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Cherrypicking to Deny Continued Ocean and Global Warming

Posted on 6 March 2013 by dana1981

Cherrypicking global surface air temperatures is one of the most common errors associated with global warming.  In reality, a very small percentage of overall global warming goes into heating surface air temperatures, while approxiately 90% is absorbed by the world's oceans (in totality, at all depths).  Because many other factors influence surface air temperatures on short timescales, the data are noisy, and as a result it's easy to cherrypick temporary flat periods to wrongly claim that global warming has stopped (Figure 1).


Figure 1: Average of NASA GISS, NOAA NCDC, and HadCRUT4 monthly global surface temperature anomalies from January 1970 through November 2012 (green) with linear trends applied to the timeframes Jan '70 - Oct '77, Apr '77 - Dec '86, Sep '87 - Nov '96, Jun '97 - Dec '02, and Nov '02 - Nov '12.

However, climate contrarians are now more frequently shifting their cherrypicks to the relatively shallow layer of the oceans (the upper 700 meters).  The average depth of the world's ocean is nearly 4,000 meters, but the deeper the ocean layer, the more difficult it is to measure its temperature and heat accumulation. 

Fortunately most ocean heat accumulation occurs close to the surface, but accounting for less of the deep ocean layers also means missing more global warming.  The best ocean heat measurements are for the 0–700 meter layer, which accounts for over 60% of overall global warming.  However, only considering ocean heat accumulation to 700 meters also means neglecting 30–40% of overall global warming.

Similar to surface air temperatures, the warming of the 0–700 meter oceans has slowed in recent years (since about 2003), which has made them a ripe candidate for cherrypicking.  This was one of the key findings of Nuccitelli et al. (2012), in which we noted that while heat accumulation in the 0–700 meter oceans has slowed in recent years, at the same time it has accelerated in the 700–2,000 meter oceans. 

Overall, there is no sign that the warming of the 0–2,000 meter oceans has slowed; in fact, they have accumulated more heat in the past 15 years than during the previous 15 years (Figure 2).


Figure 2: Comparison of Ocean Heat Content 0–700 meter layer vs. 0–2,000 meters layer, from the National Oceanographic Data Center.

It should be no surprise that climate contrarians constantly ignore the accelerated warming of the 700–2,000 meter oceans, pretending that they simply don't exist.  In one recent example, a denialist blog disputed the results of Nuccitelli et al. (2012) by showing Figure 3 below (also discussed in this post by Tamino at the Open Mind blog).

Watts OHC denial cherries

Figure 3: 0–700 meter ocean heat accumulation from NOAA PMEL using the methodology described in Lyman et al. (2010), with an arbitrary yellow line drawn in an effort to indicate slowed ocean warming.

The ocean heat content data used in Nuccitelli et al. (2012) and Figure 2 above are from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC) using the methodology described by Levitus et al. (2012), whereas the data in Figure 3 are from the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) using the methodology described in Lyman et al. (2010).

The Levitus methodology fills data gaps with the averaged value of the available data, which has the tendency to underestimate any anomalies.  The Lyman methodology infills the data gaps with anomalies from nearby grids.  The end result is that Levitus is likely to underestimate any warming trend, as discussed in Lyman (2008).  As a result, the data plotted on the denialist blog actually shows more 0–700 meter ocean warming than the data plotted in Nuccitelli et al. (2012).  This is illustrated in Figure 4.

OHC cherries

Figure 4: 0–700 meter ocean heat content data from NOAA NODC (Levitus) and NOAA PMEL (Lyman) using the same baseline.  The yellow arbitrary denialist line is shown, followed by the linear trends for 2003–2012 and 1993–2012 in red.  Standard error bars are also shown.

Despite showing a larger ocean warming trend than Levitus, climate contrarians likely prefer the Lyman data because it does not include the ocean layers below 700 meters.  However, even if we cherrypick this shallow ocean data and cherrypick 2003 as the starting point, the 0–700 meter ocean heat accumulation for 2003–2012 in the Lyman PMEL data is equivalent to 1.2 Hiroshima atomic bomb detonations per second over the past decade.  For 1993–2012, this rate increases to the equivalent of 3.7 detonations per second, and when including global heat accumulation in Nuccitelli et al. (2012) including the 0–2,000 meter oceans, the Earth has accumulated the equivalent of 4 Hiroshima atomic bomb detonations per second over the past decade.

When we consider all the available data, it becomes quite clear that ocean and global warming continue unabated at a rapid rate.  Cherrypicking cannot change that reality.

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Comments 51 to 100 out of 109:

  1. Composer99 - Actually, surface temperatures are more than adequate to judge warming. 

    But that's true if, and only if, you examine enough data for statistical significance, say 30 years worth or more. The "no warming since 1997" claimants such as Kevin fail in that regard. 

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  2. Those figures again....  I dropped the 2-sigma range and typed one of the figures wrong...

    GISS since 1995 = 0.113 ±0.112 °C/decade (2σ)

    GISS since 1973 = 0.166 ±0.037 °C/decade (2σ)

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  3. Kevin, you say: "At the current rate, after an additional 100 years, the temp will rise an additional 0.4 - 0.8 C.  That does not seem that significant, and in fact will achieve the outcome of keeping the temp increase to less than 2 C."

    Yes.  At the current linear trend.  Do you expect that trend to persist?  In 2007, did you expect the .284C per decade trend to persist?  You must have, or you're being inconsistent.  Again, do you think scientists thought it would persist?  

    By the way, the current rate of warming is still 9x that of PETM event warming.  There's significance and then there's significance.

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  4. Roger D,

    Please re-read what I wrote.  You are not paraphrasing it correctly.


    (-snip-).  That is the extent of that particular point.



    How long of time frame was the 2007 rate calculated on?  Was it 16 years? 27 years?

    And yes, some scientist did believe it would persist, or we wouldn't have heard of the 2 - 6 C increase predictions. 

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    Moderator Response: [DB] Sloganeering snipped.
  5. Kevin, I was questioning whether this statement of yours is true:

    As I stated before, AGW (removed the C) states that the warming originates in the atmosphere. If it slows, halts, increases, stops, starts, whatever, here, it will then and only then, continue on to the oceans, starting with the upper layer first. Regardless of whether there is an energy imbalance or not, it the temp increase stalls in the atmosphere, that will dictate a stall in global warming.

    I'm still under the impression that the above is not true. At your comment #54 you say that global warming can have said to have stopped if there were to be 30 years of no warming trend (in the surface temperature trend I assume) even if there was evidence of a continuing energy imbalence. From what I think I understand, with a continued enegy imbalance, as expected from the relativley steady rise in GHG, the surface temperature trend is expected to do what it has done in recent decades and get back on a significantly upward trend. So OK, I get your point that if this doesn't happen then there is something amiss with the theory of AGW. But it seems unlikely to me that as you put it, this hypothetical "scintific method -data overruling theory type of thing" will be realized. I'll leave it to others that are more knowledgable and articulate on this topic than myself to say more if they are inclined.

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  6. 16 years, Kevin -- very intentionally.

    If you find me evidence for your last assertion, I just might believe you.  As far as I know, very few sensitivity studies are based on the recent surface temp trend, and none of those conclude high sensitivity. 

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  7. And Kevin, you still don't get it: the theory of anthropogenic global warming is not based on the surface temp trend.  It could be plummeting, and CO2 would still be doing its thing.  What you need to focus on is not "global warming" but "model projections."  You are not going to falsify the greenhouse effect, and, yes, I'll put money on it.

    You continue to look for a simplistic sound bite: "global warming has stopped."  What we're really talking about here is "global surface temp has flattened in recent years; there are several factors that could be driving this, and there are scientists focused on these factors."  No one is investigating whether or not CO2 has stopped working.

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  8. Kevin:

    That - showing that the top-of-atmosphere radiative budget is in balance - is exactly what it would take to show that global warming has stalled.

    The radiative energy imbalance at top-of-atmosphere is a phenomenon empirically measured by satellite. It's not "theory" that can be overruled by "data". Furthermore, it's the reason surface temperatures are increasing in the first place.

    Several people have now very patiently explained the problems with your reasoning. I note that your response is to indirectly complain of "political correctness" and to re-assert your claim without any apparent attempt to correct your misconceptions of statistics or physics.

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    Moderator Response: [DB] All parties...and most especially Kevin, please take the discussion of "16 years" to that most-appropriately-named thread. If it is deemed to have already been covered there, it will be adjudged as sloganeering and be moderated accordingly. Thanks in advance for everyone's compliance and understanding in this matter.
  9. Kevin - In addition, those empirically observed changes in TOA radiation would have to reverse in order to remove a greenhouse gas induced energy imbalance; and they have not

    What has happened over this cherry-picked interval is that 1998 was a 3-sigma extreme El Nino, followed by a number of La Ninas. If you correctly account for these short term variations (Rahmstorf et al 2012, also a simpler analysis by John Nielsen-Gammon), it is clear that the warming trend continues just as expected from the physics. 

    On the other hand, if you select extreme points in the noise such as 1997/1998 and claim trend changes, you are cherry-picking from statistically insignificant data. Which means that you are wrong to make those assertions


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  10. smith @19 and @29, there are several acceptable ways to highlight a data of special interest in a graph.  Two common methods are to draw an ellipse around the data of particular interest, or to highlight a large rectangular region including all the data of special interest.  A third way is to highlight the values on the x-axis that are of interest.  The common feature of all these methods are that they cannot be mistaken for a trend line.  Equally important, nor do they create an optical illusion suggesting that the trend in the data is flatter than it actually is.

    Instead of these common conventions, Watts chose a method to "highlight" the data of interest which is easilly mistaken for a trend line, and which is likely to suggest the trend is flatter than it actually is.

    More importantly, if you intend to show that there has been a pause in the trend, the minimum method is to show calculate the trend line for the data exhibiting the trend, and to calculate the trend and confidence interval of the trend for the period supposedly exhibiting a pause, shoing that the confidence interval of the trend does not include the long term trend.  Further, you should show the supposed pause is not over a period so short that its trend does not fall withing the 3 sigma distribution  range of trends of that period over the course of the long term trend.

    Instead of that, Watts chose to ignore that necessary legwork; and to display a line that was both easilly mistaken for a trend and likely to distort visual estimates of the trend.  For that he is rightly criticized. 

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  11. 'I am still under the impression that the above is not true." Correct. Kevin is wrong. He is effectively posulating that coductive heat transfer from atmosphere to warm the surface or ocean. This would be a violation of 2nd law. Instead, the GHG gases in the atmosphere increase the amount of LW radiation reaching the surface. (This is measurable). Kevin, I would strongly recommend looking at Science of Doom's excellent basics on this. Not getting this right is leading you into confusion.

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  12. Dana1981@34 - Thank you for your response.

    I hope you're not holding me to a higher standard than you're holding Wattsy.

    I guess the short answer is yes I am.  Wouldn't you prefer it that way?

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  13. Tom Curtis@60 - Thank you for your response.

    For that he is rightly criticized.

    Fair enough.  The label "Denial Fake Trend" just seems like odd language IMO.

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  14. Watts post is titled "Fact check for Andrew Glickson - Ocean heat has paused too".

    The title idicates that facts will be presented. Some data was shown, but the only real fact turns out to be that when Watts looks at part of the available data, (while never alluding to the fact that it is only part) it looks to him like ocean heat has paused. What use is that to understanding the issue? None.

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  15. Kevin wrote: "Cherrypicking?  Generally speaking, cherrypicking is used to show info in the best possible light, it also implies intentional misleading.  To present a claim that a trend has stopped, or even alterred, you must use the data at the end of the series.  Since they are making the claim that warming has stopped since X, how else should the data be presented other then showing a trend from X to the present?"

    Moving the cherrypick into the claim does not stop it from being a cherrypick.

    The main question is, has the value of X, in this case 1997, emerged from any theory? Or has it been chosen post hoc because starting from that point yields a preferred result? Is it actually noise-driven rather than theory-driven?

    If I made a bet that I could hit a 1cm target on a tree with a high-powered rifle from 1km away, would you be at all bothered if I first fired into a forest and then drew the target  - after I took the shot? 

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  16. Here are some of Anthony's comments and a comment from one use:

    "REPLY: It is a highlighter marker, used to call attention to the area, like I routinely do with text. If I wanted to make a plot trend line, I would have used a plot trend line. – Anthony"

    "REPLY: and again, it isn’t statistically significant in the scheme of things, much like that 0.7C in the atmosphere isn’t statistically significant against daily diurnal variation or seasons. – Anthony"    He sure doesn't seem to have his head around what Statistical Significance actually means does he?

    "REPLY: and again as answered previously and made clear in the story, it isn’t a trend line (though you want it to be) it is simply a yellow highlight to draw attention to the section of interest, just like I use the same highlight tool on sections of text or tables I post. – Anthony"


    "Mark Buehner says:

    February 26, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    “Anthony, what’s your evidence the warming has paused? The data you present show the warming continuing.”

    It does? Whats the slope look like over the past 10 years (tip- look at the yellow line)."

    Sure looks like he misled at least on person!

    So, Anthony's use of the 'highlighter' was, in a communications sense, very, very ... sloppy. If your readers can misinterpret what you have written, you didn't do a very good job communicating with them.

    An open question that each reader can decide for themselves. Is such sloppiness unintentional, in which case we simply say that that person shouldn't be writing anything because they aren't good enough at it?

    Or is it intentional, carefully crafted sloppiness that has a desired effect and can then be immediately denied if you are called out on it?

    Whats the term used in politics - plausible deniability?

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  17. Speaking of cherry picking, why does your Escalator graph start at 1970?

    HADCRUT4 from 1850 to present; 0.046°C/decade with 2 distict warming and 2 (possibly 3) distinct cooling trends....each around 35-40 years. Please explain?

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  18. snafu:

    I believe there is statistical & physics-based reasoning behind it, but I am not up to speed on that aspect so I will not comment on it (except for one point).

    I can note that the Escalator graph isn't really meant to illustrate what is going on with global warming. It's a debunking tool, meant to show how easy it is to construct "pauses" or "cooling periods" in the data which are not statistically or physically significant.

    If one were to extend the graph to, say, 1850, it would rather belabour the point. Plus, the period 1940-1970 (approximately) had (surface temperature) cooling that was both statistically and physically significant, so it would be inappropriate to use the Escalator graph to suggest that period was a cherry-pick.

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  19. snafu - In reverse order: With regards to variations up and down over the last 160 years, see CO2 is not the only driver of climate; also the IPCC AR4 section 9 on attributions:

    IPCC AR4 Figure 9-5

    AR4, Fig. 9-5, simulations run with/without anthropogenic contributions to forcings.

    Up until the last 50 years or so it might be plausibly argued that what we were seeing was simply natural forcing variations. That's no longer the case - the physics shows that recent changes are dominated by anthropogenic influences. 

    As to why start at 1970? Isn't that a sufficent extent of time to show (a) a real trend, and (b) the 'skeptic' cherry-pick of short-term negative trends due entirely to noise? Besides - I don't recall any of the 'skeptic' crowd claiming negative trends in the 1930-1940 time frame using the same tactics, do you?

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  20. snafu @67 - two simple reasons.  1) As Composer99 @68 noted, the Escalator is simply a tool to show that you can cherrypick short periods of data to get flat trends at any point over the past 40+ years.  Cherrypicking is the whole point.  2) Because the bulk of the human-caused global warming has occurred since 1970.

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  21. @KR. Ok, so up until 50 years ago, natural forcing agents had a bigger effect on surface temperature than manmade emissions. Got that bit. But then as CO2 levels in the atmosphere have increased since that tipping point, then you would expect the natural forcing agents to have less effect each year. Correct? So, it's hard to comprehend which natural forcing agent (or combination thereof) is sufficiently strong to have suppressed the hypothesised increase in surface temperature since 1997.

    There is no concensus on this. We've had varied explanations:-

    1. The ocean has absorbed the heat - No detailed explanation of the physics that shows how the ocean absorbs and emits the heat over prolonged periods has been provided.

    2. Minor volcanic eruptions have cooled the planet - We have these all of the time. There's no evidence that they've increased and they'd have had to continue to increase year on year to suppress the increasing CO2 levels.

    3. Solar energy has been reducing - The solar cycle goes from peak to peak in a period of 11 to 13 years. We've had this temperature plateau for 15 years now.

    4. ENSO events - There is no direct correlation between La Nina and El Nino events and a subsequent impact on global temperature. The effect of these events and the time lag as to the impact of them seems to vary from scientist to scientist.

    The major problem is that when global warming was first raised with the general public in 1988, temperature increases had only been happening since the mid-70s, so for a similar period of time as the apparant plateau has happened recently. There was no mention of 15 years being statistically insignificant back then. The evidence for global warming was confined to surface temperature records alone and there was limited talk as to the effect of the sun, ENSO, volcanoes and ocean absorption. It feels like whenever the hypothesis is looking dodgy, a new raft of evidence is brought in to shore it up. What was originally a simple formula has now become a highly complex one.

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  22. Most of Keystone's comments seem to repeat myths that have already been debunked. Shouldn't most of this be moved to the 16 years thread?

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  23. @Leto, the article regurgitates observations of the global surface temperature record and proffers an explanation that the apparant pause in it's increase is due to the absorption of energy by the oceans. Looking at that point specifically, we know:-

    1. The sun is the ultimate source of heat on this planet.

    2. Solar radiation is converted to heat by interaction with molecules in the air, on the earth's surface and penetrating to a relatively shallow depth in the ocean.

    3. Heat moves by conduction and convection

    4. Heat rises

    Looking at the evidence,

    If you look at graph 7 here, you'll see that the first 100m of ocean has warmed by 0.2C since NOAA first started measuring ocean temperature in 1959.
    Using the pentadal (5 year) average,

    Graph 8 shows that the first 700m of ocean has warmed by just 0.1C during the same period. You'll notice how wide the error bars are during the early years on this graph, indicating the lack of confidence in the measurements that you can actually have.

    Graph 9 shows that the first 2000m of ocean has warmed by just 0.05C during the same period.

    For comparison, the global land and surface temperature increased by around 0.45C during the same period


    So, the evidence supports our understanding that the earth's temperature is affected by solar radiation and it's effect decreases with ocean depth and that heat rises. So, it's difficult to understand, therefore, what would trap heat in the ocean.

    Using graphs which show ocean heat absorption in Joules and comparing it with Hiroshima bomb explosions is troublesome from a scientific perspective. Solar radiation is obviously a much more powerful force than anything that mankind can produce.


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    Moderator Response: [RH] Fixed link that was breaking page formatting.
  24. keystonexl @73, what you are missing is that conduction is very slow in the ocean, and convection limited relative to other causes of motion of water.  In particular, salty water (as for example, the water carried north from the north branch of the Gulf Stream) is denser than less salty water (as for example, water recently melted from Arctic sea ice, resulting in the carrying of relatively warm water to great depths.  Another mechanism is the presence or absence of persistent winds blowing from east to west across the tropical Pacific.  When present, it piles warm surface water into the west Pacific Warm pool, resulting in warm water being carried to substantial depth while cold water is drawn to the surface in the east tropical pacific.  No doubt other mechanisms abound.

    Indeed, more generally, the upper regions of the ocean in mid latitudes have near constant temperature due to mixing from surface winds.  With a warming climate, those surface winds have increased in velocity (which has been observed), and increasing the depth of mixing.

    And yes, the first 100 meters has warmed at twice the rate of the first 700 meters on average, but that means the first 700 meters has increased OHC at 3.5 times the rate of the first 100 meters.  Likewise the first 700 meters has warmed at twice the rate of the first 2000 meters, but that means the first 2000 meters has increased OHC at 1.4 times the rate of the first 700 meters.  Where is the problem? 

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  25. "4 Heat rises". Not sure it's correct to say "heat rises". Warmer air rises because it's less dense. Warmer water would rise if something heated it and it could go upward. Heat moves from according to a temperature gradient.

    Keystonexl - you seem to be making a somwhat similar argument to Kevin tried to in previous posts (questioning if  oceans can warm in the presence of slowed surface warming), along with some other arguments that don't seem to fit. You say in one post above that "solar energy has been reducing" and follow that with statements indicating that the sun is responsible for increasing ocean heat.

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  26. @Tom Curtis

    1. I'd agree that conduction is relatively slow compared to the land, but it's not that slow. Sea temperature maximum and minimums lag land temperature by 1 month.

    2. The Pacific tropical winds cause La Nina and El Nino events. There isn't a direct correlation between these and global temperatures and, in any case, we've not had a La Nina event that has lasted for the entire time under question. The hypothesised effect of El Nino and La Nina is in months not years.

    So my problem is that even if the ocean has got warmer, there is no evidence that the heat is remaining trapped and the closer you get to the surface the more apparant it is that there has been a slowing down in the increase in global temperature. Since the heat is not being trapped within the ocean, the surface temperature record is a good indication as to whether the earth is warming or not.

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  27. @RogerD, (-snip-).

    The sun is responsible for ocean temperature. We don't have any other source of heat on the planet, unless you think it's being heated from below?

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    Moderator Response: [DB] Incorrect. See How Increasing Carbon Dioxide Heats The Ocean. Sloganeering snipped.
  28. Keystonexl - If the sun is responsible for ocean temperature, without a contribution from heat trapped by rising GHGs, why do the ocean heat content and solar energy trends diverge over the previous several decades?

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  29. @ Keystonexl:  your comments make clear that you do not have a command of the science.  As such, an agenda of more study/less challenging the science based on an incomplete understanding of it is in order.

    There is an immense amount of reference material discussed here and it can be a bit difficult at first to find an answer to your questions.  That's why we recommend that Newcomers, Start Here and then learn The Big Picture.

    I also recommend watching this video on why CO2 is the biggest climate control knob in Earth's history. Additionally, Spencer Weart's The Discovery of Global Warming is invaluable.

    Further general questions can usually be be answered by first using the Search function in the upper left of every Skeptical Science page to see if there is already a post on it (odds are, there is).  If you still have questions, use the Search function located in the upper left of every page here at Skeptical Science and post your question on the most pertinent thread.

    Remember to frame your questions in compliance with the Comments Policy and lastly, to use the Preview function below the comment box to ensure that any html tags you're using work properly.

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  30. Keystonexl:

    Notice that the error bars (95% confidence interval) in the ocean heat content 0-2000 m are much smaller than the total heat increase during the last 50 years, so there is absolutely no doubt that the increase in OHC is real!


    During the same period the solar TSI has decreased, with the peak of the present cycle (24) about 0.5 watt/m² lower than the last peak in 2000-2001. That reduction in the solar forcing corresponds to about 2/3 of a Hiroshima bomb every second!


    So, where has that extra ocean heat come from?

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  31. @KeystoneXL 77-Mod Response. (-snip-)


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    Moderator Response: [DB] Multiple sloganeering snipped.
  32. (-snip-).

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    Moderator Response: [DB] Sloganeering snipped.
  33. keystonexl (various) - OHC since 2004? Nine years? Are you serious? 

    I suggest looking at the 16more years thread; short time frames such as these are dominated by variation such as the ENSO, and you need to look at a longer period to see what's happening with the climate, as opposed to the weather

    There isn't a direct correlation between these (ENSO events) and global temperatures...

    That would be incorrect: besides the quantitative results of Foster & Rahmstorf 2011, you might also look at the correlations seen between ENSO and swings around an ongoing trend as demonstrated by John Nielson-Gammon - plotting trends for El Nino, La Nina, and ENSO-neutral years separately:

    John Nielson-Gammon temperature predictions

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  34. (-snip-) I have to leave it here as the rules forbid me from diverting on to dealing with ENSO. I'll go to that thread to discuss that one.

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    Moderator Response: [DB] Sloganeering snipped. Several comments made after this were deleted in their entirety due to further sloganeering.
  35. @KR. The only thread that I've found that explicitly deals with ENSO events is the "It's El Nino" article where SkS debunk that theory


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    Moderator Response: [DB] Off-topic snipped.
  36. keystonexl - The rate of increase in OHC from 0-2000m, while showing some pentadal variation, has not declined with any statistical significance (Fig. 3). There is also the >2000m data, as I discussed/linked here, which you have apparently not read. Again, the 9-16 year trends you have mentioned are not statistically significant, they are cherry-picked short term variations. 

    [Side note - while measurement accuracy has improved, that is completely separate from short term climate variation - we can measure it more accurately, but that short term variation is still there, and must be accounted for by looking at sufficient data to isolate the trend/signal (if any) from the variation/noise. Red herring.]

    If you feel that there's only one page on SkS discussing ENSO variations, I would refer you to the search function at the upper left (ENSO results here), and in regards to this conversation to the discussion of Foster and Rahmstorf 2011 and 2012 - again, according to the data warming has not halted, rather short term trendless variations are being selected by various 'skeptics' to make those cherry-picked claims.


    You've tossed around a large number of what I would consider 'skeptic' rhetorical arguments, which are not supported by the evidence. In fact, you are approaching Gish Gallop status. I would suggest you read a bit more, preferably in the peer-reviewed literature, before making additional unsupported assertions.

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  37. Keystonexl:

    The confidence level for OHC in a single year is better for recent years than for earlier years because of more accurate measurements and a larger amount of data, specifically from the Argos that were deployed during the last decade. The same is true for surface temperatures, as demonstrated by this graph from GISS. The green bars show the 95% confidence level for the 1890s, 1940s and 2000s. As you see, the confidence level has improved by about a factor 2 during the last century.


    More data for each data point is also the reason why the pentadel average for OHC 0-2000 m goes back to 1957 while the single year average only goes back to 2005.


    Calculating a trend during a long period vs. a short period is different, because a longer period contains more data, and more data means that the uncertainties tend to cancel each other out and show the true signal.


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  38. keystonexl,

    If every possible heat reservoir in the system was perfectly measured with zero error, and you added them all up, you would get the same change in total heat content as the top of atmosphere energy imbalance. That makes sense, correct? The change in total heat content must be the same as the difference between energy going into the system minus the energy going out?

    If so, then perhaps you could show that the supposed plateau appears in the ToA energy imbalance measurements in order to eliminate the possibility that it is merely an artefact of incomplete and imperfect measurements of the heat content of the possible reservoirs within the system.

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  39. keystonexl,

    Others have gently suggested you need to read a bit more. I strongly suggest you heed their advice and follow the links you've already been given. At the very least, before asserting that Foster and Rahmstorf's paper is not "credible" on the basis that "no credible data source has included their work", you should study this figure (a variant of that already posted above) until you truly understand the implications:

    You don't even need to do the straightforward statistical analysis of Foster and Rahmstorf to understand what's going on in this graph and what the implications are, so I suggest you try. (Image from 

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    Moderator Response: [DB] Fixed image width.
  40. keystonexl,

    This is the strongest argument that climate scientists have and I don't yet have an argument that defeats that.

    That's a pretty revealing turn of phrase. Most of us are simply trying to get at the truth.

    What hasn't been identified is where this heat has gone. It's not being seen in either the earth or ocean temperature records which only leaves the atmosphere or my conclusion that the energy imbalance is due to instrument problems.

    The problem is that you haven't demonstrated that "it's not being seen in either the earth or ocean temperature records".

    Each of these records has noise associated with them. Have you demonstrated a statistically significant change in the long term trend? All I see are short term noise, and looking at Figure 2 in the OP I don't even see that, just a rapid increase. I don't draw conclusions from noise because it is impossible to do so. That's the whole point of the Escalator graphic. On top of that, you aren't even trying to look for where the heat has gone because you're ignoring the heat buildup at deeper ocean levels as well as the heat going in to melting all that ice that has been melting in recent years.

    It's a lot harder to figure out the total change in energy by accurately measuring and adding up all the possible reservoirs in the system. Much easier just to check if the ToA energy imbalance measurements are being done correctly.

    From your own statements you appear to have reached a conclusion that must be true and are searching for evidence to support that, ignoring contradictory evidence on the basis of undemonstrated "instrument problems". This is backwards. You should reach your conclusion after assessing all the evidence available.

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    Moderator Response: [DB] Please note that keystonexl has been extensively moderated due to repetitive sloganeering, unsupported assertions and continual off-topic contributions. Your diligence and attentiveness in responding to him is appreciated, as is everyone's forbearance in dealing with behavioral and cognitive bias issues on keystonexl's part.
  41. (-snip-).

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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] Please note that posting comments here at SkS is a privilege, not a right. This privilege can and will be rescinded if the posting individual continues to treat adherence to the Comments Policy as optional, rather than the mandatory condition of participating in this online forum.

    Moderating this site is a tiresome chore, particularly when commentators repeatedly submit sloganeering or off-topic comments. We really appreciate people's cooperation in abiding by the Comments Policy, which is largely responsible for the quality of this site.

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    Moderation complaints snipped.

  42. (-snip-).

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    Moderator Response: [DB] James Dey, please note that sock puppetry is frowned upon in this establishment. Your previous impersonation of Judith Curry in this venue and your other many sock puppet alter egos you have used here have not gone unnoticed. Please get a life; one apart from this venue. Good-day.
  43. Damn, you beat me to it Dan Bailey! I was going to email ya that this bore the hallmarks of James Dey.

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  44. It is truly sad that some have no better thing to do than to serially troll a website.  And to impersonate others much more respected and far more knowledgeable than they.

    On to more fruitful and interesting ventures.  Like clipping my toenails...

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    Moderator Response: [JH] With all due respect, clipping toenails is off-topic. Please refrain from further discussion of this activity on this forum. Thank you.
  45. Toenails!

    Not only off-topic but way too much information Yooper!

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  46. Just conveying my disdain of sock-puppetry.

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    It never seems to end. Just this morning, RedState, the conservative misinformation site, published this denier’s piece the author called: Alternate New York Times Headline: ‘Global Warming Saves Civilization’… 

    The MSM isn't that far behind the conservatives. Charlie Rose made sure his interview with Rex Tillerson last week was rose colored from the ExxonMobil POV.  Charlie could've asked the tough questions, but didn't.  Instead he allowed Tillerson to soft sell his "we have to balance economic growth" approach climate change with just enough cherrypicking and other denier rhetoric to make it palatable to average American's worried about climate change, but more importantly paying this month's bills...


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  48. Jac: ...[Rose] allowed Tillerson to soft sell his "we have to balance economic growth" approach climate change ...

    This is actually a tough feature of our dilemma; our nature and habit is to "balance" opposing requirements, think in terms of some kind of budget that allows supporting several notionally exclusive objectives. Rose isn't alone in faltering at this mental hurdle. 

    The fact is, every gram of CO2 we emit now is like pushing a drowning man's head just that little bit deeper underwater. Meanwhile nothing less than "let him breathe air" will do; saying that my objective is to keep as much of my hand wet as possible while letting the man's head emerge from underwater is useless unless I allow the fellow to take a breath. My knowledge of anatomy tells me my hand will be entirely in air if I do so; how do I "compromise?" 

    In the following lecture (youtube) Tyndall Centre's Prof. Kevin Anderson explains better .

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  49. In discussing rising OHC, a commenter objected to Levitus etal on the grounds that the data is too sparse, what is the best response?

    Thanks in advance.

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  50. Sean O - Sparcity of data is reflected in error bars. Note the increase in size of these at 2003. Its especially noticable in 0-2000 data in the Leviticus 2012 paper

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