Oops…Trenberth Concedes Natural Ocean Cycles Contributed To 1976 – 1998 Warming … CO2 Diminishes As A Factor

Former IPCC Author Kevin Trenberth admits in a new paper: PDO ocean oscillation contributed to the 1976-1998 warming phase

By Dr. Sebastian Lüning and Prof. Fritz Vahrenholt
(Translation, editing by P Gosselin)

It took a while, but ocean cycles have finally been adopted by the IPCC as an important climate factor. With John Fasullo, Kevin Trenberth has written in a new paper appearing in the journal Earth’s Future that the warming pause taking place since 1998 indeed may have something to do with the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). Also even Trenberth’s pal Stefan Rahmstorf suddenly thinks it’s a good possibility, writing in his Klimalounge blog on December 16, 2013:

Leading US climatologist Kevin Trenberth has been conducting research in this field for 20 years and has just published a comprehensive enlightening article on the subject. Trenberth emphasizes the role of the ENSO’s long-term fluctuations, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). Said in simpler terms: It’s about phases in the tropical Pacific that have more frequent El Niños and phases that have more frequent La Niña conditions (like right now), which can last up to decades. The latter brings with it an ongoing somewhat slower warming of the earth’s surface temperature because more heat gets stored deeper in the oceans. One important point here: even if the surface temperature is stagnating, our planet continues to absorb a net amount of heat.”

The other “important point” that Rahmstorf fails to mention is of even greater importance. Trenberth explicitly admits in his new paper that the 1976-1998 warming phase is attributed in part to the positive phase of the PDO (original text):

The picture emerging is one where the positive phase of the PDO from 1976 to 1998 enhanced the surface warming somewhat by reducing the amount of heat sequestered by the deep ocean, while the negative phase of the PDO is one where more heat gets deposited at greater depths, contributing to the overall warming of the oceans but cooling the surface somewhat. The Pacific Ocean appears to account for the majority of the decadal variability… Nevertheless, the events in the Pacific undoubtedly also affect the Atlantic, Indian, and Southern Oceans as the system acts collectively to equilibrate to these changes in the flow of energy.

In 2012 when we brought up the PDO as one of the triggers for the 1976-1998 warming in our “Die kalte Sonne” book and proposed ocean cycles as a sort of pulse generator for temperature cycles on a decadal scale, we were met with fierce resistance from the German climate science establishment. Now less than 2 years later, “Die kalte Sonne” finds itself as mainstream science.

UPDATE: (Hat/tip Barry Woods)

At a Royal Society meeting in 2013, Julia Slingo of the Met office played devil’s advocate and posed the following question to Prof Jochen Marotzke of the German Max Planck Institute of Meteorology, see the 42:46 mark royalsociety.org/marotzke.mp3:

“…it’s a great presentation about 15 years being irrelevant,  but I think, some of us might say if you look at the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and it’s timescale that it appears to work, it could be 30 years, and therefore I think, you know, we are still not out of the woods yet on this one. … If you do think it’s internal variability, and you say we do think the Pacific Decadal Oscillation is a key component of this, and it’s now in it’s particular phase, but was previously in the opposite phase, could you not therefore explain the accelerated warming of the 80s and 90s as being driven by the other phase of natural variability?”

Simplifying Slingo’s  incoherence: “If the current cooling is due to the negative PDO phase, then wouldn’t the warming of the 80s and 90s be a result of the positive PDO phase back then?

Marotzke answers after much incoherence of his own:

Um…I guess I’m not sure.”

These people make no sense at all. They are sure it’s the oceans’ cold phase gobbling up heat when temperatures fail to rise. But when temperatures increase, they just can’t be sure that the oceans are involved at all, and insist they would not bet much money on it. Of course it just can’t work only one way. Marotzke is delivering only what would call unadulterated absurd science.


17 responses to “Oops…Trenberth Concedes Natural Ocean Cycles Contributed To 1976 – 1998 Warming … CO2 Diminishes As A Factor”

  1. Barry Woods

    Do Met Office think 30 years of no warming might happen due to PDO?

    At the Royal Society climate event for IPCC AR5


    Dame Julia Slingo – Chief Scientist at the Met Office is at (44 mins 50 secs)

    “……you’ve argued very convincingly and I say (said) it’s a great presentation about 15 years being irrelevant, but I think, some of us might say if you look at the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and it’s timescale that it appears to work, it could be be 30 years, not out of the woods yet, on this one”

    audio in the above link from talk by:
    Professor Jochem Marotzke, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Germany

  2. DirkH

    “Marotzke answers after much incoherence of his own:
    Um um um…I guess I’m not sure.””

    He’s not sure whether his masters allowed him to answer “yes”.

    1. Jimbo

      He clearly says he is not sure yet the science is settled and we have a stronger consensus since the last IPCC report and despite a 15+ year standstill. This is crazy.

  3. John F. Hultquist

    “Leading US climatologist Kevin Trenberth . . .” [S. Rahmstorf, 2013]

    Following climate science from behind, Kevin Trenberth, . . .

    Happy to fix it for him.

  4. Ric Werme

    There’s got to be a travesty somewhere in all this!

  5. Ed Caryl

    These people don’t have a clue because they have not actually studied the earth’s climate. They went into this subject having been assigned the answer, CO2; and when that doesn’t work, and their climate models are hot, they don’t know how to respond. They burrow deeper and deeper into their “house of cards” while it all tumbles into disarray around them. You can expect wilder and wilder excuses until even their own idiot robots begin laughing at them. Mother Nature does not read their press releases.

  6. BobW in NC

    Let’s hope Trenberth is at least seeing a glimmer of light and will come into the full sunshine, and is not simply making a strategic retreat to cover his gluteus maximus.

  7. Jimbo

    Re Slingo’s comment I asked roughly the same question of Dana Nuttercelli at the Guardian. I said that considering the missing heat went into the deep oceans was responsible for the standstill, then is it possible that the recent global warming was as a result of heat being released by the deep oceans?

    It can’t be a one way process.

    1. Brian H

      The deep oceans heating the Earth’s core? By teleconnection, prob’ly. ;p

  8. Frederick Colbourne

    We have been here before. The geophysicists would not accept the empirical evidence of continents moving laterally in geological time.

    And there was plenty of evidence. But the geophysicists said, “We don’t have a mechanism for moving continents.” So they just ignored the empirical evidence.

    They could do this because the Atlantic Ocean took something like 65 million years to develop. At the time, the age of the Cretaceous Period was grossly underestimated. It was believed that there was too little time and the speed of the separation of continents would be unrealistic.

    But the discovery of plate tectonics showed that the geophysicists should have accepted the empirical evidence instead of arguing from ignorance (argumentum ad ignorantiam) which is the main justification for the use of positive feedback in the climate models. Climatologists tell us that positive feedbacks will amplify the excess heat trapped by the GHG effect and this will lead to secular global warming.

    Now the climate system is at least as complex as plate tectonics– probably more complex by an order of magnitude. So to accept that the climate system has shifted from cycling from warm to cool and back again to a new state with secular warming, I have to believe that the climatologists have got the physics right. For me this would take a greater leap of faith than believing they have got the physics wrong.

    I am more willing to believe that there are negative feedbacks that will maintain the natural cyclical variations in climate than I am willing to believe that the climatologists know enough about the physics to say that the Earth is in for secular warming of such magnitude that it will overcome the long-term secular cooling trend in the Holocene.

    Sorry, but my studies lead me to believe that the climatologists are guilty of hubris. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubris

    Eventually the natural climatic cycles will reassert and this will be their nemesis. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nemesis_(mythology)

    I am led to believe these things by my own research in physical science, specifically for an M.S. in Earth science.

    Maybe the climatologists are right and maybe they have got the physics right, but the proof as Richard Feynman told us is in the power of a theory to predict observations. So I prefer to wait and see if the theory of AGW actually predicts correctly the behaviour of the climate system during the next 10 to 30 years.

    1. Brian H

      How about AGW predicting anything correctly? You cut it too much slack. Every failure is a falsification. Only one was necessary. The Hot Spot or Antarctic ice will do. Lots of others are available.

  9. cementafriend

    Pierre says “These people make no sense at all.” Ed C says “These people don’t have a clue.”
    You have got it. They are all incompetents. None of them have any understanding of heat transfer (which is practical engineering science) and that includes Trenberth. They do not understand radiant heat absorption; they do not understand convection -they have no idea about the Nusselt number; they do not understand phase change -vaporation & condensation; they do not understand fluid dynamics -they do not know how to use the Reynolds number; etc etc

    1. DirkH

      Well, according to Gavin, that might be because they are “pretty much self-taught in everything useful”.

      1. cementafriend

        DirkH -thanks put a comment at your link re Gavin not knowing about the Schmidt number named after the engineer Ernst Schmidt ( http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernst_Schmidt_%28Thermodynamiker%29 ) who understood thermodynamics unlike Gavin. Note the mention of Nusselt (Wilhelm) another clever (German) engineer after whom the Nusselt number is named (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nusselt_number )

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