Thursday, September 26, 2013

Faux Pause: Ocean Warming, Sea Level Rise And Polar Ice Melt Speed Up

Scientists learned long ago that certain gases have the greenhouse effect. If it were not for them, the earth would be a big ball of ice. Note that the moon is the same distance from the sun as the earth, and is very cold.

It is a fact of physics that humans have been causing an increase in greenhouse gases.

It would be surprising if the earth weren't warming, and that would have to be explained.

By Joe Romm on September 25, 2013

[Click on the following graph to see the whole thing.]

“Global Warming Has Accelerated In Past 15 Years, New Study Of Oceans Confirms,” as we reported back in March. And “Greenland Ice Melt Up Nearly Five-Fold Since Mid-1990s, Antarctica’s Ice Loss Up 50% In Past Decade,” as we reported last November. Another study that month found “sea level rising 60% faster than projected.”

And yet much of the media believes climate change isn’t what gets measured and reported by scientists, but is somehow a dialectic or a debate between scientists and deniers. So while 2010 was the hottest year on record and the 2000s the hottest decade on record, we are subject to nonsensically framed stories like this one from CBS, headlined “Controversy over U.N. report on climate change as warming appears to slow.”


Completely contrary to the popular contrarian myth, global warming has accelerated, with more overall global warming in the past 15 years than the prior 15 years. This is because about 90% of overall global warming goes into heating the oceans, and the oceans have been warming dramatically.

As suspected, much of the ‘missing heat’ Kevin Trenberth previously talked about has been found in the deep oceans. Consistent with the results of Nuccitelli et al. (2012), this study finds that 30% of the ocean warming over the past decade has occurred in the deeper oceans below 700 meters, which they note is unprecedented over at least the past half century.


The heat content of the oceans is growing and growing. That means that the greenhouse effect has not taken a pause and the cold sun is not noticeably slowing global warming….

The increase in the amount of heat in the oceans amounts to 17 x 1022 Joules over the last 30 years. That is so much energy it is equivalent to exploding a Hiroshima bomb every second in the ocean for thirty years.


What’s surprising is not that deniers and confusionists keep pushing their denial and confusion — that is, after all, their job — but that much of the mainstream media keeps buying what they are selling. [They are paid by the fossil fuel industry to do this.]


Rahmstorf, who is Head of Earth System Analysis at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, explains:

The amount of heat stored in the oceans is one of the most important diagnostics for global warming, because about 90% of the additional heat is stored there (you can read more about this in the last IPCC report from 2007). The atmosphere stores only about 2% because of its small heat capacity. The surface (including the continental ice masses) can only absorb heat slowly because it is a poor heat conductor. Thus, heat absorbed by the oceans accounts for almost all of the planet’s radiative imbalance.


And let’s not forget another key indicator of accelerating warming — the accelerating melting of the great ice sheets as documented in the most comprehensive analysis of satellite altimetry, interferometry, and gravimetry data sets to date:

Warming of the whole globe (as opposed to the thin surface layer) has sped up. When the rate of surface warming returns to the trendline, I wonder if the media will report that global warming has accelerated.

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