Friday, August 22, 2014

Is Global Warming Energy Stored in the Deep Ocean?

This is starting to sound like science. For a long time, climate conservatives and climate liberals had great difficulty talking to each other. The fundamental problem is that there is a very good model to describe global climate, but the data does not all agree with the model.

But I continue to believe that the scientific method will eventually prevail.

Global warming is real, and the earth really did warm up a lot from about 1976 to 2002, and also from 1908 to 1945. But there was a hiatus from 1946 to 1976 and from 2002 till the present, during which time the earth's average temperature (as estimated by the National Climatic Data Center) did not increase. 

I was heartened to see articles such as a recent study by 
Xianyao Chen  of the University of Washington, and  Ka-Kit Tung of the Laboratory of Physical Oceanography, Ocean University of China, Qingdao, China publishing in Science (vol 22 August 2014: Vol. 345 no. 6199 pp. 897-903).  Their research suggest that changes in the earth's circulating oceans allow global warming to slow down temporarily, or to speed up temporarily.  This could cause the global average surface temperature to change by a few tenths of a degree, perhaps.   This might explain why global warming has taken an apparent hiatus after a rapid rise in the late 20th Century.   

I don't know whether it is right or not, but I do take it as a positive that they are trying to model the actual data, including the thirty year hiatus of the early to mid 20th century and our current hiatus of a dozen years or so.  Maybe they are on the right track. We shall see.

To sum up, some amount of global warming has to occur because the absorption of infrared energy increases in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide increases.  But the pause in global warming of the past twelve years is real, and so is the 30 year pause from about 1945 to 1975.  These features should be obvious, but historically conservatives fail to observe warming trends and liberals have failed to note the pauses in global temperature rise.   The oceans may act to produce temporary (but real) warming and cooling signals, which may confuse the climatologists.   Most importantly, the Scientific Method cares not a whit about politics and the answers will ultimately be made clear.      

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