Ocean Warming Dominates The Increase In Energy Stored In the Climate System


Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report Summary for Policymakers

Ocean warming dominates the increase in energy stored in the climate system, accounting for more than 90% of the energy accumulated between 1971 and 2010 (high confidence), with only about 1% stored in the atmosphere. On a global scale, the ocean warming is largest near the surface, and the upper 75 m warmed by 0.11 [0.09 to 0.13] °C per decade over the period 1971 to 2010. It is virtually certain that the upper ocean (0−700 m) warmed from 1971 to 2010, and it likely warmed between the 1870s and 1971. {1.1.2, Figure 1.2}

The IPCC Report does more to prove it is engaged in sophistry than real science. In its 2014 report, the IPCC states that “Ocean warming dominates the increase in energy stored in the climate system, accounting for more than 90% of the energy accumulated between 1971 and 2010 (high confidence).” It also states that only about 1% of the energy is stored in the atmosphere.

From these observations, the IPCC concludes:

“It is extremely likely [95 percent confidence] more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together.”

Just from a weighted factor approach, it is clear the atmosphere can’t warm the oceans. In reality, the oceans contain 2,000 more energy than the atmosphere and water has a specific heat 4x of dry air. If all the energy in the atmosphere was transferred to the oceans, it wouldn’t move the needle. On the other hand, the Satellite temperature records demonstrate a clear correlation between ocean events like El Nino and La Nina. Clearly, ocean temperatures drive atmospheric temperatures.


Like a Magician using slight of hand, the IPCC states “on a global scale, the ocean warming is largest near the surface, and the upper 75 m warmed by 0.11 [0.09 to 0.13] °C per decade over the period 1971 to 2010.” Poof!!! The Oceans are warming, it must be CO2, do not look behind that curtain or up my sleeve. Wow, are you amazed? You shouldn’t be. Just look up the IPCC’s sleeve and you will see what really is happening. The graphic at the top of this article shows the ocean penetration of various electromagnetic wavelengths. The “75 m” identified by the IPCC is significant because that is the depth at which INCOMING VISIBLE WARMING radiation penetrates and warms the oceans. The oceans are warmed by vast amounts of incoming high-energy visible radiation, not downwelling background long-wave infrared between 13 and 18-microns.


The basic physics behind CO2 warming the oceans, and therefore the atmosphere simply don’t exist. The only defined mechanism by which CO2 can affect climate change is by “thermalizing” long-wave infrared radiation between 13 and 18-microns. In reality, there is another one, radiation,  but that carries heat away from the earth and results in atmospheric cooling. Climate alarmists seem to forget that effect, and I will too for this article. This article focuses on the ability of CO2 to warm the oceans and therefore the atmosphere.


The preceding chart shows the spectral absorption of H2O, starting at 0 microns through the visible spectrum (0.4 to 0.7 microns) and ending in the long-wave infrared spectrum (18 microns). H20 efficiently absorbs much of the high energy electromagnetic spectrum in the visible light range. Energy is inversely related to wavelength (directly related to frequency), so the left side of the scale holds far more energy than the right. The longer the wavelength, the less energy it contains.  The left side of that graphic is what warms the oceans, not the right side that contains the long-wave infrared radiation that CO2 absorbs in the atmosphere. The following chart shows the CO2 absorption of long-wave Infrared radiation between 13 and 18-microns. CO2 has two other spikes at 2.7 and 4.3 microns, but those don’t play a role in the “thermalization” defined by the greenhouse gas effect.spectral-calc-co2-lin

Long-wave infrared radiation doesn’t warm water. It is absorbed in the very top “microlayer” of the oceans. If anything the infrared radiation produced by CO2 between the wavelengths of 13 and 18-microns results in surface evaporation and COOLING of the ocean surface much like evaporating sweat cools the body. The physics of CO2 and background long-wave infrared radiation downwelling warming the oceans simply doesn’t exist.

In Conclusion:

The IPCC claims that the oceans are by far the largest heat sink in the climate system. The IPCC claims that the oceans are warming. Data proves the oceans drive atmospheric temperatures, not vice verse.  The problem is, the IPCC can’t explain how CO2 warms the oceans. If the IPCC can’t explain how CO2 is warming the oceans, it can’t explain how/why the atmosphere is warming. To explain why the atmosphere is warming you have to explain why the oceans are warming. The oceans are warming because more visible radiation is reaching them. If that is the case, I would stop looking at CO2 and try to discover if anything has happened that would allow more visible radiation to reach the oceans. Has the frequency of volcanic eruptions slowed, has there been any changes to the Hadley Cells or cloud cover over the oceans especially the tropics, have we cleaned the air of sun blocking particulate matter? Explain why the oceans are warming and you explain why the atmosphere is warming, and it isn’t due to CO2. To quote Dr Singer, “evidence of warming isn’t evidence that man is causing that warming.”

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9 thoughts on “Ocean Warming Dominates The Increase In Energy Stored In the Climate System”

  1. What about the reduction of conductive cooling of the oceans that results as the atmosphere over the oceans becomes warmer due to AGW? The article suggests that the energy from CO2 IR only penetrates the micro layer, but again it’s the difference between the oceans and the air which control the amount of conductive cooling. Why think this IR in the ocean/air interface results in more evaporation rather than less conductive cooling?


  2. You mention that an increase in global volcanic action would tend to lower atmospheric temperature. But surely most volcanic action occurs underwater? Thus this leakage of heat from the earths core is greater. We know that the pacific rim is very active at the present time. Its effecting a warming of the ocean is my guess.

    And I just don’t believe that heat isn’t being generated in the earths core due to rotation and other turbulence such as magnetic flux, and possibly underground burning of fossil material and other exothermic material. As big as the earth is, the notion that after 4 billion years that the earths core is still cooling is unbelievable. Obviously i don’t have any calculations myself but space is at absolute zero and the earths core is hotter than the surface of the sun??? How come, if heat on a large scale isn’t being generated internally??


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