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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 101 to 150 out of 226:

  1. On the lighter side... If I tell someone that he/she is only human, is that an "ad hominem" comment?
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  2. Current global sea-level data:
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  3. Aloha All. Oceans and landmasses, including mountains are, to the earth, roughly equivalent to the thickness of the skin of an apple. Physical measurement...each smaller at scale than an atom of that skin, or even the gross measurements available from extant satellites cannot always provide sufficient information to make arguments unequivocal - which is why there is a disagreement. Haloclines and thermoclines are continuously variable. The oceans are dynamic. Whether we understand our planet sufficiently to be able to say we are 'missing' heat seems to beg the question: Do we now know everything to a sufficient degree to be able to make that assertion, or is it more likely that we are missing a connection somewhere? We shouldn't need to frame our arguments around this level of specificity. We can look for connections outside our disciplines to guide us. I suggested a non-specific hypothesis to my post-doc group in response to a peak-oil question here: http://drtom.posterous.com/is-there-anything-we-can-do-about-peak-oil-an Warning: I use that blog to vent and nothing is sacred to me. Wandering past that particular post will almost certainly land you somewhere you don't want to be. For the sanity of those who do not want to take the chance, here is the nutshell version: Every degree of atmospheric warming increases the amount of water vapor by ~5% which directly affects the hydrological cycle which directly affects everything else on the planet. The increased water vapor is not measurable everywhere because the atmosphere is dynamic as well. But that doesn't mean it is missing. The effects are certainly observable. The weather is changing rapidly and radically. Like Morton salt used to advertise, "When it rains, it pours". Hurricanes are now much more likely to be category 5 than ten years ago. That is not because anything is missing. It is because something has been added. In a possibly unrelated event, someone must have put WAAAAY too much Fluoride in the D.C. water supply because a lot of people there are getting wonky too. (sorry) I don't care whether anyone finds the missing heat. One second of rational thought tells us that nothing is 'missing'. Simply because we cannot find what we think should exist in the place we expect to find it does not make the case for 'missing' - unless the case is for missing knowledge. Physical laws are not always complete but they don't go missing. I care that the improperly framed 'missing' argument is being extrapolated to 'prove' two different conclusions, both based upon insufficient data. Let us cut to the chase. The biosphere is warming. Therefore the oceans are warming. We are entering a rapid-onset warming event which will manifest itself in years, not decades. Past rapid-onset warming events have ALWAYS become mass-extinction events. What if this one is too? We can only prepare for it if we accept the possibility it can occur. This is like no other time in terrestrial organic history. We can err the right way and lose nothing but we can no longer argue that we have time left. We are out of time. The weather has already changed - we are no longer 'forcing' it. We are off that cliff already. The arctic will be ice-free by 2020. That ice is already floating so the sea level won't rise. But it is melting for a reason.
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  4. KL @ 81 - "Dr Pielke should clarify this point and perhaps comment on my suggested 'ideal' gold standard OHC measurement system of globally tethered buoys all reporting at the same time." Seriously KL, do you think buoys tethered to the deep ocean floor has not already been suggested by the experts?. Future observations for monitoring global ocean heat content Note the names that appear at co-authors, they should sound familiar: M. Palmer , J. Antonov , P. Barker 3, N. Bindoff , T. Boyer, M. Carson,, C. Domingues, S Gille P Gleckler, S. Good, V. Gouretski, S. Guinehut, K. Haines, D. E. Harrison,, M. Ishii G. Johnson, S. Levitus, S. Lozier, J. Lyman, A. Meijers, K. von Schuckmann, D. Smith, S. Wijffels and J. Willis. "In order to close the energy budget of the Earth’s climate we must move to an observing system capable of measuring the global ocean in its entirety. Despite the improved data coverage associated with Argo, the deep (> 2000m) and ice-covered ocean remain largely un-observed. Currently, the only full-depth ocean observations come from the dedicated hydrographic cruises, which can only sample a very small area of the deep ocean. In the future, these hydrographic cruises must be augmented by an array of deep floats, moored instruments, gliders, or a combination thereof to allow a true global integral of ocean heat content from the surface to the sea floor."
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  5. RE: J Murphy 91 Catastrophic AGW is what it sounds like. [CAGW] Human caused warming with consequences so dire that we must take actions which will damage our economy seriously to avoid it. This is to distinguish it from simple AGW which may or may not be true but is a scientific not a political question. If the temperature will rise 6 ° C in 100 years the prudent action would be different from that taken if the temperature were to increase 1 ° C in 100 years. Many people, like myself, believe CO2 is a GHG and we are emitting CO2 so we must be causing some warming. In that respect we believe in some AGW but not in raising energy prices so high we damage our economy and sending jobs overseas where ironically it would increase CO2 emissions. Shoot ourselves in the foot and complain about the pain ? Develop alternate energy, that is obvious. Remove soot too. Wreaking our economy makes no sense unless CAGW is real and imminent. Without positive feedbacks CO2 will only cause 1 ° C for a doubling in 100 years. Which is no crisis. The sense of crisis comes from models which amplify this tiny warming by purported positive feedback which starts tomorrow.
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  6. NETDR... But by most analysis 1C is way down on the probability curve. The IPCC states between 1.5C to 6.2C with something around 3C being most likely. There is a good lecture on Youtube by Dr Richard Alley called "Taming the Long Tail of the Distribution" that is well worth watching. If you are using 1C as the basis of your position then you logically need to place equal weight on the potential for 7C or better. IMO it would be foolish to toddle along assuming 1C with uncertainty as high as it is. Better to plan for the 3C median with our eyes wide open for the long tail.
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  7. Dr Pielke seems to have admitted (in a round about way) that while theoretically, Joule imbalance is the best measure of global warming, on a practical level the measurement systems are not yet good enough to do so in a way that we can make strong conclusions from short time spans. I'm also releived that we're getting some explicit treatment of measurement uncertainty from Ken Lambert as well.
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  8. Dr. Pielke, I first should apologize for my previous comment deleted by the commentator. I am more used to the rather rough environment over on WUWT, and should have moderated my comments to a more civilized site. I want to address a couple of the three points you just presented. Point 1. regarded the ability of Argo to measure the heat flow through the upper mixed layer, and Point 2. discussed the possible heat flow into the deeper ocean. I am a chemical process engineer familiar with heat balances, so I took a look at the amount of heat that models claim should be heating the oceans. (BTW, I agree whole heartedly that we should be attempting to measure heat flows, not temperatures. The term global warming is unfortunate, because in reality the planet has been storing a lot of thermal energy, and has been for a long time. A better term would be planetary heating, not global warming.) In any case, the amount of heat that should be heating the oceans is about 100 to 140 x 10^20 joules per year. This is a lot of thermal energy, but not outrageously high. Thermal energy released by burning fossil fuels is about 4 x 10^20 joules, so this is about 25x to 35x the amount of heat from using fossil fuels. So lets examine the case where this heat is transported by a sinking column of seawater into the deeper ocean. If the seawater was 1.0 deg C warmer than upwelling water somewhere else in the ocean, it would only take a flow of about 3.3 cubic miles per minute of seawater to carry the "missing" amount of thermal energy into the deeper ocean. If the seawater was sinking at one foot per second, which is a reasonable estimate of velocity, then less than 300 square miles of the 139 million square miles of ocean might be involved in this sequestration of heat into the deeper ocean. Another way to express this, only slightly over 2 square miles out of each million square miles of ocean would be involved. It isn't very likely that the Argo system would be able to find and measure a thermal flow like this. If there were 1000 sites scattered around the ocean, each would have an average effective diameter of one kilometer; and even if an Argo float did pass through one of these areas, I am not sure the Argo is data processed in such a manner that we could identify the heat flow. I don't agree with your earlier assertion on this thread, that Argo would measure the heat passing through the mixed layer that ends up in the deeper ocean. Although these points are interesting, point 3. regarding the inconsistency between the Argo data and SLR is the key problem with your hypothesis. For some reason you don't want to accept that recent observations of SLR has put the metric roughly back on the same trend line as observed over the last 25 years or so (approximately 3 mm per year). Last year (June 30, 2009) you posted on WUWT that SLR had flattened. But once the 2009/2010 El Nino kicked in, the SLR resumed. Depending on how much SLR is due to land based ice melt versus thermal expansion of water, the SLR confirms that a significant amount of thermal expansion has occurred such that there must be significantly more ocean heating than the Argo data show. Clearly the SLR data is inconsistent with your interpretation of the Argo data. I agree with ocean heating being the key metric of the heating of the planet, but disagree that the Argo data is the best measure of that. Until proven, and until the conflict with SLR is explained, the SLR data seem a far better measure of the ocean heat buildup.
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  9. zinfan94 - Thank you for your thoughtful comments. With respect to transport of heat to deeper depths that is not sampled, of course, this is possible. However, the thermocline mutes vertical transfers below that level, and most ocean vertical circulations cover a relatively large area and should be reasonably well sampled by Argo except in ice covered areas. If we accept, however, that heat has moved downwards but is not sampled, this is still in conflict with the multi-decadal climate model predictions that I am aware of. This heat also would not be likely available to quickly remerge from these deeper levels back into the atmosphere so as to directly affect weather features.
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  10. Dr. Pielke - Yes, I agree on one point. If the Argo data is accurate, and if the upper mixed layers are not heating substantially due to transport of heat to deeper depths, this is a very favorable result because it would give us time to mitigate GHG driven AGW. I hope the Argo data is correct. However, the SLR data clearly show that thermal expansion of the oceans continues. This data is quite robust, and overturning observed SLR is quite unlikely. Far more likely is some problems with Argo measurements, and somewhat more likely is thermal flows into the deep ocean, or some combination of both. If the Argo data is correct, then sea levels should have already flattened. The fact that they haven't is a big problem with the hypothesis that Argo data measure all the heat absorbed by the oceans. If SLR was entirely due to ice melt, the GRACE data on Greenland and Antarctica ice melt is much too low, as well as topographic measurement of these ice sheets. It isn't likely that two different ice sheet measurement systems, which more or less agree with other, are both wrong. OTOH, if SLR was entirely due to thermal expansion, then the amount of heat being absorbed into the oceans is higher than 140 x 10^20 joules in your estimates. Therefore, clearly SLR is due both to thermal expansion and ice sheet melt. The other issue with SLR; the increase in SLR during El Nino periods is greater that La Nina periods, so some sort of thermal energy change in the mixed layer is occurring. Eli Rabett commented earlier on the large increases at certain periods in the OHC record, versus the relatively flat OHC from the preliminary Argo data. There does seem to be some evidence for large swings in the thermal energy stored in the upper levels of the ocean. The swings are larger than can be explained by exchanging heat into the atmosphere. So this is another problem with your hypothesis... My bet is that there are problems with the Argo data being representative of the entire thermal energy accumulation in the oceans.
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  11. I'm not sure if this point has been already considered earlier or not, but whenever circulation of ocean waters is being examined with regards to the transport of heat, should this mechanism also be held as being the exact same means as CO2 is circulated. I cannot see as how a body of water could carry one without the other given both are absorbed and released at the surface, and the CO2 molecules themselves carry thermal energy. In addition is the release of a CO2 molecule also a means of transferring the thermal energy carried by the CO2 from the ocean to the atmosphere, as well as within the ocean itself?
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  12. Roger, on one thing we agree: It’s a good thing we have blogs (that’s what the kids are calling them) so that misstatements can be refuted. 1. a) You say, “First, I have never used the term instantaneous" in this context.” You used the term “snapshot,” said there was “no lag” and said there was no need to present it in the context of a trend. How my use of the term “instantaneous” to refer to a “snapshot” of a slowly varying quantity, presented as a point on a plot, misrepresents your position I do not know, but I’m sure you can elaborate. b) Did you even read the quote by Willis that you posted? He says his analysis is robust, not the OHC result itself. And he says, “Without cleaned up Argo and/or XBT data with reduced biases, I do not belive (sic) that we can actually say...” So even he doesn’t believe the ARGO data is problem-free. And if you poke around in the literature a bit, you’ll find that no one else does, either. Except, apparently, you. 2. You cite: “...below 3000 m in the global oceans, and below 1000 m in the southern ocean, the ocean is taking up an energy equivalent of about a 0.1 W/m^2 energy imbalance at the top of the atmosphere...” In other words, the ocean gained heat, in complete contradiction to your statement that global warming halted. 3. You cite: “...On average over the 5 year period (2003-2008), the steric contribution has been small (on the order of 0.3+/-0.15 mm/yr)...” In other words, the ocean gained heat, in complete contradiction to your statement that global warming halted.
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  13. 78.Dappledwater I don't think the identification of some faulty instruments in the system is necessarily a problem. The non-identification of such instruments is. I hope you acknowledge that Willis and others have actively sort these problem instruments and have corrected the data set on the basis of this. It still stands that Willis now believes the data set to be robust and unlikely to undergo anymore major corrections.
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  14. zinfan94 Thank you for your further feedback. On your comment, "My bet is that there are problems with the Argo data being representative of the entire thermal energy accumulation in the oceans" Josh Willis has told me that an updated analysis will be available this Fall. If there are substantial remaining issues with the Argo data (and the satellite altimetry data also), we will find out then.
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  15. CBW - By "snapshot" this refers to a monthly exposure. Sorry if this was not clearer. There is no lag, however, with respect to heating and cooling as measured by Joules. The term "lag" is introduced when referring to the temperature response to a heating or cooling. Readers can evaluate from the entire post of the e-mail exchange between myself, Kevin Trenberth and Josh Willis on the confidence that Josh places in his analysis. No one claims the Argo data is error free. However, you misrepresent the topic he was talking about. In his statement "“Without cleaned up Argo and/or XBT data with reduced biases, I do not belive (sic) that we can actually say...”, the complete quote reads "Without cleaned up Argo and/or XBT data with reduced biases, I do not belive that we can actually say that the satellite data in recent years are more reliable than the ocean heat content estimates." he is discussing the use of Argo to assess the accuracy of the satellite derived radiative fluxes. You misintepreted the context. He wrote with respect to the time period since 2005 "...there is little net warming over this period." Your comments #2 and #3 seem to miss this finding.
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  16. 98.CBW Your point 1) repeats the idea that the ARGO system is riddled with sufficient problems to make the attempt to calculate OHC from it an almost pointless task. Yet your point 3) extols the trends derived from the long term OHC record. I still don't get the logic that the very sparse pre-ARGO data is fundementally of a better quality than the near global ARGO record. BTW I'm very happy to accept that the ARGO data is imperfect, I don't think anybody is arguing that its perfect. 2) Deep ocean is warming at rates that cannot account for Trenberth's "missing heat". That is the important detail here. For the sake of the OHC argument the evidence suggests we can ignore deep water as the location for this missing heat until the science changes. 112.CBW You appear more interested in scoring points against Roger than getting to the bottom of OHC. Number 2) being a case in point.
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  17. HR 1 You state, “The NODC near realtime update of OHC shows that the oceans haven't been warming since 2004ish.” How much statistical noise is embedded in the annual OHC (upper layer only) computed by the NODC for this time period? Is the annual OHC to be computed by the NODC for 2010 likely to be higher, or lower, than the number computed for 2009?
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  18. Dr. Pielke You postulate that global warming halted during the period 2004-2009. Why did global warming halt during this period?
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  19. Roger, again we agree on something: I would be delighted for people to read your exchanges with Kevin and Josh, as well as the exchange here. It is unfortunate that so many people will be influenced by sensationalistic rhetoric and demagoguery rather than a rational evaluation of the whole body of evidence. It is unfortunate for us all that that the media has lost its independent voice in favor of commercial considerations, and that well-funded special interest organizations can corrupt rational discourse on our future by distorting the truth. The issue of climate change (and the human impact on the environment in general) may be extremely important to the future of humanity, and it needs to be evaluated with a meticulous regard for the truth. You quote Willis: "...there is little net warming over this period." Here, you misrepresent him. The actual quote is: “Since about 2005, most any analysis method that makes use of the Argo data should get approximately the same answer, which is that there is little net warming over this period.” This is an accurate statement. He did not say that there was no global warming, he said that the Argo data did not show warming. This is the central issue in this thread. You claim there was no global warming during the period in question. The most that can be said (and the only thing Willis said) was that the Argo data did not show warming during the period. Had that been your statement, this thread would not exist. You, however, elected to represent the Argo data as a complete picture of global warming and stated that warming had halted. Willis, others, and even you, have acknowledged that there are still unresolved issues with the Argo data, so it is absolutely not a complete picture at this time. You say: “Your comments #2 and #3 seem to miss this finding.” My comments #2 and #3 are excerpts taken not only directly from sources you cite, but from the actual quotes you included in your post. Both show that there was, in fact, warming during the period which you claim had no warming. Whether they were at odds with Willis or not is irrelevant -- they were at odds with your statement that warming had halted. How can you cite independent evidence of warming, but then claim no warming? It does not make sense.
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    Moderator Response: [Graham] "Had that been your statement, this thread would not exist". Spot on!
  20. CBW, OK, I have been hanging out in the stands with Rob Honeycutt :)But, I just wanted to drop in to stretch my legs and to clarify something. Willis said that there had been "little net warming" between 2005 and 2009 (?), that means that there was warming, albeit a little. That statement too flies in the face with what was confidently/definitively proclaimed by Pielke Snr.(as do the global SL data shown above and other metrics). That said, what can be stated is that given the uncertainties in the data, the noise and short window of time, the (current) data suggest that there was very little change in the global 0-700 m OHC over the short window in contention. Which reminds me, let us not forget the pitfalls of cherry-picking windows as illustrated/underscored by cynicus @23. Anyhow, I also wanted to add my support for MrJon's excellent summary @84. Perhaps Roger could post said text on his blog and ask Anthony to do the same? Looking forward to seeing the release of the latest OHC data this fall... Rob asked me to get some more popcorn, so I had better do that ;) {PS: For the record, I have absolutely no idea who "Rob" is, just trying to inject some humour...)
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  21. HR @ 113 -" I don't think the identification of some faulty instruments in the system is necessarily a problem. The non-identification of such instruments is. I hope you acknowledge that Willis and others have actively sort these problem instruments and have corrected the data set on the basis of this." Yes and I hope you remember that Willis & Lyman published a paper in 2006 claiming the oceans had cooled, when in fact it was largely down to faulty instruments on the ARGO floats inducing a spurious cooling bias (and a warm bias in the XBT). Not only did they ignore the advice of other experts pointing out that their data may be flawed, if you read their paper they actually point the finger at the satellites measuring radiation at the top of the atmosphere suggesting the problems lay there. Recent cooling of the upper ocean "A likely source of the cooling is a small net imbalance in the 340 W/m2 of radiation that the Earth exchanges with space. Imbalances in the radiation budget of order 1 W/m2 have been shown to occur on these time scales and have been related to changes in upper OHCA [Wong et al., 2006]. These findings suggest that the observed decrease in upper ocean heat content from 2003 to 2005 could be the result of a net loss of heat from the Earth to space." As far as Willis is concerned, all I'm saying is he's been cocksure before, in the face of contradictory evidence, and in that case took some time before he accepted the problems lay at his doorstep. Now if you draw your attention to the link I provided @ 78: Two “micro-leak” defects leave some 25-35% of the Argo floats deployed between 11/2005 and 7/2009 vulnerable to errors in reported pressure and possible eventual failure of the transducer. Note the date of the bulletin (2nd March 2010), this is a separate issue from those identified several years ago, but again related to the pressure sensors on the ARGO floats. More spurious readings perhaps?. ARGO is a great idea, but attributing great certainty & accuracy to the data thus far, is a bit premature.
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  22. HumanityRules @116, my contention is not that the attempt to calculate OHC is almost pointless. My contention is that the calculation of OHC from ARGO data is in its infancy, and will take some time before it becomes a reliable measure. I actually agree with Dr. Pielke in one respect: when OHC can be measured directly and accurately, it will be an excellent tool for monitoring global warming. My point #3 was regarding sea level rise, which is currently the best proxy for OHC (though the steric contribution needs to be disentangled from the melting of terrestrial ice), not pre-ARGO temperature data. (Note, however, that sea level rise, which has continued on pace (see Albatross's post above), is a potential problem for humanity regardless of its origin.) You say: “For the sake of the OHC argument the evidence suggests we can ignore deep water as the location for this missing heat until the science changes.” That simply isn’t the case. The 2009 state of the climate report (linked earlier by Albatross, I believe), says: “Only with a truly global ocean observing system can we close fully the global energy and sea level budgets, so we must improve our observations of the ocean below 2000 m where Argo floats currently do not reach.” This point, again, emphasizes that the ARGO data alone are currently not enough to diagnose global warming. As for your final point, the central issue of this thread is not OHC. It is a statement made by Dr. Pielke that global warming halted during the period ~2004 to 2009. He based that assertion on the upper ocean heat content. But several lines of evidence, including those I presented, show him to be incorrect or, at best, overstating the available evidence.
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  23. Albatross, I agree with everything you said. Except in my case it will be ice cream, not popcorn. I'll let those of you on the other side of the planet pick up the baton for a while. Good night.
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  24. What? Climate is weather averaged over 5 years? Has WMO changed the definition? n/t
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  25. My first post, I live in Brazil. I am totally a layman and would like to ask the following: It seems that several doubt the accuracy of the Argo data. So what other indices show that the warming continues from 2004?
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  26. Looking at Dr Pielke Sr's responses here and elsewhere, it appears to me that his views on global warming are determined more by his political outlook than by any evidence-based science. How can you look at some of his assertions and not see the cherry-picking to suit whatever point he is trying to make at any particular moment ? For example : "Their has been no statistically significant warming of the upper ocean since 2003." Can one really determine any statistical significance using a 6-year period ? ...global warming [which, of course, has not occurred since at least mid-2004!]. He wrote this in 2008. Does Dr Pielke Sr still agree with this ? If so, on what does he base his assertion ? ...lower troposphere from, say, 2001 to the present, if anything it is slightly falling Why choose 2001 ? What does he think of the trend up to the most recent figures ? ...since about 1995, if you put a linear plot since then, there has basically been no further cooling of the stratosphere Again, why choose 1995 ? Why not choose 2001, which was chosen for the lower troposphere ? Again, what does he think of the trend up to the most recent figures ? ...arctic ice level so it is higher than it was this time last year, How can anyone assert this as if it meant anything serious, especially a scientist ? What is it supposed to mean ? Again, what does he think of the most recent figures compared to this time last year ? ...Antarctica, for the last number of years, actually has been increasing in its sea ice coverage. How many years is 'the last number of years' ? What does he believe this means ? ...the climate hasn’t been warming over the last number of years. Again, How many years is 'the last number of years' ? Is it 'since at least mid-2004', as he asserted above ? Does he still agree with that assertion ? There is also this from an interview he gave last year : the globally averaged lower atmosphere has not warmed in the last nine years (and, in fact, is cooler than it was in 1998). How does this assertion (using a start date of 2000, presumably) tie-in with the previous claim of 'since at least mid-2004' assertion, which he wrote the previous year ? Is this what he meant by 'the last number of years' ? And why highlight the record temperature year of 1998 ? Does he think that 2010 will continue to prove his assertion that there has been no warming 'in the last nine years' ? Generally, I am always disappointed when I find scientists cherry-picking and letting their personal politics determine their assertions. In fact, Dr Pielke Sr's determination to continue along this line was confirmed by his recommendation of a book by his son. No surprise that a father would recommend his son : it was the title of that book that spoke volumes to me, and highlighted what I think is the rationale behind the views of certain people. The title of that book is 'The Climate Fix: What Scientists and Politicians Won't Tell You About Global Warming'. That encapsulates neatly what so-called skeptics believe, whether they are involved with the science or just believers of a certain viewpoint : AGW is a 'fix' (or conspiracy), being used by politicians to do whatever they want to do - usually restrict our freedoms, put up everyone's taxes and enrich themselves, of course. Especially Liberal or slightly-left-of-extreme-right politicians. And by associating scientists and politicians together, they can proclaim that scientists are in on the 'fix', doing it for the politicians, and enriching themselves or controlling us all by producing results that have already been agreed in advance by some secret cabal. It would all be very funny if it wasn't so sad and serious. Dr Pielke Sr, you won't care what I think of you but I am disappointed that there are scientists like you who are prepared to interpret and provide partial results in ways that give your audience what they want to hear, and which, purely and simply, conform to your political viewpoint.
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  27. @ari no one can say yes or no, it's a too short period of time. Given that in a longer time span there has been warming and that the last about 6 years from 2004 are well inside natural variability and uncertainties (and apart from other reasons i'll not mention), we can only say that statistically we have no reason to believe that the trend has changed. I know, it's not a satisfactory answer, we'd like to have a "yes" or "no". But hey, this is how science works ;)
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  28. DW #104 I am glad that you cited that paper. It is good that my own independent (if not multiple) line of sclerotic engineer thought agrees with such a distinguished list of authors. Even kdkd is tossing bouquets in my direction.
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  29. Here is an example of my problem with jumping the gun to use ARGO data as a new proxy to define global warming. Suddenly you start finding articles like this spreading all across the internet. This one titled "Arrrrggggg…Argo Shows Global Cooling." Written by a Dr. Jay L Wile Full article here. "Thus, while carbon dioxide levels have risen, the globe has neither cooled nor warmed overall in the past 30 years. If you look at the temperature in the graph from 2003 on, however, you will see a clear trend – the troposphere has been cooling since 2003. This is mostly like in response to the fact that the late 1990s were abnormally warm. Now, of course, all global-warming alarmists know these data. In fact, they used to be published on NASA’s own website, but when too many people started pointing to NASA’s website as evidence that “global warming” is not happening, NASA quickly removed the data." The full article is rife with inaccuracies from someone who claims to have a PhD in Nuclear Chemistry. I tried to locate a way to contact Mr Wile but the comments are closed and he has no contact information on the blog that I could find. This is exactly my previous point about rowdy fans. When the rhetoric too quickly shifts to OHC is global warming then you feed the obfuscation machine. These people are not going to look at the details. They aren't going to question whether the ARGO data is robust yet. They only want a reason to believe there is some crazy conspiracy going on. This is the big game and the fans are drunk on politics. Climate change is an issue that we need to get right. If you're passing out shots of bourbon to the fans you're doing a massive disservice to science.
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  30. Has the scientific community reached consensus on the causes of the El Nino and La Nina events?
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  31. Badgersouth @130, Yes, as far as I understand the mechanism for El Nino is referred to as the delayed oscillator. The cause is most certainly not undersea volcanoes as Monckton suggests. Read more here: http://iri.columbia.edu/climate/ENSO/theory/index.html
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  32. 129. Rob Honeycutt states: "This is the big game and the fans are drunk on politics. Climate change is an issue that we need to get right. If you're passing out shots of bourbon to the fans you're doing a massive disservice to science." Especially true if the bourbon is being passed out a conference sponsored by the George Marshall Institute.
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  33. Dr Pielke @115 You clarify that a snapshot is a month's average data. Can you please explain your rationale for choosing a one month period as indicative of the overall heat balance. It seems to me from a visual inspection that the noise overwhelms the signal for even a three month period, and that, as I posted earlier, several year's data might be needed. Presumably however, you've done a proper in depth analysis of the data to identify the time period necessary to differentiate signal from noise - it would be really interesting to share that please ?
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  34. Albatross @ 131 Is the science settled on the causes of the "delayed oscillator"? Does the "delayed osciallator"impact the amount of OHC stored in the upper layer of the ocean system that is measured by the ARGO system?
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  35. Albatross: Has anyone computed the annual mass of Greenland ice cover loss/gain from 2000 through 2009? How many Joules of energy does it take to melt a cubic meter of ice?
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  36. ari @125, as has been mentioned, five or six years is too short a period of time to say anything definitive, but here is a site where you can see some of the key indicators and decide for yourself if the trends are continuing: http://climate.nasa.gov/keyIndicators/index.cfm Note that this year's arctic sea ice minimum looks like it will be somewhere in the vicinity of 2008's number. It is already considerably lower than 2009 by every measure I've seen. We'll likely know this year's number within a couple of weeks. (Also, it looks like their 2009 number is wrong -- not sure what the problem is, but it looks about a million km^2 too big, so maybe it's just a plotting error.)
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  37. Badgersouth @135, see the link I just posted for ari. It has Greenland and Antarctic ice mass graphs for the period since 2002.
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  38. Badger @134/135, I'm not entirely sure where this line of questioning is going. I am not an expert on the "delayed oscillator" or exactly how ENSO may affect global OHC. Maybe someone else here can add some information. That said, I'm pretty sure that the "delayed oscillator" is now accepted widely in the community. As for the ice loss form Greenland, a new paper our in Nature (in which they used different correction factors, than those used in recent studies, to account for the impact of glacial isostatic rebound) suggests that the mean ice loss from Greenland between April 2002 and December 2008 was -104 (+/- 23) Gt/yr, and -64 (+/- 32 Gt/yr) from the WAIS. 1 Gt is about 1 km^3 of ice. As you can see, there are some issues closing the global SL "budget".
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  39. A couple of points, ARGO measures heat content by measuring temperature and composition. The probes float at depth and surface every 10 days, during which they measure profiles. While the oceans have 90% of the heat content, it ain't 90% of the Earth's heat content, because that leaves out the mantle and the core. However, that is just the scientist in Eli, because the heat flow through the lithosphere is slow and small compared to that from the sun. The more serious point is that ARGO and the other probes do not measure the heat content of the deep ocean, but only of the upper 1km or so. That means they are NOT measuring the heat content of the entire ocean, something to keep in mind when looking at strong claims. So what can ARGO do?. It can measure the heat flow into and out of the upper 1 km layer of the ocean and that is very significant, but since it depends strongly on winds and currents, it is NOT a direct measure of global warming free of variation. It is a damped measure as can also be seen by looking at the time response to Pinatubo esp in the sea level rise
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  40. I suspect that we have seen the last of Dr. Pielke and HumanityRules on this comment thread. Can anyone else answer the following two questions that I had posed to them yesterday. 1. Is the annual OHC to be computed by the NODC for 2010 likely to be higher, or lower, than the number computed for 2009? 2. Does Dr. Pielke postulate a theory about why global warming purportedly halted during the period 2004-2009?
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  41. As I understand it, SLR tends to concentrated around the equator due to centrifigual forces and ocean currents. If that is the case, would the OHC stored in the upper layer of the oceans be unevenly distributed, i.e., more around the equator and less elsewhere?
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  42. In discussing the point that 2004-2009 is too short a period to see such trends, it should be clarified more precisely *why* we might not expect to see changes over that length of time. There are in fact several reasons I can think of; others can perhaps think of more. (1) The rate of change in both ocean heat content and in surface temperature expected from global warming is still small enough that the change only emerges from statistical noise (inherent and/or measurement-related) over longer periods of time. (2) Over short periods of time there are processes within our climate system that introduce substantial variability which, over longer periods, average to zero. ENSO in particular has a major impact on 2-3 year variability. Also don't forget we've been near the bottom of a solar cycle for a few years too (so incoming solar is 0.2 W/m^2 or so less than the average right now just from that). (3) Plain old weather - cloudiness levels and storm systems can persist to some degree for a month at a time (like the Russian drought, Pakistan floods situation this summer). These have a major impact on Earth's energy balance over the short term, and while they average out over the period defining weather, the natural statistical variability they introduce into Earth's energy balance almost certainly overwhelm global warming signals (so far) over the few-year time frame. Agreed?
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  43. @135 If I read correctly the discussion, melting ice is not enough to explain the lack of energy in the ocean. Or Argo is wrong or the satellites are. So what other indices show an increase in temperature since 2004? The existence of these show that there are problems with ARGO. Get it right?
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  44. Badgersouth writes: Has anyone computed the annual mass of Greenland ice cover loss/gain from 2000 through 2009? How many Joules of energy does it take to melt a cubic meter of ice? My guess is you're wondering whether the "flattening" of ocean heat content that Dr Pielke refers to is attributable to the latent heat associated with melting ice. It's a reasonable question. I tried to address it a couple of days ago, when somebody asked about it in another thread. Here's a link to my first comment, and here's a followup (with further details and correction of a typo in the first comment). The bottom line is that obviously heat that goes into melting ice means less heat raising the temperature of the ocean. But the amounts involved (for both declining Arctic sea ice and melting land ice) are about two orders of magnitude smaller than the OHC anomaly numbers. It's just too small to have much of an effect.
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  45. Ned, Thanks for taking the time to respond to two questions I had posed. I do recall your prior posts. In this particular instance, I was just asking for some basic information about the amount of heat that has been "consumed" in the melting of the Greenland Ice sheet over a specified time period. I know that it pales in comparison to the amount of heat stored in the upper layer of the world's oceans.
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  46. Ned @144, Just had a look at your numbers. FWIW, they look good to me, although I cannot vouch for the contribution to global SL from glacial melt--although the NSIDC numbers valid up until 2003 may be too low (e.g., Dyurgerov (2002) notes that contribution from glaciers exceeded 2 mm/yr after 2000). Either way, as you say, the heat required/involved is too small to significantly affect the 0-700 m OHC numbers, i.e., explain the slowdown in OHC over the period in question. I'm beginning to appreciate Dr. Trenberth's frustration ;)
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  47. Just perusing the US State of the climate report and noticed that their Fig. 3.7 shows NODC OHC content values decreasing slightly after 2004, whereas the OHC data for PMEL and Hadley both show increases in OHC, especially the Hadley data. So who to believe? At this point, I sure don't know which one is right...and in light of those discrepancies I would certainly not venture to state unequivocally in public that global warming has stopped. Maybe Pielke can explain to us specifically why he chose the NODC OHC data over those data provided by PMEL and Hadley....
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  48. A guest blog at Pielke snrs blog, Have Changes In Ocean Heat Falsified The Global Warming Hypothesis? – A Guest Weblog by William DiPuccio (MAY 5, 2009), link, provides a good overview of the issues discussed here The argument that we ought to accept ocean heat, measured in joules, as the gold standard for measurement of global warming - and - that reliable measures of this date from 2004 - and - indicate that global warming has halted seems valid to me. An important role for scientists is to point out which measuring tools are the best available and Pielke snr has led the way here.
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  49. The ARGO problems must include spacial, perhaps as well as missing heat at depth. If there is no additional heat in the well mixed top 700 meters or 2000 meters, it can't be pushing heat downwards. So if there is extra heat, it must be finding a way down to the depths that misses the current ARGO network.
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  50. @129: Rob, Jay Wile, a creationist first, is all over the Interweb. He has a Facebook page. You will be lucky to get a response from him. @ARGO: I am not absolutely certain that everyone understands the design function, scope and limitations of the ARGO experiments. There are three float types and two sensor suites, each built by a different company, That equates to one unit, spaced unevenly, for every ~333 thousand cubic MILES of ocean. Each unit embarks on two submersion missions a month, and there are two types of missions. 20% of them profile between 1,000 and 1,500 meters. 70% profile 1,500 to 2,000 meters. The remaining 10% presumable escape their earthly masters and congregate somewhere to reproduce or disappear into fishing nets. Almost half of the oceans are more than 3000 meters deep which is also the average ocean depth. Drift measurements at a fixed are quite valuable for doing what they were designed to do. Determine drift and determine salinity while ascending, The array of profiling floats provides an attractive method for making other ocean measurements that presently lie outside the core Argo mission. These include the measurement of dissolved oxygen, nutrients, microstructure, ambient noise, measurements of biological activity and temperature and salinity measurements that differ from the standard Argo 10 day profiling mission. The Argo data system is used to handle some of these measurements (particularly dissolved oxygen) but these are not considered to be part of the core Argo mission. Similarly it is convenient to handle the data from ocean gliders and from instrumented marine mammals using the Argo data system. Though these data may be distributed by the Argo data system they also are not considered core Argo measurements. At present the Argo Steering Team views these measurements and the quality control and distribution of their data as lying outside Argo core activities. These experiments were neither designed into, nor provide the data required to postulate outside the core abilities of the instruments. In my opinion, the data discussed in this thread cannot be definitive with the present system. At minimum, a top-to-bottom probe which cycled every 24 hours and continuously measured, in addition to temperature and drift, the bottom composition, pressure, total dissolved gas load in the water and it's composition, mineral content and acidity, turbidity, composition of particulate matter, density and type of plankton and bottom-chain animals in the water column, the temperature of the top few inches of the water just below the sea-air interface and, while surfaced the temperature, speed, barometric pressure, direction, and chemical content of the air. With a brief time out to transmit the data. Practically, even if there were enough Energizer bunnies to power these things, and the money was available to build them, the only thing they would probably discover in the near-term is that the physical laws of the universe still apply to Mercury thermometers. http://www.argo.ucsd.edu/Argo_design_papers.html
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