the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Models Saved: Always a new corner to hide in

Posted by Jeff Id on September 19, 2011

Global Warming on Temporary Hold Thanks to Deep Oceans

Deep ocean temperatures are some of the least known.  Records are short and incomplete – sound familiar.  Trenberths missing heat has now been found, or maybe not.  Like money in the hands of politicians, green climate energy is slippery stuff.

If anyone has a link to the paper, I don’t have time to look but it may make for an interesting discussion.


Trenberth (still apologizing to his friends for his climategate quote) is quoted in the article:

Kevin Trenberth, a study author and NCAR scientist, said: “… this study suggests the missing energy has indeed been buried in the ocean, the heat has not disappeared and so it cannot be ignored. It must have consequences.”

I thought we were the ones who ‘misinterpreted’ him that the heat was missing.   It looks like in fact we stupid skeptics may have read the comment exactly correctly and the heat was missing, models were too high and now it’s back.   How long until deep ocean ‘forcing’ -not feedback- is changed in  models?   CO2 is still the badguy, skeptics are always wrong, and the mission continues.



39 Responses to “Models Saved: Always a new corner to hide in”

  1. kim said

    Aw, c’mon, trust NPR on this. The heat’s been radiated out to space. They had an expert. I remember.

  2. M. Simon said

    Occam’s razor. The heat is missing because the models say it should be there. But – if the models are wrong then there is no missing heat and all is as well as it can be and CO2 is still mostly plant food.

  3. Andrew said

    Basically we have what amounts to more and more handwaving, that heat is hiding somewhere we can’t measure. No way to prove it wrong, no way to see if is right. What we do have is the cautionary note that one should not unnecessarily multiply entities, or however you want to paraphrase the razor. Clearly postulating that heat one can’t measure still exists, but is hidden away conveniently out of measurable range, constitutes an additional level of complexity to “explain” what is going on in nature. The question is, is it really necessary, or begging to be shaved away?

  4. Andrew said

    BTW, I wrote my comment before 2 appeared. So the idea to bring in the razor was derived independently by each of us.

  5. kim said

    Kevin’s dilemma is that he won’t(can’t?) investigate one thing that he knows could be true. He obsessively, often expertly, explores all other avenues. Accidently, he’s systematically working on his naughty null. We should applaud the system, maybe not the man.

  6. kim said

    Tears for the tormented man.

  7. Bad Andrew said

    Missing Heat is to Global Warming
    Missling Link is to Evolution

    Wish we could find it/them, so those darn Creationists (who hate science) would shut up and let Science give the impression that it disproves God.



  8. glacierman said

    I am glad they keep making statements like this. History will therefore have no trouble accurately recording their contributions to science.

  9. MikeN said

    Obviously the deep ocean will have lots of heat. Anyone who goes outside in winter can see that the top of a pond freezes before the bottom.

  10. Duster said

    Bad Andrew said
    September 19, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Missing Heat is to Global Warming
    Missling Link is to Evolution

    No, actually it is not, except to people who get their education on evolution from their pastor. You benefit from “evolution” every day, each for instance that you eat a tomato. Likewise, every time your dog chases away a prowler, you’ve benefited from evolution. The missing heat is much more like discovering that the Piltdown-Man jaw had chimp’s teeth.

    The biggest confusion about evolution resides in two areas, ignorance and injured pride. The ignorance is founded on the absolute confusion of what is meant by “evolution” as opposed to the “theory” of evolution. Darwin never used the term and, neither so far as I found did Wallace. They both noticed that offspring are not clones of parents, and that events such as sports – mutants – might or might not persist in later generations. If it persisted, then in Victorian terms, a new form had “evolved” out of a known form. What Darwin and Wallace theorized is that if such changes persisted for long enough, new species could appear – a mathematical certainty given the reality of generational change. Herbert Spencer butted in with his “law of evolution” and totally muddied the debate, introducing fallacies like “progress”, a concept that violates the second law. The real process doesn’t violate the 2nd Law. In fact, it won’t work without it. Injured pride is simply insecure people who don’t like being called “monkey boy/girl.”

  11. Duster said

    Darwin uses the word “evolution” rarely, and does use “theory of evolution.” That’s really down to Spencer.

  12. R. Shearer said

    Unwittingly, Trentberth admits he lied.

  13. timetochooseagain said

    10-What does violation of the second law have to do with anything? Life and the Earth are not isolated systems per se. As such they are allowed to decrease their entropy provided another part of the system’s entropy increases more. The second law only comes into play when one is dealing with a complete isolated system, not individual parts.

  14. curious said

    Anybody know when Trenberth’s birthday is?:

  15. Bad Andrew said

    “You benefit from “evolution” every day, each for instance that you eat a tomato.”

    I’m not sure I understand this. Are you saying tomatos that some human beings “like better” now than the ones they imagine used to exist are an example of (RM+NS) Evolution?


  16. kuhnkat said


    do you also still believe the “whale” with four feet and a tail actually has a tail? Rather surprising when the curator admitted there was never a tail even though it was documented.

    Seems a sceptical gentleman went around to the museums to check on all these transitional fossils and not a one is still in existence. Turns out they are all like your honey with the chimp teeth and the whale with feet, outright frauds or imaginative interpretations of the actual physical evidence. Seems like they never really try and purge the fraudulent data, much like the

    Oh yeah, the fact you can breed for specific EXISTING characteristics says NOTHING about how they got into the genome in the first place.

    Maybe you should fall back to Dawkins position. We were designed by aliens who evolved somewhere else. It has the benefit of not being limited by the age of the earth and the lack of evolution in the fossil record.

  17. kim said

    The irony I enjoy is that the mechanism for the evolution of such structures as cilia, giving mobility, and cascades such as hemostasis, allowing preservation of the internal milieu, is taken on faith to obey evolutionary principles, though the specific mechanisms have not been elucidated.

  18. kuhnkat said

    Mechanisms? Climate Scientists and Evolutionists don’ need no stinkin’ mechanisms!

  19. kim said

    He can’t help it, R. Shearer, his nose lengthens along with his search for his missing heat.

  20. hunter said

    Trenberth is sounding a whole lot like a medieval clergyman in charge of a holy site for pilgrims getting caught out that the miracle in question is just a prop.
    “False but accurate” is the Trenberthian argument, when boils it down.
    I wonder if Trenberth can get Dan Rather to help him fine tune that tactic a little bit more?

  21. DeWitt Payne said

    What Trenberth and company neglect is how the heat magically gets from the surface to the deep ocean without affecting the layer in between, which is being measured by ARGO and has shown very little increase in heat content since 2003 or so. If there is missing heat in the deep ocean, it’s going to stay there. It’s all based on the idea that models are reality. They’re not. The map is not the territory.

  22. Old Hoya said

    The missing/not missing heat is not only very deep at mysterious depths but it is kept under Double Secret Probation such that it cannot be estimated, measured or released unless or until doubling down on the cooling effect of aerosols fails to persuade anyone.

    Only the Chairman of the Climate Science Department at Faber College (or his Consensus-anointed designee) can invoke this metric which can be expressed in the following equation:

    P – O = H_dsp

    where “P” is the Consensus predicted heat content, “O” is the observed heat content, and H_dsp is the amount of heat kept under double secret probation.

  23. Anonymous said

    I don’t see how this hypothesis helps CAGW. The oceans have about 1000 times the heat capacity of the atmosphere. If the CAGWERS are correct, additional joules from a warming atmosphere are somehow magically transported to the ocean depths. Rather than temperatures increasing 4.5C in a century, it would be more like 4.5 C in 1000 centuries- I suspect that we’ll run out of hydrocarbons long before then.

  24. Jeff Id said

    #21, That is an excellent point. The mid level isn’t showing any substantial changes, if they hang their hat on the deep ocean, that could go horribly wrong for them.

  25. HaroldW said

    Katsman & van Oldenborgh, in Tracing the ocean’s “missing heat”, GRL 2011 ( ) claim that Trenberth’s “missing heat” in the upper ocean went 45% to space, 35% to deep ocean. The analysis is all based on a coupled climate model, so take with appropriate caveats. The increased radiation to space is attributed to El Niño activity post-2002, which agrees qualitatively at least with the observation in Allan ( ) that cloud radiative forcing veers strongly negative during El Niño events.

  26. John said

    Bad Andrew said
    September 19, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    “You benefit from “evolution” every day, each for instance that you eat a tomato.”

    I’m not sure I understand this. …

    [That should have read “… each time for instance …” sorry – D]

    Modern domestic tomatoes are a product of selection – in this case human selection that seeks to “improve” the tomato for our purposes. The tomato population response to selection is Darwinian evolution pure and simple [he’d no idea of RM, but did know about “sports] – in the language of a Victorian. The “theory of evolution” – Herbert Spencer’s term – used the known effects of selection to attempt to explain speciation. Darwin and A. R. Wallace working from pretty much opposite directions both concluded that sufficient “natural” selection over time could well explain the appearance of new species. They used the word “natural” consciously to differentiate it from “human” selection. The Victorians in the 19th C.saw, and in the present still see, selection as merely through predation – thus nature red in tooth and claw. Thanks to Herbert Spencer the idea is also confounded with a concept of progress, which it isn’t.

    There is no functional distinction between “natural” and “human” selection from the population view point. There is only selection, a filter for genes and probably other stuff. “Human” selection only matters to us and for our purposes. Random mutation is a distinct issue historically. By the mid-20th C genes and DNA had been identified and shown to be a mode of inheritance (assumed to be “the” mode at the time) – and therefore subject to population selection. Since then things like epigenetic change, which is heritable, have been identified. No one knows the full extent of what phenomena can induce genetic changes and now that we know about epigenetic changes, it is conceivable we don’t know all the ways things may be transmitted generationally – we have complete viruses that have become and been resident in our own genome for very long spans for instance.

    The concept of “species” is as much a simplifying “model” of nature as a GCM, and likely to be just as adequate as an explanatory concept. If you consider the population of modern dogs in all their breeds, shapes and sizes, we recognize them as a single species, but were they only known paleontologically, the odds are they would be classed into a number of closely related species based on skeletal morphology.

    And in regard to the discussion of “mechanisms” – a really important fact to keep in mind is that while evolution through selection is a fact with known, empirically observable effects and mathematically unavoidable consequences, that fact does not mean that we know ALL the ways that populations and organisms respond or change. Only religions claim that.

  27. DeWitt Payne said

    Re: Jeff Id (Sep 20 11:59),

    There is a possibility of moving heat into the deep ocean without much effect on the 0-700 m layer by an increase in the meridional overturning circulation. Then warm water goes in and cold water comes back up. But that has (potentially) measurable consequences as well. One would expect warmer water, being less dense, would descend more slowly than cooler water. And you’re still talking about mixing times on the order of 1,000 years, not 10 or 100 years. That’s forever on a human time scale. What I don’t understand is why they don’t go into the nuts and bolts of the model output and tell us how the heat is going into the deep ocean yet bypassing the 0-700 m layer. If they don’t know that, they clearly don’t understand their own models very well.

  28. Jeff Id said


    I wish you would post on such things. Really.

    Here or anywhere else you like I’m sure, you have a depth of knowledge (some pun) which would make it fun.

  29. steve fitzpatrick said

    The weird thing here (OK, there are a lot of weird things associated with climate science) is that OHC is the single area of climate science where there has be a big increase in data quality over the past 8 years (Argo era). Heck, ARGO was specifically designed to show the expected rapid heat accumulation. It simply astounds me that folks like Trendberth refuse to accept the best quality climate data, and continue to cling to fig leaves like “deep ocean warming”, which are wildly speculative at best and which ignore the rather uncomfortable truth that any deep ocean heat is effectively “gone” for hundres of years or more interms of ‘consequences’ (as DeWitt regularly points out).

    The simple explanations are almost certainly the right ones: 1) there is no missing heat, it has been lost to space, 2) the ocean accumulation really is way lower than previously believed/expect, 3) the ocean portions of the climate models have serious problems, and 4) the climate sensitivity is almost certainly much lower than the IPCC best estimate of 3.2C per doubling.

    At some point the cat calls will start to become embarrassing and/or public funding will be scaled back. There is no need to waste money on people who can’t rationally deal with obvious reality. The prudent among climate scientists will be reducing their estimates for future warming very soon; the longer they insist that the climate is very sensitive, the worse things will be for them in the future.

  30. page488 said

    How is “heat” supposed to skip through the measurable areas – atmosphere & upper ocean layers – to maginically appear in the unmeasurable ocean depths?

  31. DeWitt Payne said

    Re: Jeff Id (Sep 20 18:49),

    I know enough about this to be highly skeptical of what’s being published. I don’t know anywhere near enough to write a whole post about it. I don’t think, however, that heat transfer into the ocean is much different in principle than diffusion of bomb produced 14C, except 14C is easier to trace. You do see higher levels of bomb 14C in the areas of downwelling.

    During the 1990s the bomb-produced radiocarbon signal had not penetrated significantly below 1000 m except in the North Atlantic through the formation of North Atlantic Deep Water and immediately adjacent to Antarctica wherever Antarctic Bottom Water is formed (Weddell Sea, Ross Sea, Adele Coast, etc.).

    Matsumoto, K. & Key, R.M., Natural Radiocarbon Distribution in the Deep Ocean, Global Environmental Change in the Ocean and on Land, Eds., M. Shiyomi et al., pp. 45–58.,2004.

    So in ~40 years, bomb 14C hadn’t penetrated even 1000 m in the open sea. For an imbalance of ~1 W/m² to disappear into the deep ocean in the Arctic and Antarctic would require an increase in meridional energy flow of ~0.4PW. That’s about 10% of the normal peak meridional energy flow. Somehow, I think that would be noticed.

  32. Kan said

    How long does the heat have to be missing before we can get its picture put on a milk cartoon?

  33. cce said

    Trenberth has always suggested that the “missing heat” might be in the deep ocean, including in the paper that spurred the “ClimateGate” quote.

    “Was it because the heat was buried in the ocean and sequestered, perhaps well below the surface?”


    “Possibly this heat is being sequestered in the deep ocean below the 900 m
    depth used for the ARGO analyses where it would contribute about 0.4–0.5 mm/yr sea level rise, and then the land ice melt estimate would have to go down.”

    If you believe Wu et al 2010, then land ice melt has been over-estimated, which would require more ocean warming to “close” the budget.

  34. AJ said

    Re: DeWitt Payne September 20, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    Based on a couple of image plots that I had computed based on ARGO data, I also thought that heat could be increasing stirred into the deep. I posed the question to Issac Held:

    Basically he just stated the obvious caveat about trend analysis based on 6yrs of data. However, he also explained a structure in my mean temperature plot related to the Ekman drift. So now the two reasons I can think of driving my tenuous 6yr trend plots are an increase in the overturning rate and/or a poleward shift in the Ekman drift. Undoubtedly there are other considerations as well.

  35. DaveJR said

    I thought Argo measured down to 2000m, just less frequently than it does 700m. Is this data useless for the purpose of verifying these kinds of model estimates?

  36. Chris in Ga said

    I’m developing my own AGW theory – My hypothesis

    What if ( and this is a big what if ) humans were designed to evolve to have thrown off “sports” aka skeptics that unconsciously realize that by adding heat to the deep oceans now we can mitigate the next ice age.

    I require enough funding to get empirical data on the next ice age.

  37. DeWitt Payne said

    Re: DaveJR (Sep 21 16:36),

    I believe the deep ocean where the heat is supposed to be hiding is below 2000 m. I’m not interested enough to look it up, though.

  38. dieta said

    Note NASA scientist James Hansen has created worldwide media frenzy with his dire climate warning his call for trials against those who dissent against man-made global warming fear and his claims that he was allegedly muzzled by the – See – .Theon declared climate models are useless. My own belief concerning anthropogenic climate change is that the models do not realistically simulate the climate system because there are many very important sub-grid scale processes that the models either replicate poorly or completely omit Theon explained.

  39. troyca said

    Re: HaroldW (#25):

    AHA, I thought I’d seen a reference to that Katsman & van Oldenborgh GRL paper prior to the author showing up at the RC Ocean Heat Content post. Anyhow, if you’re interested, I’ve taken a deeper look at it here:

    While I agree that generally, El Nino leads to a heat loss vs. the heat gain of La Nina, it doesn’t seem that this recent flattening of OHC matches up well with the ENSO theory/model simulations advanced in that KO2011 paper.

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