Kevin Trenberth: Ocean will eat global warming for next 20 years

NPR reports:

Fast forward 25 years, and Trenberth still sees changes in ocean temperature as key to understanding the ups and downs of global climate. That includes the current plateau in global temperature.

Trenberth says, in fact, the planet has continued to warm during this time — but the heat has been flowing into the oceans, which have a vast capacity to absorb it.

So will the oceans come to our rescue?

“That’s a good question, and the answer is maybe partly yes, but maybe partly no,” [Kevin Trenberth] says.

The oceans can at times soak up a lot of heat. Some goes into the deep oceans where it can stay for centuries. But heat absorbed closer to the surface can easily flow back into the air. That happened in 1998, which made it one of the hottest years on record.

Trenberth says since then, the ocean has mostly been back in one of its soaking-up modes.

“They probably can’t go on much for much longer than maybe 20 years, and what happens at the end of these hiatus periods, is suddenly there’s a big jump [in temperature] up to a whole new level and you never go back to that previous level again,” he says.

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26 thoughts on “Kevin Trenberth: Ocean will eat global warming for next 20 years”

  1. Sure Igor, tell that to all the sub commanders who hide their boat under the thermal layer that separates the deep waters from the upper warmer waters. there is a serious boundary layer there, and lead will float before heavier deeper CO2 rich waters suddenly magically change their behavior to comply with computer models

  2. The oceans saturated with CO2 before man walked the earth. Warming waters release CO2 and therefor cannot absorb any CO2. More total nonsense like ocean acidification when with warming the ocean becomes minutely more bases as it warms

  3. The hidden heat gambit is a direct offshoot of CAGW scientific logic: All things are possible until proven otherwise and, if it’s scientifically possible, it could well be. No. And the likelihood that the ocean could absorb huge amounts of forcing in a thousandth of a degree is an irresistible excuse.

    The null hypotheses – the hidden heat doesn’t exist – is still operative. The complexity in the end probably makes the null harder to disprove. And yes, warm water on top makes the proof harder and the explanation more complex. That’s scientifically fair, although they spend their time arguing the opposite – that it’s unfair to have to go beyond the absence of disproof.

  4. That, or the sun. Or both. Or anything – anything at all. The guy is all over the place what with rogue hotspots competing with deep ocean theory. Of course, it’s not hard to keep making stuff up as you go. Which is all that this looks like.

  5. “They” don’t know.
    And you don’t know.
    And I don’t know.
    Because “climate” is too complicated. It can’t even be defined.
    What other message is there?

  6. I see.

    So you are one of those people who starts talking a lot in order to eschew admitting a mistake.


    BWY: an ocean being more complex than a bucket of water is not my suggestion, it’s a fact.

    I won’t talk to you anymore. Bye.

  7. I use the word fact about twice a year. Usually to point out that there are very few facts anywhere in the world. There, I used my quota for the year and I certainly didn’t use that word in the context of your post.
    So we live in a brave new world of computer programs that can model complexities at a level that would be mind boggling to a scientist of 40 years ago.
    The problem is that those complex models are believed. Complexity is the mark of uncertainty. Sophistication is the sure sign that one doesn’t know the answer and the more complex the subject, the less likely the model is correct.
    You suggested that the ocean is more complex than a bucket of water without adding that none of us knows if the ocean is actually taking in the energy.
    Since the relative mass of the ocean to air is about 250 to one, and the specific heat of water is about 4 times that of air, you have about 1000 to one heat capacity of water to air. A model of the ocean would have to be accurate to 1/1000 of a degree to account for the energy needed to raise the air by one degree. No model nor measurement of the ocean will ever achieve that level of accuracy.
    I doubt that a bucket of water can be measured accurately to 1/1000 of a degree.

  8. I have never said that heat transfer into deep is a fact.

    I am only saying that it’s not against “basic physics” – warmer high salinity water can go under colder law salinity water, among other scenarios. Can. Period.

    Whether it is actually happening or not, and to what extent – is totally different question that requires a lot of research in the field.

    P.S. David, I expect apology from you.

  9. Yes Igor, but heuristic “ocean is much more complicated than a bucket of water” is pretty weak as well. How well do oceanographers know the vertical mixing that result from salinity, temperature profiles, and landmass interference? My guess is that they don’t know how to measure the transfer of energy from surface to depth over each square of ocean. It’s complicated means that it isn’t known and it won’t be known in my lifetime.
    Bottom line on ocean mixing, energy transfer, cloud albedo, and on and on and on the “complexities” go. And the answer is right in front of the noses of everyone. We don’t know. Quit saying that you do.

  10. if you take a bucket of water, than, yes, you are right.

    alas, an ocean is much more complex than a bucket. The water is not uniform inside the ocean, different salinity, different temps, currents that go not just along surface, but also up and down, interactions between currents and landmasses, etc.

    so, please try to educate yourself about complexity of oceans…

  11. **under review comments?follow up**

    Wouldn’t a wetter N. Africa (besides eliminating the dusty dry air hotspot *400 mb?* that increases the system’s campacity for extremes) lower ITCZ ocean temperatures (reducing capacity for extremes)

  12. Yup. It looks like they’ll have to adjust ocean temperature readings to fit the theory along with the air temperature readings that they don’t like. Too bad Mother Nature still refuses to comply with doctrine. Reality can be a bitch.

  13. There’s fairly strong evidence that most of the Global Warming advocates don’t understand basic physics. Some also think that growing plants are a carbon source. No surprise that some think hot water sinks.

  14. ” Some goes into the deep oceans where it can stay for centuries.”

    Uh huh, and just exactly what is the mechanism that heats the deep ocean with otherwise not a trace?

    When the facts don’t fit their thesis, these guys either make up as they go along, or change the raw data. It really is a travesty.

  15. Speaking of melting polar ice caps…Shouldn’t decreasing sun activity increase polar magnetic densities thereby lowering their atmospheric heights and increasing local ERBE responses? Grow the ice caps….change downstream weather patterns….If better political terms were had with N. & Saharan Africa, old reservoirs and irrigation networks could be rescued to offset atmospheric drying being driven by garbage pool impacts on evaporative processes at circulation gyres (&evapotranspirative processes…declining C02 sink capacity )

  16. I thought deep layer ocean temperatures were controlled by salinity (density). If warmer water is evaporating, shouldn’t the salinity of the remaining parts increase and thereby increase the cooling & ocean circulation efficiency provided by polar melt?

  17. Sounds like Kev doesn’t really have much of a clue about what makes this ocean mechanism work. And with no clue about such an important part of the climate system, how do the models accurately reflect what goes on?

    What’s that you say? They don’t! Wow.

    So how come we’ve had twenty years of people shrilly advising us on looming disaster based on models that are wrong?

  18. Trenberth is dreaming up things just like Gore predicted the northern Ice cap would be melted by now. There is no way to predict what’s going to happen in 20 years. All climate models have poor parameterizations and therefore cannot describe the chaotic atmospheric processes correctly. Many predictions have been made in the last fifty years on what the climate will look like in the future and none of them have come true.

  19. How in the hell can hot water sink? Can these genisuses explain what mechanism allows this to happen? Anybody that believes this BS is a complete and utter moron.

  20. Kevin, please answer me this: What caused climate change before man and industry came onto the scene? And what can man do about volcanoes and bush fires started by lightening, absolutely nothing.

  21. Kevin Trenberth’s crowning achievement was his bad behavior that resulted in the resignation of Chris Landsea from the IPCC. I wonder if old Kevin is proud of that?

  22. But heat absorbed closer to the surface can easily flow back into the air. That happened in 1998, which made it one of the hottest years on record. … They probably can’t go on much for much longer than maybe 20 years, and what happens at the end of these hiatus periods…

    It’s called an El Nino (ENSO cycles), Kevin. They don’t last for “maybe” 20 years. We knew about ENSO long before global warming hit the headlines. Nice attempt at attempting at confuse. Maybe a few sheeple in the choir will buy it.

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