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.

Sea level rise causes El Ninos

It has been suggested that El Ninos increase sea level rise. This is supported by this plot from the University of Colorado:

An El Nino would release warmth from the IPWP into the atmosphere. Lowering the thermosteric component of sea levels. But the plot.

Sea level rise causes El Ninos. The Pacific Ocean has a preferred temperature. If it’s too warm it will release warmth to the atmosphere.

What about sea level fall? The Pacific Ocean then tries to retain warmth causing La Ninas. This might be visualized by looking at the IPWP building warmth during La Ninas.

During La Ninas, upwelling takes some of the coldest liquid water the Ocean has and places it in an equatorial region and then as it is blown to the West the Sun warms it. And then stores it. If one were to want sea level rise, that is how you’d do it. Take stuff that will expand the most and give it lots of Sun.

La Ninas and Sea Level Rise

A simplified explanation of La Nina is, equatorial winds blow from East to West in the Pacific Ocean. These winds cause upwelling of cool bottom water which is transported West to the Indian Pacific Warm Pool. It warms along the way. The collapse of the East to West winds causes this stacked up water of the pool to slosh back to the East and we then have an El Nino. Papers have discussed La Ninas and changes in sea level rise.

Say warmed water sinks. Still contributing to sea level rise. Warm water at 10 meters or 1000 meters still occupies more volume. Now it is possible pressure at 1000 meters squeezes warm water to a lessor volume and then my whole theory may be wrong. With a strong La Nina upwelling we may have water that is easier to warm. Based on the thought that 0.0 C sea water at the equator will warm easier than 30.0 C seawater. It will emit less warmth to the surface. With constant sunlight in it should hoard more warmth while cooling the atmosphere when compared to warmer water.

La Ninas seem to warm the ocean causing volume expansion. A large IPWP would seem to cause more sea level rise. What about healthy Pacific Gyre rotations? In the NH warm water goes North losing warmth and volume. Cool water goes South gaining warmth and volume. Like simultaneous El Nino and La Nina. Reduced Gyre rotations. Northern water stays the same however, assume sea ice forms because of reduced warm Southern water up there. Ice insulates and retains warmth, increasing volume. Equatorial water being warm emits more warmth to the atmosphere. Its storage of warmth is limited by how warm that seawater is.

While it might be obvious to others, I guess sea ice lose reduces sea level rise by cooling the oceans.

What are the facts in the climate science debate?

“What are the facts in the climate science debate?

  • Average global surface temperatures have overall increased for the past 100+ years
  • Carbon dioxide has an infrared emission spectra
  • Humans have been adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere

That is pretty much it, in terms of verifiable, generally agreed upon scientific facts surrounding the major elements of climate change debate.

Human caused global warming is a theory. The assertion that human caused global warming is dangerous is an hypothesis.  The assertion that nearly all or most of the warming since 1950 has been caused by humans is disputed by many scientists, in spite of the highly confident consensus statement by the IPCC. The issue of ‘dangerous’ climate change is wrapped up in values, and science has next to nothing to say about this.”

Professor Judith Curry

Curry here is conservative in not going much beyond the 3 bullets. She doesn’t over reach. As when I do my job, I don’t want to found now or later to have been wrong.

Her last line above, she’s saying that it’s our values that matter, the voter’s values, not a small group of scientists saying this will be dangerous. What else is dangerous? River floods. The voters want to do something about that. That seems more of a fact though we don’t know future rainfall.