Discovery of ‘Missing Heat’ Confirms That Climate Change is Accelerating

deep sea heat

A recent study by Balmaseda, Trenberth, and Källén has shown that, despite claims to the contrary, the last 15 years have seen an increase in global warming, with an unprecedented rise in the temperature of deeper oceans.

The warming of shallower waters and the surface air has slowed in recent times (a fact that has been widely reported by climate sceptics), however as much as 30% of all ocean warming has occurred at depths below 700m. When these temperature trends are taken into account, the argument that global warming is slowing in pace is undermined.

The recently observed warming of deeper oceans goes a long way to solving the mystery of ‘missing heat’ – the fact the measurable increases in the earth’s temperature have not kept pace with projections based on the increases in the green house gas emissions as recorded by satellites at the upper limit of the atmosphere.

It’s hoped the paper will change the way the highly complex task of measuring global warming is approached. Traditionally, the temperature of deeper waters has been neglected, especially when attempting to calculate earth’s sensitivity to the effects of greenhouse gases. These findings show that the transfer of heat into deeper regions of the ocean have given a misleading impression of the way increased GHG emissions are affecting the climate.

Trenbeth, one of the authors of the report says:

[the trend for warming in the deeper waters] means less short term warming at the surface but at the expense of a greater long-term warming, and faster sea level rise.

Given that around 90% of all global warming goes into heating the oceans, this dramatic and previously ignored rise in temperatures at deeper levels puts paid to the idea that rate of climate change is stalling – it is in fact accelerating.

Eminent climate scientist Roger Pielke Sr. has argued:

ocean heat content change [is] the most appropriate metric to diagnose global warming.

These results suggest that taking into account changes throughout the entire ocean is the only way to get an accurate picture of the situation with regards to the rate of climate change.

Green Steve’s Reaction

I find this study of great interest and I would hope that it convinces a few sceptics of the true warming being experienced by our planet – but part of me doubts this will happen because true sceptics have already formed their ideologies and thanks to confirmation bias they will find a way to either ignore the data or twist it to fit their beliefs. Hopefully I am not falling prey to this same human condition here…

If you’d like a considerably more in-depth analysis of this study and a lively debate on the findings then check out the article and comments on Skeptical Science but I should warn you that it gets quite technical in places.

Steve (156 Posts)

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