Latest posts by Arthur Viterito (see all)
- More Skeptics Citing Ocean Circulation As Climate Driver - April 29, 2019
- Clearing Up the DeSmog Blog: Reducing Online Pollution - June 14, 2017
The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that enhanced infrared radiative forcing is the main driver of the earth’s recent warming.
More importantly, the report hypothesized that the rise in radiative forcing is, in all probability, attributable to the anthropogenic release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere via the burning of fossil fuels, agricultural activity, and deforestation.
The Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), a group sponsored by the Heartland Institute, the Science and Environmental Policy Project, and the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, issued a formal rebuttal to AR5, Climate Change Reconsidered II: Physical Science.
In this 1,000-page tome, they argued that changes to the climate system have been naturally driven, primarily by variable solar output and cloud cover. Subaerial volcanic activity was also cited as a driver of short-lived perturbations to the climate system.
In addition to the role of sun and clouds, a number of prominent critics of AR5 are now recognizing the importance of changing ocean circulation in the global temperature equation, an assertion I made over three years ago, and highlight at the end of this article.
This is a crucial acknowledgement in light of the fact that the oceans 1) contain 1,000 times as much heat as the overlying atmosphere, and 2) cover 70% of the earth’s surface. Furthermore, climate models poorly account for changes to the thermohaline circulation (also known as the meridional overturning circulation), the global, density-driven conveyor that shuttles massive amounts of heat and moisture to the north Atlantic and the Arctic.
In his February 27, 2019, blog post, Dr. Roy Spencer, a pioneer in the synthesis and analysis of satellite-generated global temperature data, said (http://www.drroyspencer.com/):
“ANY source of temperature change in the climate system, whether externally forced (e.g. increasing CO2, volcanoes) or internally forced (e.g. weakening ocean vertical circulation, stronger El Niños)* has about the same global temperature signature regionally: more change over land than ocean (yes, even if the ocean is the original source of warming), and as a consequence more warming over the Northern than Southern Hemisphere”.
Another widely known climate scientist, Dr. Judith Curry, testified to the Committee on Natural Resources of the House of Representatives on February 6, 2019, that (https://naturalresources.house.gov/imo/media/doc/Curry%20Testimony%20House%20Natural%20Resources.pdf):
“Apart from uncertainties in climate model projections that focus primarily on the impact of increases in greenhouse gases, we do not have sufficient understanding to project future solar variations, future volcanic eruptions, and decadal to century variations in ocean circulations”*.
Dr. Will Happer, a member of President Trump’s National Security Council, recently produced a video for PragerU titled Can Climate Models Predict Climate Change? In this intriguing video, Dr. Happer declares (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZN2jt2cCU4):
“A major aspect of climate involves the complicated interaction between two very turbulent fluids: the atmosphere, which holds large amounts of water (think rain and snow), and the oceans, which cover fully 70% of the earth’s surface. We can’t predict what effect the atmosphere is going to have on future temperatures because we can’t predict cloud formations. And the convection of heat, oxygen, salt and other quantities that pass through the oceans, not to mention weather cycles like El Niño in the tropical Pacific,* make predicting ocean temperatures an equally difficult business”.
While these acknowledgements provide a solid foundation for an improved understanding of global climate, a critical link in the ocean circulation/global temperature relationship is still being overlooked – oceanic geothermal heat. In a 2004 article titled, Hydrological Response to a Seafloor Spreading Episode on the Juan de Fuca Ridge, Davis et al. stated (https://www.nature.com/articles/nature02755):
“Seafloor hydrothermal systems are known to respond to seismic and magmatic activity along mid-ocean ridges, often resulting in locally positive changes in hydrothermal discharge rate, temperature* and microbial activity, and shifts in composition occurring at the time of earthquake swarms. … Corresponding regional effects have also been observed”*.
When linked to the findings of Ballarotta et al. in their 2015 article Impact of the Oceanic Geothermal Heat Flux on a Glacial Ocean State, a proverbial “piece of the puzzle” falls neatly into place. In that study, they argue that (https://www.clim-past-discuss.net/11/3597/2015/cpd-11-3597-2015.pdf):
“…OGH (Oceanic Geothermal Heat) is a signiﬁcant forcing that can weaken the stability of the water column, warm the bottom water and strengthen the thermohaline circulation”*.
In my 2016 paper, The Correlation of Seismic Activity and Recent Global Warming(https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/the-correlation-of-seismic-activity-and-recent-global-warming-2157-7617-1000345.php?aid=72728), I demonstrate the high correlation (r=0.78) between mid-ocean seismic activity and global temperatures since 1979.
The “goodness of fit” is compelling and supports the hypothesis that variability in mid-ocean geothermal flux, as proxied by mid-ocean seismic activity, affects the intensity of the global thermohaline circulation. This, in turn, impacts the flow of oceanic heat into the Arctic.
This so-called “Arctic Amplification” (i.e., the greatest temperature increases are seen in the Arctic and surrounding areas), is a hallmark characteristic of the recent warming.
I strongly urge the geoscience community to explore the geothermal/thermohaline link further.
The relatively small amounts of money that would be needed to pursue this line of research would be a pittance compared to the exorbitant amounts currently being proposed to implement the “Green New Deal.” Perhaps we could refer to the funding stream for this research as the “Lean New Deal.”
- My emphasis
[Originally Published at Principia Scientifica International]