Arctic sea ice adapts

“So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong, and strike at what is weak.”

Arctic sea ice retreat does allow some additional warming of the Arctic Ocean during some months of the year. Then each year Fall and then Winter arrives and it retakes most of the area it lost earlier.

The Arctic Energy Budget

The Arctic Energy Budget:


Does a lack of sea ice in the Arctic increase Northward ocean heat transport?

Is there a climate equilibrium, a strange attractor?

Here I respond to popesclimatetheory:

Week in review – science and policy edition

“This is how ice cycles work. Warm and Cold periods must alternate, there is no stable equilibrium in between. When temperature is in between, it is always a time of advancing or retreating ice.”

I am not disagreeing with you. What if there was an equilibrium? That was constantly being overshot by the climate. The equilibrium would be the strange attractor. The climate would orbit the attractor alternating between warm and cool. On the glacial/interglacial scale the orbit would be elliptical. Like a comet’s. As glacials last longer.

Wandering down another road, The Earth is closest to the Sun on about January 4. A water planet is suggested to store heat in its oceans during the closest approach to the Sun and release some of it slowly thereafter. The Southern oceans would arguably warm each year and store some of that. Seems good for capturing energy. The NH might not do so well with that if the closest approach was during July with so much more land when compared to the SH. All things being equal, a water planet would do better with more elliptical orbits.

Here I expand one a possible equilibrium:

I think there’s an average temperature going back say 400,000 years. Through a number of long cycles. This average could be thought of as the value of the strange attractor assuming no changes during this time frame. One can make an equation where most values converge on the equilibrium as they spiral into that or one where they orbit the same point that the equilibrium sits at. Like Lorenz did. The Earth orbits the Sun. Its average position is what? I’d say pretty close to the Sun or in it, though I may be torturing the definition of average. What is the equilibrium position of the Earth? We could say there is none. Or there is one and the Earth will not reach for a more than a billion years because of the vector arrow that all stable orbiting bodies have, its forward speed. There is this place the Earth is trying to get to but one of its vector arrows prevent that. This place is our Sun.

Lopsided PDF and CMIP5 ensemble means

brandongates linked to this:


For 16 years everything stayed below the CMIP5 ensemble mean. What is that called? You have your about 95% and you stay in the lower half for that long. Think of a PDF. Better yet, think of the PDF changing with a regime change. Rotate it 180 degrees with the a regime change so it is now its former self’s mirror image. El Nino periods would then be out there in the long tail or when PDF has flipped.

Look at CMIP3 on the plot. In about 1998 the two CMIPs diverge. About 0.1 C is added to CMIP5. CMIP 3 provides much more reasonable and useful information.

Scripps on Oceans warming

0 meters

0.05 C per decade warming

500 meters

0.02 C per decade warming

2000 meters

4000 meters (Rough average depth of the oceans.)

“Below the sea surface, historical measurements of temperature are far sparser, and the warming is more gradual, about 0.01°C per decade at 1,000 meters.” 

0 meters

1000 meters   0.01 C per decade warming

Ocean Upwelling & Warming Efficiency

Here’s what I think the idea is. Ocean upwelling cools the surface by placing cooler water at the surface. It then emits less warmth to the atmosphere. Lessen this upwelling and the surface is warmer, emitting more warmth to the atmosphere. Increase this flow, with La Nina conditions and the atmosphere is cooler than it otherwise would be.

Global ocean temperatures to their full depth would be warmer with increased upwelling as cool water that receives sunlight will keep more of it when compared to warmer surface water. It evaporates less. Ocean temperatures with decreased upwelling would emit more warmth from evaporation so they would be cooler if everything else is equal.

A La Nina circulation would be vertical from the ocean depths and then horizontal along the equator. It would involve some of the coolest liquid water in the best place to warm it. We know the ocean depths have sustain with their massive thermal reserves.

The oceans have warmed as has the atmosphere. So I think this line of thought cannot explain why both have occurred at generally the same time. However if upwelling was high, the oceans would warm while slowing GMST rise. There is a saying, The hydrological cycle speeds up with warming. If this is the case, change may be limited or moderated.

Let’s now apply this to the glacial/interglacial cycle. A descent into a glacial would involve oceans cooling. Less upwelling, more emission to the atmosphere. The system slows. This cools the oceans. The oceans are less efficient at warming themselves. Compare this the efficient warming during a La Nina.

An ascent to an interglacial involves oceans warming. Upwelling increases efficiency by placing the cool water in the tropics to be warmed. As the oceans cooled during the descent their loss of energy actually increased future efficiency of warming.

JCH at Climate Etc comments with an interesting study that I quote in my reply:


“… Upwelling also varies on millennial scales. During the Roman Warm Period, Medieval Warm Period and the Current Warm Period, La Nina-like conditions with stronger trade winds dominated (Salvatteci 2014) causing above average upwelling and higher productivity. During cooler periods like the Dark Ages and Little Ice Age, the Pacific was dominated by El Nino-like conditions with less upwelling and lower productivity. …”

When it’s warm, La Ninas dominate. Warming the ocean and cooling the atmosphere more than otherwise. The oceans act as if they know not to overheat the atmosphere. When it’s cold, El Ninos dominate. Cooling the oceans and warming the atmosphere. The oceans act as if they know a too cool atmosphere isn’t good.

El Nino domination has less upwelling. There is less vertical circulation from where the upwelling occurs. As lake does in Winter in Minnesota, it is more stratified that is, less goes up to the surface. This would tend to preserve energy even though the oceans are cooling. When they are warming with La Ninas, the opposite occurs. Vertical circulation increases.

The quote says, lower productivity. With warmth comes food from the ocean depths. Without it, not so much. It is stored for when the warmth comes back. Life is sensitive to warmth. Add some warmth and there’s increased life.