Global Warming

Ocean Temperature Rise

Burke started 2014 with a slap on the forehead moment. He found a climate website, which made him realize that he has forgotten a basic tenet of physics; water has a much greater ability to store heat energy than air.   

Most of the debate surrounding global warming has focused on measuring how much the earth’s average surface temperature has increased. (As you can see in our following discussions) This is a monumental task since surface temperatures vary by minute, hour, day, and even by year. This requires climate researchers to tabulate millions of temperature readings from all over the globe to compute an average surface temperature. Numerous climatologists have done this and the vast majority agrees that our globe is warming. However, global warming deniers only have to point to this (2015) winter’s snowy northeast to raise doubt in the minds of the public.

Global warming deniers have jumped on the Northeast’s snowy winter to support their position. One Senator even threw a snowball in the Senate chamber to illustrate his view. The facts are that in 2014 the average surface temperature was only slightly warmer, just within the margin of error. However, the oceans were warmer by a statistically significant amount. Former denier turned believer, Professor Richard Muller, just published on his Berkley Earth site, a newsletter with his Results for 2014 detailing these facts. We have more on Professor Muller’s work below in our section, Enlightenment of a G.W. Denier.

If the energy being radiated from Earth into space is less that the amount of solar radiation energy being absorbed, the earth will heat up, and about 90% of the additional heat will be stored in the oceans. The atmosphere stores only about 2% because of its small heat capacity. The surface, including the continental ice masses, can only absorb heat slowly because they are poor heat conductors. Thus, measuring the heat absorbed by the oceans is vital to determining if the planet is warming. NOAA - Ocean Heant Content 0-2000m

The article that triggered Burke’s awakening was “What ocean heating reveals about global warming” on the RealClimate website. One of the most noteworthy items in this article is the fact that researchers have calculated the increase in the heat energy in the oceans to be about 17 x 1022 Joules over the last 30 years. Even when presented in a graph, like the NOAA graph above, a value this large seems meaningless to the general public. So the authors created the metaphor “that this is the energy equivalent to exploding a Hiroshima bomb every second for thirty years.”

RealClimate is a commentary site on climate science by working climate scientists for the interested public and journalists. We aim to provide a quick response to developing stories and provide the context sometimes missing in mainstream commentary. The discussion here is restricted to scientific topics and will not get involved in any political or economic implications of the science. All posts are signed by the author(s), except ‘group’ posts, which are collective efforts from the whole team. This is a moderated forum.

We’ve often been asked to provide a one-stop link for resources that people can use to get up to speed on the issue of climate change, and so here is a first cut. Unlike our other postings, we’ll amend this as we discover or are pointed to new resources. Different people have different needs and so we will group resources according to peoples starting level.

Argo Program

While climatologists and global warming deniers were presented different data to backup their views, oceanographers, who believed the planet was warming, realized that they lacked sufficient data to accurately measure the oceans’ temperature rise. So in 1999, oceanographers developed a plan, called Argo, to take the pulse of the oceans. It would consist a fleet of over 3000 underwater robots drifting freely in the depths of the oceans collecting, temperature, pressure, and salinity data. These floats, as they are called, would regularly rise to the surface to send their location and their stored observations up to a communication satellite then submerge to continue collecting data.

The Argo program was first proposed at the OceanObs conference in 1999 with the aim of creating a coordinated approach to ocean observations. The Argo program grew to become a collaborative partnership of more than 30 nations. Using over 3000 small (20-30 kg) drifting robotic probes deployed worldwide, it provides a seamless global array allowing any country to explore the ocean environment. By 2007, the 3000-float array was achieved. In November 2012, an Indian float in the Argo array gathered the one-millionth profile (twice the number collected by research vessels during all of the 20th century)

Argo floats are deployed world wide in conformity with the Argo data policy. After being placed in the water, thy make contact with their communication satellite. Then, in most cases, descend to a depth of 1000 meters (the so-called parking depth) and then record conductivity, temperature and pressure as they freely drift in the ocean currents. Every 10 days, by changing their buoyancy, the floats dive to a depth of 2000 meters and then rise to the sea-surface. Data stored during the 10 day journey is transmitted to shore via satellite, and is freely available to everyone, without restrictions. The Argo program is named after the Greek mythical ship Argo to emphasize the complementary relationship of Argo with the Jason satellite altimeters.

Click the following links for more information on the Argo Program.
University of California , San Diego Argo site, a good place to start.
Wikipedia’s entry on Argo. 
International Argo Project home page.
Argo International Information Center.
NOAA’s Argo website. It mostly track Pacific Ocean floats.

 Global Warming (mostly surface)

Global Warming is a fact that the majority of climate scientists have agreed on for years. NASA says (and links you to the research) that there is a consensus among 97% of climate scientists on global warming. NASA’s Global Warming Consensus page lists ten American scientific organizations and 198 international agencies (most as links) that also agree on global warming. If you did not view it earlier, watch this short NASA Video on global warming. 

The following graph from NASA shows that for the last 400,000 years our atmosphere has never had a CO2 level higher than 300 parts per million (ppm) except for the last hundred years when man has been able to drive it up to 400 ppm. For the first time in recorded history, on Thursday, May 9, 2013, the Mauna Loa Observatory measured the CO2 level at an unprecedented 400.03 ppm.

 Concentration of CO2 in our Atmosphere for the last 400,000 years in ppm
This graph, based on the comparison of atmospheric samples contained in ice cores and more recent direct measurements, provides evidence that atmospheric CO2 has increased since the Industrial Revolution. (Source: NOAA)

Enlightenment of a G.W. Denier

Even with all this scientific consensus, there is still a small but vocal group of deniers.  Some are conspiracy theorists, some are motivated by self-interest, and a few are respected scientists who saw gaps in the global warming research and we’re just not convinced.  The most respected of the latter is Richard Muller Professor of Physics at UC Berkeley. Some have questioned his views because conservative Charles Koch has funded much of his research.  Greenpeace said that the Koch brothers have contributed over 61 million dollars to the global warming deniers.  In Professor Muller’s case, the Koch brothers funding backfired. Professor Muller is a scientist first so he formed the Berkeley Earth Project with his daughter Elizabeth to do their own research on global warming. After researching the issue, they concluded that global warming is a fact and that carbon dioxide emissions are the primary cause. 

Below is one of Berkeley Earth’s YouTube videos which illustrates warming as measured at thousands of sites world wide.

 Berkeley Earth         Land Temperature Video

This video graphically displays global temperatures since 1800.

On July 28, 2012 the New York Times published Professor Muller’s Editorial in which he expressed his enlightened views on global warming.

To see if the deniers could support their views with facts, we searched the Internet for “fallacy of global warming”, Of the sites we inspected that backed up there views with data, they used selected data to support their preconceived opinions. We could not view the following graph without including it here to illustrate data selection and the tunnel vision of global warming deniers.

The following is from the Science and Public Policy Institute’s website.

Below is the biography of the organization’s President Robert Ferguson. He has been an environmental policymaker for Republican Congressmen for 26 years. (We researched and added his degrees to point out that often deniers are politicians not scientists). The Institutes website is full of global warming denier “studies.” What is not clear, is if Republican Congressmen are supporting the Institute’s views or if the Institute is supporting the Party’s views. In either case, we are not going to get sensible global warming legislation from Congress in the near future. 

Robert Ferguson has 26 years of Capitol Hill experience, having worked in both the House and Senate. He served in the House Republican Study Committee, the Senate Republican Policy Committee; as Chief of Staff to Congressman Jack Fields (R-TX) from 1981-1997, Chief of Staff to Congressman John E. Peterson (R-PA) from 1997-2002 and Chief of Staff to Congressman Rick Renzi (R-AZ) in 2002. He has considerable policy experience in climate change science, mercury science, energy and mining, forests and resources, clean air and the environment. His undergraduate and advanced degrees were taken at Brigham Young University (history) and George Washington University  (master’s in legislative affairs) respectively. Ferguson served active duty in the US Army from 1966-1970.

 “One major stumbling block for the hypothesis that carbon dioxide has caused significant warming is that since continuous and direct measurements of carbon dioxide began in 1958 global temperatures have both risen and fallen while at all times the concentration of carbon dioxide continued to rise.”

Sci&PP graph 150

“It would seem that if carbon dioxide is causing any warming at all then it is easily overwhelmed by other, probably quite natural, climate forces.”

Sure, the average temperature values fluctuate greatly from year to year.  But you don’t need to be a mathematician to observed that the temperatures trend upward with the increase in global CO2concentration.  This is a perfect example of global warming deniers’ tunnel vision of obvious data.

The authors of the above graph state that they limited themselves to data since 1958  and they limited it even more by starting the plot at 1980. This allows them to keep the viewer from comparing recent data with climate records from centuries before. Serious global climate scientists analyze much older climate records such as those derived from ancient Antarctic ice. In the graph below Professor Richard Muller’s team at the Berkeley Earth Project used data back to 1750.

Berkeley graph
Other Global Climate Sites

The Internet is full of global warming articles. Many writers obscure their bias by referencing data which they selected to support their viewpoint. This makes it difficult for readers not familiar with the entirety of global warming data to separate fact from fiction. However, we came upon one reputable site which has analyzed all the meaningful global warming data, NASA’s Global Climate Change website. It is a big site and if you desire a short synopsis watch this NASA Video on Average Global Temperature.

Following NASA links lead us to the excellent website of California’s Governor’s Office of Planning & Research which has a section called Climate Change: Just The Facts which including a list of Common Deniers Arguments with responses from leading scientists debunking each argument.

You are right about the Global Warming problem. So Let’s Go Energize the Northwest!

Hold it now!  Your proposal is centered on the construction and operation of additional nuclear power plants. There are all sorts of perils with nuclear power and you will have to convince me that this is a safe and viable way to increase our production of clean energy. 

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