March 19, 2008 – NPR.com
I love a good mystery. I am a big fan of mystery and drama shows on TV and movies and voraciously read all of James Patterson’s books and similar mystery stories. I do not think that I would spend billions (trillions?) of dollars on it though and that is what we are embarking on with the global warming mystery.
If you are reading this site then you are probably interested, concerned, or worried about predictions of the future regarding global warming. The reasonable method of predicting the future is to understand the present and the past and make some inference on how current trends will be affected into the future. This prediction for global warming is done with computers and I have repeatedly ranted on this site that our capability of developing these models is sub-standard.
This article is a case in point. It doesn’t prove that global warming is not happening. It also doesn’t prove that global warming is not being caused by humans. It does show that we don’t understand what is going on and that lack of understanding is critical to a plan of change. If we don’t know what is going on, how in the world can we know what to change?
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. [Editor’s note: This is a very small number of robots so conclusions based on this data set are not very conclusive.]
…Josh Willis at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory says the oceans are what really matter when it comes to global warming.
…80 percent to 90 percent of global warming involves heating up ocean waters. They hold much more heat than the atmosphere can….
…Since the system was fully deployed in 2003, it has recorded no warming of the global oceans.
“There has been a very slight cooling, but not anything really significant,” Willis says….
In recent years, heat has actually been flowing out of the ocean and into the air. This is a feature of the weather phenomenon known as El Nino. So it is indeed possible the air has warmed but the ocean has not. But it’s also possible that something more mysterious is going on.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have adequate tracking of clouds to determine exactly what role they’ve been playing during this period,” Trenberth says.
This is an excellent article on this mystery. Please take a moment to click through and read it all.
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Filed under: Not getting warmer