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Not waving but drowning

The Climate Science Rapid Rebuttal Unit has finally issued its response to the Climate Sensitivity is Low articles - or at least to Matt Ridley's Op-Ed. Nic Lewis's article barely gets a mention. 

At first glance, they are struggling to keep their heads above water.

[Updated to direct link to main site rather than mobile version]



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Reader Comments (75)

We are convinced we can count the energy in and count the energy out on each and every square metre of the TOA? How many square metres are there at the TOA at any time? By what factor do they change, what drives the changes? Are any of the changes related to the issue we think we are measuring?

Can we actually measure the relevant areas of the TOA? How can we relate the lapse rate to the time of measurement?

Small changes in the area at the TOA must be very significant? If affected by extraterrestrial forces, solar, magnetic etc (I am well out of my depth) how do we “know” how to express the relative ins and outs? Or if they are expressed in relationship to the known square metre of the Earth’s surface, then how do we know how much actually reaches the surface and ipso how much meets us on the way back?

Daft simplistic questions, but I suspect I am not the only one to be in need of an explanation.


Dec 21, 2012 at 12:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterGreen Sand

Dec 20, 2012 at 3:51 PM | Bill Williams wrote:

So, just to clarify, for the past 16 years the atmosphere has been transferring heat to the deep oceans without actually warming up itself? Is that the argument?

This is called "Ninja Science" ... the energy bypassed all known detection and is concealed like a Ninja in the deep oceans, where it can't be found, to strike at a given time in the future on the command of the Mann.

Dec 21, 2012 at 12:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterStreetcred

What this thread proves is that people are wedded to their own favourite theories and reluctant to listen to facts that contradict those theories. Considering the combined intelligence of all the contributors here, I find that very disturbing.

Dec 21, 2012 at 12:59 AM | Registered CommenterDung


" long would it take for ARGO to pick up this warming? Any ideas?"

ARGO might not pick it up at all. The buoys only go down to 2000M. The deep southward thermohaline currents in the Atlantic are down at the level of the abyssal plain, some 3000M.

rhoda, not banned yet

Water that entered the thermohaline system centuries ago is coming back to the surface now, delivering whatever heat it stored then.
New water is entering the thermohaline system, taking heat with it.

Is the overall effect a net increase or decrease in ocean surface and atmospheric temperatures? I'm asking the question, not providing the answer.

My hypothesis is that the thermohaline circulation is currently absorbing heat faster than it is releasing it, with a net cooling effect. This would act as a negative feedback on the CO2 induced warming, as Tremberth's "missing heat" hypothesis speculates. At this point I'm more interested in data than dogmatic statements or ad homs.

Dec 21, 2012 at 1:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Nic Lewis,

Thanks for that.

Dec 21, 2012 at 1:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

Entropic, you are a fair and decent commenter. but if you are right about the timescales, leaving out any ad hom references to the speculative nature of your conjecture and lack of observation and measurement of the effect, if you are right there is no urgency about anything, we are either stuffed or OK but there is nothing much we can do about it.

If you are saying we don't know enough about what is going on, I agree 100%. That is the core of the sceptic position.

Dec 21, 2012 at 7:39 AM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

As a layman to summarise what I think is being discussed here it seems to me that to continue to claim that CO2 is dangerously driving global temperature we have to account for:

A. Why the IPPC models don’t track observations
B. Why temperatures have not risen in line with rising CO2 levels

Reading over this thread if I’m correct what we have is a new hypothesis that there is some heat exchange mechanism that takes the missing heat rise and sticks it in the deep ocean, we have no data on the mechanism or any data showing the heat stored in the ocean?
So does this constitute:

1. An addition to the original CO2 drives temperature hypothesis
2. A completely new hypothesis on CO2 and heat exchanges in the ocean

If it’s 1 then why do we have no supporting data, also if this mechanism of ocean heat exchange exists then nature has a far better way of mitigating CO2 levels than any carbon target/tax/ limits could ever hope to match, yay.

If it’s 2 then 1 has to be fully refuted and nullified as a valid hypotheses and nature has a far better way of mitigating CO2 levels than any carbon target/tax/ limits could ever hope to match, yay.
I think the Ocean heat excuse is a completely made up scenario with no supporting data whatsoever to continue the CO2 drives temperature to dangerous levels hypothesis. Unless I’ve misunderstood what’s being said.

Dec 21, 2012 at 8:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterJace

Its interesting (to me anyway) that the media matters people actually allow comments to be made without moderation.

Bloody funny comments section to...your standard "no, YOU are wrong" arguments flying back and forth but interesting how many people are getting stuck in about how wrong that article is.


Dec 21, 2012 at 9:39 AM | Unregistered Commentermailman

Entropic - how does the heat get through the first 2000m of its long journey? What are the relevant temperature differences upon which you are basing your hypotheses? What are the relevant absolute temperatures?

Re: good commenting and ad homs - are you the same entropic man who was suspended at Tallbloke's talkshop?

Dec 21, 2012 at 11:28 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

So.. heat is being stored in the deep ocean.....let's suspend the inquiry into the mechanism for a moment... isn't this a negative feedback? Isn't this exactly the sort of thing we've been arguing for, that the total net feedback will be small or negative? Haven't we been arguing that earth has a way of dampening instability? How long will it stay there? 200-2000 years? Won't we be better off able to deal with it then?

In his way, Trenberth is arguing on the skeptic side :)

Dec 21, 2012 at 11:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Hey let's add another amendment, heat goes into the deep ocean through fissures in the earths crust straight down to the mantle, eventually the heat will build up so much the earth will literally explode. That's just as plausable right?

Dec 21, 2012 at 12:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterJace


Maybe you are on to something? Maybe it is Co2 that heats up the core of the earth and thus in its own magic way ensures no one flies off in to space thanks to gravity! Thus the circle of life is complete.

You know, if people are so willing to believe in the religion of Mann Made Global Warming (tm), I can see those same people believing the above too :)


Dec 21, 2012 at 1:19 PM | Unregistered Commentermailman

Mailman, I'm sold on that. Is it too late for the next IPCC report? It's a theory that should be the standard rebuttle for deep ocean heat theorists, why stop at the ocean floor?

Dec 21, 2012 at 1:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterJace

The trouble is that Nic Lewis doesn't seem to be calculating *equilibrium* climate sensitivity, but *effective* climate sensitivity (related but not directly comparable). This point was made in the comments of one of your earlier posts (second page), and Nic Lewis seems to agree in principle:

However, he (I believe incorrectly) still argues that his *effective* climate sensitivity IS STILL equilibrium sensitivity. I discussed it here:

Dec 21, 2012 at 1:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank Rizzo

Who needs science when you have people crafting expert spin which is enthusiastically parroted by the MSM?

Next year looms as hottest ever...

NEXT year is expected to be the hottest, or at least one of the hottest, ever recorded, the British Meteorological Office says.

The office predicts next year will be 0.43 degrees to 0.71 degrees warmer globally than the average temperature between 1961 and 1990, with a ''best fit'' of 0.57 degrees warmer. If the best fit prediction holds true, that would make next year the hottest year since instrumental records began.
''Taking into account the range of uncertainty in the forecast and observations, it is very likely that 2013 will be one of the warmest 10 years in the record, which goes back to 1850, and it is likely to be warmer than 2012,'' the office said in a statement.

Dec 21, 2012 at 1:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

Entropic Man ... you're thinking in terms of a rigid conveyor belt ... the kind of analogy that's thrown out there for public graphs and public consumption ... because that's the kind of thing most people can visualize.

Now consider fluids ... You're supposing that warmer deep water is being created and dropping to the bottom of the ocean replacing colder deep water which is being circulated mechanically back up to the surface (and keeping us presently cooler than we otherwise would be). Do you see the issues with this? What would be needed to force this to happen?

Dec 21, 2012 at 2:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeP

Climate science is a building site on a muddy peaty bog. There is no truth, there is only a nascent science which will emerge in 50/100 years time. What we are watching are the results of the lunatic ravings of one man, James Hansen who told us it was the end of the world. He was wrong.

Shut up already.

Dec 21, 2012 at 2:19 PM | Unregistered CommentereSmiff

In regards to scienceblogs...what ties all the catastrophiliac blogs together is the utter hatred the contributors have for the "denialists". Its just amazing how much hatred can be directed at anyone for merely questioning the religion of Mann Made Global Warming (tm).



Dec 21, 2012 at 6:04 PM | Unregistered Commentermailman

More follow-up for entropic man ... what I wrote was not intended to be a trick question...fluids find their own density level. There are fairly extreme examples in the real world to look at for insights. Not all deep water is created at the poles. One extreme is Mediterranean deep water. This water is is quite warm. However it is also quite salty which is why it sinks. Even so, it "floats" above the NA deep water. The water mass is identifiable clear across the NA, so mixing with surrounding water masses is slow. If you propose warmer deep water, then either this water will spread out above the existing colder waters (restricting their return to the surface) or the warmer waters need to be saltier.

Polar waters become saltier by leaching of salt when ocean waters freeze (the ice is less salty, surrounding non-frozen water becomes saltier). So to make polar waters saltier, then there needs to be more ice formation. Which becomes a bit of a conundrum because with warmer polar waters there's supposed to be less ice not more.

In any event the thing to remember about the thermohaline circulation is that it's density driven, not dynamically driven by such things as weather systems or "colliding currents". If you achieve the sinking of some water via a dynamic event, then it will just float back up when the event is over. You need to either cool surface waters or make them more salty to change their equilibrium level in the water column.

Dec 21, 2012 at 7:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeP


ARGO might not pick it up at all. The deep thermohaline circulation is down on the abyssal plain at 3000M or deeper. The ARGO buoys only go to 2000M.


Water coming out of the thermohaline circulation now, went in during the LIA or before. What's going in now is from a considerably warmer Arctic. I am curious to know whether the net effect of the thermohaline circulation is presently cooling or warming, by how much, and whether there's a change trend.

not banned yet

That last dig wasnt helpful. I'm more interested in data than ad homs. My past debating experience is that my opponents use insult when they've run out of valid arguments.

Dec 21, 2012 at 11:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

It wasn't a dig - it was a question which I note you side step. As per the other questions I asked you.

My past debating experience is that it is only productive if people answer points and bring some expertise to bear. You do neither.

Dec 21, 2012 at 11:50 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Sorry, I think I repeated myself there. (Moderator, please remove my December 21 11.03pm. It duplicates my 1.05am. I plead senility)

not banned yet, MikeP

The sinking is partly density driven, though those in the field regard storms as a considerable influence. You may have seen this.

As you say, the process needs ice, and is probably seasonal. As the proprtion of the year spent ice free changes, this may also have an impact on the volume and temperature entering the thermohaline circulation. Maximum density of fresh water is at 4C, and not too different for salt water. This is why most of the deep oceans are at 4C and show relatively little mixing.
I suspect that Mediterranean seabed temperatures are considerably higher, as it may be too small to reach the equilibrium states seen in the oceans. I'm in the early stages of thinking about this, but I had in mind temperature differences between past and present downwelling of no more than 1C. It may even be that temperature has not changed, but the volume downwelling has.
I could quite happily accept a 5C highly saline deep current running along the abyssal plain through surrounding less saline water at 4C.

I'm committed elsewhere for a few days, but I'll try to find some numbers and get back to you.

I'm afraid bad temper gets the better of me now and then, I lose patience and answer rudeness with rudeness myself. Most blog hosts have a hypersensitive spot somewhere.I was ejected by Watts for mentioning his political connections and by tallbloke for mentioning his cognitive dissonance.

Dec 22, 2012 at 12:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Could someone explain the mechanism whereby the atmosphere is dumping heat into the ocean without heating up itself, please?

Much obliged.

Bill Williams.

Dec 22, 2012 at 2:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterBill Williams

Entropic - I suspect that mediteranean temps are higher due to its latitude and the fact it is pretty well isolated by the Straits of Gibralter. Wiki states flow pattern is influenced by evaporation in the east causing warm salty water to sink and hence the top flow at the Strait is cooler fresher water flowing east with wamer saltier water flowing west at depth. Sounds reasonable but no detailed flow numbers - the implication is the net flow will be into the Med. I guess it would only take a couple of hours to come up with a reasonably useful first cut mass balance. Maybe seconds if there are papers on it. Wiki cites this reference:

"Pinet, Paul R. (1996), Invitation to Oceanography (3rd ed.), St Paul, Minnesota: West Publishing Co., p. 206"

Re: argo and the missing heat - look at the map of bouys and note the no. in the Greenland area. I would expect them to pick up the descending heat signal you postulate as it passes through the 0-2000m layer.

Re: commenting and your bad temper - fine, so don't set yourself up as Mr Reasonable, stay off the high ground and stick to verifiable on topic info. Which btw on this thread I think is more about aerosols than thermohaline circulation.

Dec 22, 2012 at 3:00 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

not banned yet

You might find this paper on the Meditteranean of interest.

Regarding my speculations on thermohaline circulation, I've been trawling the literature, but the consensus attitude would seem to be "We're not sure of the details yet, but we're working on it." I'll go back into wait and see mode.

Dec 22, 2012 at 5:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

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