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Dueling Scientists in The Oregonian, Settled by Nuccitelli et al. (2012)

Posted on 4 February 2013 by dana1981

David Appell has covered an interesting story with dueling scientists writing climate-related letters published in The Oregonian newspaper.  It began with the newspaper publishing an opinion-editorial written by Gordon Fulks, who lives in Corbett, Oregon and has a background in physics.  The editorial was full of conspiracy theories, inflammatory language, and several long-debunked climate myths.  Among them was the myth that global warming stopped 15 years ago.

Oregon State climate scientist Andreas Schmittner responded with a letter to the editor, which focused primarily on debunking that particular myth.

"Fulks claims that global temperatures have not risen during the past 15 years. This is not true. Most heat trapped by carbon dioxide and other gases added to the atmosphere is absorbed by the oceans, as clearly seen in measurements available at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website ... Fulks flunks climate science. He cherry-picks information that supports his conclusion and ignores the rest. That's not science."

Schmittner is of course entirely correct on this issue, and it's critical to examine ocean heat content (OHC), because that's where over 90% of global warming goes.  However, University of Rochester (New York) physics professor David Douglass decided to weigh in with his own letter to The Oregonian, supporting Fulks' climate misinformation with several factually incorrect statements of his own, including this one:

"My colleagues and I have actually analyzed and published papers using this [NOAA ocean heat content] data. We find no evidence of the earth warming."

This statement likely refers to Douglass & Knox (2012), which used NOAA OHC data from the upper 700 meter ocean layer to try and find evidence of "climate shifts".  The paper argues that two of those "shifts" occurred in approximately 2002 and 2009, and that between those years, there was very little OHC increase (in the uppermost 700 meters of oceans).  It is worth noting that 2002–2009 is of course only about half of the 15-year period during which Douglass claims OHC and global warming did not increase, so his claims in The Oregonian are indisputably factually wrong.

We at Skeptical Science are very familiar with the paper in question, because our paper Nuccitelli et al. (2012) was a comment on Douglass & Knox (2012).  We pointed out that although the OHC increase in the upper 700 meters has slowed slightly in recent years, that is because more heat has been transferred to the 700–2000 meter ocean layer (Figures 1 and 2).

Fig 1

Figure 1: Land, atmosphere, and ice heating (red), 0-700 meter OHC increase (light blue), 700-2,000 meter OHC increase (dark blue).  From Nuccitelli et al. (2012).

OHC

Figure 2: Comparison of Global Heat Content 0-700 meters layer vs. 0-2000 meters layer, from the National Oceanographic Data Center.

For those who would like to analyze the data for themselves, the NOAA OHC data are available here.

Given my familiarity with this research and data as the lead author of Nuccitelli et al. (2012), I sent my own letter to The Oregonian editor, and they were kind enough to publish it, though they edited it a bit first.  Here is the unedited version:

On January 29th, a letter from professor David Douglass was published claiming that based on his analysis of data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC), there has been no global warming over the past 15 years.  Last year, my colleagues and I published a correction to Professor Douglass' research, showing that there is no sign that global warming has even slowed in the NODC data.

In fact, heat is accumulating in the Earth's climate system due to the increased greenhouse effect at a faster rate today than it was 15 years ago, and the energy is equivalent to detonating four Hiroshima atomic bombs per second, every second over the past 15 years. 

Oregon State's Professor Schmittner was entirely correct to note that global warming has continued at a very rapid rate over this timespan. 

For more information, see http://www.sks.to/16years.

Dana Nuccitelli

Although there is no truth to the claim that global warming magically stopped 15 (or 16) years ago, the myth is remarkably pervasive.  In fact, Douglass asserted that "Most climate scientists agree that that the earth has not warmed during the past 15 years", which of course is not even remotely true.

It is true that global surface temperatures have warmed at a relatively slow rate (though they have indeed most likely warmed) over the past ~15 years, due in part to a preponderance of El Niño events in the 1990s and a preponderance of La Niña events in the 2000s, due in part to increased heat accumulation in the deeper ocean layers, and due to several other contributing factors. 

However, as Kevin C showed in his excellent video, the underlying human-caused global warming trend remains steady beneath the short-term noise, and as we showed in Nuccitelli et al. (2012), global heat accumulation has not slowed at all.  In fact, heat has accumulated in the climate system at a faster rate over the last 15 years than it did in the previous 15 years.

Nevertheless, we expect to continue playing whack-a-mole with this zombie of a myth, which climate contrarians will simply not let die.  However, the claim is nothing more than denial, pure and simple, based on cherrypicking and ignoring inconvenient data, as professor Schmittner correctly noted.

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Comments 1 to 50 out of 84:

  1. It is these kind of "duels" that will become increasingly frequent and bitter, as reality and the facts close in on climate misinformers. The laws of the jungle, vis-a-vis a cornered animal, are *going to* apply, and we who operate in the confines of an evidence-based world must be prepared to front these battles. Tiring, but, the stakes are worth it.

     

    To the Mods: LOVE the WYSIWYG editor...a great inprovement!

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  2. The animated graph is brilliant. I posed a link to the YouTube on Facebook.

    Something not often talked about is the implications of 90% of the increased planetary energy going into the oceans for the potential scale of a big El Niño. Has anyone modelled that? Can we expect another spike above the average as big as 1998, or would it be even bigger?

    @vroomie: agree on the editor. I can now type CO2, without all the tags. Over at realclimate, their editor eats <sup> tags.

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  3. I meant <sub> tags, but it eats the others too…

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  4. The Oregonian give Gordon Fulk op-ed space about once a year, and his various op-eds are pretty much interchangeable.  Usually his responses are timed to appear after something major, such as (in this case) Obama's mention of climate change in his inaugural speech.

     

    Over the last year, the Oregonian has also been publishing editorials pushing back on various proposals to limit CO2 emissions in the state.  They've not gone full-blown denialist, but there has been a subtle change.

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  5. They may have published it, but unfortunately they removed "and the energy is equivalent to detonating four Hiroshima atomic bombs per second, every second over the past 15 years", which is a very powerful image, and the link to SkS.

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  6. JasonB @5 - indeed, unfortunately they edited the letter prior to publication.  The original version I sent them is in this blog post.

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  7. Well Dana, thanks for taking the good fight to all possible mediums.

     

    While off topic, you may be interested to learn it seems the SkS team has some fans among the faculty at the University of Waterloo in Ontario. Nuccitelli et al (2012) was referenced quite prominently today in a 4th year Climate Modeling course I am enrolled in, and the arguments page was referenced in a first year geography course for which I am a TA. 

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  8. Son of Krypton @7 - that's awesome, thanks for letting us know!  Who's the professor in the climate modeling course?

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  9. Nuccitelli - "heat is accumulating in the Earth's climate system due to the increased greenhouse effect"

    Skeptical Science blog (Nuccitelli et al, 2012) - "90% of global warming goes into the ocean"

    Schmittner - "Most heat trapped by carbon dioxide and other gases added to the atmosphere is absorbed by the oceans"

    Rahmstorf - ”heat penetrates faster into the oceans in a warmer climate”

    OK, so given the use of the word "heat" I assume that the process is convective/conductive sensible heat transfer (or maybe not - see below). This begs a few questions for the above-named to answer:-

    1) If say, 40 yr heat accumulation in the ocean (18x10^22 J approx) is not solar-sourced, but energy sourced from the atmosphere (low specific heat) from GHG energy entrapment and moved to the ocean (high specific heat) against the predominant thermal gradient then there must be documentation of this process somewhere with accompanying thermodynamic calculations - what reference is there to this in scientific literature?

    2)a) Given the amount of energy involved, someone must have noticed the transfer occurring at the ocean/atmosphere interface and measured the heat transfer in order to quantify it and therefore verify both the phenomenon and enable calibration of global climate models - what reference is there to this in scientific literature?

    2)b) I note, possibly unfairly, that NASA's GISS ModelE wildly overestimates ocean heat uptake in the ARGO era - is it possible that the phenomenon has not been verified empirically and that particular model say (and maybe other models) is not configured realistically (i.e. no GCM V&V has been done re anthropogenic ocean heat uptake)?

    3) If I've misconstrued the process and it is actually a radiative energy transfer process (or a radiative/sensible heat combination), what reference is available to spectroscopy studies of radiation/sea water interaction to support the contention?

    I note a number of spectroscopic radiation/water studies e.g. Hale and Querry 1973 (1989 citations to date), indicate that such a process is highly unlikely in view of only about 10 microns penetration in the IR-C range of GHG emittance.

    4)a) If the process subscribed to by climate scientists such as the above-named is valid and fully understood, why has the IPCC not actually detailed the process with citations of relevant literature?

    4)b) I note IPCC AR4 was very vague about an anthropogenic ocean heating process, WGI TS.4.1:-

        “Formal attribution studies now suggest that it is likely that anthropogenic forcing has contributed to the observed warming of the upper several hundred metres of the global ocean during the latter half of the 20th century {5.2, 9.5} ”

    They only "suggest" and then it is only "likely", no process is found at 5.2 and 9.5. If AR5 WGI is unable to firm up validity of the above process and detail it with citations, what expectation can there be of credence being given to it by anyone using the report for policy purposes, or any purposes for that matter?

    Note that the process as described above is not the GHG insulation effect of solar-sourced ocean energy accumulation proposed by Peter Minnett at Real Climate as a result of a single study by NIWA's MV Tangaroa i.e. Minnett's posited effect competes with the above as yet undocumented process (as far as I know) to provide a credible anthropogenically driven ocean heat accumulation mechanism neither of which have been adopted by the IPCC to date.

    Cross posted at The Oregonian (Nuccitelli letter linked at SkS), Skeptical Science (Dueling Scientists in The Oregonian) and Climate Conversation Group (Open Threads, Ocean heat content).

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  10. Richard - we have been over this many times before on other blogs. I find it hard to believe you are suffering from anterograde amnesia.

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  11. Rob Painting:

    Assuming that you are referring to a debunking of Richard C's leading questions, those of us who've not seen his particular claims before would appreciate a link, especially if it involves cites & technical stuff (although there is always your article here on SkS). :)

    However, for the layman (like me), I suspect the argument Richard C is making (but appears to conceal in questions) falls on one or more of three points:

    (1) Richard C has made a definitional error with regards to heat/energy whereby what he is talking about is not what the people he attempts to rebut are talking about.

    (2) First Law of Thermodynamics. The extra energy accumulating in the oceans has to come from somewhere - and the only explanation which adds up (har!) is the energy accumulating in the Earth system due to the GHG-caused radiative imbalance at top-of-atmosphere.

    (3) Bass ackwardness. Richard C states in his question #1:

    If say, 40 yr heat accumulation in the ocean (18x10^22 J approx) is not solar-sourced, but energy sourced from the atmosphere (low specific heat) from GHG energy entrapment and moved to the ocean (high specific heat) against the predominant thermal gradient [...]

    As far as I am aware, the effect of increasing atmospheric greenhouse gases - even on the oceans - is that it slows down energy transfer out of the system. They don't warm because something else is adding extra energy. They warm because the extra energy can't escape as easily as before.

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  12. Richard (non-entity), this has been hashed out over at SoD ad nauseum.
     
    If you are suggesting that DLR does not result in ocean warming, could you provide a mechanism that does account for the current warming trend of both oceans and lakes in the absence of a TSI trend strong enough to account for such warming? If DLR does not provide the at-skin thermal barrier theorized, then at night shallow lakes (<6m) should lose most of their daytime heat and become much colder than the local 10m trop temp, even on very warm nights. Does this occur? 

    Help advance the science, by all means.

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  13. DSL at 00:53 AM 

    My response at The Oregonian,

    LINK

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    Moderator Response: [RH] hot linked url.
  14. >"Richard - we have been over this many times before on other blogs"

    We have been over the Minnett solar accumulation - GHG insulation efffect. We have not been over the Nuccitelli/Schmittner/Rahmstorf GHG => ocean heat transfer process. They are quite different, the latter rather more radical (going against the prevailing thermal gradient) and taking precedence lately hence my questioning of it.

    I note Stefan Rahmstorf said the same as in my 2013 quote in the 2010 BBC documentary 'Earth Under Water". I'm curioius as to why that process is talked about as scientific fact when there's a paucity of documentation for it.

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  15. Composer99 at 00:34 AM

    >"...the only explanation which adds up (har!) is the energy accumulating in the Earth system due to the GHG-caused radiative imbalance at top-of-atmosphere"

    Solar accumulation theory by the oceanic heat sink is another explanation. See Dr David Stockwell's documentation of it.

    >"As far as I am aware, the effect of increasing atmospheric greenhouse gases - even on the oceans - is that it slows down energy transfer out of the system."

    You're subscribing to the Minnett solar accumulation - GHG isulation effect. As I've noted, that is not the subject of my questions. I'm questioning the Nuccitelli/Schmittner/Rahmstorf GHG => ocean heat transfer process.

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  16. Richard...  Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds to me like you're just questioning the thermodynamics behind the greenhouse effect.

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  17. Richard C:

    Dana & Schmittner aren't proposing any ocean heat transfer process, merely correcting mistaken claims about empirically-observed phenomena. Your Rahmstorf quote does not appear to be on topic for this particular post.

    So as far as I can see the trap you are falling into is (2) - running afoul of the First Law of Thermodynamics.

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  18. Richard C (NZ) - Stockwell and "solar accumulation theory" are off-topic on this thread, as it is discussing the interpretation of ocean heat content, not claims against climate based on thermodynamics. 


    I would recommend taking any such discussion to Solar activity & climate: is the sun causing global warming, and in particular to Tom Curtis's dissection of Stockwells errors. 

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    Moderator Response: [DB] Fixed links; agreed on removing the off-topic items to the linked threads.
  19. Rob Honeycutt at 07:14 AM

    >"Richard...  Correct me if I'm wrong..."

    I'm questioning EXACTLY what the questions ask, not what you think I'm questioning.

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    Moderator Response: [DB] Please cease being obtuse and clarify your question appropriately.
  20. Composer99 at 08:03 AM

    >"Dana & Schmittner aren't proposing any ocean heat transfer process"

    Exactly. They're taking as given that a majir atm => ocean heat transfer exists. I'm asking for the documented basis for it as per the question list.

    >"Your Rahmstorf quote does not appear to be on topic for this particular post."


    (-snip-)

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    Moderator Response: [DB] Off-topic snipped.
  21. "They're taking as given that a majir atm => ocean heat transfer exists. I'm asking for the documented basis for it as per the question list."

    You mean besides the fact that it's been measured?  Your question seems akin to asking how we know gravity exists.

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  22. Dana said...  "Your question seems akin to asking how we know gravity exists."

    Um, Richard, this is pretty much the point I was making which you responded to so irrationally.  This all sounds like you're questioning basic physics.

    If that's what you're doing, then let's be upfront about it.

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  23. dana1981 at 08:59 AM

    >"You mean besides the fact that it's been measured?"

    OHC has been measured/calculated but the relevant question is 2)a) and that is wrt major (by implication) atm => ocean heat transfer across the interface. That is not tha same as ARGO measuremets of ocean surface and below say.

    >"Your question seems akin to asking how we know gravity exists."

    I have 6 questions, 1), 2)a), 2)b), 3), 4)a), and 4)b). It is the answers to those one-by-one that myself and a number of others a looking for given the quotes in my initial comment from prominant climate scientists and those associated with the Nuccitelli et al 2012 paper and SkS that convey a distinct impression that the heat transfer process in question is a verified phenomenon. Gordon Fulks, Robert Knox and David Douglass have the link to this thread for example so now is an opportune time to state your case in detail with citations in response to each question individually.

    If your case is rock solid there should be no problem responding to those 6 questions.

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  24. Rob, Dana, Richard, maybe Richard is not realizing that DLR (photon energy) also goes into the oceans, primarily the skin layer I'd imagine. Some of that energy transfer later results in evaporation, some leads to convection into the deeper ocean, and some radiates at least back into the atmosphere. If this is all correct, then thermodynamic analysis has to include DLR analysis and not just convection/conduction at the atmosphere/ocean boundary. [DLR stuff is covered decently in SoD as stated above already]


    Richard, there is no magic. There are more photons bouncing around and keeping the average temperature higher near the earth's surface than there would be if all the original photons leaving the earth had simply left into space as happens basically on the moon. Inject heat on a continual basis partly towards the center of an oven (via grill), sweater (via human body), house (via radiator), planet (via sun bypassing gases exterior of planet), and the insulatative effect of the outer shell will lead to a warming effect and higher average temp inside in all of these cases vs if there was no insulatative effect. At any given point in time, the interiors have not just the energy added within the last second or so, but a fraction of the energy added minutes back and even hours or days or years back. This is why, for example, it takes a while to heat an oven. You have to accumulate energy over many seconds, and then why cooling after the energy source is removed also takes a while. Temperature is just an average of concentration of energy. If we had perfect insulation and kept adding energy at a slow rate, the temp would approach infinity. As for the sun/earth case, the sun is basically "off" half the time. We can liken this to a well insulated house that has the heater turned on only half the time (or even 1% of the time). When off, the temp drops only a little. This small loss (because much of the energy "headed out" must take a longer path throughout the house bouncing around objects via "blackbody radiation" and to and fro warm walls that pass energy through them via conduction only very slowly) is quickly made up in a short time by a hot heater (hot sun). If the insulation is better, the loss during the time the heater is off will be even less and then the heater will add more heat raising the temp until equilibrium is reached at a higher temp, that higher gradient between the new inside temp and outside temp then drives more heat out of the house faster until it matches what the part-time radiator was adding (remember that in many scenarios the rate of heat flow is proportional to the difference in temp). Improve the insulation further and the equilibrium temp will rise again. That is what CO2 does to the planet (which has any given side being heated part-time by the very hot sun). Add more insulation and the equilibrium temp will rise. Note that the oceans slow turnover and very large mass means the equilibrium temp in the atmosphere may not be reached for a while even when CO2 additions stop. [let me clarify, stronger insulation means the constant that is proportional to the diff in temp becomes smaller, meaning that a greater diff in temp is required to achieve the same prior total rate.. As an analogy, if I hold on to photons leaving my body a little better, then you have to fire more photons (aka, higher temp) in order for me to allow the same number as before to escape. Until this new number is reached, there will be more energy coming in than going out. Adding CO2 means that the atmosphere catches more photons leaving and so a higher temp is needed in order to again balance the large number of photons arriving from the sun.]

    Hopefully, this explanation helps those of us who are not learned physicists/scientists in the subject. Sorry for the length.

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  25. [..let me clarify.. cont.. did not mention that convection in the house also and primarily keeps the objects inside the house at a similar temp.]

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  26. More could have been said on the cherry-picking: The "skeptics" did not just cherry-pick in looking at the atmosphere and not at the oceans. They also did in starting with 1998. If we start with 1997 or 1996 or further back (ie, 17 years, 18, etc, or whatever the new number), then we see more warming towards the present. A non-cherry-picked standard entity might look at natural decades. 2000s were warmer clearly than 1990s .. than 1980s, etc. It's only if you start in a particular year that you get the only mild atmosphere warming.

    An analogy: If we try to improve our golf, chances are that our best score won't be our current game, but instead will be a game not too long ago. That doesn't mean we aren't improving, generally. We are as seen in our running average over say the last 10 or 50 games. The odds are high that the best point won't be the last one, so if we are foolish, we will frequently believe that we stopped improving rather than recognizing that there are many variables and reasons why our best game of all time won't be our current one even as out average steadily improves (maybe we got a bad night's sleep or were more distracted with something else on a given day).

    And yes, as goes the cherry-pick mentioned in the article, we should average the oceans and the atmosphere weighted with respective masses and not just look at one and ignore the other. If two people throw darts at each other, to know who is hitting the other more, you want to look at the total darts on each body and not just the total darts on each neck. I might only get you twice in the neck vs the 3 stabs I took from you, but I might be outscoring 20 to 10 across our whole bodies. We have to average across the entire planet to know the effect the sun is having from increased insulation of CO2.

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  27. So, I'm curious if Gordon Fulks, Robert Knox and David Douglass also ready to reject 150 years of basic radiative physics, as Richard seems prepared to do.

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  28. >"...maybe Richard is not realizing that DLR (photon energy) also goes into the oceans, primarily the skin layer I'd imagine"

    See my Question 3) Jose. We've yet to determine what the Nuccitelli/Schmittner/Rahmstorf process actually is and whether it includes DLR and their response to question 3) before debating the respective merits of the radiative cases.


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  29. Richard C - Observed warming of the subsurface ocean is fully in accord with mainstream scientific understanding. The oceans are predominately warmed by sunlight entering the upper layers. Increase the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and more heat (longwave) radiation is directed back at the sea surface. This lowers the thermal gradient in the thin cool-skin layer, and therefore slows the loss of heat from the typically warmer ocean to the cooler atmosphere above. The sum effect is that the oceans get warmer because more of the sun's energy is being trapped there. In a sense it is similar to how greenhouse gases warm the atmosphere - by slowing the loss of heat out to space. See this SkS post: How Increasing Carbon Dioxide Heats the Ocean.

    Over the last 3 decades solar radiation has seen an overall decline.

    If solar output was exerting a controlling influence on ocean heat uptake we should have seen a decline in ocean heating. Instead what we see is that not only has ocean warming continued, but the last 16 years have warmed at a greater rate than the preceding 16 years. This is not that unexpected given that fossil fuel emissions have sharply increased in the last decade. But what it also suggests is that Earth's global energy imbalance has grown - contrary to a lot of discussion floating around on the internet.

    There is no conflict between the ocean heating observed in Levitus (2012) and Nuccitelli (2012) and the greenhouse gas forcing by which the oceans are warmed.  

     

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  30. Richard,

    You suggest in your question 1:

    " GHG energy entrapment and moved to the ocean (high specific heat) against the predominant thermal gradient"

    You obviously do not understand the basic greenhouse effect and how it warms the ocean.  Everyone knows that energy does not move from colder places to warmer places against thermal gradients.  You look foolish when you suggest that scientists say such nonsense.

    The warm sun shines on the ocean and warms it.  The warm ocean transfers heat into the colder atmosphere.  The atmosphere transfers heat into cold space.  When greenhouse gasses accumulate in the atmosphere it warms the atmosphere because heat goes more slowly into space.  According to the laws of thermodynamics, basic high school physics, the now warmer atmosphere absorbs less heat from the ocean.  Since the sun continues to deliver heat to the ocean and the ocean no longer loses as much heat to the atmosphere, the ocean warms.  The energy to warm the ocean comes from the hot sun.  It is trapped by greenhouse gases.   

    Differrent models have the heat distributed differently once it is in the ocean.  It  is posssible to match observations of surface temperatures with high aerosol reflection of heat and low ocean heat uptake or low aerosol reflection and high ocean uptake.  Scientists are collecting data to determine which is correct.  If it turns out that aerosols have been reflecting lots of heat we are in even more trouble.  Please provide a citation for your wild claim that the GISS model overestimates heat uptake into the ocean.

    Your questions are based on your basic misunderstandings.  Ask one question at a time and you will be able to resolve your issues.  Do not move on until your first misunderstanding is corrected.  First you must understand the basic greenhouse effect.

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  31. Michael Sweet - Richard C is actually correct about the GISS climate model - it does mix heat into the ocean more efficiently than the observations suggest. A number of the models do. Some peer-reviewed references are provided in this SkS post: Observed warming of the Ocean and Atmosphere is Incompatible with Natural Variation - second to last heading.

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  32. >"...reject 150 years of basic radiative physics, as Richard seems prepared to do"

    As for my reply to Jose, We've yet to determine what the Nuccitelli/Schmittner/Rahmstorf process actually is (my inferrance is that it is a sensible heat process hence Question 3) and whether it includes DLR and their response to question 3) before debating the respective merits of the radiative cases.

    But meantime, if you refer to my question 3 you will see that I defer to the last 40 years of spectroscopic radiation/water studies in the event that the process in question includes DLR (the quotes say nothing of that specifically so I don't know yet):-

    "I note a number of spectroscopic radiation/water studies e.g. Hale and Querry 1973 (1989 citations to date), indicate that such a process is highly unlikely in view of only about 10 microns penetration in the IR-C range of GHG emittance."

    Note that I ask for studies of radiation/SEA water interaction if available in Question 3) because I've only seen a compendium of radiation/water studies.

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  33. Rob Honeycutt @ 27 - Maybe they think magic is causing sea level to rise? Here's what I posted on The Oregonian thread where Dana Nuccitelli's letter appeared:

    Any suggestion that the ocean has not warmed is contradicted by the continuing rise of sea level. There are two main contributors to sea level; thermal expansion of seawater due to warming and meltwater from land-based ice - principally the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. The long-term trend is partially obscured by the exchange of water between ocean and land due to evaporation and subsequent precipitation (rainfall & snow), but it shows continued sea level rise. Here is the satellite period of sea level observations from AVISO.

    In their 2012 paper Douglass & Knox claim there has been no ocean warming since 2002. If so the sea level trend should have plummeted dramatically since then, because thermal expansion is the largest contributor to sea level rise. But if readers check the AVISO satellite-based observations they will note that since 2002 sea level has continued to rise at a rate which suggests a great deal of ocean warming. The observations completely contradict their claim.

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  34.  
    As I made plain up-thread, I'm not disputing the Minnett insulation effect that you subscibe to in my series of questions because that topic has been dealt with elsewhere (but without resolution). At this point in time it is my understanding that the IPCC has not ratified that insulation effect as explaining any posited anthropogenically derived ocean heat uptake - what is the situation on that?
     
    I'm questioning the process that I infer from quotes by Nuccitelli, Schmittner and Rahmstorf. That process is clearly different to the insulation effect posited by Peter Minnett so obviously a different set of questions arise that I'm seeking answers to, 6 question-by-question responses would suffice.
     
    Re your solar argument, there are a number of major problems with it but I'm guided by the following on the topic of this post where solar-centric points were raised up-thread:-

    "Moderator Response: [DB] Fixed links; agreed on removing the off-topic items to the linked threads."

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  35. So, to try to boil your questions down to something digestible...  Are you claiming that there is no evidence that GHE can cause the ocean to warm?

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  36. Richard C - aside from the solar radiation trend going in the wrong direction, the observed warming of the ocean is too smooth, both at the surface and at depth, to arise from natural variation such as an increase in solar radiation (which isn't happening anyway). See the SkS post linked to @ 31.

    As noted by Jose X, solar radiation only heats part of the Earth's surface at a time whereas the greenhouse gas effect operates day and night.

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  37.  
    Let's recap the quotes:-

    Nuccitelli - "heat is accumulating in the Earth's climate system due to the increased greenhouse effect"

    Skeptical Science blog (Nuccitelli et al, 2012) - "90% of global warming goes into the ocean"

    Schmittner - "Most heat trapped by carbon dioxide and other gases added to the atmosphere is absorbed by the oceans"

    Rahmstorf - ”heat penetrates faster into the oceans in a warmer climate”

    These quotes imply a process whereby heat is moving "from colder places to warmer places against thermal gradients" - do they not?

    On global acverage, the difference is about 3 C (ocean warmer than atm) but again I'm curious as to the details of the Schmittner/Rahmstorf process (Nuccitelli may actually subscibe to the Minnett insulation effect as Rob Painting does but he's said nothing yet specifically) because there will be times when the near-surface atm is actually warmer than the adjacent ocean surface enabling an atm => ocean thermal gradient.

    It is therefore imperitive that the details of the Schmittner/Rahmstorf process at least are determined and 6 question-by-question responses obtained so that we can then know for sure who subscribes to what.

    I assume from your comment that you subscribe to the Minnett insulation effect in which case your process as described is not the subject of my questions as I've already made clear more than once now in this thread.

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  38. Richard C @9 quotes various people as follows:

    'Nuccitelli - "heat is accumulating in the Earth's climate system due to the increased greenhouse effect"

    Skeptical Science blog (Nuccitelli et al, 2012) - "90% of global warming goes into the ocean"

    Schmittner - "Most heat trapped by carbon dioxide and other gases added to the atmosphere is absorbed by the oceans"

    Rahmstorf - ”heat penetrates faster into the oceans in a warmer climate” '

    He later claims,

    "Note that the process as described above is not the GHG insulation effect of solar-sourced ocean energy accumulation proposed by Peter Minnett"

    And later, @23, 

    "They're taking as given that a majir atm => ocean heat transfer exists."

    Now, the crucial point here is that none of the people Richard quotes says anything about an atmosphere to ocean heat transfer.  The purported theory that Richard finds so implausible is completely of his own invention.  The fact of the matter is that because he does not understand the theory that he criticizes, he reaches for a simplistic theory that is within his grasp - and then assumes (not shows, but assumes) it is wrong.  But the simplistic theory he reaches for was not expounded by those he criticizes.  Until Richard acknowledges this simple fact, discussion with him is futile.  We can defend the correct account of things as much as we like, but he will not acknowledge its relevance, for it is not a defence of his strawman.

    So, I intend to discuss nothing with Richard until he proves from their own words that they proposed a theory of major transfer of heat from the atmosphere to the ocean.  I suggest that others do likewise.

    Of course, we know already that he cannot prove anysuch thing, or else he would not have used such inconclusive quotes to start his threadjack.

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    1. >"Are you claiming that there is no evidence that GHE can cause the ocean to warm?"

      I haven't claimed anything, I'm asking 6 questions wrt to the quotes. Any claims and counter claims will arise from the answers.

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  39. Richard said... "It is therefore imperitive that the details of the Schmittner/Rahmstorf process at least are determined and 6 question-by-question responses obtained so that we can then know for sure who subscribes to what."

    No, not necessarily.  The effects can simply be inferred by observation.  It is only you, Richard, who seems to need your questions answered specifically as you ask them.  The rest of us see this whole line of questioning for what it is; an attempt to reject (or avoid) fundamental, well accepted laws of physics.  

    Honestly, this whole line of conversation properly belongs in the "2nd law of thermodynamics" thread.  Because, as hard as Richard is trying to avoid it, that's where he's going with this.

    If Gordon Fulks, Robert Knox and David Douglass are actually following this thread, you should take note that this is what's happening.  Feel free to step in and let Richard know that rejecting the 2nd law doesn't hold water (so to speak).

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  40. Richard,

    You state:

    "I'm questioning the process that I infer from quotes by Nuccitelli, Schmittner and Rahmstorf." (my emphasis)

    Here is the problem.  You are suggesting an unphysical movement of energy against the thermal gradient.  This is not happening.  No-one else suggests this unphysical energy transfer.  The energy comes originally from the sun and heats the ocean.  The ocean loses heat into the atmosphere.  When the atmosphere heats up the ocean loses heat slower.  The ocean warms because it loses heat more slowly.  Your other questions follow from your unphysical inferences.

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  41. Richard C @37:

    "These quotes imply a process whereby heat is moving "from colder places to warmer places against thermal gradients" - do they not?"

    No!  They imply that global warming will not stop warming the Earth until the surface is warm enough to compensate for the reduced radiation to space from the atmosphere due to increased CO2; and that because of the respective thermal capacities of ocean and land, this requires much more heat for the ocean surface than for land surface.  Anything else you read into it is a strawman of your own invention.  I will give you a hint.  When scientists expound a theory, they state it clearly.  They do not merely allude to it obliquely in sentences that have a far more natural alternative explanation.  So, where is your quote from Dana saying, "there is a major transfer of heat from the atmosphere to the ocean"?  You do not have it because, once again, you are arguing a strawman.

    "On global acverage, the difference is about 3 C (ocean warmer than atm)"

    What is the relevance of the global average?  Heat transfer takes place locally.  Where is your evidence that over the entire oceans surface, location by location and time by time, the ocean surface is on average warmer than the surface layer of the atmosphere?  Or do you intend to relly on the fact that Antarctica is cold, and that because the atmosphere is cold in places it does not overlay the Ocean, therefore its average is misleadingly lower?

    (Ignore the second point if you want to.  As your first point is a strawman, the second has no real relevance to this debate.)

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  42. Richard said... "I haven't claimed anything..."

    What you're doing is dodging.  You're unwilling to make the claim that you're angling in on – disguising it as a series of questions – because you know it's absurd and completely unsupportable.

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  43. I believe that the gist of Richard C (NZ)'s comments can be distilled down into a simple group of Strawman Fallacies. No-one discussing changes in ocean heat content (OHC), including Douglas, Knox, Nuccitelli, or the Easter Bunny, has claimed that 'heat is moving "from colder places to warmer places against thermal gradients"', they have simply noted the demonstrated fact that a warmer atmosphere, with more downward long-wave radiation (DLR), inhibits the ability of the oceans to cool, leading to an accumulation of energy as OHC. 

    Richard, your argument is faulty. Obfuscation doesn't change that.

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  44. >"...the crucial point here is that none of the people Richard quotes says anything about an atmosphere to ocean heat transfer."


    What other process can be inferred from those quotes Tom?

    And what process do those quoted define to support their statements (that's for them not me)?

    And what process does the IPCC ratify?

    That is the whole purpose of the 6 questions. Avoiding them as you suggest would speak volumes and wouldn't progress anyone's understanding of what Nuccitelli, Schmittner and Rahmstorf base their respective statements on.

    Andeas and Stefan are probably unawre this is expected of them and even if they did they may not wish to offer any clarification but I note Dana states "Shmittner is of course entirely correct on this issue" wrt Schmittner's "Most heat trapped by carbon dioxide and other gases added to the atmosphere is absorbed by the oceans"

    Dana and Andreas would appear to be on the same page re the quote from Andreas so it seems reasonable to accept Dana's interpretation of Andreas' process.



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  45. Richard is also suffering from a mistaken notion that Nuccitelli, Knox, Douglas or anyone has to rectify basic physics – like the 2nd law – in order to be accepted research.

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  46. @Rob Honeycutt

    >"What you're doing is dodging."

    So far all the dodging has been on the part of those from whom I'm asking 6 questions. (-snip-)

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    Moderator Response: [DB] Actually, you are dodging the questions put to you by Tom Curtis at 38 and 42 above. It is transparently clear that you avoid dealing with them. The onus is now on you to do so before this conversation can proceed to its inevitable conclusion. Avoidance snipped.
  47. Richard...  You have a really really big problem if most of the radiative forcing from increasing CO2 levels is not going into the oceans and is only going into the atmosphere.  Then we've all been fried 50 times over.

    Just because you can't grasp this aspect of physics doesn't cast doubt on the body of research.  It casts doubt on you.

    Still waiting for Fulks, Knox and Douglass to weigh in.

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  48. (-snip-)

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    Moderator Response: [DB] Please note my moderation response to you at 47 above. Avoidance snipped.
  49. Richard...  "No-one has yet offered question-by-question answers."

    Sorry but everyone is answering your questions, just not with the answers you want.

    The fact is that you're just attempting to reject the 2nd law of thermodynamics without sounding like that's what you're doing. 

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