Climate contrarian uncovers scientific error, upends major ocean warming study

November 16, 2018 by Joshua Emerson Smith
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Researchers with the University of California, San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Princeton University recently walked back scientific findings published last month that showed oceans have been heating up dramatically faster than previously thought as a result of climate change.

In a paper published Oct. 31 in the journal Nature, researchers found that ocean temperatures had warmed 60 percent more than outlined by the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

However, the conclusion came under scrutiny after mathematician Nic Lewis, a critic of the scientific consensus around human-induced warming, posted a critique of the paper on the blog of Judith Curry, another well-known critic.

"The findings of the ... paper were peer reviewed and published in the world's premier scientific journal and were given wide coverage in the English-speaking media," Lewis wrote. "Despite this, a quick review of the first page of the paper was sufficient to raise doubts as to the accuracy of its results."

Co-author Ralph Keeling, climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, took full blame and thanked Lewis for alerting him to the mistake.

"When we were confronted with his insight it became immediately clear there was an issue there," he said. "We're grateful to have it be pointed out quickly so that we could correct it quickly."

Keeling said they have since redone the calculations, finding the ocean is still likely warmer than the estimate used by the IPCC. However, that increase in heat has a larger range of probability than initially thought—between 10 percent and 70 percent, as other studies have already found.

"Our error margins are too big now to really weigh in on the precise amount of warming that's going on in the ocean," Keeling said. "We really muffed the error margins."

A correction has been submitted to the journal Nature.

According to the most recent IPCC report, climate emissions need to be cut by 20 percent by 2030 and then zeroed out by 2075 to keep warming from exceeding 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels.

Authors of the recent study had previously claimed that emissions levels in coming decades would need to be 25 percent lower to keep warming under that 2-degree cap.

While papers are peer reviewed before they're published, new findings must always be reproduced before gaining widespread acceptance throughout the scientific community, said Gerald Meehl, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.

"This is how the process works," he said. "Every paper that comes out is not bulletproof or infallible. If it doesn't stand up under scrutiny, you review the findings."

The report relied on a novel approach that still has the potential to revolutionize how scientists measure the ocean's temperature.

Much of the data on currently relies on the Argo array, robotic devices that float at different depths. The program, which started in 2000, has gaps in coverage.

By comparison, Keeling and Laure Resplandy, a researcher at Princeton University's Environmental Institute who co-authored the report, calculated heat based on the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide rising off the ocean, filling round glass flasks with air collected at research stations around the globe.

Keeling said they will continue to experiment with the data in coming years in an attempt to fine-tune the data.

"It's a promising new method, but we didn't get the precision right on the first pass," he said.

The study is still the first to confirm that the ocean is warming using a method independent of direct temperature measurements.

Explore further: Ocean robots help to trace ocean warming to late 19th century

Journal reference: Nature search and more info website

113 shares

Related Stories

New study identifies thermometer for global ocean

January 3, 2018

There's a new way to measure the average temperature of the ocean thanks to researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego. In an article published in the Jan. 4, 2018, issue ...

Recommended for you

A damming trend

December 14, 2018

Hundreds of dams are being proposed for Mekong River basin in Southeast Asia. The negative social and environmental consequences—affecting everything from food security to the environment—greatly outweigh the positive ...

Data from Kilauea suggests the eruption was unprecedented

December 14, 2018

A very large team of researchers from multiple institutions in the U.S. has concluded that the Kilauea volcanic eruption that occurred over this past summer represented an unprecedented volcanic event. In their paper published ...

The long dry: global water supplies are shrinking

December 13, 2018

A global study has found a paradox: our water supplies are shrinking at the same time as climate change is generating more intense rain. And the culprit is the drying of soils, say researchers, pointing to a world where drought-like ...

Death near the shoreline, not life on land

December 13, 2018

Our understanding of when the very first animals started living on land is helped by identifying trace fossils—the tracks and trails left by ancient animals—in sedimentary rocks that were deposited on the continents.

42 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Anonym
1.6 / 5 (13) Nov 16, 2018
HaHa. What happened to the standard smear term, "denialist"? He is a denialist. He denies "the consensus." Which, by the way, is incorrectly characterized by most writers on this site who probably never examined the "study" which found it: the "consensus" was that the planet is warming and that fossil fuels are contributing to that. The DEGREE of contribution is what is disputed by "denialists", The planet, after all, has been warming for something like 18,000 years.
theredpill
2.3 / 5 (9) Nov 16, 2018
So...does anyone know where the heat went? I mean, this was "missing" heat right? The whole reason for postulating the oceans were absorbing it was because we aren't warming at the rates the models said we should be. .00042% of the atmosphere doesn't dictate it's temperature.
antigoracle
1 / 5 (12) Nov 16, 2018
The AGW Cult and their PATHOLOGICAL "science" to sustain their PATHOLOGICAL LIES.
Bullshit in bullshit out.Yet they stick to their dogma and proclaim that they are right.
In any true scientific discipline the publishers of such tripe would be shamed and banished.
Bert_Halls
4.2 / 5 (25) Nov 16, 2018
So just to clairfy for those watching at home:
1: Scientists publish a paper saying that oceans are warming a bit faster than expected.
2: Someone points out that the evidence is not strong that the oceans are not warming that fast.
3: The scientists agree and conclude that the oceans are warming faster than expected, but less than they initially said.
4: Three absolute idiots somehow interpret this to mean that tens of thousands of scientists have been colluding for more than a century in perfect secrecy, and have just now been revealed.
5: Nobody else gives a damn.

Are we all still on track now?
MR166
1.3 / 5 (13) Nov 16, 2018
http://www.climat...reshold/

Polar bears are so numerous that they pose a hazard to the locals.

There is no science only propaganda paid for by government grants given to amoral researchers.
theredpill
1.8 / 5 (10) Nov 16, 2018
"4: Three absolute idiots somehow interpret this to mean that tens of thousands of scientists have been colluding for more than a century in perfect secrecy, and have just now been revealed."

Thousands of scientists, tens of thousands of papers. Statistical gymnastics galore and all peer reviewed...yet not one...single...paper...explaining precisely how .00042% of the atmosphere retains enough heat to cause an 8% rise in temperature of the whole body. No science that shows how, no experiment, nothing.

But the guy who fumbles along with mass concensus and likely doesn't even know how CO2 works is putting everyone "back on track"...LMAO...if you say so.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.7 / 5 (11) Nov 16, 2018
"We're grateful to have it be pointed out quickly so that we could correct it quickly."

-Because they made it quickly?

Was just reading about all the intentional vote counting errors in Broward county FL, by libs, and now I read this. Seems like kinda the same thing you know?
MR166
1 / 5 (10) Nov 16, 2018
"Was just reading about all the intentional vote counting errors in Broward county FL, by libs, and now I read this. Seems like kinda the same thing you know?"

In the lib world the end always justifies the means. Pretty much any action can be justified if it furthers the cause.
Bert_Halls
4.3 / 5 (11) Nov 16, 2018
Hey red pill: how does a few grams of arsenic kill a 70kg human?

You dumbass.
Anonym518498
1 / 5 (10) Nov 16, 2018
The paper MUST be retracted NOW. All fake news outlets that trumpeted the original "study" MUST print corrections. So-called "science" is tainted with a lysenkoist agenda: "I say things are this way and now you will produce data confirming that things are this way."

The entire goal of this climate crap is to kill off billions of the human race that the "elite" deems the equivalent of pollution.
Shakescene21
4.6 / 5 (9) Nov 16, 2018
A positive way to look at the story is that the oceans aren't warming as fast as feared. We have a little more time to prevent a global disaster.
V4Vendicar
4.6 / 5 (11) Nov 17, 2018
Liar.... Liar... Pants on fire...

HaHa. What happened to the standard smear term, "denialist"? He is a denialist. He denies "the consensus."


The paper in question was new, and although it passed peer review was found to contain a mistake in the calculation of the error estimates. That mistake has been recognized and corrected in a timely manner.

1. The results of this paper have not changed even though the estimate of the confidence limits in the
results have changed.

2. The results of this research were never adopted as the consensus view of scientists, since the results hadn't been confirmed or stood the challenge of time.

So the question is.... Why did you feel a need to lie about it.. Denialist?
V4Vendicar
4.6 / 5 (9) Nov 17, 2018
A positive way to look at the story is that the oceans aren't warming as fast as feared. We have a little more time to prevent a global disaster.


Well, no. That isn't the case at all. The results of the calculations remain the same. What changes is the width of the error bars in the calculation.
V4Vendicar
4.6 / 5 (10) Nov 17, 2018
LOL!

The paper MUST be retracted NOW. .


Why? The calculated results remain unchanged.

The only thing that has changed is the with of the error bars.

What will happen is a short letter will be published in the same journal explaining the error and providing a new set of error bars.

That is how science publication is done.

So now go change your soiled diapers, pajama boy.
V4Vendicar
5 / 5 (9) Nov 17, 2018
"Was just reading about all the intentional vote counting errors in Broward county FL, by libs, and now I read this. Seems like kinda the same thing you know?


Poor Otto. He is a mindless Trump supporter who gets all his news from fake sources like Alex Jones, and Bartbreit.

He is an old man who has never been capable of rational thinking.
V4Vendicar
4.6 / 5 (9) Nov 17, 2018
"Thousands of scientists, tens of thousands of papers. Statistical gymnastics galore and all peer reviewed...yet not one...single...paper...explaining precisely how .00042% of the atmosphere retains enough heat to cause an 8% rise in temperature of the whole body. No science that shows how, no experiment, nothing..


Lord Kelvin did that for you 150 years ago.

Her is a link to his paper. (Google 0.59 seconds)

Knock yourself out, Retard.

http://www.rsc.or...3546.pdf
Shootist
1 / 5 (9) Nov 17, 2018
kinda like Americans voting. all the mistakes discovered favor the progressives, neo-marxists and post-modernists. Hockey Stick anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.5 / 5 (8) Nov 17, 2018
Poor Otto
"Just to let everyone know... V-for-Vendicar is a long time troll
that for years now has been trolling groups to see how many people's
buttons he can push.

"He will argue, insult, and mud sling 'till he gets people to blow
up in anger.... and retaliate with name calling and mud slinging....

"This character has no real interest in debate.... only seeing how
many buttons he can push to make people angry....must be some kind of
kinky fetish for him...

"This is a turn on for him.... he gets his kicks by angering as
many people as he can.....

Some people like to call him Scuttle Nutts"

-Thanks scuttlenuts.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.5 / 5 (8) Nov 17, 2018
Poor Otto
"Just to let everyone know... V-for-Vendicar is a long time troll
that for years now has been trolling groups to see how many people's
buttons he can push.

"He will argue, insult, and mud sling 'till he gets people to blow
up in anger.... and retaliate with name calling and mud slinging....

"This character has no real interest in debate.... only seeing how
many buttons he can push to make people angry....must be some kind of
kinky fetish for him...

"This is a turn on for him.... he gets his kicks by angering as
many people as he can.....

Some people like to call him Scuttle Nutts"

-Thanks scuttlenuts.
greenonions1
5 / 5 (8) Nov 17, 2018
BertHalls
Three absolute idiots somehow interpret this to mean that tens of thousands of scientists have been colluding for more than a century in perfect secrecy, and have just now been revealed
Unfortunately - a lot more than 3 idiots. As you point out - the system actually worked. The mistake was quickly identified, corrected, and science will continue it's slow steady progress. Same reason so many of us had cancer - and now don't have cancer - thanks to the slow progress of science. Of course we are still in very early days in terms of understanding our universe. So the problem of the idiots is serious. We play 'move the goal post,' or 'don't say I said that - just because I said that - doesn't really mean I said that.' And a thousand other games. Just look at Otto above. Accusing someone of 'name calling.' Then ending the post with 'Thanks scuttlenuts.' Bottom line - trying to debate with delusional, pathological liars - is crazy making...
V4Vendicar
4.4 / 5 (7) Nov 17, 2018

Bottom line - trying to debate with delusional, pathological liars - is crazy making...


Thanks to the election of Ronald Drumpf as the American Clown Car president we now know what fraction of the U.S. population are delusional, pathological liars like Otto.

That number is around 20 percent. They are largely old and mal-educated and in the case of Otto, senile.

Their numbers are falling however as they die from old age and stupidity.

I don't think they will die fast enough for America to survive as a nation. But time will tell.

V4Vendicar
4 / 5 (8) Nov 17, 2018
PATHOLOGICAL LIES.
Bullshit in bullshit out.


Yup. That is all we see coming from you antigoracle.

It is good that you stopped posting about how you were seeing martians having sex in surface photographs of Mars taken by orbiting satellites.

I guess your new medications are working.

MR166
1 / 5 (7) Nov 17, 2018
If predictions about the sun's solar minimum's influence on earths temperatures prove to be correct the next 30 years will be much cooler. Warmists don't worry, they will still be blaming CO2 for the harsh Winters, missing Springs and cold Summers
MR166
1 / 5 (8) Nov 17, 2018
The basic problem is a political one. Government grows like a wild vine to the point that it strangles it's host tree and everything collapses. It sucks the life out of private sector workers and distributes the booty to government workers and entitlements. What government can't extract from the private sector it prints causing the tax called inflation. Universities and climate scientists are just part the entitlement system. They tailor their findings to please their financial supporters and the politically correct cheering section. They are not any different than the "Scientists" who proved that smoking was not harmful.
greenonions1
5 / 5 (9) Nov 17, 2018
MR166
If predictions about the sun's solar minimum's influence on earths temperatures prove to be correct the next 30 years will be much cooler
Please give us some scientific references to support the assertion that there are predictions of solar minimums that will cause the earth to cool over the next 30 years.
greenonions1
5 / 5 (8) Nov 17, 2018
They are not any different than the "Scientists" who proved that smoking was not harmful.
And those scientists worked for the private sector. A private sector that made and sold cancer sticks - and then did what it does best - told lies about those cancer sticks - and brilliantly marketed them - often targeting young people - cuz when they are addicted to your cancer sticks at a young age - you can profit off them for a longer time. Nice example MR - thanks.
zz5555
5 / 5 (7) Nov 17, 2018
A positive way to look at the story is that the oceans aren't warming as fast as feared. We have a little more time to prevent a global disaster.

Actually, the result is that the oceans aren't warming faster than feared. The study indicates that the warming of the oceans is likely just as fast as science has been saying for years - and that's a very bad thing.
V4Vendicar
5 / 5 (6) Nov 17, 2018
LOL! What a Moron...

If predictions about the sun's solar minimum's influence on earths temperatures prove to be correct the next 30 years will be much cooler. Warmists don't worry, they will still be blaming CO2 for the harsh Winters, missing Springs and cold Summers


1: There is little evidence to suggest that there is an association with sunspot numbers and global temperatures, although it may be possible, the statistics of the relationship are not convincing.

2: Among those who think there is a connection, the view is that global temperatures will slowly drop about 2'C over the course of the minimum, and then rebound. If the minimum lasts 100 years, this means that the rebound will be a rise of 2'C on top of the 2'C rise projected by climate scientists, or a sudden rise from 2'C above normal to 4'C above normal somewhere around 2100 to 2120.

To put this into perspective a rise of 8'C is a human extinction level event.

V4Vendicar
4 / 5 (8) Nov 17, 2018
LOL! Trump Tard alert!

The basic problem is a political one. Government grows like a wild vine to the point that it strangles it's host tree and everything collapses. It sucks the life out of private sector workers and distributes the booty to government workers and entitlements. .


You have expressed the Trump Tard Republican ideology, but as the world has seen, your ideology has no connection to reality and is based on fantasy, distortions, and chronic, perpetual lying.

I have never encountered a Republican who wasn't a congenital and perpetual liar.
mtnphot
5 / 5 (8) Nov 17, 2018
http://www.climatedepot.com/2018/11/13/too-many-polar-bears-govt-draft-plan-says-polar-bear-numbers-exceed-co-existence-threshold/

Polar bears are so numerous that they pose a hazard to the locals.

There is no science only propaganda paid for by government grants given to amoral researchers.


Two reasons they are numerous. One is food. They can't get at their natural food source on the ice so they are going somewhere else. Food in garbage dumps; local dogs, etc. The second reason is that they hang around waiting for the ice to freeze so they can hunt seals. Later ice, more bears. Cities next to wilderness have bear problems too. Same reason, habitat destroyed.
greenonions1
5 / 5 (8) Nov 17, 2018
mtnphot - thanks for the reasoned response. Here is a quote from the article MR166 links
Andrew Derocher, a University of Alberta polar bear expert, is blunter.

"That's just plain wrong," he said. "That's been documented in many places now — not just linked to body condition but reproductive rates and survival."


But MR concludes that there is no science - it is all propaganda. The mistake you make mtnphot - is expecting MR166 to actually read beyond the headlines, and to be capable of higher reasoning. I think maybe the MAGA hat cuts of the brain oxygen...
MR166
1 / 5 (7) Nov 17, 2018
Yea, all of a sudden like, the polar bears discovered the town dump and that is why they are a nuisance now.

As I said, liberals are NEVER wrong. Any failure is always the fault of another person.
mtnphot
5 / 5 (7) Nov 17, 2018
Yea, all of a sudden like, the polar bears discovered the town dump and that is why they are a nuisance now.

As I said, liberals are NEVER wrong. Any failure is always the fault of another person.


I am not sure what you know about bears, but if they get habituated to people you have a problem. We have had to shoot two on our property; however if you make sure there is no food for them other than their normal food, they are not as much of a problem; we have a mother and cubs and a couple more that travel through our property regularly.

They have been a problem in Churchill for years; now this is spreading to other areas. In addition there are now instances of grizzly polar bear hybrids, indicating that their respective ranges are overlapping.
MR166
1 / 5 (7) Nov 17, 2018
Read the article MTN. The Intuit population is saying that the bear populations are either stable or growing. This is in direct conflict with the so called scientists.
V4Vendicar
5 / 5 (7) Nov 17, 2018
The Intuit don't produce a global survey of animals, and instead rely on local sightings.

"The Intuit population is saying that the bear populations are either stable or growing."

The bear population is finding less success on the ever decreasing ice and is scavenging local garbage pits.
V4Vendicar
4.3 / 5 (6) Nov 17, 2018
You must be talking about Ronald Drumpf, your Incompetent Clown Car President.

"As I said, liberals are NEVER wrong. Any failure is always the fault of another person."
greenonions1
5 / 5 (7) Nov 18, 2018
MR
liberals are NEVER wrong
I am frequently wrong - so if MR's assertion is correct - then I am not a LIBERAL. Scientists are also frequently wrong - but because science is a group process - the arc of science bends towards truth. I do think there is often some confirmation bias in science - so established views can be hard to challenge - but that is an issue of human ego - and we keep building on our knowledge. If the Inuit are correct in this issue - that reality will emerge, as our knowledge develops. My money says that science is the better way of revealing the facts. I support respecting the cultures of native peoples, and know that historically - western values (read colonial arrogance and brutality) have caused unimaginable devastation to native peoples - who stood in the way of spreading Jesus, and the acquisition of land and power by Europeans. I suspect that MR's conversion to respecting Native culture - is very self serving....
V4Vendicar
4.3 / 5 (6) Nov 18, 2018
"I suspect that MR's conversion to respecting Native culture - is very self serving...."

Reviewing the comments made by MR166 it is self evident that he is a congenital and perpetual liar. Just like the Dumpster Fire president that he supports.
MR166
1 / 5 (4) Nov 18, 2018
Here is a rational explanation of the fire problem in California.

https://www.zeroh...lifornia

greenonions1
5 / 5 (6) Nov 18, 2018
So today's article is about ocean warming - and MR166 the troll - just changes the subject - and plops a post about forest fires on the comments section. MR is presumable trying to protect his cult hero Herr Trump - who has recently made stupid comments about the cause of forest fires. You see - according to Herr Trump - Finland doesn't have a problem with forest fires - cuz they 'rake' their forest floors. Trump was actually lying about what the Finish President told him - https://www.huffi...43e3608c
Any who - MR's article refers extensively to the Union of concerned Scientists work on the subject of forest fires - so let's see what the UCS actually says on the subject
Cont.
greenonions1
5 / 5 (5) Nov 18, 2018
Natural cycles, human activities like land-use change and fire exclusion, and human-caused climate change can all influence the likelihood of wildfires. Many of the areas that have seen increased wildfire activity, like Yosemite National Park and the Northern Rockies, are protected from or relatively unaffected by human land-use change, suggesting that climate change is a major factor driving the increase in wildfires in these places
That was taken from the article referenced in MR's blogg post about forest fires. https://www.ucsus...qqehKiM8
HeloMenelo
5 / 5 (1) Nov 23, 2018
The AGW Cult and their PATHOLOGICAL "science" to sustain their PATHOLOGICAL LIES.
Bullshit in bullshit out.Yet they stick to their dogma and proclaim that they are right.
In any true scientific discipline the publishers of such tripe would be shamed and banished.


You mean your monkey science business ? I'm sorry but the science here is right on, your monkey science never applies and never will ;) keep swinging those trees, that's all you'll ever be able to prove being good at.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.