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Earth Science

Cause of Global Warming 'Hiatus' Found Deep In the Atlantic 465

Posted by samzenpus
from the biggest-heatsink dept.
vinces99 writes with news about a study that may account for a slowdown in air temperature rises. Following rapid warming in the late 20th century, this century has so far seen surprisingly little increase in the average temperature at the Earth's surface. More than a dozen theories have now been proposed for the so-called global warming hiatus, ranging from air pollution to volcanoes to sunspots. New research from the University of Washington shows the heat absent from the surface is plunging deep in the north and south Atlantic Ocean, and is part of a naturally occurring cycle. The study is published in Science. Subsurface ocean warming explains why global average air temperatures have flatlined since 1999, despite greenhouse gases trapping more solar heat at the Earth's surface. "Every week there's a new explanation of the hiatus," said corresponding author Ka-Kit Tung, a UW professor of applied mathematics and adjunct faculty member in atmospheric sciences. "Many of the earlier papers had necessarily focused on symptoms at the surface of the Earth, where we see many different and related phenomena. We looked at observations in the ocean to try to find the underlying cause." What they found is that a slow-moving current in the Atlantic, which carries heat between the two poles, sped up earlier this century to draw heat down almost a mile (1,500 meters). Most previous studies focused on shorter-term variability or particles that could block incoming sunlight, but they could not explain the massive amount of heat missing for more than a decade.
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Cause of Global Warming 'Hiatus' Found Deep In the Atlantic

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21, 2014 @09:07PM (#47725665)

    Sweet, I can't wait for next week's alternate explanation!

    Go ahead "consensus" troll mods - do your worst to bury every skeptic questioning sketchy science on this story. Then go look in the mirror and call yourself a rational scientist.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Namarrgon (105036)

      Do enlighten us - please link to an example of "sketchy science" that has been proved wrong by more solid, peer-reviewed science.

      Strangely, all the examples I can find just support the consensus view.

      • by phantomfive (622387) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @09:43PM (#47725881) Journal

        please link to an example of "sketchy science" that has been proved wrong by more solid, peer-reviewed science.

        I know you're just smacking down a troll, but climate models have been over-estimating warming for years, as demonstrated by this science [ed.ac.uk].

        That's not to say that climate models are bad science, they are good science investigating the nature of the earth; but people who put too much faith in them without evidence were performing bad science.

        • by Namarrgon (105036) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @11:29PM (#47726303) Homepage

          Your linked study really just shows what everyone could already see - the climate models are missing something. This of course isn't a surprise; they're missing lots of things, many of which are called out in the study (ENSO, AMO, volcanic activity, unexpected stratospheric aerosol variation or solar variation, etc). There's a lot of details we can't predict, but climate models are still useful even when we know they're incomplete, just like every other kind of model.

          Still, I appreciate the link, even if (as you say) it doesn't invalidate any "sketchy science".

          • Your linked study really just shows what everyone could already see

            Well, if everyone could see it, it wouldn't be a study lol. There must be something novel there at least.

            • by Namarrgon (105036)

              Well, if everyone could see it, it wouldn't be a study lol

              The novel part is they present data to confirm it, and their analysis is peer-reviewed - that's the difference between a real study and something that "everyone can see".

              What I was actually referring to was the models being incomplete, which isn't news to anyone. Fyfe et al 2013 just demonstrate this, and suggest some of the likely missing factors. TFA goes further, and gives data on a new factor (the deep-ocean current).

          • by Bongo (13261) on Friday August 22, 2014 @04:27AM (#47727247)

            Still useful... for what? that's the question.

            If we're going to move to alternative energy, population control, costing in environmental damage as part of the economy, global justice, etc., climate models don't seem useful for that anymore. They are useful, but not useful enough for that application, still too wide an area of uncertainty. Nobody said the models had to be perfect, just fit for purpose.

        • by riverat1 (1048260) on Friday August 22, 2014 @03:47AM (#47727139)

          If this study is right then there will come a point when climate models are underestimating the warming again. The mechanism of this heat absorption is cyclical and eventually it will reverse leaving more heat in the atmosphere leading to rapid warming again. It's difficult if not impossible to put that into climate models partially because it's impossible (with our current knowledge) to know the timing of the switches in the cycle so models tend to just use the average which means sometimes their above the average and sometimes they're below.

          The abstract: [sciencemag.org]

          A vacillating global heat sink at intermediate ocean depths is associated with different climate regimes of surface warming under anthropogenic forcing: The latter part of the 20th century saw rapid global warming as more heat stayed near the surface. In the 21st century, surface warming slowed as more heat moved into deeper oceans. In situ and reanalyzed data are used to trace the pathways of ocean heat uptake. In addition to the shallow La Niña–like patterns in the Pacific that were the previous focus, we found that the slowdown is mainly caused by heat transported to deeper layers in the Atlantic and the Southern oceans, initiated by a recurrent salinity anomaly in the subpolar North Atlantic. Cooling periods associated with the latter deeper heat-sequestration mechanism historically lasted 20 to 35 years.

          The question climate science deniers need to ask themselves is "If all of this heat is going into the ocean why hasn't it actually cooled rather than temperatures just sort of plateauing?" If all that heat is disappearing into the ocean and we're not actually cooling that means heat is still building up.

      • by superwiz (655733) on Friday August 22, 2014 @09:45AM (#47729255) Journal
        The moment someone asks for "peer-reviewed" rebuttal is the moment I know they either don't know what they are talking about or they are vicious liars. You can't have "peer-review" standard in the situation in which the whole field is accused of fraud. We don't ask for peer-review of drug dealing charges by other drug dealers. In this situation the field has to stand up to a higher standard than peer-review. It has to withstand the critical review. The field is accused of being incestuous (in the sense of being self-selecting by rejecting everyone who is not a fawning supporter). This self-selecting membership makes peer-review irrelevant. You get to pick your peers. You don't get to pick who is qualified to be your critics.
        • The American Journal of Homeopathic Medicine [homeopathyusa.org] is peer reviewed to!

      • Do enlighten us - please link to an example of "sketchy science" that has been proved wrong by more solid, peer-reviewed science.

        Strangely, all the examples I can find just support the consensus view.

        How does 95 different climate models, returning 95 different results, all of which fail to approximate real-world data support a consensus view, and what does a consensus have to do with science in the first place? Here's a clue, if you want me to make an effort to reduce my "carbon footprint" and spend more of my hard earned money to achieve the same, don't hide your supporting original research behind a paywall. I'm not convinced by the interpretations of a Journalism Major that graduated from a liberal a

    • by dnavid (2842431) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @09:59PM (#47725945)

      Sweet, I can't wait for next week's alternate explanation!

      Go ahead "consensus" troll mods - do your worst to bury every skeptic questioning sketchy science on this story. Then go look in the mirror and call yourself a rational scientist.

      Science is about skepticism. Even climatologists that support the theory of man influenced climate change are constantly questioning the data, and looking at alternate conjectures. The very article referenced explicitly states that many of the theories that were presented to explain why global surface temperatures in the last decade did not track the apparent heat load global warming induced were inadequate, and the subject of further inquiry like the research cited. That's how Science works. But Science doesn't discover all the facts instantly and doesn't advance in convenient textbook chapters. It isn't skepticism that tries to characterize Science as just a bunch of random guesses, one after the other. That's just ignorance of Science. Science works by incremental and sometimes studdering progress forward. There are lots of things we know with certainty. We know carbon dioxide traps heat in Earth's lower atmosphere. We know human activities have dramatically increased the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. The net result is an increased amount of heat absorbed by the Earth. What precisely happens to that heat in all of the complex thermal systems on Earth is still not well understood. But that doesn't mean the core principles are just random guesses. We're still discovering how 19th century chemistry works, but no one thinks that new chemistry discoveries mean chemistry is left-wing conspiracy.

      The history of scientific progress looks no different for any other subject than it looks for 21st century climatology. Our understanding of gravity, of the germ theory of infectious disease, of quantum mechanics all followed similar discovery and learning curves. The only difference is that general relativity and Schroedinger's equation aren't subjects politicians can effectively argue about.

      I think a lot of people, even some actual scientists, do not understand the role of skepticism in Science. There's a difference between scientific skepticism and peanut gallery skepticism. Scientific skepticism is healthy. When a scientist is skeptical of prevailing theories and conducts intellectually honest research aimed at probing that skepticism, that's always valuable. Science isn't a poll: if a scientific theory is correct, it will survive skeptical research. If its wrong, it will eventually be contradicted by the evidence. But when someone with no understanding of the facts or the research misinterprets the natural skepticism that is at the heart of scientific discovery by filtering it through their own "common sense" then they don't understand why science is successful overall, and really ought to shut up about it.

      • by silfen (3720385) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @10:16PM (#47726049)

        I think a lot of people, even some actual scientists, do not understand the role of skepticism in Science. There's a difference between scientific skepticism and peanut gallery skepticism. Scientific skepticism is healthy.

        Scientists can speculate and debate as much as they want whether it's getting warmer or colder. The issue with the global warming debate is the political demands to translate the science into specific actions, often by scientists who have no qualifications in economics or politics.

        • by crioca (1394491) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @10:28PM (#47726109)

          Scientists can speculate and debate as much as they want whether it's getting warmer or colder. The issue with the global warming debate is the political demands to translate the science into specific actions,

          So you want to keep performing scientific research, but not use that research to inform our actions? That's... genius.

          often by scientists who have no qualifications in economics or politics.

          Oh yeah, that's a real problem with a lot of political systems; too many scientists making policy and not enough career politicians and business lobbyists. Haw haw haw.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            No, they want the science to be settled more-thoroughly before we re-model our entire society in response to it. Do you have any idea how many trillions we've wasted economically on the global warming thing? If they couldn't predict and can't explain the hiatus, that's just another sign that science and policymakers are being way too confident about the scientific underpinning for wasting trillions.

            The real real truth goes something like this:

            1) Scientists discover a possible global warming problem, but d

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by phantomfive (622387)

              Do you have any idea how many trillions we've wasted economically on the global warming thing?

              Uh, no I don't. How have we wasted trillions because of global warming?

          • by sysrammer (446839)

            Hah! Good reply. But I understand where the OP is coming from. Unfortunately, that seems to be the way humans work. Nobody paid much attention to the previous 20-30 years of work on climate. It wasn't until things passed a certain point, then everybody started jumping on the bandwagon. Politicians follow people. And then they swing the pendulum too far in the opposite direction.

        • by DamnOregonian (963763) on Friday August 22, 2014 @12:45AM (#47726539)
          Whether or not it's getting warmer is a fact, not a debate.
          Even the much-hyped hiatus is a hiatus in growth of the anomaly, not a cessation of warming.
          You're certainly right that they can debate as much as they want as to the cause.

          Since the dawn of modern post-industrial science, scientists have been screaming for political action while larged monied interests decried their research. Whether they're right or wrong, the motives of those attempting to maintain the status quo are ridiculously complex. Industry attempted to mislead the public and use Congress to determine whether it was safe to infuse every square inch of our environment with particulate lead, our rain with sulfuric and nitric acid, our atmosphere with CFCs, our water with poisons. Personally, when a large amount of scientists start screaming about there being serious consequences to something going on, I'd listen to them.
          • by silfen (3720385)

            Whether or not it's getting warmer is a fact, not a debate.

            I haven't debating that fact. Why do you bring it up? What is the relevance of that to policy?

            Personally, when a large amount of scientists start screaming about there being serious consequences to something going on, I'd listen to them.

            Scientists are qualified to tell us whether it is getting warmer. They are not qualified to tell us whether the consequences are "serious" or how we as a society should respond, something that involved not just narro

          • by phlinn (819946)
            "Even the much-hyped hiatus is a hiatus in growth of the anomaly, not a cessation of warming." Read that again and think about what the words actually mean.
            warming: increase in temperature
            anomaly: difference in average temperature from a defined period (that's how the word is generally used in climate science)

            A hiatus in growth of the anomaly really does mean a cessation of warming. It make pick up again later.
      • Regardless of the role of skepticism, everybody seems to be overlooking one key point:

        If this paper were to turn out to be correct, current climate models are useless and will need to be completely reworked. Well, maybe not completely. Some more than others. But it would contradict some of the fundamental assumptions of most of those models.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by TubeSteak (669689)

          But it would contradict some of the fundamental assumptions of most of those models.

          Which assumptions?

          All climate models assume a lag between a cause and the observed results.
          This just means the lag might be 30+ years.

        • by haruchai (17472) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @11:04PM (#47726245)

          The "hiatus" isn't what people think - " this century has so far seen surprisingly little increase in the average temperature at the Earth's surface"
          Note that the average temp is still rising even if more slowly than expected. But the entire planet doesn't warm or cool all at once.
          During that "hiatus" the loss of ice cover, especially in the Arctic has been tremendous and that's noteworthy for 2 reasons.

          The first is that the number of temperature monitoring stations in the Arctic is very poor. The other is that it takes a LOT of heat to melt ice - turning it to water at zero deg requires as much as raising room temp water to the boiling point.

        • by Namarrgon (105036) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @11:41PM (#47726337) Homepage

          If this paper were to turn out to be correct, current climate models are useless and will need to be completely reworked.

          No model, in any branch of science or engineering, is complete and perfect; that doesn't mean they're useless [arstechnica.com].

          I'm curious to see which fundamental assumptions made by current models you believe to be contradicted by this paper. To me it looks like they're simply pointing out a deep-ocean cycle that could soak up heat from the surface - not unlike the well-known ENSO, PDO and AMO cycles, which most models don't attempt to predict. Unless you think that "incomplete" means "fundamentally assumes that no other factors can exist"?

          • This guy believes the Greenhouse Effect is bunk, and disproven.
            You may be curious now, but be prepared to feel a little nauseous when he begins answering you.
            • You're not in much of a position to be presuming to know what I think.
              • by Megol (3135005)

                Yes he is. As is all of us that have read your poorly reasoned posts.

                Or maybe you are indicating that what you write should be ignored as you are simply trying to troll?

              • That being the case, you may thank me for the educate I gave you on the topic that led to you changing your mind.

                http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org]

                Quote for extra lulz:

                Greenhouse gas theory is completely different, having to do with trapping of radiation. Which has been thoroughly discredited. [principia-scientific.org] (Just one example of said discrediting.)

                Topping on the fucking cake:

                Don't try to debate me on the science, guy. I've got you beat. I can keep shooting you down all day.

                Just for the record, you are my favorite imbecile.

          • I'm curious to see which fundamental assumptions made by current models you believe to be contradicted by this paper.

            If this paper is correct, then the effect (according to the authors) overwhelms ENSO, among other things. As it is already acknowledged that ENSO is a very major factor, the models have tried to account for it or at least incorporate its effects in some way. That would all have to be re-figured. And that's no small thing.

            If ENSO cannot be predicted to any great degree (it cannot), yet it has a major effect on climate models, and now another effect is found that is claimed to have a far greater effect tha

        • Certainly. In the same way that if the wheel on your car wobbles at 60mph, you don't figure out what's wrong, you throw away the whole fucking car.
        • by riverat1 (1048260) on Friday August 22, 2014 @04:40AM (#47727277)

          It doesn't mean climate models are useless at all. The phenomenon absorbing the heat that this paper studies is cyclical with 20-35 years between more and less absorption periods. That's difficult to model because it's probably impossible to predict the exact timing of the cyclical changes. One way to model that is it just take the long term average of heat absorption and accept that sometimes the model will over predict the warming and sometimes it will under predict the warming but the long term average will be about right. The findings of the paper don't contradict the fundamental assumptions of climate models but it may point the way to improvements in modeling the ocean portion of the models.

      • by mjwx (966435) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @11:35PM (#47726319)

        I think a lot of people, even some actual scientists, do not understand the role of skepticism in Science.

        A lot of people dont understand the difference between healthy scepticism and outright denial.

        Sceptics analyse the evidence behind conclusions and express their concerns. When concerns are valid, the conclusions are re-examined and if need be, changes are made, experiments are re-run with these new factors in mind.

        A person in denial looks for evidence to support their point of view. They dont examine the evidence, they only look for skerricks and soundbites that support their ideas, they dont add to the scientific process at all. The problem is that denial loves to hide in and pretend that it's proper scepticism because this gives denial legitimacy. The worse part is, they will attempt to take evidence out of context to support their ideas.

        Scepticism is an important part of verification in science, in science you're not meant to believe anything. However denial means believing in your idea regardless of any and all the evidence arrayed against it. Pretty much the antithesis of scientific scepticism.

        Put simply (TL;DR)

        Scepticism says: the climate change model is incorrect, we need to change the model.
        Denial says: the climate change model is incorrect, therefore climate change is wrong LA LA LA LA LA I cant hear you.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Mr D from 63 (3395377)

          Scepticism says: the climate change model is incorrect, we need to change the model. Denial says: the climate change model is incorrect, therefore climate change is wrong LA LA LA LA LA I cant hear you.

          I agree. The problem is that quite often skeptics, that fit your exact description above, are labeled deniers.

      • by sysrammer (446839)

        What a great explanation! I try to explain what science is sometimes, albeit not so eloquently; I'm not sure elegance would help with some people anyways.

        I have a relative that was shocked when I mentioned scientific research about the parting the Red Sea in the bible. I tried to boil it down to "science is about what, and religion is about why". Not sure it helped. Maybe I'll try your spiel.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Ok.

      This article isn't saying the heat is "disappearing". The heat is indeed being trapped and transferred to ocean temperatures. Ocean currents drive climate. Not sure how you think this "debunks" AGW.

    • by sjwt (161428)

      The missing news story here..

      "Assumptions about the Ocean heat convection currents were wrong, they do not just shut down when temperatures rise a little"

      I mean who would've thought that a large body of water would still try and maintain a thermodynamic balance..

      • by DamnOregonian (963763) on Friday August 22, 2014 @01:09AM (#47726601)
        Shrinking vertically is the real fear; the thermohaline circulation is highly sensitive to salinity (now, if only I knew what the word haline meant, and what happens when ice melts in seawater...), and the larger scale thermohaline circulation could very realistically shut down, or shrink to vertical levels making it near-useless for global heat distribution, if given proper breakdown of thermal gradients and salinity barriers; with it the most important currents (to a lot of places that are today habitable) would be fundamentally altered.

        It's generally thought that if the cycle does slow down enough, or shut down completely, the Ocean will lose its ability to sequester any more heat, and the result will be quite catastrophic to the current climate (in that places that were previously arable, will not be), and there's plenty of evidence that this has not only happened before, but triggered extinction events.

        Currents in general are quite safe, and nobody's really worried about the ocean suddenly becoming stagnant.
    • by sysrammer (446839)

      "I'm a Rational Scientist"
      "I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!"

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by beh (4759) *

      Strange how, just a knee-jerk you'll find some people defending the science, there are those that have the same knee-jerk reaction against any findings in this area. With all that uncontrollable knee-jerking on both sides - it seems that we have another great argument for universal health care, to get people's knees fixed again... But I digress...

      Whether climate change is man-made or not - I don't think there is too much debate left on the matter. But, I'm no climate scientist, so for me personally it's

  • Wait (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tailhook (98486)

    Folks here have been saying that the "hiatus" is a denier hoax. But now it's real, AND we understand it!

    • Re:Wait (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MightyYar (622222) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @09:24PM (#47725763)

      This is a common tactic I see on Slashdot: "How can Slashdot be praising x when they usually say y?"

      The folks claiming that the "hiatus" is a denier hoax are not necessarily the same folks who published this paper.

      Furthermore, the argument is not that "hiatus" is a denier hoax - any fool can see temperature readings have been flat in most measured areas. The counter-argument is typically that the Earth is really big and that surface measurements alone do not necessarily represent the amount of heat absorbed by the atmosphere. Where all of that heat has been going was where the speculation has been, with the usual supposition being "the ocean" or "the poles".

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dave420 (699308)
      No, the deniers have been saying there has been no warming during their cherry-picked years. Science has shown that there has been warming, but the rate of warming has been less than one would expect. See the difference?
  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @09:19PM (#47725731)

    It's Dark Matter.

    If anything's missing, the answer always is Dark Matter.

    Can't find your car keys . . . ? Dark Matter.

    Short on your mortgage this month . . . ? Tell the bank, "Dark Matter."

    The Earth is not as hot as we'd like it to be . . . ? Dark Matter.

  • An explanation why this article is nonsense:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/201... [wattsupwiththat.com]

  • Well, at last (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anna Merikin (529843) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @09:23PM (#47725759) Journal

    Not only does this explain a lot of the recent data, but it also directs attention to an ignored part of climatology: the vulcanism under the oceans and the warm currents they cause at very deep levels.

    Good going, guys and guyettes!

  • by MacTO (1161105) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @09:34PM (#47725811)

    It clearly shows a relationship between atmospheric temperature, energy stored in the ocean, and salinity. Whether you agree or disagree with the interpretation of the data in terms of global warming, at least they have provided us with a nice visual demonstrating the relationship between the ocean and the atmosphere.

  • by RichMan (8097) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @10:07PM (#47725995)

    What we do know is that we don't know exactly how the whole system works. The whole system being the planetary carboin cycle on which we depend for our one and only nice comfortable life sustaining climate.

    Given that we don't know how it all works and we depend on it are we really happy shitting in our own bathtub by releasing all sorts of long term stored carbon? Wouldn't it be better to slow down to a more natural rate and study the thing before we continued doing what might be self destructive.

  • As if global warming isn't scary enough.
  • No one really knows how it all works.

  • by Optali (809880) on Sunday August 24, 2014 @07:14AM (#47741273) Homepage

    I am not sure that there has been any such Hiatus (http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/2014/7#temp).

    (http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/)

    May I have overseen something? Like the Hollow Earth theory or Bigfoot?

    Oh yes, the links belong to the NOAA, the same source used by the Evil(TM) IPCC (Illuminati Pokemon Collectors Club)... so, may you be so kind as to provide any alternate DATASETS (nope, I'm not interested in distorted graphics based on your momma's basal temperature).

    NOTE: You may be talking about the STRATOSFERIC TEMPERATURE, which indeed raises at a slower level than SURFACE TEMPERATURE.

    BUTWhen we talk about Global Warming, we are not talking about the Stratosphere... mainly because we don't give a flying fuck about how cold or warm it is up there as we happen to live on the SURFACE of the planet and not in balloons. AND to make matters worse, even up there temperatures are indeed rising.

    And yes, I know: Global Warming is a big hoax created by Obama to forbid the hard working US citizen to openly carry their RPG-7 and to tax the hell out of them.

    God Bless the Tea Party!!

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell

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