e. This image shows heat radiating from the Pacific Ocean as imaged by the NASA’s Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System instrument on the Terra satellite. (Blue regions indicate thick cloud cover.)

Ocean Abyss hasn’t Warmed – Where’s All The Heat?

The ocean abyss hasn’t warmed significantly since 2005, according to a new NASA study, further deepening the mystery of why global warming has apparently ground to halt in the past couple of years. The researchers stress, however, that the findings do not indicate that there isn’t any man-made climate change; sea levels are still rising, it’s just the fine details that are currently escaping scientists.

Global warming still heating the planet

e. This image shows heat radiating from the Pacific Ocean as imaged by the NASA’s Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System instrument on the Terra satellite. (Blue regions indicate thick cloud cover.)

e. This image shows heat radiating from the Pacific Ocean as imaged by the NASA’s Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System instrument on the Terra satellite. (Blue regions indicate thick cloud cover.) Image: NASA

Today, there are more greenhouse gases, like CO2 or methane, released into the atmosphere then ever before, yet global surface temperatures have stopped following the emissions curve for some time. Clearly, the heat is there somewhere, but where? Recent estimates have calculated that 26 percent of all the carbon released as CO2 from fossil fuel burning, cement manufacture, and land-use changes over the decade 2002–2011 was absorbed by the oceans, which act like a huge carbon sink. (About 28 percent went to plants and roughly 46 percent to the atmosphere.)

The heat causes the water to expand and melt glaciers – both factors cause sea levels to rise. Sure enough, the waters have heated up, but temperature readings suggest these haven’t warmed fast enough to account for the stalled air temperatures. Some scientists, backed by climate models, suggest the excess heat may be found in the ocean abyss – below the 1.24-mile mark.

Global heat increase by absorbing medium.

Global heat increase by absorbing medium.

Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, analyzed satellite and direct ocean temperature data from 2005 to 2013 to test the idea. To probe the waters’ temperature directly, a network of 3,000 floating temperature probes called the Argo array were deployed.

The researchers reached this conclusion after applying a surprisingly simple subtraction calculation. Because water expands when heated, the team calculated the total amount of sea level rise, then subtracted the amount of rise from the expansion in the upper ocean, and the amount of rise that came from added meltwater. What’s left should correspond deep ocean warming, yet the figure was insignificant.

“The deep parts of the ocean are harder to measure,” said JPL’s William Llovel, lead author of the study published Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change. “The combination of satellite and direct temperature data gives us a glimpse of how much sea level rise is due to deep warming. The answer is — not much.”



6 thoughts on “Ocean Abyss hasn’t Warmed – Where’s All The Heat?

  1. Asok Asus

    “leaving unsolved the mystery of why global warming appears to have slowed in recent years [stopped for 18 years actually]. But scientists say these findings do not throw suspicion on climate change itself.”


  2. tibipuiu

    What i mean to say is that surface temperatures have remained more or less constant over the past couple of years, but heat content has not. Man made global warming is a reality, whether you like it or not. Please read last year’s IPCC report. It’s a long read , but I believe it’s worth it.

  3. Bill Butler

    Heat has been absorbed by the top 2000 meters of the oceans. It hasn’t penetrated below the 2000 meter mark . . . yet.

    Ocean heating has accelerated sharply since 1998. (Note: Over 90% of Global Warming ends up heating the oceans.)
    Graph at:
    Full peer reviewed paper at:
    Up to date info at:
    NOAA/National Oceanographic Data Center
    http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/OC5/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/ (click on “2”)

    Note: The above increase in heat energy is equal to 4 Hiroshima atomic bombs per second, 24/7, for the last 10 years.

    Finally, temperature anomalies at all 3 primary temperature databases are currently setting new record highs.

  4. Green_Berry

    From the JPL study, “In the 21st century, greenhouse gases have continued to accumulate in the atmosphere, just as they did in the 20th century, but global average surface air temperatures have stopped rising in tandem with the gases. The temperature of the top half of the world’s ocean — above the 1.24-mile mark — is still climbing, but not fast enough to account for the stalled air temperatures.”

    Man-made global warming enthusiasts have been desperately searching for an explanation as to why temperatures are not rising to match their models. And NASA just shot down their latest pet theory to explain the missing heat, whether you like it or not.

    Please read yesterday’s JPL report. It’s a short read, but I believe it’s worth it.


  5. Asok Asus

    “surface temperatures have remained more or less constant over the past couple of years, but heat content has not”


    (Oh, and it’s not been a “couple” of years, it’s been nearly 18 years of no warming.)

  6. Individualist

    The Coldest temperature in Antarctica is -88 degrees C. South Pole station last time I checked shows the temp at -4 to -81 degrees C annually. Temperature at which CO2 condenses to a solid in normal atmosphere is -78 degrees C.
    The research I have seen explaining the rise in the chart of CO2 for the last 50 years shows 280 to 365 parts per million (ppm). This chart shows a steady curve going upward and project man made CO2 to exceed 5% of the atmosphere if you assume the same scale (an impossibility from man made activity since at 5% CO2 and greater all life including plant life would cease to exist given that level of concentration becomes poisonous.
    The same research from the IPCC shows that the Green land core samples don’t agree to the South Pole. They state it is due to calcium carbonate from volcanism but the South Pole has a history of Volcanism in the past as well. They agree this recalculation however to a static model assuming CO2 levels in ice don’t change in the South Pole.
    CO2 is heavy 44g/mol and water at 18g/mol is actually lighter i.e. less dense in the solid than liquid forms. Liquid water remains at 0 C when in the process of freezing and does not reduce in temp until frozen. The water leaking from the ocean to the bottom of Antarctic glaciers mean the bottom would warm.
    Yet the studies of the Antarctic Ice Cores do not even consider that CO2 condenses and sublimates and the potential increase this would cause in the upper levels of the Antarctic glaciers. I would think this would have to be addressed especially if you are going to insist on a one trillion cap and trade tax from companies that produce products consumers want to companies that research windmills.
    Furthermore no where in IPCC reports is the level of absorption of CO2 by the planet discussed. CO2 being heavy would to my mind sink into the ocean more than the lighter gases and the carbolic acid (what is produced when CO2 mixes with water) would react with other rocks and substances in the ocean to some extent not to mention plants using it.
    This is especially problematic in that the CO2 increase graph shows no spike in 2010 for the Ice land volcanic eruption nor Mount St Helens (late 70’s to 80 at some point. Even though each eruption put more CO2 and methane in the atmosphere in that one event than man makes in a year. Furthermore if there were no absorption process going on one million years ago when the Yellowstone Caldera erupted the cO2 levels would have increased in huge multiples yet there is not concurrent warming event that is shown.
    Events like the Yellowstone Super volcano point to the fact that great amounts of CO2 released must be cleaned out by natural processes of the planet at higher levels than normal or life would have ceased to exist long ago. Yet none of your models addresses any of these concerns. And many articles I have read may me wonder if the individual writing it are ignorant of it.
    Telling me that Global Warming is real even though I don’t want to believe it does not explain any of these points and to date the only answer I get are insults, ad hominem attacks, brief dismissals that fail to answer the points and outright attacks and assurances that “scientists” believe it. Well last I checked religion is about belief. Science is about finding a model that can’t be disproven.

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