By Dr. David Evans - Science and Public Policy Institute
Ocean Temperatures Have Only Been Measured Properly From Mid-2003 Measuring ocean temperature globally is harder than it sounds. The Argo network finally overcomes many of the problems, but only became operational in mid-2003. Before Argo, starting in the early 1960s, ocean temperatures were measured with bathythermographs (XBTs). They are expendable probes fired into the water by a gun, that transmit data back along a thin wire. They were nearly all launched from ships along the main commercial shipping lanes, so geographical coverage of the world's oceans was poor-for example the huge southern oceans were not monitored. XBTs do not go as deep as Argo floats, and their data is much less accurate. [Met Office, Argo, GizMag.]
Ocean Temperatures Are Dropping
Josh Willis of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in charge of the Argo data, said in March 2008 on NPR: "There has been a very slight cooling, but not anything really significant".
The ocean data that the alarmists are relying on to establish their warming trends is all pre-Argo; it all comes from the old, less accurate XBTs. Now that we are measuring ocean temperatures properly, the warming trend has disappeared. And by coincidence, it disappeared just when we started measuring it properly! There is a large ocean temperature rise reported in the two years before Argo became available-might there have been a calibration problem between the old data and the Argo data? Could the old ocean temperature data have been subject to "corrections", like the GISS air temperature data?
The Argo data originally showed a strong cooling trend. Josh Willis was surprised at the results: "every body was telling me I was wrong", because it didn't agree with the climate models or satellite observations of net radiation flux. Willis decided to recalibrate the Argo data by omitting readings from some floats that seemed to be giving readings that were too cold. The Argo results are for the new, current data, after those recalibrations were made.
There is a problem with data in the politicized world of climate science: alarmists have all the authority positions in climate science and own (manage) all the datasets. Datasets that contradict the alarmist theory have a habit of being recalibrated or otherwise adjusted for technical reasons, and the changes to the datasets always make them more 14
supportive of the alarmist theory. It has happened several times now-but by chance alone you would expect technical adjustments to make the data less supportive of any given position about half the time. Don't be surprised if the Argo data for the last few years is "revised" at some stage to show warming instead of slight cooling.
Finally, the Argo data is extraordinarily difficult to find on the Internet: there is no official or unofficial website showing the latest global ocean temperature. Basically the only way to get the data is to ask Josh Willis (above). The graphs above come from Craig Loehle, who got the data from Willis, analyzed it, and put the results in a peer reviewed paper available on the Internet. Given the importance of the ocean temperatures, don't you think this is extraordinary? If the Argo data showed a warming trend, don't you suppose it would be publicized endlessly?