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Lance Endersbee: Sea Surface Temperature and CO2 levels

This piece is excerpted from Endersbee:Carbon Dioxide and the Oceans, with 2nd graph added. In my understanding, the CO2 rise is basically due to the seas' slow response to a warmer sun, with very little human contribution. The seas are another resource so vast that even scientists forget it. I would like to have good science to show what I believe is true - but here we are at the cutting edge of science, and the debate is hot, and I should not deny or suppress this. Therefore I want to see if Endersbee's potentially clinching work can be taken just that inch further...

In the past, sea temperatures were obtained from measurements by passing ships in the sea lanes of the world. It is only in the past three decades that more accurate data on sea surface temperatures has become available. The analysis of this recent data by the author shows that:
• the oceans regulate the composition of the atmosphere,
• the influence on climate of human generated carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is negligible,
• global climate change has natural causes.

The oceans and the atmosphere are quite shallow in relation to the vast surface area of the oceans. The interaction of the atmosphere and the oceans is essentially a phenomenon of the ocean surface. It would be expected that there would be almost a direct correlation between levels of carbon dioxide in the air and the global mean sea surface temperatures, and that is the case.

It is possible to plot an experience curve of the relationship between ocean temperatures and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. In order to do so it is necessary to recognise that the oceans have a vast storage capacity for heat and dissolved gases, and that changes are slow. On the other hand, the atmosphere has a much more rapid response time. If we use a 12 month moving average of atmospheric carbon dioxide, and use a 21 year moving average of the more accurate recent data on global average sea surface temperatures, a remarkably clear experience curve is obtained.

The 12 month moving average of carbon dioxide levels filters out the variations of the annual cycle, and in related analyses, provides a view of the influence of other natural events. The 21 year moving average of sea surface temperature covers the complete solar cycle, including the change in magnetic polarity of the sun, the El Nino and La Nina nder influences on global climate, and recognizes the vast storage capacity of the oceans for carbon dioxide and the slow response time of the oceans.

Two versions of the same experience curve relating actual atmospheric carbon dioxide levels with actual global average sea surface temperature. It is not a time scale, just the simple relation between two physical parameters independent of time. The line shown is the sequence of actual plotted points for each end month of the two moving averages. The range of temperature is quite small and it is reasonable to use a linear trend line. The correlation is remarkable, and would be considered a perfect correlation in laboratory tests. It is emphasised that the chart presents recent data and is just a plot of actual experience.

The lefthand graph shows carbon dioxide levels at 12-month moving averages; the righthand graph shows them at 21-year moving averages. The righthand graph is more statistically "correct" but loses some detail (inset).

The chart shows that the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and global average sea surface temperatures are locked together. The correlation is so firm it is reasonable to include it as a condition in the computer simulations used to study climate change.

The recent increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is an evident fact. The critical questions to be considered are whether the man-made emissions of carbon dioxide are the actual cause of the increase in levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and the actual cause of global warming, or, whether the global warming arises from natural causes. If the global warming is due to natural causes, it follows from the correlation that the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is also due to natural causes.

The long term global average sea surface temperature is about 15 degrees C. At 15 degrees C. and atmospheric pressure, water can absorb its own volume of carbon dioxide. At five degrees cooler, ie 10 degrees C., water absorbs 19% more than its own volume, and at five degrees warmer, ie 20 degrees C., water absorbs 12% less than its own volume. Thus a warmer ocean releases more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

The temperature of the oceans decreases markedly with depth. The deeper and colder oceans have a huge capacity to store and release carbon dioxide. If the pressure in the water is increased to two atmospheres, equivalent to a depth of water of only 10m., the volume of gas absorbed is doubled.

Updated 23rd October 2008



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