The Mystery of Global Warming's Missing Heat
Note how the story headline implies that we are still in the midst of global warming, it's just that the heat is "missing." LOL. Send out a search party! We've got to find that warming! The dog ate my global warming! I suppose that when all measures of global climate start showing unmistakable cooling, they will still find some way to attribute it to global warming, which we know is occurring, because the consensus told us so.
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.But the mass of the air on the planet is insignificant compared to the mass of the oceans. Also, I'm not sure this is even an honest statement, i.e. that the air is warming. In fact the article states "it is possible" the air has warmed. Anything is possible, but air must have warmed in the places we aren't measuring it, because where we have measured the air, it is NOT warming. As you can see from the temperature record on this graph, the global air temperature in 2006 and 2007 was not as high as in 2002, 2003, 2004, or 2005.
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. But Josh Willis at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory says the oceans are what really matter when it comes to global warming.
In fact, 80 percent to 90 percent of global warming involves heating up ocean waters. They hold much more heat than the atmosphere can. So Willis has been studying the ocean with a fleet of robotic instruments called the Argo system. The buoys can dive 3,000 feet down and measure ocean temperature. 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. So the buildup of heat on Earth may be on a brief hiatus. "Global warming doesn't mean every year will be warmer than the last. And it may be that we are in a period of less rapid warming."
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.
Ah well, back to the drawing board to cook up another computer model.
You have to read further into the article to find a more plausible hypothesis.
Recently the founder of The Weather Channel suggested that Al Gore should be sued for fraud. I'd like to get a piece of that action.
But if the aquatic robots are actually telling the right story, that raises a new question: Where is the extra heat all going?
Kevin Trenberth at the National Center for Atmospheric Research says it's probably going back out into space. The Earth has a number of natural thermostats, including clouds, which can either trap heat and turn up the temperature, or reflect sunlight and help cool the planet.
That can't be directly measured at the moment, however.
"Unfortunately, we don't have adequate tracking of clouds to determine exactly what role they've been playing during this period," Trenberth says.