By Richard Harris, NPR
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.
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. 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.
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Icecap Note: If anyone would bother to look at the actual data instead of just pronouncements in the media from NOAA or GISS, they would not be surprised at all by these findings. Here is a plot of actual monthly temperatures and the trends from the Hadley global data set (HADCRUT3v) and University of Alabama satellite derived lower tropospheric temperatures covering the same period as the robots measured ocean heat content. Like the robots they show a downtrend (cooling).
See full size graph here
It is also worth noting that Roger Pielke Sr. has advocated ocean heat content as a better measure of the global changes in temperatures than surface station based trends. Work by Roger and Anthony Watts at surfacestations.org have identified major issues with the land stations. In this case the ocean heat content agrees with the land stations, so the cooling over the past 5 years is very likely real. 5 years does not a long term trend make but it does call into question claims the warming is accelerating and that immediate action is required. Indeed Roger has just posted on this on Climate Science. See his post here. He has also reposted this story ”Big Time Gambling With Multi-Decadal Global Climate Model Predictions” by Roger A. Pielke Sr. and Roger A. Pielke Jr.