Thursday, January 17, 2013

What Ocean Warming ?

{updated April 2013}

In various discussions I point out to fake skeptics that it's disingenuous to only focus on surface temperatures when the oceans are a major component of our global heat distribution engine.

I've often put together links for them to educate themselves, but all I get in return is misdirection and fear fed hostility.

That's why I've decided to post this partial list of ocean studies and news reports that demonstrate the undeniable warming that is being observed in our oceans.

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Century-long trend of global ocean warming identified 
PHYS-ORG  ~  October 29, 2012 

One of the largest sources of uncertainty in reconstructing the warming of the past century stems from problems with historical ocean temperature records. Inconsistencies in method or technology or gaps in observation caused by two world wars mean that long-term records of sea temperature need to be interpreted with care. 
Drawing on two historical sets of ocean temperature observations—one of the sea surface and the other of the upper 20 meters (66 feet) —Gouretski et al. find that the 20th century saw a long-term trend of ocean warming. The two data sets were mostly collected independently, using different tools and techniques, and were subjected to different post processing. The authors suggest that, owing to the distinct ways in which the data were gathered, the presence of a similar trend could mean that it is not a spurious finding.
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Ocean warming could lead to smaller fish size, study finds
September 30, 2012

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HumanFingerprints on Ocean Warming Detected
Wynne Parry  ~  LiveScience  ~  June 12, 2012
- Between the surface and a depth of 2,300 feet (700 meters), the world's ocean has warmed on average 0.045 degrees Fahrenheit (0.025 degrees Celsius) per decade over 50 years. 
- The simultaneous warming of the upper layers of all seven seas cannot be explained by natural climate variability alone. 
Natural fluctuations alone do not explain warming in the upper layers of the planet's oceans, confirms a new computer modeling study.
The ingredient necessary to fully account for rising water temperatures in the last 50 years? Humans' greenhouse gas emissions. 
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While attributing global warming to humans is hardly a new conclusion, this study adds to research intended to tease apart the effects of natural climate cycles, which can occur over decades, from changes caused by human alterations to the environment 
"The bottom line is that this study substantially strengthens the conclusion that most of the observed global ocean warming over the past 50 years is attributable to human activities," climate scientist Peter Gleckler, of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, said in a statement. 
Measurements show that, between the surface and a depth of 2,300 feet (700 meters), the ocean has globally warmed on average 0.045 degrees Fahrenheit (0.025 degrees Celsius) per decade over 50 years. This is much less than atmospheric warming because water is much slower to absorb heat. The oceans can also store heat much more effectively.
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Humans Are Primary Cause of Global Ocean Warming Over Past 50 Years, Research Shows
June 11, 2012 —

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Bacteria outbreak in Northern Europe due to ocean warming, study says
Nina Chestney  ~  Reuters  ~ July 22, 2012

LONDON — Manmade climate change is the main driver behind the unexpected emergence of a group of bacteria in northern Europe which can cause gastroenteritis, new research by a group of international experts shows. 
The paper, published in the journal Nature Climate Change on Sunday, provided some of the first firm evidence that the warming patterns of the Baltic Sea have coincided with the emergence of Vibrio infections in northern Europe. 
Vibrios is a group of bacteria which usually grow in warm and tropical marine environments. The bacteria can cause various infections in humans, ranging from cholera to gastroenteritis-like symptoms from eating raw or undercooked shellfish or from exposure to seawater. 
A team of scientists from institutions in Britain, Finland, Spain and the United States examined sea surface temperature records and satellite data, as well as statistics on Vibrio cases in the Baltic.

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135 years of global ocean warming between the Challenger expedition and the Argo Programme
Dean Roemmich*, W. John Gould and John Gilson

Changing temperature throughout the oceans is a key indicator of climate change. Since the 1960s about 90% of the excess heat added to the Earth’s climate system has been stored in the oceans. The ocean’s dominant role over the atmosphere, land, or cryosphere comes from its high heat capacity and ability to remove heat from the sea surface by currents and mixing. 
{. . .} 
Argo’s unprecedented global coverage permits its comparison with any earlier measurements. This, the first global-scale comparison of Challenger and modern data, shows spatial mean warming at the surface of 0.59 C ± 0.12, consistent with previous estimates of globally averaged sea surface temperature increase.  
Below the surface the mean warming decreases to 0.39 C ± 0.18 at 366 m (200 fathoms) and 0.12 C ± 0.07 at 914 m (500 fathoms). The 0.33 C ± 0.14 average temperature difference from 0 to 700 m is twice the value observed globally in that depth range over the past 50 years, implying a centennial timescale for the present rate of global warming.  
Warming in the Atlantic Ocean is stronger than in the Pacific.

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135 Years of Global Ocean W Perspectives on Ocean Science
Perspectives on Ocean Science
*Professor Dean Roemmich  ~  UCTV>TV  ~   9/12/2012  ~   56 minutes

A new study comparing past and present ocean temperatures reveals the global ocean has been warming for more than a century.  
Join Dean Roemmich, Scripps physical oceanographer and study co-author, as he describes how warm our oceans are getting, where all that heat is going, and how this knowledge will help scientists better understand the earth's climate. Learn how scientists measured ocean temperature during the historic voyage of the HMS Challenger (1872-76) and how today's network of ocean-probing robots is changing the way scientists study the seas. (#23999)

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Scientists Find 20 Years of Deep Water Warming Leading to Sea Level Rise
National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration ~ September 20, 2010
Scientists analyzing measurements taken in the deep ocean around the globe over the past two decades find a warming trend that contributes to sea level rise, especially around Antarctica. 
Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide, cause heating of the Earth. Over the past few decades, at least 80 percent of this heat energy has gone into the ocean, warming it in the process. 
“Previous studies have shown that the upper ocean is warming, but our analysis determines how much additional heat the deep ocean is storing from warming observed all the way to the ocean floor,” said Sarah Purkey, an oceanographer at the University of Washington and lead author of the study. 
This study shows that the deep ocean – below about 3,300 feet – is taking up about 16 percent of what the upper ocean is absorbing.

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Records reveal robust ocean warming  ~  May 19, 2010 
A re-analysis of conflicting ocean-temperature records covering the past 15 years shows that the seas are getting warmer, according to an international team of scientists. The group compared a number of different published records and found that the discrepancies arise mostly from how different scientists corrected for the variable performance of early temperature probes.

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Ocean temperatures and sea level increases 50 percent higher than previously estimated
Anne Stark  ~  Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory  ~  June 18,2008

LIVERMORE, Calif. – New research suggests that ocean temperature and associated sea level increases between 1961 and 2003 were 50 percent larger than estimated in the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.

The results are reported in the June 19 edition of the journal Nature. An international team of researchers, including Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory climate scientist Peter Gleckler, compared climate models with improved observations that show sea levels rose by 1.5 millimeters per year in the period from 1961-2003. That equates to an approximately 2½-inch increase in ocean levels in a 42-year span.

The ocean warming and thermal expansion rates are more than 50 percent larger than previous estimates for the upper 300 meters of oceans.

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Climate Models Consistent with 
Ocean Warming Observations
Anne Stark  ~  Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory  ~  June 18, 2007
Climate models are reliable tools that help researchers better understand the observed record of ocean warming and variability. That’s the finding of a group of Livermore scientists, who in collaboration with colleagues at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, had earlier established that climate models can replicate the ocean warming observed during the latter half of the 20th century, and that most of this recent warming is caused by human activities. 
The observational record also shows substantial variability in ocean heat content on interannual-to-decadal time scales. The new research by Livermore scientists demonstrates that climate models represent this variability much more realistically than previously believed.

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I should not leave out that most valuable resource  They have become the foremost collector of global warming related scientific research.  I did a search and found the following series of articles that might interest the person who's genuinely curious about understanding what's happening within our oceans.  

Also there's a very recent post that I've decide to repost in it's entirety thanks to their generous sharing policy.  A big tip of the hat to John Cook and all the volunteers over at

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Warming Oceans Will Play Major Role In Less Phytoplankton Diversity

October 26, 2012  |  Lawrence LeBlond  | for 
. . . In this week’s issue of Science Express, researchers from Michigan State University outline how warmer oceans by the end of this century will alter phytoplankton habitat around the world. As the oceans heat up, more of these organisms will thrive around polar waters and less so in the tropics and equatorial waters.

“In the tropical oceans, we are predicting a 40 percent drop in potential diversity, the number of strains of phytoplankton,” said study coauthor Mridul Thomas, a biologist at MSU. “If the oceans continue to warm as predicted, there will be a sharp decline in the diversity of phytoplankton in tropical waters and a poleward shift in species’ thermal niches–if they don’t adapt.”

“The research is an important contribution to predicting plankton productivity and community structure in the oceans of the future,” said David Garrison, program director of the National Science Foundation’s (NSFDivision of Ocean Sciences, which co-funded the study along with NSF’s Division of Environmental Biology.

“The work addresses how phytoplankton species are affected by a changing environment, and the really difficult question of whether adaptation to these changes is possible,” Garrison said in a press release.

Thomas and his colleagues said that since phytoplankton play a key role in regulating atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, and therefore the climate of the world, any mass shift in populations could spell trouble for further climate change.  {link to full article}

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Warming Ocean Threatens Sea Life

Warming down to 700 meters could also affect currents, weather

 | April 6, 2013 |

It stands to reason that as the atmosphere warms from the buildup of greenhouse gases, so does the ocean. Scientists have long suspected this was true, but they did not have enough solid evidence. Now they do. Data compiled by Marinexplore in Sunnyvale, Calif., not only confirm previous studies that the world's oceans are simmering, but they also bring surprising news: the heating extends beyond the first few meters of surface waters, down to 700 meters. Because most organisms live in the top 400 meters, the data suggest that warming could affect most marine life, altering food chains and migrations. It could change the distribution of life—from tiny phytoplankton to big whales—across the seven seas. “The more the atmosphere warms up, the more heat it transfers to the ocean,” says Roberto De Almeida, an ocean data engineer at Marinexplore. “That heat propagates downward.” Indeed, the extra energy could affect massive ocean currents and the weather patterns they influence.
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New Oceans Study: 

Global Warming Accelerated in Past 15 Years

By Dana Nuccitelli via Skeptical Science  |  The Energy Collective  |  March 26, 2013
A new study of ocean warming has just been published in Geophysical Research Letters by Balmaseda, Trenberth, and Källén (2013). There are several important conclusions which can be drawn from this paper.
  • 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.
  • Some recent studies
  •  have concluded based on the slowed global surface warming over the past decade that the sensitivity of the climate to the increased greenhouse effect is somewhat lower than the IPCC best estimate. Those studies are fundamentally flawed because they do not account for the warming of the deep oceans.
  • The slowed surface air warming over the past decade has lulled many people into a false and unwarranted sense of security.
The main results of the study are illustrated in its Figure 1.
Figure 1: Ocean Heat Content from 0 to 300 meters (grey), 700 m (blue), and total depth (violet) from ORAS4, as represented by its 5 ensemble members.

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Ocean Heat Came Back to Haunt Australia (via Skeptical Science)
Posted on 15 January 2013 by Rob Painting Over the last 50 years an enormous amount of energy, equivalent to two Hiroshima bombs per second, has gone into heating the global oceans. Because of their much greater mass, the oceans have a thermal capacity roughly one thousand times greater than the atmosphere…

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