Study links changing winds to warming in Pacific

Study links changing winds to warming in Pacific
This Sept. 18, 2008, file photo shows Pyramid Rock, center, off Tillamook, Ore. A new study released Monday, Sept. 22, 2014, finds that warming temperatures in Pacific Ocean waters off the coast of North America over the past century closely follow natural changes in the wind, not the increases in greenhouse gases related to global warming. (AP Photo/Jeff Barnard, File)

A new study released Monday found that warming temperatures in Pacific Ocean waters off the coast of North America over the past century closely followed natural changes in the wind, not increases in greenhouse gases related to global warming.

The study compared temperatures from 1900 to 2012 to surface air pressure, a stand-in for wind measurements, and found a close match.

"What we found was the somewhat surprising degree to which the winds can explain all the wiggles in the temperature curve," said lead author Jim Johnstone, who did the work while a climatologist at the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean at the University of Washington.

"So clearly, there are other factors stronger than the greenhouse forcing that is affecting those temperatures," he added.

The study released by the online edition of the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences does not question , but argues there is evidence that in at least one place, local winds are a more important factor explaining ocean warming than .

It was greeted with skepticism by several mainstream climate scientists, who questioned how the authors could claim changes in wind direction and velocity were natural and unrelated to climate change.

They pointed out that the study sees a correlation but did not do the rigorous statistical and computer analysis to show that the cause of the wind changes were natural—the kind of analysis done when scientists attribute weather extremes to global warming.

"This may say more about the state of climate modeling than it says about causes of warming in the Pacific Northwest," Ken Caldeira, an atmospheric scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science's Department of Global Ecology, said in an email. "The authors ... have not established the causes of these atmospheric pressure variations. Thus, claims that the observed temperature increases are due primarily to 'natural' processes are suspect and premature, at best."

Johnstone and co-author Nathan Mantua, a research scientist with the NOAA Fisheries Service in Santa Cruz, California, pointed to the fact that one steep ocean warming period from 1920 to 1940 predates the big increases in greenhouse gases, and an ocean cooling period from 1998 to 2013 came while global average temperatures were at or near all-time highs.

They also noted that the wind changes consistently preceded the variations by about four months, showing the wind was causing the changes to temperature, not the other way around.

James Overland, a research oceanographer at the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, said the study reinforced findings that the North Pacific has a lot of natural variability in 5- to 20-year time scales, and he reached the same conclusions on changes in the Bering Sea.

"Natural variability cannot be ruled out as an important mechanism," he said in an email.

During the entire period from 1900 to 2012, there has been an increase of about 1 degree Fahrenheit in surface temperatures in the area from Hawaii to Alaska, and down the coast to British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and California, the study said.

The wind acts to change temperature through speed and direction. When the blows faster across the water, evaporation increases, and like sweat drying on the skin, cools the water surface. Winds from the south drive warmer air and water to the region. Winds from the north drive in colder air and water.

Mantua said he and Johnstone took the potential inaccuracy of the data into account, comparing it to several other sources, including land surface air temperatures along the coast, which also agreed.

"It just seems to us it's a pretty simple story," said Mantua. "Yet it's going to take people by surprise, because it is ingrained in our minds that if the climate warms up in the course of the century, it's probably because of global warming, the increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases and other things humans have done that have pushed it in a warming direction.".


Explore further

Atlantic warming turbocharges Pacific trade winds

More information: Atmospheric controls on northeast Pacific temperature variability and change, 1900–2012, PNAS, www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1318371111

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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Sep 22, 2014
One more nail in the AGW Cult's coffin of CO2 lies.
All their moronic marching, howling and block parties just confirms their ignorance.

Sep 22, 2014
AntiEm said:
One more nail in the AGW Cult's coffin of CO2 lies.
All their moronic marching, howling and block parties just confirms their ignorance.


So, let me get this straight. You are willing to believe one article that uses models (which you seem to object to otherwise) and is already controversial. Yet you will not believe 100 articles which do not have your particular confirmation bias. Is that about right?

I actually think this is an interesting article. However, I do not think they have proven causality. As others have noted in criticism of the article the wind changes may, very well, be caused by warming. In that case, the winds would be an effect, not cause. However, I am also willing to watch the discussion on this to see what is correct. I don't dismiss it just because it does not fit my model of the physics. I could need to adjust my understanding of the physics involved or they could be wrong. I'll be interested in what Run has to say.

Sep 22, 2014
Yes thermo, one road that leads to the truth, but you'd rather take a 100 as long as they lead to the AGW CO2 lie.

Sep 23, 2014
antigoracle proves he is a liar or completely irrational/stupid with this blurt
Yes thermo, one road that leads to the truth, but you'd rather take a 100 as long as they lead to the AGW CO2 lie.
It has been well proven CO2 is a greenhouse gas and never refuted & you have also been told this often & never yourself offered any refutation yet you continue to claim AGW CO2 is a lie.

The only conclusion one can come to about your posts is you are completely ignorant, a liar or paid to spread untruths...!

You have NO credibility antigoracle, you could provide AT LEAST one study that shows CO2 cannot be a green house gas with some actual evidence to support it.

Since you haven't done that antigoracle you MUST be a complete liar and are therefore a waste of time for all of us ?

Thanks to thermodynamics & runrig for putting up with such idiocy & going to the trouble to explain some of the more complex issues of meteorology which antigoracle just cannot understand one bit :-(

Sep 23, 2014
I don't suppose the solar effect has anything to do with the warming of winds and surface temps or perhaps the escape of geological heat into the atmosphere.....seriously...

Sep 23, 2014
error

Sep 23, 2014
As a meteorologist this article struck me as akin to a discussion as to which comes first ... the chicken or the egg!

Err, temperatures create winds, which create temperatures, which create winds.
And to me it is obvious that there would be no SST signal apparent just from a GHG effect as the ocean has a mass 1000x that of the atmosphere and a SH of 4x. The ocean overturns and the small overall instantaneous additional contribution to the extra CO2 will be continually mixed with deeper waters. The finding that overall the deep ocean has warmed ~0.065C is barely measurable, yet if transferred to the atmosphere instantaneously (impossible of course) would equate to a temp rise of 65C and that without regarding the x4 bit. Just consider the ENSO cyle - it is a complex interaction of winds and sea temperatures both SST's and deeper water temps.
To say that SST trends in any one patch of ocean is counter-intuitive to that expected by GHG warming, to my mind is VERY wrong-headed.

Sep 23, 2014
I don't suppose the solar effect has anything to do with the warming of winds and surface temps or perhaps the escape of geological heat into the atmosphere.....seriously...

If you mean the solar output variation due it's 11 yr cycle then no, a it varies by ~0.1% and is cyclic, goes up/down. Global ave temps are going one way overall with periods of slower trends as ocean climate cycles play out.

http://en.wikiped...constant

Sep 23, 2014
antigoracle proves he is a liar or completely irrational/stupid with this blurt...

I don't think he's a liar...

Sep 23, 2014
Hey mike why don't you tell us the real reason for the rant. Let me guess, you went to the block party hoping to meet your False "Profit" Al, but he didn't let you get within sniffing distance of that expensive dinner he had. Don't worry, next time he will invite you on to his private jet.
Natural variability cannot be ruled out as an important mechanism...
the fact that one steep ocean warming period from 1920 to 1940 predates the big increases in greenhouse gases

Sep 23, 2014
antigoracle again showing his immense ignorance & irrationality
Hey mike why don't you tell us the real reason for the rant. Let me guess, you went to the block party hoping to meet your False "Profit" Al, but he didn't let you get within sniffing distance of that expensive dinner he had. Don't worry, next time he will invite you on to his private jet.
My interest is in physics not politicians.

Why do you antigoracle, not focus on the physics, the irrefutable thermal properties of GHG's ?

The unusual properties of water where adding heat results in 'discontinuous' regional cooling.

antigoracle, you have shown many times you cannot debate, you often attack, with nothing useful, nothing convergent, a total waste of time.

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