Brief Comment On The Nature Geoscience Paper “Observed Changes In Top-Of-The-Atmosphere Radiation And Upper-Ocean Heating Consistent Within Uncertainty” By Loeb Et Al 2012

Update January 24 2012:  There are other insightful discussions of this paper, including

Statistics Of Loeb’s “Observed Changes In Top-Of-The-Atmosphere Radiation And Upper-Ocean Heating Consistent Within Uncertainty”

at William M. Biggs weblog and

Missing(?) heat isn’t missing after all

at Judy Curry’s weblog  Climate Etc

************************Original Post******************************
I posted earlier today on a report regarding the Earth’s heat balance; see

Missing Ocean Heat Study Reported On By Climate Wire – Response From Josh Willis

The Nature Geosciences paper referred to in that post is

Norman G. Loeb, John M. Lyman, Gregory C. Johnson, Richard P. Allan, David R. Doelling, Takmeng Wong, Brian J. Soden & Graeme L. Stephens, 2012:
Observed changes in top-of-the-atmosphere radiation and upper-ocean heating consistent within uncertainty. Nature Geoscience (2012)doi:10.1038/ngeo1375

An interesting conclusion of that paper is that

We combine satellite data with ocean measurements to depths of 1,800 m, and show that between January 2001 and December 2010, Earth has been steadily accumulating energy at a rate of 0. 50  +/0.43  Watts per meter squared (uncertainties at the 90% confidence level). We conclude that energy storage is continuing to increase in the sub-surface ocean.

This is larger than is justified based on the upper ocean heat changes, as has been discussed by myself and others (e.g. Knox and Douglas 2010).  The heat accumulation they refer to also has hardly been “steady”. However, lets just use these values.

Jim Hansen concluded in 2005 that the decadal mean planetary energy imbalance at the end of the 1990s was

,…..0.85 Watts per meter squared is the imbalance at the end of the decade.”

This value falls within the uncertainty range of the Leob et al 2012 study.  However, we are 13 years since the end of the 20th century, so Jim Hansen’s value for the imbalance must be larger (~0.95 Watts per meter squared from GISS?).

This question about whether or not the IPCC model predictions (as represented by the GISS models) are still consistent even with the large Loeb et al estimate should have been a major part of their article.  The Loeb et al 2012 even cited the Hansen paper but did not take the next step and complete model and observational comparisons. That the IPCC models are close to being refuted with respect to the magnitude of global warming even with the large Loeb et al values is an unspoken result of their findings. They missed a major implication from their results.

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