Friday, January 28, 2011

New Study: Mid-Atlantic Ocean has cooled "strongly" since 1998 to temperatures cooler than 1981

According to climate scientist Roger Pielke Sr, ocean heat content provides the most appropriate metric to diagnose global warming, rather than the conventional use of ground and atmospheric temperatures. A paper recently published in the Journal of Physical Oceanography finds that the Mid-Atlantic Ocean has cooled strongly since 1998 with more than half of the upper ocean warming over the 41 years from 1957-1998 erased by "strong" cooling over only 7 years from 1998-2004. As shown in the graph below, temperatures of the upper ocean within 3 different depth ranges were also found to be relatively stable since 2004 and each of the 3 depth ranges cooler than in 1981. This data is the opposite of climate model predictions of an accelerating steady rise in ocean heat content in relation to greenhouse gas levels.
Data trumps models. Mid-Atlantic temperatures in left graph averaged over 3 depth ranges.
Vélez-Belchí, Pedro, Alonso Hernández-Guerra, Eugenio Fraile-Nuez, Verónica Benítez-Barrios, 2010: Changes in Temperature and Salinity Tendencies of the Upper Subtropical North Atlantic Ocean at 24.5°N. J. Phys. Oceanogr., 40, 2546–2555. doi: 10.1175/2010JPO4410.1

Abstract: Strong interest in multidecadal changes in ocean temperature and heat transport has resulted in the occupation of the North Atlantic Ocean hydrographic transect along 24.5°N five times since 1957, more than any other transoceanic section in the world. This latitude is chosen because it is where the northward ocean transport of heat in the Atlantic reaches its maximum. An analysis of the five oceanographic cruises at this latitude shows that there has been a significant cooling of −0.15°C in the upper ocean (600–1800-dbar range) over the last 7 years, from 1998 to 2004, which is in contrast to the warming of 0.27°C observed from 1957 to 1998. Salinity shows a similar change in tendency, with freshening since 1998. For the upper ocean at 24.5°N, 1998 was the warmest and saltiest year since 1957. Data from the Argo network are used to corroborate the strong cooling and freshening since 1998, showing a −0.13°C cooling in the period between 1998 and 2006 and revealing interannual variability between 2005 and 2008 to be much smaller than the decadal variability estimated using the transect. The results also demonstrate that Argo is an invaluable tool for observing the oscillations in the tendencies of the ocean.


  1. I thought that Josh Willis and his team corrected the ARGO system by removing Argo measurement "errors" from the data and adjusting the measured temperatures with a computer model his team developed and that now the ocean does indeed show warming.

  2. No it still shows a slight cooling,but at a lower rate than originally posted.