take place on your weblog.
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  27. Dr. Pielke, thank you for your comments here.

    I believe, however, that gpwayne's point in this post still holds; that stating " warming halted on this time period" is simply not justified from the short period of time and the noise inherent in current measurements of ocean heat content.

    Looking at the data available, it appears that a 15-20 year period would be the absolutely shortest time frame from which to draw a definitive conclusion about trends. We absolutely need to improve our measurements, and the joules present in the ocean are an excellent metric, within our ability to measure them. Given the current measurement issues, sampling rates, calibration concerns, S/N ratio, etc., 5 years of data is not sufficient to draw any firm conclusions whatsoever.

    Gwayne's point (and with which I must agree) is that you have drawn such conclusions from a very short time frame, and, that such conclusions are not statistically supportable.
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  28. To be even more clear on my last post, drawing unqualified conclusions on 5 years of data is statistically unsupportable.

    Making a qualified statement such as "The current data is not showing a warming trend, this may be statistically significant in a few years" would be entirely supportable. But absolute statements based on short time frames and noisy data? No.
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  29. Dr. Pielke remarks indirectly on something we've noted here many times, namely the unfortunately inadequate instrumentation of the ocean basins. The true meaning of Trenberth's "missing heat" cannot be resolved without better measurement capability. The nature of "missing" is ambiguous without more information.

    Dr. Trenberth is also widely quoted thanks to his use of the word "travesty." The real travesty here is that amateurs and professionals alike agree the oceans are the bulk repository of whatever energy is accumulating on the planet thanks to anthropogenic warming but we've still got a huge gap in our data collecting ability.

    There'a an assumption operating here that thermally speaking the deep oceans are somehow disconnected from shallower waters, yet repeated measurements at sadly sparse stations in various ocean basins actually do seem to consistently hint at increasing heat content of the deep ocean.

    We could wish for a dynamic buoy system similar to ARGO but capable of deeper operations and indeed the folks running the ARGO network are trying to attack that problem. In the meantime, "simply" planting some instrumentation capable of logging temperatures at the deep ocean stations currently used for infrequent measurements would be a very beneficial thing. A few years of relatively continuous recordings at a few sites would go a long way to resolving the question of how heat is "missing."

    As well as engaging in argumentation about issues that cannot be settled without more data, let's also encourage folks such as Dr. Pielke Sr. to exert whatever leverage they can apply to improving our instrumentation of the oceans.
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  30. 1. Humanity Rules -- "The NODC near realtime update of OHC shows that the oceans haven't been warming since 2004ish."

    Just as well your own graph goes all the way back to 1955 for a more meaningful look at the data, then.

    What do your own eyes tell you?
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  31. Another "dumb" or "naive" question...
    Why is oceans warming always published in Joules, while global warming is expressed in degrees Centigrade?

    Also, no one ever answered my other question on the original thread,... how could one know the difference between a real increase in Joules over the last 60 years vs. effects of improvements in data taking and an expanded sample base? Only asking because I am sure the sample base has always increased and the methodology has always been improving...
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  32. RSVP, you could as easily ask why an expanded sample base couldn't be introducing a spurious 'cooling' effect (perhaps causing the leveling off since 2004). There is always the possibility of instrument errors... in either direction. Could the changing measurement methodologies be resulting in skewed OHC results? Yes. In fact, several such errors HAVE been found and adjustments made in an effort to correct them. It is an ongoing process.

    That said, even if we just take the earliest measurement tools and continue them through to present we get an increasing OHC trend. Ditto using just the latest / most accurate tools. Ditto proxies. Et cetera. Thus, the idea that the whole warming trend might be error induced is belied by multiple lines of evidence to the contrary. There is alot of uncertainty around the OHC data, but not so much that the multi-decadal warming trend is in doubt.

    As to joules vs degrees... most humans on the planet are very familiar with surface temperature readings in degrees (either C or F usually). Thus, it just makes sense to express warming as anomaly values on those units. How often do you hear about the ocean temperature at 1000 feet below the surface? Pretty much never. It would be a pretty strange way to express things as that water at 1000 feet down could be in a current which moves it away and replaces it with warmer or colder water quite quickly. Joules are a better measurement because they (theoretically) give the total amount of energy which has accumulated in the oceans... regardless of how that energy is distributed three dimensionally.
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  33. Dr. Pielke,

    With respect, I find your position on this issue and your refusal to acknowledge what you have recently stated concerning Arctic sea ice, sea-level rise and now OHC was (and is) highly misleading to be most troubling (and this is coming from a scientist who works in your field).

    As others have repeatedly pointed out to you (most recently KR), one cannot conclude that global warming has stopped based on only 5 years worth of data, and that fact is especially true when working with OHC data. Surely you understand that by applying your logic one could erroneously claim/conclude that global warming has "stopped" multiple times over the last century-- yet the long term trend (which IS statistically significant) remains positive (see Hansen et al. 2010 in press). I honestly thought it was only some lay people who mistakenly thought that AGW translated into a monotonic increase in global temperatures.

    Hansen (and others in the know) would also most certainly take issue with your claim that there is no lag in the climate system, especially when it comes to the oceans. From Hansen et al. (2008):

    "The lag of GHGs after temperature change is several hundred years (Fig. 6 of [6]), perhaps determined by the ocean overturning time"


    "Let us consider climate change averaged over a few thousand years-- long enough to assure energy balance and minimize effects of ocean thermal response time and climate change leads/lags between hemispheres [22]"


    "The deep ocean can carry a temperature change between hemispheres with little loss, but because of the ocean's thermal inertia there can be a hemispheric lag of up to a millenium"

    For more on lags in the climate system because of thermal inertia also see Meehl et al. (2005), Wigley et al.(2005), Friedlingstein and Solomon (2005), Hansen et al. (2005). There are, of course, many more examples in the literature as well which speak to lags in the climate system.

    The biosphere has been positive energy imbalance (e.g., Murphy et al. (2009) for many decades now because of increased levels of long-lived GHGs from human activities; why do I get the distinct feeling that you seem to have trouble accepting that fact and the associated consequences?

    I trust Dr. Trenberth on this file; as for trusting you, well after this fiasco, not so much, and that saddens me greatly. Had you been willing to concede your mistakes, then I might have felt very differently.
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  34. I think Tamino's "Riddle Me This" post would be most revealing in this discussion, but I can't find it. Anyone who has a link?
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  35. RSVP

    Thank you. You have actually very clearly framed the issue that is causing the misunderstanding in several of the above comments. You wrote

    "Another "dumb" or "naive" question...
    Why is oceans warming always published in Joules, while global warming is expressed in degrees Centigrade?"

    The reason is that heat involves mass and Joules includes mass. When global warming is expressed as a trend in degrees Centigrade, it is incomplete, as this is just part of the heat. Jim Hansen agrees that the monitoring the ocean heat change is the most appropriate reservoir to monitor global warming (as he stated at a National Research Council meeting on the 2005 report

    National Research Council, 2005: Radiative forcing of climate change: Expanding the concept and addressing uncertainties. Committee on Radiative Forcing Effects on Climate Change, Climate Research Committee, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Division on Earth and Life Studies, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 208 pp.

    The only relevant issues in the above comments that pertain to this metric are the short duration of the lack of heating and the sampling issue. With respect to the later, satellite altimetry data is used to complement the Argo network. Except for ice covered areas (which is only a small fraction of the ocean), since 2004 the coverage is accepted by oceanographers as being adequate to diagnosis heating and cooling, within observational uncertainties as illustrated by Josh Willis in my Physics Today article.

    The short duration of the lack of global average, annual cooling (4 years unless it extended beyond 2008) is correct. It may not have continued. However, the data is clear that for this period of time, global average annual upper ocean heating halted.

    It is important to emphasize, of course, that this observation says nothing about the role of humans within the climate system, nor of the importance and cocern with the continued increase of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    I note so far that none of the commenters have discussed the findings we presented in our paper

    Pielke Sr., R., K. Beven, G. Brasseur, J. Calvert, M. Chahine, R. Dickerson, D. Entekhabi, E. Foufoula-Georgiou, H. Gupta, V. Gupta, W. Krajewski, E. Philip Krider, W. K.M. Lau, J. McDonnell, W. Rossow, J. Schaake, J. Smith, S. Sorooshian, and E. Wood, 2009: Climate change: The need to consider human forcings besides greenhouse gases. Eos, Vol. 90, No. 45, 10 November 2009, 413. Copyright (2009) American Geophysical Union.
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  36. People reading this may find this exchange with Pielke Snr of interest:

    This is not the first time Pielke Snr has gotten into trouble for making misleading claims on climate science...
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  37. Dr. Pielke,

    Instead of keep referring to your EOS paper, could please state here specifically which findings you believe to be relevant to this discussion on OHC [I have not been able to find anything pertinent]. Thank you.

    PS: GPWayne, if you read the EOS article it seems Dr. Pielke supports their stated hypothesis 2a. So, again, I agree with Pielke that associating him with those in denial about AGW/ACC is incorrect. That said, contrary to the majority of climate scientists, Dr. Pielke does NOT believe the following to be true:

    "Hypothesis 2b: Although the natural causes of climate variations and changes are undoubtedly important, the human influences are significant and are dominated by the emissions into the atmosphere of greenhouse gases, the most important of which is CO2. The adverse impact of these gases on regional and global climate constitutes the primary climate
    issue for the coming decades."

    So if I interpret this correctly, he does seem skeptical of the importance/contribution of GHGs and the severity of the expected negative impacts associated with doubling CO2. Perhaps that is why he is latching onto short-term trends which indicate that things are perhaps not as bad as originally expected. Well, IMHO, doing so it simply deluding oneself and smacks of confirmation bias.

    It is worth mentioning that reputable scientists such as Dr. Schmidt have taken issue with how Pielke et al. (2009) framed the problem.
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  38. Dr. Pielke, leaving all other issues aside, I humbly feel that your original claim:

    "This means that global warming halted on this time period."

    would probably need rephrasing to:

    "This means that global warming of upper ocean halted on this time period"

    based on your following statement:

    "However, the data is clear that for this period of time, global average annual upper ocean heating halted." (emphasis mine)

    Do I see that correctly?
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  39. Cynicus @38,

    IMHO, using the word "halted" is still highly misleading, it is very definitive and assertive, and says nothing about what will happen down the road-- the interpretation of that is going to be especially troublesome for someone who is not in the know. I can imagine people concluding this: "Did you hear that a famous scientists says that global warming has stopped, so what is the big deal?"

    And it still remains to be answered, so what if the increase in OHC slowed or even decreased slightly in that 5-year window? It is still way too short a time interval to make any statistically robust conclusions. The unfortunate part is that Dr. Pielke Snr knows that, yet opined publicly about it anyways, and from their it was echoed/trumpeted loudly by the denialosphere. IMHO, Dr. Peilke's public musings on such matters (in the manner he has chosen to do so thus far at least) is not unacceptable and not in keeping with proper scientific protocol.

    After Tamino's run in with a particularly hostile contrarian earlier this year, a number of pages on Tamino's blog have gone AWOL (I used the URL for the post in question but the page is now blank). I also tried the waybackmachine but had no luck.
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  40. Cynicus - The statements that "global warming halted on this time period' and "global warming of upper ocean halted on this time period' both are correct, but the former requires an additional assumption. To heat lower levels of the ocean (below ~700m), heat would have to flow downward through the Argo network undetected. Such heat flow of a large enough value has not been observed, based on analyses discussed by Josh Willis on my weblog.

    Albatross - The EOS article is introduced to document that we have identified a wide range of human climate forcings, beyond the radiative forcing of CO2. The IPCC is too conservative at presenting these other forcings. These are in addition to the human caused CO2 forcing.

    Thus to conclude that I have ever not been concerned about the addition of CO2 and how it affects the climate system misrepresents my perspective. I am particularly concerned with respect to the biogeochemical effects of added CO2.

    With respect to OHC, the objective conclusion is that the annual average heating of the well sampled upper ocean halted for at least a 4 year time period. This is a science question and should be addressed that way. To refute this claim, present data for these 4 years that conflicts with this finding.

    This does not mean that future global warming will not occur. However, to better understand the climate system, we need to understand why this halt occurred. Moreover, we need to see if in the coming years the heating will be amplified so as to catch up to the model predictions.
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  41. Dr. Pielke,

    Thanks for your response.

    You state that "The EOS article is introduced to document that we have identified a wide range of human climate forcings, beyond the radiative forcing of CO2."

    That may be true, but is irrelevant to this discussion on OHC; sorry, but you are arguing straw men.

    You also state that "This does not mean that future global warming will not occur."

    Well, of course! That is what this is all about. You previously did NOT provide that critical caveat, nor did you provide the caveat that 4 years is way too short period to determine a statistically significant trend. Moreover, given the well-known uncertainty in the OHC measurements, making such assertive statements as you have done is especially irresponsible.

    So are you going to do the right thing and set the record straight and post a corrigendum on your blog? In fact, I am urging you to do just that.

    You also say "To refute this claim, present data for these 4 years that conflicts with this finding."

    GPWayne has provided you TWO sources which do just that-- von Shuckmann and Lyman et al. (2010). Yet you choose to ignore them.
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  42. "With respect to OHC, the objective conclusion is that the annual average heating of the well sampled upper ocean halted for at least a 4 year time period."

    I find this sentence a bit disappointing. It makes the pair with the claim that summer arctic ice ice has recovered. Anyone doubts that 2008 showed more ice than 2007 and 2009 more than 2008? No, i guess. Does it mean the the decades of decreasing ice we've seen is over? No, we can't say that.

    It looks like we're playing with words. Take the 5 years from 2004 to 2008. Assuming that the measurements we have are "perfect" we can say that the upper ocean OHC didn't change. Ok.
    Than what? We can not claim that global warming halted, not even that the decades long OHC increase did. What we can say, and i'm sure we all agree, is that we still cannot explain climate variability.

    Following GISS, the temperature anomaly in 2008 and 2009 were 0.43 and 0.57 °C. The "objective conclusion" is that there has been a trend of 14 °C/century. A good laugh. So, let's not use these words so easily, we're trying to do science afterall.
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  43. Dr. Pielke,

    You claim:

    "Thus to conclude that I have ever not been concerned about the addition of CO2 and how it affects the climate system misrepresents my perspective. I am particularly concerned with respect to the biogeochemical effects of added CO2."

    Hang on, but in your paper you state, and I quote:

    "We therefore conclude that hypothesis 2a is better supported than hypothesis 2b, which is a policy that focuses on modulating carbon emissions."

    You choose your hypothesis 2a which down plays the relative (is that better?) contribution/importance of long-lived GHGs on the climate system. So you are skeptical of the science presented in the IPCC assessments, and of the role of long-lived GHG forcing. In fact on your blog you say:

    "The 2007 IPCC failed to adequately consider anthropogenic land cover change in their assessment of how humans can alter the climate system on the regional and global scales. This serious oversight needs to be remedied in the next assessment."

    I think that I have fairly presented your position on this....and even defended you against others people's choice of a certain undesirable descriptor.

    What are your thoughts on the anthro cooling associated with widespread irrigation as discussed in this JGR paper by Puma and Cook (2010)?

    Seems we humans can cool regions too.....
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  44. I don't perceive this is as an argument over science, as much as an argument over presentation. For example:

    (all positions paraphrased_
    Dr. Pielke Sr.: For a 4 year period the body that holds 90% of the earth's heat showed no notable increase in heat; we can therefore assume no notable global warming occurred during that period

    GPWayne: We can say nothing about long term climate trends from a 4 year period of data (questionable data at that).

    These two statements are NOT at odds with each other. That neither said it the "Mother may I" format the other desired does not change the fact that there is little-to-no real disagreement between the two positions.

    I personally find Dr. Pielke's voice very helpful (and I would even say useful) - you can point out to a so-called skeptic - this is what real skepticism looks like - you use the actual data and you draw conclusions.

    Whether there ought be climate papers written and published about a 4 year period of time is a question for the editors of those journals - those same editors whom most on this site laud as keepers of intellectual purity in most cases.

    Finally - we know that GHG and other forcings are a trend, not a monolithic march up and to the right on a given graph. So why can't it be true that for 4 years natural variability swamped the trend?

    At the level of intuition/common sense (and as someone who studies heat moving through water on a daily basis - but not a climate or oceanographic expert) - it is REALLY hard to imagine heat moving downwards in a body of water unless it is VERY well mixed. Are there any smaller bodies of water which are well studied in regards to vertical heat movement (ie ponds, lakes, etc.)

    OK - my REAL final point - Trenberth has noted the travesty and Pielke Sr is publishing papers - which do you think will motivate a faster drive for better OHC data?

    People on both sides of the debate should thank Dr. Pielke Sr for keeping attention focused on ~90% of the heat sink of the planet.
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  45. Albatros, agreed on "halted" and I too have problems with the statistical validity of the claim, hence Riddle Me This where Tamino argues to look at the whole dataset and delta sigma bandwidth before reading too much in small jiggles in the measurements. I went the same way as you to find the post, also without luck.

    I did a search and found an abstract showing deep convection (2000m) in the Mediterranean (of all places). This shows me that deep convection is probably happening in other places as well and possibly even deeper too, but perhaps not enough to account for the missing heat as Dr Pielke stated, I don't know.

    Anyway, I'd like to read more about it, so I would really appreciate a link to the paper showing how much vertical heat flux is moving down the column to below the Argos measuring range. I found a reference to J. K. Willis, D. P. Chambers, R. S. Nerem 2008, but that's about sea level rise afaik (and behind a paywall)...
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  46. Re @44,

    Some good points. But in some cases the exact wording is critical, and it is not just a case of being pedantic. In a problem this importance one has to be very careful. And "skeptics" and those in denial about AGW have seized on Dr. Pielke's ill-thought out wording. That aside, the question of the amount of data required to obtain statistically sig. trends is unavoidable. I agree with what Riccardo said above @42.

    There are parts of the ocean (e.g., Labrador sea) where it is known that mixing occurs down to depths exceeding 2000 m.

    Trenberth wrote a piece in Nature in 2010 on this very OHC issue:

    Please read it. If anyone on this planet wants to solve this riddle it is Trenberth. His track record on climate science is impeccable. So let us please not question his contributions to advancing climate science.

    If anything, IMHO, Dr. Pielke is distracting people (and scientists) from the pertinent issues by not choosing his words carefully and by making misleading comments. Scientists are well aware of the issues surrounding OHC and are working hard on it, regardless of what Pikele Snr may opine on the issue.
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  47. KL @ 14 - "I must admit that I was unimpressed by the story of the Willis 'Eureka' moment.

    Well, whatever your reaction may have been, I was intrigued by Willis & Lyman's ocean cooling paper, especially considering Willis' earlier work with Takmeng Wong. I particularly liked the quote “We let Josh know, diplomatically of course, that all signs were pointing toward his data,” says Wong.

    Kl @ - "Argo is not anywhere near a complete story for measuring OHC"

    Good to see you finally acknowledging that. No need to repeat that sorry saga with the MSU satellite data all over again.

    Kl @ - "but I would expect a helluva lot better than what preceded it (XBT etc). See my next post."

    Indeed, once all the teething problems are sorted out.
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  48. Albatross - There does not need to be years of record to obtain statistically significant measures of upper ocean heat content. This is the point of using heat. We just need time slices with sufficient spatial data. A trend is unnecessary, and indeed can be misleading when the signal is substantially nonlinear. Moreover, if global annual average cooling occurs, such as from a major volcanic eruption, the global warming "clock" is reset regardless of the long term trend.

    With respect to the Lyman 2010 data presented in the orginal post on this weblog, this clearly shows the lack of substantial warming since 2004. The Von Schuckmann figure also shows small warming since 2004 which is when the Argo data became sufficient to provide a good estimate of the heat content (that is why Willis provided me data starting in 2004).

    Lets accept the Von Schuckmann data since 2004. What do you obtain as the heating rate in Watts per meter squared and how does this compare with the GISS predictions?

    What do you expect will be the magnitude of warming in the upper ocean in Joules through mid-2010 when the data is updated this Fall?
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  49. Albatross - you write

    "You choose your hypothesis 2a which down plays the relative (is that better?) contribution/importance of long-lived GHGs on the climate system."

    We did not downplay anything. Your paraphrasing misstates what we wrote in our paper. We are elevating the other human climate forcings.

    In terms of CO2, we do not even need to discuss global warming to be concerned by uncontrolled increases in its atmospheric concentration. We see directly from observations of atmospheric concentrations of CO2 that humans are increasing its levels. If global warming were not occurring at all, we should still be concerned.
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  50. I am a layman and claim absolutely no scientific expertise in these matters. That being said, I have to say that this thread of discussion has been almost enjoyable from the standpoint that there seems to be some actual 'dialogue' happening amongst some of the brightest and most respected scientists on this matter. Keeping it respectful is truly helpful. More importantly, in my opinion, is the fact that different views are being expressed and bantered about. This is what I feel is missing in the entire discussion around global warming and the many aspects of it.
    I feel that I must add a bit of "advice" to Dr. Pielke about the use of quotes attributed to him (whether intended or not on his part); most of which appear to be directly quoted. I honor your knowledge and your expertise greatly and I truly believe you have the best intentions in your comments. However, when other people of substantially less reputable nature and with extreme ideas and purposes take your comments and use them falsely, I feel it is then your responsibility to publicly critique and deny the usage of your comments. This I feel you have not done and I have no way of knowing why. This does not mean that you deserve to be treated disrespectfully. But as my father used to say, when you lay with pigs you surely will get dirty. I feel you should avoid your association with certain extreme anti-global warming skeptics and fanatics and publicly claim that global warming is occuring and that you many other respected scientists are working on answers to the cause and any possible solutions. Until then, if I were you, I would be prepared to suffer some name calling and grow a much thicker layer of skin.
    With all due respect....
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