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The Conveyor Belt is broken!?!?

I am shocked and dismayed! (Not really – just being a bit sarcastic and melodramatic)

One of the foundations of predicting the climate is that we have some idea of how water moves around the planet. That water can be in the form of water vapor or liquid water that is flowing in streams, lakes and the oceans. Since the Earth is approximately 2/3 water and water vapor is the single largest greenhouse gas, the way it acts is very important for understanding climate and predicting the future of climate.

One of the largest influencers of the climates of various areas of the world is the Great Ocean Conveyor Belt. Mr. Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States and winner of the Nobel Peace Price, even described this huge current in his movie An Inconvenient Truth. He discussed what would happen if the this conveyor belt would stop and then “alluded” to Greenland being the source of freshwater that could make that happen. There was even a movie (Day After Tomorrow) that described the world where this flow would stop (a movie that Mr. Gore borrowed a CGI clip from).

Now we find out that we don’t know everything about this flow of water. Which means that any climate model that made assumptions based on our incorrect understanding of this flow is, by definition, incorrect. These are the same climate models that we are using as justification for imposing cap and trade (or carbon trading) taxes on the US population.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be taxing the population just yet but rather spend some real money on hard science and really get a solid picture of what is going on. If we find that we are impacting the climate in a negative manner then most realistic people would support aggressive action to reverse course.

Sorry, Mr. Gore. It seems that the science is not settled yet and the data is all over the map on what is really going on and why.

Check out The Resilient Earth‘s discussion of the subject. Mr. Hoffman does an excellent job of discussing the issue.

I do want to take one clip of Mr. Hoffman’s discussion out of context as I think it bears extra notice:

Climate skeptics are sometimes accused of selectively interpreting scientific data in order to bolster their case against anthropogenic global warming (AGW). The term used is cherry picking. When a theory makes certain predictions it is totally acceptable, even obligatory, to investigate those predictions. When a theory is based on certain fundamental assumptions regarding underlying science it is perfectly logical to question that theory when its underlying assumptions are shown to be in error. This is not cherry picking, it is how science works. It may discomfort those who complacently believe in the consensus view of AGW, but that is of no importance to science.

I will only share the first 2 paragraphs of Mr. Hoffman’s discussion here and encourage you to jump over there to read the rest. The original study was published in Nature.

News has come that the famed ocean conveyor belt, subject of countless TV documentaries and science lessons, is not as simple as scientists believed. The 50 year old model of global ocean circulation that predicts a deep Atlantic counter current below the Gulf Stream has been called into question by an armada of drifting subsurface sensors. As shocking as this news is to oceanographers it is even worse for climate modelersit means that all the current climate prediction models are significantly wrong.

It is known by many names: the meridional overturning current (MOC), the thermohaline circulation (THC), and, popularly, the great ocean conveyor belt. It has been the subject of study by oceanographers for half a century and is known to be a fundamentally important part of earthly climate regulation. It is the primary mechanism for transferring heat from the tropics to higher latitudes, the proximate reason that the occasional palm tree grows on the south coast of England. Until now, scientists thought they had a pretty good handle on how the current flows, the mechanisms that drive the circulation and affect climate world wide.

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