Ocean Heat Content: Can we monitor the transfer of heat through the top 700 metres?


At RC, Gavin Schmidt and Roger Pielke Sr are discussing how Ocean Heat Content (OHC) has changed in the recent past. The disagreement seems to be on how the apparent slowdown in heat uptake of the top 700 metres can be reconciled with apparent warming of the deeper ocean. It’s very informative to witness two experts debate this in public (even though the discussion is hampered by frequent misunderstandings and other derailing issues). I’ve found this a puzzling issue for a while and am still not sure if I fully grasp it, but here goes: 

On his blog, RPSr writes:

If heat is being sequested in the deeper ocean, it must transfer through the upper ocean. In the real world, this has not been seen that I am aware of. In the models, this heat clearly must be transferred (upwards and downwards) through this layer. The Argo network is spatially dense enough that this should have been seen.

Gavin responds to this statement at RC:

Obviously heat going below 700 m must have passed through the upper ocean. However, the notion that Argo could see this is odd. Argo measures temperature, not flux. The net flux into a layer is calculated by looking at the change in temperature. It cannot tell you how much came in at the top and left at the bottom, only how much remained.

Both arguments make intuitive sense. Whether indeed temperature measurements should have seen a transfer of heat depends on the precision and on the (spatial and temporal) density of the Argo network. Besides that, it also depends on the mode of heat transfer (episodic or continuous). Or perhaps better put: the extent to which the influx and outflux of heat balance each other.

Gavin does not agree with Roger’s last statement (that it should have been see), but argues instead that the signal would not likely be observable amidst the variability (response to 140): 

I have no confidence that the observations will be sufficient to distinguish the anomalous heat flux from the climatological mean with sufficient precision to be helpful.

Roger concedes that the observation network’s precision is an important precondition for heat transfer to have been observed, when he writes in response to my little summary over there: (Roger)

(…) we should still see a slight elevation in the temperature anomalies IF the Argo data precision is good enough. I do not know the precision of the temperature data measurements, and hope someone else can answer that.

And in 193 Roger writes:

First, I stated that the Argo data density was fine enough to see the movement of the heat downward, but am now unclear on this, and look forward to an Argo specialist to give us an overview of capability in this regards.

There is however a second if-statement to make, about the mode of transfer. In response to 2, Gavin wrote:

Most heat transport into the deep ocean will occur in the down-welling branches of the overturning circulation, centered in theNorth Atlanticand the Southern Oceans. Diffusive fluxes in the rest of the ocean will be much smaller.

Roger (140) says more or less the same, but arrives at a conclusion that is not shared by Gavin:

if this transfer occurs in globs associated with mesoscale and larger ocean circulation features (as suggested in the ECMWF data), we should clearly see this movement of heat.

About the mode of heat transfer Gavin writes in response to 155:

Heat transfer will be mainly continuous, not episodic.

I.e. the heat transfer is strongest in specific locations (agreed on by both), but continuous in time (which prompted a question from Roger “how do you know?”).

In a continuous case, for a while the same amount of heat may enter the top 700 m from above, as leaves it from below. As a result, no warming signal in this layer will be observed, whereas heat is being transferred through it. In an episodic case, it would in principle be observable (though still dependent on the precision and signal to noise ratio of the measurements).

In contrast to what I wrote in my little summary at RC (175), the disagreement is not so much on whether the heat transfer is concentrated in space (both seem to agree that it is), but rather on whether the heat transfer is continuous or episodic in time (Gavin thinks it’s the former; Roger doesn’t say) and on whether the data precision is sufficient (Gavin thinks it isn’t; Roger doesn’t say).

Figure 9b from Hansen et al., ACPD 2011, “Earth’s Energy Balance and Implications”. Note that this Fig gives the heat uptake, which is the slope of a figure of heat content (in Joules): A positive heat uptake means that the heat content is increasing.

Figure caption: Six year trends of ocean heat uptake estimated by Levitus et al. (2009) and Lyman et al. (2010) for upper 700 m of the ocean, and estimates based on Argo float data for the upper 2000 m for 2003–2008 and 2005–2010.

I’ll probably update this post as the discussion progresses. Over at SkS, there have also been informative discussions between Roger and the regulars over there.

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29 Responses to “Ocean Heat Content: Can we monitor the transfer of heat through the top 700 metres?”

  1. Eric Says:

    I really appreciate these posts that summarize good discussions that appear in the big blogs’ comment streams. I long ago gave up trying to follow the comments on RealClimate or Judy Curry’s blog. Sometimes interesting exchanges occur, as you have summarized here. But the amount of useless noise you have to sift through is too much for me.

  2. oarobin Says:

    It would be nice include in your summary the posts from Bob Loblaw whom i think is wondering how heat transferred to the deep ocean can be calculated without knowing the fuxes at the top and bottom of the first 700m ocean layer.

  3. dana1981 Says:

    “Over at SkS, there have also been informative discussions between Roger and the regulars over there.”

    Also often frustrating discussions :-)

  4. toto Says:

    I thought the gist of Roger Sr went a bit like this: if more heat than before is being buried into the deep ocean. then this should have induced at least a small warming of the top layer.

    The amount of warming on its own would not tell us how much heat has been transferred, but it would seem to be a necessary consequence of the transfer taking place.

  5. Bart Says:


    That indeed seems to be his gist. But it’s not necessarily true, even though it sounds plausible at first sense: If more heat than before is being buried in the deep ocean (i.e. exiting the top 700m layer from below), but at the same time more heat than before is being buried in the top 700m layer (i.e. entering that layer from the top), that top layer will keep the same temperature. In other words:

    delta_T(layer) = T_in – T_out

    If both T_in and T_out are increasing by the same amount, the temperature in the layer will not change, even though more heat got tranfered throuhg it.

  6. Jos Hagelaars Says:

    I just finished a sort of quick reading of the large amount of comments on RealClimate, but the essence is here, thanks Bart.

    I reproduced the graph shown here, using the data of Levitus on the NODC ftp server and also added the ocean heat uptake for the 0-2000m depths. The OH uptake for the period of 2000 – 2005 is roughly twice as high as the green line in the graph shown here. More interesting is when you plot a graph with the differences in 6-year trends between the OH uptakes (2000m minus 700m), a periodic pattern appears with maximum values on 1963, 1974, 1983, 1993 en 2001. In these years the deeper ocean was gaining much more heat than the upper ocean. It looks to me that this correlates with the conclusion of Katsman et al. regarding their ~8 year periods without upper ocean warming not being exceptional.
    Levitus data from:
    Katsman et al:

    All the OHC data are averaged over the complete planet or over a complete ocean and to enhance the understanding, it would be interesting to get some information what happens on a more local scale. During my quick reading on RealClimate I didn’t find an explanation how all this heat is transferred through the ocean layers and why there seem to be periods that no heat is transferred, but I could’ve missed it. Katsman en Oldenborgh referred to the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation in their study to explain the periods that the upper ocean is not gaining any heat.

    Does somebody have a sort of physical explanation for this heat transfer through the ocean layers and am I correct with this periodic pattern in ocean heat uptake ?

  7. MMM Says:

    I think part of the problem is that we have an intuitive notion of heat transfer which mostly depends on diffusion. If we assume an ocean in equilibrium, with diffusive heat transfer as the only mechanism, then in order to warm the ocean at 1000 m depth, we have to warm the ocean at 900 m depth first.

    But, in fact, the ocean is a complicated, dynamic 3 dimensional system. The temperature of the deep ocean is, at least to some extent, determined by what the temperature of the surface water is at the points where deepwater formation occur (such as the North Atlantic). So, hypothetically, you only need to warm the small region where deepwater formation occurs to get deep ocean warming, so you don’t need to see the heat appear in the top 700 m globally in order to see it appear in the deep ocean. (also, changes in the rate of deepwater formation can also have impacts on the average deep ocean temperature).

    Alternatively, one could hypothesize an accelerated mixing of the deep ocean and mixed layer – say, through changes in tropical cyclone activity (Carl Wunsch?) – which could lead to warming of the deep ocean with simultaneous cooling of the mixed layer.

    Now, all else being equal, I probably would expect to see the heat signal from elevated GHG concentrations propagate downwards from top to bottom: but Pielke’s monitors of choice have only been active for a few years, so maybe what happened was accelerate warming of the upper layers just before ARGO, and then a pause while the deep ocean increases its rate of heat removal from the upper layers. (and indeed, our best estimates of ocean heat uptake do show a peak in upper layer heat uptake just before ARGO came fully on-line). In this case, heat flowing into the upper layer remains constant, but heat flowing out varies…

  8. Jos Hagelaars Says:

    The graphs I was referring to in my previous comment can be viewed here:

  9. Eli Rabett Says:

    If the heat transfer is concentrated in space in the down-welling of the overturning circulations, then 99% of the Argo floats are irrelevant, the energy is moving into the deep ocean only where the down-welling occurs and the net effect would be that the 0-700 m layer warms from below, but not much because the relative size of the 0-700 layer is small compared to the deep ocean, but maybe enough to compensate for warming on the surface driven by climate change. In net, since both the top and the bottom are warming at (for the sake of argument) at the same rate there is no net heat transport across the 0-700 m level

  10. Hans Verbeek Says:

    Fascinating. Not a word about the geothermic heat going up from the ocean floor to the surface. The heat from undersea-volcanoes and hydrothermal vents going to the surface via convection must dwarf the amount of heat eventually going down via conduction.
    The net-flux of heat will be upwards towards the surface.

  11. J Bowers Says:

    @ Hans Verbeek

    Penetration of Human-Induced Warming into the World’s Oceans. Barnett et al. (2005). Science 309, 284-287

    PDF at link:
    Anthropogenic Warming of the Oceans: Observations and Model Results. Pierce et al(2006). AMS.

  12. Bob Brand Says:

    @Hans Verbeek,

    There are some factual errors in your short comment.

    .. must dwarf the amount of heat eventually going down via conduction.

    * Not through ‘conduction’ but through convection (more precisely: advection), as mentioned above by MMM and Eli.

    Thermal convection currents carry heat, as well as mass, along the thermohaline circulation. Warm sun-heated waters expand near the tropics and flow along the surface towards the north and south polar caps. There they start to cool, become denser and sink vertically downwards to the ocean floor. The cold, dense, salty water flows back along the bottom. A complete overturning cycle takes about 1000 years.

    Actually ‘conduction’ is heat transfer in solids, such as metals. Strictly speaking, in fluids the transfer of energy through Brownian motion is called diffusion. Diffusion does happen in the ocean, downwards from the sunlit surface, but mostly throughout the mixed upper layer.

    In the oceans there is a sharp division, the thermocline, between the thin upper warm mixed layer and the actual deep ocean. The upper mixed layer is at a uniform temperature. Thoughout the thermocline the temperature starts to drop rapidly to 1.6°C in the deep ocean below the thermocline. You might consider the mixed layer almost like a river flowing on top of the stable and relatively stagnant thermocline and deep ocean.

    The upper thermocline is such a sharp divide that you can actually SEE it – dust stays put on it, often. Subs can hide below the upper thermocline because it is reflective to sonar. There is little transfer of heat and mass through the thermocline. The deep oceans are VERY cold. Please have a read:

    http://tinyurl.com/3q4hyy3 (PPT presentation)

    * “must dwarf“.

    Must? Why would you say so?

    Please consider that temperatures in the deep ocean are VERY LOW. And if there would be a lot of heat transfer from the earth in general, why do you think ice caps form on land? Wouldn’t they have melted away way in the past from Antarctica and Greenland?

    Yes, occasionally you’ll find an active volcano or hot spring along a fault between the continental plates (Iceland), but usually those are insufficient EVEN to melt the glacier which sits right on top of some of the Icelandic volcanos (Katla). Please consider:

    240 W/m^2 is the TOA solar power input after reflection.
    1.7 W/m^2 is the extra heat by downwelling IR from anthropgenic CO2 (currently).
    0.09 W/m^2 is the avaerage geothermal power from earth’s interior.

    Please read this summary: http://www.skepticalscience.com/heatflow.html

  13. Bob Brand Says:

    @ Hans Verbeek,

    Did some looking-up about geothermal heat flow. Actually it is:

    0.065 W/m^2 over continental crust
    0.101 W/m^2 over oceanic crust

    as measured at 20.201 sites. Other studies do agree, the average heat transfer works out to a little below 0.09 W/m^2.

    See e.g.: http://anquetil.colorado.edu/EPP3/readings/Pollack_etal_1993_Rev_Geophys.pdf

  14. Hans Verbeek Says:

    @Jbowers and Bob Brand: thanks for your contributions.
    The temperature difference between the heatsource (magma) at the oceanfloor is very big: the heattransfer is fast and complete.
    At the oceansurface the temperaturedifference fluctuates and is very small: heattransfer is slow and can vary a lot.

    In my humble opinion the downwelling of heat from the oceansurface cannot explain the pause in atmosphere warming.
    What would cause the mechanism to kick in in 1998?

    My other question:
    before 1998 there may have been a net upwelling of heat from the deepocean. Could the warming between 1975 and 1998 in part be caused by the upwelling of heat stored in the deep ocean?

  15. Bob Brand Says:

    Hi Hans,

    Quick answer: No.

    Net heat transfer goes from warm to cold, and the surface is quite warm (15°C) while the deeper ocean is very cold (1.6 to 4°C).

    That is not just one measurement but the result of many thousands of measurements. If you take a look at table 1 in Pollack 1993, you will see that these measurements of heat flow from the oceanic crust span 1954-1993.

    Figure 3 shows that it is of course not uniform, but there exist a few areas with > 0.24 W/m^2. They are quite rare though. The highest value i can find in the paper is 0.8 W/m*2 (table 3).

    And even in that case, heat flow of even 1 W/m^2 would be two orders of magnitude smaller than the heat entering at the top of the ocean (~ 240 W/m^2), and in a very small area.

    In thinking about this, please consider that the earth’s core contains lots of heat but it is insulated really well by the mantle and the crust. That is one reason why the earth’s core hasn’t cooled off that much over 5 billion years…

    An individual volcano can get really hot for a short time. Calculated over the whole of the ocean floor, and over a longer period of time it is not that much heat.

    Again, have a look at:


  16. Jos Hagelaars Says:

    @Hans Verbeek

    Take a look at my graph “OceanHeatUptake-Difference” and this one:
    The realclimate graph shows that heat content of the upper and deep oceans is rising since the 1970’s. The difference in gaining heat between the upper and deep oceans varies, but the net effect for the years 1970 – 1990 is about zero. Interesting is that in the years 1996 – 1998 the upper oceans gained a lot more heat than the deep oceans and 1998 was a record year in global temperature. In the years after 2000 more heat went into the deep oceans and the rate of global warming seemed to have slowed down the last decade.

    SkepticalScience has several posts regarding your questions:

  17. agres Says:

    The truth is that the ocean is a big place and we have sparse data. In a climate near equilibrium, large scale ocean currents exchange heat with atmospheric patterns, with lag times that result in oscillation and episodic heat transfer. (E.g. http://www.atmos.ucla.edu/~hbrix/papers/brix03jgr.pdf ) A shallow water example is ENSO. We do not need to worry about the (historical) period for deep water systems because, with AGW forcing, the period of the oscillation will change. Past observations of a system near equilibrium are not likely to inform a model of a highly forced dynamic system. That is, more likely than not, there will be a complete reorganization of the ocean and atmospheric circulatory systems.

    I would not be surprised to see a complete reorganization of the ocean and atmospheric circulatory systems before Roger and Gavin can agree on how the system worked as of AR4 (2007).

    Both Gavin and Roger were surprised by the 2007 decline of Arctic sea ice. Sea ice formation/ brine rejection is important to deep water formation and ocean circulation in general, so I would expect the decline in Arctic sea ice to be a part of this discussion. This year the Arctic sea ice formation started with – snow. That is different, and it has impacts on deep water formation. However, neither Roger or Gavin discus that issue.

  18. Hans Verbeek Says:

    “Net heat transfer goes from warm to cold, and the surface is quite warm (15°C) while the deeper ocean is very cold (1.6 to 4°C).”

    @Bob Brand: I wonder how this situation could have arisen? The oceans surface has been much warmer than the deep ocean for eons and still the temperature gradient exists. There must be an equilibrium.
    In the last 50 years nothing has changed to disturb that equilibrium: the oceans surface has not warmed very much and the deeper ocean is as cool as it ever was.

    @Jos Hagelaars: 1998 was record year because of El Nino, not because of greenhouse-gasses or solar irradiatiuon. The El Nino of 1998 transferred a lot of heat from the ocean to the atmosphere and not the other way around.
    70% of all the solar energy the Earth gets, is absorbed in the oceans. The net heat-transfer is from the ocean to the atmosphere.. always has been. In El Nino-years the heat transfer to the atmosphere is bigger.

    In La Nina-episodes the heat transfer is less. So you would expect a bigger heat-leakage to the deep ocean in La Nina-years, when less heat goes to the atmosphere. This is true for 1999-2000, but during La Nina of 2008 nothing much happened. We will see what La Nina of 2011-2012 will do for the deep-ocean-heatcontent.

  19. Jos Hagelaars Says:

    @Hans Verbeek
    “1998 was record year because of El Nino”
    and “The El Nino of 1998 transferred a lot of heat from the ocean to the atmosphere”
    Yes, and that’s what the graph I constructed shows: the upper ocean gained much more heat than the deep ocean in the years 1996 – 1998. I think it’s clear that a relative “warm” upper ocean warms the atmosphere more than a “cool” upper ocean.
    Climate variability like El-Nino/La-Nina is an oscillation, over longer periods the net effect is zero. See the SkS post “Ocean Heat Poised To Come Back And Haunt Us”.

  20. MIkeN Says:

    This is a good summary, but there is one detail I’m missing. What is the evidence that there is heating of the deep oceans? Is it just that there is heat missing and it has to go somewhere, or is there more?

  21. Heiko Gerhauser Says:

    Hi Bart,

    interesting post and comments. I’ve been thinking for a while about writing something, but never got round to it.

    To get a feel for the issue, I did two things, I looked up the thermal conductivity of water and saw that it’s similar to rock, and I checked how long it takes to heat 4 km of water column at 1 W/m2. Water’s heat capacity is 4.2 kJ per kg and K, so 1 W/m2 will heat 1 m3 of water by 1 K in 4.2 million seconds. A year has a bit under 10000 hours and an hour is 3600 seconds, the exact value is then 31.5 million seconds per year. Thererefore, 8 m of water column require about a year, and 4 km about 500 years to be heated by 1 K when 1 W/m2K is applied.

    The low thermal conductivity means we need mixing, a perfectly stratified ocean would show similar heat flow as the Earth’s crust, and as the deep ocean is very cold, when overturning takes 1000 years, heat transfer is indeed slow.

    The thermohaline overturning comes about because of the density anomaly of water, complicated a little by the impact of salt concentrations on density. It explains why the deep ocean is cold in the first place.

    Now, how could the deep ocean get warmer? Two possibilities come to mind, either less cold enters it in the Arctic oceans, or there’s better mixing elsewhere. Less cold entering I think must be via less (cold water) sinking, rather than (less cold) water sinking, ie the quantiy of water should go down rather than the temperature up.
    After all, warmer water is less dense, and to compensate it would have to be saltier, which does not quite work together with water becoming less salty due to melting ice caps and glaciers.

    Taken together I think from these considerations, deep ocean heating could be nil, and it could be up to several Watts/m2. How much would stopping the overturning, while keeping mixing the same, heat the deep ocean? Again I think this could be quite small to a few W/m2.

    The 500 years tell me something else. 1 W/m2 only heats the ocean by 0.002C, ie one five hundredth of a Kelvin per year. This is tiny and for me indicates that the ocean heat content measure Pielke likes has one clear flaw, it must be very hard to measure accurately, especially with a time series of less than ten years, where the difference between heat content going up or staying the same is 0.02C in an average over 4000 m of depth and hundreds of millions of square kilometers of area.

  22. Jose_X Says:

    Apologies if my response was covered above. I did not read everything because I got the feeling the a main point has been missed.

    Let me ask, how do we know that any heat is leaving the TOA if over time the temperature up and down the atmosphere were to remain stable and constant?

    We can’t know. We might wrongly conclude that because of no lack of change in temperature anywhere in the atmosphere, no heat is being lost. This is an absurd conclusion, obviously, to a scenario that is very plausible (at least if the accuracy of measurement is coarse enough).

    What we have to realize is that we know TOA is losing heat from above, not because its temperature is changing (it may not be at all), but because we measure the radiation from higher up satellites (or equivalent).

    Unless we measure for radiation or heat that enters and leaves the ocean layers whose temp is being measured, we have no idea what is coming in and going out. We can indirectly deduce these values from guesses and assumptions about the boundary conditions, but ideally we’d want to measure the temperature everywhere where it might be changing non-trivially. At soon as we stop measuring temperature anywhere down there (and note that free space radiation is not an issue at the bottom of the sea), we can’t calculate how much energy may have left that last and lowest layer we measured. We can only deduce heat movement to the extent the inner-layer temperatures we do measure are changing.

    OK, looking back at the article, this next statement covers most of the insight I was trying to communicate

    >> In a continuous case, for a while the same amount of heat may enter the top 700 m from above, as leaves it from below.

    The first thing I would add is that, while radiation is isotropic and we can measure key points and deduce about a large volume of space adequately, movement of heat through liquids is very different and much easier to be missed from measurements taken from widely scattered thermometers. [Is that how Argo works?]

    Also, that statement suggests that we are not measuring carefully (nor are able to measure carefully enough to deduce) the heat exchanges with the atmosphere.

    >> it would in principle be observable (though still dependent on the precision and signal to noise ratio of the measurements).

    Yes, besides sneaking through measurement gaps (as mentioned above), a low enough frequency signal (and/or low enough amplitude signal) throughout the entire measured space would go unnoticed.

  23. Girma Says:

    1) There is no missing heat.
    2) China is not to blame.
    3) The current GMT max for 1998 will not be repeated in the next 25 years.
    4) Expect a further drop in GMT of 0.2 deg C in the next 10 years from its current value of about 0.4 deg C.
    5) Blame it on natural cycles (PDO and AMO) ignored by the IPCC.
    6) Blame it on points of inflection and turning points of curves.

  24. Quiet Waters Says:

    7) Ignore the troll who’s grasp on reality seems to slip further and further with every foray into mathturbation therapy.
    8) Recall point 3 the next time a serious El Nino comes along.

  25. Jose_X Says:

    Girma a problem with that graph is that CO2 has risen at increasing levels over that time period, becoming very significant in the last decades, yet the graph doesn’t account for corresponding increasing rates in the temperature trend and seems to assume steady rise in temperature trend. It, for example, ignores the large error margins of the older time periods. I think you should let professional statisticians develop the charts. Look at the BEST project, which was funded by a diverse group, including by some fighting global warming views. Also, looking at a single chart and invoking “natural variability” ignores the very large complexity of the climate and the specific points of evidence that don’t support that theory at all. Don’t confuse natural system transient response to driving forces with some mystical random “natural variability”. The trend is up and has been faster in the last half century than it was in the half century before that and in the half century before that. My fortuneteller makes lots of predictions as well and also doesn’t invoke any supporting science. That’s easy to do. Climate unbelievers are making wild claims daily hoping to hit jackpot, and they continue to be almost entirely wrong (with most predictions being about a downward turn, even a sharp one.. which I admit yours is not.. but you also don’t leverage science in invoking “natural variability” using biased charts).

  26. Jose_X Says:

    Quiet Waters, yes, the oceans are pulling in lots of heat, and, as the ocean top and lower layers mix, the lower atmosphere temperatures follow along somewhat to the rise and fall in the upper oceans and also correspondingly react in more crazy weather.

    Let me diverge a bit to address a topic in skepticism of the Greenhouse Effect.

    The partly technically sophisticated paper (although textbook stuff at a moderate level, for example, with only passing mention of anything resembling QED), “Falsification Of The Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within The Frame Of Physics” by Gerhard Gerlich and Ralf D. Tscheuschner (2009), was apparently done by those with some competence in applied moderate level mathematics and physics of solids and liquids, but the authors entirely ignore the vast evidence and acceptance of gas spectroscopy. If your only tool is a screwdriver, you use it to hammer in nails. At least partly because of that disregard (of entirely ignoring gas absorption/emission effects involved in atmospheric conditions), the paper’s peppered remarks claiming to refute other scientists or notions supporting the greenhouse effect do not follow from their discussion or physics, but maybe they believed it did. And that paper, and more so a counter refuting paper they did to a rebuttal paper (which didn’t go far enough and did partly misunderstand one position taken by G&T), invoked “vacuous xxxx” (or some similar expression) over and over to address criticisms. It’s as if they have their eyes closed and don’t give any consideration to anything that seems to move in the direction of spectroscopic analysis. G&T and the climate scientists have been speaking past each other. It doesn’t help the G&T paper in some sections to reference as support other problematic papers light on science and heavy on opinion or to wave off or pretend to leverage science by using broad strokes that do not make clear what precisely they attack or claim is supporting them. In most engineering, gas is not found at the depths that it is found in our atmosphere nor do most other fields deal with realistic large-scale vacuum-like conditions as is necessary when looking at the greenhouse effect, so if you have limited experience, your intuition may be off. But gas radiation and atmospheric physics is not new and almost surely G&T have very limited experience in these areas. Their skepticism comes from lack of familiarity and their boldness perhaps from thinking they were breaking new ground (not merely in their own scientific development but for the wider science).

  27. Marco Says:

    Actually, Jose_X, you are describing the Dunning-Kruger effect almost to a tee in your description of G&T: they lacked insight in numerous areas, but made large and sweeping statements and belittled various scientists in their paper. I know that many of the low impact journals have problems with their peer review, but this paper was so obviously unscientific in so many places that it simply cannot have been reviewed by an objective reviewer with any experience!

  28. citizenschallenge Says:

    I’m coming at this late. I ironically, this is about my 8th web-stop after running to fetch a dog-bone “krischel” tossed me – {starting with the recommended Judith Curry link 3/29/13 “has Trenberth found the missing heat”}

    “Roger (140) says more or less the same, but arrives at a conclusion that is not shared by Gavin:

    if this transfer occurs in globs associated with mesoscale and larger ocean circulation features (as suggested in the ECMWF data), we should clearly see this movement of heat.”
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    Seems to me the most dramatic downwelling would be occurring along the Antarctic continental shelf – yet the map doesn’t indicate much coverage down there.

    Look (http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2011/20110902_oceanacidification.html) and you can see that where the most dramatic ocean down welling occurs along the Antarctica continental shelf, there’s minimal ARGO coverage that far south – how can someone as smart as Roger miss that – Still he feels comfortable ridiculing experts – why can’t Roger admit his argument is lacking a foundation until the Southern Ocean is more closely observed.

    Besides, I have also read, {unfortunately can’t dig it up}, reports of studies regarding some major cyclical currents around Antarctic experiencing major deviations from their historic patterns {Please, if that rings a bell – help me out on that one – I would sure appreciate it.}

    In any event, how is it that in light of all this uncertainty, Roger can shift into the kinds of gross overstatements that have folks like krischel claiming Kevin is an unscrupulous con?

    It would be ridiculous, if not so malicious.

    Worst is the game being played here.

    So OK, we don’t have perfect monitoring of our planet, meaning we don’t know what every cubic and square foot is doing. Fine deal with it. . .

    But, using that lack global ocean observation skill/coverage, as an excuse to call sound and established physics into question is insane! It’s like your car breaking down on a highway and getting it towed before checking to see if it ran out of gas.

    And, that is exactly the implication of this malicious “trenberth’s travesty Travesty” – this whole line of reasoning demands pretending sound physics that enables all sorts of modern marvels.

    It’s bizarre – so bizarre it can only be dreamt up by folks who actually imagine they are in communication with the God of Creation and Time.

  29. citizenschallenge Says:

    let me try that sentence again:

    … And, that is exactly the implication of this malicious “trenberth’s travesty Travesty” – this whole line of reasoning demands pretending that the sound physics… physics that enables all sorts of modern marvels, of GHGs might be suspended.

    Or it’s denying the physical properties of greenhouse gases altogether.

    There is no middle ground.

    So they continue confusing and blustering… while the clock keeps ticking… while the impacts keep mounting… while our kids look around in confusion and fear.

    So sad :- (

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