March 26, 2009 How many times can global warming end? Swanson and Tsonis are reporting what’s happening with global ocean dynamics. Yep, temperature has flattened out since the turn of the century. The top 10 hottest years ever recorded have all occurred since 1997. 2008 was the 9th or tenth hottest year depending on whehter or not you look at GISS or UK Met records. The reasons why temps have flattened? Fewer El Ninos, The Pacific Decadal Oscillation, The North Atlantic Oscillation, the Arctic Oscillation – they have all combined at one time to exert a negative forcing on the Earth’s temperatures. (Swanson and Tsonis don’t mention solar specifically, cause their research only looked at Earth’s dynamic systems. Hansen was the keynote speaker at the conference where this paper was submitted – you bet he mentioned solar forcing.)
Swanson and Tsonis were very forward in interviews saying that their study just means that planetary warming is stalled for an indeterminate period (Hansen says one more year). Swanson and Tsonis also say that the contrarians are misinterpreting their work and using it for the wrong purposes.
The reality is that greenhouse gasses are building faster and faster. The coincidence of these massive earth systems aligning as they have done has only happened twice before in the last century. The point of the research – this is a temporary thing that happens very rarely. When the forcing systems realign themselves in a more normal pattern, the hidden warming will all suddenly reappear. We aren’t missing out. None of the warming that we are not experiencing will disappear. It wall all appear when the alignment goes away.
In the meantime, ocean acidification continues. The fuse to primary productivity extinction has been lit and it is much shorter than we thought. I have been talking with Dr. Will Howard at the University of Tasmania. He is one who has been studying such in the Great Southern Ocean. He traps foraminifera (hard shelled salt water algae) and measures their shell thicknesses. "Traps" is a fun term for catching forams as the researchers call them. Forams have no means of self propulsion – they are floaters. When they die, they no longer float and they sink to the bottom of the sea. Catching them involves a box without a lid that the forams fall in to. Nonetheless, it takes a great ocean voyage to set and tend the traps. The great harmonic alignment of earth weather systems has no effect on ocean acidification because of increased carbon dioxide.
Swanson and Tsonis Has the climate recently shifted?, Geophysical Research Letters, March 2009.