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Ocean Warming Scares

January 15, 2020

By Paul Homewood



Willis Eschenbach over at WUWT has a good summary of the latest scare story about ocean warming:


How much is a “Whole Little”? Well, it’s like a whole lot, only much, much smaller.

There’s a new paper out. As usual, it has a whole bunch of authors, fourteen to be precise. My rule of thumb is that “The quality of research varies inversely with the square of the number of authors” … but I digress.

In this case, they’re mostly Chinese, plus some familiar western hemisphere names like Kevin Trenberth and Michael Mann. Not sure why they’re along for the ride, but it’s all good. The paper is “Record-Setting Ocean Warmth Continued in 2019“. Here’s their money graph:


Now, that would be fairly informative … except that it’s in zettajoules. I renew my protest against the use of zettajoules for displaying or communicating this kind of ocean analysis. It’s not that they are not accurate, they are. It’s that nobody has any idea what that actually means.

Read the full post here.


Willis makes a number of points:

Firstly, when it is expressed in terms of temperature, we find that the oceans down to 2000m have warmed by little more than 0.1C in half a century, hardly armageddon:


The idea that we can measure the temperature of the world’s deep oceans to such fine margins is, of course, twaddle. As Willis points out, even ARGO buoys, only operational since 2005, only cover less than one third of the oceans. Prior to that we were doing little more than guesswork.

Although zettajoules sound impressive, the claimed increase is microscopic compared to the total amount of energy entering and leaving the ocean. How can we be sure that this tiny increase, even if it was real, is due to AGW, and not a myriad of natural causes, such clouds, thunderstorms, ENSO and other ocean cycles?


I would add one further thought.

As the map below shows, there is huge variation in sea surface temperature anomalies across the world, with a range of about 6C.

OK, these are just surface temperatures, and temperature anomalies at depth will be much less pronounced. Nevertheless, the natural factors causing these variations clearly dwarf the supposed impact of man-made warming.

How then can we be sure that we are actually measuring the latter?


  1. Joe Public permalink
    January 15, 2020 5:11 pm

    How can you possibly NOT be alarmed at the current rate of Ocean Warming?

    Only two days ago CNN informed us that the 2019 rate of warming was FIVE Hiroshima-bombs-per-second:

    Sadly, CNN (and other news sources) forget to mention that that was a reduction from the TWELVE Hiroshima-bombs-per-second that Skeptical Science advised its readers regarding 2013’s rate of warming.

  2. January 15, 2020 5:19 pm

    I was confused by CNN’s reporting. Since they announced the outbreak of WWlWIII, I assumed these atomic bombs were dropped by the combatants.

  3. Broadlands permalink
    January 15, 2020 5:56 pm

    I assume that the chart depicted with the claimed uncertainty in 2010 has a vertical axis in °C anomalies with reference to an unknown base period, and not in °C, absolute? What is the 2010 base period and the reference temperature?

  4. Thomas Carr permalink
    January 15, 2020 7:06 pm

    This is off topic:
    See the latest from Matthew Parris in today’s London Times regarding the ‘high’ power being generated recently by the wind turbines. He seems to have no concept of the variability of this source and how we must rely on carbon/uranium burning in generators with a stable output. He takes a swipe at middle aged wind farm sceptics in passing.
    Please publish the latest stats for the percentage the separate sources have supplied to the grid in the final quarter of 2019 and I will make sure that it gets to his in tray. .

  5. CheshireRed permalink
    January 15, 2020 8:21 pm

    Risible ‘certainty’ from this ‘study’, which is obviously all about generating screaming headlines. The Guardian and BBC both duly obliged, with neither of them stating the alleged rate of 0.1C of ‘warming’ over half a flippin century.
    As I said, risible stuff.

  6. BigNoleCat permalink
    January 15, 2020 8:39 pm

    Looks like the oceans are warming at a rate of approximately 1 degree Celsius over 500 years- correct? And this supports a “Climate Emergency”?

  7. Pancho Plail permalink
    January 15, 2020 9:56 pm

    I was looking at the SST anomalies and wondered if there is any explanation why the areas of highest SST anomaly appear off the coast of China/Japan and Eastern USA where there is high population density and extensive industry.

    • Mack permalink
      January 15, 2020 10:18 pm

      You’ve heard of the Urban Heat Island effect well, welcome to the Urban Heat ‘Coastal’ effect! I wonder how much warm water flows into the seas around the world’s most populous and industrialised coastal centres mixing with natural tidal and current flows thus impacting on those temperature anomalies far out to sea? The cynic in me suspects that airborne CO2 has less influence than an avalanche of warm molecules getting flushed down those millions of loos, drains, rivers and industrial outflows that border these warming oceans. But, hey ho, that theory makes as much sense on blaming your SUV and a few power stations on causing the ‘problem’.

      • Pancho Plail permalink
        January 16, 2020 11:22 am

        My feeling, precisely. I am also fascinated by the theory of resistive heating of the atmosphere by induced electrical currents. Apparently the subject of one or more academic papers last year but I have lost the link. Lightning is an extreme example and indubitably heats the atmosphere but there is constant current flow at much lower levels, probably continuous. This produces smaller heating effects but when integrated across the entire globe may well be as significant as CO2 and more likely to correlate with the slow continuous rise in global temperatures that statistics show.

  8. swan101 permalink
    January 15, 2020 10:28 pm

    Reblogged this on ECO-ENERGY DATABASE.

  9. January 16, 2020 10:57 am

    I knew this report was dreck as soon as I saw the hysterical Grauniad headlines. It wasn’t necessary to read it. As a general rule, the truth of any proposition scientific or otherwise lies in inverse proportion to the amount of hyperbole they use to report it.

  10. Gamecock permalink
    January 16, 2020 11:19 am

    ‘The paper is “Record-Setting Ocean Warmth Continued in 2019“.’

    Completely fake.

    Not only do we not no ocean temps before Argo, we don’t know ocean temps now. Each float represents 50,000 square miles of ocean.

    And the average depth of the oceans is 3,700 meters. Argo floats measure down to 2,000 meters. So the study proclaims on down to 2,000 meters, AS IF THE REST OF THE OCEANS DON’T MATTER. “We’re just going to ignore 45% of the ocean and act like it doesn’t matter.”

    The have no data to support their conclusion. They are making it up.

    • David A permalink
      January 17, 2020 5:23 am

      Gamecock, in addition, and a major increase in likely error bars, AFAIK, the Argo floats float, they are not tehered, they move to warmer or cooler waters, and the ocean currents meander a bit as well! The .1 degree warning is meaningless drivel.

  11. January 16, 2020 12:11 pm

    “There’s a new paper out. As usual, it has a whole bunch of authors, fourteen to be precise. My rule of thumb is that “The quality of research varies inversely with the square of the number of authors” … but I digress.”

    Allow me to elucidate. We are at full blown “publish or perish” in today’s so-called institutions of higher learning. I recognized this trend a couple of decades ago. These institutions falsely base the quality of the faculty on the number of papers they publish and the amount of grant money they bring in to the institution. The more papers you have your name on, the more you are “worthy” of grants. The more grants, the more papers you can get your name on while the bloated administrations smile benignly as they count their pay raises due to the “handling fee” attached to the grants being brought to them. It is only proper when more than one discipline is involved in a study: i.e. vegetation on a rock type might involve a botanist and a geologist.

    My major professor at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill did not play this game. He did not co-publish with his students. He believed that it was their work and he just facilitated. He also did not get grants, requiring his students to work on them for their MA or PhD degrees. When I published my MA thesis, he suggested that the abstract contain that my work was under the direction of Dr. Albert E. Radford.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      January 16, 2020 1:57 pm

      Getting to add Mann and Trenberth to your paper gives you ‘prestige’ in the western legacy media.

  12. Dr Roger Higgs permalink
    January 16, 2020 12:42 pm

    The Cheng et al. 2020 article in question, only 6 pages long and freely downloadable here …

    Click to access 10.1007%2Fs00376-020-9283-7.pdf

    … dramatically says: “These data reveal that the world’s oceans (especially at upper 2000 m) in 2019 were the warmest in recorded human history.” Presumably this statement was intended to say “warmest since humans began reliably measuring ocean temperature, a few decades ago”; rather a big difference.

    As usual with anything to do with the IPCC and faithfully regurgitated by the BBC, Guardian, etc. (note Cheng et al. cite four IPCC reports and likewise assume man-made climate change is fact rather than mere belief), no attempt is made to put the study into a geological (time) perspective. The data in Cheng et al. go back to just 1955, i.e. 64 years of data. Earth is 70 MILLION (sic) times older (4.5 billion years old). Just maybe the ocean has been warmer in the past (mild sarcasm intended). If I had more time I’d check to see if any of the article’s 14 (sic) co-authors is a geologist, but I doubt it. Michael Mann is one of the authors, by the way.

  13. terbreugghen permalink
    January 16, 2020 9:23 pm

    Found something interesting. A “book” on how teachers should teach about Climate change.

    Click to access TFG-ClimateChange-Complete.pdf

    Jim White, PhD, Director, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, Professor,
    Geological Sciences and Environmental Studies, University of Colorado,
    “One of the most faithful relationships in nature is that between global
    temperature and sea level; when air and water warm, land ice melts and
    sea level rises, and when the earth cools, land ice forms taking water out
    of the ocean. The physics are simple. What is profoundly surprising and not
    well known is that small changes in temperature lead to large changes in sea
    level; on average 1 degree C change corresponds to 15 to 20 meters of sea
    level change. Think about that as world leaders work to limit warming to a 2
    degree C change.”

    It caused me to wonder if the sea level had shifted 20 meters in the last 150 years in which we’ve seen a 1 degree C temperature change. What have I missed?

  14. avro607 permalink
    January 16, 2020 11:40 pm

    Herewith a report from the American consul at Bergen,Norway to the State Department……..there were few seal in Spitzbergen waters this year…this did not surprise the captain.He pointed out that formerly the waters about Spitzbergen held an even summer temperature of about 3degrees Celsius;this year recorded temperatures up to 15degrees,and last winter the ocean did not freeze over even on the north coast of Spitzbregen.
    Ships log of Capt.Martin Ingebrigtsen,October 1922.
    I believe geologist Dr.Adolf Hoel on board would have done the measurements.Real research,real science;how it is so needed today.
    The above,and more,I found on the Chiefio(E,M.Smith) website.An incredibly clever guy.I have learnt an awful lot from him.
    Thanks Chiefio.

  15. avro607 permalink
    January 16, 2020 11:50 pm

    Does Jim White really have a PhD?

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