JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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The Kelp coped: ocean gets 5.5 degrees hotter but no effect on giant kelp

After human pumped out 90% of all the CO2 they’ve ever made, the oceans might be a whole fifth of a degree warmer, tops, in the last 60 years. So when water that was a whopping 5.5 degrees warmer rolled over some giant kelp, researchers got excited.  (This is like 1,650 years of climate change right?!)  But the kelp pretty much did nothing, and you might say that researchers were shocked the kelp coped:

Kelp beats the heat

 They expected forests of giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera), known to be sensitive to such increases as well as to the resulting low-nutrient conditions, to respond quite rapidly to a rise in water temperature.

However, to the scientists’ surprise, that was not the case. The kelp, they discovered, was all right. Their findings appear in the journal Nature Communications.

“The response that we saw in kelp was really no different than what we’d seen in our temporal record,” explained lead author Daniel Reed, deputy director of UCSB’s Marine Science Institute (MSI). “The values were low but not necessarily lower than what we’d seen during cool-water years.”

A lot of other underwater things were not bothered either:

Fish don’t live in the sky

It’s a case of coal shrinking fish. Another remarkable discovery of modern seance.

There is a six degree variation across the surface of the North Sea but fish are shrinking because the water is warming by 0.05C per year?

Drew Creighton at the Sydney Morning Herald gets excited: Climate Change affects all levels of life. (By crikey, the banality! It would be legendary if a scientist found one form of life on Earth that wasn’t “affected” by temperature, clouds, frost, ice, storms or rain. How low is this bar?)

First a Prof somewhere notices fish are getting smaller:

Professor John Pandolfi of the ARC Centre of Excellence Coral Reef Studies said while the study encompassed all ecosystems, his particular interest was the sea.

But which fish are shrinking exactly — “commercial fish” — could be a clue?

“We’re seeing decreased yields in fisheries, for example in the North Sea commercial fish have undergone reductions in body size, all of them, simultaneously.”

So how do we know this shrinkage is not due to bigger boats and the increased fish-and-chips factor?

He said the study factored in over-fishing and fisheries induced evolution and separated the [...]

New Paper finds ocean circulation drives the climate on the surface

During the last ice age (and others before it)  temperatures across the Northern Hemisphere would abruptly swing up and down by a hefty 3 – 6°C  every 1,500 years or so. A new study using isotopes on the sea floor rather provocatively suggests that the Atlantic ocean circulation was to blame. Apparently it slowed almost to halt, and before the surface water cooled. It seems that when the Atlantic currents slow too far they stop bringing warmer water north from the equator and Southern Hemisphere, and thus the north ices over.  During these super-cold periods the ice sheets spread down and cover much of North America, (and real estate in Australia costs a motza). Massive icebergs break off and drift, but apparently things took a lot longer to get cold in the Southern Hemisphere, and the north and south possibly got a bit out of whack cooling and warming in opposite phases. The researcher used the word “bipolar”.

The $64 trillion dollar question is if ocean currents cause climate change, what causes the ocean currents? The researchers don’t know. (Seems kind of important). Things stabilized out in the last 10,000 warm years. It looks like the wild swings don’t occur [...]

Cold water in vast Western Pacific, record water vapor, clouds, rain — super big El Nino things going on

Indo-pacific-warm-pool (IPWP) | NotricksZone

A very striking pattern of records is happening at the moment. Data is going “off the chart” on several factors at once.  As well as record high temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere in Feb 2016, the water is far cooler than usual in the Indo Pacific, while there is increased water vapor and cloud all over the world’s oceans. But windspeeds are slow, slow, slow. It has the hallmarks of a very Big El Nino. Bigger by many measures than 1997-98.

The cooler Indo-Pacific

P Gosselin at NotricksZone has got some very interesting graphs about the ocean around the vast Western Pacific.  Frank Bosse and Prof. Fritz Vahrenholt noticed  that ARGO buoys are recording a very unusual cooling in the Indo-Pacific Western Pacific.

Is something fishy and odd going on there? Hard to say, but while the globe set a record last month, it is interesting to know that over the last couple of years temperatures have declined in the Western Pacific by a whole degree.  The Indo-Pacific Warm Pool (IPWP) covers 20N to 20S across a full quarter of the circumference of the Earth. According to Bosse and Vahrenholt it’s around “16 million cubic [...]

Phytoplankton suck CO2 out of sky, dump to ocean floor

A new nature paper shows how little we know about the oceans and the whole carbon cycle. A paper (with 64 names!) suggests that phytoplankton might be sucking out extra CO2 from the sky and dumping it in Davy Jones’ Locker at the bottom of the deep blue sea.

Who needs a global carbon  market? Apparently plankton are doing it for free.  And all those windmills just got a bit more pointless.

Lots of living things absorb carbon, but phytoplankton seem to be more important than the others. The best predictors of sinking carbon were viruses of certain cyanobacteria. Few of the “thousands of phytoplankton species have been studied in this way”.

Jo

PS: This fits with Tom Quirks paper on the 9Gt massive carbon bubble of 1990 and previous research that shows plankton sucks up twice as much carbon as we thought it did. We’re going to be hearing more about phytoplankton.

The ocean’s power to rein in carbon and protect the environment is vast but not well-understood.

But now, an international team of scientists has begun to illuminate how the ocean plucks carbon from the atmosphere, where it contributes to global warming, and shuttles [...]

Climate change causes global suffocation — Life on Earth gone in only 1,500 years!*

And you thought we’d heard it all. Not so, get out the plastic bags.

Seventy percent of the oxygen on Earth is made by phytoplankton, so the little critters do matter. A new study suggests that the phytoplankton pretty much fall apart if the worlds oceans heat by just six degrees. They stop making the good O2. We all die. Puppies, kittens, kids, and krill — it’s all over.

There are a couple of caveats — the study involves only binary phytoplankton (the kind made of zero’s and ones and which lives in hard discs at the University of Leicester). And the other one is that six degrees is an Awful Lot of Warming.

As best as we can tell (which is not very well)  the oceans are warming at four hundreth of a degree per decade (give or take a lot). The all new Gee-Whizz Argo buoys are neat little robots, but the error bars are still a scandal, being somewhere from one tenth to one half a degree — ha-d-ha — too big to fit on the graph.( See all the white stuff — the errors are probably larger than that.)

Taking that single point of highly uncertain [...]

Global Warming to destroy sea-food as well

It’s a disaster for fish and chip shops. Children won’t know what a sea-food restaurant is.

Our oceans are warming by 0.005 °C per year (if you believe a thermometer system with a 0.5 °C error). But fish that cope with five degrees of natural variation will apparently be devastated by an average rise of five thousands of a degree per year. Who knew?

Earth’s oceans vary from 0 – 30° C. Warm and cold currents wander, eddy currents swirl. Very little of the ocean’s surface is actually at the exact “average” temperature. In any one spot, temperatures can be a full five degrees above or below average (as in this NOAA graph, below).

The sea surface temperature varies by up to five degrees from average every day

Humans may well be changing global fish stocks, but why toss in the unscientific advertising for “climate change”? As for the acidification scare, ocean pH changes on a daily basis, and hundreds of studies show that marine life might even benefit from a slight increase in “acidification”.

ScienceDaily

Seafood supply altered by climate change

The global supply of seafood is set to change substantially and many people will not [...]

Devastating Pacific Ocean warming, 10,000 years ago

A new study suggests that the Pacific ocean near Peru was two degrees warmer 10,000 years ago.[1]

The current rate of warming (as estimated by ARGO buoys in the last ten years) is 0.005C per year. So we are only 400 years away from achieving the same kind of warming the Mesopotamian Farmers did.

Of course this could be just a localized warm patch, except that an earlier study showed that waters draining out of the Pacific to the Indian Ocean were also much hotter during the same era.[2]

The present time is on the left. Graph A shows temperature proxy from Antarctic ice cores, graph B shows 0-150m depth ocean temperature in black

[...]

Exotic adventures in global data to unfind “the Pause”, by Karl in 2015

UPDATED: Ross McKitrick’s PDF file has some minor changes.

The Pause has been unfound, not with new data, but with new adjustments in one odd dataset.

The awkward “Pause” in global temperatures shows up in every major dataset. It’s the reality that conflicts with nearly every major climate model. But it’s there in the Hadley records of land surface and ocean, it shows up in the Hadley sea surface measurements, it’s there in NCDC, GISS, and of course in the satellite data of RSS, and UAH, and it shows up in the best data we have on the ocean, the ARGO buoys. It’s quite the challenge to unfind it!

(Thanks to Ross McKitrick for the individual graphs)

 

To find global warming in the last 15 years, we need to ignore all that and use sea surface data blended from boats randomly trekking through shipping lanes with buckets and from ocean buoys (and that’s not ARGO buoys). But even that isn’t enough, that original data needs to be adjusted, and where sea ice gets in the way, gap-filled from sparse land data (as you would right?). Then we need to accept a lower-than-usual significance test, and carefully cherry pick [...]

Study shows ARGO ocean robots uncertainty was up to 100 times larger than advertised

The oceans contain 90% of the heat energy on the surface of the Earth, which makes it “kinda important”. There are claims that the missing heat went into ocean temperatures, which are allegedly warming by five thousandths of a  degree per  year (which is still a lot less than the models predicted). The ARGO array of 3,000 ocean buoys deployed from mid-2003 is a vast improvement on the occasional sampling from ships that preceded it, but each single thermometer measures a vast 200,000 cubic kilometers of ocean.

The original Argo Science Report had an expected temperature sensor uncertainty of 0.005C. But it’s just not possible to measure the ocean temperature that accurately. Each thermometer may be accurate in a laboratory to 0.005C, but thermal noise in the ocean is an impossible beast. The four-kilometer-deep swirling mass of eddies varies from 0C – 30C. It is not a well mixed swimming pool at one temperature, being measured 3,000 times simultaneously — the statistics are entirely dissimilar.

I went looking for papers on error estimates and found Hadfield 2007.

The Hadfield study compared the new ARGO robotic buoys to other ways of measuring ocean temperatures in a slice across the North Atlantic. [...]