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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Slaying the ocean dragons at WUWT

Sou | 1:40 PM Go to the first of 21 comments. Add a comment

Greenhouse effect denier Bob Tisdale has branched out into slaying dragons in the ocean (archived here).

Bob has one skill, if you can call it that. It's taking data collected by the scientists he despises and plotting charts and then disputing the science the data demonstrate. He tries to do this in a manner that hides global warming but lately he's not had much success. It's a bit hard to hide this sort of warming:

Data source: HADSST

Bob does his best to hide the warming, usually by showing surface temperature changes in parts of the ocean that haven't warmed as much as others.

Today he's trying to prove that the oceans aren't storing the extra energy that's being accumulated on earth (from the extra greenhouse gases). They are just getting hotter because they are getting hotter. (Yes, really!) He flits from one denier blog to another, pointing to one bit of nonsense after another, then makes random jumps in and out of his own interminable tomes, making little if any sense along the way. Occasionally he'll leap to a quote from a science paper, dismissing all that's in the paper except for the bits he thinks support his argument that the greenhouse effect is either non-existent or minimal. Bob's trying to slay the ocean dragons.

There is way too much wrong with Bob's article and as usual it's dreary, goes from pillar to post and makes little sense. And it's long. Good lord - it's so long, and it's tedious, and it's inconsistent. However let me list a fraction of the dumb and wrong he wrote.

By the way, except for some charts, this article isn't the usual of replacing denialisms with science. It's more just a list of dumb denialisms. If you're interested in the subject of ocean warming, you could start here or read this article at - and note the replies to this comment there as well.

Bob's Blooper No. 1: Climate models aren't modeling nature. (Yes they are, Bob!)

Bob doesn't have a clue about climate models. He thinks they are meant to be weather forecasts for one thing. He's always complaining that they don't model ENSO at the time of an ENSO event. Today he is being just as silly and wrong, writing:
The naturally occurring processes that can warm the oceans, of course, are not considered in the climate models used by the IPCC. Climate modelers’ force the warming of the oceans based on their assumptions of how the infrared radiation from manmade greenhouse gases warm the oceans.

Bob just loves the phrase "naturally occurring" but he doesn't know what it means. He can't accept the fact that all the processes that are modeled in climate models are naturally occurring processes. Climate models are based on physics and chemistry and the most complex even include biology. Bob doesn't believe that greenhouse warming is a naturally occurring process. Greenhouse gases have warmed the earth for as long as they've been in the atmosphere. They haven't changed how they work. They have exactly the same effect as they have always had. Nothing has changed except that recently the amount of greenhouse gases has increased - a lot. Which is why earth is getting so hot.

When I read his quote I could almost see the cogs whirring and chugging and grating against each other in Bob's tiny brain, as he imagines lots of tiny little people running to and fro within the entrails of a supercomputer - pushing and pulling and forcing his imagined unnatural processes on top of his imagined natural ones.

Tip to Bob. Climate models only model natural processes. They follow the laws of nature.

I know he'll never wake up to reality. He's too convinced of his own omnipotence. Dunning-Kruger in action. He doesn't even understand the concept of conservation of energy. He thinks it can be manufactured out of nothing. Magic. He calls in "naturally fuelled sunlight" or some such thing, as if the sunlight is suddenly behaving differently for no reason at all.

Bob's Blooper No. 2: The ocean got hotter because it got hotter. Huh?

Here's another Bob blooper. A classic and typical example of Bob's circular thinking. Bob put up a chart of the North Pacific, or part of it, or something (he's always picking little bits of the ocean to try to prove something or the other. He tries to avoid, as much as possible, showing what's happening overall - like in the chart above of sea surface temperatures). Here's his chart:

Source: WUWT

Notice how he colour codes everything just in case you don't interpret it the way he wants you to. Bob wrote:
It’s blatantly obvious the extratropical North Pacific to depths of 700 meters would show no warming from 1955 to present if it wasn’t for that upward shift in 1988 and 1989.  
Yep, it's blatantly obvious that the ocean wouldn't have got hotter if it didn't get hotter. Duh!

He followed that up with something even worse, if you can get your head around it:
It’s also obvious that the downward shift in 1978 that extends to 1988 also impacts the long-term trend. That is, without the naturally caused downward shift in the late-1970s the long-term warming rate would be less. 
If that part of the ocean didn't cool down then it wouldn't have heated up as much. Huh? So it got hot because it got hot, then it cooled down and got even hotter because it cooled down. If you can follow what he's trying to say, then you're a better man than me (to use Bob's politically incorrect lingo).

From there he takes another leap of illogic and writes:
Obviously, natural variability, not manmade greenhouse gases, dominates the variability and long-term warming of the extratropical Pacific to the depths of 700 meters. 
C does not follow B which does not follow A. Except in Bob's illogical brain. Natural variability dominates in the short term but not in the long term. Over the long term it's greenhouse warming that dominates overall. That's not to say that everywhere is warming at the same rate or even warming. Bob seems to think it should for some strange reason - actually for no reason that I can fathom.

For the record, here is the ocean heat content (global) to 2000m from NOAA:

Source: NOAA

I've plotted the pentadal plots for each ocean and the world as a whole, and combined them in an animated chart. You can see that different oceans have warmed differently, but they are all getting hotter. The North Indian seems the flattest of all. (Note the different scales.)

Data source: NOAA

You can compare the separate charts on one (mobile friendly) page here - note the different scales on the Y axes.

Bob's Blooper No. 3: There is no such thing as weather or ocean currents. Oh, my!

At one stage Bob makes the solemn pronouncement:
That lack of warming to depths of 2000 meters for two ocean basins that cover 2/3 of the ocean surface (North Atlantic and Pacific) is hard to reconcile in a world where greenhouse gases are said to be well mixed, meaning they’re pretty well evenly distributed around the globe.

Weird, huh? Especially for someone who prides himself (wrongly) as being the world's leading expert on the oceans. Bob is assuming that water in the ocean doesn't move up down or sideways. That there are no layers in the oceans or the atmosphere. And that there is no such thing as wind in the atmosphere or currents in the air and oceans. He has no concept of how energy moves through the earth system. This time I picture his little brain seeing a still pool of water two centimetres deep and extrapolating from that to the world's oceans, as if they are simply bigger versions of a still, shallow pond. I have no idea how he rationalises the fact that there is ice at the poles and the tropics are hot.

Oh - I meant to add that I can't figure out why Bob reckons there's been no warming in 2/3 of the world's oceans. The charts of NOAA data show otherwise. (Added a bit later by me. Sou. 10 Dec 2014)

Bob's Blooper No. 4: Bob's back to front "authorities". Deniers as "experts".

Bob listed all the people he disagreed with, including ocean experts Stefan Rahmstorf, Peter Minnett and others. And he listed the people he agreed with - denier blogger John Daly (RIP), denier oceanographer Robert E Stephenson (RIP), and various denier bloggers of absolutely no consequence whatsoever.

Bob the sad sock

Bob is also a sad specimen of a human being. Such a loser. You may not know that he not only sockpuppeted here at HotWhopper because he was too scared to comment under his own name, he even sockpuppeted on his own blog. He ended up carrying on long conversations with himself because he had almost no-one else to talk to. His sockpuppet is also the only person to mention him in comments on another blog. Shades of Nigel Persaud. Some deniers aren't just weird, they are creepy.

His personal proclivities and character flaws aren't why he's wrong though. He's wrong because he doesn't accept the first law of thermodynamics and he doesn't accept the physics of the greenhouse effect - that gases like H2O and CO2 absorb and emit long wave radiation. He thinks the earth stays warm by magic.

From the WUWT comments

I got the idea for the title from one of the comments at WUWT. MikeB wrote:
December 9, 2014 at 3:48 am
Oh my God, the sky dragons are back.
Infrared radiation can warm a metal bar. How far do you think it penetrates into that Bob?
I liked Mike's analogy to the Tim Ball's and other sky dragon slayers. I think Mike's a bit off track if he's suggesting that long wave radiation penetrates into the oceans. A later comment from him suggests that's not what he thinks. In any case, it doesn't - or not to any great extent. What happens is that the oceans heat up from incoming short wave radiation, but they can no longer emit an equal amount like they used to. That's because the atmosphere is warmer than it was. That's why they heat up. (That's the simple version. A bit like if you put on an overcoat, you won't lose as much heat as if you will when you take it off.)

MikeUK explains it nicely and simply:
December 9, 2014 at 3:50 am
The greenhouse effect is (just) a load of hot air (hotter than it would otherwise be). The ocean gets warmer (than it would otherwise be) simply because it sits beneath a blanket of warmer air, but it takes centuries for this to happen.
If you don’t believe that go outside naked now (winter) at night, and compare how it feels relative to a similar exposure on a summers night. The only difference is the temperature of the air. You and the ocean cool less under a blanket of warmer air than under a blanket of colder air.

wickedwenchfan must have been an obstreperous child, never listening when his mother urged him to put on a jumper to keep out the cold, snarling that jumpers don't keep him warm. That no way do they radiate back the infrared heat leaving his body. His mother probably got sick and tired of being called a liar:
December 9, 2014 at 3:53 am
One thing that gets my goat sometimes when seeing scientists arguing against the infra-red part of the global warming con, is how complicated they make it. Like this really is a discussion about science. It’s not. It’s a discussion about fraud. You don’t need a 10 page paper on back radiation with a dozen equations and graphs. You just need some basic common sense and some simple observations.
The heat is LEAVING the surface. It is going from hot to cold. It can’t be sent back and even if it could it’s not going to return to make the surface hotter than it was the second visit than it was originally. End of story. The maths and the absorbtion rates and all the rest should be called out for what it is: scientific bullshit!
That this concept was ever even considered by other scientists is a disgrace. Worse that it has been considered that 0.04% of the atmoshere could do it!
Just do a bit of basic thought here. The last 0.9C of warming has been attributed to a 0.012% increase in CO2. However you spin it every molecule of CO2 has been able to absorb enough energy from absorbing a fraction of the energy leaving the surface and redirecting half of it, enabling the heating of the surrounding 8333 molecules!
The post a few days back quoting from Mein Kampf wasn’t out of order. If you want to get away with fooling a large number of people you need to make a lie so outrageous that no one will believe it is possible for anyone to dare to say it if it wasn’t true!
This is such an outrageous lie. Committed by people with PhDs in physics. The king has no clothes on. It’s not “counter intuitive” it’s bullshit!

Peter Taylor wants Bob to put his money where his mouth is. But Bob's a demonstrable coward, he won't even write comments on those pesky "warmist" blogs using his own name. There's no way he would be game to try to publish in a scientific journal. He knows his gobbledegook wouldn't even get to the review stage. and wouldn't be game to try. He's stuck with pseudo-science blogs, forever.
December 9, 2014 at 5:06 am (extract)
Thanks Bob – I always value your work – and wish you could get a critical review paper published somewhere in the journals. 

Leonard Weinstein tries to teach Bob a thing or two, but Bob would be singing "puff the magic ocean dragon" while stuffing his fingers in his ears.
December 9, 2014 at 5:38 am
On average all heating energy of the oceans is due to absorbed sunlight (neglecting the small heating from below the ground). The loss of this energy occurs three ways: conduction to the air (followed by convection), evaporation, and radiation (some direct to space, and some to be absorbed by the atmosphere). All of the loss processes occur at the surface. While there are cases (especially night and higher latitudes) where the sea is colder than the air, on average (long term and globally), the sea is warmer than the air. The only effect of back radiation is to add some energy to the surface, which reduces the net radiation loss. There never is an increase in absorbed net energy, only solar energy is the cause of net energy absorbed. It is the outgoing energy balance that is modified. This reduction in net radiation then requires that more conduction and evaporation occur to maintain the long term balance, which also results in an increase in the average altitude of final radiation loss to space. This increase in altitude in conjunction with the lapse rate is the cause of any increase in temperature. Obviously long term storage and currents make local and shorter term energy levels go out of balance, but I am only referring to long term overall balance.


  1. Leonard Weinstein tries to teach Bob a thing or two,

    Well Weinstein got into it with Nick Stokes too, and Nick is no denier.

    1. Nick was trying to use the KISS principle by only mentioning radiation. It still went straight over good ol' Bobs head.

    2. My point was that it is a rather complicated topic.
      I dug my 30 year old physics text books out o the garage, and sure enough, IR gets absorbed in the first 3 microns of water, causing it to evaporate for the most part rather than warming it. But then you have water vapour warmer than the air would otherwise have been hanging over top of the water and conduction still works. But the real trick is to work from the MRL backward using the lapse rate to arrive at the elevated surface temperature, which is a simpler way to model it, which was what I think Weinstein was getting at.

    3. DMH, they like the 3 micron IR penetration argument so much it's hard to get them unstuck from it. It doesn't seem to occur that the oceans are so good at sequestering energy to begin with because of that.

      Latent heat of condensation has to go somewhere. Precip falls on land surfaces which are warmer than they'd otherwise be. That warmer water goes somewhere ....

      Some smart person somewhere has likely tallied up all this stuff and ... oh yeah, Kevin Trenberth and friends. Many others.

    4. Warming the atmosphere directly above the ocean surface reduces the thermal gradient across the ocean skin layer. This reduces the rate of conduction across the skin layer which reduces the rate at which energy leaves the bulk ocean.

    5. That's my understanding as well. However, from the RC thread on the skin layer from a while back, I was lead to believe that while it's a real and measurable effect, ocean warming is not dominated by it, but rather by heat retention and transfer elsewhere. When dealing with cherry-picking denialists, I tend to go for largest effects that are easiest for me to 'splain.

    6. Sure, mixing and subsurface currents move DSW-warmed water away from the surface and warm the 0 - 2000m layer as a whole, but the key is the thermal gradient across the ocean surface skin layer.

      Is this the RC thread you were thinking of btw?

      For anyone interested, here are a few useful links:

      SkS - How CO2 heats the ocean

      SoD - Does back radiation heat the ocean? This addresses the skeptikoid argument that:

      solar radiation heats the ocean, but atmospheric radiation only heats the top few molecules. So DLR is unable to transfer any heat into the bulk of the ocean, instead the energy goes into evaporating the top layer into water vapor. This water vapor then goes to make clouds which act as a negative feedback. And so, more back-radiation from more CO2 can only have a cooling effect.

      SoD - cool ocean skin layer


  2. How the hell does Sou get so much so right so often? Aren't there laws?

  3. " However let me list a fraction of the dumb and wrong he wrote."
    Sou Springsteen 2014

  4. I liked Mike's analogy to the Tim Ball's and other sky dragon slayers.

    Yeah, I meant to ask about that. The sky dragon dolts have been banned from WUWT, but Tim Ball still gets to post articles anyway?

    1. One can only conclude that Anthony must subscribe to Tim's New World Order/One World Government/anti-semitic conspiracy theories, so forgives him his slaying of sky dragons. It's a matter of priorities :(

  5. This may be rather OT, but I've been wondering what magical "natural" processes Bob is thinking of. Bob's cyclomania doesn't cut it - that much heat has to come from somewhere.

    The only Anything-But-Carbon place I can think of is submarine volcanoes, commonly the last handwaving defence of the denier, so just for the hell of it, I thought I'd put some numbers to the submarine volcano claim. Someone else may have done it already elsewhere, but I've not seen it.

    Specific heat of liquid magma = 1000 J/kg K
    Specific heat of basalt = 1400 J/kg K (estimates vary quite a lot, I'll go high for this exercise)
    Latent heat of crystalisation of basalt = 400000 J/kg

    Assuming magma hits the ocean floor at 1350 C, starts crystalising at around 1100 C and cools to near 0 C, each kilogram of magma would dump a total of 2.19 MJ into the ocean in this process. To explain 200 zJ (20 x 10^22J) taken up over the last 25 years, that would require 9 x 10^16 kg of lava, or 31,500 cubic kilometres. That equates to about 1000 times the volume of magma ejected by Kilauea, Earths most continuously active volcano, over the same time frame. 1000 Kilaueas? You think we'd have noticed....

    Put it another way, that's about 6% of the volume of the Deccan Traps. But the Deccan Traps - the largest sustained outpouring of lava in the last 100 million years - took around 30000 years to form. That makes the rate of eruption 70-odd times the rate of the Deccan Traps. You think we'd have noticed....

    Incidentally that volume of lava would displace enough ocean water to raise sea levels by about 90mm, plus another 20mm for thermosteric rise. But sea level rise since 1990 has been about 70mm. So somewhere, the top 40 mm of the oceans has disappeared. Why aren't the submarine volcanists freaking about the hole in the bottom of the ocean draining away the equivalent of the average flow of the Mississippi? We need to find that hole and plug it!

    I'd say more, but I've just realised my credulometer is broken. If I don't go and get it fixed, I'll find myself believing any old rubbish....

    1. Wow, that's terrific Frank. I'll remember your comment next time the subject of undersea volcanoes comes up, which it will.

      Bob thinks it's the sun - as far as I can tell but he doesn't explain how it the sun makes the earth hotter whether TSI is rising or falling (as it's been the since the 1950s or whenever). He's definitely a greenhouse effect denier and has no knowledge of high school physics.

      He usually just says it only got hot because it got hot somewhere. He's got another article just now saying it only got hot because it got hot and if it hadn't got hot it wouldn't have got hot.

      People will surely start to laugh at him even at WUWT. Then again, they are pretty dimwitted over there so probably not.

    2. Bob simply doesn't understand the law of energy conservation.

    3. Top marks FrankD! You have shown your workings with relevance to known Physics and labelled all numbers with the correct units! It makes an old burnt out Physicist proud!
      Can you do the same calculation for factor-X , alien spaceships, wormholes and other mythical causes of short/long term variation.
      Do not bother as this is what the deniers want. Bert

  6. The quote that tickles me is in the last graf: "Of course, we know that the record high global surface temperatures in 2014 are primarily a response to a prolonged weather event in the North Pacific."

    It's funny how Bob remembers weather isn't climate when things start looking warmish.

    1. Oh, err ... that quote was from a different Tisdale post, the one on UAH and RSS ....

    2. Yes, Brandon, that was the one I was referring to in my reply to Frank. Bob has been branching out from ENSO quite a bit lately - trying his hand at comedy and physics and sockpuppetry and imitation (failing all four).

    3. That explains my cornfuzzlement. Combining comedy and physics could be harmful done improperly. There's no right way to do sockpuppetry.

    4. I used to call them climate clowns because clowns do physical comedy...


    5. Having set that pun up, I have only myself to blame for how bad it is ... :)


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