The planet is heating up, thanks to human-generated emissions of greenhouse gases. But as a new NOAA-led study, “An observationally based energy balance for the Earth since 1950” (subs. req’d, release here) concluded:
[S]ince 1950, the planet released about 20 percent of the warming influence of heat-trapping greenhouse gases to outer space as infrared energy. Volcanic emissions lingering in the stratosphere offset about 20 percent of the heating by bouncing solar radiation back to space before it reached the surface. Cooling from the lower-atmosphere aerosols produced by humans balanced 50 percent of the heating. Only the remaining 10 percent of greenhouse-gas warming actually went into heating the Earth, and almost all of it went into the ocean.
Note that this Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres study was done “without using global climate models.”
Figure 1: “Total Earth Heat Content [anomaly] from 1950 (Murphy et al. 2009). Ocean data taken from Domingues et al 2008.”
That figure comes from the first of two posts by the terrific website Skeptical Science, which I repost below. Skeptical Science is an excellent, well-organized site to send convincible people for a shredding of the standard, long-debunked denier talking points.
Now I’m sure the deniers and delayers out there are shrieking, “There are peer reviewed analyses that document that upper ocean warming has halted since 2003!” — a claim I dealt with in my July post, “Like father, like son: Roger Pielke Sr. also doesn’t understand the science of global warming “” or just chooses to willfully misrepresent it.”
Subsequently, however, another JGR article, “Global hydrographic variability patterns during 2003-2008” (subs. req’d, draft here) details an analysis of “monthly gridded global temperature and salinity fields from the near-surface layer down to 2000 m depth based on Argo measurements.” Background on Argo here. Their findings are summed up in this figure:
Figure : Time series of global mean heat storage (0-2000 m), measured in 108 Jm-2.
Still warming, after all these years! And just where you’d expect it. The study makes clear that upper ocean heat content, perhaps not surprisingly, is simply far more variable than deeper ocean heat content, and thus an imperfect indicator of the long-term warming trend.
UPDATE: Yes, I am aware of the recent upper-ocean heat content data on the web. Please note that plots of very recent, highly variable upper-ocean content heat data down to 700 meters from unpeer-reviewed sources do not trump peer-reviewed analysis of much longer-term data down to 2000 m. Is it too much to ask people to actually read this entire post before posting comments?