Rapid increase in ocean heat…?

Ocean heat?

Ocean heat?

What does this graph show? A catastrophically rapid increase in ocean heat content?

When global surface temperatures started levelling off, and then continued to plateau, it was a real blow to the alarmist cause. How could they claim that global warming was an urgent problem that needed trillions of taxpayer dollars to fix when the temperatures showed otherwise?

How could they retain their cushy roles on UN- and government-funded climate organisations, jetting round the world staying in five-star hotels at the taxpayers’ expense, whilst all the while imploring the rest of us to scale back our unsustainable and polluting lifestyles?

Here’s the alarmists’ thought process: Where’s the missing heat? Our models must be right (no doubt there), so it must be hiding somewhere. Somewhere we can’t measure it. Deep in the oceans!

And because of the much larger heat capacity of water compared to air, the differences in temperature would be of the order of hundredths of a degree.  Which is conveniently impossible to measure accurately.

Which is why ocean heat content is the buzzword du jour.

The graph above actually shows the number of times “ocean heat” appears in a Google search of Skeptical Science for each year since 2006. From six mentions in 2007, we have reached a projected 166 for the whole of 2013 (125 as of today).

That’s why virtually every new post at SkS references this graph from Nuccitelli et al 2012:

Misdirection that would make a magician proud

Misdirection that would make a magician proud

The intent is clear: Don’t believe your lying eyes – global warming continues unabated. Ocean heat content gives us the scare we need. We don’t need no stinking surface temperatures.

Maybe if surface temperatures do rise again in the future, which they well may, the warmists will use this classic misdirection again, and ocean heat content will be relegated to obscurity once more, where it will remain until it is convenient for The Cause to drag it out and place it front and centre again.

P.S. By the way, just for the record, a ∆E of 20 x 10E22 J equates to approximately two hundredths of one percent of estimated total ocean heat.


  1. Isn’t 90% of oceanic water below 2000m and therefore unlikely to be accessible to empirical measurement for decades to come?

    • Cliff Maurer says:

      No, 52.4% of the volume of the ocean lies below 2000 metre depth, 17.3% above 700m, and 30.3% between 700m and 2000m.

  2. thingadonta says:

    The apparent increase in ocean heat content might be a simple case of more and better measurements recording something over time that was already there before. It’s a type of confirmation bias, you simply get more or denser measurements of something over time, carefully pre-selected to confirm your pre-conceived bias in the first place.

    This often happens in science regarding new measurements and new data, you hear someone has found an increase in something but which often turns out that they have simply learnt to measure something better. The same thing occurred with hurricane intensity, tornado intensity etc; when viewed against a broader range of data and techniques, this showed that the initial data which might have suggested an increase over time was simply an artefact of better measurement techniques. The same likely goes for ocean heat content, but unfortunately this wont be known probably for decades, meaning we will likely hear that the oceans are going to ‘doom us all’ for a few decades more or so, until someone eventually proves that nothing has actually changed in the oceans, and it was an artefact of the measuring technique, or density, or data manipulation of the sampling itself. The graph above is quite possibly a complete fantasy.

  3. Lord Monckton wrote about this – “The warming is hiding in the bottom of the ocean. Someday it will pop out and say BOO!”


  4. Judith Curry has posted recently on the ocean heat. See link below. She also links to a calculation of the actual temperature incease by Lubos Motl – 0.065 degrees. Hardly catastrophic.


  5. The Reference Frame has an interesting post relating to ocean heat content.

    Basically, there has been an increase of 0.065 °C over 45 years or about 0.001°C per year … hardly the stuff of popularist hand-wringing over at (Un)Skeptical Science.

  6. Lew Skannen says:

    Also worth noting that there are about 3000 buoys to measure this heat. This means that each buoy has to measure the temperature of about 300,000 cubic kilometres of ocean to an accuracy of 0.01C. No problem…

    • Even if the ARGO buoys didn’t have the sensor microleak problems that affected depth measurement accuracy (and thereby temperature at depth accuracy) their temperature (at depth) accuracy is no better than 0.1 degree Celsius with normal pressure sensor offset drift over time giving a false warming indication.

  7. The Nucitelli graph is certainly a fantasy.
    I’m at 19°S 146°E. Our prevailing airflow (60-70%) comes off the western Pacific ocean. The waters to the north and east of us are among the warmest in the world. So what’s the last 20 years here been like? Mid 1990s, sure, a few hot spells, but nothing comparable since then. Mid 2000s on, pretty much flat, last 3 years or so, cooler. Noticeably cooler.
    I think there are two causes of this foolishness. The first is the Trenberthian “missing heat”, probably derived from the 23% of alleged back-radiation in his thermal model. With up to 650W/m2 coming down for a large part of the year, we would have noticed this if it occurs. We haven’t. It doesn’t. The second is the mapping of global average temperatures derived from most of the climate models, that show the same area of ocean heating up, because they are driven by the false cause/effect of CO2 increase and temperature increase built into the initial parameters.
    There is a direct relationship between the sea temperature out there and the frequency and intensity of cyclones, the majority which form in those waters and many of which track south and west. Nothing unprecedented has occurred, and there is certainly no evidence of cyclones being more common. The reverse in fact.

  8. Reblogged this on Bob Tisdale – Climate Observations and commented:
    This is great!!!!!!
    Thanks, Simon!!!

  9. Do you guys actually ever argue with real science or just ad hom attacks of skeptical science?

    “Our results show that the current hiatus is part of natural climate variability, tied specifically to a La-Niña-like decadal cooling. Although similar decadal hiatus events may occur in the future, the multi-decadal warming trend is very likely to continue with greenhouse gas increase.”

    • Lew Skannen says:

      Actually it is just as likely to continue independent of the CO2 since the multi-decadal warming well and truly predates any significant human CO2 emissions. (by about three centuries)
      The point about skeptical science is the utterly ridiculous straw-clutching excuses it is putting forward to cover up the facts that
      1. climate is obviously pretty insensitive to CO2
      2. computer models upon which all current policy is based are demonstrably inaccurate

      The idea that 3000 bouys measuring 300,000 cubic km of ocean each can give us a result accurate to 0.01C is just nuts and this needs to be pointed out.

    • Is that you, Michael? I thought you said you didn’t read blog posts where data is presented in ways that contradict the AGW hypothesis, so why would you question if someone ever argued with real science–you don’t read it when they do.

  10. Thanks for the detail about the 0.02% rise, and thanks to Bruce and Baldrick for the translation into fragments of degrees. In Britain Nuccitelli is now running the climate propaganda in the Guardian practically singlehanded, and information like that is hard to come by.
    There are sceptical journalists, but they don’t dare go into such detail. It’s possibly because the climate question has not been a headline issue in British politics that we Brits have been less quick off the mark in refuting their nonsense.

    • Resources Wire says:

      Geoff, I fear that global warming/AGW/CAGW/Climate change….has fallen off the front pages pretty much everywhere. Whether or not it is happening it is not happening in any interesting way and so it is back page material.

      Drives the warmies nuts.

  11. Shurely the missing heat is “dark heat” as in dark energy! When you can’t find something it seems to be the vogue to say it’s dark something.

  12. In another forum while arguing about this graph, I asked one of my critics if he could translate the energy increase shown in the graph into degrees C, so that we ordinary citizens could understand it. He replied that it represented 0.09 of a degree. That just confirmed my opinion that the graph is in fact a propaganda tool designed to make it appear something drastic was happening in the oceans. After all, a graph showing a rise of less than one hundredth of a degree would look rather flat.

    • Of course it’s propaganda.
      The meme is that more than 90% of the energy from a toa anthropogenic forcing increase of 2.3W/sqm since 1750 has been dispersed through the oceans, with half of the transfer occurring in the last 50 years. That implies an ocean temperature increase of about 0.31degC since 1750 or 0.16degC since 1962, and an associated component of steric sea level rise averaging about 3mm per year.
      That accords with the AR4 estimate of 2.3mm/year (at a stretch), but is much greater than median of all adjusted tide gauge series. The satellite data trend is no proper guide, as it’s gradient has been calibrated to the slope from a ‘preferred’ set of tide gauges (ie cherry-picked).
      A problem is that ocean deep temperatures are known to have been stable for the last 75 years to an accuracy of 0.1 degC. That 0.1degC uncertainty appears to have been claimed as warming by the warmistas.

  13. Paul sangster says:

    Love your site> Keep up the good work against the idiotic alarmists.

  14. Reblogged this on The GOLDEN RULE and commented:
    One of the ways to misinform the public with ‘pseudo-science’.


  1. […] Karl trots out the buzzword du jour (see yesterday), ocean heat. The dog ate my warming. They seek it here, they seek it here, they seek it […]

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