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IPCC preview: deep trouble brewing in our oceans

Scientists are meeting this week in Yokohama, Japan, to finalise and approve the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Working Group II – the part of the IPCC process that…

Rousing the Kraken: climate change could make life in the ocean much harder. By Mary Evans Picture Library/Alamy/Wikimedia Commons

Scientists are meeting this week in Yokohama, Japan, to finalise and approve the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Working Group II – the part of the IPCC process that seeks consensus on the likely impacts of climate change, as well as how it might change the vulnerability of people and ecosystems, and how the world might seek to adapt to the changes.

The oceans are a new focus of this latest round of IPCC assessment, and while one cannot preempt the report to be delivered next week, there are likely to be some important ramifications for our ability to deal with the growing impacts from non-climate-related stresses such as overfishing, pollution, and habitat destruction, as well as ocean warming and acidification.

To put it simply, a failure to deal with our changing climate will make it far more difficult to deal with the many other threats already faced by our oceans.

If you’ll pardon the pun, the ocean is in deep trouble, and that trouble will only get deeper if we don’t deal decisively with the problem of climate change.

Ecosystems already under stress

I am deeply concerned about the state of the world’s oceans, as I believe we all should be. The argument is pretty simple. Human activities are increasingly affecting the oceans, which are the cornerstone of life on our planet. These impacts are causing the decline of many ecosystems and fisheries. As a result, the risks to people and communities are rapidly expanding.

Throw in ocean warming and acidification, and you have many scientists predicting the dangerous and unprecedented decline of ocean processes and ecosystems.

Not only is this decline tangible and measurable, but models (from simple to advanced) show future projections of sea temperature rising above the known tolerance of many organisms and ecosystems.

The pace of this change now has many world leaders concerned about the future of the world’s oceans and their dependent people and businesses. This is led to an increasing number of past and future conferences focusing on how we can tackle the scale and rate at which marine ecosystems and resources are deteriorating and changing.

This concern has led to commitments such as the Global Partnership for Oceans. In a dramatic 2012 speech, outgoing World Bank President Robert Zoellick positioned the partnership to galvanise resources and take real action on reversing the decline of the world’s oceans. Soon afterwards, the partnership – which involves more than 150 governments, companies, universities and non-government organisations – declared a set of objectives to meet by 2022, including to:

  • Halve the current rate of natural habitat loss, while increasing conservation areas to include 10% of coastal and marine areas;

  • Reduce pollution and litter to levels that do not harm ecosystems;

  • Increase global food fish production from both sustainable aquaculture and sustainable wild-caught fisheries.

This sounds like a tall order. However, under a stable climate, I have few doubts that we could come close to achieving these broad objectives. It might take some time, but I think we would get close.

Unfortunately though, we are not in a stable climate.

Climate poses an extra layer of threat

Over the past 50 years, increasing amounts of energy and carbon dioxide have been flooding into the ocean through the burning of fossil fuels and changes to land use. Initially, the ocean was fairly inert to these changes because of its large volume and thermal mass.

However, just like the eponymous monster in John Wyndham’s apocalyptic novel The Kraken Wakes, the ocean is now stirring and big changes are beginning to happen. Ocean temperatures and acidity are increasing in lockstep with average global temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide content. Many of these changes are unprecedented in 65 million years.

While some changes, such as the extent of mixing of heat into the deep ocean, have been relatively unexpected, the energy content of the ocean has been increasing steadily. In reality, the widely proclaimed “hiatus” in surface warming simply represents heat being driven into the oceans.

Figure 1. Heat content of the ocean, atmosphere and land since 1960. Church et al. Geophys. Res. Lett. (2011)

The problem with climate change in the context of dealing with the growing threats from overfishing, pollution and habitat destruction is that the goalposts are constantly shifting. If we continue to push sea temperature upward by 0.1-0.2C per decade, we begin to shift species, and hence fisheries – some are already moving at up to 200 km per decade. Trying to manage a fishery or protect an ecosystem, when the best conditions for the organisms involved are moving polewards at such a rate, may well become impossible in many circumstances.

Future goals

This means that if the Global Partnership for Oceans is to meet its ambitious goals, we must deal decisively with the problem of emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and land-use change.

If we don’t, then with all due respect to the partnership’s efforts, we are set to waste billions of dollars trying to address problems that will only get swamped by a fast-changing climate.

As outlined in last September’s IPCC Working Group I Report, stabilising the climate will require world carbon dioxide emissions to be brought onto a trajectory far below what governments and companies are set to emit over the next 20 years if business is allowed to continue as usual.

A lack of such decisive action will indeed wake the Kraken – committing us to ocean, and indeed planetary, impacts that are likely to last for many thousands of years.

Join the conversation

163 Comments sorted by

  1. Comment removed by moderator.

    1. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Christopher Seymour

      "Those 210 x 10^21 Joules have got to go smewhere - and its not the surface layer."

      And it's not a very large depth of the ocean either, is it? Which was my point.

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    2. John Campbell

      farmer

      In reply to Ove Hoegh-Guldberg

      I wonder if it is really worth 'debating' with nit picking denialists. Whether the world is heating or not can be established from radiation measuring satellites. The only question then is what is happening to the heat at the moment.

      Yes we can discuss the seeming current lack of expansion of the oceans to what might be expected etc, but this should be in terms of global warming not as some magical event somehow forgotten or ignored by scientists that proves they are wrong.

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    3. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to Christopher Seymour

      Nowhere in the graph is the "trend" cooling. Yes there are rises, falls and plateaus, but to transfer this to a line graph the overall trend is up.

      CO2 levels are rising. Ocean temperatures are rising. Land temperatures are rising. They are rising together. To nit-pick the language of the message or for not neing parallel graphs is semantics. Pefect if you want to create debate and doubt to stifle action.

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    4. john byatt

      retired and cranky at RAN Veteran

      In reply to Christopher Seymour

      The ocean is still going to rise, Ocean temperature is still going to place more stress on corals, Ocean species may not have read the literature but are already responding by range shifts

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    5. Dennis Alexander

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Christopher Seymour

      Christopher, I took a look at the ERSST graph and the trend upwards on the chart starts around 1955 using my plumb line and a ruler approximating best fit on graph. Yes there was a large drop from 1940-45 but the period 1945-1955 could be part of either an upward or downward trendline depending on your predispositions. Stasis from 2010-2013 is a difficult call on the timescales of the graph - it could just represent convection to the heatsink below the 100m depth - I'll get to that shortly. On the…

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    6. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Christopher Seymour

      Mr Seymour, it's fair to say that I too have had a gutful of the nonsense spouted by the non-cognoscenti among us. With the respect that is clearly your due, I'd just like to apprise you of some pertinent truths.

      The sun warms earth with energy, primarily between wavelengths of 0.1 and 4 microns.

      Earth dissipates energy to space, primarily between wavelengths of 4 and 40 microns.

      Greenhouse gases disrupt transmission of the latter, not the former.

      If earth dissipates more energy to space than it receives from the sun, it cools down; if earth dissipates less energy to space than it receives from the sun, it warms up.

      Humans have increased and are continuing to increase the atmosphere's greenhouse gas content, which is unavoidably increasingly disruptive of transmission of energy from earth to space.

      In other words, Mr Seymour, it is not even possible that anthropogenic global warming isn't occurring.

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  2. Comment removed by moderator.

    1. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to John C Fairfax

      "warmth retaining capabilities of algae plant matter in oceans"

      What?????????????????????????

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    2. In reply to Alice Kelly

      Comment removed by moderator.

    3. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to John C Fairfax

      So you suggest we just remove all the algae to keep the oceans cool? This is getting stranger.

      Even if there is any evidence (that isn't anecdotal) to support your claim, it still leads to the same conclusion; the ocean will be heating.

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    4. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Steven Fuller

      John seems to be discounting the total volume of the ocean which is heating. Perhaps if there was a calculation for areas impacted by upper layer heat retention caused by algae, I could understand his point. But there are no numbered calculations provided for this theory, and no accounting for heat in all layers for the ocean. There would have to be a lot of zero's behind the dot, even if this theory was correct...

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    5. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to John C Fairfax

      Oh, the pea soup test. How could I have forgotten the pea soup test? It's all so obvious now.

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    6. In reply to Alice Kelly

      Comment removed by moderator.

    7. In reply to Alice Kelly

      Comment removed by moderator.

    8. john byatt

      retired and cranky at RAN Veteran

      In reply to John C Fairfax

      Ah the pea soup rebuttal, almost as good as the fish box and glad wrap rebuttal

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    9. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John C Fairfax

      John, you have raised a supposed issue in regard to algae. I want you to explain what you think this means.

      How much energy is retained because of algae? Why? What evidence do you have for that? How much additional algae is in the ocean? What does that mean for the overall heat balance of the ocean? How does algae move heat around?

      What I am suggesting is that just throwing up something like this is meaningless unless you can explain the hows, whys and whats of the issue.

      I have seen so many deniers - and I am not necessarily suggesting you are one - throw up all sorts of furphies to try and deflect attention from the real issue. Volcanoes. Cosmic rays. Sun spots. Insects (yes - insects!). The list goes on and on. So unless you have some hard data to back up your claim, can we please focus on science and cease the Gish Gallop.

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    10. Dennis Alexander

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to John C Fairfax

      John, are you saying that the algae are a means of convecting absorbed heat around oceans? Added to which I will say, they also use nutrients and either photosynthesis or metabolism to add to that absorbed energy and convect that around the oceans. Is this what you are getting at: adding polluting algae nutrients increases ocean warming?

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    11. In reply to john byatt

      Comment removed by moderator.

    12. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John C Fairfax

      John

      The difference between a scientist and someone trying to score rhetorical points is that both ask questions - but a scientist is genuinely interested in knowing the answers. Your points about algae fall into the second category.

      When you say things like:

      ".....I think only a slight degree of solar warmth would be retained, perhaps similar to the slight degree change in ocean temperature being measured in AGW science....."

      you betray your true position on the subject. On what possible…

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    13. John Holmes

      Agronomist - semi retired consultant

      In reply to John C Fairfax

      Are we talking about the effect of such algae forming an insulation layer on and in the water trough and suppressing cooling of the water by evaporation from the surface of the trough or heat movement out of the bottom or walls of the trough?

      Likewise any matter in the pea soup that increases viscosity etc will slow up convection and so decrease the movement of energy from the bulk of the liquid to the top when it may evaporate water, or to the sides of the container.

      Other than major dense algae blooms, I suspect that such reductions in heat movement would not a be huge problem in large bodies of water.

      As has been said in other circumstances, 'it is the dose that makes the poison' and the concept extrapolated to algae blooms.

      Good PhD for some one.

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    14. John C Fairfax

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to John Holmes

      Yes good PhD for someone who has copy of what has been said. All my conversation has been deleted for no justifiable reason whatsoever. I guess this will be edited out as well but I have copy including photos. Wow. So much for democracy.

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    15. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to John C Fairfax

      "All my conversation has been deleted for no justifiable reason whatsoever."

      And you were making so much sense. So, so sad.

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    16. john byatt

      retired and cranky at RAN Veteran

      In reply to John C Fairfax

      John you have your theory on climate sceptic blogs with plenty of crowd cheering, write up a paper and have it published,

      look, i know that you are quite sane, but many here may doubt that.

      do yourself and us a favour and get over it .

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  3. Jack Ruffin
    Jack Ruffin is a Friend of The Conversation.

    logged in via email @hotmail.com

    Ove, thanks, a very useful article. The climate change driven changes to the oceans require urgent, joint actions from all levels of government and vast international co operation.
    Here we have Tony Abbott and the Deniers playing to an audience that "Believes" the world is flat, 6000 years old and rejects science- well at least until they hop in their cars, turn on a light switch or use their phones.

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    1. Christopher Seymour

      Business owner at Location

      In reply to Jack Ruffin

      Dream on! As Otto von Bismarck said, "Politics is the art of the possible". Global coal consumption is set to rise 40% in the next 20 years. Unless you can convince the people of China and India to reverse their development, there is nothing much you can do about it.
      The global warming fanbois would be well advised to stop wringing their hands and devote their energy to coming up with solutions that will actually work to solve the problem.

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    2. David Semmens

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Ben Marshall

      Hand cream would reduce friction, which would reduce waste heat, which would save the planet. The solution to climate change is literally in the hands of the hand-wringing warmists.

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    3. Victor Jones

      Freelance

      In reply to David Semmens

      Brilliant! Just brilliant!
      I just startled the whole office floor!!

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    4. Christopher Seymour

      Business owner at Location

      In reply to Ben Marshall

      The whirlpool dictionary ( http://whirlpool.net.au/wiki) defines Fanboi or fanbois as:
      1. Derogatory. A person with an irrational attachment to a particular item or brand name, and an equally irrational dislike for competing brands or items.
      I was searching for a word to match the term denialist which is routinely applied on this site to anyone who questions any aspect of Global Warming. It was originally applied to me as an evolution fanboi on a Creationist site.
      I don't claim a conspiricy but…

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    5. Adam Gilbert

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Ben Marshall

      Pure class. I've saved the perma-link to Ben's comment should anyone ever ask me to provide a definition for 'pwned'.

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    6. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to Christopher Seymour

      Believe me, the interests of big business, particularly energy and resources has far more sway than the renewables sector. They receive far more grants and concessions as well while we're not "claiming a conspiracy but..."

      Ocean fertilisation, or geoengineering is an unknown risk. It would be hard for many rational people not concerned with finances ahead of the planet to support it. Geoengineering has the potential to radically transform the oceanic system in ways unforseen. Promoting renewables…

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    7. Ben Marshall
      Ben Marshall is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Writer

      In reply to Christopher Seymour

      Hi Christopher. Frustration with the term 'denialist' aside (and I sometimes substitute it for 'those who choose to deny the validity and consensus of climate science' to be kinder), I'm glad you share the concern re AGW.

      I'm not so glad when I read 'In an ideal world we would switch to renewable fuels, but that will take time to accomplish and requires the use of resources including fossil fuels.' because it implies you think action is therefore an insurmountable negative. I can see further…

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    8. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Ben Marshall

      Hand cream might help to soother and soften the skin Ben but it'll likely do nought for reducing global population or energy use and especially use of fossil fuels any time too soon.
      I doubt that any of fanbois, CCporters, status quoers, denialists or sceptics have too many quick fix practical solutions that the whole planet can adopt.
      Nature might become our best worker at change even if it is to be changes we do not enjoy and that are forced upon us, there being increasing examples of population reductions as it is.

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    9. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Christopher Seymour

      "the term denialist which is routinely applied on this site to anyone who questions any aspect of Global Warming"

      not to mention routinely applied strawman arguments.

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    10. Ben Marshall
      Ben Marshall is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Writer

      In reply to Greg North

      Hi Greg.

      'Nature'?

      Seriously?

      Mate, we're drowning in site-specific and global fixes to a changing climate. We need to use those fixes. Now. And the only thing stopping us is political will.

      It sounds like you're abandoning all hope and hoping 'nature' will be kind when the temperature average rockets past 2 degrees.

      Greg, I had you pegged as a crusty old ex-mining type but now I'm picturing you wearing dreadlocks, puffing on a monster blunt while sitting under your posters of Marley and some unicorns sniffing a rainbow.

      Whatever James Lovelock says, Gaia theory was only ever a metaphor. Nature does not have a personality and does not give a fat rat's about us.

      Stop smoking weed and get back to hammering me for being a wallaby-hugging, Marxist, ABC-watching CC-fanbois, okay?

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    11. John Campbell

      farmer

      In reply to Christopher Seymour

      Because as has been shown, it would not only have unpredictable consequences, cost a packet, but more seriously it would create more co2 than it sequestered.

      Like most climate engineering solutions, that might initially look attractive, the reality turns out to be far worse than the initial expectation.

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    12. John Campbell

      farmer

      In reply to Ben Marshall

      Someone in the northern hemisphere did indeed run his own trial on ocean fertilization if memory serves me right.

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    13. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Christopher Seymour

      "....I don't claim a conspiricy but there is definitely a bandwagon of grant seekers supporting AGW and hyping the consequences...."

      Evidence please?

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    1. In reply to Gerard Dean

      Comment removed by moderator.

    2. R. Ambrose Raven

      none

      In reply to Victor Jones

      No doubt it is an option to separate articles into those where all posts are required to accept that it is occurring, and those where the science itself can be attacked. Denialists are not interested in debate; they are interested only in obstruction, for which purpose endless debate is perfect. In the American parliament it is called filibustering, but of course using social media removes the physiological limits.

      Ironic, is it not, that denials do not need to not be respectful; on the contrary…

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    3. Alvin Stone

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      The LA Times has long been regarded as one of the world's great newspapers. It has a history of good investigative journalism and top shelf writers.

      To discredit it because it is based in LA is rather strange at best.

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    4. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to R. Ambrose Raven

      "Ironic, is it not, that denials do not need to not be respectful"

      Well, according to "The Conversation's" Community Standards:

      "By posting, you'll be contributing to independent, fact-based debate."

      There you have it. Making any denial of science is "contributing to independent, fact-based debate". That's "The Conversation" for you.

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    5. R. Ambrose Raven

      none

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      Never mind, Gerard - I'll raise the duplicity of your behaviour in this matter. Do you have a 4WD yourself?

      For years, all involved failed to mention that nearly all the heat is in fact going into the oceans; air temperature was the focus because they are much more familiar to all concerned, especially to ignorant denialists with no intellectual rigour. That omission was assisted both by denialist ignorance and denialist anxiety to avoid debate based on real facts.

      In a joint letter to…

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    6. Adam Gilbert

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Victor Jones

      I think it's entirely appropriate that the inevitable comments declaring 'It's a scam! Warmist scaremongering has been exposed! Climategate! No warming since 1998! The models are broken!', should simply be binned. It's a shame that interesting articles about climate change and the environment must always be vandalised in the comments section with recycled denialist rubbish. The Conversation aims to offer 'academic rigour', so it seems fitting that the comments at least meet a minimal standard of scientific rigour. This doesn't mean the comments need to be a place where everyone's agreeing with each other - there's plenty of space for disagreement about solutions and the like. Having denialists pollute the comments on climate change articles is about as helpful as anti-vaccinationists infecting the comments on articles about immunisation.

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    7. Cory Zanoni

      Community Manager at The Conversation

      In reply to Victor Jones

      Hi all,

      Sometime this week, we'll be posting a "proposed changes to the community" blog post looking for feedback on some things we're looking to experiment with. I'd recommend you share your thoughts on this (and anything else) when it goes live – I'll let you all know when it does.

      That said, I'll collect what you've posted here and it'll be discussed in the office.

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    8. Victor Jones

      Freelance

      In reply to Adam Gilbert

      "The Conversation aims to offer 'academic rigour', so it seems fitting that the comments at least meet a minimal standard of scientific rigour."

      BINGO!

      "This doesn't mean the comments need to be a place where everyone's agreeing with each other"

      The fundamentals of anthropogenic climate change are settled. Its just the 'fringe issues' that lack certainty. Discussion should reflect the latter.

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    9. john byatt

      retired and cranky at RAN Veteran

      In reply to Cory Zanoni

      Off topic and gish gallop, extraordinary claims without scientific peer reviewed literature, and a few others , look forward to the proposed changes

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    10. Craig Somerton

      IT Professional

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      You appear to be off your game today Gerard? You forgot to mention A1 jet fuel.

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    11. Victor Jones

      Freelance

      In reply to Cory Zanoni

      Thanks Cory. Look forward to the changes and the ultimate reduction of anti-intellectual trolling.

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    12. R. Ambrose Raven

      none

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      "By posting, you'll be contributing to independent, fact-based debate" is an expression of hope rather than an objective test. While it could be rewritten, the intent is quite clear.

      It is the denialists who are the problem. They are a liability in all such forums.

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    13. John Campbell

      farmer

      In reply to Victor Jones

      If the denialists want to wallow in their own excrement or whatever they should be entitled to do so, but for the rest us I don't see why we should have to put up with their boring, rehashed and unscientific trash.

      Maybe The Conversation if it wants to be 'even handed' could have topics for scientists, topics for denialists and topics for both if anyone wanted to join in the fray.

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    14. John C Fairfax

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Cory Zanoni

      I note my replies to conversation on this thread on this site have been unjustifiably removed and the few baseless ad hom inferences remain. Under the circumstances I think denying me right of reply may constitute defamation, especially if my replies are not reinstated as I am now requesting.

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    15. john byatt

      retired and cranky at RAN Veteran

      In reply to John C Fairfax

      John they are doing you a favour, your comments make no sense at all, you might as well claim that the cause of the heating is due to an increase in piracy

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    16. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to John C Fairfax

      Your case was not helped John by first asserting that the IPCC is negligent in discounting an unproven hypothesis, which is not backed by any evidence (in consideration of total ocean warming), which is relevant to the discussion today.
      I personally have asked for more academic rigour. That evidence be credible. Other than that opinion is opinion. You have your opinion, but you have not proven your case. If you had numbers which you could apply to inshore and offshore ocean heat, which contribute to warming for deeper depths of the ocean's total, then fine. But you don't. It's a bit like shouting about a teaspoon of water additionally heating an olympic swimming pool. And you don't have proof.
      Defamation is getting a bit silly. There's not much to defame with, the moderators can objectively consider 'relevance'. As they have with me. Also entire threads are omitted, because they veer off into silliness or obscurity.

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    17. Victor Jones

      Freelance

      In reply to Gary Luke

      Well, he is a punching bag for jokes. Its easier when conservatives are in power, especially so the 'suppository' variety like Abbott.

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    18. Grant Burfield

      Dr

      In reply to Victor Jones

      Victor Jones - " when are The Conversation moderators going to:
      1) Ban climate change denial comments, like the LA Times and reddit.com have done?
      2) IP ban users?"

      Couldn't agree more Mr Jones. Enough is enough! Climate denial is not just a matter of life or death, it's much more serious than that. But the hoary hand of the grim reaper of climate denial is slowly spreading its fingers across a naïve and uninformed populace. Why very recently the BBC broadcast a debate featuring the well known…

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    19. Victor Jones

      Freelance

      In reply to Grant Burfield

      In regards to Judith Curry, I wonder how potential students approach her.
      Would you want to be supervised by a professor whose ideology overrides evidence? Maybe she is incapable of evaluating data well?
      How does someone like this achieve professorship? Why don't their shortcomings get picked up prior?

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    20. R. Ambrose Raven

      none

      In reply to john byatt

      Let me assure you, John, that attention-getters who scream "defamation" instantly strengthen the credibility of the moderators.

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    21. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Gary Luke

      Gary, have you suddenly converted from a preference for fantasy to a preference for evidence-based material?

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  4. Comment removed by moderator.

    1. In reply to Ken Swanson

      Comment removed by moderator.

    2. Ben Marshall
      Ben Marshall is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Writer

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      Hi Gerard, trust me, no one needs to lampoon or ridicule your questioning of AGW, etc. You guys are doing just fine on your own.

      It's just when you hammer Ove for 'doomsday predictions', you and Ken are missing the point. For one, they're not Ove's predictions - he's just referring to the mountain of science from many disciplines that have produced the rock-solid case for dangerous AGW. And why wouldn't he? It's real and every week it gets bigger.

      For another thing, your side claims…

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    3. John Campbell

      farmer

      In reply to Ben Marshall

      The real culprit is 'business as usual' I don't think you should be too distracted by their missionaries, their spin or their disinformation,

      I think it is well past the time that The Conversation should acknowledge this.

      I also note that some contributors to The Conversation suspect there is some political influence occurring in regard to AGW and its associated topic population growth.

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    4. Ben Marshall
      Ben Marshall is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Writer

      In reply to John Campbell

      Hi John, yeah, you're right of course. It's just hard to imagine people to whom all evidence to the contrary will not only not sway their stance but harden their resolve. Not to mention the irony when they call everyone else 'true believers'.

      I don't know about any conspiracy of deniers though. I guess they like to hang out and bitch about stuff so maybe some get together and decide to stick it to The Conversation on any article related to AGW. The heat and hate generated on a lot of their sites is pretty creepy and boy do they feel persecuted - even when they have a prime minister who totally supports them. Go figure.

      Cheers.

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    5. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Ben Marshall

      "actually discuss how we mitigate and adapt"

      The denialist attitude is that mitigation is either largely or completely ineffective, and that adaptation is something that is taken care of by laissez-faire.

      i.e. there is nothing to discuss once you reject the science.

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  5. David Mason-Jones

    Journalist

    After his comments reported on ABC news the other night, I find it truly difficult to assign much credibility to Ove Hoegh-Guldberg. On 23rd March, referring to the ocean, he said, 'We're seeing changes which haven't been seen since the dinosaurs'.

    I find this a staggeringly misleading statement for a scientist of his position to make. The end of the dinosaurs was some 65 or 66 million years ago. Since then there have been glaciations, rises and falls of the ocean level and rises and falls of…

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    1. Michael Borgelt

      Instrumentation designer/engineer

      In reply to David Mason-Jones

      Nice graph on ocean warming. Pity it only goes to 2003. Why would that be I wonder? Ah, yes, the Argo buoys began reporting.
      How inconvenient. IIRC the lead researcher had to massage to data to show any warming at all.

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    2. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to David Mason-Jones

      David, I'm sorry, but to understand changes and rates of acidification we now have in the ocean, one has to go back to somewhere in the region of 300 million years.
      http://instaar.colorado.edu/~marchitt/reprints/hoenischscience12.pdf
      I doubt Ove was simply talking about sea level rise or temperature. The changes currently taking place are also chemical, and have profound implications

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    3. Glenn Tamblyn

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Mason-Jones

      David M-J

      Ove is right in that what we are seeing is unprecedented in the last 65 million years or so. Yes of course the things you mention have occurred. But something is happening today that certainly hasn't happened in that period.

      The RATE at which CO2 is rising.

      The geological record going back that far, to the Yucatan Bolide event, contains lots of changes. The period recording the fastest rate of change of CO2 in that period was at the boundary between the Paleocene and Eocene periods…

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  6. Comment removed by moderator.

  7. Craig Myatt

    Industrial Designer / R&D

    And if no-one else has pointed it out...large bodies of water are excellent thermal energy stores, thus the heat increase over time due to the greenhouse effect, will not just be here for now, it will make the changes have immense "inertia". That is, because of the ocean uptake of heat, the climate changes will be "locked in" for a long time...another concerning aspect to ocean thermal changes.

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    1. John Campbell

      farmer

      In reply to Craig Myatt

      Not to mention the amount of 'cold' (lack of heat) that is/was locked into the Greenland and Arctic ice sheets.

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to john byatt

      Yeah - if you look at decadal averages, as WMO prefer, the whole apparent 'hiatus' pretty much disappears anyway...

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  8. John Newlands

    tree changer

    My fear is the next El Nino which will amplify the general warming trend. I understand that means some mechanism will transfer ocean heat to the atmosphere. Possible outcomes are drought, crop damage from heat, coral bleaching, forest dieoffs, water shortages, heat deaths of animals and frail people, massive energy demand for air conditioning and desalination, food price rises and uncontrollable fires. This is not far fetched at all if a string of recent isolated events were to all coincide. I suspect the next El Nino is not far away.

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    1. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to John Newlands

      One of the predictions of AGW is the increased frequence and severity of El Nino (& La Nina). It is a fear many share along with you. In this we all vainly hope the deniers are correct.

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    2. John Newlands

      tree changer

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      I wrote that comment before seeing the article in Climate Spectator. My info source was looking out the window. I also suspect that March will be warmer than average, notwithstanding the March 2009 bushfires.

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    3. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to John Newlands

      Yes, we all notice it is hotter more often and more frequently than in the past. Unfortunatley this type of observation is only evidence if you arepushing a denialist agenda and it is cold somewhere in the world.

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  9. Alex Cannara

    logged in via LinkedIn

    Wow! IPCC 'discovers' acidification! Remember when they discovered that uncovered oceans absorb more heat than ice-covered ones?

    But, bureaucracies sometimes do move -- late, but small gifts always welcomed. Wonder why it took so long?

    http://tinyurl.com/n2qnos6
    wwwp.dailyclimate.org/tdc-newsroom/2013/01/ocean-acidification-report
    http://www.aseachange.net/ (movie)
    http://apps.seattletimes.com/reports/sea-change/2013/sep/11/pacific-ocean-perilous-turn-overview/?prmid=4939 or http://tinyurl.com/m6gvgp4

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    1. john byatt

      retired and cranky at RAN Veteran

      In reply to Alex Cannara

      What is this all about?

      Ove ..His recent Science paper in Dec 2007 is now ISI’s hottest paper (most cited over the past two years) in the both the area of “climate change” and “ocean acidification” (cited 408 times in <4 years). In 2008, he became a Queensland Smart State Premier’s Fellow.

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    2. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to john byatt

      "In 2008, he became a Queensland Smart State Premier’s Fellow."

      No doubt that with a change of Queensland Premier he became persona non grata.

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    3. john byatt

      retired and cranky at RAN Veteran

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      I sent a letter to Andrew Powell telling him he was listening to the wrong people and that he should be listening to people like Ove not the coal lobbyists

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  10. john byatt

    retired and cranky at RAN Veteran

    "A lack of such decisive action will indeed wake the Kraken – committing us to ocean, and indeed planetary, impacts that are likely to last for many thousands of years."

    and in Australia we have a federal government and most of the state governments in denial

    Andrew Powell assured me by letter that he fully accepts the findings of the IPCC, his actions are not in accord with that claim.

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    1. john byatt

      retired and cranky at RAN Veteran

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      "Finally, over the period 2010–2013 there was a slight increase in repeat respondents endorsing the
      sentiments that responding to climate change would provide people with a sense of purpose, provide
      people with an opportunity to be part of something bigger, and foster greater community spirit.
      Conversely, they were less likely to endorse sentiments that responding to climate change would cost too
      much money and jobs, and that nothing meaningful could be done by Australia about climate change. If
      these trends continue, we might reasonably expect that behaviours will follow, in time"

      considering the amount of media misinformation out there, It is articles such as Ove's shared on social media that could have a big impact .

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    2. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to john byatt

      The 2013 figures are:

      38.8% I think that climate change is happening, but it's just a natural fluctuation in Earth's temperatures

      7.6% I don't think that climate change is happening

      6.3% I have no idea whether climate change is happening or not

      i.e. most Australians are either explicitly in denial of climate science or just don't care.

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    3. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to john byatt

      "If these trends continue, we might reasonably expect that behaviours will follow, in time"

      But how much time?

      The fact is, Australia is a denialist country led mainly by denialist governments. Action will be insignificant until that changes.

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    4. john byatt

      retired and cranky at RAN Veteran

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      but there is the 47.3 % AGW,
      Many of The 38.8% are reachable,

      i suppose it may be a glass half full thing, the last summer and record temperatures for day week month and year, the firies coming out and stating there are no sceptics on the end of a hose, the 2014 figures will be very interesting but unfortunately it means nothing when most governments are in denial, only 17% of the federal coalition accept the IPCC reports as fact, certainly not cause for optimism i agree,

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    5. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to john byatt

      "Many of The 38.8% are reachable"

      One day. In politics, if the glass is not quite half full then that is the same as being empty.

      "the firies coming out and stating there are no sceptics on the end of a hose"

      I guess that Tony Abbott character has never been on the end of a hose.

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    6. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Well as the crusty, elderly conservatives move on from this world and hand it over to the younger generation that put more faith in science than religion and have the propensity to change, adapt and see things from another point of view, those figures will go up.

      Of course there wil be some of the generation indoctrinated by their parents into distrusting anything "progressive" or challenging the status quo, but with the vast stores of information easily available those numbers should drop as more humans begin to think for themselves.

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  11. Neville Mattick
    Neville Mattick is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Grazier: ALP Member at A 4th Generation Grazing Station

    Personally I am very concerned for our Oceans' and the neglect shown as endless mass harvesting zones, rubbish tips and pollution collection centres.

    The land is rising in temperature, Agriculture in Australia in my opinion is in serious trouble now due to the impact of Anthropogenic Climate Chance, the Oceans are the same or worse in condition as we are warned in the article above.

    I am annoyed that the work done on Renewables and Climate Change mitigation by the Rudd and Gillard Governments is now being eroded by "the adults - so self called now in control in Canberra" focussing on the critical re-introduction of Knights and Dames - whilst Rome burns - time to wake up methinks.

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  12. Gerard Dean

    Managing Director

    Finally the author admits that the earth's temperature has not risen as he had predicted several years ago, 'In reality, the widely proclaimed “hiatus” in surface warming simply represents heat being driven into the oceans.'

    No matter how the author want's to justify why the earth hasn't warmed as he predicted, it did not. For years he said the earth would continue warming and never once said it might not because the oceans were absorbing the heat. Only now, after 15 years of global temperature flatlining, he explains why his prediction failed.

    Surely we are allowed to question his present predictions in the light of his earlier failed predictions. Isn't that how science and informed decisions are made?

    Gerard Dean

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    1. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      "the earth's temperature has not risen as he had predicted several years ago"

      The temperature is within the error range of the prediction. So the prediction was correct.

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    2. john byatt

      retired and cranky at RAN Veteran

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      Well for the past one hundred years projections in both hindcast and forecast for the surface temperature have always been with the 95% confidence range, the 2013 data/model comparison update due shortly will show that the calender year 2013 is also well within the range, http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2013/02/2012-updates-to-model-observation-comparions/

      when we look at the El nino and La nina comparisons it would seen likely that CS is well within the IPCC range and in fact is about 3.2DegC after allowing for the current negative forcings

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    3. john byatt

      retired and cranky at RAN Veteran

      In reply to john byatt

      Gavin Schmidt NASA Climatologist

      "Summary

      The conclusion is the same as in each of the past few years; the models are on the low side of some changes, and on the high side of others, but despite short-term ups and downs, global warming continues much as predicted".

      -

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  13. Neil Gibson

    Retired Electronics Design Engineer

    The problem with this article is the data it is based upon. The amounts of heat supposedly sequestered in the deep ocean is ostensibly caused by temperature changes of hundredths of a degree which is an impossible accuracy with random measurements across the globe. Closer to home - how many samples would be required to measure the temperature of Sydney harbour to one hundredth of a degree? Would you get the same answer an hour later or with different sample points?
    To then compare those readings with those from the previous year and find ,shock horror ,that it has changed by one hundredth of a degree and conclude from this that there is huge warming is ridiculous. Where are the error bands on Ove's graphs? I note that we are comparing ocean heat content to pre-Argo days . What was the accuracy of samples taken then?

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    1. Glenn Tamblyn

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Neil Gibson

      Neil
      'Where are the error bands..."

      Here you go http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/OC5/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/index1.html.

      And as I noted on a previous comment, the accuracy of the thermistors used is 0.002 Deg C with a temperature stability of 0.0002 Deg C.

      And the measurements are being used to measure heat content. The key issue is how much temperatures vary from place to place. If they vary significantly over short differences you need a denser sampling grid. However if variations are very small over…

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    2. Neil Gibson

      Retired Electronics Design Engineer

      In reply to Glenn Tamblyn

      Let me get this right. Assuming we know the temperature of the ocean to 0.01 degrees accuracy we can with absolute accuracy say that the ocean heat content has increased by a staggering .02% with this incredibly accurate random sampling system which BTW is only sampling the top 50% of the ocean.

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    3. Steven Fuller

      Asset Management

      In reply to Neil Gibson

      Yawn.....the results are in. The oceans are warming, as is the planet.

      All of the data supports this, regardless of the small margin for error. None of it shows cooling. If the instruments are not trustworthy, why might this be?

      Our oceans require very little variance in temperature or chemical composition to become ineffective ecosystems to support our dependency on them.

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  14. Doug Hutcheson

    Poet

    "Reduce pollution and litter to levels that do not harm ecosystems" - sounds like common sense to me, but common sense is not as common as is commonly thought. Where is visionary leadership when it is wanted? Our political masters seem to be asleep at the wheel and it is our fault for putting them in charge.

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