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Pielke Sr and scientific equivocation: don't beat around the bush, Roger

Posted on 8 September 2010 by gpwayne

When I wrote a ‘basic’ rebuttal on ocean heat, I didn’t expect one of the world’s foremost climate scientists - and one who is frequently associated with climate change scepticism - to take issue with me, or to take it so personally. But he did, and he chose to do so on his own blog, with comments turned off so I couldn’t respond or defend my work. Since Dr. Pielke didn’t care to pop in to Skeptical Science and talk to us, I’ll just have to consider his arguments, and my responses to them, in this post instead.

Setting the scene

Let’s start by considering the skeptical arguments I was rebutting. We employed a statement by Pielke Sr as a stand-in for a broader issue – that global warming has stalled or stopped during the last decade because the oceans have not continued to heat up. As far as oceans are concerned, the broad assertion made by many skeptics depends on a rather odd assumption – that temperature changes in the ocean or atmosphere will be linear – steady, regular rises that march in step with GHG increases. Unfortunately, we’re talking about a chaotic system, so nothing is likely to be quite so tidy. But that isn’t Pielke’s specific argument; in this case, his is a subset of this wider misinterpretation of climate science and the evidence for it.

What then are his specific arguments? There are two; the first is that the oceans have not been accumulating heat since 2004. The second is, and I quote “Global warming, as diagnosed by upper ocean heat content has not been occurring since 2004”.

Does Pielke Sr still think this? Apparently so, because in his indignant response, this is what he wrote about my rebuttal:

“The author of this post [that’s me] documents in the figures that they present, that upper ocean heat, in terms of its annual average, did not accumulate during the period ~2004 through 2009. This means that global warming halted on this time period. There is no other way to spin this data”.

The emboldening is Pielke’s, not mine. (I might also suggest he refrains from suggesting he couldn’t think of any other way to “spin this data”. He was probably being ironic, right? Let’s hope so).

Have the oceans been cooling?

It stands to reason that if the oceans haven’t been cooling, the wheels come off Pielke’s argument pretty quickly. So what does the science say? To examine the evidence, I used Lyman 2010, which created a meta-study of various measurements for the last two decades. This choice eliminated one key problem with Pielke’s assertion – dependence on too small a data sample. It also gave us a clearer indication of overall trends, because as usual it is necessary to screen out noisy signals to ascertain the valid long-term trend. What Lyman 2010 shows very clearly is that although upper ocean heat increases are irregular, the trend is very clear:

Source: Lyman 2010

But I’m just a journalist writing about science. Perhaps we should look to someone who has hands-on expertise in the field, someone like Kevin Trenberth, who also takes issue with Pielke’s claims about ocean heat:

Trenberth, April 2010: We are well aware that there are well over a dozen estimates of ocean heat content and they are all different yet based on the same data. There are clearly problems in the analysis phase and I don’t believe any are correct. There is a nice analysis of ocean heat content down to 2000m by von Schuckmann [Global hydrographic variability patterns during 2003–2008] but even those estimates are likely conservative. The deep ocean is not well monitored and nor is the Arctic below sea ice... [An article going to press] highlights the discrepancies that should be resolved with better data and analysis, and improved observations must play a key role.

So what does Pielke think about these discrepancies in ocean heat content? This is part of his response to Trenberth:

Pielke: We both agree on the need for further data and better analyses...However, I do not see how such large amounts of heat could have transited to depths below 700m since 2005 without being detected.

Source (both quotes): Post on Pielke’s blog

Now call me picky if you like, but if there’s a lot of discussion about the accuracy of the data, the methods of analysing it, and what it all means, then surely it would be more prudent to make clear the uncertainty, and certainly make clear the arbitrary nature of one’s scepticism e.g. “I do not see how such large amounts...” Incredulity is not science. Yet there’s very little uncertainty in Pielke’s claim that “global warming halted on this time period”, which appears to be based on arbitrary assumptions, especially when you look at Von Schuckmann’s paper. This is the graph of ocean heat content down to 2000 metres:

Figure 11: Time series of global mean heat storage (0-2000m).

This is what the von Schuckmann paper had to say about the graph: Figure 11a shows the variability of globally averaged deep ocean heat content computed from the monthly temperature anomaly fields. A considerable warming is visible from the year 2003 to 2008. The 6-year heat increase implies an average warming rate of 0.77 ± 0.11Wm2. Much of this increase in heat storage comes from the Atlantic [Fig. 5,Levitus et al., 2005].

Compare that statement to this one, from Pielke’s post:

“What the Skeptical Science fails to recognize is that with respect to the diagnosis of global warming using Joules of heat accumulation in the oceans, snapshots of heat content at different times are all that is needed. There is no time lag in heating or cooling. The Joules are either there or they are not. The assessment of a long-term linear trend is not needed”.

Sorry, but if you take ‘snapshots’ (isn’t that another name for cherry-picking?) and come to a conclusion at odds with the trend demonstrated by the full data, perhaps the snapshot technique isn’t very suitable? The statement about ‘no time-lag’ is puzzling, since latency is a big issue in ocean studies. Heat moves around the ocean in mysterious ways, and as Trenberth notes there are considerable areas of uncertainty in deep water measurements, Arctic heat content and the analysis techniques themselves. Since Pielke appears to agree, it is hard to understand how he can defend his claims, based as they are on certainties that the data don’t support.

So, on the science, it appears that in the first place, the premise that the oceans have not been heating may not be correct, and the science certainly isn’t settled. Pielke Sr may simply be wrong, he most certainly cannot provide definitive, unequivocal evidence to support his claim, and statements investing so much inappropriate certainty on something so uncertain are not worthy of a reputable scientist.

Pielke Sr claims I have misrepresented the science. It seems to me the boot is on the other foot, and it isn’t just me:

“I had noted that Pielke Sr. loves to cherry-pick climate data over short time spans to make misleading scientific claims about climate. Climate, of course, is about long-term trends”.

Joe Romm, July 2009

And for completeness, Realclimate respond on several issues following an attack on them by Pielke. Read it and decide for yourself if there isn’t a bit of a pattern emerging here.

Did Global Warming stop during this period?

So far I’ve dealt with uncertainty, our requirement to acknowledge it, and the inadvisable nature of making assumptions based on short term data. There is much more to all this, as you can read at Realclimate and Pielke’s blog, where ocean heat arguments come up regularly. To this journalist, they seem rather circular; what I do take from all this is that nobody really know that much for certain. Including Pielke.

When we turn to the other issue I believe is important, things seem a little clearer, because there is a pervasive logic that must surely apply. It is this statement that troubles me:

“This means that global warming halted on this time period”.

It cannot be controversial to suggest that if you are considering whether a phenomenon is taking place or not, one would evaluate all the manifestations of that phenomenon. Ocean heating –whatever the hell is going on down there – is only one part of the jigsaw. Let’s just assume for a moment that the oceans did not heat up for five years. In order to assert that global warming has halted in this period, we would also expect to see no negative mass balance in the Arctic or Greenland ice cap for the same period. Since Pielke insists there is no time lag there should be no lag in cryrospheric responses either where those responses are so closely coupled to ocean temperatures. Yet the ice has melted at prodigious, and accelerating rates - something else that Pielke denies.

Another response we would expect to see in the data would be sea level rise. It is curious to note that Pielke also disputes this area of study in much the same fashion; according to him, reports that sea levels are rising at an accelerating rate are simply ‘not true’.

So according to Pielke, for five years oceans did not heat up, ice did not melt and sea levels did not increase. This is too much research for one man to debunk. It goes against a heap of science across several disciplines, the same science summarised in the Synthesis Report of the Copenhagen Climate Congress. It is at this point that Pielke’s position begins to assume the characteristics ascribed to him by Romm, Schmidt and others (including me). It does not look like good science, it looks like partisan obfuscation, smacking not so much of scepticism but confirmation bias. I will refrain from invoking the ‘D’ word.

I will conclude with a broad sweep of my own: the NOAA 2009 State of the Climate Report. The link is to their news story of the release, which they title “Past Decade Warmest on Record According to Scientists in 48 Countries”. In the report they catalogue ten key indicators of a warming world. All of them have demonstrated phenomena consistent with anthropogenic climate change, the same phenomena Pielke says were not happening.

Roger Pielke Sr is a well-credentialed man. He is widely published, a bona-fide expert, and his competence cannot be questioned. He is also a human being, and we are all from time to time victims of our beliefs, where ideology and resistance to change are justified using all the tricks, the clout and the guile we learn throughout our lives. But data doesn’t change because you don’t like it. Disingenuous claims about climate change are used to obfuscate, delay and hinder any progress on this subject, be it scientific, commercial, industrial, social or political.

Scientists like Pielke have a responsibility not to put dangerous myths into the hands of those whose interests are very different from that of the majority. Science and politics may not mix very well, but each can provide sufficient fuel with which to burn each other’s books.

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Comments 51 to 100 out of 179:

  1. Dr. Pielke, I did not paraphrase, I used quotation marks to cite verbatim what you stated in the paper. You support hypothesis 2a. On a related note, since you brought up the EOS paper, did you not openly support this petition from CATO? http://www.cato.org/special/climatechange/cato_climate.pdf Well, at least that is what your friend Anthony Watts claims here: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/03/31/dr-roger-pielke-senior-support-for-cato-letter-and-advertisement/ In the petition they state: "Surface temperature changes over the past century have been episodic and modest and there has been no net global warming for over a decade now." That was in November 2008. Do you still support that assertion?
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  2. Dr. Pielke, As for your beliefs on statistically significant trends in data, I think statisticians would err on my and others' understanding. You had better inform Lyman, von Shuckmann, Trenberth, and others to remove those trend lines then. As for your questions and references to GISS (yes, the traces over a short time window diverge, got it), this is not a test, and it is clearl that you are trying to move the goal posts and detract from the main issue here-- you making misleading statement in public on OHC (and sea level and Arctic ice, and SAT if you still support the CATO letter). Interesting, you are now saying @ 48 that: "this clearly shows the lack of substantial warming since 2004" That is most definitely not the same as saying: "This means that global warming halted on this time period." I can support the former statement made @48, not the latter for the reasons that I and other shave discussed ad nauseum. If you now believe the former is correct, please correct the record both on your blog and at WUWT, with the caveat that it is a short time interval and does not preclude an acceleration in warming in the future. Thank you.
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  3. Dr. Pielke, I have just re-read what you wrote earlier: "There does not need to be years of record to obtain statistically significant measures of upper ocean heat content. This is the point of using heat. We just need time slices with sufficient spatial data. A trend is unnecessary, and indeed can be misleading when the signal is substantially nonlinear." I think we need to be very clear, you made a statement concerning the change of OHC as a function of time or over a (very short) time interval, but time nonetheless. What you say above is true for a given point in time, but you are categorically saying that based on those few data points that global warming has "halted". I fail to see how the problems with that statement continue to elude you. Just like any other metric OHC is quite a noisy signal, displaying marked inter-annual variability, and is no different than the global SAT record in that regard. If one wishes to determine whether or not the there is a sustained and statistically significant signal in a noisy dataset then one requires a large number of data points. We are not talking about extrapolating beyond the training data for the OLS model fit to the data here. Yes, of course, that can be misleading, but anyone who knows their stats knows not to apply the regression beyond the limits/range of the training data. Also, note that between 2003 and 2008 the OLS model clearly fits von Shuckmann's data very well.... If there are any statisticians reading this please feel free to chime in.
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  4. Roger Pielke Sr wrote "There does not need to be years of record to obtain statistically significant measures of upper ocean heat content. This is the point of using heat. We just need time slices with sufficient spatial data. A trend is unnecessary." That's an, um, well, extraordinary statement. Because it is amazingly wrong. What is of interest is the "population" of upper ocean heat content--the "true" heat content of the upper ocean in an entire year. Each measurement by each buoy or other device is merely a sample from that population. Even the mean of all those samples has less than a 100% chance of being identical to the population's value. Increasing the spatial sampling reduces but does not eliminate the uncertainty about the spatial population, and does nothing to improve the sampling of the populations of time and other conditions. Each of two years' sample means has less than a 100% chance of being identical to its year's population value. The difference between two years' sample means has less than a 100% chance of being identical to the difference between those two population means. The difference between two years' means is a "trend," so Pielke's statement that "a trend is unnecessary" is nonsensical. How do we estimate the probability of that two-year sample difference being representative of the populations' differences? We use inferential statistical methods that Pielke says are unnecessary. Given the sparsity of our sampling of the entire freakin' ocean, we also need to increase the sampling across time, by looking at the sample trend across more than just a few years.
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  5. Dr. Pielke: "Moreover, if global annual average cooling occurs, such as from a major volcanic eruption, the global warming "clock" is reset regardless of the long term trend." I suspect I'm not the only person who'd appreciate an elaboration of that remark. Are you speaking of surface temperature? Does that mean if we're confronted w/a record of many years and showing a 5:1 proportion of years with increases versus decreases in temperature we can conclude nothing about a trend in temperature? Each year with a downturn means we start fresh, as though we had no data?
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  6. Tom #54 And of course you can demonstrate the degree of uncertainty of the ocean heat measurement statistically by using resampling statistics and/or central limit theory. It's around this point that many people with engineering backgrounds whose education does not prepare them well for assessing uncertainty start to get the heebeejeebies, which is one reason why we see so many so called sceptics with mining or other engineering backgrounds.
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  7. Did anyone post that the Atmosphere was cooling at the same time that the oceans were cooling according to both the GISS and UAH satellite temperature readings. http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/uah/from:2005/to:2009/plot/uah/from:2005/to:2009/trend So the heat isn't in the oceans and it isn't in the atmosphere, where did it go ? To the Lithosphere ? I doubt it. I agree with Dr Pielke that the heat cannot leave the system and return. It could go from atmosphere to ocean and back but it cannot leave if Global warming is happening. In fact since the atmosphere warming is so slight since 1995 the claim has been made that the positive feedback heat is somehow hiding in the oceans to cause rapid warming in the future. BTW: I object to the term "deniers" with it's obvious connotations without specifying exactly what is being denied. I do not deny it has warmed slightly. [for example]I do deny there is a catastrophe coming in the next 100 years.
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  8. #1 Moderator Response Graham Much of your article is about data quality. The long Trenberth quote is essentially an attack on the ARGO data quality. You even state "Now call me picky if you like, but if there’s a lot of discussion about the accuracy of the data, the methods of analysing it, and what it all means, then surely it would be more prudent to make clear the uncertainty". Is this questioning the data quality? I'm not moving the debate anywhere, I'm directly responding to what you say. You want to focus on the 2004-2009 period, I see that, but that particular argument interests me less than Dr Pielke's main argument which is can an accurate OHC data set tell us more about the climate. I'm interested in whether as Dr Pielke's states this metric is more definitive than say atmospheric temperature in accessing global warming. whether OHC can, without lag or much temporal variability, give us relatively quick answers on the build up of energy in the system and radiative forcing. and also whether the measuring system is robust enough. These are constructive comments on the part of Dr Pielke's, absolutely is the spirit of discovery rather than mythbuilding. You should try taking him at face value and move on from the short term trends to look at the bigger picture. 30.J Bowers My eyes see what your eyes see. What I also know is that a near global measure of OHC only came into being with the advent of ARGO and it's expansion around 2003/2004. Other ocean metrics are pointing to the fact that the SH and NH waters and different ocean basins don't seem to act in tandem. I'm prepared to look at data quality and long term trends with these in mind. This page from the ARGO website should give you an insight into what I'm talking about http://www.argo.ucsd.edu/Novel_argo.html
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  9. Re: NETDR (57)
    "Did anyone post that the Atmosphere was cooling at the same time that the oceans were cooling according to both the GISS and UAH satellite temperature readings. http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/uah/from:2005/to:2009/plot/uah/from:2005/to:2009/trend"
    No, because that would be a serious CHERRY PICK, something only a rhymes-with-menialist would do. Real skeptics and those with scientific integrity know that in climate science you generally need 30 years of data for a statistically significant trend to arise from the background noise. 5 years of data doth not a trend constitute. The Yooper
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  10. HR @58, You have it backwards, Pielke is the one obsessed with short term trends; Pielke Snr: “Global warming, as diagnosed by upper ocean heat content has not been occurring since 2004” Saying that is NOT constructive. He has made similar statements concerning sea level and Arctic sea ice. As for your other observations on OHC, none of these are novel, nor are they unique to Pielke. Scientists working in this field have been asking similar questions. Trenberth certainly sees the "bigger picture". I and others will be more than happy to let this go once Pielke concedes that he made a mistake....you know just like Josh Willis recognized that the Argo data had issues...
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  11. 60.Albatross From your viewpoint this is more an inquisition than a scientific debate? Acknowledge the truth then we can move on? ............................................................................................................... Just to prove I'm not shy about totally contradicting myself I decided to graph the recent NODC OHC (data from here) (bigger image) As some have pointed out, but few have acknowledged, a near global measure of OHC only came into existence in 2003/2004 (as Dr Pielke's pointed out in #35). There is therefore good reason to take an analysis from that point, it's short but not cherrypicked. The NODC data shows that from mid 2003 until the 1st 3 months of 2010 the trend has been flat (actually a slight downward trend but I'll be generous). So just to correct all those (including Dr Pielke) who are fixed on a 4 year trend it does appear to be closer to 7 years. To put that in perspective that's close to the length of the GRACE Greenland ice data. It's a short term trend but a long time for heat to go missing. I've got a question. The NODC OHC has wobbled around 11-12 for 6+ years. Where should it be in mid 2010 assuming AGW is correct and we're measuring everything? I'm just curious about the magnitude of the missing heat.
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  12. The graph should say 10 22 Joules not 10 18 joules.
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  13. Sigh, a really big sigh. HR, we here have all seen those NODC 0-700 m OHC data. What you show is for the last 10 yrs. I'm not sure what you point is. NODC, for some some yet unspecified reason, recently adjusted the latter part of the graph downwards (much to Tisdale and Watts et al's delight). I am curious why the data were adjusted (and for obvious reasons I would have been just as curious were it made in the opposite direction). In contrast the data by Lyman et al. (2010), Fig 1. in Trenberth's nature article (see his blue trace), and von Shuckmann's graphic all show a slight increase in the latter half of that record (which is in question). So who to believe? And which depth to use? Well, it seems like 0-2000 m might be more reasonable given the mixing depths observed in parts of the ocean. Anyhow, given those questions, and the short period of time (2004 onwards quoted by Pielke), given the uncertainties of the Argo data and the noise-- Pielke should not be making bold claims such as he has on the fate of global warming. This is not an inquisition HR, it is the pursuit of truth and about being honest. As Prof. Dennett has said "The magisterium of science is factual truth on all matters" IMHO, Pielke Snr has not lived up to this magisterium by making misleading statements on OHC, sea-level rise and Arctic sea ice, and publicly supporting misleading statements made on the global SAT record. And we scientists have every right (and responsibility) to take him to task for that. The fact that you are defending him making the misleading statement in question only goes to discredit you too.
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  14. Albatross - I did not sign the Cato petition in 2008. I commented on aspects of the letter in my post http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2009/03/31/open-letter-by-the-cato-institute-on-climate-science/. With respect to the statement from the petition (which I did not write nor completely agree with as written - there is clear evidence of surface temperature increases in the 20th century, for example, although it was not a steady increase] "Surface temperature changes over the past century have been episodic and modest and there has been no net global warming for over a decade now", I wrote with respect to the last decade "This is correct using the global average surface temperature. An effective analysis of this issue has been presented at the weblog http://rankexploits.com/musings/category/climate-sensitivity/. However, using the global average upper ocean heat content changes, the warming in the 1990s and early 2000s ended in 2003, so the more rigorous metric for global warming indicated “no net global warming” for 6 years." Since March 2009 when that post was written we have entered an El Nino period. I anticipate there has been warming in the upper ocean since this event started, but await the quantification of its magnitude. It is the ocean heat content that we should be using to assess global warming, however, not the global average surface temperature trend.
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  15. I had always understanded why a long trend is needed when it comes to atmospheric temperatures by the fact that there was a ocean lag, ie because the ocean where a huge heat sink and therefore takes more time to heat than atmosphere. But can someone explain to me why we also need a long trend with regard to OHC, since oceans are the slowest to heat in the climate system? Thanks
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  16. Albatros - With respect to your comment #52 the statements "This means that global warming halted on this time period" and "this clearly shows the lack of substantial warming since 2004" are equivalent. We are going in circles on this discussion. There is sufficient text here for readers to make up their own minds on the main issues of i) whether the global annual average upper ocean heat content should be adopted as the primary metric of global warming, ii) what is the observational accuracy of this data, and iii) if the data are sufficiently accurate, how does the accumulation of heat in Joules compare with the models since 2004 when the data became sufficiently robust for this purpose.
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  17. 63.Albatross You're search for truth might be admirable but is going to be thwarted by the imperfect state of climate science. That is if your willing to be as honest about other data sets as you are about this one. Rather than mince words please state clearly exactly what Dr Pielke has said about OHC that is untrue? Actually don't, that's taking us nowhere. Dr pielke has given reasons behind why he has made his statements. Pick apart that reasoning rather than repeatly calling into question his integrity?
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  18. Assume Eli accepts Roger and Humanity's (see comment 1) argument. What happened between 2000 and 2004 when the ocean temperature jumped about 5 x 10^22 J, which is an absolutely crazy amount, esp given that every other measure (surface T, MSU, etc) was pretty well behaved? Either there is something rotten with the measurements, or weird stuff is happening in Captn Neptune's locker. Cocked hat, Pielke's argument meet.
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  19. askaquestion, a long trend is needed for being reasonably certain about atmospheric temperatures not just because of the atmosphere's interaction with oceans, but because of all manner of other sources of variation in the measurements. The measurements are only samples of the population whose "true" value is sought. Such "noise" masking the "signal" being sought (the "true" value--the population value) besets all measurement--all measurement, in every domain, not just climate. The comment by EliRabett highlights the presence of noise in the ocean temperature data. See also the comments by Albatross and me.
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  20. 69.EliRabett I included 2000-2003 to show where teh data was coming from. All I can offer you is this period was the time of expansion of the system (at about 800 buoys/year). But real world explanations about trends on graphs always interest me so yep I'd also be interested in how that jump is explained. There is a curious thing going on with some individuals where the best data set, the full ARGO system from 2003 to 2009, comes in for greater critisism than the long term trend in OHC. The long term data is derived from measurement systems probably many orders of magnitude poorer in terms of spatial and temporal coverage. There is a nice little tale on the ARGO website which while not directly related to OHC does give you a flavour of why we should be glad we have the ARGO system. "Lack of sustained observations of the atmosphere, oceans and land have hindered the development and validation of climate models. An example comes from a recent analysis which concluded that the currents transporting heat northwards in the Atlantic and influencing western European climate had weakened by 30% in the past decade. This result had to be based on just five research measurements spread over 40 years. Was this change part of a trend that might lead to a major change in the Atlantic circulation, or due to natural variability that will reverse in the future, or is it an artifact of the limited observations?" Go to http://www.argo.ucsd.edu/index.html to check their emphasis.
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  21. Dr. Pielke, Read what I wrote again. I never said that you signed the CATO letter/petition, I asked @51 "did you not openly support this petition from CATO?". Watts proclaimed for all to see (as I showed) that you did support the open letter in which they made misleading statements about the global SAT as I showed above. It sounds like you need to take the matter up with Watts. And of course the warming in the 20th century was not a "steady increase", that point only underscores a reality that climate scientists have known for a very long time-- yet it seems to be an attempt by CATO and others to downplay the observed warming. Anyhow to address you points: "i) whether the global annual average upper ocean heat content should be adopted as the primary metric of global warming," OHC is one metric, an important metric, but it should not be viewed in isolation or over short time windows. We need to consider metrics from the cryosphere, oceans and atmosphere when assessing the impact of the planetary energy imbalance. "ii) what is the observational accuracy of this data," There are clearly data issues--see Eli Rabett's comment above to cite just one example (also see AchutaRao et al. 2007, PNAS). I understand that scientists are hard at work addressing those issues, and I have no doubt that with time they will largely remedy them. I would not be surprised if the OHC data undergo several more adjustments in the future. That is exactly why one should not be declaring with authority that global warming has not been occurring since 2004. Especially given that some OHC data which go down to 2000 m indicate that since 2004 the oceans have been accumulating heat in through that column. Not to mention the absurdity of using a ridiculously short time window (in a noisy signal) to make sweeping generalizations. It is also striking that you seem indifferent to the fact that some people with agendas have used your proclamation to "spin" the science. and "iii) if the data are sufficiently accurate, how does the accumulation of heat in Joules compare with the models since 2004 when the data became sufficiently robust for this purpose." This sentence is confusing, you begin suggesting that the data may not be sufficiently accurate, and then say they became sufficiently robust after 2004. I would caution against making comparisons between AOGCM output and OHC over a short window (or for any metric for that matter) as you have done. Right now, it appears that the OHC data are sufficiently accurate to state with high confidence (and statistical significance) that the long-term change in OHC is positive (e.g., AchutaRao et al. 2007), but that the exact rate of increase (or net heat accumulation) over that time is less certain, and that is especially true for changes over the short term. As shown by Schmidt in December 2009, the AOGCMS have done a good jobin predicting the observed global SAT record between 1980 and late 2009. Note that they look at almost 30-years of data, not less than 5 years to arrive at that conclusion. They go even further back to 1955 for the OHC comparison. One could argue that the AOGCMs would not have been able to consistently accurately predict the observed SAT record had there had huge issues with the global OHC. A question from me to you if I may. Where do you expect global 0-2000m OHC to be 20 years form now (circa 2030)? Higher than current, the same or lower? And let us assume that there is no huge equatorial volcanic eruption at that time or in the year or two preceding it. And for what it is worth, I believe that ARGO is a valuable scientific tool, especially once they work out the data issues-- even unraveling the problems is affording the scientists valuable insight into the workings of the ocean.
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  22. HR @68, "Rather than mince words please state clearly exactly what Dr Pielke has said about OHC that is untrue?" Please read the thread. With respect HR, if the answer to that question is not blindingly obvious to you by now you have not being paying close attention. You also say that "Pick apart that reasoning rather than repeatly calling into question his integrity?" Again, you have not being paying attention. For the record, Pielke Snr insisted that people read the EOS article, and that led to the CATO letter. Regardless, Dr. Pielke has only himself to blame for people calling his actions and statements into question. HR, you don't understand, there is no vendetta here, and I am not alone in being frustrated by his cavalier use of words concerning OHC, for example. I own his text book on mesoscale modeling and have cited his work. I respect his work on land-atmosphere interactions, he has clearly made some valuable contributions in that field. BUT, that does not mean I have to agree with him when he elects to publicly make highly misleading statements on climate science, or support him standing idly by when others distort his proclamations even further. It is sad for me to see a reputable and respected scientists tarnish his reputation and diverge from acceptable scientific protocol in this manner. You are of course free to uncritically agree with him on his misleading claims about OHC, sea level and Arctic ice......
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  23. Roger A Pielke Sr #40 "The EOS article is introduced to document that we have identified a wide range of human climate forcings, beyond the radiative forcing of CO2. The IPCC is too conservative at presenting these other forcings. These are in addition to the human caused CO2 forcing." You might want to check the thread at this same website that goes into human waste heat, and I support your concern for possible biologically harmful effects of changes in the atmosphere's composition. That said, I read the article twice, and nowhere found an explanation as to how the additional amounts of anthropogenic CO2 could be warming the ocean to this degree, and how exactly this accomplished, (i.e., direct radiative forcing?, convection? etc.) Normally, oceans are seen to directly influence air temperatures and not the other way around.
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  24. 72.Albatross You seem to make the point I highlight in #71. The poorest data, as expressed in AchutaRao et al. 2007, can be found in the pre-ARGO data yet you maintain your strongest critisism for the data quality in the ARGO period. I think you are taking AchutaRao et al critism of the early poor data set and piling that all on teh ARGO data. I thought Josh Willis on Roger's website did a good job of defending the present ARGO data set and believes there are unlikely to be many large scale corrections. It's funny that you then go on to say how models and data agree over the long term and how you have confidence in the long term trend. "OHC data are sufficiently accurate to state with high confidence (and statistical significance) that the long-term change in OHC is positive" How do you have confidence in a very, very, very poor early data set when you seem to have little to no confidence in the later, global data set. That makes no sense to me. What specifically about the ARGO data don't you like? And what specifically about the early data gives you the confidence in the long term trend?
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  25. 73.Albatross I don't really want to reply to these sorts of comments because they really are going nowhere...... but I can't help it. "It is sad for me to see a reputable and respected scientists tarnish his reputation and diverge from acceptable scientific protocol in this manner." Really, enough of the morality tales! Stick to the science.
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  26. Dr Pielke "There does not need to be years of record to obtain statistically significant measures of upper ocean heat content. This is the point of using heat. We just need time slices with sufficient spatial data." In principle this might be right, but do you really believe the data is accurate enough quarter on quarter to provide a 3 month earth heat balance ? Given the noise in the data this seems so obviously wrong it's positively alarming coming from a reputable scientist. You repeat several times that the spacial coverage is what matters, but the noise in the data from the spacial coverage seems to show that it cannot be relied on at a snapshot level. Please comment
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  27. Well, that's quite enough obfuscation for one thread. Let's get back to basics here and recall what all this was about - prior to attempts to change the subject. This is what Dr. Pielke Sr claimed: “Global warming, as diagnosed by upper ocean heat content has not been occurring since 2004”. I made the following observations: • one metric alone (ocean heat, however measured) cannot be indicative of the state of an entire climate system. • significance attributed to a four year period is specious because it’s too short a period from which to draw any kind of conclusion, especially when there is considerable uncertainty within the scientific community about the validity of the data, the methods of gathering it, and the analysis applied to it. • unqualified claims that global warming has not been occurring on the basis of contested ocean temperatures alone are highly misleading, and the certainty of the statement is both inappropriate and unscientific. While I appreciate Dr. Pielke engaging with us, I find there has been a concerted effort to change the subject, to deflect criticism, and a failure to answer what I believe are robust and clearly stated criticisms. Sophistry will not change my view, nor will hyperbole or obfuscation. My criticisms therefore stand as written, and I reject the rather circuitous attempts to defend statements that owe more to climate change skepticism than they do scientific research. I believe that clear bias is displayed in such incautious statements, and - most importantly - they present opportunities for less principled actors to distort, delay and pervert government, civil, media and legislative measures to address what is potentially the most serious problem mankind has ever faced. Dr. Pielke - I find you are handing live ammunition to the enemies of science e.g.the ones calling for climate change advocates to be flogged and books to be burned. Please be more circumspect about the inevitable politicisation of what you say. It's not what you say, it's the way you say it, right?
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  28. HR @ 74 "The poorest data, as expressed in AchutaRao et al. 2007, can be found in the pre-ARGO data yet you maintain your strongest critisism for the data quality in the ARGO period." HR, the ARGO network is not without it's problems either, pressure sensors are failing in a number of floats: Two micro-leak defects leave some 25-35% of the Argo floats deployed between 11/2005 and 7/2009 vulnerable to errors in reported pressure and possible eventual failure Seems to be typical teething problems with new technology.
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  29. gpwayne @ 77 - I concur, all I've seen so far are smoke bombs.
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  30. gpwayne wrote : "unqualified claims that global warming has not been occurring on the basis of contested ocean temperatures alone are highly misleading, and the certainty of the statement is both inappropriate and unscientific." To me, that seems to be the biggest criticism of Dr Pielke Sr and I think he has quite a history of cherry-picking short periods with regard to other metrics. For example : "Sea level has actually flattened since 2006" "Their has been no statistically significant warming of the upper ocean since 2003." With regard to Arctic sea ice : "Since 2008, the anomalies have actually decreased." These can all be seen on Dr Pielke Sr's blog (from the middle of last year). There is also this from 2008 : The focusing on global warming as the reason for any hurricane (or making it more likely to occur or become more intense) ignores that natural variations are not only more important than indicated by the AP news story, but also that the human influence involves a diverse range of first-order climate forcings, including, but not limited global warming [which, of course, has not occurred since at least mid-2004!]. Again at his blog. There is also interesting information from the talk that Dr Pielke Sr gave last year to a gathering under the auspices of the George Marshall Institute, including : Lower Troposphere The warmest time period was during the big El Niño in 1998, but if you look at the period from, say, 2001 to the present, if anything it is slightly falling. It is certainly not rising. But you notice that since about 1995, if you put a linear plot since then, there has basically been no further cooling of the stratosphere. [ARCTIC ICE LEVEL] has recovered, so it is higher than it was this time last year, for example. Antarctica, for the last number of years, actually has been increasing in its sea ice cov-erage. There are some that are trying to suggest that this is also consistent with a warming planet and a warming Antarctica. I find that concept hard to grasp. The problem is that the climate hasn’t been warming over the last number of years. There certainly are changes over time which again shows that climate is variable and we can’t just talk about one single metric like the global average temperature, for example. Anthony Watts has written a very influential and carefully put-together report, Is the U.S. Surface Temperature Record Reliable?, which came out of a Heartland Insti-tute meeting, held a few months ago. What Anthony Watts has done (and we are working on a paper with him on this for publication soon) is document how many sites are well located and how many are poorly located Any further information on that paper ?
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  31. HR #70 and #74 Well stated HR. Albatros is stretching a very weak argument to breaking point. Of course Argo is vastly better than what preceeded it in terms of coverage and accuracy - but it still is sparse in large areas of ocean and I would suggest as I already have in an earler post #17 on this thread that the 'gold standard' for OHC measurement would be a system of tethered buoys which measured the same 'tile' of ocean all the time T1, T2, T3 etc. ie: "How close the drifting Argo come to the 'ideal' is hard to determine. For sure, strong currents will tend to coagulate drifting buoys so that the same 'tile' of ocean might might not be measured at time T2 as was measured at T1. Two or more buoys might enter a tile of ocean and leave none where a prior measurement was taken." Although I support Dr Pielke's general conclusions about the lack of OHC increase since 2003-4 which is 6-7 years - and therefore its direct relationship to a 'lack' of warming imbalance by CO2GHG forcings, Dr Pielke certainly has made a confusing statement here as restated by Tom Dayton at #54: 54.Tom Dayton at 09:40 AM on 9 September, 2010 Roger Pielke Sr wrote "There does not need to be years of record to obtain statistically significant measures of upper ocean heat content. This is the point of using heat. We just need time slices with sufficient spatial data. A trend is unnecessary." This is wrong unless the "time slices" are over several years. To measure a global change in OHC you need a global snapshot at time T1 to set a baseline and then snapshots at times T2, T3 etc to measure the change from T1. I think that Dr Pielke might be confusing the total energy with the rate of energy accumulation. To measure the global OHC content in Joules (call it J1) at time T1 is only meaningful if you then measure it again (J2) at time T2 (probably exactly 1 year later at 1200 hrs GMT). The difference J1-J2 would be the positive or negative OHC change in Joules/year. Heat energy (Joules) divided by time (1 second) has the same unit dimensions as a Watt which is the unit of power or energy flux (called 'forcing' by non-engineer climate scientists). As we can easily calculate, a 'forcing' of 1.0W/sq.m of the Earth's surface equates to about 160E20Joules/year of heat energy gain or loss to the planet. Dr Pielke should clarify this point and perhaps comment on my suggested 'ideal' gold standard OHC measurement system of globally tethered buoys all reporting at the same time. (Post #17)
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  32. Gpwayne - I must completely agree with this post on equivocation, and your followup comment here. Dr. Pielke - Your statements certainty are simply unsupportable in light of the data quality. If you make statements as as strong as "...global warming halted on this time period" based upon 5 years of data, you are cherry-picking, and I'm disappointed to see such behavior coming from an accomplished scientist such as yourself. The ARGO data is an excellent measure, but it is not perfect in spatial coverage, in temporal noise, or most certainly in analysis. 5 years is too short a time period to make unqualified statements from that data stream. If your snapshot is noisy, you need to take multiple snapshots before drawing conclusions. Following some of the other comments on this thread, I've also seen your rather unqualified statements based upon short time series regarding sea level rise, ice levels, and surface temperatures. While I'm hesitant to guess at motivations, it certainly appears from these incidents that you are (repeatedly) willing to use a statistically unsupportable cherry-picked data subset to score rhetorical points against efforts to mitigate human-caused global warming. You seem to have done some interesting work on ground cover and it's climate implications, and I'll continue to read those along with other sources. But, Dr. Pielke, I'm afraid I cannot trust your conclusions to be unbiased, or even solidly based upon your data. And I'm very sorry to have to say so.
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  33. Ken Lambert - Thank you for your thoughtful comments. My statement below, however, is correct (and I agree with you that simultaneous measurements are optimal). As I wrote (and you reproduced) "Roger Pielke Sr wrote "There does not need to be years of record to obtain statistically significant measures of upper ocean heat content. This is the point of using heat. We just need time slices with sufficient spatial data. A trend is unnecessary." The concept of "time slices" is precisely what you have very clearly expressed; "To measure the global OHC content in Joules (call it J1) at time T1 is only meaningful if you then measure it again (J2) at time T2 (probably exactly 1 year later at 1200 hrs GMT). The difference J1-J2 would be the positive or negative OHC change in Joules/year. Heat energy (Joules) divided by time (1 second) has the same unit dimensions as a Watt which is the unit of power or energy flux (called 'forcing' by non-engineer climate scientists)." My only addition to your summary is that the statistical robustness would be improved by more frequent (say monthly slices) in order to resolve the annual global cycle of warming and cooling that is seen, for example, in Josh Willis's analysis in my Physics Today paper.
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  34. Could we not put this issue to bed by rephrasing the catchy, if contested statement: 'This means that global warming halted on this time period.' With a somewhat less pithy but probably more informative: 'Taken at face value the NODC data clearly show a lack of warming over the four years commencing 2004, however the short term nature of the trend, the uncertainty in the accuracy of the data and its inconsistency with numerous other lines of evidence mean that this has little to say about the wider science and story of anthropogenic climate change. However were the trend to continue for longer and the data shown to be an accurate reflection of the actual situation then it would be of great importance.'
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    Response: Yes, but can you tweet that? :-)
  35. RSVP: "Normally, oceans are seen to directly influence air temperatures and not the other way around." Thank you for that reminder - that is one point of data that shows our OHC accounting is probably not robust yet. If 90% of the world's heat content is in the ocean, and oceans affect air temp (and not the other way around) AND air temps are rising (which they are): Then OHC is rising - which is what folks like Trenberth seem to suspect. (I understand it is more complicated than that - RSVP's comment just turned on a lightbulb for me on thinking about the "missing" OHC.
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  36. JMurphy - Our paper on siting quality issues with respect to multi-decadal surface temperature trends is nearly complete. On other climate metrics, such as sea ice, sea level, etc, they all support climate variability and longer term change. There clearly is a significant human influence (e.g. black carbon deposition on Arctic sea ice), but the natural variations remain incompletely understood (for example, we cannot skillfully predict more than a season at most into the future regional circulation features such as the NAO, the PDO and ENSO). The annual global average OHC is just one climate metric. Indeed, it tells us nothing about these regional atmospheric/ocean features (although the regional OHC data does). The annual global average OHC, however, is the most accurate way for us to diagnose the global annual average radiative imbalance, as I discussed in the paper Pielke Sr., R.A., 2003: Heat storage within the Earth system. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 84, 331-335. http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/files/2009/10/r-247.pdf I also recommend interested readers of this weblog look at the paper Ellis et al. 1978: The annual variation in the global heat balance of the Earth. J. Climate. 83, 1958-1962. http://www.climatesci.org/publications/pdf/ellis%20et%20al%20JGR%201978.pdf Finally, Bill Cotton and I completed a book Cotton, W.R. and R.A. Pielke, 2007: Human impacts on weather and climate, Cambridge University Press, 330 pp.http://www.cambridge.org/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521600569 which I recommend if readers would like a more in depth perspective of our conclusions on climate science. I also recommend my son's book The Climate Fix: What Scientists and Politicians Won't Tell You About Global Warming (Basic Books) http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2010/04/climate-fix.html whose recommendations I agree completely with.
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  37. GPWayne @77, Well stated. I was going to address comments made by HR directed at me, but what is the point? They and Pielke have made up their mind, you and I and others have made up ours based on the data and caveats associated with such data, and thought son this matter by experts working closely with the data (Lyman, Tremberth, von Shuckmann, Levitus, Willis etc.) It would have been nice to say at the end of this exchange that Pielke Snr recognized and acknowledged what he said on OHC (and other climate metrics) was misleading and perhaps even revised his public statement/s on those issues. But sadly other, less scientific, factors seem to be standing in his way. All I will say to HR regarding his/her comment: "Really, enough of the morality tales! Stick to the science." First, those two points are not mutually exclusive. Second, maybe your second sentence should be directed at Pielke Snr and not me and others here (and elsewhere) who have (with very good scientific reason) criticized Pielke.
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  38. Excellent rephrasing, MrJon!
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  39. Re Daniel Bailey [59] As I stated earlier Did anyone post that the Atmosphere was cooling at the same time that the oceans were cooling according to both the GISS and UAH satellite temperature readings. http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/uah/from:2005/to:2009/plot/uah/from:2005/to:2009/trend So the heat isn't in the oceans and it isn't in the atmosphere, where did it go ? To the Lithosphere ? I doubt it. ****** The charge of cherry picking is inadequate because if the measurements are correct, which is an issue which has been addressed elsewhere heat cannot leave the system for a 5 year period. It could go between the atmosphere and the oceans and back again due to El Nino's and La Nina's but it must keep increasing. A 5 year pause cannot happen if Catastrophic AGW is real. When huge positive feedback is shown not to be happening currently the defense is that the heat is being stored in the oceans to come back and cause rapid warming later. If it hasn't been stored during a 5 year period the rapid warming probably won't happen. No cherries involved if the data is correct.
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  40. All, My last post on this. I would encourage everyone concerned to read the summary on global OHC by Palmer et. al (pages 60-61)in the "2009 state of the climate report"
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  41. NETDR wrote : "A 5 year pause cannot happen if Catastrophic AGW is real." It would depend on what 'Catastrophic AGW' is. What does that mean ?
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  42. RSVP, the mechanisms by which the atmosphere heats the ocean certainly are known. For example, a Google search for "heat transfer from atmosphere to ocean" returns a Columbia University class lecture page, which explains that conduction and radiation do that. Regarding radiation:
    "The infrared radiation emitted from the ocean is quickly absorbed and re-emitted by water vapor and carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases residing in the lower atmosphere. Much of the radiation from the atmospheric gases, also in the infrared range, is transmitted back to the ocean, reducing the net long wave radiation heat loss of the ocean. The warmer the ocean the warmer and more humid is the air, increasing its greenhouse abilities. Thus it is very difficult for the ocean to transmit heat by long wave radiation into the atmosphere; the greenhouse gases just kick it back, notably water vapor whose concentration is proportional to the air temperature."
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  43. I've been reading this whole exchange with great excitement. It's rather like having a box seat at the big game. We should all thank Dr Pielke for taking the time to post his responses here. Something disturbs me about this notion that Dr Pielke seems to be putting forth that OHC should supplant global temperature readings as a proxy for global warming. Please correct me if I have that wrong. When he says "global warming has halted" based on OHC measurements I read a rhetorical leap that may not yet be justified. I believe I understand that OHC should be a better metric being that such a larger volume of the actual energy is resident in the ocean. But it's also strikes me as an act of changing the rules of the game at half time. It's almost even like saying, "Well, we've been playing football the first half, but really baseball is a much better game so let's play that the second half." The part that makes me suspicious of this attempt to change the game is that, while baseball might be the better game, it sounds like we're still figuring out how to build baseball mitts and bats, and measuring how far apart the bases should be. The uniforms aren't yet even stitched up and we're making grand statements about the score? Is the ARGO buoy network really robust enough to completely change how we define climate change? Think back 20 years ago. Where were we with satellite readings? We had big battles going over the UAH reporting cooling while ground stations were reporting warming. Right? There were a lot of kinks to work out to get to the understanding of atmospheric temperature we have today. I don't want to jump to conclusions about any ulterior motives that Dr. Pielke might have in this. I accept that he is an upstanding scientist, just as the others opposing him here are also upstanding scientists. Each scientist is still human and has personal motivations. From my box seat I would suggest it's a mistake to make the rhetorical leap in referring to OHC as "global warming." If baseball truly is the better game, get all the gear and all the rules right first, then change the game. In the mean time, be careful with your words. The stands are full of very rowdy fans.
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  44. robhon - Thank you for your comments. With respect to changing metrics to diagnose global warming, if one elects, the global average surface temperature trend, of course, could be retained. However, we now have sufficiently robust analyses of the global annual average upper ocean heat content (since 2004 according to the experts, such as Josh Willis who work directly with this data) which permits us to adopt it as the primary global warming metric. This metric provides heat in its proper units - Joules, and the difference in heat content between time periods (i.e. the time slices) permits a diagnosis of the global annual average radiative imbalance in units of Watts per meter squared. Comparing the surface temperature trends and upper ocean heat content can itself be informative. In an earlier study Barnett, T.P., D.W. Pierce, and R. Schnur, 2001: Detection of anthropogenic climate change in the world's oceans. Science, 292, 270-274. http://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/barnett.pdf part of their conclusion reads "Perhaps the most important aspect of this work is that it establishes a strong constraint on the performance and veracity of anthropogenically forced climate models. For example, a climate model that reproduces the observed change in global air temperature over the last 50 years, but fails to quantitatively reproduce the observed changed in ocean heat content, cannot be correct." This was written in 2001 and applies even more so today since the upper ocean heat data is more accurate.
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  45. Kudos to Dr. Pielke for posting on this comment thread. Both he and Graham should apologize to each other for being human and making disparaging remarks about each other. Unfortunately, the hard-core members of the Anti-AGW Spin Machine will never read this thread and will not benefit from it. Most of them belong to the "I've made up my mind, don't confuse with the facts" school of thought. To the anti-AGW crowd, this website is anathema and is an integral part of a "grand conspiracy." Some questions and a suggestion from a layman who wants to learn more about the topic of discussion, i.e., the measurement and distribution of the heat content of the oceans. 1. Where does the heat content of the upper layer of the Pacific go when an El Nino event dissipates? Does this heat transfer occur entirely within the boundaries of the upper layer being measured by the Argos buoys? 2. Where does the heat content come from when an El Nino event builds up? Does this heat transfer occur entirely within the boundaries of the upper layer being measured by the Argos buoys? NOAA’s computation of the "Annual Global Oceanic Heat" content as plotted on the graph posted at: http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/OC5/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/ has a considerable amount of statistical noise associated with it. Judging from the above exchanges, it seems there is a ongoing debate about the actual width of the statistical noise band. Perhaps the National Research Council should appoint a special committee to examine this issue.
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  46. Kudos to Dr. Pielke for posting on this comment thread. Both he and the author of the article should apologize to each other for being human and making disparaging remarks about each other. Unfortunately, the hard-core members of the Anti-AGW spin machine will never read this thread and will not benefit from it. Most of them belong to the "I've made up my mind, don't confuse with the facts" school of thought. To the anti-AGW crowd, this website is anathema and is an integral part of a "grand conspiracy." Some questions and a suggestion from a layman who wants to learn more about the topic of discussion, i.e., the measurement and distribution of the heat content of the oceans. 1. Where does the heat content of the upper layer of the Pacific go when an El Nino event dissipates? Does this heat transfer occur entirely within the boundaries of the upper layer being measured by the Argos buoys? 2. Where does the heat content come from when an El Nino event builds up? Does this heat transfer occur entirely within the boundaries of the upper layer being measured by the Argos buoys? 3. Is heat transfer the primary driver of the major ocean current systems? NOAA’s computation of the "Annual Global Oceanic Heat" has a considerable amount of statistical noise associated with it. Judging from the above exchanges, it seems there is a ongoing debate about the actual width of the statistical noise band. Perhaps the National Research Council should appoint a special committee to examine this issue.
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  47. My apologies for the double post. I thought my initial post did not go through because of the URL I had embedded in it.
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  48. What we have: 1. Pielke claims that ARGO presents accurate instantaneous snapshot of OHC, despite ARGO saying it doesn’t:
    “Seasonal and interannual variability dominate the present 6-year globally-averaged time series. Sparse global sampling during 2004-2005 can lead to substantial differences in statistical analyses of ocean temperature and trend (or steric sea level and its trend, e.g. Leuliette and Miller, 2009).”
    and
    “Global coverage is essential, but for global change applications, Argo data must also have high accuracy and minimal systematic errors. Therefore, a high priority for Argo is to continue work aimed at identifying and correcting pressure measurement errors, especially those with systematic impacts.”
    2. Pielke denies that any substantial mixing with deeper ocean could have occurred during those 4 years despite evidence that 2000m trend differs from the 700m trend, and despite a very incomplete human understanding of total ocean circulation. 3. Pielke rejects other evidence, particularly sea level data, that OHC continued to increase unabated. All to support an assertion that something on the order of 5x10^21 Joules/year of average annual heating that prevailed since 1970 suddenly stopped in 2004 for no discernable reason. That conclusion is stretched far beyond the breaking point. I am struck by the concluding paragraphs of the Willis “eureka” article:
    “If there is a moral to this story, it’s that when it comes to understanding the climate system, it’s hard to imagine too much redundancy. Every scientist involved in these studies says the same thing: to understand and predict our climate and how it is going to change, we need it all. We need multiple, independent, overlapping sets of observations of climate processes from space and from the Earth’s surface so that we can create long-term climate records—and have confidence that they are accurate. We need theories about how the parts of the Earth system are related to each other so that we can make sense of observations. And we need models to help us see into the future. “Models are not perfect,” says Syd Levitus. “Data are not perfect. Theory isn’t perfect. We shouldn’t expect them to be. It’s the combination of models, data, and theory that lead to improvements in our science, in our understanding of phenomena.”
    Of course, when they say “[e]very scientist involved in these studies” they mean “every scientist except Roger Pielke Sr., who believes he can do it all with a single imperfect data set spanning four years.”
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  49. MrJon - Your phrasing here is excellent, and captures the realities of the data uncertainties. It won't tweet well, sadly, but it's excellent. I recall part of Steve Schneider's last TV appearance, talking to a room of climate skeptics, where he discussed scientific credibility. He stated: "Anybody who's got the answer almost certainly is not credible on a complicated problem ... I think the best guide for you is when there's a complex problem remember you can break it down into well established bits where we do have some things that are very likely, competing explanations like Greenland is melting but exactly why, we don't know why, and speculative we really don't know what's the cloud feedback amount going to be and when people talk like that they're much more likely to be credible when they tell you that they have, you know, the smoking gun that proves or disproves, very rarely in complex science is that true." (emphasis added)
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  50. CBW - It is good that there are now weblogs so that misstatements such as you have made can be refuted. You write 1. "Pielke claims that ARGO presents accurate instantaneous snapshot of OHC, despite ARGO saying it doesn’t" First, I have never used the term instantaneous" in this context. Since ocean heat changes relatively slowly on larger scales, time slices can use monthly averages, for example. In the context of the robustness of the OHC data, below is what Josh Willis wrote to Kevin Trenberth, as I reported in my weblog post Further Feedback From Kevin Trenberth And Feedback From Josh Willis On The UCAR Press Release http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2010/04/19/further-feedback-from-kevin-trenberth-and-feedback-from-josh-willis-on-the-ucar-press-release/ "Hi Kevin, I’m not sure why you think that the analysis methods of recent ocean heat content estimates are not robust. Since about 2005, most any analysis method that makes use of the Argo data should get approximately the same answer, which is that there is little net warming over this period. In fact, I have verified that my estimate compares well with Karina’s between 2005 and the end of 2008, even though she integrates to 2000 m and I only integrate 900 m. In the early part, however, the von Schuckmann analysis is problematic because it definitely contains some Argo data that still had pressure biases, and because they relied on a climatological background field that was probably too cold. Because the early part of the Argo record (pre-2005) has large gaps, their analysis relaxes toward the cooler climatology in the early part of the record. This has the potential to make the global trend appear larger than it may actually be. Without cleaned up Argo and/or XBT data with reduced biases, I do not belive that we can actually say that the satellite data in recent years are more reliable than the ocean heat content estimates." 2. "Pielke denies that any substantial mixing with deeper ocean could have occurred during those 4 years despite evidence that 2000m trend differs from the 700m trend, and despite a very incomplete human understanding of total ocean circulation." This is what Josh Willis wrote as I reported in my post Further Feedback From Kevin Trenberth And Feedback From Josh Willis On The UCAR Press Release. http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2010/04/19/further-feedback-from-kevin-trenberth-and-feedback-from-josh-willis-on-the-ucar-press-release/ "Hi Kevin and Roger, Incidentally, you two might be interested in this recent paper by Sarah Purkey and Greg Johnson: http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/people/gjohnson/Recent_AABW_Warming_v1.pdf They looked at the prospect of deep warming on decadal time scales using the sparse, but highly accurate repeat hydrographic sections and found that below 3000 m in the global oceans, and below 1000 m in the southern ocean, the ocean is taking up an energy equivalent of about a 0.1 W/m^2 energy imbalance at the top of the atmosphere. So while this is significant, it suggests to me at least that the deep ocean is probably not taking up a bunch of heat really rapidly and the traditional idea that most of the action is in the upper several hundred meters is probably going to hold up. (did I get that right, Greg?) Cheers, Josh" 3. "Pielke rejects other evidence, particularly sea level data, that OHC continued to increase unabated." Regarding sea level rise, it has reduced in recent years, according to the peer reviewed paper below. Moreover, the rise that has occurred is not from thermal expansion (i.e. the steric component). Cazenave et al. Sea level budget over 2003-2008: A reevaluation from GRACE space gravimetry, satellite altimetry and Argo. Global and Planetary Change, 2008; DOI:10.1016/j.gloplacha.2008.10.004 they write "From the results presented in this study, we see that confronting independent estimates of ocean and land contributions to sea level with altimetry results leads to a rather coherent picture for recent years variations. This can be summarized as follows: since 2003, sea level has continued to rise but with a rate (of 2.5 +/-0.4 mm/yr) somewhat reduced compared to the 1993-2003 decade (3.1+/-0.4 mm/yr). Over 2003-2008, the GRACE-based ocean mass has increased at an average rate of ~1.9 mm/yr (if we take the upper range of possible GIA corrections as recommended by Peltier, submitted for publication)......The steric sea level estimated from the difference between altimetric (total) sea level and ocean mass displays increase over 2003-2006 and decrease since 2006. On average over the 5 year period (2003-2008), the steric contribution has been small (on the order of 0.3+/-0.15 mm/yr), confirming recent Argo results (this study and Willis et al., 2008).” I discuss this is my post Sea Level Budget over 2003–2008: A Reevaluation from GRACE Space Gravimetry, Satellite Altimetry and Argo by Cazenave et al. 2008. http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2009/01/07/sea-level-budget-over-2003%e2%80%932008-a-reevaluation-from-grace-space-gravimetry-satellite-altimetry-and-argo-by-cazenave-et-al-2008/
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