Oceans don’t warm as they lose heat

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Keith Hunter’s statement gives another reason to believe in Anthropogenic Global Warming:

It is also clear that the oceans absorb about 85% of the excess heat resulting from this radiative forcing by greenhouse gases (as well as about 40% of the carbon dioxide). Detailed measurements of the changes in oceanic heat content, and the temperature rise that accompanies this, agree quantitatively with the predicted radiative forcing.

This is far from “clear”. It is both absurd and wrong.

  • The ARGO programme has found that the ocean has been cooling since 2003. Despite expectations of warming, temperature measurements of the upper 700 m of the ocean from the ARGO array show no increase from 2003 to 2008.
  • It is physically impossible. CO2 radiates infrared at wavelengths of about 12 microns, while the limit for sea absorption is 3 microns.

The greenhouse effect involves wavelengths greater than 3 microns (mostly around 14 for CO2), while the absorption spectra for the oceans cover wavelengths less than 3 microns (mostly in the visible light range). It is not physically possible for the oceans to absorb 85% of the energy recycled by the Greenhouse Effect – and it’s even harder if you accept the IPCC argument that the impact of an enhanced greenhouse effect occurs near the tropopause (10-15 km above the ocean surface with a CO2 optical depth of the order of 10 m).

Is Prof Hunter right? Is this a reason to believe in Anthropogenic Global Warming?

5 Thoughts on “Oceans don’t warm as they lose heat

  1. Australis on April 13, 2010 at 1:52 am said:

    The Royal Society’s position seems to be that some of the energy leaving the earth’s surface as infrared light will react with GHGs in the atmosphere to create heat and re-radiated light. Rather than radiate in all directions, this energy travels downwards in search of sea water in the forms of both hot air (from the reaction) and infrared light. The infrared light exceeds the ocean’s absorption spectra, and simply reflects off in a second trip towards space. But the heated air raises the temperature of the ocean surface, and eventually sinks beneath the waves to build up oceanic heat content.

    This would require an immense quantity of heat. Picture the effort to heat a bath full of cold water, by turning on bar heaters around the walls of the bathroom.

    This rather strained hypothesis could be supported only if oceanic heat content has been building up. The ARGO floats show that the opposite is the case.

    But they go further and invoke “detailed measurements of the changes in oceanic heat content, and the temperature rise that accompanies this”. So it is not just a generalisation but a mathematical exactitude. But where is it? What’s the citation? Who’s the author? Where’s the data?

  2. Pingback: Hook, line and stinker — Hot Topic

  3. CEKAY on April 15, 2010 at 3:14 pm said:

    For 20 years, all the attention has been on the heat content of the atmosphere. But, since experiencing 7 years of significant global cooling, it has suited the scientific establishment to do a quick shuffle – and divert attention to the unmeasurable oceans.

    This trick was pulled on Senator Fielding of Australia, when he met with Climate Change Minister Wong to discuss the absence of warming. After the meeting, the Minister’s advisers produced written answers which said, in effect “who cares about air temperatures anyway, when 85% of the effect occurs in the ocean”. The Senator’s advisers responded promptly in a “Due Diligence” report of 10 August 2009 – see it at

    A sample extract follows:

    ” 7. Ocean temperatures have only been measured adequately since the beginning of 2004, using the Argo network of buoys: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argo_(oceanography),http://www.argo.ucsd.edu/Marine_Atlas.html. Earlier measurements, made during the 20th century on ships of opportunity, were not collected under controlled conditions and are therefore of dubious quality (cf. Thompson et al., 2008).
    The Argo data currently show slight cooling since the beginning of 2004 (Loehle, 2009;http://www-argo.ucsd.edu/rey_line_atlas.gif , http://www-argo.ucsd.edu/nino34_atlas.gif ).

    8. This cooling trend is also reflected in upper ocean heat content, as estimated by Loehle (2009) and DiPuccio, W. (2009), and summarised in the figure below (next page).

    9. As discussed in more detail by DiPuccio (2009), ocean temperatures need to be rising above a certain rate to be consistent with the IPCC greenhouse warming hypothesis. They aren’t. Ocean heat content is falling, and there is nowhere for the heat alleged to be accumulating to be hiding.

    10. Finally, enthusiasm for the use of ocean heat content as an arbiter of climate change should be tempered by the IPCC’s considered view that “Limitations in ocean sampling imply that decadal variability in global heat content, salinity and sea level changes can only be evaluated with moderate confidence” (IPCC Technical Summary, p. 84).

    Now the Royal Society is treading the same path. But all this is new and there are many pitfalls – as appears from the “Oceans Eleven” paper at http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/SC1004/S00028.htm

  4. Australis on April 15, 2010 at 3:38 pm said:

    Refer to “Ocean Temperatures: The New Bluff in Climate Alarmism” by Dr David Evans:

    “There has been a change in direction by the climate alarmists. They now emphasize ocean temperatures and ocean heat content, and pay scant attention to air temperature. Their new argument is that most of the heat in the climate system (water, air, ice, and snow) is stored in the oceans, so the ocean temperature is “a better indicator of change in the climate” than the air temperature.

    This argument is correct (as supported by and originally suggested by Pielke Sr. in 2003 and again in 2007 on his blog, A Litmus Test for Global Warming). The problem is that ocean temperatures have only been measured adequately since mid 2003.

    Measuring ocean temperature globally is harder than it sounds. The Argo network finally overcomes many of the prior problems, but only became operational in mid-2003. Before Argo, starting in the early 1960s, ocean temperatures were measured with bathythermographs (XBTs). They are expendable probes fired into the water by a gun, that transmit data back along a thin wire.

    The ocean data that the alarmists are relying on to establish their warming trends is all pre-Argo; it all comes from the old, less accurate XBTs. Now that we are measuring ocean temperatures properly, the warming trend has disappeared. And by coincidence, it disappeared just when we started measuring it properly!”

  5. Nice of you to share this, Australis. I haven’t heard warmists mentioning the Argo project. Convenient blind spot?

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