David Rose and the deep ocean PCC complaint

I have almost never written on the science of global warming. The depth of pseudoscience and absurd nonsense to which the global temperature question has sunk to is mind-boggling.

Take a look at this complaint about UK journalist David Rose’s article. The complainant (aka ‘greener blogger’) says the article is “inaccurate, “misleading”, distorts “the truth”, necessitates the Press Complaints Commission “to interview Prof Myles Allen”, the newspaper to “retract”, “present a “correction” and give the correction “equal prominence”.  The missing stipulations are methods by which Rose is to be quartered.

Rose’s point was about the flat trend in global average temperatures. The blogger feels thinks this an issue because global temperatures are going up.

When the continuing increase of ocean temperature is included, a statistically significant increase in the world’s average temperature has continued since 1997.

Is that how we measure something? Use a metric. Switch over to another one when inconvenient? Do we splice together different data in such manner? Not only is this  scientifically indefensible, it is eye-watering hypocrisy.

Of course, ‘greener blogger’ is not alone in jumping to the ocean for help. The type of thinking gives rise to a number of questions:

[1] At once it is  claimed that skeptics are illusionists for seeing and showing ‘pauses’ in meandering temperature  where none exist, and, that there is a ‘pause’ which is explained by “heat” going into ocean depths. Which one is it?

If the latter explanation is to be believed, then all the bullshit about there not being a flat trend in temperatures is just that – bullshit. The bashing on people for simply asking “why is the temperature not going up?” was just sheer posturing?

[2] If the explanation for the pause is obvious, why was the pause not predicted? How do you know it is a ‘pause’? You didn’t know there was going to be one.

[3] If heat that’s going into the oceans will come back to ‘haunt us’, how do we know the heat which haunted the 2nd half of the 20th century wasn’t from a previous episode, but due to CO2?

[4] If ocean temperature is the “real deal”, why were you guys measuring atmospheric temperatures all these years?

[5] Why is global warming hiding in the deep oceans where no one can measure it?

[6] Why did scientists fervently research deep ocean warming all the while mocking people for asking where the heat was?

[7] Why did the heat suddenly decide to go into the oceans now?

[8] The climate models did not contain any pause because they do not include the mechanism that produces it, isn’t it? Why are you using them then?

[9] If the oceans are now determined to have such a profound influence on global surface temperature, how did you manage to blame the previous temperature rise on anthropogenic CO2 using models that did not include this effect?

[10] If the flat trend is real, the rate of warming is slower that predicted. This means it is not as worse as you thought, isn’t it?

[11] You did not predict it. This means you did not know what was going on, isn’t it?

I doubt we should be pulling newspaper articles in fear of criticism from self-appointed green busybodies whose knowledge of global temperature is from such sources as the Wikipedia witch doctor William Connolley. In a pathetic twist, a video the complaining green blogger relied on to make his case has been flushed down the drain. A fine piece of pseudoscience while up and running, it showed how ENSO, volcanoes, sunlight, moonlight and other ‘influences’ could be (magically) removed from the temperature curve to show unabated CO2 global warming.

If the flat trend continues, I wonder how long it’ll be before another jewel from the collection, the ‘escalator’ graph, comes down. That may be asking for too much. It has to dawn on its owners, that explaining the flat trend by ‘deep ocean heating’ involves accepting the flatness to be real.



  1. wottsupwiththatblog

    I’m probably going to regret making this comment, but I’ll try nonetheless. The point that was trying to be made by the person who complained about the David Rose article was that global warming is about an energy excess, it’s not simply about global surface temperatures. This is fundamental and shouldn’t really be something that one should disagree about. It’s also always been known by scientists. Maybe they haven’t communicated it all that well, but that doesn’t change what the science is about.

    For the last 40 years or so, more than 90% of this excess energy has been going into to oceans. Only a few percent heats the land and a few percent heats the atmosphere. Therefore a relatively small change in the amount going into the oceans can have big impact on the change in surface temperatures. Consider what might happen after a big ENSO event. Ocean currents heat the ocean surface, it radiates more energy into the atmosphere, increases atmospheric temperatures but also reduces the amount of energy in the oceans. The oceans would then, afterwards, absorb more of the excess energy (or rather, the net effect would be that they would absorb more of the excess), leaving a smaller fraction to heat the land and atmosphere. The increased atmospheric temperature temperature resulting from the ENSO event would also slightly reduce the energy excess, further reducing the energy available to heat the surface.

    The point I’m trying to make is that the ocean heat content has continued to rise and is evidence for ongoing global warming. The surface temperatures alone are poor indicators because they are (and always have been) associated with only a small fraction of the energy excess. If you think that global surface temperatures are all that we should care about, that’s fine, but don’t pretend that a supposed pause in the rise in global surface temperatures suddenly means that global warming has stopped. To claim that global warming has stopped you need to consider all the available data, not simply one set of data.

  2. omanuel

    Thanks, Shub. I posted the following comment:

    The Great Green Con is only the latest in a long list of cons that destroyed the integrity of government science and constitutional government.

    Thirty-seven years ago (2013 – 1976 = 37 yrs) the late Dr. Dwarka Das Sabu and I first presented evidence (AGU National Meeting in Washington, DC in April 1976 and later at the 1976 Gregynog Workshop on Isotopic Anomalies, Gregynog, Wales):

    The Sun exploded as a supernova and birthed the solar system five billion years (5 Gyr) ago.


    The experimental observations are as valid today as they were, when first published in 1975.

    The same cannot be said for the Nobel and Crafoord Prizes later handed out to those promoting misinformation on the Sun’s origin, composition, and source of energy.

    Later today I hope to post another open message to the Space Science and Technology Committee of the US House of Representatives at the top of my web page.


    Why? The integrity of constitutional government is closely intertwined with the integrity of government science.

    With deep regrets,
    – Oliver K. Manuel
    Former NASA PI for
    Apollo Moon Samples

  3. wottsupwiththatblog

    Shub, I wasn’t really intending to answer your specific questions, it was just intended as a comment on the situation you were describing. I do think it answers some of your questions though.

  4. Steve Crook

    How much confidence can we have in any deeper ocean temps measured before Argo? Even with Argo? There’s a lot of ocean, not many floats (2000), and Argo has been fully operational for a relatively short time.

    Do we really have enough data to be able to make any assertions about trends in the temperature of the deep ocean or to use the data to bolster theories on the whereabouts of the ‘missing’ heat?

    Not trying to be awkward, but these are questions I’ve had for some time, perhaps you have some answers…

  5. wottsupwiththatblog

    @Steve I don’t know the answer to your question as I’m no expert on Argo floats. I will say, however, that there must come a point where either someone shows that there are problems with the various bits of data that’s being collected, or we (as in policy makes, skeptics, the public) start to accept that the data is roughly correct. It’s not only about the Argo floats though. There are direct satellite measurements of an energy imbalance that is consistent with the rise in ocean heat content.

    @Shub I’m not quite sure what you’re getting at. Firstly, the errors in the surface temperature anomaly is large and hence we don’t really know if it hasn’t been increasing. Secondly, the large ENSO event at the end of the 90s did substantially warm the atmosphere. As I was trying to point out in my earlier comment, it’s seem reasonable that after such an event the oceans might retain more of the incoming energy and hence release less to the atmosphere. That there has been a slowdown in surface temperature warming is not that surprising.

  6. Shub Niggurath

    it’s seem reasonable that after such an event the oceans might retain more of the incoming energy and hence release less to the atmosphere.

    Why was it not predicted then?

    Why did the Skepticalsci people (Bob Lacatena, to be specific) make ‘The Escalator’ graph?

    Did a series of ENSO like events similarly ramp up global temperatures in the second half of the climate century?

    Why do all these reasonable sounding explanations pop up, after the fact?

    Obviously, the questions are not directed at you.

  7. wottsupwiththatblog

    Okay, my understanding is that the statement that is often quoted by skeptics that 15-years of no rise in surface temperatures would invalidate the models, refers to models that did not include ENSO cycles. You could argue that the models then are missing something important, and there may be some truth in that, but such models could not predict such a pause if they were not modelling what has caused the pause. New models do, I believe, include better modelling of ENSO-like events.

    Maybe you misunderstand the escalator graph. The graph is not implying that such pauses are not present. They clearly are. What the graph is trying to illustrate is that if you focus on short periods of time (20 years or less for example) you can easily show that there are periods when temperatures haven’t risen. However, if you consider the full time interval, they clearly have. That is the point of the escalator graph. It’s the long-term underlying trend that’s important, not the shorter-period variations.

    I’m sure a series of ENSO-like events did ramp up global surface temperatures during the second half of the twentieth century. This could well be one of the prime mechanism through which the energy is transferred through the climate system to ultimately heat the land and atmosphere (or surface if you like). The fundamental point (that Bob Tisdale and others seem to miss) is that if there was no enhanced greenhouse forcing (or if there was no global warming) the long term trend should be flat. ENSO events might act to heat the surface, but after the event temperatures should return to what they were before the event. The heat content of the atmosphere and land isn’t very high and so it should be able to lose any excess energy relatively quickly (months or maybe a year). The other point that Bob Tisdale seems to miss is that if ENSO-like events are primarily responsible for the surface warming during the second half of the twentieth century, why is the ocean heat content continuing to rise?

    ENSO events, therefore, cannot lead to a long-term (multi-decade) rising trend in surface temperatures. To have a long-term rising trend you need some other mechanism that is preventing this energy from leaving the system. This other mechanism is the constant rise in greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.

    The statements you make are reasonable but are – in some sense – a straw man. Noone has been saying that ENSO events can’t heat the surface. Noone has been saying the there can’t be periods when surface temperatures remain flat. These things do not invalidate the basics of anthropogenic global warming. They’re entirely consistent with anthropogenic global warming.

  8. Shub Niggurath

    “Noone has been saying that ENSO events can’t heat the surface.”

    That is not correct. The second half of the 20th century warming has been attributed to CO2.

    Please don’t say ‘consistent with anthropogenic warming’. There is no predictive power, only after-the-fact inferences. The two are different.

  9. wottsupwiththatblog

    No, in a sense, that’s the confusion. The only thing being attributed to CO2 is the energy excess. CO2 is trapping more of the long wavelength radiation, increasing the amount of energy going into the climate system. This energy can go into the oceans, heat the atmosphere, heat the surface, melt arctic ice. The energy that goes into oceans can be released during ENSO cycles. The point I was trying to make is that an ENSO event can be a mechanism that contributes to the heating of the atmosphere and land. However, ENSO events simply move energy around. They don’t create energy. In a sense, it’s the increasing CO2 in the atmosphere that is increasing the energy in the system. It’s the ENSO events that are contributing to the release of this energy into the atmosphere.

    If you think that what people have been claiming is that the CO2 is acting to somehow heat the surface and that nothing else is involved, either you’ve misunderstood what’s been said about global warming, or it’s not been explained properly.

  10. Shub Niggurath

    “The only thing being attributed to CO2 is the energy excess.”

    ‘Excess’, as in over and above what?

    What you mean by “energy in the system”? Haven’t there been ENSOs before mankind put ‘extra’ CO2 into the atmosphere?

    Your definition of global warming is very much different from the IPCC. The rise in the global average surface temperature in the second half of the 20th century is the primary diagnostic by which global warming due to CO2 is recognized. If un-recognized naturally occurring processes can causes changes in a magnitude similar to or greater than CO2 on multidecadal timescales, that is not an argument I’ve seen the IPCC or climate orthodoxy make.

    In that sense, the confusion is yours. I’ve been over attribution arguments several times. I doubt there is anything new you’ll be able to provide, and my questions regarding the temperature standstill are related to, but stand on their own.

  11. wottsupwiththatblog

    No, energy excess is simple to define. In the absence of global warming the earth should receive as much energy from the Sun as we lose into space – there will be an equilibrium. We currently receive more energy than we lose, hence an energy excess.

    I don’t believe my definition of global warming is different to that of the IPCC’s. I’m not really going to say more. If you’re genuinely interested in the science, you can do more reading and you will find (I would bet) that my description of global warming is essentially the same as the standard scientific picture. If you don’t want to learn more, stick with what you think you already know.

  12. Shub Niggurath

    “We currently receive more energy than we lose, hence an energy excess.”

    “More” than what we would have lost under what conditions? ‘imbalance’ as opposed to what ‘balance’? I don’t think you’ve thought through any of this in an independent manner.

    Your explanations are basically superstitious. The IPCC defines ‘excess’ better . ‘Excess’ as opposed to what would have been lost from the system without the excess CO2 man put into the atmosphere. Since such a situation is not realized, it has to be modeled. The models have to reproduce the no-CO2 situation incorporating our understanding of the nature and magnitude of the effects of CO2 and natural variability on global climate system. Which means, they are susceptible to any relative underestimation/overestimation of one factor over another, we currently possess.

    The models don’t do multidecadal variability at the centennial scale. If you take the multidecadal swings of a handful of models, they all cancel one another out. Which means they are just made up, as in, not generated by deterministic physical processes which consistently appear in different models. Multidecadal variability overwhelmingly determines current experienced weather, climate and climate policy.

    If the signal of global warming is easily swamped by multidecadal variability, it means, that if it exists, CO2-driven warming is a slow-moving force. Please note, slow-moving does not mean less powerful, it is actually the contrary! That’ll then become the meeting point for sceptical observers and supporters of orthodoxy.

  13. wottsupwiththatblog

    No, this should be simple. We can measure (and we do using satellites) how much energy is entering the system. We can measure (again using satellites) how much energy is leaving the system. In equilibrium the energy in the climate system will, on average, remain constant. Under “normal” circumstances there may be periods when slightly more enters than leaves (global warming). The may also be periods when slightly less enters leaves (global cooling). But, on average, we’d expect it to be constant.

    We have evidence however (satellites, ocean heat content, ….) that we have been undergoing an extended period (many decades) in which the amount of energy entering the system has exceeded (on average) the amount leaving the system. This is global warming and this is what I mean by “excess energy” – we’re getting more per unit time than we lose. This should not really be that controversial. It is simply a statement that there is multiple lines of evidence that the total amount of energy in the climate system (oceans, atmosphere, land, arctic ice,…) has been rising for at least the last 40 – 50 years.

  14. Shub Niggurath

    “So far, no one has been able to provide a compelling answer to why climate change seems to be taking a break. ”
    -Hans von Storch

    “Is there anything we don’t know?”

    Take your pick.

  15. Shub Niggurath

    On the lack of warming:

    “It is one of the biggest mysteries in climate science”
    -Science magazine

    Well, there were a few people who did not jump on to the band wagon even when it was warming. They are usually referred to as ‘deniers’ and skeptics.

  16. wottsupwiththatblog

    Thanks Shub. Could always count on you to end these discussions on a positive. I would argue that you think it’s content-free because you don’t understand the science well enough to understand the content, but that would seem mean and unpleasant, so I won’t.

  17. hunter

    It was skeptics who pointed out that ocean heat content is a vital metric in dealing with global energy balance.
    Dr. Pielke, Sr. spent years raising this issue and was dismissed rudely by AGW hypesters consistently. The AGW hype industry only went to OHC when the failure of their predictions regarding air temps and weather failed to much, requiring the branding change to ‘climate change’ from ‘global warming’.
    Then AGW hypesters had the problem of Argo showing that OHC down to 800 meters is not complying with the apocalyptic storyline and so came up with a magical explanation, claiming the heat skipped the surface and mid-depths and jumped straight to the unmeasured deeper areas.
    AGW hype depends on making claims that cannot be easily measured. Then when the measurements are finally made of where/what they claim is giong to happen, and show the latest and greatest predictions to be wrong, moving the goal post again. But never admit problems or review assumptions.
    This is like the tropospheric hot spot, the long list of weather predictions, slr, and on and on and on.
    The point for the AGW faithful is not the evidence, it is the faith.

  18. katabasis1

    Wotts says:

    ” I would argue that you think it’s content-free because you don’t understand the science well enough to understand the content,”

    – Assuming this means you have a superior grasp of scientific matters of fact than Shub, and presumably everyone else here who has questions, how is it possible that you can come out with something like this in the very same thread? –

    “Firstly, the errors in the surface temperature anomaly is large and hence we don’t really know if it hasn’t been increasing.”

    – Do I really have to point out to such a self assured master of science as yourself that if the standard error is large then *we just really don’t know* full stop, and as such cooling is just as possible as warming?

  19. wottsupwiththatblog


    As far as your first point is concerned, sure. Maybe I don’t understand what I’m talking about. Who am I to judge myself.

    As far as the second point is concerned, completely agree. Cannot claim it is warming, nor can we claim that it is cooling, nor can we claim that it has paused.