As I've commented before, climate models have a zero (nil, nada, none, bugger all) percentage success rate at predicting earth's climate. The Climate Faithful use the hilarious example of Hansen's 'Scenario B' to show that models do, in fact, work.
For the uninitiated - Scenario B is one of NASA climate scientist James Hansen's models that proved to be reasonably accurate. "Huzzah!" cried the Climate Faithful, "Models do work!" Unfortunately, Scenario B uses parameters for greenhouse gasses that do not reflect what actually happened - not even close - meaning that the right result was achieved with the wrong method. I don't know how your maths papers were graded when you went to school but when I did if I presented a solution to a problem that got the right answer but with the wrong method then my test would come back with a dirty great X next to it.
It goes without saying that there are a lot of Xs in climate science.
With that as background we now have an article published in NPR The Mystery of Global Warming's Missing Heat, which details that the oceans are not warming up in the manner that they're supposed to be according to climate theory and the predictions of climate models.
Some 3,000 scientific robots that are plying the ocean have sent home a puzzling message. These diving instruments suggest that the oceans have not warmed up at all over the past four or five years. That could mean global warming has taken a breather. Or it could mean scientists aren't quite understanding what their robots are telling them.Seriously? What's not to understand? The robots are telling them exactly what's happening.
This is puzzling in part because here on the surface of the Earth, the years since 2003 have been some of the hottest on record. But Josh Willis at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory says the oceans are what really matter when it comes to global warming.Don't you worry about that, though, all of you Climate Faithful. Climate science has a solid track record at fudging figures, from NASA's GISS data to the Hockey Stick to UHI adjustments and to ground station data manipulation. Just give them a year or so to 'explain' why the robots are producing 'wrong' results and order will be restored.
In fact, 80 percent to 90 percent of global warming involves heating up ocean waters. They hold much more heat than the atmosphere can. So Willis has been studying the ocean with a fleet of robotic instruments called the Argo system. The buoys can dive 3,000 feet down and measure ocean temperature. Since the system was fully deployed in 2003, it has recorded no warming of the global oceans.
"There has been a very slight cooling, but not anything really significant," Willis says. So the buildup of heat on Earth may be on a brief hiatus. "Global warming doesn't mean every year will be warmer than the last. And it may be that we are in a period of less rapid warming."
In recent years, heat has actually been flowing out of the ocean and into the air. This is a feature of the weather phenomenon known as El Nino. So it is indeed possible the air has warmed but the ocean has not. But it's also possible that something more mysterious is going on.Sounds like a job for Dirk Gentry's Holistic Detective Agency to me.
That becomes clear when you consider what's happening to global sea level. Sea level rises when the oceans get warm because warmer water expands. This accounts for about half of global sea level rise. So with the oceans not warming, you would expect to see less sea level rise. Instead, sea level has risen about half an inch in the past four years. That's a lot.Or the measurements are wrong. Climate science is all about low-balling previous numbers to make current data look high by comparison.
Willis says some of this water is apparently coming from a recent increase in the melting rate of glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica.Except for the fact that both continents are quite stable in net ice cover and even the worst predictions of sea levels rises can't create four inches in four years.
"But in fact there's a little bit of a mystery. We can't account for all of the sea level increase we've seen over the last three or four years," he says.That's not "a little bit of a mystery". If it's actually true then it's a huge mystery.
One possibility is that the sea has, in fact, warmed and expanded — and scientists are somehow misinterpreting the data from the diving buoys.Climate models are spectacularly bad at modelling how much heat makes it into space because they have no capacity to model cloud cover.
But if the aquatic robots are actually telling the right story, that raises a new question: Where is the extra heat all going?
Kevin Trenberth at the National Center for Atmospheric Research says it's probably going back out into space. The Earth has a number of natural thermostats, including clouds, which can either trap heat and turn up the temperature, or reflect sunlight and help cool the planet.
That can't be directly measured at the moment, however.They can't???? But, but, but...ah, what the heck. Wreck economies, spend trillions of dollars. It'll be OK. Not.
"Unfortunately, we don't have adequate tracking of clouds to determine exactly what role they've been playing during this period," Trenberth says.Told you. For 'adequate' read 'any'.
It's also possible that some of the heat has gone even deeper into the ocean, he says. Or it's possible that scientists need to correct for some other feature of the planet they don't know about. It's an exciting time, though, with all this new data about global sea temperature, sea level and other features of climate."...correct for some other feature of the planet they don't know about"? What did I tell you? Expect a huge data fudge sometime soon.
"I suspect that we'll able to put this together with a little bit more perspective and further analysis," Trenberth says. "But what this does is highlight some of the issues and send people back to the drawing board."I don't know why they say 'mild' when half the planet has been freezing their collective arses off and all indicators are that lack of solar activity will bring even more cold in years to come.
Trenberth and Willis agree that a few mild years have no effect on the long-term trend of global warming. But they say there are still things to learn about how our planet copes with the heat.