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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 151 to 200 out of 226:

  1. Roger, the point is how many time slices do you need spread over what period. True, the thermal inertia of the upper ocean implies that you do not need a continuous time record, but that assumes that currents moving large amounts of mass and energy, especially vertical ones, will not change rapidly. If you think four years is enough then you have to explain every wiggle that happens on a scale of a year or less. Further, as the bunny pointed out above, ARGO is NOT measuring the thermal content of the ocean, but the thermal content of the UPPER ocean and by differencing, the flow of energy into and out of the upper ocean from above (atmosphere) and below (lower ocean). Since differencing is really subject to falsification by random noise, it appears to Eli that you are selling a McGuffin.
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  2. Albatros, Ned, Badgersouth, Rob Honeycutt: You might want to check the numbers from my early Post #14 "Dr Trenberth reckons on a yearly imbalance of 145E20 Joules. He puts 2E20 Joules into land heat up, 1E20Joules into Arctic sea ice melt, and 2-3E20 Joules into Total land ice melt. Thats a total 5-6E20 Joules/year out of 145E20 Joules of supposed imbalance which must go somewhere in the system. Total ice melt and land heat up is only 4%. So where is the other 140E20 Joules/year? Dr Trenberth accounts for only 20-95E20 in the oceans (a wide range), 16E20 in reduced TSI (which should probably be deducted from the 145 to start with), and a "residual" of 30-100E20 Joules which is unaccounted for. It could be in the deep oceans or 'exited to space' - ie. it was never there to start with." Also go and read Dr Trenberth's Aug09 paper: "An imperative for climate change planning: tracking the Earth's global energy" here: http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/Trenberth/trenberth.papers/EnergyDiagnostics09final2.pdf Ned - you are right about ice melt being a small energy sink; only 3-4E20 Joules/year for all arctic and land ice melt when the purported imbalance being absorbed in the Earth system is 145E20 Joules/year. According to the above paper: Global SLR is supposed to be about 2.5mm/year of which 2.00mm is mass or ice melt water and about 0.5mm is thermosteric rise from thermal expansion. Have a look at "Sea level rise the broader picture" here: http://www.skepticalscience.com/news.php?p=2&t=80&&n=339 and particularly BP#19, HR#65, KL#68,#80. Dr Tom: Yes Argo is not designed for global OHC data collection and has been pressed into this service for want of a better system. It surely is vastly better that XBT and other sampling methods - but I think that Dr Pielke agrees with me and others on this blog thread that the best method would be a system of tethered buoys whic could read the same tile of the ocean and all collect at the same time (1200hrs GMT on the 1st of each month if you want seasonal and yearly snapshots giving almost continouus OHC measurement) How you transmit data from tethered buoys without them surfacing could be a difficult problem, and if you try a surfacing system similar to Argo with a 2000-3000m tether - there could be some difficulty there as well - but surmountable I would expect.
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  3. 152. Ken Lambert: You state, "Dr Trenberth reckons on a yearly imbalance of 145E20 Joules. He puts 2E20 Joules into land heat up, 1E20Joules into Arctic sea ice melt, and 2-3E20 Joules into Total land ice melt." Have Dr. Trenberth's "reckonings" been peer reviewed? In the contest of your statement, does "land" include both the lithosphere and the bioshpere? Does "land" also include surface freshwater?
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  4. Has the methodolgy developed by NOAA to compute the OHC for the 2004-2009 time period been thoroughly vetted? If so, by whom and how?
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  5. Is the code for the computer programs used by NOAA to compute the OHC for the 2004-2009 time period error-free? Has it been vetted by an independent review?
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  6. Albatross - Regarding "Maybe Pielke can explain to us specifically why he chose the NODC OHC data over those data provided by PMEL and Hadley...." please present what is their estimate of accumulation of heat in the upper 700m of the oceans since 2004, and what does this equate to in Watts per meter squared.
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  7. VeryTallGuy - Thank you for your very good question. I chose a month time period since an expert with this data (Josh Willis) presented uncertainty estimates on this time scale; i.e. see the figure in Pielke Sr., R.A., 2008: A broader view of the role of humans in the climate system. Physics Today, 61, Vol. 11, 54-55. http://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/r-334.pdf
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  8. Dr. Pielke: Do you agree or disagree with the statement: “The warming trend in OHC dominated earth’s heat balance during the past fifty years…” ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The above statement is from: 1. Introduction [2] We have previously reported estimates of the variability of the ocean heat content (OHC) of the world ocean [Levitus et al., 2000, 2005a]. The warming trend in OHC dominated earth’s heat balance during the past fifty years [Levitus et al., 2001] and the trend has been attributed to theincrease in greenhouse gases in earth’s atmosphere by Levitus et al. [2001] and Barnett et al. [2001, 2005] among others. Source: “Global ocean heat content 1955–2008 in light of recently revealed instrumentation problems,” S. Levitus,1 J. I. Antonov,1 T. P. Boyer,1 R. A. Locarnini,1 H. E. Garcia,1 and A. V. Mishonov1 Received 31 December 2008; revised 26 February 2009; accepted 18 March 2009; published 11 April 2009 GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 36, L07608, doi:10.1029/2008GL037155, 2009
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  9. Dr Pielke, Thanks for the link to your article, an interesting read. It seems, however, to back up the point I made. There is no discussion of the time period necessary for signal to outweigh noise, and the error bars (quoted as "plus or minus one standard error") are about 5x10^22 J. On this thread you assert that one month's data is a "snapshot" which allows the earth's heat balance to be reliably calculated, yet the error on this timescale is a heat flow of 5x10^22J/month, or 6x10^23J/yr, which is well over an order of magnitude larger than the figure your article compares from Hansen (1.39x10^22J/yr). Surely this clearly shows a monthly snapshot is not meaningful ?
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  10. Badgersouth - From all of the available evidence, time slices for today compared with 50 years ago clearly indicate that the upper ocean is warmer at present. Also, the OHC time changes is by far (~80%) the largest reservoir of global warming and cooling and can be used to diagnose the annual average global radiative forcing in Watts per meter squared. The challenge to the IPCC modeling community is what should be expect for the coming years. Jim Hansen has written (in 2005) the following - see http://go2.wordpress.com/?id=725X1342&site=pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com&url=http%3A%2F%2Fpielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com%2F2009%2F09%2F1116592hansen.pdf&sref=http%3A%2F%2Fpielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com%2F2010%2F05%2F21%2Fupdate-on-jim-hansens-forecast-of-the-global-radiative-imbalance-as-diagnosed-by-the-upper-ocean-heat-content-change%2F "Our simulated 1993-2003 heat storage rate was 0.6 W/m2 in the upper 750 m of the ocean. The decadal mean planetary energy imbalance, 0.75 W/m2, includes heat storage in the deeper ocean and energy used to melt ice and warm the air and land. 0.85 W/m2 is the imbalance at the end of the decade.” Using this value of 0.6 W/m2 for the upper ocean, please calculate the expected accumulation of Joules that should have accumumlated in the upper ocean since 2005. Also present evidence that the Argo network and associated satellite altimetry measurements are too poor to diagnose heating of this rate.
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  11. Dr Pielke @156, With respect, I am in no mood to play games. Please answer the question, instead of answering my question (about PMEL and Hadley estimates of OHC) with a question. I am also curious to know what your answer is to my question earlier about what you think global OHC values will be (relative to current estimates) circa 2030. Thank you.
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  12. Dr. Pielke @160 Your lengthy response to a very straight forward question that I posed in Badgersouth 158, concludes with: "Using this value of 0.6 W/m2 for the upper ocean, please calculate the expected accumulation of Joules that should have accumulated in the upper ocean since 2005. Also present evidence that the Argo network and associated satellite altimetry measurements are too poor to diagnose heating of this rate." With all due respect, I am not obligated to calculate anything or present evidence about the ARGO network and associated satellite altimetry measurements. I am neither a colleague of yours, nor a student of yours.
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  13. Dr. Pielke @160 I believe that you have answered “yes” to the question I had posed in Badgersouth 158. Here’s a follow-up question: In your expert opinion, why is the upper ocean warmer today than it was 50 years ago?
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  14. Dr. Pielke: Does the US Navy’s fleet of nuclear submarines routinely measure the temperature of the oceans at depths greater than that measured by the ARGOS system? If so, is this database in the public domain?
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  15. Re: Badgersouth (164) While I would not wish to speak for Dr. Pielke, as a former Department of Defense employee perhaps I can offer a bit of insight into the 2nd question you have. Operational depth and location data of the Navy's sub fleet will always be classified, for obvious reasons. However, some of the info you seek may be available to researchers submitting a FOIA request. A well-constructed FOIA request, delimited properly, should return some info. The extent to which data is collected and of what nature (continuously or periodically) will also be classified. Worth a shot. The Yooper
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  16. From the "State of the climate in 2009" report that I linked to earlier: "Strong small-scale spatial variability in OHCA fields is associated with the western boundary currents in every gyre, as well as the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (Fig. 3.5b). The difference in the combined estimates between 2009 and 2008 (Fig. 3.5b) illustrates the large year-to-year variability in ocean heat storage. Of course internal ocean dynamics, such as advection and heave, certainly play a significant role in many of these changes but for purposes of comparison only, they reach or exceed the equivalent of a 95 W m-2 magnitude surface flux applied over one year (~3 × 109 J m-2)." And "Three different upper ocean estimates (0–700 m) of globally integrated in situ OHCA (Fig. 3.7) reveal a large increase in global integrals of that quantity since 1993. The interannual details of the time series differ for a variety of reasons including differences in climatology, treatment of the seasonal cycle, mapping methods, instrument bias corrections, quality control, and other factors. Most of these factors are not taken into account in the displayed uncertainties, so while the error bars shown do not always overlap among the three estimates, these estimates are not necessarily statistically different from each other because the error bars are likely unrealistically small. Even so, errors are too large to obtain reliable trends over a few years." Dr. Pielke, if you read anything, please read that very last sentence.
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  17. I will be posting on the ocean heat budget on my weblog this coming week. Thank you to those who engaged in a constructive discussion on this important climate issue.
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  18. Dr. Pielke, Are you a) going to allow comments on your blog, and b) answer questions which you have not yet answered here?
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  19. Re Daniel Bailey (165): Thank you for addressing the question I had posed to Dr. Pielke about the availability of ocean temperature data from the US Navy. I suspect that this matter has been thoroughly explored by NOAA and by the many scientists throughout the world investigating what's going on within the ocean system.
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  20. Badgersouth, Don't be so sure. It might be worth asking, the trick would be to allow them to answer in a way that did not permit tracking of the vessels.
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  21. Albatross - The issues have been discussed extensively [and often very constructively] in the comments on this website and at Watts Up With That [which reposted my original post and permits comments]. I suggest waiting until new information appears (promised to us by mid Fall) on updating the Argo/satellite estimates of upper ocean heating and cooling before we continue this discussion. At that time we can answer the central questions 1. Using the GISS (Jim Hansen's value of 0.6 W/m2 for the upper ocean as the model prediction, what are the estimates of the accumulation of Joules that have accumumlated in the upper ocean since 2004? 2. What is the observation accuracy of the Argo network and associated satellite altimetry measurements since 2004? 3. Should the upper ocean heat change observations replace (or more conservatively, complement) the use of the global annual average surface temperature trend estimates as the primary metric to diagnose i) multi-year and/or decadal averaged global warming.
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  22. Re: EliRabett (170)
    "...the trick would be to allow them to answer in a way that did not permit tracking of the vessels."
    The Rabett is wise and (as usual) hits upon the crux of the matter. Any level of spatiotemporal data that allows anywhere near-term tracking of ship movements will not be approved. The precise nature of the data needed (time, datestamp, location, depths, temperatures, salinity, etc) would also allow mission capabilities to be derived. Data passing San Board (security classification review) tends to be older, with capabilities degraded. Not all locations would ever be declassified, due to even the existence of the data being sensitive. International waters data in non-sensitive areas older than 5 years probably would be reviewed with sensitive data snipped before release. In the nice-to-know category; the stuff researchers would need to know (recent accurate measurements) may never see the light of day. FWIW The Yooper
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  23. I strongly suspect that Dr. Pielke already knows what is coming in mid-Fall. And I suspect no great change from what we see now. This appears to be a game, so Dr. Pielke can say in a month or two - as I told you 2 months ago - ain't no heating here. So the question becomes - is ALL the other data wrong? We have the preponderance of evidence stating that it is warming, and OHC saying maybe not. How do we bring these two into agreement?
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    Moderator Response: [Graham]: We bring these matters to a head only given enough time. That's the point of all 'knowing' denialism - the cynical kind of dissent - to delay efforts to address the problem until every last drop of profit has been wrung from 'business as usual' paradigms. All change in commercial practice costs money. The commercial/political opponents know full well they can't beat nature. They also know that if they can stall measures to address AGW they will make more money short term. So they pay lobby groups to make good use of statements like 'global warming stopped' and 'there's been no cooling' and 'the ice hasn't been melting' and 'the seas haven't been rising, all statements made by people like Pielke, who should know better. So big business carries on grinding out the dividends by disputing the science, right up until they are overwhelmed by the evidence - most probably salt water. By then it will be far too late, of course.
  24. KL #128 It's actually compost that's been thrown in your direction, given the amount of time it's taken you to fess up about the serious problems with measurement uncertainty in this data. You appear to finally have admitted that we can not draw strong conclusions from existing OHC measurements.
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  25. As long as we are wishing for ponies, how about launching DSCVR? Oh yes, in case anyone is still looking, note the subtle change in 171: "Should the upper ocean heat CHANGE observations replace (or more conservatively, complement) the use of the global annual average surface temperature trend estimates as the primary metric to diagnose i) multi-year and/or decadal averaged global warming."
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  26. What is "DSCVR"?
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  27. Badger @176, I think Eli mean to say "DSCOVR"--Deep Space Climate Observatory. It was a space mission designed to measure the planet's energy budget, but was quietly cancelled in early 2006.
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  28. @ Graham Wayne and John Cook: Many contributors to this comment thread have questioned the statistical quality of the OHC computed by the NOAA/NODC for the 2005-2009 time period. I suggest that you distill all of the particulars expressed into a set of questions and formally transmit the set to NOAA/NODC for response. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained."
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  29. Re #178, Good point, and while you are at it perhaps also contact Dr. Palmer, and the folks at Hadley and PMEL.
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  30. Dr Pielke, before you sign off please have a look at another thread from this blog, namely: "Robust warming of the upper ocean" here: http://www.skepticalscience.com/news.php?p=4&t=153&&n=357 Have a look at Berenyi Peter (BP for short) BP#6, #16, #30, #45 #72, and a couple of mine KL #24, #43, #60. Here's the conclusion: "BP has got it pretty right in his application of the first law, and the conclusion that the large OHC increases prior to 2004 are offset errors in the XBT-Argo transition is much more 'Robust' I would suggest."
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  31. Badgersouth #153 and others: Asking whether Dr Trenberth's papers are 'peer reviewed' shows that you need to do some more reading before venturing onto this blog. Start with this: "Robust warming of the upper ocean" here: http://www.skepticalscience.com/news.php?p=4&t=153&&n=357 Have a look at Berenyi Peter (BP for short) BP#6, #16, #30, #45 #72, and a couple of mine KL #24, #43, #60.
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  32. kdkd #174 Pursue this elsewhere kdkd. You are thinking wishfully by posing that there is any 'fessing up' on my part. I have been critical of the potential inaccuracy of Argo for OHC measurement in many posts on this blog and elsewhere, and suggested an ideal system of tethered buoys. The issue is how close Argo comes to this 'ideal' measurement. The point is 3500 Argo buoys must give a more accurate picture that XBT and other ad hoc measurements prior to 2004. The problem was the splicing of XBT records to Argo in the transition coinciding with impossible leaps (2.1W/sq.m) in global upper 700m OHC when the purported figure is 0.9W/sq.m leads the conclusion in KL #180 above.
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  33. Ken #182 Your argument above is sound but it can not yet contribute to the conclusions we can draw about anthropogenic global warming, even with the better sampling post 2004. The best we can say is that there are still large uncertainties relating to both measurement and understanding. However this has no effect on the other indicators that anthropogenic global warming is a serious and pressing problem.
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  34. 181. Ken Lambert: For everyone’s convenience, I am repeating my post of Badgersouth 153. You state, "Dr Trenberth reckons on a yearly imbalance of 145E20 Joules. He puts 2E20 Joules into land heat up, 1E20Joules into Arctic sea ice melt, and 2-3E20 Joules into Total land ice melt." Have Dr. Trenberth's "reckonings" been peer reviewed? In the contest of your statement, does "land" include both the lithosphere and the bioshpere? Does "land" also include surface freshwater? My first question was specific to the specific data “reckoned” by Dr. Trenberth. Let me rephrase the question to remove any ambiguities. What is the source document for Dr. Trenberth’s “reckonings? Has this document been peer reviewed?
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  35. A man walks 10 miles on day 1. He walks 20 miles on day 2 and stays in place on day 3. His average movement was 10 miles per day, but it is not WRONG to say he isn't moving on day 3. Climate is a complex chaotic system which is very difficult to measure. Even if there is a long term average warming due to CO2 emissions it is perfectly reasonable that timelags and the nonlinear natures of the feedbacks and forcings can cause short term cooling or cessation. Global warming as measured by atmospheric temperature is a relatively small signal in a complex noisy and chaotic system. Atmospheric measurements of temperature are indirect measurements of global warming and require complex modelling and tremendous effort to determine. We can only see the global warming signature as an average over a long time period. Dr. Pielke is simply pointing out that warming is a measure of net heat into the system and that an accurate measure of heat can directly measure global warming on a much shorter time scale. You can argue as to whether the ocean data is sufficient or accurate enough (just as the skeptics due about the atmospheric data) to draw conclusions which are robust without casting aspersions on Dr.Pielke's integrity. Dr. Pielke's statement that according to the data he was analysing, a 4 year period of time shows NO warming of the globe is a scientific statement based on a reasonable assessment of the scientific data being analysed. I believe that a scientific paper is generally written with the assumption that the reader has knowledge of basic concepts and terminology. Dr. Pielke is really being e castigated for saying that global warming stopped for 4 years when he should have said (for the sake of those with limited english profficiency) that the globe did not warm during those 4 years.
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  36. actually thoughtfull - The new information this Fall, so I have been told, is an updated best estimate of ocean heat content changes by specialists working in this research area, presented as close to the present as possible. This metric (the OHC) is accepted by most climate scientists (including Jim Hansen) as a robust measure of global warming.
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  37. Who are the world's leading experts on ocean dynamics? Have any of them reviewed Dr. Pielke's assumptions about the distribution of heat within the total ocean system?
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  38. Pielke says, "his metric (the OHC) is accepted by most climate scientists (including Jim Hansen) as a robust measure of global warming." No-one here is necessarily disagreeing with that Roger, you are arguing strawmen again-- the real problems are measuring OHC it properly and over a sufficiently long period and depth, not to mention merging the XBT and Argo data. Also, it should not be viewed in isolation or panacea of data observations at this time, especially given the caveats and know issues with the Argo data. I also recommend reading DrTom's post @150. Dr. Pielke, maybe you could influence/lobby some policy makers to get DSCOVR launched?
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  39. Couple of recent papers (published online today in Nature Geoscience) that provide further evidence that a greater level of uncertainty exists in the quantification and transport of OHC than is perhaps being characterized by RPSr. Opposing decadal changes for the North Atlantic meridional overturning circulation
    M. Susan Lozier, Vassil Roussenov, Mark S. C. Reed & Richard G. Williams Published online: 12 September 2010 | doi:10.1038/ngeo947
    Available (ok, paywalled) here. "But this simplified picture of what is known as meridional overturning circulation (MOC) has been brought into question by a paper suggesting that, in the past 50 years, ocean circulation closer to the Equator has grown weaker, whereas the northern waters have flowed more strongly." "They found that, rather than the rate being the same everywhere all the time, as was expected, the rates in the subtropical and subpolar regions were different and showed distinct changes over the 50-year period. Synopsis here. Oceanography: Sea change
    Agatha M. de Boer Published online: 12 September 2010 | doi:10.1038/ngeo963
    "The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation delivers warmth to high latitudes and carbon to depth. Historical temperature and salinity records call into question the traditional view that these waters form a single coherent conveyer system of currents." Available (also paywalled) here. The Yooper
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  40. @ Graham Wayne and John Cook: Recommend that you invite the authors of the two papers cited by Daniel Bailey in post 189 to participate in this comment thread.
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  41. @ Ken Lambert Re my posts 153 and 181, strike the 2nd and 3rd questions I had posed. I had erroneously read “land” instead of “land ice.” Speed reading has its drawbacks.
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  42. OK, let Eli again put on the bunny believes Roger Pielke Sr. deelybobbers, take a deep look at the OHC record which tells all, and ask, where is the last solar cycle?
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  43. Dr Pielke Any chance of a response to #159 ? thanks VTG
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  44. VeryTallGuy Thank you for an excellent question. Regarding the uncertainty estimates of the upper ocean heat content on a monthly basis, Josh Willis presented this in the figure in Pielke Sr., R.A., 2008: A broader view of the role of humans in the climate system. Physics Today, 61, Vol. 11, 54-55. http://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/r-334.pdf There are several interesting issues with this plot. First, the uncertainty is reduced later in the time period. Second, a test of the null hypothesis (i.e. no trend) cannot be refuted using this data. While on this weblog, there has been an emphasis on claiming warming over this time period. In other venues, however, there have been claims of cooling as the actual linear fit is slightly negative. Neither of these conclusions, however, are justified using this analysis. As I have written, however, my main recommendation is the adoption of the upper pcean heat content changes as the primary metric to assess global warming and cooling. I have further comments on this in my posts A Short Explanantion Of Why The Monitoring Of Global Average Ocean Heat Content Is The Appropriate Metric to Assess Global Warming. http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2010/09/12/a-short-explanantion-of-why-the-monitoring-of-global-average-ocean-heat-content-is-the-appropriate-metric-to-assess-global-warming-2/ Further Discussion Of Global Warming http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2010/09/13/global-warming-101-part-ii/
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  45. @ Dr. Pielke: In your most recent post (#194), you conclude by directing everyone to a website to learn more about global warming. The website that you direct us to seems to be the official website of the “Pielke Research Group.” Unlike most websites of this nature, your website does not contain a “Who we are” webpage. What is the Pielke Research Group?
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  46. GPWayne, When (and where) exactly in 2008 did Pielke Snr say this? "Global warming, as diagnosed by upper ocean heat content has not been occurring since 2004” Thanks.
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  47. From von Shuckmann et al. (2009, JGR-Oceans), rate of change of 0-2000 m heating storage +0.77 W m-2 between 2003 and 2008. Hansen et al. (2005) reported a planetary heating rate of +0.85 W m-2. Von Shuckmann et al. can be found at: http://www.agu.org/journals/ABS/2009/2008JC005237.shtml Von Shuckmann et al. (2009) state that: "Global mean heat content and steric height changes are clearly associated with a positive trend during the 6 years of measurements." Hadley and PMEL show a slight increase in 0-700 m OHC after 2004. Now OHC for 0-700 m from Josh Willis show otherwise, while global SLR data show no slowdown. So much uncertainty. Yet some insist on publicly making unequivocal (and misleading) statements that global warming has halted after 2004, such statements are like fodder for the "skeptics" and those in denial about AGW. Scientists have a responsibility to clearly report the facts, which includes stating caveats and uncertainties in the data and analysis.
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  48. Dr Pielke, Exactly which Figure from Willis et al. (2005)did you adapt in your opinion piece (which you link us to above) and how? And it seems that in said opinion piece that you do in fact concede that four years is a short period of analysis, yet here you have been reticent to acknowledge that. You say in your opinion piece: "Although four years is a relatively short period of analysis...." (from pg. 54). Some clarification is necessary.
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  49. Just in case gpwayne is otherwise occupied at the moment, the quote seems to be from here : The above paragraph reinforces a conclusion reached on Climate Science that global warming, at least as diagnosed by tropospheric and upper ocean heat content (see), has not been occurring since 2004. It is impossible to know if this lack of warming will continue, but these observations are inconsistent with the predictions of the long-term global climate predictions, such as reported in the 2007 IPCC report. Don't know how that fits in with this, from the following year : There has been no statistically significant warming of the upper ocean since 2003.
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  50. @Graham Although I agree with what you said in the Moderator's Response" posted on #173, if I or another individual were to post something similar, it would be deleted because it would be deemed to be "poitical." Are Moderator's exempt from the Comments Policy of this website?
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