Scientific Studies Reveal No Correlation Between CO2 And Ocean Heat Content Variations For 99.975% Of The Last 10,000 Years

“The current eager acceptance of oceanic thermal lag as the ‘explanation’ as to why CO2 warming remains undetected, reemphasizes that the atmosphere cannot warm until the oceans do. The logical implication follows that most current climate models are lacking in relevance; they have not been constructed with ocean surface temperature as the fundamental variable. When the problem is attacked from this view, sensitivity to CO2 is significantly reduced; a position also strongly supported by the available palaeoclimatic data.”  — Ellsaesser, 1984

According to the IPCC (2013), 93% of the heat energy change from global warming can be found in the oceans (AR5, Chapter 3).  Only a tiny fraction of climate change can be accounted for in the atmospheric record, as the heat capacity of the oceans is more than a thousand times greater than the heat capacity of the air.  In other words, the widely-publicized surface air temperature change of about +0.6° to +1.0°C since the 19th century is not the main barometer of whether or not global warming has occurred – – and if it has, by how much.  Global warming (or cooling) is primarily accounted for as a change in ocean heat content, not surface air temperatures.

Climate models that prognosticate what the temperature of the global climate system might be 100+ years from now, or when atmospheric CO2 concentrations reach 560 ppm (doubled pre-industrial levels) are fundamentally flawed, for they presume that CO2 concentration rise (or decline) is a primary determinant of changes in atmospheric temperature change.  It is not.  Because of the magnitude of difference in heat capacity, it is the global ocean that determines the temperature of the air (predominantly), not the other way around.

It therefore needs to be established that (1) CO2 variations and ocean heat content changes are correlated (when CO2 falls, ocean heat/temperatures fall, and vice versa); and if they are correlated, then it still needs to be scientifically established (i.e., via experimental observation and measurement) that (2) ocean heat/temperature changes are primarily caused by CO2 variations.  Just because there is a correlation between two variables does not necessarily mean that one variable is the cause of the other.

So, as mentioned, first we need to establish a correlation before we can even consider causation.  And when it comes to a correlation between CO2 variations and ocean heat content variations, we don’t have one.  According to scientific studies of long-term ocean heat content, for 99.975% of the last 10,000 years, there has effectively been no significant correlation between rising or falling CO2 concentrations and rising or falling ocean heat.  As will be clarified below, the only period in the last 10,000 years in which CO2 and ocean heat/temperatures sharply rose or fell in concert was the period between 1975 and 2000.

Just 0.09°C – 0.18°C Of Net Warming In 0-2000 m To 0-700 m Ocean Since 1955

Levitus et al. (2012) estimate that, between 1955 and 2010, the global ocean heat energy change (converted to temperature) amounted to an addition of a blistering +0.18°C in the 0-700 m layer, and +0.09°C in the upper 2000 meters of the ocean.  That’s less than one-tenth of one degree over 55 years in the 0-2000 m layer.

Levitus et al., 2012

“The World Ocean accounts for approximately 93% of the warming of the earth system that has occurred since 1955. … The heat content of the World Ocean for the 0–2000 m layer increased by 24.0 ± 1.9 × 1022 J (±2S.E.) [over 1955-2010] corresponding to a rate of 0.39 W m−2 (per unit area of the World Ocean) and a volume mean warming of 0.09°C. … The heat content of the World Ocean for the 0–700 m layer increased by 16.7 ± 1.6 × 1022 J corresponding to a rate of 0.27 W m−2(per unit area of the World Ocean) and a volume mean warming of 0.18°C.”

Below the 2000 m depth (and 52% of the ocean waters reside below 2000 m), the “entirety” of the Pacific and Indian Oceans as well as the Eastern Atlantic have been cooling for the last few decades, largely off-setting the already modest change in the 0-2000 m layer.

Wunsch and Heimbach, 2014

“Over the 20 yr of the present ECCO state estimate, changes in the deep ocean on multiyear time scales are dominated by the western Atlantic basin and Southern Oceans. … In those same regions, a longer-term general warming pattern occurs below 2000 m. A very weak long-term cooling is seen over the bulk of the rest of the ocean below that depth, including the entirety of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, along with the eastern Atlantic basin.”

holocene-cooling-pacific-atlantic-indian-oceans-wunschheimbach14-copy

But let’s consider the contextual magnitude of the 0.18°C of warming in the 0-700 m layer since 1955.  Below is a graph taken from the Rosenthal et al. (2013) paper published in the journal Science documenting the changes in 0-700 m Pacific Ocean heat content during the Holocene.   Pictured are the last 1,200 years (800 C.E. to 2010) of ocean heat changes, including the added blue dotted line on the right extending from 1955 to 2010 (+0.18°C).

As indicated by the black trend bars, notice (a) the amplitude of the rise for the 1900-2010 period is not as steep as 11 previous decadal- and centennial-scale demarcated warming periods during the last 1,200 years.  Also notice that (b) the overall sharp drop in ocean heat since the Medieval Warm Period ended (encompassing the 1200 C.E. to 1900 Little Ice Age) was not accompanied by a sharp decline in CO2 concentrations, and that the Medieval Warm Period had flat, not rising, CO2 levels,  indicating that CO2 variations could not have been a causal factor in the ocean heat content changes during this entire period (800 C.E. to 1900).  Finally, notice that (c) modern temperatures are still tenths of a degree cooler than they were during the 1300 to 1500 C.E. period, when CO2 concentrations still hovered around 280 ppm.  In sum, the data in this graph indicate that there has been no significant correlation between CO2 and ocean heat temperature variations for nearly all of the last 1,200 years.

holocene-cooling-pacific-ocean-medieval-warm-present-rosenthal-13-warmings

Non-Correlation Between Human CO2 Emissions & Ocean Heat For Most Of The 1900-2010 Period

And yes, the non-correlation includes the 1900-2010 period.  There are very few reconstructions of global-scale ocean heat content prior to 1950 available in the scientific literature.  However, in a paper entitled “Consistent near surface ocean warming since 1900,” Gouretski et al. (2012) provide a comprehensive look at available evidence for the near-surface (0-20 m) change in ocean heat content for the early 20th century.  The supplemental graph below (using the available link [red] from the University of Hamburg) was made available upon the release of the paper.

Gouretski et al., 2012

http://icdc.cen.uni-hamburg.de/uploads/pics/hc_fig2.jpeg

Taking a closer look, the graph shows that the amplitude (+1.3°C) and rate (+0.27°C per decade) of the 1900-1945 ocean warming period was about 4 to 5 times as large as the 1945-2010 warming period (+0.3°C, +0.055°C per decade).

global-oceans-0-20-m-gouretski-12

In the paper, Gouretski and co-authors point out that the twenty-first century has experienced a general cooling in large regions of the global ocean — just as anthropogenic CO2 emissions (and atmospheric CO2 concentrations) were rising most dramatically.

[T]he first decade of the 21st century (2001–2010) was not uniformly warmer than previous decades. Before about 1920, the global ocean was almost everywhere colder than the reference decade of 2001–2010. After 1920, several regions of the global ocean were warmer than the reference decade [2001-2010]. … [A] rather abrupt cooling since the end of 1990s both in the East Pacific (connected to the weakening of El Nino and the shift to the negative phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation) and in the Southern Ocean may have contributed to a flattening of the global temperature anomaly series after about 2000. …Decadal mean SST and 0–20 m layer anomalies calculated relative to the reference decade 2001–2010 give evidence of the general warming of the global ocean since 1900. However, large regions of the oceans have experienced cooling since the 1990s. Whereas cooling in the tropical Eastern Pacific ocean is associated with frequent La Nina events in the past decade, the cause of the cooling within the Southern Ocean remains unknown.”

The much larger amplitude and rate of warming that occurred in the early 20th century was not accompanied by a commensurate large change (increase) in anthropogenic CO2 emissions.  In fact, throughout the entire 1900 to 1945 period, human emissions only averaged about 1 gigaton of carbon per year (GtC/yr).  In contrast, human emissions rates rose sharply to 4 GtC/yr by the 1970s, 6 GtC/yr by the 1990s, and over 10 GtC/yr by 2014.  Atmospheric CO2 followed a similar trajectory, as concentrations rose by just 15 ppm in the 40 years between 1900 and 1950 (295 ppm to 310 ppm), whereas concentrations rose by 85 ppm in the 65 years after 1950, including 22 ppm just between the years 2000 and 2010 alone (Feldman et al., 2015) — a decade when near-surface ocean heat “flattened” according to Gouretski et al. (2012).  And despite this explosive increase in human CO2 emissions and atmospheric CO2, the near surface ocean heat content actually cooled between 1945 and 1975, and the rate of warming since 1975 has been much less pronounced than during the 1900-1945 period.

co2-emissions-1900-2014-gtc-per-year-ps

If we were to visually combine the record of the explosive rise in human CO2 emissions since 1945 with the record of near-surface ocean heat content for the entire 1900-2010 period, it would be evident that the only decadal-scale period in which CO2 emissions steeply rose in concert with ocean temperature was during the 25 years between 1975 to 2000.  For 1900-1975 and 2000-2010, there was no obvious correlation between rapidly rising CO2 and ocean heat content.

co2-emissions-1900-2014-gtc-per-year-0-20-m-ohc-copy

No Correlation Between CO2 Variations And Ocean Heat For The Entire Holocene

And not only is there a lack of correlation between rising CO2 and rising ocean heat content for all but the 1975-2000 period during the years 800 C.E. through 2010, there is also no correlation between rising CO2 and rising ocean heat for the entirety of the Holocene.  Actually, the general long-term trend is for there to be an inverse correlation: as CO2 rises, ocean heat content declines.   The following Rosenthal et al. (2013) graph of the Pacific Ocean’s 0-500 m layer demonstrates this.

holocene-cooling-pacific-ocean-rosenthal-13-co2

Conclusion

To summarize, in the last 10,000 years, there was one 25-year period (1975-2000) in which CO2 levels and ocean heat content rose in concert.  Other than that, the rest of the last 10,000 years contained no obvious correlation between ocean heat content variations and the rise and fall of CO2 concentrations.  Without a significant long-term (or short-term) correlation between these two variables, we cannot even begin to address the causality question.

Simply put, the presumption that variations in CO2 concentrations cause global warming — net increases in global-scale ocean heat content — has not been established.

 

83 responses to “Scientific Studies Reveal No Correlation Between CO2 And Ocean Heat Content Variations For 99.97583 Of The Last 10,000 Years”

  1. tom0mason

    Well put and that is exactly the point.
    On a planet were the majority of the surface is water, where most of the atmosphere is damp, water and its temperature variations are the major league play in what happens climatically.
    CO2 is less than a bit part player.

  2. David Appell

    “Simply put, the presumption that variations in CO2 concentrations cause global warming — net increases in global-scale ocean heat content — has not been established.”

    Do you think CO2 doesn’t absorb any infrared energy, or do you think the Earth doesn’t emit any?

    1. tom0mason

      Do you think the models say anything relavent to this world because I do not.

      1. tom0mason

        CO2 does NOT generate heat you advocate. Nor can it hold heat! It is just a gas, at really very, very, very miniscule part of our atmosphere at about 400 part per million.

        Dr. Habibullo Abdussamatov has a better idea of climate and its trend than anything the AGW advocates (including you David Appell) came out with.
        Dr. Habibullo Abdussamatov is a real scientist doing real science unlike the vast majority of NASA, GISS, Hadley virtual ‘climate scientist™’ know nothings.
        So not to put too fine a point on it Appell you should go and read some of his real science and give up on the advocacy.

        1. David Appell

          tom0mason says:
          “CO2 does NOT generate heat you advocate.”

          Of course it doesn’t.

          Go learn some science in order to stop saying foolish things like this.

          1. AndyG55

            The only fooling things said around here are by you,

            Stick to sci-fantasy writing… its all you have,.

          2. tom0mason

            I have learned more science than you’ll ever understand. And the one thing I fully understand, and you are yet to learn, is ‘science’ per se is not a fixed point. Be aware that your confident protestations might become the source of your future embarrassment if you were ever to become fully conscious of the world about you and realize that right now you do not know enough.

            So tell us how clouds work, I’m sure you must know, given you much trumpeted ‘science’ background you’ll have no problem giving references to modern observational measurements (of dynamic changes in radiations, energy balance, temperature and chemistry, etc.), and of why a cloud forms where it does, how it progresses and its ultimate destiny.
            Or maybe you are able to explain why and how, given your version of ‘science’, does the Antarctic cool more as CO2 levels increase (as has been observed).

            Or can you only pontificate endlessly about a modeled world, and not a scientifically observed, measured real world.

        2. yonason

          David Appell hasn’t a clue.
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2K1uHvfaek

          water vapor gives negative, not positive feedback.

    2. AndyG55

      “Do you think CO2 doesn’t absorb any infrared energy, or do you think the Earth doesn’t emit any?

      OMG, rotten. Basic physics.

      Now PROVE that it causes warming in a convection controlled atmosphere. (especially when it doesn’t re-emit below 11km. https://s19.postimg.org/s6jyed10z/stratospheric_cooling.jpg)

      You have NO PROOF, and YOU KNOW IT !!

      Just like you have NO PROOF that birds are killed by coal fired power stations.

      There is NO WARMING in the satellite temperature series apart from El Nino and ocean effects.

      No CO2 signature what so ever…. END OF STORY !!

  3. David Appell

    tom0mason wrote:
    “CO2 is less than a bit part player.”

    Explain this TOA observed data:

    http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/briefs/schmidt_05/curve_s.gif

    1. tom0mason

      Only in the unreal modeled world that you appear to reside in.
      CO2 is less than a bit player as so many studies have shown.
      See above and so many other post here for the real world evidence.

    2. Will Pratt

      What you have linked to David, is a graph showing that CO2 aborbs and emits IR strongly at 15 µm.

      Accoring to Wien’s Displacement Law, 15µm radiation has a corresponding temperarture of -80ºC.

      The entire toposphere has a temperature above -80ºC. That is why CO2 has no effect on tropospheric temperature, let alone ocean temperatures.

      Cheers
      Will

      1. David Appell

        Will, you have very much misunderstood the meaning of Wien’s Law.

        1. AndyG55

          How the heck would a Low-end fantasy writer like you have any idea if someone had misunderstood anything to do with science

          You are FOOLING only yourself, appell-grub.

        2. Will Pratt

          Well of course you would say that wouldn’t you David.

          But let’s just concentrait on a couple of aspects here. CO2’s ability to warm the atmosphere entirely depends on it’s specific temperature, nothing else.

          If CO2 is radiating 15µm radiation, according to Wien’s diplacement law, the temperature of a subtance radiating 15µm radiation will be -80ºC.

          Any subtance which emits IR does so in accordnce to it’s specific temperature. That tempreature has a corresponding wavelength, as per Wien’s displacement law.

          1. David Appell

            Will Pratt says:
            “But let’s just concentrait on a couple of aspects here. CO2’s ability to warm the atmosphere entirely depends on it’s specific temperature, nothing else.”

            Totally wrong.

            CO2 absorbs upwelling IR from the Earth. It then re-emits it in a random direction; half of those re-emissions have a downward component. THAT’S global warming.

          2. Will Pratt

            No David, IR is not heat and that is the point I made above. It doesn’t matter how much IR is radiated back down. If it doesn’t have sufficient flux to heat the molecules below, and it doesn’t, no warming occurs. This is simple thermodynamics, come on man it’s not that hard to grasp.

            IR emissions from CO2 @ 15µm cannot heat any molecules in the troposphere because the peak of that 15µm radiation is the equals -80ºC. That is a law of physics and it cannot be argued with.

          3. Will Pratt

            No David, IR is not heat and that is the point I made above. It doesn’t matter how much IR is radiated back down. If it doesn’t have sufficient flux to heat the molecules below, and it doesn’t, no warming occurs. This is simple thermodynamics, come on man it’s not that hard to grasp.

            IR emissions from CO2 @ 15µm cannot heat any molecules in the troposphere because the peak of that 15µm radiation is the equals -80ºC. That is a law of physics and it cannot be argued with.

        3. DirkH

          So David, explain Wien’s Law to us. You’re an ex science journalist, I know you can do it. Go for it.

          1. yonason

            He’s more acquainted with “Whine’s Law,” where the more annoying you make yourself, the more you feel you’ve accomplished.

          2. AndyG55

            He is certainly accomplishing making a MOCKERY and a FOOL of himself.

          3. yonason

            @AndyG55 6. November 2016 at 9:18 PM

            He does that well, I’ll give him that. =)

      2. David Appell

        Dirk: Wien’s Law is simple. Go read Wikipedia.

        1. ClimateOtter

          In other words, you Can’t explain it.

  4. David Appell

    Good Lord, can’t you people even read and understand abstracts?

    “Parts of the deeper ocean, below 3600 m, show cooling…. In the global average, changes in heat content below 2000 m are roughly 10% of those inferred for the upper ocean over the 20-yr period.”

    Wunsch and Heimbach 2014
    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/full/10.1175/JPO-D-13-096.1

    1. AndyG55

      What a load of ABYSSMAL CRAP.

      There is basically NO DATA for even the upper ocean before 2003.

      This is a NOTHING paper based only on presumption and fantasy garbage.

      “dynamically consistent state estimate is used for the period 1992–2011”

      WTF !!! GARBAGE… nothing else but GARBAGE.

      “Parts of the deeper ocean, below 3600 m, show cooling.”

      ROFLMAO.. show us the measurement you brain-washed cretin.

      There are NONE… and you KNOW it.

      While you are at it, show us the birds killed by coal fired power stations… still waiting.. you LYING POS !!

      You are NOTHING by an EMPTY WASTE OF SPACE.

  5. AndyG55

    See that little flat bit at the end of the Ocean heat content graph.

    That is where they actually started measuring it using ARGO

    Anything before that is based on models built on assumptions, and very little data at all.

    You can see from this figure that they have basically no coverage below 700m even up until2003, especially in the southern hemisphere.

    https://s19.postimg.org/46xcg7377/figure_42.png

  6. dennisambler

    The late Dr Robert Stevenson, oceanographer, did a critique of the first Levitas et al paper, 2000, in this article.

    “Yes, the Ocean Has Warmed; No, It’s Not “Global Warming” by Dr. Robert E.
    Stevenson

    http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/articles/ocean.html

    A few quotes:

    “Contrary to recent press reports [2000 and still they pursue it] that the oceans hold the still-undetected global atmospheric warming predicted by climate models, ocean warming occurs in 100-year cycles, independent of both radiative and human influences.”

    “The climate models had predicted a global temperature increase of 1.5°C by the year 2000, six times more than that which has taken place.

    Not discouraged, the modellers argue that the heat generated by their claimed “greenhouse warming effect” is being stored in the deep oceans, and that it will eventually come back to haunt us. They’ve needed such a boost to prop up the man-induced greenhouse warming theory, but have had no observational evidence to support it. The Levitus, et al. article is now cited as the needed support.”

    “Prof. Hubert H. Lamb, the premier European climatologist of the 20th
    century, wrote in 1977 that “there has been a general warming of sea
    temperatures, by 0.5-1.0°C, from 1880 to 1965, defined from widely scattered
    points around the oceans of the world.”

    “Surface water samples were taken routinely, however, with buckets from the deck
    and the ship’s engine-water intake valve. Most of the thermometers were calibrated into 1/4-degrees Fahrenheit.

    I would guess that any bucket-temperature measurement that was closer to the actual temperature by better than 0.5° was an accident, or a good guess.

    The archived data used by Levitus, and a plethora of other oceanographers, were taken by me, and a whole cadre of students, post-docs, and seagoing technicians around the world.”

    “The atmosphere cannot warm until the underlying surface warms first. The lower
    atmosphere is transparent to direct solar radiation, preventing it from being
    significantly warmed by sunlight alone. The surface atmosphere thus gets its
    warmth in three ways: from direct contact with the oceans; from infrared
    radiation off the ocean surface; and, from the removal of latent heat from the
    ocean by evaporation. Consequently, the temperature of the lower atmosphere is
    largely determined by the temperature of the ocean.

    “Because of the high density/specific heat of sea water, the entire heat in
    the overlying atmosphere can be contained in the top two meters of the oceans.
    This enormous storage capacity enables the oceans to “buffer” any major
    deviations in temperature, moderating both heat and cold waves alike.”

    “For the past two decades at least, [in 2000] and possibly for the past seven decades, the Earth’s true surface air temperature has likely experienced no net change”

  7. PaulS

    “Climate models that prognosticate what the temperature of the global climate system might be 100+ years from now, or when atmospheric CO2 concentrations reach 560 ppm (doubled pre-industrial levels) are fundamentally flawed, for they presume that CO2 concentration rise (or decline) is a primary determinant of changes in atmospheric temperature change. It is not. Because of the magnitude of difference in heat capacity, it is the global ocean that determines the temperature of the air (predominantly), not the other way around.”

    This is a fundamentally misguided understanding of climate models. The only “presumption” that GCMs make about CO2 is that it absorbs at certain wavelengths of light. That’s it. As atmospheric CO2 increases in the model run, the amount of absorption then changes, which ultimately results in both increasing surface temperature AND ocean heat content as total energy in the Earth system rises. They are outcomes from modelling, not assumptions.

    Note that your opening quote is about sea surface temperatures, not ocean heat content. It is entirely uncontroversial to say that global warming cannot proceed very far without warming sea surface temperatures – it’s a characteristic of climate model simulations (e.g. https://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/blog_held/11-is-continental-warming-a-slave-to-warming-of-the-ocean-surface/). But of course, sea surface temperatures are also influenced by increased energy budget due to higher CO2 levels. Hence, SSTs have gone up.

    The comparison you present relating to Gouretski et al. 2012 is not like-for-like. They present a better comparison in the actual paper, showing an SST average masked to the much smaller and homogeneous coverage of 0-20m observations. It demonstrates that the large early 20th Century trend in the 0-20m curve is not globally representative.

    The Rosenthal paper is interesting, but seems to be fairly new in its interpretations and assumptions about how the single-location proxy data relate to wider Pacific and even global trends. Probably shouldn’t place too much weight on it at this point. Even so, the results it presents would not contradict any theory relating to CO2 influence – CO2 variations over the Holocene are small so wouldn’t be expected to override large trends due to other factors.

    What we can say with our global array of ocean temperature and sea level observations over the past several decades is that the rise in ocean heat content is very much consistent with expectations from modelling anthropogenic climate influence.

  8. yonason

    @PaulS 10. November 2016 at 12:43 AM

    “Ask yourself why 1940 was picked as the start date.” – PaulS

    (I addressed this then, but my post never appeared, so here’s a redo)

    CO2 didn’t appear to start increasing until 1940.
    http://notrickszone.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/CO2-Emissions-1900-2014-GtC-per-year-Climate-Laws.jpg

    What the temps did before CO2 began to rise isn’t relevant to this analysis. It’s not “cherry picking” to only include relevant data.

    CO2 rose for 75 years but temps remained constant despite modeling that showed they should go up dramatically.
    http://c3headlines.typepad.com/.a/6a010536b58035970c01b8d16250d4970c-pi
    Warming hypothesis, i.e., that warming is due to CO2, has been falsified.

    Again, I remind you that they told us that hurricane Joaquin was caused by a man made increase in CO2 (unproven assertion) which caused ocean temps to rise. Since the temps didn’t rise, though, it is impossible that could have been the cause, so that was a false claim which some might even call “a lie.”

    “…if you compare the global average over the full period of record there is good agreement.”

    Again, no. But feel free to try to prove it, with real data (include credible references to your material). Good luck.

    Remember, you are responsible for proving what you assert. I am under no obligation to disprove your false assertions, especially since you are too lazy to bother trying to prove them.

  9. yonason

    Where’s my post. It was a redo of one that never appeared about a week ago. I don’t want the original now, just this one, since I edited it substantially, but it would be nice to see something. (this is just one of 3 that haven’t appeared, but those were only relevant to when I posted them, so it wouldn’t matter now.

    Thanks