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« AR5 full report | Main | Hulme on the IPCC »

What should scientists tell the public?

In particular, what should they tell the public about what is not understood? Richard Allan, of Reading University, clearly feels that the answer is "as little as possible". So in this video, about ocean heat content and the pause, we are given to believe that a network of ocean-going bouys has been measuring a vast warming, the insinuation being that this explains the pause. Hands are (metaphorically) waved furiously and "natural cycles" frantically invoked. There is a great deal of spin, and very little light.

And all paid for by you.

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Reader Comments (80)

dork alert!

Sep 30, 2013 at 2:04 PM | Unregistered Commenterconfused

3,500 ARGO buoys - volume of ocean down to 2000 metres.

equals - 1 ARGO buoy per how many tens of thousands of CUBIC KILOMETRES...

Sep 30, 2013 at 2:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Lucia put a degrees C y-axis scale on the Ocean Heat Content anomaly graph...

less than 200 hundredths of a degree C warming per decade......

(if you can believe you can actually measure that)

the Met office converted the 'scary big joules scale' into deg C....(report 1, pg22)

"There are much fewer observations below 700m, and the ocean below 2,000m has remained largely un-monitored. However, there is evidence of warming below 700m, and even below 2,000m. Careful processing of the available deep ocean records shows that the heat content of the upper 2,000m increased by 24 x 1022J over the 1955–2010 period (Levitus, 2012), equivalent to 0.09°C warming of this layer."

So a new measure of global warming, global air surface temperature anomaly is yesterday's measure

A global ocean heat anomaly 0.09C in 55 years!

Shame the IPCC did not put a degree C scale on their Ocean Heat anomaly graphic in IPCC SPM AR5

Sep 30, 2013 at 2:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Dear professor Allan

Can you please tell me how far back the data you have collected on deep sea temperatures goes?

What's that you say?

Well, I for one am shocked, after all, I thought we needed at least thirty years of consistent data to call something a trend...

Sep 30, 2013 at 2:14 PM | Unregistered Commenterratty

All desperate to keep the Danegeld coming in.

Sep 30, 2013 at 2:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

How do they keep a straight face?

Not once have I seen a prediction that :

Through some unexplained system, the atmosphere would stop warming and the ocean would start warming.
A warming ocean would be dangerous in any way.

Within the last twelve months Richard Betts has said on this site that the MO did not know why the warming (atmosphere) had stopped. What research breakthrough in those twelve months enabled the new certainty that heat is playing hide and seek in the depths of the oceans?

Sep 30, 2013 at 2:22 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Had I realised in 1965 when I was a Navy Cadet Officer doing met observations that I was reading the thermometer in the bucket of sea water that I had just hauled in over the side to the nearest 1000th of a degree I would ,perhaps, have taken a little more care.. Having taken 4 obs a day over 350 miles of Ocean at between 1 and 3 feet depth I am thrilled at the way it is possible to use a computer to refine my poor efforts to the nearest thou, the temperature of 329,000,000 cubic kilometers of water in the South Pacific with between maybe 1 and 10 ships reporting there. Ain't science wonderful?

Sep 30, 2013 at 2:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterDisko Troop

Human heat suddenly transferring from the air to the ocean is insane. It's as if when Galileo dropped the balls from the leaning tower of Pisa, they arrived on the ground simultaneously for the first time. Millions of scientists round the world thought 'funny, it didn't do that yesterday, the heavy one landed first'.

Sep 30, 2013 at 2:28 PM | Unregistered CommentereSmiff

The only thing I agreed with was the "lumps and bumps" analogy which would have been an orthodox reading of changes in climate. However. the fact that "they" were showing a steady rise not so long ago ( according to models) belies the total bewilderment of what is actually going on.

Sep 30, 2013 at 2:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterTrefor Jones

@Dung: the reason why it's cooling is because they got polluted cloud cooling wrong,

It's warming, and there is next to zero CO2-AGW because it's part of the atmospheric control system. The quid pro quo is that the ghe is a function of clouds and ice and biofeedback controlling cloud droplet coarsening kinetics.

I had thought I would be hated by all sides for coming up with this death sentence for Hansenkoism, but the grieving period looks like it'll be very short compared with the death of Lysenkoism and Phlogiston.

Sep 30, 2013 at 2:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

Clearly handwaving deceit pays dividends - a pathetically inconsequential Reading University Meteorology 'department' moved from the AR5-end spurs of this shambolic 1940s prefab to a share in a purpose-built palace on the back of naked fearmongering. What's not to like?

Sep 30, 2013 at 2:31 PM | Registered Commenterflaxdoctor

Climate consensus 'scientists' should keep quiet and let the ranters of Greenpeace et Al do the talking for them:

Why don’t people behave in more environmentally friendly ways? New research presents one uncomfortable answer: They don’t want to be associated with environmentalists.
Participants held strongly negative stereotypes about such activists, and those feelings reduced their willingness “to adopt the behaviors that these activities promoted,” reports a research team led by University of Toronto psychologist Nadia Bashir.

Another unintended consequence of shrill agit-prop.

Sep 30, 2013 at 2:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

@ Barry Woods

If I recall correctly a recent calculation I made, it is something like 1 Argo buoy to 80 billion Olympic-size swimming pools. A mere drop in the ocean, as it were.

Sep 30, 2013 at 2:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Chappell

has anyone posted this one, Bish?

28 Sept: WalesOnline: Ex Met Office chief in global warming appeal
Sir John Houghton says UN report leaves 'almost no doubt at all' humans are to blame for global warming
Former head of the Met Office Sir John Houghton said the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that even if we “turned off the carbon dioxide tap” the planet would continue heating up for another half a century.
Sir John, who is a former Nobel Prize winning chair of the Intergovernmental Panel, said the report shows the risks of failing to act over global warming are now simply too great to gamble on...
The retired scientist, from Aberdyfi, in Gwynedd, who was among a group of researchers to accept the Nobel Prize in 2007 on behalf of the IPCC – an honour they shared with former US vice president Al Gore – added: “If we don’t turn it off now, but wait 10 or 20 years then we’ll have even more to try to adjust to.”...
But others maintain a pause in warming since 1998 supports their claims climate change has been exaggerated.
Dutch science writer Marcel Crok has expressed doubts about the scale of the sensitivity of the climate to carbon emissions.
He told the BBC: “The sceptics now have a feeling of being on the winning side of the debate thanks to the pause.
“You are now starting to see a normalisation of climate science. Suddenly mainstream researchers, who all agree that greenhouse gases play a huge role, start to disagree about the cause of the pause.”
But the Climate Change Commission for Wales, which includes scientists, business leaders and politicians, said the IPCC’s report shows it’s time for urgent action....

Sep 30, 2013 at 2:35 PM | Unregistered Commenterpat

Using my trusty Reverse Polish calculator, my trusty NBS/NRC steam tables, an oceanic vulume of 1.3 billion cubic kilometres, his ocean heat input of the equivalent of 300 billion kW kettles and my failing brain power, I calculate it would take about 590 million years to heat the oceans uniformly by 1 deg C. Have I made a mistake somewhere?

Sep 30, 2013 at 2:35 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Professor Allan has an article up at
I had a bit of a discussion in comments there about the missing heat with Rob Painter. Comments are still open.

Sep 30, 2013 at 2:40 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

The alarm bell in this case is the "scientist" mentioning a ridiculously huge number to impress the audience, forgetting to specify how humongously much bigger actually be the object that is being "warmed" (the ocean, in this case).

It won't be long until Cook's atom bombs will be mandatory for all climate change PhD dissertations./

Sep 30, 2013 at 2:40 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Recently I observed that Guy Callendar's 1938 "model" outperformed the CMIP5 GCMs in predicting global temperature. Curiously, in the background to Richard Allen's pod-snippet is a screen asking the question: "Were Callendar's Estimates Accurate?". The screenshot in the background appears to be from a poster presentation by Hawkins and Jones, which asked the question about Hawkins' estimate of temperatures as a precursor to HadCRU, rather than as a model of future temperature.

Sep 30, 2013 at 2:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve McIntyre

I'm afraid Reading University has overtaken East Anglia as the hotbed of climate warming BS. Quite soon this is going to backfire seriously on the whole establishments reputation. If I were an academic, of any persuasion, at this University I would be seriously thinking about my next move.

Sep 30, 2013 at 2:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

More post hoc arm waving. Of course he is well paid by the public for this bit of misidrection and deception.

Sep 30, 2013 at 3:10 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

To summarize: "I'm extremely well paid, and I want to keep it that way."

Sep 30, 2013 at 3:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterJake Haye

Okay, let me see if I have this right. He claims that the energy going into the ocean is greater now. So that means there is a long lapse rate between the Earth uptake, and the Earth release of this energy. Which means that recent warming could have been created long ago. If current warming of the atmosphere was created by long past ocean uptake, hasn't the good professor has completely obliterated the CO2 = global warming hypothesis?

Sep 30, 2013 at 3:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterMickey Reno


I get 0.004W/KM^3/ppm CO2 increase.


Sep 30, 2013 at 3:17 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

@ John B 2.54 pm

Reading University has a history of supporting media junkies on their faculty! Remember the unique "Captain Cyborg", a.k.a Kevin Warwick, who made many fatuous claims in the MSM. He once inserted a RFID chip in his arm and appeared on TV claiming he was a bionic man. He could however open doors fitted with a RFID reader and electronic lock. He was roundly mocked by TheRegister, and a great many other tech people, but the Reading University board thought the sun shone out of his posterior.



Sep 30, 2013 at 3:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterGrumpy granddad

Richard Feynman on Real Science:

...It's a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty--a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you're doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid--not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you've eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked--to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.

Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can--if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong--to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it. There is also a more subtle problem. When you have put a lot of ideas together to make an elaborate theory, you want to make sure, when explaining what it fits, that those things it fits are not just the things that gave you the idea for the theory; but that the finished theory makes something else come out right, in addition.

In summary, the idea is to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgement in one particular direction or another.

Sep 30, 2013 at 3:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

I heard this chap on the radio a few days ago. Responding to a quip from the presenter about cold winters, he came out with the usual weather is not climate, specific events not relevant, yadda, yadda. He carried on about long terms trends for a bit but then moved on to say that we should be looking at climate disruption with events like Sandy!
Hold on, I thought...3 minutes ago you rebuffed exactly that point, now you are using it to support your position.

Sep 30, 2013 at 3:23 PM | Registered Commentermikeh

In geofchambers' link to an onging discussion led by Richard Allan, Allan says this:

"One of the most frequently misrepresented elements of climate science is the slowdown in global surface warming over the last 15 years... Changes in the sun’s rays, volcanic activity, particle air pollution and water vapour in the stratosphere may have contributed to the slowed rate of surface warming, reflecting some heat back into the atmosphere and so offsetting some of the heat caused by rising greenhouse gas concentrations."

Notice the reference to "the latest science" and then "may have contributed". So science = speculation?

Up until AR5, the AGW case argued that for the 1979 to 1998 rise, 'it can ONLY be CO2, because we can't think of anything else'. Now they need an explanation for the pause, anything goes. So it '"may be" due to changes in "the sun’s rays, volcanic activity, particle air pollution and water vapour". Of course, changes in those could have caused the warming signal. Perhaps even a little bit of that 97% heat leaking out of the oceans? But, that was all dismissed.

Given that Allan (as he shows in the same link) gets his knowledge of the AGW sceptic case from SkepticalScience, its little wonder he has no understanding of the genuine arguments. In that sense, he's not dishonest, just incredibly naive for an academic and scientist.

Sep 30, 2013 at 3:29 PM | Unregistered Commenteroakwood

It's either fraud or delusion. Take your pick.

Sep 30, 2013 at 3:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

This is hilarious. I can't quite believe that "and then, a miracle happened" is now considered as an adequate scientific explanation, but it looks like the delightfully arm-waving statements of "variations in natural cycles" seem to be the new "flux adjustments" for 2013.

Sep 30, 2013 at 3:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterBill Williams

Oh dear.

I did my first degree at UEA (ENV, no less), and my second at Reading. I feel like a bit of a Jonah. In my favour, I don't have an Oxford PPH.

Reading was borrox. A fake Oxford with fake Colleges set miles out of town. No-where local to eat or drink if you wanted to work late on campus. In its favour, Reading had one great attribute. Set on the M4 and the GWR, it's The World's easiest place to leave. Reading wasn't borrox, it was shite, stuffed with Oxford wannabees.

Sep 30, 2013 at 3:53 PM | Registered CommenterHector Pascal

Sep 30, 2013 at 2:40 PM | Registered Commenter geoffchambers

I think you are engaging with this person:

Rob Painting

Rob is an environmentalist, scuba diver, spearfisherman, kayaker and former police officer. Has researched climate science, in an amateur capacity, for 4 years. A long-time reader of Skeptical Science and now contributor.

James Painter attended the Science and Technology Committee:

Ros Donald, Carbon Brief
Andrew Montford, Bishop Hill Blog
James Painter, Head of the Journalism Fellowship Programme, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism

Sep 30, 2013 at 4:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrownedoff

One Argo Buoy per 360.000 km^3 sea water. Trend 0,0002 C/year. Some thermometers!

Sep 30, 2013 at 4:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterBengt Abelsson

Phillip Bratby

Here’s my effort

Ocean volume = 1.3 x 10^9 km^3
= 1.3 x 10^18 m^3
= 1.3 x 10^24 cm^3 (for convenience)

It requires 4.2 J to raise 1 cm^3 by 1C. (sorry for quick drop back into cgs units!)

Ie total heat required for this volume = 5.5 x 10^24 J = 5.5 x 10^24 Ws - (A)

Surface area of Earth = 4x pie x r^2 = 4 x 3.14 x 6000 km^2 = 4.52 x 10^8
Of which oceans are about 0.8 ie 3.6 x 10^8 km^2 = 3.6 x 10^14 m^2
Allowing 400 Wm^-2 this means total incident solar radiation will be 1.4 x 10^11 W - (B)

Divide (A) by (B) to get time required.
This gives a time of 4 x 10^13 seconds.
As there are 3.15 x 10^7 seconds in a year, we get a time of about 1.3 x 10^6 years.

This of course assumes no heat loss at all - which is absurd...

Sep 30, 2013 at 4:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhilip Foster

Philip Bratby: "I calculate it would take about 590 million years to heat the oceans uniformly by 1 deg C. Have I made a mistake somewhere?"
I think you've dropped a factor of 1 million in there somewhere. I get around 600 years myself.

Edit: Philip Foster - the heating rate you should be using, per Allan, is 300 billion kW = 3 x 10^14 W. This is the estimated rate of OHC increase, equivalent to around 0.6 W/m2 over the entire global surface (not just the ocean). I'm not sure where you got 400 W/m2 -- a little high for insolation -- but you dropped a factor of 10^6 in your (B).

Edit2: Philip Bratby, in case it helps, my steps were
Heat flux = 300 billion kW = 3E14 W (abbreviating "10^" as "E")
Volume of water = 1.8 billion km^3 = 1.3E18 m^3
density of water = 1 gm/cm^3 = 1E6 g/m^3 [Yes, that's not ocean water. Sue me.]
specific heat of water = 4 J/K/g [rounded off]

For the whole ocean, 4 J/K/g * 1E6 g/m^3 * 1.3E18 m^3 = 5.2E24 J/K = 5.2E24 W-s/K
time = 5.2E24 W-s/K / 3E14 W = 1.73 E10 sec/K
1.73E10 sec/K * 1 yr/3.16E7 sec =550 yr

Sep 30, 2013 at 4:29 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

Hector... ouch - I'm given to believe that Reading still has ONE world-class department... and it WAS established by an Oxford University college so it's not completely fake...

Sep 30, 2013 at 4:29 PM | Registered Commenterflaxdoctor

I make it one Argo Buoy to 400,000 cubic kilometres assuming 1.4billion cubic kilometres of ocean.

Sep 30, 2013 at 4:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterLiT

Are there studies in A Sense of Proportion available at Reading?

The 10²²J order of magnitude of alleged change in ocean heat content amounts to what temperature change in the oceans, Dr Meteorologist?

I emphacise change because that important word is missing (perhaps slipped into the ocean's depths) from the "premium" IPCC publications and astonishingly, peer-reviewed literature. A back of the envelope calculation indicates that the heat content of the liquid oceans is about 1000 times larger than that published "change". (I invite others to calculate it independently. I used the volumes of ocean water, their respective temperatures above the freezing point and the specific heat of liquid water. I wimped out and treated it as 2 layers; above and below the thermocline. There is only so much space on the back of an envelope.)

How plausible is that to be reliably detectable and with what measurement error?

There are some who will argue that if one measures the same thing a million times, that the resulting "measurement" (acually a statistic), will be more accurate than the single measurement. That doesn't apply in the case of Argo because every measurement by those robots is a unique and independent event.

We don't go around the world measuring the total height of the world's population, divide that by the number of measurements to be able to declare the height of people, accurate to the nearest ųm. Not without harvesting laughter/ridicule.

Sep 30, 2013 at 4:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterBernd Felsche

Philip Foster:

We are in the same ballpark. You are using solar input of 1.4 x 10^11 W. I was using his input (from the atmosphere, presumably by some mysterious and non-physical mechanism) of 300billion kW = 3.0 x 10^14 W. Hence I'm getting 100s of millions of years to your one million years.

Harold: You are right, I'm 10^6 out.

Sep 30, 2013 at 4:32 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

It would appear that Mr. Allen's contribution to climate science is immeasurable.

Sep 30, 2013 at 4:33 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat


@Dung: the reason why it's cooling is because they got polluted cloud cooling wrong,

It's warming, and there is next to zero CO2-AGW because it's part of the atmospheric control system. The quid pro quo is that the ghe is a function of clouds and ice and biofeedback controlling cloud droplet coarsening kinetics.

I had thought I would be hated by all sides for coming up with this death sentence for Hansenkoism, but the grieving period looks like it'll be very short compared with the death of Lysenkoism and Phlogiston.

Sorry Alec - that one made even less sense than the usual.

Sep 30, 2013 at 4:35 PM | Unregistered Commenter3x2

Pachauri's Demon is really strange. It causes hotter than average water molecules at the ocean surface to travel over 700 m deep.

However, it only appears to work when the atmosphere is cooling.

Funny thing that......:0)

PS @ 3x2: polluted clouds warm up to saturation, particularly the oceans, now the case. CO2 doesn't heat much. Is that better? No Pachauri's Demon needed!

Sep 30, 2013 at 4:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

Another question for Professor Dr Meteorologist at Reading Insitute for the Scientifically Bewildered:

How is water, that is perhaps 0.04⁰C warmer going to heat the atmosphere by 0.2⁰C; the magnitude of the "missing" temperature rise so far?

Sep 30, 2013 at 4:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterBernd Felsche

Is there any evidence in AR5 that the heat is hiding in the oceans?

If not, what do they base the 95% certainty on?

Sep 30, 2013 at 4:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

If it helps. I got my MSc from Reading, from the Cybernetics dept, and Prof Warwick was my head of Dept..

Mucg more fun than chemistry, better employment prospects aswell

Sep 30, 2013 at 4:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

It was a Reading Uni academic and Royal Society Research Fellow, whose name escapes me (oceanography I think was his thing) who had two letters in the Sunday Telegraph a couple of years back saying that debate about climate change was acceptable only if it accepted the 'consensus'. It's evidently not a hotbed of rational thinkers.

Sep 30, 2013 at 5:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Not surprising that the Dept of Meteorology at Reading is 'on message' given that it has had a very close relationship with the Met Office for 20 years. They claim to be collaborating on over 100 research projects and the University hosts 25 Met Office scientists. The aims of the partnership include providing "society with the best possible advice" like posting silly videos on YouTube. The Met Office staff at Reading include Prof Julia Slingo.

In their June 2013 Newsletter they stated that "climate related high-impact events, such as tropical and extra-tropical cyclones, heat waves and floods, and their associated risks..... are rare events....

Sep 30, 2013 at 5:28 PM | Unregistered Commenter52

No professional; scientist who actually reads the root references of Climate Alchemy can accept the IPCC 'consensus' as valid. All they have to do is to read Para 4 of 1981_Hansen_etal.pdf which claims that if you were to remove ghgs from the atmosphere, the mean surface temperature would fall to -18 deg. C, the temperature for radiative equilibrium to Space at 238.5 W/m^2 SW energy absorbed in the atmosphere.

However, if you were to remove the gas, there would be no ice or clouds so the new equilibrium would be for 341 W/m^2, 43% increase. That would mean 4 - 5 deg. C mean surface temperature, a ghe of ~11 K. The ratio 33/11 = 3 is the imaginary positive feedback. This mistake passed 'Science' magazine's peer review and invalidates all the modelling.

Sep 30, 2013 at 5:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

Terrific quote from Arsene Wenger today when asked whether he thought Arsenal could win the Premier League:

" 80% belief, or 95% belief is not belief - you have to believe 100% to believe"

Sep 30, 2013 at 5:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterDerrick Byford

If one can't measure the heating due to CO2 forcing, the solution is simple - bury it where one cannot possibly measure it.

Until money for environmental research is curtailed, idiots like this will continue to spout this rubbish!

Sep 30, 2013 at 5:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterRC Saumarez


PS @ 3x2: polluted clouds warm up to saturation, particularly the oceans, now the case. CO2 doesn't heat much. Is that better? No Pachauri's Demon needed!

No, that isn't much better. What on earth are 'polluted clouds', why do they live over the oceans and what are they saturated by? I could be wrong here but my understanding is that clouds are cooling water vapour getting ready to drop back to Earth as liquid - their cycle at an end.

Sep 30, 2013 at 5:44 PM | Unregistered Commenter3x2

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