Monday, December 4, 2017

Funny peculiar: #Climate "guru" Anthony Watts' doesn't know the oceans accumulate energy

Two days ago Anthony Watts, who runs a climate conspiracy blog WUWT, posted what he called "Friday Funny – Climate Central’s scare graph excuse: ‘The oceans ate the warming’".

It is funny, as in odd, peculiar, that Anthony Watts doesn't know that more than 90% of the extra energy we've been adding is stored in the ocean. I mean, Anthony makes himself out to be an expert on climate change, more expert than the experts who research the subject. He's been blogging about climate for about ten years now. To think that he doesn't know one of the most basic facts about global warming is very strange indeed.

He was writing about a chart that someone called Frank Strzalkowski drew to his attention. The chart is on the Facebook page of Climate Central, a reputable source of information about climate change with an impressive list of board members and staff.

Here is the chart from the Facebook post:

Source: Climate Central
Below is the chart from which the above was derived. It's from the IPCC report, AR5 WG1.
Plot of energy accumulation in ZJ (1 ZJ = 1021 J) within distinct components of Earth’s climate system relative to 1971 and from 1971–2010 unless otherwise indicated. See text for data sources. Ocean warming (heat content change) dominates, with the upper ocean (light blue, above 700 m) contributing more than the deep ocean (dark blue, below 700 m; including below 2000 m estimates starting from 1992). Ice melt (light grey; for glaciers and ice caps, Greenland and Antarctic ice sheet estimates starting from 1992, and Arctic sea ice estimate from 1979–2008); continental (land) warming (orange); and atmospheric warming (purple; estimate starting from 1979) make smaller contributions. Uncertainty in the ocean estimate also dominates the total uncertainty (dot-dashed lines about the error from all five components at 90% confidence intervals).  Source: IPCC AR5 WG1 (Box 3.1, Figure 1). 
The fact that Anthony didn't know that water has a high specific heat capacity is not the only thing that's strange. For someone who pretends to be a science blogger it's quite peculiar that he doesn't understand percentages. He wrote:
First, let me point out (as Frank does) that the graph is unitless on the Y axis, it’s only listed as a percentage, with no reference to a baseline for comparison, though it could be assumed that they mean since 1970.
Almost right. The 93% refers to the percentage of energy accumulated in the oceans from 1971 to 2010, with the remaining 7% having been added to the land, ice and atmosphere.

Anthony Watts has never opened the IPCC AR5 report

Even more peculiar/funny is that Anthony Watts, climate science denier guru, thinks the IPCC AR5 WG1 report has no chapters! I don't find it at all odd that he hasn't read any of the IPCC Assessment Reports. He is a proud fake sceptic after all. What I do find weird is that he is so unfamiliar with them that he doesn't know they are rather large reports, each having multiple volumes and multiple chapters all about climate science. Anthony wrote about the Climate Central graphic:
They reference chapter 3 of the 2013 IPCC AR5 report “Climate Change 2013 The Physical Science Basis, Chapter 3” as the source for the graph data. You can download it direct from the IPCC here:
Oops - Anthony, you've linked to the summary volume, not the main report. The main report not only has a Chapter 3, on oceans, it has chapters 1 through 14. Anthony continued to profess his abysmal ignorance writing:
Unfortunately, that reference cited by Climate Central” appears to be in error as there is no chapter 3 “”Climate Change 2013 The Physical Science Basis” as listed in the table of contents:
...and he proceeded to list the contents of the summary report. Anyone with an ounce of sense would have immediately realised he had the wrong document. Not young Anthony!

Anthony Watts warms a pot of water

It gets worse as Anthony shows off his ignorance about water and heat. He wrote, referring to the IPCC chart above:
Looking at that graph, the idea that increasing CO2 heated the oceans 10x more than the land or atmosphere is just preposterous. Try warming a pot of water by making the room temperature a degree warmer.
Anthony's example of heating a pot of water by heating the air is ridiculous. Not only will it not work, he's got his science all back to front. If the energy that went into heating water was instead released to the same volume of air, the air would probably not be able to absorb it and a lot more of the heat would go into the pot. Anthony might try putting an empty pot on the stove (containing nothing but air), leaving the lid on, and see how long it takes to melt the pot. For best effect I suggest a thin aluminium pot. Then he could try the same experiment with a similar sized pot of the same material but full of water, and see how long it takes. Then he could go out and buy a new stove and a new pot :)

The total heat capacity of the oceans is about 1,000 times the heat capacity of the atmosphere. Brian Angliss has the calculations at Scholars and Rogues, if you're in doubt. One kind person pointed this out, but no-one took any notice least of all Anthony Watts. Toneb wrote:
December 1, 2017 at 1:22 pm
Yes, so the heat capacity of the oceans is around 1000x that of the atmosphere.

Uncertainty and denial

Then, in complete disregard of the uncertainty ranges shown in the IPCC chart, Anthony added:
What’s even more preposterous is the claimed precision in being able to define this heat content gain, which has it’s basis in sea surface and at depth temperature measurements. ...
...So, in reality, that OHC increase depicted by Climate Central is actually a tiny temperature increase of a few hundredths of a degree C, and one that is likely below the resolution and the precision of the thermometers measuring water temperature to resolve. 
Is likely? Well, Anthony Watts is a fake sceptic so one cannot expect him to check or be precise. The text in Box 3.1 (in Chapter 3) of the IPCC AR5 report sets out in some detail the basis for the estimates of change in global energy. Anthony doesn't even realise there is such a chapter in the report. In any case he would feel utterly shamed and humiliated if his fans caught him reading an IPCC report, let alone any of the papers referenced.

After ten years blogging about climate

All of that brings me back to the first point. How is it that after ten years of blogging about climate, Anthony Watts didn't know one of the most obvious, basic facts - that more than 90% of the energy we've added to our planet has gone into the oceans?


From the WUWT comments

Someone needs to point out to M Courtney that his "error band" is the same as "uncertainty" and was shown on the IPCC chart in the WUWT article. So far, nobody has.
December 1, 2017 at 12:31 pm
What is the error band of the measurements?
In zettajoules, preferably, of course 

There are a few people who seem to think they are the only ones who know that the sun warms Earth. For example, dgp wrote:
December 1, 2017 at 12:43 pm
In my mind, heat bypassing the atmosphere and being deposited in the ocean suggests that solar output and not CO2 is the cause of warming.
By tying to find excuses for their failure, they are providing evidence against themselves. 
Where dgp falls short is that she or he hasn't yet got to the point of thinking about why the oceans are accumulating energy. What is stopping the energy that's captured from the sun from being radiated back to space? Why is energy building up instead of staying the same as it used to be? (Answer: rising greenhouse gases.)

There's also quite a bit of "the data must be wrong". David A is one who, despite all the multiple different lines of evidence, still cannot "believe" we are heating the planet, so he opts for the logical fallacy of personal incredulity.
December 1, 2017 at 11:26 pm
Even if they remain fairly evenly distributed, this would not mean their changes in location of readings and or location of disparate ocean currents which do move has not biased the readings. Certainly, beyond their sparsity in attempting to measure the very deep oceans, these movements would increase the error bars.

JohninRedding isn't concerned. He believes in an "intelligent designer" who'll sort it all out (just like his designer did for the dinosaurs, black death, the flu pandemic, the Maya civilisation, the US dust bowl, the Great Depression and the past five major extinctions).
December 1, 2017 at 4:06 pm
Is the ocean some new phenomena? Seems to me it has always been a factor. Could it be that the earth has its ways of counteracting such things as increase in heat? When you believe in intelligent design you recognize the designer may have put in place means to handle problems we humans get in a twist about. 


  1. I love it when they calculate the actual temperature increase over the entire volume of the oceans and do their high five. They're like weird bugs who are attracted to burnt-out lightbulbs.

  2. Should somebody tell Anthony that percentages *are* unitless... or is it more amusing to let him blather away?

  3. Has the blog changed? I could have sworn I used to be able to just select a tickbox to get emails for follow up comments, without having to post a comment.

  4. Oh, yes, Harry. Sorry about that. The comment box was too small so I changed the way comments are made. I intended to make the box larger, but haven't yet figured out how to do that. When I find a solution I'll change it back to the way it was, but that might take a while.

  5. You can bet no matter what else happens, Willard Tony will find some way to excuse his complete ignorance of what has just happened here. It's the way he rolls: no responsibility for my actions. Just 'blogging'.

    Ever since "I don't understand baselines." has it been so. Actually... even before that. Since WTFUWT existed, in fact. *sigh*

  6. The oceans ate my heat :-).

    Seriously, if the oceans truly are swallowing most of the heat, the bitterly cold ocean depths have the thermal capacity to continue to absorb excess heat for thousands of years. A problem deferred for thousands of years is frankly someone elses problem. Goodbye global warming crisis.

  7. Eric, I don't think I've ever read you being serious. Your usual thing is to mock, say foolish things (like you just did), then shrug it off and move onto the next foolish comment or article.

    So why "seriously" this time? Are you pretending you believe what you've written? Making out that you aren't really trolling for attention by playing the dim denier?

  8. Thermal capacity of water: 4.184J / g / degree, or 4184J / kg / degree

    Mass of the oceans: 1.35 x 10^18 metric tonnes, or 1.35 x 10^21 kg

    Energy required to raise the temperature of the entire ocean by one degree:
    1.35 x 10^21 kg x 4184J / kg / degree
    = 5.65 x 10^24J

    Accepting the figures in your AR5 diagram (despite my reservation that much of that is an "estimate"), that 300 zetajoules (300 x 10^21 joules) that have allegedly been added to the ocean system since 1971, that still only translates to a 0.05 degree rise in temperature for the entire ocean since 1971 - 2010, 0.0125C / decade.

    At this rate the oceans as a whole could absorb several centuries worth of heat before we could even measure it.

    Problem deferred.

  9. 2 deg C now ranks as "bitterly cold ocean depths"? The speed of the ocean's "capacity to continue to absorb excess heat energy" is constrained by the efficiency of the density driven movement of cold water sinking at the polar regions. Now there's your problem, EW.

  10. One thing you can be sure of is that Eric Worrall and his mate Anthony Watts are not playing at being dim deniers.

    Oh, look, our Dunning-Kruger is doing some calculations! Gee, that was easy; he's just proven that there's nothing to worry about. What a dick head.

  11. Eric, if you think the accumulated energy cannot be estimated using measurements, then your sums are for nought.

    Thing is, most of us live on the land surface, not in the ocean. Even though the oceans are absorbing most of the energy we are adding, the surface is also warming up at an astonishing rate. The problem has not been deferred as you would know.

    You sometimes manage to make it part way to accepting reality. Why not go the whole hog? (Is it your ideology, fear of losing Breitbart/WUWT fans, or is the mental challenge just too great for you?)

  12. Sou, the missing heat in the oceans theory in my opinion is an effort to avoid falsification of alarmist climate models, so I'm very dubious about the validity of such estimates.

    But its also fun to demonstrate that ocean heat theory is a tremendous thermal drag on global warming, even if we accept alarmist estimates of thermal input.

    As for the future, if the oceans are dragging global warming, they will also act to cap future warming. As the Earth's surface warms, the efficiency with which heat is delivered into the oceans will also increase, creating a substantial multi-century, likely multi-millennial negative feedback on anthropogenic global warming.

    According to your heroes the ocean is already absorbing 90% of the excess heat generated by anthropogenic emissions. It wouldn't take much of an increase in the thermal efficiency of heat transfer into the ocean to cap surface warming completely.

  13. Hansen explained it in 1985, and again in 1988. 1985 and 1988 were both long before Trenberth first talking about missing heat. So your theory is complete rubbish.

  14. Eric: " It wouldn't take much of an increase in the thermal efficiency of heat transfer into the ocean to cap surface warming completely."

    All it would take is nature violating the laws of physics for the first time in cosmic history. But then, science deniers like Eric don't "believe in" physics, do they :(

  15. I'm curious, Eric, can you point to the science on which you are basing this statement, and what do you think it means?

    "As the Earth's surface warms, the efficiency with which heat is delivered into the oceans will also increase..."

    What will cause a change in efficiency? If the ocean becomes more "efficient" at absorbing energy, is there any reason why the atmosphere would not also become more efficient? If not, what is the difference? What about the land surface. Will it also become more "efficient" at absorbing energy? Wouldn't that mean the world would heat up even faster in your future?

    But first, what would cause your purported change in efficiency? Why would warmer water absorb energy more "efficiently" than colder water and what do you mean by "efficiency" in that context?


  16. The role of deep sea heat storage in the secular response to climatic forcing (1980)


    The influence of the world oceans on climatic response is considered here with emphasis on the heat transferred to waters beneath the well-mixed surface layer and to polar bottom water forming zones. ...

    To study the carbon dioxide climate problem, a more realistic time-dependent forcing function is used based on the historical growth of fossil fuel CO2 and a logarithmic scaling law for the temperature increment which would obtain at any instant if the system were in radiative-convective equilibrium. Our results suggest the influence of deep sea thermal storage could delay the full value of temperature increment predicted by equilibrium models by 10 to 20 years in 1980 to 2000 A.D. time frame. Also considered is the model response to periodic forcing, the sensitivity of the results, and the implications of the model results with regard to climatic changes on a decadal to millenial timescale.

  17. "At this rate the oceans as a whole could absorb several centuries worth of heat before we could even measure it."

    Not only is the timescale incorrect but this statement shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how global thermohaline circulation works. In fact we’ve gone out and measured the age at which seawater last touched the atmosphere. A commonly cited number is that the ocean overturns about once every 2000 years. Broecker, 1985 looked at radiocarbon ages at 3 kilometers of depth at locations all around the world and found the youngest in the North Atlantic (North Atlantic Deepwater formation at 105 years) and the oldest in the North Pacific at 1900 years essentially confirming the existence of global thermohaline circulation.

    In any case, that’s just how the oceans work. They are much larger and deeper than something which would overturn in “several centuries”.

    "Accepting the figures in your AR5 diagram (despite my reservation that much of that is an "estimate"), that 300 zetajoules (300 x 10^21 joules) that have allegedly been added to the ocean system since 1971”

    Here’s where if you had read the section where the figure Sou referenced would have helped. Here’s what it says,

    "For the oceans, an estimate of global upper (0 to 700 m depth) ocean heat content change using ocean statistics to extrapo- late to sparsely sampled regions and estimate uncertainties (Domingues et al., 2008) is used (see Section 3.2), with a linear trend from 1971 to 2010 of 137 TW. For the ocean from 700 to 2000 m, annual 5-year running mean estimates are used from 1970 to 2009 and annual estimates for 2010–2011 (Levitus et al., 2012). For the ocean from 2000 m to bottom, a uniform rate of energy gain of 35 [6 to 61] TW from warming rates centred on 1992–2005 (Purkey and Johnson, 2010) is applied from 1992 to 2011, with no warming below 2000 m assumed prior to 1992.”

    In other words, they chose the best research on OHC while trying to estimate global OHC. The paper goes on to say…

    "It is virtually certain that the Earth has gained substantial energy from 1971 to 2010 — the estimated increase in energy inventory between 1971 and 2010 is 274 [196 to 351] ZJ (1 ZJ = 1021 J)"

    Note the difference in units (watts versus joules)

    "Accepting the figures in your AR5 diagram (despite my reservation that much of that is an "estimate"), that 300 zetajoules (300 x 10^21 joules) that have allegedly been added to the ocean system since 1971, that still only translates to a 0.05 degree rise in temperature for the entire ocean since 1971 - 2010, 0.0125C / decade.”

    Watts have a time component (joules per second) and none of the units you cite have a time component except for the rate you cite at the end. Also your heat estimate is off by 25 ZJ.

    "As for the future, if the oceans are dragging global warming, they will also act to cap future warming.”

    No, you don’t understand how the oceans work. They already work to moderate our climate on a 2000 year timescale, the sea level rise we already see (not to mention Ocean Acidification, changes in organism distributions, coral bleaching, etc.) are just from the parts of the ocean that have interacted with the atmosphere since we’ve been increasing greenhouse gases. Planets without oceans (like what you’re describing) are hostile to life, you need the massive heat budget the ocean provides to keep temperatures within a certain range across a large geographic area. Literally that’s what the oceans do for us.

    Ask me anything about the ocean, I’m a Physical Oceanographer.

  18. Chase, the slow overturning of oceans is a good reason to be skeptical of claims that the deep ocean is swallowing the missing heat. But it amuses me sometimes to argue the absurdity of alarmist claims on the basis of their own assumptions..

  19. Lol. Who was it that said the missing heat may have been reflected back to space? Trenberth.

  20. Eric is "amused" in the manner of an insecure pimply teenager smothering a snigger behind a sweaty paw at the achievements of a knowledgeable, successful adult. If it evokes any response, it may be a raised eyebrow, pity or perhaps contempt.

    The rest of the world thinks it's absurd that know-nothing science deniers regard multiple findings of numerous world-renowned experts "absurd". What makes it especially absurd is that the Eric's of the world don't understand the first thing about the science that they say amuses them.

  21. Good to know what Eric's version of climate modelling is. I have to say that words like simplistic, or even moronic, would be rather generous to him.

  22. Sou, you still haven't figured out why the thermal efficiency of heat transfer into the ocean would likely increase mildly with greater global warming. Perhaps Chase can explain it to you.

  23. "the thermal efficiency of heat transfer into the ocean"

    Could you define exactly what it is you mean by that?

  24. Don't hold your breath, Millicent. I asked the same question and Eric didn't (couldn't) answer. My highly informed guesstimate is that Eric doesn't know what it means let alone could explain the basis for his claim. He's not fishing, he's trolling using very unsophisticated techniques (avoiding answering my question by asking me to answer it, which is not possible).

    Instead, I'll call on a scientific source so that he can understand why I disputed his claim:

    The expectation is that ocean heat uptake efficiency will reduce with global warming, not increase. However there may be other periods when it will increase again for a short while, like it did a few years ago.

    "...the decrease of κ [ocean heat uptake efficiency] represents a physically based response of the climate system to GHG increase, as inferred from the results in GCMs. Therefore, unless models miss effects of other forcing agents, it is likely that this process will occur and act to accelerate surface warming in coming decades."

    From this paper, which explores the complexities in the context of the slower global warming that happened for a few years some time ago now:

    Watanabe, Masahiro, Youichi Kamae, Masakazu Yoshimori, Akira Oka, Makiko Sato, Masayoshi Ishii, Takashi Mochizuki, and Masahide Kimoto. "Strengthening of ocean heat uptake efficiency associated with the recent climate hiatus." Geophysical Research Letters 40, no. 12 (2013): 3175-3179.

  25. Sou,
    It seems that Anthony Watts is just plain ignorant of the science. Here's the science right here...
    See, there it says plainly...4 Hiroshima bombs worth of heat accumulates in the ocean every second. It says..."This warming is due to more heat trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere"
    The only thing that bothers me is whether , the next time I go for a dip in the sea, I'll be irradiated or cooked.

  26. Treat climate revisionism like you would Holocaust denial and other hate speech: delete and ban forever at FIRST sight.

    Prosecute climate revisionism.

    When is Worrall's trial, again?

  27. As far as I know heresy is no longer a criminal offence, even if its climate heresy. But who knows, we live in interesting times.

    1. Ignorance is not a crime, but it's nothing to brag about.

  28. "Chase, the slow overturning of oceans is a good reason to be skeptical of claims that the deep ocean is swallowing the missing heat"

    Again, you seem not to understand what the oceans do. They moderate our climate, without them this planet would be uninhabitable. Why are you proposing we do away with this moderation?

  29. Noting the name Eric Worral from that crank site is commenting, whatever happened to the El Nino diarrheist Bob Tisdale?

  30. All I know is to find useful graphs on Google it is mandatory to type -Tisdale into the earch box.

  31. Heads-up, Anthony Watts is doxxing people again. The term "denier" has set him off.

    Any sort of distraction from the point of Tamino's article of course. And a dog-whistle to his hounds...

  32. "JCH said...
    All I know is to find useful graphs on Google it is mandatory to type -Tisdale into the earch box."

    I get it, "-Tisdale" is an exclusionary option.

    This brings up a good point. Scientific Google searches have been polluted by garbage from these crackpot sites. Also can use Google Scholar to reduce the fake information.

  33. I love Eric's pretence to be so ignorant that his crime would be heresy rather than something based on the consequential harm associated with an organised campaign to hinder action to prevent climate catastrophe.

  34. "Chase, the slow overturning of oceans is a good reason to be skeptical of claims that the deep ocean is swallowing the missing heat."

    What claims?

    I'm serious. Who claims that the abyssal oceans -- the part of the ocean with a temp of ~4C -- are swallowing the heat?

    The vast majority of the heat is going into the top 700 meters, not the remaining ~3 kilometers below it. That's what the measurements show.

    I think you're attacking a strawman. Yes, if scientists were claiming that the heat were going into the deep oceans, you'd have a point. They're not.

    And note that your point about slow overturning doesn't apply to the upper oceans.

    Trenberth's "missing heat" was about a lack of non-surface measurements, mostly the first few hundred meters, before we got the ARGO buoy data. Now that we have that data, that heat transfer is no longer missing. We're *observing* it going into the oceans.

  35. "I think you're attacking a strawman. Yes, if scientists were claiming that the heat were going into the deep oceans, you'd have a point. They're not. "

    Of course he is, he is using rhetorical tricks. He is a propaganda writer.

  36. Sou, why do you block me on Twitter?


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