New Paper On The Diagnosis and Significance Of Ocean Heat Content Changes

A new paper has appeared that further documents the value of using ocean heat trends to diagnose global climate heat system changes, which we have identified as being the most accurate way to diagnose global warming and cooling;

Pielke Sr., R.A., 2003: Heat storage within the Earth system. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 84, 331-335.

The paper is

Schwartz, S. E. 2007: Heat capacity, time constant, and the sensitivity of Earth’s climate system. JRG. accepted.

The abstract reads,

“The equilibrium sensitivity of Earth’s climate is determined as the quotient of the relaxation time constant of the system and the pertinent global heat capacity. The heat capacity of the global ocean, obtained from regression of ocean heat content vs. global mean surface temperature, GMST, is 14 ± 6 W yr m-2 K-1, equivalent to 110 m of ocean water; other sinks raise the effective planetary heat capacity to 17 ± 7 W yr m-2 K-1 (all uncertainties are 1-sigma estimates). The time constant pertinent to changes in GMST is determined from autocorrelation of that quantity over 1880-2004 to be 5 ± 1 yr. The resultant equilibrium climate sensitivity, 0.30 ± 0.14K/(W m-2), corresponds to an equilibrium temperature increase for doubled CO2 of 1.1 ± 0.5 K. The short time constant implies that GMST is in near equilibrium with applied forcings and hence that net climate forcing over the twentieth century can be obtained from the observed temperature increase over this period, 0.57 ± 0.08 K, as 1.9 ± 0.9 W m-2. For this forcing considered the sum of radiative forcing by incremental greenhouse gases, 2.2 ± 0.3 W m-2, and other forcings, other forcing agents, mainly incremental tropospheric aerosols, are inferred to have exerted only a slight forcing over the twentieth century of -0.3 ± 1.0 W m-2.”

This paper provides a valuable assessment that needs to be performed by others. Other questions remain, of course, such as whether the surface temperature data used in such studies is robust; i.e. see

Pielke Sr., R.A., C. Davey, D. Niyogi, S. Fall, J. Steinweg-Woods, K. Hubbard, X. Lin, M. Cai, Y.-K. Lim, H. Li, J. Nielsen-Gammon, K. Gallo, R. Hale, R. Mahmood, S. Foster, R.T. McNider, and P. Blanken, 2007: Unresolved issues with the assessment of multi-decadal global land surface temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res. in press.

which will affect the evaluation of climate sensitivity.

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