View Full Version : MYSTERY

03-19-2008, 03:46 PM
Some 3,000 scientific robots that are plying the ocean have sent home a puzzling message. These diving instruments suggest that the oceans have not warmed up at all over the past four or five years. That could mean global warming has taken a breather. Or it could mean scientists aren't quite understanding what their robots are telling them.

This is puzzling in part because here on the surface of the Earth, the years since 2003 have been some of the hottest on record. But Josh Willis at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory says the oceans are what really matter when it comes to global warming.

In fact, 80 percent to 90 percent of global warming involves heating up ocean waters. They hold much more heat than the atmosphere can. So Willis has been studying the ocean with a fleet of robotic instruments called the Argo system. The buoys can dive 3,000 feet down and measure ocean temperature. Since the system was fully deployed in 2003, it has recorded no warming of the global oceans.

"There has been a very slight cooling, but not anything really significant," Willis says. So the buildup of heat on Earth may be on a brief hiatus. "Global warming doesn't mean every year will be warmer than the last. And it may be that we are in a period of less rapid warming."

In recent years, heat has actually been flowing out of the ocean and into the air. This is a feature of the weather phenomenon known as El Nino. So it is indeed possible the air has warmed but the ocean has not. But it's also possible that something more mysterious is going on.

That becomes clear when you consider what's happening to global sea level. Sea level rises when the oceans get warm because warmer water expands. This accounts for about half of global sea level rise. So with the oceans not warming, you would expect to see less sea level rise. Instead, sea level has risen about half an inch in the past four years. That's a lot.

Willis says some of this water is apparently coming from a recent increase in the melting rate of glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica.

"But in fact there's a little bit of a mystery. We can't account for all of the sea level increase we've seen over the last three or four years," he says.

One possibility is that the sea has, in fact, warmed and expanded — and scientists are somehow misinterpreting the data from the diving buoys.

But if the aquatic robots are actually telling the right story, that raises a new question: Where is the extra heat all going?

Kevin Trenberth at the National Center for Atmospheric Research says it's probably going back out into space. The Earth has a number of natural thermostats, including clouds, which can either trap heat and turn up the temperature, or reflect sunlight and help cool the planet.

That can't be directly measured at the moment, however.

"Unfortunately, we don't have adequate tracking of clouds to determine exactly what role they've been playing during this period," Trenberth says.

It's also possible that some of the heat has gone even deeper into the ocean, he says. Or it's possible that scientists need to correct for some other feature of the planet they don't know about. It's an exciting time, though, with all this new data about global sea temperature, sea level and other features of climate.

"I suspect that we'll able to put this together with a little bit more perspective and further analysis," Trenberth says. "But what this does is highlight some of the issues and send people back to the drawing board."

Trenberth and Willis agree that a few mild years have no effect on the long-term trend of global warming. But they say there are still things to learn about how our planet copes with the heat.

LINK (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=88520025)

"...global warming has taken a breather. Or it could mean scientists aren't quite understanding what their robots are telling them."

Right, so let's totally restructure the global economy, all on data we're not sure of!

"...it may be that we are in a period of less rapid warming."

"less rapid warming" /ubbthreads/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/lol.gif In other words: no discernable warming /ubbthreads/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/rofl.gif

Wow! That's the type of spin that would make even a Clinton blush!

03-19-2008, 06:07 PM
But if the aquatic robots are actually telling the right story, that raises a new question: Where is the extra heat all going?

Doh...Aren't you a teacher?
It takes 1 Calorie of heat to melt 1 gram of ice...The polar caps are melting.
Oh yeah...in Speedy's world 1+1=1 (or whatever else is convenient for his agenda.

Nihilistic Heathen
03-19-2008, 07:17 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> Although the average temperature of the upper oceans has significantly cooled since 2003, the decline is a fraction of the total ocean warming over the previous 48 years.

"This research suggests global warming isn't always steady, but happens with occasional 'speed bumps'," said Dr. Josh Willis, a co-author of the study at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "This cooling is probably natural climate variability. The oceans today are still warmer than they were during the 1980s, and most scientists expect the oceans will eventually continue to warm in response to human-induced climate change."

Willis said the findings have significant implications for global sea-level rise. "Average sea level goes up partly due to warming and thermal expansion of the oceans and partly due to runoff from melting glaciers and ice sheets," Willis said. "The recent cooling episode suggests sea level should have actually decreased in the past two years. Despite this, sea level has continued to rise. This may mean that sea level rise has recently shifted from being mostly caused by warming to being dominated by melting. This idea is consistent with recent estimates of ice-mass loss in Antarctica and accelerating ice-mass loss on Greenland."

Researchers found the average temperature of the upper ocean increased by 0.09 degrees Celcius (0.16 degrees Fahrenheit) from 1993 to 2003, and then fell 0.03 degrees Celcius (0.055 degrees Fahrenheit) from 2003 to 2005. The recent decrease is a dip equal to about one-fifth of the heat gained by the ocean between 1955 and 2003. They analyzed data from a broad array of ocean moorings, floats and shipboard sensors, and supported their results with data from NASA's Jason and Topex/Poseidon satellites

Source: Short-Term Ocean Cooling Suggests Global Warming 'Speed Bump' (http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2006-112) </div></div>

And for those like kdawg that like to dig deeper than news releases... Correction to “Recent Cooling of the Upper Ocean” (http://oceans.pmel.noaa.gov/Pdf/heat_2006.pdf)(pdf)

03-22-2008, 09:17 AM
Errr...Heathen...how can a correction from 2007 affect a story from 2008???


Nihilistic Heathen
03-22-2008, 12:11 PM
Your ignorance is astounding.

03-22-2008, 12:18 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Nihilistic Heathen</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Your ignorance is astounding. </div></div>

/ubbthreads/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/lol.gif /ubbthreads/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/rofl.gif


Accepted, sir!!

Nihilistic Heathen
03-22-2008, 12:37 PM
The story you posted was based on the news release from the Jet Propulsion Labratory from 2006. Which I Quoted and provided a link to by the way. It has very similar quotes from Dr. Josh Willis. The pdf I linked to was what the original news release was based on with the corrections.

Like I said your ignorance is astounding.

03-22-2008, 12:41 PM

The story I quoted is the updated version of the robotic experiment, one year after your 'revision' link.

Good try, ol' boy!!