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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

David Archibald in a momentus denial of gravity at WUWT

Sou | 2:26 AM 19 Comments - leave a comment

Anthony Watts' blog is where science deniers congregate so they don't feel so alone in the world. Usually they are simply rejecting climate science, the greenhouse effect, rising global surface temperatures and anything else that takes their fancy that's to do with climate. They don't normally get into rejecting biology or not openly at least. They will from time to time reject chemistry, usually in relation to ocean acidification.

Today I see that a guest essayist has decided to reject gravity and probably momentum. He was writing about a paper in Science from last week, which got denier blogs all a twitter. The paper is probably raising some eyebrows among scientists too. It's an interesting take on where the heat is going.

Before I get to that, though, let me show you what David "funny sunny" Archibald wrote about thermohaline circulation (archived here). He posted this image from an article in last week's Science, which Eli Kintisch wrote about the subject:
The Atlantic Ocean may be storing vast amounts of heat (red), keeping global surface temperatures from rising.
Credit: Xianyao Chen, Ka-Kit Tung, Source: Science Vol. 345 no. 6199 pp. 860-861 

David Archibald said it can't be so. He wrote:
The illustration shows heat plunging into the depths as far as 1,500 metres. The oceans don’t work like that. Most of the heat energy of sunlight is absorbed in the first few centimetres of the ocean’s surface. Waves mix the water near the surface layer such that the temperature may be relatively uniform in the top 100 metres. Below that there is almost no mixing and no vertical movement of water.

Some of what he wrote was okay, sort of. Some of it was very wrong. In particular, he he is rejecting thermohaline circulation, arguing there is no vertical movement of water in the ocean. He's wrong of course.  Thermohaline circulation is the convection in the ocean driven by pressure gradients and gravity. Saltier water is denser than fresh water. Cold water is denser than warm water. Colder saltier water sinks in the ocean. This process doesn't stop and start, or not easily and not often. There's a lot of momentum behind the conveyor belt. There's a huge amount of water going through this cycle. Just because some of it is a bit warmer at times doesn't mean the water stops moving.

What the paper is arguing is that when the ocean currents bring the salty tropical water to the Atlantic, where it sinks, its also sinking heat. They argue that this explains the "hiatus" in global surface temperatures.

Now you may well ask, what's changed? Thermohaline circulation (the conveyor belt) does mean that the water sinks to the depths in the Atlantic, but why would that happen more at some times than others. Well, the answer is that the authors are arguing that the conveyor belt sped up in the 1990s and slowed down again in around 2006. From Eli Kintish's article:
A key heat storage mechanism, they say, is the “conveyor belt” current that moves salty tropical water to the North Atlantic, where it sinks, carrying heat with it. Chen and Tung think that, because of a natural cycle, the conveyor sped up during the 1990s and slowed around 2006. Atlantic heat storage has meanwhile “gone straight up” by 30 zettajoules (sextillion joules) since 1999, while global air temperatures remained relatively flat, Tung says. In contrast, their data show little heat being stored in the deep Pacific. “We were surprised—especially by the difference between the two oceans,” Chen says.

What the paper itself refers to, in part, is variation in speed of the Atlantic Meridonial Overturning Circulation (AMOC). It states:
There is no accepted single theory, but theoretical explanations of these vacillating regime shifts mostly involve variations of the AMOC (20, 25). Because of excessive evaporation, tropical surface water is more saline. A faster AMOC tends to transport more saline water to the North Atlantic subpolar region, where it loses some heat to the cold atmosphere and sinks. The heat from the transported tropical water tends to melt more ice (20), which makes the surface water in the subpolar regions less dense. These two effects oppose each other. Eventually the fresh water from ice melts wins out. The less-dense water then slows the AMOC after a few-years lag (28). A slower AMOC then transports less tropical saline water northward, and the opposing phase of the cycle commences. Other versions of the mechanism are also available (29, 30). Because the record for the AMOC strength is short (only since 2004), the above scenario cannot be verified observationally, but it is consistent with the mechanism described by Danabasoglu et al. (31) as indeed occurring in the Community Climate System Model 4 (CCSM4) (32).

Not everyone agrees that this accounts for all the changes in heat around the earth system, apparently. Eli Kintisch refers to another new paper in Nature, by Kevin Trenberth and colleagues, in which they apparently maintain that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation accounts for about half the "hiatus".  From the abstract:
Factors involved in the recent pause in the rise of global mean temperatures are examined seasonally. For 1999 to 2012, the hiatus in surface warming is mainly evident in the central and eastern Pacific. It is manifested as strong anomalous easterly trade winds, distinctive sea-level pressure patterns, and large rainfall anomalies in the Pacific, which resemble the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). These features are accompanied by upper tropospheric teleconnection wave patterns that extend throughout the Pacific, to polar regions, and into the Atlantic. The extratropical features are particularly strong during winter.
By using an idealized heating to force a comprehensive atmospheric model, the large negative anomalous latent heating associated with the observed deficit in central tropical Pacific rainfall is shown to be mainly responsible for the global quasi-stationary waves in the upper troposphere. The wave patterns in turn created persistent regional climate anomalies, increasing the odds of cold winters in Europe. Hence, tropical Pacific forcing of the atmosphere such as that associated with a negative phase of the PDO produces many of the pronounced atmospheric circulation anomalies observed globally during the hiatus.

Then there's another paper by Shayne McGregor and colleagues (full paper), which was recently published in Nature Climate Change. It discusses a see-saw effect in the air over the Atlantic and the Pacific, causing an increase in Pacific trade winds. I'll let Eli Kintisch explain it:
One reason some scientists remain convinced the Pacific is behind the hiatus is a measured speedup in trade winds that drive a massive upwelling of cold water in the eastern Pacific. But there, too, the Atlantic may be responsible, modeling experiments suggest. In the 3 August Nature Climate Change study, scientists fed measurements of the Atlantic's warming surface temperatures into a global climate simulation. The result was a “seesaw” in which air rose over the Atlantic and fell toward the Pacific, fueling the Pacific trade winds, says climate dynamicist Axel Timmermann of University of Hawaii, Manoa, a co-author. The resulting increase in Pacific upwelling could be responsible for a global cooling effect of between 0.1° and 0.2°C, researchers have estimated, enough to explain a healthy chunk of the hiatus.
The evidence for the central role of the seesaw mechanism isn't conclusive, some climate researchers say. 
This is from the paper itself:
Our findings reveal that rapid Atlantic warming since the early 1990s led to an unusually rapid acceleration of the Pacific trade wind systems (Fig. 1e). Recent studies1,12 document that the corresponding tropical Pacific cooling, along with other processes, contributed to the observed decadal slowdown of global surface warming trends. We further demonstrated that trans-basin coupled atmosphere/ocean variability explains part of the recent decadal rainfall trends across the Pacific, including the severe California drought conditions. It is suggested that the pronounced spectral power of the trans-basin variability index on decadal timescales as well as the long damping timescale (Fig. 3 and Supplementary Fig. 8), may translate into multi-year predictive skill. 

So, there you go. I hope I've covered it properly. I don't know if you can read Eli's article or not. It's an interesting read if you can get your hands on it. Or try to get hold of the three papers mentioned, which I've listed below. The

Back to David Archibald and his denial of gravity (and pressure gradients and thermohaline circulation). If the water being drawn down by the conveyor belt is warmer at some times than others, then obviously some of the heat will go down with it. Water can't just take off a cardigan before it sinks to the ocean depths, just because it happens to be a bit warmer at times. Now the extent to which the researchers are right about the slowing down and speeding up of ocean circulation will become revealed in time, no doubt. David threw in some diagrams from the 1990s, as far as I can tell. He doesn't reference them, but I did find one referred to in these lecture notes by Martin Visbeck, dated 2000 (Fig. 10 last paragraph). The chart is from Lynne Talley of Scripps and can be viewed here. It's a cross section of the Atlantic Ocean at 25W.

David drew his readers' attention to the bottom right, which is the deep ocean floor from 60S to the equator. He should have looked up top, particularly toward the right, where is shows that in the northern hemisphere, the temperature gradient is a lot deeper, with warmer water shaded pink down as low as 1700 m in parts. David seems to endorse this chart, yet it's not too different from the graphic that he rejected (up the top of this article).

Now if you can't manage Lynne Talley's book, but want a refresher on the subject, if only to point out my errors :) - try Stephan Rahmstorf's article about thermohaline circulation.

More about thermohaline circulation

Or if you don't have time for either, here's a video from Thin Ice about the thermohaline circulation featuring Wallace Broecker as well as scientists working way down in Antarctica.

From the WUWT comments

Eric Worrall is wrong in more ways than one. The heat does come out of the top layers of the ocean, like in an El Nino, but the heat that's being stored at depth won't suddenly reappear. As well as that, the prediction that the earth will get warmer as we add more CO2 is already evident. If the air and oceans suddenly got colder, then people will either revisit the greenhouse effect or look for what else could be causing such an event.
August 24, 2014 at 12:15 am
The big problem with theories like the ocean swallowed the heat is that there are no failure criteria – the theories are unfalsifiable, utterly unscientific, because they make no testable predictions, other than a vague threat that the world might get warmer again someday.
God of the gaps – the global warming scare survives in the gaps in our knowledge.

NikFromNYC doesn't appreciate just how big the ocean is, or how much heat is required to get a small rise in sea level.
August 24, 2014 at 12:16 am
Water also acts as an instantaneous liquid expansion thermometer so heat going into the oceans would show up in tide gauge records as a recent upswing following a recent downswing as it released heat before. There are no such swings, going back 150 years:
It would be good for a mathematically inclined reader to calculate the expected sea level rise required to hide all the man made global warming from us landlubbers, so possibly give my argument real teeth.


oppti  August 24, 2014 at 12:54 am
Heat going into the Atlantic is not an anthropogenic change of climate.
It might explain the cooling now and the heating in the past.
Periodicity is not unknown in the past, with two periods of rising temperatures, 1910-1940 and 1970-2000. During 1940-1970 the global temperature indicated global cooling.

Here's an excerpt from a comment by richardscourtney, who thinks he knows better than the experts.  August 24, 2014 at 12:55 am
...Eli Kintisch says global warming has been “put” “on a pause”. No. Global warming has stopped and the existing plateau in global temperature will end with warming or cooling. Therefore, until the plateau ends it cannot be known whether global temperature rise has paused or is reversing.
The important possibility which Eli Kintisch does not mention (fails to recognise?) is that there may be no “missing” heat. There are three known possible reasons for this; viz.
1. The twentieth century rises in global average surface temperature anomaly (GASTA) known as global warming resulted from redistributed surface temperatures and not altered heat in the climate system.
2. The twentieth century rises in GASTA resulted from moderation of cloud cover with resulting variations to heat entering the system which is independent of atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations.
3. Whatever the cause of the twentieth century rises in GASTA, the rises in GASTA were not discernibly affected by atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations because negative feedbacks in the climate system reduce climate sensitivity to being less than 1.0°C per doubling of CO2 equivalence.
Of course, the existence of those known reasons does not remove the possibility of other and unknown reasons.

The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley is starting to get the idea but, like Nik above, probably doesn't have much of a clue about how big the oceans are or how the volume of water increases with temperature. August 24, 2014 at 1:58 am
First of all (sorry, I again have to get this out) it isn’t a ‘pause’. A ‘pause’ implies that you know future events. The increase in global warming has stopped. If it then continues then it WAS a pause. 
Right, that aside, my basic understanding of science says that if you warm water, it will increase in volume. So first of all, that is correct, yes? Ok, so if the oceans have been absorbing warmth all this time (but land temperature shows no change) then the world’s water stores should be growing in volume at a rate far higher than the recent past. Sea levels shouldn’t just be rising in line with recent history, but going up at an extraordinary rate, yes? So to prove that the warmth is being stored, one would only have to look at sea level rise? Is it as simple as I show, or have I missed something?

andrewmharding  is missing the point as well. He reckons those scientists "don't know nuffin'". I don't know who he thinks worked out what little he does know. Flamin' galahs?
August 24, 2014 at 2:16 amExcellent article David. I have said many times on this blog that heat cannot just disappear into the oceans for the following reasons:
1) Like you say, if CO2 is warming the atmosphere by a greenhouse effect it can only affect water to a few inches deep and temperature by very little due to the huge specific heat capacity of salt water compared to air at sea level.Add to that, the fact that warm salt water is less dense than cold salt water and there is no way it can disappear into the ocean depths.
2) The reason the oceans warm during the summer, is because of infrared radiation from the sun.
3) The reason the oceans cool during the summer is because solar radiation going in is less than heat energy going out by the mechanism of convection in the sea and the air above the sea. This is why our UK climate is as it is, mild wet winters and cool wet summers because we are a small island surrounded by sea with the Gulf Stream passing our Western shores.
4) Global warming by increased CO2 levels can only warm the air, the amount of solar radiation hitting the Earth is unchanged. Therefore the only way the sea could warm as a result, is by heat conduction from the air into the surface of the water, but we have already established that the main transfer of energy in fluids is by convection. So as the air warms it rises away from the surface of the sea being replaced by cooler air from above. There is no known physical process by which less dense warmer water can sink into colder more dense water.
I cannot believe that the AGW believers have subjected us to this tosh, which can be dismissed by a 16 year old with a GCSE in physics!

markstoval is one of WUWT's resident conspiracy theorists who thinks that climate scientists all over the world are just making up stuff. He's also an "ice age cometh-er".
August 24, 2014 at 3:25 am (excerpt)
...The reason that these paper writers ignore empirical data is that the data is not telling them what they want to hear. Even the fudged data sets where they have “adjusted” the data to suit their preconceived biases are not telling them what they want to hear. 
Many rebuttals have been posted here at WUWT and in many, many other places. But it is hard to get a scientific paper past the group-think, censorship, and pal-review of the various scientific journals. In fact, some have said that a young scientist would risk his/her entire career on submitting a paper showing that the CO2 alarmist group-think is bunk. One can lose funding, grants, chance at advancement or full time professorship and so on.
My friend, I think only Mother Nature can end the madness of the modern crowd. When the ice starts to flow toward New York, then you might see some of the alarmists finally admit that man-generated CO2 did not have a darn thing to do with it on net and then we might get back to trying to figure out what really causes climate change.
The climate does change. Glaciations do happen as do interglacials and we don’t know what causes this. Even worse, we don’t know what caused the present ice age to begin with nor if we will ever see an end to it. For me, I will not live to see even the end of the present interglacial of this ice age, much the less see an end to the ice age itself. So, I only worry about the government and its ridiculous anti-humanity rules and laws that are prompted by this false religion.

After posting this I decided to check the comments to see if anyone mentioned thermohaline circulation. I found only two people did so.

Matthew R Marler  August 24, 2014 at 11:26 am (extract)
Are you saying that the thermohaline circulation and the Atlantic Meridional Overturning do not exist? 

phlogiston August 24, 2014 at 6:43 pm (extract)
Thanks for the article. Actually David – vertical mixing of the oceans does occur and is significant climatically. However this has been known for decades. The Warmunists are being very dishonest and machievellian in wheeling it out now.

Xianyao Chen and Ka-Kit Tung, "Varying planetary heat sink led to global-warming slowdown and acceleration." Science 22 August 2014: 897-903. DOI: 10.1126/science.1254937

McGregor, Shayne, Axel Timmermann, Malte F. Stuecker, Matthew H. England, Mark Merrifield, Fei-Fei Jin, and Yoshimitsu Chikamoto. "Recent Walker circulation strengthening and Pacific cooling amplified by Atlantic warming." Nature Climate Change (2014). doi:10.1038/nclimate2330

Trenberth, Kevin E., John T. Fasullo, Grant Branstator, and Adam S. Phillips. "Seasonal aspects of the recent pause in surface warming." Nature Climate Change (2014). doi:10.1038/nclimate2341


  1. Anthony Watts' blog is where science deniers congregate so they don't feel so alone in the world.
    True, but don't forget about the other Homes For The Terminally Deluded, some of them much closer to (your) home. So if there's a bit of a lull at WUWT, don't forget all the other sources of nonsense. :)

  2. It is not my topic, but I just came by this article. To play Amazon: People interested in the above post may also want to read:

    Linear Weakening of the AMOC in response to Receding Glacial Ice Sheets in CCSM3

    Jiang Zhu, Zhengyu Liu, Xu Zhang, Ian Eisenman and Wei Liu
    DOI: 10.1002/2014GL060891

    Key Points
    * The AMOC weakens greatly in response to deglacial lowering ice-sheet topography
    * This weakening follows a strikingly linear relationship with ice-sheet volume
    * The weakening is caused by a wind-driven sea-ice expansion process

  3. andrewmharding:
    "2) The reason the oceans warm during the summer, ...
    3) The reason the oceans cool during the summer ..."

    No comment.

  4. I believe that some day someone at WUWT will look at David Archibald's contributions to our collective knowledge of the climate system and ruefully conclude that Anthony might possibly have picked a better guest poster.

    Some day.

  5. Sou, It's funny how the denier poster "phlogiston", quoted in your post, casually demolishes Archibald's argument without meeting any consequent opposition from any of Anthony's many Acolytes who had been cheering that very argument to the rafters, simply because he tacks an assertion about "warmunists' dishonesty" at the end.

    Maybe if Nick Stokes inserted a bit of evidence-free abuse of climate scientists at the end of his highly pertinent comments at WUWT he wouldn't get sin-binned.

  6. I frequent HW, for the snarky content and the Blog Roll. I understand the desire to write about every WTFUWT post ("There's someone wrong on the internet"); however, there's no evidence that it helps. WTFUWT readers are the "8% dismissives" and, IMO, the reach of Watts' web site is way overestimated. For example, I work in climate science and none of my colleagues has ever heard of him. Occasionally his web site shows up in a local Letter to the Editor, but then the task is just to counteract that claim in another letter, not deal with group-think on the web.

    When I see productive people like VV commenting here, I wonder how many truly valuable person-hours are being wasted on Watts and his acolytes. It can be a learning experience, e.g., providing resources to help people research a complex issue. But for truly dumb posts, where the only productive outcome is really to say "here's a truly dumb post", it probably isn't worth the writer's or the readers' time.

    Just a ramble. Really, the point is that the "truly stupid" stuff is not as interesting as the analysis of denialist memes that are not so easily debunked, but that's a scientist's perspective. I think ATTP said that he wanted to see a "better class of sceptic". I'd agree with that, but with the corollary that we shouldn't waste valuable time on the stupid "sceptics" operating in a fairly small bubble. (Like I just did, here.)

    1. I am sure you are right PL. One important area to deal with the stupidity is to counterract it in blogs, climate change courses etc. Otherwise they have a free rein to confuse people.

    2. There's more to life than the mission. I'm sure Victor Venema (for instance) values his person-hours as highly as you do, and if he wants to send some here he has a good reason. Maybe some R&R from the fighting front or whatever.

      A bit of evidence-based mockery of people who invite it is good for the iner being, in my experience, and surely no sin.

    3. In the context of PL's comments, which I take on board, it's probably relevant that Maurice Newman, who chairs the Australian Prime Minister's Business Advisory Council, recently called on David Archibald as if he were a credible authority on climate science.

      Stats show that often HW attracts searches for the name of a "guest essayist" at WUWT. Which is why I've tried to do a quick turnaround, which does mean sacrificing quality/depth for timeliness. The aim is to give people who are looking for it, a way to respond to deniers who quote the latest WUWT article as proof that climate science is a hoax. This happens quite a bit on various internet discussion boards, for example.

      There is no chance HW will comment on every WUWT article, of which there can be as many as eight or nine a day. On a good day I'll manage two or maybe three. At the moment I'm lucky to get in one a day.

      It could be that blogs targeting deniers help keep deniers in line to some extent. They don't stop the denial, but the frequency of utter nutter articles can be kept in check a bit. Also, scientists who are targeted directly by deniers shouldn't have to respond personally every time - we bloggers can deal with some of the flack they get :D

    4. I must add that comments here from climate scientists and other knowledgeable people; and their retweets, facebook links, links on discussion boards etc. really, really help. Not just to make sure I keep the quality at an acceptable level, have interpreted the scientific references properly - it also adds credibility to HW (and I expect other bloggers will say the same).

      So thanks, people :)

    5. A slightly shorter form of my earlier comment is that, simply by wasting the time of scientifically competent and sane people, the WTFUWT crowd have achieved the negative impact that seems to drive them. "If we keep them (meaning us) busy on blogs, then the won't have as much time and energy for fighting our political friends and Murdoch-sponsored Op-Eds."

      I didn't mean to imply that people shouldn't do this for fun, relaxation, whatever turns them on. And the threads at HW, where the die-hard stupids come to strut their stuff, are valuable to illustrate the quality of WUWT-think. I'll continue to visit HW, in part to watch the train wreck that denialism has become, without having to contribute to Watts' page views.

      Thanks Sou!

    6. I see my blogging and commenting as my free time. The "climate debate" has nothing to do with science. Thus I could not do this during working hours. Most of my posts are written in the weekend, only a few on scientific topics I write at work. And you need a break once in a while.

      It helps that I simply cannot take these people seriously and see WUWT as a satire that you cannot top. That makes reading it and making fun of it into a hobby. Not everyone can see it that way. Somehow I only need respect from people I can respect. What those fools, who do not know me, hurdle at my head is irrelevant to me. And I guess if I had to live among those gun-slinging irrationals, I might also see it differently.

      I had never considered writing a response to an Op-Ed. If only because that is not necessary in Germany and I do not read those newspapers. Fighting Anglo-American politicians is neither fun nor my work. The other politicians and the environmental movement are the main people that should do that.

      This has nothing to do with science, it is pure politics. If it were about improving science, they would be much more careful what the post on WUWT.

      When they hinder science this way, for example by FOIA harassment or congressional investigations that keep good people from their work, then they are only hindering research into the details we need to adapt to climate change.

      The case for mitigation, for which we only need the global mean temperature, is already sufficiently solid. For adaptation, which will mainly protect the populations in the rich countries in practice, we need local information. That is much harder, that is the reason the research continues. Thus those right-wing extremists that only care about protecting their own are shooting themselves in the foot.

      I can highly recommend, the book Sou mentions in the right menu:
      Bob Altemeyer's The Authoritarians (for insight into behavioural traits common to climate science deniers as well as bigots (in regard to sexism, homophobia, racism etc)).

    7. Thanks Victor. Note that I only named you because you're someone I know I can relate to as a productive working climate scientist, so it was probably projection. Re Op-Eds (and other Letters to the Editor), here in the US it's much more common to see Watts-style stupidity in the newspapers and in political discussions, and often these are *not* challenged either by environmental groups or other sensible politicians. (Senator Whitehouse is about it for us.)

      I enjoy your informative and always well-mannered posts and blog comments.

    8. PL, no prob. I am just a small fish, not your typical Op-Ed writer. I am also not sure whether a Dutch climatologist should reply in bad English to a stupid article or Op-Ed in the Tuscon Observer.

      Still you are right that replying to such articles is probably more important than blogging about somebody being wrong on the internet. Because these articles are read by normal people, whereas the blog replies are mainly read by people that are already convinced.

      Would it be an idea to start of blog, or something similar, to coordinate such a job a bit? Where people point to stupid articles, others point to the blog posts with the counter arguments (the memes are almost always the same old ones) and then look for the best person(s) to respond.

  7. Perhaps "andrewmharding", who appears to be a 16 year-old with a GCSE in physics, could explain what makes the Gulf Stream flow, if there is no mixing of water in the oceans? Further his comment:
    "There is no known physical process by which less dense warmer water can sink into colder more dense water" doesn't appear to comprehend that the salinity of the water affects density, as well as temperature. Utter fail in basic physics.

  8. "Waves mix the water near the surface layer such that the temperature may be relatively uniform in the top 100 metres. Below that there is almost no mixing and no vertical movement of water."

    Yet there it is, warmed water down to 1,000 metres. It's not computer models or adjusted readings, the deniers favourite food for their Morton's daemon. It's actually there. I really don't know who deniers can be so unabashedly and so wilfully ignorant of actual measurements. You just want to scream at them, BUT IT"S THERE.

  9. Blog scientists rely on a general vibe-like "common sense" view of [ocean] science. The concept of a complex dynamical system of differentially surface-heated water on the thin outer layer of a rotating sphere exchanging mass and energy with irregular solid objects and a gaseous outer layer is much harder to fathom. It is why physical and mathematical models, coupled with detailed measurements, are essential to have any hope of understanding what is going on.

  10. Oh that Mr Watts again - he be everywhere pest


    1. This blog is largely about mocking the things Watts posts. Sometimes it strays into the things Curry posts.


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