15 March 2008

Climate Basics: Earth's Heat Content

Intelligent people understand that they can trust neither politicians, nor the media. What some of them have not yet learned, is that they cannot blindly trust anyone, regardless of academic or scientific credentials.

Consider the science behind climate change. A scientific theory must contain falsifiable hypotheses. The key to understanding and testing current orthodox theories of anthropogenic global warming, is to identify the falsifiable hypotheses and to attempt to falsify them.

"Global Warming" requires an ongoing accumulation of heat. This heat accumulation should be reflected in temperature measurements -- allowing for normal climate and weather cycles. The best measurement of Earth's heat content is ocean temperature measurements, rather than the ground surface station measurements that currently feed data into GCMs.

The simplest form of "fact-checking" of IPCC GCM climate projections, is to see if Earth's heat content is growing.

...global warming requires a more-or-less monotonic increase in the accumulation of heat (in Joules) within the climate system. The use of a global average surface temperature, regardless if it is increasing or decreasing is an inadequate and inaccurate metric of global warming as the heat is not only a function of temperature but also mass over which the heat change occurs! This is why the ocean is the dominate reservoir of heat content change.

With respect to the change in upper ocean heat content, as reported on a Climate Science weblog on February 15 2008, the paper

Willis, J. K., D. P. Chambers and R. Steven Nerem, 2008: Assessing the Globally Averaged Sea Level Budget on Seasonal and Interannual Time Scales. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans (in press),

reports on no upper (700m) ocean warming since 2004.

Thus while we cannot state that the recent widely distributed cold waves or overall cooling of the troposphere are evidence of the end of global warming over decadal and longer time scales, we can state that global warming has not occurred in the last 4 years. This is a major issue for both climate science and for policymakers, as only those who blindly (or deliberately) ignore the scientific evidence can still accept the 2007 IPCC conclusions as settled science.___ClimateScience
The question is, how long will the heat content of Earth's climate system be allowed to diverge from orthodox climate models, before the climate orthodoxy begins to modify its approach to GCM's and climate projection?

The current climate orthodoxy is based upon a set of assumptions--incorporated into its models--that must eventually be pared down enough to a form which can be falsified. We are not at that point as of yet. Currently, the orthodoxy has taken care to obscure and complicate its theories so as to present a front to the world which is indistinguishable from an unfalsifiable belief system, a religion.

But if catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW) orthodoxy is to be taught in university science departments, rather than in cloistered seminaries and monasteries, curious students, post-grads, and junior professors will attempt to formulate the issues in terms of science--falsifiable hypotheses. As these un-initiated supplicants produce a body of work based upon pre-orthodox mindsets, it should be possible to tease out a set of hypotheses which are falsifiable.

More time. More data. Cleaner theories. More honest science. The orthodoxy can consider itself under siege.

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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