Using the oceans as a calorimeter to quantify the solar radiative forcing — the background

Global warming real’ say new studies according to the Financial Times, February 18, 2005. Tim Barnett of Scripps Institute of Oceanography crowed:

“The debate over whether there is a global warming signal is over now at least for rational people.”

The article records the team’s triumph:

A leading US team of climate researchers on Friday released “the most compelling evidence yet” that human activities are responsible for global warming. They said their analysis should “wipe out” claims by sceptics that recent warming is due to non-human factors such as natural fluctuations in climate or variations in solar or volcanic activity.

In a related article reported from the reliable UK Met Office.

The world’s best efforts at combating climate change are likely to offer no more than a 50-50 chance of keeping temperature rises below the threshold of disaster, according to research from the UK Met Office.

The chilling forecast from the supercomputer climate model of the Met Office’s Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research will provide a sobering wake-up call for governments around the world

Fast forward to 2008, and Nir J. Shaviv, Dr. Shaviv, 37, an associate professor at the Racah Institute of Physics of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, claims the theory that solar and cosmic rays, not human activity, are the driving forces behind climate change is gaining traction. He recently published a paper on ocean heat flux called “Using the oceans as a calorimeter to quantify the solar radiative forcing“.

My main criticism of this paper is that it provides no background on studies of heat transport into oceans, hence this preamble. I wanted to find out what the various numeric values of heat flux into the ocean are, to attempt to reconcile the various views.

The paragraphs from Climate Change 2001: Working Group I: The Scientific Basis are worth reading; they seem to indicate how uncertain the ocean flux is, and flag the problems caused by clouds:

Improved resolution and understanding of the important facets of coupling in both atmosphere and ocean components of global climate models have also been proven to reduce flux imbalance problems arising in the coupling of the oceanic and the atmospheric components. However, it must still be noted that uncertainties associated with clouds still cause problems in the computation of surface fluxes.

Among the prominent web accessible works that record estimates of the fluxes are these:

Anthropogenic Warming of the Oceans: Observations and Model Results by David W. Pierce and Tim P. Barnett et al..

Analysis of PCM’s heat budget indicates the warming is driven by an increase in net surface heat flux that reaches 0.7 watts m2 by the 1990s; the downward longwave flux increases by 3.7 watts m2, which is not fully compensated by an increase in the upward longwave flux of 2.2 watts m2. Latent and net solar heat flux each decrease by about 0.6 watts m2.

In another by Southern Ocean warming due to human influence by John C. Fyfe was equally impressed by a “remarkable agreement”.

I show that the latest series of climate models reproduce the observed mid-depth Southern Ocean warming since the 1950s if they include time-varying changes in anthropogenic greenhouse gases, sulphate aerosols and volcanic aerosols in the Earth’s atmosphere. The remarkable agreement between observations and state-of-the art climate models suggests significant human influence on Southern Ocean temperatures.

Nir Shaviv provides an alternative view:

Another interesting point to note is that the solar cycle induced variations in low-altitude cloud cover [Marsh and Svensmark, 2000b], presumably from CRF modulation over the oceans (where CCNs are most likely to be a bottleneck), give rise to a radiative imbalance which can be estimated [Marsh and Svensmark, 2000a; Shaviv, 2005] to be of order 1.1 ± 0.3 W/m2 over the past two cycles. Together, with the TSI variations, we find that the ratio between the cloud + TSI variations compared with the change in the solar constant is: 1:3 ± 0:4 W/m2. After comparing with equation (21), we can conclude that the heat flux going into the oceans is consistent with the apparent variations in the low-altitude clouds.

Clearly there is rough quantitative agreement between Barnett and Shaviv about the heat entering the oceans, but there is disagreement on the source. Nir’s evidence shows the influx is consistent with a net increase in solar forcing of 1:3 ± 0:4 W/m2. Tim Barnett’s proof of AGW, is that without CO2, climate models cannot reproduce the warming seen in the oceans. But this is assuming the latent and net solar heat flux has decreased by about 0.6 W/m2. Presumably, this assumption is crucial to his findings and if solar were increased to +1W/m2, would not indicate CO2 as the cause.

Nir Shaviv is already known for his contribution to the field of astrophysics, where he demonstrated that the Eddington luminosity is not a strict limit. He would seem to regard the proof of Prof Barnett, the rationalist, as a case of ‘mistaken identity’, where CO2 stands falsely accused. There is also an element of ‘proof by calling the other guy an idiot‘.

The real numeric disagreement between the camps appears to be over the extent of solar forcing: surely a measurable, resolvable dispute. Shaviv claims to have proved this enhanced forcing, a finding that seems to me to be worth a Noble Prize nomination:

We find that the total radiative forcing associated with solar cycles variations is about 5 to 7 times larger than just those associated with the TSI (Total Solar Irradiance) variations, thus implying the necessary existence of an amplification mechanism, …

Shaviv said in a recent interview:

“People will see that the apocalyptic forecasts are not coming true. Today there is no fingerprint attesting that carbon dioxide emission causes a rise in temperature.”

The statements from the project leader at Scripts Institute of Oceanography that the debate is over for ‘rational’ people, and their results should “wipe out” claims by sceptics, are already beginning to sound like famous last words.

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0 thoughts on “Using the oceans as a calorimeter to quantify the solar radiative forcing — the background

  1. In the quote under “Nir Shaviv provides an alternative view:” you show:

    “Together, with the TSI variations, we find that the ratio between the cloud + TSI variations compared with the change in the solar constant is: 1:3 ± 0:4 W/m2.”

    The ratio is dimensionless. The paper actually shows:
    “=1.3 ± 0.4”

    This is compared to the ratio of ocean heat flux to the change in solar constant = 1.2 ± 0.3.

    This shows that the theory of clouds modulated by CRF fully accounts for the ocean heat flux over the solar cycles. Wow! Svensmark should be pleased!

    Please note also that the paper has two significant typos (I think!).

    Equation (18) shows the heat flux derived from sea level rise (SLR) per change in TSI = 1.68 ± 0.6, but the equation is mislabeled with SST.

    Then Equation (19) shows the heat flux derived from sea surface temperature (SST) per change in TSI = 1.15 ± 0.35, but the equation is mislabeled with SLR!

  2. In the quote under “Nir Shaviv provides an alternative view:” you show:

    “Together, with the TSI variations, we find that the ratio between the cloud + TSI variations compared with the change in the solar constant is: 1:3 ± 0:4 W/m2.”

    The ratio is dimensionless. The paper actually shows:
    “=1.3 ± 0.4”

    This is compared to the ratio of ocean heat flux to the change in solar constant = 1.2 ± 0.3.

    This shows that the theory of clouds modulated by CRF fully accounts for the ocean heat flux over the solar cycles. Wow! Svensmark should be pleased!

    Please note also that the paper has two significant typos (I think!).

    Equation (18) shows the heat flux derived from sea level rise (SLR) per change in TSI = 1.68 ± 0.6, but the equation is mislabeled with SST.

    Then Equation (19) shows the heat flux derived from sea surface temperature (SST) per change in TSI = 1.15 ± 0.35, but the equation is mislabeled with SLR!

  3. Nir Shaviv says here:

    “Another interesting point to note is that the solar cycle induced variations in low-altitude cloud cover [Marsh and Svensmark, 2000b], presumably from CRF modulation over the oceans (where CCNs are most likely to be a bottleneck), give rise to a radiative imbalance which can be estimated [Marsh and Svensmark, 2000a; Shaviv, 2005] to be of order 1.1 ± 0.3 W/m2 over the past two cycles.”

    that CCNs over the ocean are most likely to be a ‘bottleneck’. However, Shaviv unfortunately doesn’t give any references to support such a very significant (albeit ‘off the cuff’) claim.

    Speaking mathematically, a ‘bottleneck’ is essentially a rate limiting factor on a single mechanism within a chain of causation.

    So, this raises the interesting question of whether, if this statement can be verified (and I’m double checking the specific literature on this), a reduction in this bottleneck has the ability to amplify the CRF forcing factor. I might add here that I probably agree with Shaviv that this probably applie at the present time as it is well known that the sulfate emitted by ocean-going cargo vessels (through the burning of fuel oil) form tracks of low level clouds across the oceans easily tracked by satellite and aerial photography.

    But CCNs over the ocean are largely produced as sulfuric acid and ammonium sulfate etc from the UV-catalysed oxidation of dimethysulfide (DMS) and this in turn is a ‘byproduct’ of cyanobacterial productivity. In theory, cyanobacterial productivity is itself controlled by the availability of essential nutrients, particularly Fe, Si and P, temperature, and the availability of dissolved CO2 (!) as cyanobacteria absorb carbon from dissolved carbon dioxide and bicarbonate and respire O2. This means that, all other things being equal, cyanobacterial productivity should increase with increasing atmospheric CO2.

    I also note that, on a global scale, and during an interglacial as now, cyanobacterial productivity is very likely closely linked to the long timescale changes in magnitudes and location of upwelling of more saline, nutrient-bearing waters which constitute the action of major cycles such as the PDO.

    So, if Shaviv really does believe that ” …over the oceans (where CCNs are most likely to be a bottleneck)” is the case, an inescapable corollary of this is that the historic/paleoclimatic degree of CRF modulation of cloud production itself may also diminished or magnified by just where the planet is in the PDO cycle and what the contemporary atmospheric partial pressure of CO2 is.

    This leads us right back to Bill Gray’s paper at Heartland-2 and Roy Spencer’s recent comments on his blog regarding the correct understanding of the role of the PDO.

  4. Nir Shaviv says here:

    “Another interesting point to note is that the solar cycle induced variations in low-altitude cloud cover [Marsh and Svensmark, 2000b], presumably from CRF modulation over the oceans (where CCNs are most likely to be a bottleneck), give rise to a radiative imbalance which can be estimated [Marsh and Svensmark, 2000a; Shaviv, 2005] to be of order 1.1 ± 0.3 W/m2 over the past two cycles.”

    that CCNs over the ocean are most likely to be a ‘bottleneck’. However, Shaviv unfortunately doesn’t give any references to support such a very significant (albeit ‘off the cuff’) claim.

    Speaking mathematically, a ‘bottleneck’ is essentially a rate limiting factor on a single mechanism within a chain of causation.

    So, this raises the interesting question of whether, if this statement can be verified (and I’m double checking the specific literature on this), a reduction in this bottleneck has the ability to amplify the CRF forcing factor. I might add here that I probably agree with Shaviv that this probably applie at the present time as it is well known that the sulfate emitted by ocean-going cargo vessels (through the burning of fuel oil) form tracks of low level clouds across the oceans easily tracked by satellite and aerial photography.

    But CCNs over the ocean are largely produced as sulfuric acid and ammonium sulfate etc from the UV-catalysed oxidation of dimethysulfide (DMS) and this in turn is a ‘byproduct’ of cyanobacterial productivity. In theory, cyanobacterial productivity is itself controlled by the availability of essential nutrients, particularly Fe, Si and P, temperature, and the availability of dissolved CO2 (!) as cyanobacteria absorb carbon from dissolved carbon dioxide and bicarbonate and respire O2. This means that, all other things being equal, cyanobacterial productivity should increase with increasing atmospheric CO2.

    I also note that, on a global scale, and during an interglacial as now, cyanobacterial productivity is very likely closely linked to the long timescale changes in magnitudes and location of upwelling of more saline, nutrient-bearing waters which constitute the action of major cycles such as the PDO.

    So, if Shaviv really does believe that ” …over the oceans (where CCNs are most likely to be a bottleneck)” is the case, an inescapable corollary of this is that the historic/paleoclimatic degree of CRF modulation of cloud production itself may also diminished or magnified by just where the planet is in the PDO cycle and what the contemporary atmospheric partial pressure of CO2 is.

    This leads us right back to Bill Gray’s paper at Heartland-2 and Roy Spencer’s recent comments on his blog regarding the correct understanding of the role of the PDO.

  5. You want to look also at Reply to Lockwood and FrÄohlich – “The persistent role of the Sun in climate for Henrik Svensmark and Eigil Friis-Christensen”
    http://www.friendsofscience.org/assets/files/documents/Svensmark_FriisChtr-Reply%20to%20Lockwood.pdf.
    especially Fig 2 with the correlation of CRF and ocean and lower troposphere temperatures from 1960. There is an amazing correlation r=0.47. That is almost 50% of the variation in temperatures since 1960 is explained by CRF. Whats CO2 – a few percent? Svensmark notes that land surface temperatures don’t correlate so well, perhaps due to problems of UHI in the record, but perhaps due to the main forcing of CRF being over the ocean.

    Shaviv’s paper is inadequately referenced in many ways as I noted, perhaps as an astrophysicist in another field he doesn’t know the literature, I don’t know. There are many things to look into. One is that if 50% of variation is due to forcing is over the ocean, ocean temperatures should lead surface and overall temps. Cloudiness, and neutron counts should give a predictive jump on the the monthly guess the temperature competition.

    Steve: Your notes on PDO are also suggestive of a resolution of PDO, and CRF forcings. I need to do some posts on the sense of ‘amplification’, ‘sensitivity’ and ‘feedbacks’ as used by Shaviv.

  6. You want to look also at Reply to Lockwood and FrÄohlich – “The persistent role of the Sun in climate for Henrik Svensmark and Eigil Friis-Christensen”
    http://www.friendsofscience.org/assets/files/documents/Svensmark_FriisChtr-Reply%20to%20Lockwood.pdf.
    especially Fig 2 with the correlation of CRF and ocean and lower troposphere temperatures from 1960. There is an amazing correlation r=0.47. That is almost 50% of the variation in temperatures since 1960 is explained by CRF. Whats CO2 – a few percent? Svensmark notes that land surface temperatures don’t correlate so well, perhaps due to problems of UHI in the record, but perhaps due to the main forcing of CRF being over the ocean.

    Shaviv’s paper is inadequately referenced in many ways as I noted, perhaps as an astrophysicist in another field he doesn’t know the literature, I don’t know. There are many things to look into. One is that if 50% of variation is due to forcing is over the ocean, ocean temperatures should lead surface and overall temps. Cloudiness, and neutron counts should give a predictive jump on the the monthly guess the temperature competition.

    Steve: Your notes on PDO are also suggestive of a resolution of PDO, and CRF forcings. I need to do some posts on the sense of ‘amplification’, ‘sensitivity’ and ‘feedbacks’ as used by Shaviv.

  7. David #3

    Thanks, David – I looked at the reply to to Lockwood and FrÄohlich – very interesting.

    “Shaviv’s paper is inadequately referenced in many ways as I noted, perhaps as an astrophysicist in another field he doesn’t know the literature, I don’t know. There are many things to look into.”

    As well as Shaviv’s ocean calorimetry maybe we can do something with cloud frequency and density data versus CRF? I use Giovanni a lot to access the body of NASA and NATA-linked data so might have a go. Plenty of scope for anyone who is interested in getting into the remote sensing data.

    http://disc.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/giovanni/G3_manual_parameter_appendix.shtml

  8. David #3

    Thanks, David – I looked at the reply to to Lockwood and FrÄohlich – very interesting.

    “Shaviv’s paper is inadequately referenced in many ways as I noted, perhaps as an astrophysicist in another field he doesn’t know the literature, I don’t know. There are many things to look into.”

    As well as Shaviv’s ocean calorimetry maybe we can do something with cloud frequency and density data versus CRF? I use Giovanni a lot to access the body of NASA and NATA-linked data so might have a go. Plenty of scope for anyone who is interested in getting into the remote sensing data.

    http://disc.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/giovanni/G3_manual_parameter_appendix.shtml

  9. “Tim Barnett’s proof of AGW, is that without CO2, climate models cannot reproduce the warming seen in the oceans. But this is assuming the latent and net solar heat flux has decreased by about 0.6 W/m2. Presumably, this assumption is crucial to his findings and if solar were increased to +1W/m2, would not indicate CO2 as the cause.”

    These types of statements seem silly to me. They are essentially stating (again) that the model is the reality to which you compare the world!

  10. “Tim Barnett’s proof of AGW, is that without CO2, climate models cannot reproduce the warming seen in the oceans. But this is assuming the latent and net solar heat flux has decreased by about 0.6 W/m2. Presumably, this assumption is crucial to his findings and if solar were increased to +1W/m2, would not indicate CO2 as the cause.”

    These types of statements seem silly to me. They are essentially stating (again) that the model is the reality to which you compare the world!

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