Ocean Heat—Hot Surfer Dudes vs. Scientists


(Continued from The Heat is On—Barely)

The Oceans are supposed to be getting hotter, says climate scientists.

Last I checked, however, the hottest things in (and on) the oceans are the surfer dudes with their tanned bodies and their muscular physiques.  This is the reason why my home is within driving proximity to Santa Cruz, home to some of the most amazing species of hot surfing dudes to have ever graced the planet Earth.  Perhaps some of those surfer dudes are scientists.  One never knows what level of intelligence lurks beneath a handsome physique.

Ahem.  To get back on topic—according to scientists, the ocean has more than just surfer dudes to use as a heating implement.  (Well—ok…they didn’t say anything about the surfer dudes, but they did say that it is warming.)  Let’s try this again.

According to a recent study in Geophysical Research Letters, the ocean captures heat and traps it under oceanic levels below 700 meters. [1]  Kevin Trenberth with the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research stated that:  “Increasingly in the past decade, more of that heat has been dumped at levels below 700 meters, where most previous analyses stop. About 30 percent has gone below 700 meters in depth.  This is fairly new, it is not there throughout the record.” [2]

Since I am not a scientist, I am naturally full of questions about this sort of thing.  For instance, how did the deep waters get warm but the surface water stayed cool?  What is the mechanism that allows for the heat to sink downwards past 700 meters?  So let’s say the heat found a way to go down into the deep end of the pool, why wouldn’t it just simply bubble back up?  After all, heat’s natural propensity is to find a way to rise, even if it has to erupt through some weak spot which could theoretically come from the expansion and contraction of water itself.  If warm water expands and cold water contracts, wouldn’t the body of cooler water above contract to the point where it exposes holes where the warm water could bubble back up?  This brings me to another question.

Kevin Trenberth says “This is fairly new, it is not there throughout the record.”  I am seriously curious as to why it has never occurred before now.  Why is it a ‘fairly new’ thing?  Hasn’t the sun always been shining and providing warmth?  Hasn’t the ocean always been rolling onto the golden shores?  Why would the oceans suddenly start absorbing the heat, while at the same time, something is acting to prevent the release of said heat trapped below 2000 meters (hidden beyond our sensors), all within the last couple of decades or so?

Why did I say (hidden beyond our sensors)?  According to the article [2] “Trenberth, along with Magdalena Balmaseda and Erland Källén with the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts, discovered the missing heat with the help of the Argo observation program. Argo is a global array of thousands of floating devices that measure temperatures across the oceans.”

So—how does one go about measuring something below 700 meters with floating devices?  Wouldn’t floating devices measure surface temperatures?  Wouldn’t they have to deploy submersibles to measure temperatures below 700 meters?  Our best submarines can go down to that level, and have surely been doing so for awhile now, so any data as to actual temperature fluctuations at or below that depth has to have already been collected for at least as long as we’ve had submarines.  Why are we now just finding out about the heat collected below that depth?   What am I missing here?

Eh.  What do I know?  I’m just a blonde Taobabe.

anime girl 202

(…to be continued)

1.  Detection of an Observed 135 year Ocean Temperature Change from Limited Data

2.  Scientists Find the Missing Heat of Global Warming 700 Meters Below the Sea. 

4 thoughts on “Ocean Heat—Hot Surfer Dudes vs. Scientists

Add yours

  1. LOL. Lake on top of the world indeed. Thank you so much for pointing this out to me. I read the article, and then did some research to find the exact spot where the buoy was located because I was curious as to what the lake would look like.

    Here it is.

    Here is the drift map.

    There are two camera shots.

    Looking at one side, there is a surface melt pond. Looking at the other side, there’s no melt. I was a bit confused, but since I don’t live in the north pole, I figured I’d go find some people who do live up there and ask them about the ‘Lake on top of the world’.

    From what little information I’ve gathered (and I will continue to dig around for more information) this seems to be the usual, ordinary, seasonal surface melt and ponds over the sea ice that the arctic areas get during summer thaws, of which I am assured, are also ordinary and yearly.

    Of course, I only asked a couple of people who lived there, so my two points of reference are not numerous, but at least this little Taobabe did a little bit of homework on this subject.




  2. You’re connected to folks up there? However you get your sources of information – anecdotal or direct – that’s impressive if it’s the latter!

    I stay abreast of the climate news (but try to stay away from the very tedious, divisive debate about AGW, so I’ll let you know if I find anything germane. Peace, Ik


  3. Thanks Erik. As always, your insights are illuminating.

    In this internet age, it’s not difficult to connect with people all over the world. The two point sources that I talk to are real people and they told me that ponds of melt water form routinely on Arctic Ocean sea ice in the summer. It happens because the area in and around the north pole is not a continent, it’s a grouping of sea ice which sloshes around on the Arctic Ocean in constant motion. Sometimes, they break apart due to their constant drifting and moving, and water often comes up from under cracks. The buoy that was pictured may have started off somewhat closer to the north pole in early spring, but by the time that picture was taken, it was about 300 miles away.


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