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Settled Science
How Little We Know About Our Climate

A new study suggests that surface ocean waters are storing a lot more of our planet’s heat than previously thought. How much, you ask? Well, according to this report, we may have been underestimating the amount of heat “stored” in the upper regions of our planet’s oceans by as much as 24 to 55 percent. Oceans are thought to store some 90 percent of human-caused warming, which makes this a very big deal indeed. The BBC reports:

Specifically in the Southern Hemisphere where fewer measurements have been made, a team of researchers from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California investigated long-term warming in the top 700m of the ocean. […]

[T]he scientists found that the rate of upper-ocean warming between 1970 and 2004 had been seriously underestimated. That inaccuracy is specific to the Southern Hemisphere, but is big enough, the scientists suggest, that global upper-ocean warming rates are also “biased low” – to the tune of 24% to 55%.

The reason scientists have been so far off on this is, according to this new study, due to a dearth of measurements of surface warming in southern oceans. If this report is correct, our understanding of a key component of our planet’s complex climate has been way, way off.

This could help explain why our best climate models have failed to predict a plateau in warming rates over the past decade, but it also raises a number of questions and concerns about the state of climate science. For one thing, an estimation that misses the mark by 24 to 55 percent is enormously inaccurate. This is clearly a subject that bears further scrutiny, but at this point the known unknowns dwarf the known knowns, to borrow from Donald Rumsfeld.

We are grappling with a problem of enormous complexity, and while we can see that humanity plays a role, the vagaries of global warming boggle the mind. The more we study it, the more we realize how difficult it is to predict what comes next for our climate, and the more foolish it looks to peg policies to specific degrees of warming. So much for settled science.

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  • rheddles

    All you have to do is look at the success of modeling the relatively simpler US economy.

    • Rick Johnson

      I’ve heard be said that climate change modelling was invented by macroeconomist to make their failed forecasting method look good by comparison. 🙂

  • Boritz

    “…scientists suggest, that global upper-ocean warming rates are also “biased
    low” – to the tune of 24% to 55%.”

    Here’s betting that this (more than an order of magnitude) rate range makes the preferred climate model balance thereby proving the model really works.

  • Andrew Allison

    The ever-more desperate straw-grasping by the Church of AGW would be laughable were it not for the economic damage that its scriptures prescribe. To suggest that the heat uptake by the ocean is exactly matching the increased heat generated by the one-third increase in CO2 since 1997 is nonsensical. The rate of uptake cannot increase in the absence of a near-surface temperature increase, which hasn’t occurred. In fact, Newton’s Law of Cooling tells us that as the water temperature rises the rate of uptake decreases. An infinitely more coherent (in both senses) is the the oceans are adjusting to the relatively rapid rise in temperature from 1976 to 1997, something which also occurred between 1945 and 1976.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    This is all just more lies in a lame attempt to justify the dis-proven “Global Warming” hypothesis. How about these so called scientists go back to scratch and start over with a new hypothesis that actually fits the facts, as they should have done the moment their models proved non-predictive 17 years ago.

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