Global Warming Data Update — Oceans Cooling, Greenland Melting

Climate computer models predict that man-made global warming should cause the temperatures in the world's oceans to rise. Last year, researchers at the Scripps Oceanographic Institute reported that they had found "Clear Evidence of Human-Produced Warming in World's Oceans." Now a new study by National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration researchers and colleagues finds "Recent Cooling of the Upper Ocean." They note:

The decrease represents a substantial loss of heat over a 2-year period, amounting to about 21% of the long-term upper-ocean heat gain between 1955 and 2003. . . 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. Nevertheless, further work will be necessary to determine the exact cause of the cooling.

The researches point out that one of the implications of their findings is:

...this variability is not adequately simulated in the current generation of coupled climate models used to study the impact of anthropogenic influences on climate. Although these models do simulate the long-term rates of ocean warming, this lack of interannual variability represents a shortcoming that may complicate detection and attribution of human-induced climate influences.

Interestingly, lower ocean temperatures should have led to lower sea level rise (heat causes water to expand), but it didn't. The explanation may rest with two papers published in Science last week.

One paper using data from satellite measurements of changes in gravity found that glaciers in Greenland may be melting faster than earlier studies had suggested thus contributing more water to average sea level rise. In addition, another study found that snowfall in Antarctica had not significantly increased as climate computer models suggested would occur as the planet warmed. This is bad news with regard to sea level since the accumulation of extra snow in Antarctica would offset the contribution to sea level rise of glacial melting elsewhere.

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  • ||

    I'm going to guess that the glaciers sliding off the land in Greenland and Antarctica are what is causing the ocean level to stay the same while the temperature lowers.
    I have come to this conclusion entirely without RTFAing, instead utilizing the vast knowledge base of cooling and liquid levels I have gathered from years of pouring sodas.

  • ||

    The scary thing to me is not a rise of a couple of degrees of the oceans, but a lowering of oxygen content. This will kill off the most abundant food source on earth, causing a massive ripple effect that will be felt to later generations of land-lubbers.

  • ||

    This is very complicated science and modeling and I still think that, at this stage with models and data not in close agreement, that it is difficult to say conclusively what is happening, why it's happening, and what we should expect in the future.

    And, while there may be reason to be concerned about coastal flooding and other changes, it's also reasonable to note that, in some places, those changes could be beneficial. For example, if it gets too hot to grow corn in Nebraska, Saskatchewan's yield might be improved and habitable regions will migrate further from the tropics even as areas nearer might become less so. This could be viewed as creating new business and development opportunities. Predicted changes are perceived as being negative but don't necessarily have to be so.

    It might be that these changes simply indicate that we live on a dynamic, evolving, healthy planet even if some of the predicted changes are unprecedented (and we don't really have much historical info to compare to) that doesn't mean that such changes fall outside of the normal range under the circumstances. Who really knows?

    It's probably best to continue doing research and attempt to better reconcile the data-model discrepancies before passing judgement.

  • ||

    Hold it Ron,

    I thought global warming caused tempatures to rise and that causes super hurricanes like Katrina which of course confirmed what everyone knew all along which is that Republican SUV drivers want to kill black people. You mean its not that simple? You mean we can't yet model a system as large and complex as the earth's climate with complete acuracy? I don't beleive it!!

  • ||

    See people, global warming is just a "myth". The idea was developed and brought to life by the ever-unstructured and still developing environmentalism movements. In fact, there is more scientific evidence that 'Global Dimming' exists than global warming. Global dimming is the idea that pollutants are being trapped in the atmosphere and ozone layer, and therefore causing a blanket effect on the earth from the sun. According to the global dimming theory, the earth's temperature is realistically dropping, instead of rising, and the amount of light hitting the earth is decreasing. It is alarming that just about anyone with thirty spare minutes to watch a CNN report is suddenly an expert scientist. In my opinion, global warming could very well be a social occurrence of everyday people assuming big ideas that they do not understand.

    ( http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sun/dimming.html )

  • ||

    Being between religions right now, I don't tend to agree with almighty on many things. However, I have to agree with the Big Guy on this: peer-reviewed publications aren't even easy for the peer-experts to interpret. I do not believe that CNN is an accredited institution of higher learning in atmospheric physics, meteorology, or climatology. It is likely that those educated by cable news aren't the best source of compelling arguments in an appeal to authority.

    Debate as to whether global warming is occurring or not, as with everything else in science, isn't resolved by public polling. It is resolved by observing nature. That's what scientists do.

  • ||

    Being between religions right now, I don't tend to agree with almighty on many things. However, I have to agree with the Big Guy on this: peer-reviewed publications aren't even easy for the peer-experts to interpret. I do not believe that CNN is an accredited institution of higher learning in atmospheric physics, meteorology, or climatology. It is likely that those educated by cable news aren't the best source of compelling arguments in an appeal to authority.

    Debate as to whether global warming is occurring or not, as with everything else in science, isn't resolved by public polling. It is resolved by observing nature. That's what scientists do.

  • ||

    It really seems as if these studies all have in common the idea that the climate is sliding out of control, it's all humans' fault, and we're gonna get what's coming to us.

    Unless we all convert into communist vegans, and then Gaia might let us live for a little longer.

  • ||

    I'm still having a hard time figuring out how global warming is supposed to be a diasaster, especially if the envirohystericlists need to talk in terms of 100 year time spans to claim something is happening.

    People live at the equator don't they? They've lived their for millenia haven't they? How is making more of the planet a tiny bit warmer and closer to the equator's temperatures supposed to be a disaster?

    Singapore's economy has done quite well despite being virtually on the equator. Ever hear of the Columbian jungle anyone? The notion that life as we know it can't be sustained in the hotter parts of our planet is simply not true.

    Regardless of whether or not the effects will be marginal or extreme, it seems clear the best long term approach is to grow the world's economy so that we can be better poised to deal with those changes. The good news is that we are trying to do exactly that. The bad news is that the envirohystericalists have an economic agenda and are trying to get us to do the exact opposite. If their goal was to stop greenhouse gases "before it is too late" they would be pushing very hard for nuclear power now. But they aren't. Hmmmmm, could it be they have an ulterior motive that has nothing to do with global warming except as a method to further their economic agenda?

  • ||

    It's already hot as hell where I live.
    Bring it on!

  • ||

    Here's an experiment for those of you who believe short-term cooling of the oceans proves that the atmosphere is not getting warmer:

    Place a room-temperature glass of water in a room. Dangle an ice cube directly above it, turn the themostat to 90, and close the door. Thirty minutes later, take the water's temperature. It will be lower.

    This proves, definitively, that your boiler is broken. If you go back into the room 24 hours later, the glass in the water will absolutely not be any warmer than when you began.

    Anyone who says otherwise is a religious fanatic, and/or a Communist.

  • ||

    juggler,

    Had our society developed in 5 degree warmer world, we would probably be just fine. New York would be half a mile to the west, Seattle half a mile to the east, and New Orleans ten miles north.

    It's the change that's the bitch. If the water levels rise to that point, New York doesn't move itself.

    A few years ago, a heat wave in France killed thousands of people. Thousands. At its worse, the temperatures were between 95 and 100 degrees. That's what people in Phoenix call "April," and such temperatures don't kill anybody there. That's because people in Phoenix had in place technology and practices to deal with those conditions, and people in Paris did not. And the reason for that is because people, and societies, have on hand a set of material and mental adaptations designed for the conditions common to their location. When something dramatic happens, they are unprepared.

    The reason global warming will be a disaster is not that there is anything objectively inferior about a temperature point 5 degrees higher than the modern average, but because it will subject use to "something dramatic" on a very large scale.

    Also, keep in mind that the atmosphere is a dynamic, complex system. When you put that much additional energy into such a system, it doesn't distribute itself smoothly and predictably throughout the system - it causes the highs to be higher, the lows to be lower, the longs to the longer, and the shorts to be shorter.

    The average temperature on Earth is estimated to be just south of 50 degrees Farenheit. A 5 degree increase would represent a ten percent increase in the total energy in the atmosphere. The average temperature of a human body is 98.6 degrees. A ten percent increase give you a fever of 108 degrees, and you die. Had we evolved to have an internal temp of 108 degrees, we'd live comfortably with this temperature. But we didn't.

  • Jennifer||

    I'm still having a hard time figuring out how global warming is supposed to be a diasaster,

    Because of politics. Somebody already mentioned that if the American breadbasket becomes unusable, we still have Manitoba and Saskatchewan. True--overall, humanity will probably still have enough food. But do you think American farmers who go bankrupt because their cropland is now desert will be cheered up by the notion that at least the Canadians are doing well? Do you think Canada, meanwhile, will invite American farmers to migrate North en masse to farm there?

    Rising sea levels will probably still leave plenty of land to go around. But if Bangladesh floods out (it's barely above sea level as it is), which country do you expect will cheerfully welcome a couple hundred million Bangladeshi refugees with open arms?

    There's also matters of liability--if a third world nation floods out or becomes a desert because of first world carbon emissions, who should pay for the damages? We all know, of course, that there's no way in hell the likes of China and the United States will tell Bangladesh "Sorry about that; why not let us buy you a super-expensive levee system?"

    So what will the political implications be if the world has hundreds of millions of resentful displaced homeless refugees?

    If we were still nomadic and could freely leave worthless land in search of greener pastures elsewhere, maybe global warming won't be such a problem. But in our world, things are drastically different.

  • Paul||

    This proves, definitively, that your boiler is broken. If you go back into the room 24 hours later, the glass in the water will absolutely not be any warmer than when you began.

    Anyone who says otherwise is a religious fanatic, and/or a Communist.

    joe, you're missing a bigger point. This theory is perfectly reasonable and valid. And it's not new: Global warming would cause global cooling.

    It's not that the theory in and of itself is suspect, it's the theme as a whole. Global warming predictions and warnings have been largely due to climate models, not climate observations. Climate models have at times, predicted this or that effect, and often, those effects haven't been observed. Over the years, they kept tweaking the models and we supposedly got closer to observing what the models predicted. After years of haranguing on global warming, we finally started to see 'ah ha!' news stories telling us that the models now matched observation so the debate was being 'settled'.

    What this story represents is not so much the differentiation between global warming and global cooling, but the fact that there's another situation where the climate obsesrvation isn't matching what the models told us we should be seeing. However, Global Warming(tm) enthusiasts have so politicized this debate that eventually, they'll re-tweak the models and voila! A cooling ocean will point to global warming...again.

    Environmentalists long swam into the waters of religion by simply pointing to *any* weather effect and tying it to global warming. I watched a show on HBO about global warming and a scientist (pro warming theory) smugly informed the viewer that weather doesn't = climate. As a global warming skeptic, he sure wasn't telling me anything I didn't know. The sheer number of mainstream stories linking weather to climate in support of Global Warming(tm) far outweigh those that attempt to debunk it.

  • Paul||

    Global Warming(tm) gets religion. Case in point

  • Jadagul||

    Joe: two things. First, I don't think Ron is using this to argue Global Warming isn't occurring, just that our models still haven't taken everything into account and, basically, we don't know what the hell is going on. That's what I took away from this: the earth is getting warmer, but otherwise we don't know exactly what changes are going to occur.

    Second, I have to call you out on the claim that 55 degrees is a 10 percent increase over 50 degrees. 0 Farenheit isn't 0 energy; the actual number is more like ((273+13)-(273+10))/(273+10)=3/283, which is ~1%, not 10%.

  • Paul||

    floods out or becomes a desert because of first world carbon emissions, who should pay for the damages?

    What if the third world becomes a desert or flooded due to third world carbon emissions because the first world continues to move towards energy sources which emit less co2? Oh, lordy I can see the politics now.

    In fact, not to open up a whole can of worms, imagine my personal wet dream: The U.S. devolves itself from all Middle East oil, leaving the reagion with vast regions of oil that it can't sell anymore? You think the Middle East is unstable now? Turn off the money spigot and see how pissed they get.

    So what will the political implications be if the world has hundreds of millions of resentful displaced homeless refugees?

    No one can possibly say. The sea level rise, if it occurs at all will probably be so slow that adjustment will be on a generational scale. Possibly longer.

  • Paul||

    A 5 degree increase would represent a ten percent increase in the total energy in the atmosphere.

    Mmmm no. It would represent a ten percent increase in temperature, not total energy. Measuring the energy in the atmosphere is a much more difficult equation.

  • Paul||

    0 Farenheit isn't 0 energy; the actual number is more like

    Doh! My bad, he's right. It wouldn't even represent a ten percent increase in temperature.

  • ||

    "Doh! My bad, he's right. It wouldn't even represent a ten percent increase in temperature."

    Only if you blow the scale out into a range that is utterly meaningless because most of it is not found anywhere but in deep space and in lab conditions.

    If you're talking about atmospheric conditions, it's a significant difference. If you're talking about human-habitable conditions, it's even more significant.

  • ||

    hjuggler writes: "I'm still having a hard time figuring out how global warming is supposed to be a diasaster, especially if the envirohystericlists need to talk in terms of 100 year time spans to claim something is happening."

    In addition to the other responses, note that the temperate rise also increases the energy in the atmosphere, some of which will be converted to forms other than heat.

    Next time you're in the kitchen, put a pan of water on the stove, and drop some peas in it. Turn the burner on, and watch what happens to the peas. The water doesn't just get hot in place, it starts moving. Granted, the atmosphere isn't a big pan of water, but the underlying physics are the same.

    Add more energy, and there will likely be stronger winds. When you're talking about warming the entire planet's atmosphere, that's an awful lot of additional energy - especially when you consider the vast amount of energy involved in *current* storms. A 1% increase in global atmospheric energy is quite a lot when you think that a Category-5 storm is only a tiny portion of the energy in the system.

  • ||

    Folks, there is about as much scientific debate about human-induced global warming in the scientific literature nowadays as there is debate about creationism vs evolution - none. The earth has warmed about 1C in the last 100 years, will likely warm another 2-3C in the next 100, and it is virtually certain that we are the vast majority of the cause. You can keep making yourself look like idiots by denying science, but do you really want to join the religious right's favorite form of absurdity?

    You can find all the data you need at places such as www.sciencemag.com and www.nature.com.

    But no, we should trust you, some partisan non-expert, rather than the preeminant scientific publications in the world.

    The scientific debate is over. However, science cannot answer moral or economic questions. There, the doom-and-gloom environmentalists are often way off base - despite their cries, adaption is often cheaper than prevention, nor is global warming likely to be apocalypic.

    Please quit making idiots of yourself by attacking your opponent's strong points. Hit their weak points instead.

  • Skeptico||

    See Real Climate for some climate scientists' explanations.

  • ||

    Interestingly, lower ocean temperatures should have led to lower sea level rise (heat causes water to expand), but it didn't.



    Minor point, but actually, water is incompressible, so it doesn't expand when you heat it or shrink when you cool it; rather, it changes state when its temperature passes the freezing or boiling points.

  • Simon||

    �Singapore's economy has done quite well despite being virtually on the equator. Ever hear of the Columbian jungle anyone? The notion that life as we know it can't be sustained in the hotter parts of our planet is simply not true. Comment by: happyjuggler0 at August 17, 2006 02:58 PM�
    Hi Happy Juggler, I am living in Singapore and the only reason that I am not dying of thirst and heat is because that our government had planned way ahead of time to secure sufficient water supply from Malaysia and invested heavily on water desalination (Hyflux), water treatment plants, great drainage system that act like a massive water collection network, rain inducement, and the latest addition is NEW WATER that covert sewage waste to drinkable water supply. All these measures did only prolong our over-populated country sustainability for maybe a few more years�.for example if Malaysia stops water supply from coming into Singapore now, we shall have a water shortage immediately and might have to ration water immediately.
    (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sun/dimming.html) Comment by: God at August 17, 2006 11:25 AM
    Regarding the global dimming effects is in fact allowing scientist to UNDER ESTIMATE the seriousness of Global Warming. The previous model of calculation of increase of temperature over a century by global warming is about 5 degrees over 100 years; this had to change to 10 degrees now since we NOW KNOW that by simply eliminating the cooling effects of Global Dimming (Shades by pollution particles in clouds causing reduction of sunlight intensity). The new measures that had been starting to kick into action the last few years to reduce carbon particles (visible pollutants) from power plants and transportation had been successful to curb a disaster of health hazards, however this reduction had unleashed the REAL IMPACT of GLOBAL WARMING.
    The effects from global warming is VERY serious indeed, the polar ice will melt completely to increase the water level, global mega storms will wrack havoc all over the world, massive flooding to location that had NEVER experience such disaster, massive drought to destroy millions of crops killing billions of people because of this world wide famine, economic depression and security chaos from massive migration of climate change refugees, world conflicts to fight for last drop of water and fossil fuel resources and human risk dying in the billions from mental depression turned crazy cannibalistic civil war to fight for the last piece of human blood and meat.
    Well, the last part is made up by me but we all cannot be complacent about global warming and to learn that people did predict the end of the world to be in the year 2100 means we must take action immediately to prevent our children to suffer the nightmare of the future. We shall NOT DEPEND ON FOSSIL FUEL ANYMORE! This green house emission from the combustion of fossil fuel is killing us slowly since 150 years ago when we start using them�.this is truly the beginning of the end.
    Ethanol is going to starve everyone immediately even before global warming limits their productivity, hydrogen is not a energy source but a energy storage method, coal is more dirty (visible pollutants and health hazards) and also increase the global warming, nuclear depends on fossil fuel as well and the world is going to be a land mine full of potential terrorist targets (reactors). The only source of infinite renewable energy will be SUN, WIND, WAVE, GEOTHEMAL, OTEC, EARTH MAGNETIC (Gravity) and other possible source of undiscovered free energy source.
    STARTS THE NEW GREEN REVOLUTION NOW!!!!!

  • ||

    Am I the only one who desires more energy in our atmosphere? If it gets more windy then we will be able to generate more power with turbines. If it gets hotter, we will one day be able to use that heat to generate power. Hell, someone will eventually figure out how to get energy out of rising sea levels. Not to mention the increased energy stored in the bounty of agricultural production. Global warming is the best thing that can happen to an earth that is running out of oil.

  • ||

    Oops.

    Gee, this is a pround moment.

    I was doing pretty well there. Damn you, Celsius! Damn you straight to hell!

  • ||

    Paul,

    This story isn't about "global cooling." It's about ocean cooling. The warming of the globe has been strongly observed for years - the globe is not cooling.

    Also, "The sea level rise, if it occurs at all will probably be so slow that adjustment will be on a generational scale." is not accurate. In the aggregate, sea level rise will be gradual. In practice, first one place and then another will suffer from more, and more severe, flooding events as sea levels rise.

    Jadagul,

    I don't think Bailey is using the post to argue that global warming isn't occuring, either. Some of the commenters certainly are, but Bailey was just reporting the facts, and even fits them nicely into a plausible theory that recognizes the reality of global warming.

  • ||

    (the globe) "will likely warm another 2-3C in the next 100,"

    It's unlikey we can tell how much the globe will warm, and much more unlikely how much we will contribute to that, in the next 100 years as we have no idea the sorts of technologies we will come up with during that time along with all the other factors that could contribute to global warming. 100 years ago, the idea of putting a man on the moon seemed like a tin-foil hat idea (or whatever the phrase people used for people with crazy ideas). Who knows, we may find a way to obtain all our energy needs through completely clean, green technologies.

  • ||

    "Had our society developed in 5 degree warmer world, we would probably be just fine. New York would be half a mile to the west, Seattle half a mile to the east, and New Orleans ten miles north.

    It's the change that's the bitch. If the water levels rise to that point, New York doesn't move itself."

    Joe:

    Anybody who things New York doesn't move itself hasn't been to Eastern Pennsylvania. Yup, NYC now stretches to the PA mountains... maybe not legally, but practically. This invasion of PA has taken only 20 years or so. Much of NYC is old housing, constructed when 500sqft was all most could afford. As the structures age, they will become unusable and need to be replaced. So what if we build the replacement in Jersey or PA?? If people believe sections of NYC will flood in the near future, they won't invest there, and the flood will only consume old inexpensive buildings. NYC may look different in 100 years than it does now, but it looks different now than it did in 1906.

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