Greenhouse gases 'do warm oceans'

It is being called the most compelling evidence yet:

Scientists say they have “compelling” evidence that ocean warming over the past 40 years can be linked to the industrial release of carbon dioxide.

US researchers compared the rise in ocean temperatures with predictions from climate models and found human activity was the most likely cause.

In coming decades, the warming will have a dramatic impact on regional water supplies, they predict.

Details of the study were released at a major science meeting in Washington DC.

The conference is the annual gathering of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

‘High confidence’

“This is perhaps the most compelling evidence yet that global warming is happening right now and it shows that we can successfully simulate its past and likely future evolution,” said lead author Tim Barnett, of the climate research division at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California.


The team fed different scenarios into computer simulations to try to reproduce the observed rise in ocean temperatures over the last 40 years.

They used several scenarios to try to explain the oceanic observations, including natural climate variability, solar radiation and volcanic emissions, but all fell short.

“What absolutely nailed it was greenhouse warming,” said Dr Barnett.

Anyone got a better explanation?

11 thoughts on “Greenhouse gases 'do warm oceans'”

  1. Except that the variation in the rebuttal is explained by Global Dimming – a recently discovered phenomenon. There was a very good Horizon program on Global Dimming recently – for more see here.

  2. in the same way that people like george monbiot dismiss the views of what he describes as oil-funded scientists who argue against global warming, i have great difficulty in accepting as fact any evidence produced by a govt scientist which basically ends with “we need more money to investigate this further.”

    what we need most on this at the moment is debate – which most of those who believe in global warming want to stiffle, insisting that there’s no time for talk, only for more studies.

    in terms of the ocean warming identified – i’ve no doubt it’ll be as easily dismissed as the famous “hockey stick” effect.

  3. The end of the world is always nigh.

    Firstly: this planet has survived much worse in the past than we are throwing at it right now. What’s at risk is not so much the planet itself as our ability to continue living on it. While I’m not suggesting that the dinosaurs were building environmentally unsound aircraft engines, they are definitely proof positive that it’s possible for a species to find itself in a situation where it just can’t survive in the atmosphere. I’ve always felt it would be arrogant to suggest that we are somehow special and are masters of the environment.

    Secondly, the climate is a complex entity, and I thought that it has been accepted that 1) we really only have the vaguest idea of how it all hangs together and 2) any idea we do have, we only have acquired in very recent times. Global dimming is a case in point. I’m significantly more interested in what comes out of this: and other similar studies. More indepth information about seriously historical climate movements would be dead handy as opposed to concentrating on the last fifty years. It’s negligible in the context of human existence and particularly, in the context of the earth’s lifespan.

    To suggest that the debate is over for “rational people” is oh, so annoying. It implies that anyone who dares to question this must, by definition, be irrational. I don’t buy that at all and I get very wary when I hear it put forward as a reason for killing debate. This is still a computer model when all is said and done. The debate is not over. There is still plenty more research to be carried out.

    I’m not for one minute suggesting that we can ignore environmental concerns. I’m just a little sceptical of the accusation that global warming is ALL our fault or that it is a once off that has never before occurred.

  4. Agreed on the stupid “debate is over for rational people” meme. I’m already hearing a lot of people equating disbelief in global warming with disbelief of evolution – the insinuation being made, of course, that disbelieving in either makes you a six-shooter wielding American religious fundamentalist yahoo who likes to drown Iraqi babies in your jacuzzi of crude oil before praying to George Dubya at night and reciting from the Necronomicon Ex Mortis. A lot of times, I wish science wasn’t so political, because that’s the only way you can look at some of the extremely well-thought out concerns being expressed with theories of global warming and immediately say “This guy’s an irrational loon.” There’s some high quality work being done on both sides of the issue.

    Personally, I tend to view Global Warming from a historical perspective of scientific doomsday hysteria.The take on this I like best is from Pajama Guy, in his 2004 Film Year in Review post, of all places. He said:

    Near the end of The Day After Tomorrow (the day after, I guess), the Vice President, clearly based on Dick Cheney, goes on TV and apologizes for not listening to climatologist Dennis Quaid’s warnings. (The well-meaning but stupid President died in a blizzard). Slate Magazine had a contest to write how the real Dick Cheney would have apologized. I didn’t enter, but I think the speech would have gone like this:

    “In the 1960s, there were many significant spokespeople for the environmental movement who claimed the game was already lost and by the mid-70s, we’d have mass starvation in the United States. After being proved comically wrong, they kept predicting apocalypse in very short order, and yet, though disproved time after time, never gave up making terrible predictions, and never apologized for being so frighteningly wrong. By 2004, after more than four decades of being absurdly mistaken, and with the average human on earth better fed, clothed and housed than ever before, you can understand my skepticism when one lone expert predicted outrageous scenarios of disaster, one following upon another, in a matter of weeks. I was not willing at the time to jeopardize the world economy to avoid what sounded like the plot of one of those empty, big-budget hollywood summer movies, full of spectacle at the expense of character. It now turns out after forty years of experts being wrong and not apologizing, one of the experts finally got it right–for not recognizing this, I apologize.”

  5. The problem with much of what passes for a debate on global warming – ie those who say it is happening shouting down anyone who questions it – is that they treat the general population as idiots. They seem to think that the only way to get our attention is to running around screming “We’re all doomed! Doomed!” as if they were in an episode of Dad’s Army. And the problem is, the more they are proved wrong (take, for instance, the well-meaning Rachel Carson and her Silent Spring from 1962) the more it becomes difficult to treat anything they say seriously.

  6. I’m gobsmacked!

    I can’t believe there are people out there who actually believe that global warming isn’t happening.

    I can only conclude that they are 1) trolling or 2) unable to see reality because of all the sand they have their heads buried in!

  7. tom – i for one am not saying i don’t believe it’s happening. what i do have a problem with is the way the argument is presented by those who say it is happening. exagerating reality helps no one. nor does simply dismissing the views of other scientists.

  8. Tom,

    While I can’t speak for everyone else, I do want to reassure you that I am not sitting here pretending that global warming is happening. I know it is. I also know it has happened on several occasions over the past couple of hundred thousand years. I also understand that the concern of most climatologists is not that is happening at all, but that it appears to be happening at a far more rapid rate that we think it happened in the past. Hence my interest in ice cores.

    But I’m also not sitting here thinking 1) we are all doomed and 2) it is all our own fault. The reason for this is 1) I know we are all doomed. Maybe me not personally, maybe a few generations down the line, maybe a few thousand generations down the line. Who knows? But I think it’s arrogant to assume that we can survive indefinitely when so few species have survived since the dawn of life bar some stromatolites in Australia (based on current knowledge). Sure we were responsible for some of that extinction ourselves. But only a little bit. Planet earth is not a static environment, and a lot of what I have read in the way of environmental reporting etc has pretty much accepted that nature is playing a role in this, and the primary issue is that we really don’t understand the interaction all that well. Your global dimming link supports that idea rather than disproves it. However, most of what I see in the general media appears to operate on the assumption of “if you don’t agree with us fully, you’re wrong and the enemy”. I actually don’t think that’s at all helpful.

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