Friday, January 31, 2014

Corrections to Curry's Erroneous Comments on Ocean Heating

Warming reported as heat flux applied to Earth's entire surface area (in W m-2). This table illustrates that according to observational data, ocean heat content has indeed accumulated rapidly in the deep oceans in recent years. (Credit: Lyman and Johnson, NOAA/Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory) Click to enlarge.
Recently, Georgia Tech climate scientist Judith Curry, along with Texas A&M climate scientist Andrew Dessler, testified before a US Senate committee on the subject of climate change.  While Dessler's testimony was ... well-supported by the body of scientific evidence, Curry's contained a number of errors.

Curry's main and most flawed argument was that information in the latest IPCC report should decrease our confidence in human-caused global warming; an argument she based in large part on the supposed global warming 'pause', which is itself a fictional creation.  While the warming of average global surface temperatures has slowed (though not nearly as much as previously believed), the overall amount of heat accumulated by the global climate has not, with over 90 percent being absorbed by the oceans.

A few days after her Senate testimony, Curry took to her blog to dispute these data, essentially arguing that the amount of heat absorbed by the oceans has also 'paused', which would then support her arguments.  However, in evaluating the ocean heat content data and scientific literature, Curry made a number of mistakes.  This gives us an excellent opportunity to properly evaluate the science on rising ocean heat content and see what it tells us.  The key points are:
  • The deep oceans are warming rapidly in every data set that measures them (including those referenced by Curry).
  • Sea levels are rising consistent with rapid ocean warming.
  • The rate of ocean warming is consistent with the global energy imbalance.
  • The geographic distribution of ocean warming is consistent with natural variability superimposed on a warming background state forced by the increased greenhouse effect.
  • The global warming 'pause' is a fictional product of wishful thinking.
Corrections to Curry's Erroneous Comments on Ocean Heating

No comments:

Post a Comment