L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Côte d'Azur

20 March 2008 Blog Home : March 2008 : Permalink

Sea Temp Trends Lower - Shock Horror!

There is a higly amusing NPR article (highlighted by Instapundit) which states, in the sort of shocked tone that Vicars use when they learn that their best altar boy has been caught mainlining heroin at an orgy, that the ARGO sea survey robots are reporting that since 2003 sea temperatures have fallen. This the article confidently states must be wrong because the earth is warming:

Some 3,000 scientific robots that are plying the ocean have sent home a puzzling message. These diving instruments suggest that the oceans have not warmed up at all over the past four or five years. That could mean global warming has taken a breather. Or it could mean scientists aren't quite understanding what their robots are telling them.This is puzzling in part because here on the surface of the Earth, the years since 2003 have been some of the hottest on record.

Now I've been looking at some of Anthony Watts recent work, particularly this post, and it occured to me that actually the final statement in this extract is, well, true only if you use GISS and ignore those irritaing 1930s.

So I thought I'd have a little play with the figures (data taken from the same sources as the Watts post above) and I got this amusing chart:

Atmospheric trends since 2003
As you can see (click the image to enlarge if you need to) all four global series (UAH, RSS, HadCRUT2 and GISS) report a downward trend in the 62 months from Jan 2003 to Feb 2008 inclusive.

In other words the entire hypothesis of the article: that the oceans are staying cool while the atmosphere heats up, is completely flawed. In the last 5 years the atmosperic trend has been down. Not by much of course and equally clearly (I hope) this 5 year data sample is nowhere near enough to determine trends, but in fact the correct statement is:
"[O]ver the past four or five years [...] global warming has taken a breather."
This is the statement that the NPR article seems at pains to state is not the problem.

Having said that the article is pretty good at explaining how much we don't know about the various mechanisms of climate regulation/change even though it seems determined to stick to the "consensus" view that the world is heating up lots.