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The Ocean Really is Cooling

THERE are 3,000 free-drifting buoys in the world’s ocean; first deployed in the year 2000 they allow continuous monitoring of the temperature, salinity, and velocity of the upper ocean.

There has though been some difficulty in interpreting the data from these buoys. Initial signs of cooling were dismissed as due to technical errors subsequently corrected based on a small sample of the 3,000 buoys known as profiling floats.

Craig Loehle has analysed the data from only the profiling floats for ocean heat content from 2003 to 2008.   In a paper recently published in the journal Energy and Environment he has concluded that there has been ocean cooling over this period.  

This graphic is from figure 1 of the technical paper and shows the decline in ocean heat content (x1022J) smoothed with a 1-2-1 filter.

Dr Loehle’s findings are consistent with satellite and surface instrumental records that do not showing a warming trend over recent years.     



Craig Loehle is a senior scientist at the Illinois-based ‘National Council for Air and Stream Improvement’.

Cooling of the global ocean since 2003.  Craig Loehle, 2009.  Energy and Environment.  Volume 20.

Argo (free-floating buoys) Homepage 

Apologies to Josh Willis: Correcting Global Cooling (Part 3)

Correcting Ocean Cooling: NASAChanges Data to Fit the Models Adjusts Data from Buoys 

Global Warming’s Missing Heat


94 Responses to “The Ocean Really is Cooling”

Pages: « 1 [2] Show All

  1. Comment from: cohenite

    Sorry Craig, I’m just a humble blogger; 10^22 does sound better; with ocean heat subsiding, probably, global temps going down and even CO2 levels declining along with sea levels, the idea of the lag or pipeline for AGW heat to accumulate was a last bastion of AGW; do you have any opinion on the pipeline concept and whether it retains any validity, bearing in mind the work of Trenberth, Tsonis, White and Cayon and Compo and Sareshmukh, all of whom in one way or other have looked at the relationship between ocean heat and global temperature with the general consensus that any variations in ocean heat/energy has minimal delay before there is a consequent effect on global temperature?

  2. Comment from: Craig Loehle

    There are two senses to “in the pipeline”. The first is that a given increase in greenhouse forcing will take a long time to lead to a new equilibrium because the lag for ocean warming is so long. This is correct. The second, is that while air temps may not be going up, the energy imbalance that Hansen thought he found in ingoing vs outgoing radiation must be ending up in the ocean instead of the air. While this is possible, it must result in increased ocean heat content, as Pielke Sr. notes. Ocean cooling invalidates this use of “in the pipeline”, though short timescales and lots of noise make this not so easy to determine for sure. It also seems to me that if the ocean is losing heat, then part of the heat in the atmosphere is coming from the ocean, and the air would be cooling even faster without this warm water bottle to keep it higher. I am not able to estimate the magnitudes, but that is the logic as I see it.

  3. Comment from: gavin

    Too narrow a field and too smooth Craig.

    Sea level has been going up for decades, so you must factor this in while looking for heat moving about the planet.

  4. Comment from: Jennifer Marohasy

    This paper has been peer reviewed.
    There is a seasonal cycle so lets acknowledge it.
    This paper is about an annual trend – additional to the seasonal cycle.
    You haven’t acknowledged the limitations of the data pre-deployment of the argo bouys: I’m disappointed.

  5. Comment from: SJT

    I’ve just peer reviewed it. Five years with a La Nina in the tail is no way to detect a trend.

  6. Comment from: steve from brisbane

    Just a minute. It would appear from Cohenite’s extract that the paper itself is equivocal as to how much can be read into it: the result is possibly an artifact, it is also too short a period to be certain of anything.

    Yet Jennifer gives the post a clearly un-equivocal title.

  7. Comment from: Chris Gillham

    For consideration of ocean temperatures, is data relevant from the 2005 CSIRO report “Building a future on knowledge from the past: what palaeo-science can reveal about climate change and its potential impacts in Australia”? ( )

    Based on coral core isotope readings from the Great Barrier Reef, the data suggests Sea Surface Temperatures to the north and west of Australia were warmer pre-1900 than throughout the 20th century. A graph demonstrating such has been extracted from the CSIRO report at

    A rudimentary comparison of unregulated temperature readings at 13 locations across Western Australia from 1876-1899 and regulated readings from 1979-2008 suggests the average mean minimum increased to be .4 degrees C warmer, but the average mean maximum decreased to be .25 degrees C cooler. The comparison and documents are at

  8. Comment from: Craig Loehle

    It is indeed a short period to make any definitive conclusions. You will note that I said so in the paper. However, that is the full extent of the data (the ARGO floats) as of the time of analysis. I did factor out the seasonal cycle.
    Gavin says: “Too narrow a field and too smooth Craig” but I have no idea what this means.

  9. Comment from: Gordon Robertson

    SJT “Five years during a La Nina is a trend”?

    I hate to be the bearer of sad tidings, but as far as I know, ENSO is not a decadal oscillation. The 1997/98 El Nino only lasted a year and El Ninos/La Ninas have alternated pretty well every year.

  10. Comment from: BizzyBlog » Lucid Links (032309, Morning)

    [...] Imagine that — “Craig Loehle has analysed the data from only the profiling floats for ocean heat content from 2003 to 2008.   In a paper recently published in the journal Energy and Environment he has concluded that there has been ocean cooling over this period.” And “Dr Loehle’s findings are consistent with satellite and surface instrumental records that do not showing a warming trend over recent years.” [...]

  11. Comment from: gavin

    Craig: Your throttled curve as show here by Jennifer gives no indication of what was done and why to the original data, nor does it show in what context the work was required.

  12. Comment from: sunsettommy

    So far all I see are weak replies to Dr. Loehle’s paper.

    The snide nitpicking remarks are not convincing me.How about the staggering idea of posting straightforward comments on the content of his paper instead?

    The oceans are indeed cooling as per Willis and others who have published the data.There is a website called ARGOS where you can read up on the project.

    Despite the ocean cooling in recent years.It is still warmer than 50 years ago.It takes a while for the ocean to give up accumulated heat from decades of elevated solar cycles.

  13. Comment from: Jabba the Cat

    It strikes Jabba that most of those trying to shoot down Dr Loehle’s paper have not even bothered to ask him directly for a pdf copy of the full item. If they did there would be no need for half the stupid questions being asked eg. about the derivative process of the graphs.

  14. Comment from: Luke

    Anyway – it’s just an IPO wiggle in a longer term trend.

  15. Comment from: toby

    surely if the data from the argos is accurate, it really is sounding the death knell for AGW? 5 years of cooling in the oceans despite the growth in co2. How can the clowns at the recent copenhagen tell us that change is occuring even faster than the models preict when we have data showing sea temp falling and sea level not rising ….let alone all the other things predicted that have not occured. If you aint a bit sceptical, you clearly arent capable of thinking for yourself.

  16. Comment from: Craig Loehle

    I remind everyone that I can send a copy to you. cloehle at

  17. Comment from: kuhnkat


    “Sea level has been going up for decades, so you must factor this in while looking for heat moving about the planet.”

    DECADES gavin?? how about CENTURIES?!?!?!?! And before that it was going down, and before that is was up… Oh yeah, and the oceans have apparently been significantly HIGHER than now!!!!!

    So, what is your point again? Something like a previous invalid point about the temperature record that has also been up and down and around??

    If you want to track the heat of the ocean, give Bob Tisdale’s site a read. He has done some interesting work in that area:

  18. Comment from: Manfred

    Hallo Mr. Schmidt,

    i would like to ask, how do you make sure, that all your precious time spent debating the theory of AGW on various websites and moreover, the time consumed to delete critical comments at, does not burden NASA’s and finally the taxpayer’s budget ?

  19. Comment from: gavin

    Kunhnkat: “So, what is your point again?”

    Earlier in this thread, back on page 3, I wrote

    1. Graig, your work shows oscillations that I suggest are travelling in an envelope with another frequency See Alan Siddons on CO2 here. Alan shows us as usual in his most methodical approach in the above link the “serendipity” of it all.

    then after linking to a discussion on Watts up with that

    Bob Tisdale however with SL from data closes the grip for me on continued warming
    From Kunhnkat’s link above: Reading Bob’s comments on ocean heat content starting here –

    further drives the point that post industrial CO2, SST and Sea Level are interlinked. IMO the AGW case is proved conclusively there.

  20. Comment from: gavin

    If you don’t know the difference between an Aussie downunder on Jen’s and the big boys on RC, I suggest you piss off home now

  21. Comment from: cohenite

    gavin; I think you misunderstand Bob’s reasoning; his point about ocean heat content is that it is consistent with El Nino climate patterns and the studies have major inconsistencies; as well, and despite the 2nd point, all the studies show the same decline that Craig has found;

    That being the case there is no heat storage because if you accept the various studies, or cherry-pick the one most favourable to AGW, Levitus, [although none are favourable for the 1st reason above], in respect of when ocean heat content was increasing, you must accept the decrease as being caused by the same natural factors; IPO, as luke mischievously stated above somewhere lost in the mists of reminisce; I’ll leave you to it.

  22. Comment from: gavin

    Cohenite: “all the studies show the same decline that Craig has found”

    Unless I’m reading from the horozontal; these graphs over at least 50 years all show an increase in whatever ocean trend takes your fancy

  23. Comment from: SJT

    Thanks for that graph, Cohenite. Over the long term, a trend is clearly obvious, and there are several periods of five years or so where cooling is apparent, before the overall warming trend takes over.

  24. Comment from: cohenite

    There are none so blind as those who will not see.

  25. Comment from: Bill Illis

    Bob Tisdale’s page says he is using a 35 point filter/averaging.

    So sea level rise from earlier years is being averaged into the record.

    The AVISO data I linked to above shows the raw unfiltered data.

    So there was warming, there was sea level rise before but that trend upward stopped some time ago.

  26. Comment from: gavin

    Cohenite: If others can see the sea this way, why can’t your lot?

    BTW I’ve been to the coast recently looking for the latest SL impacts and found many place where its up and still rising. This observation can easily be confirmed by playing with the images here

    Shifting to familiar places like the coast of Tasmania and zooming in on the isthmus between north and south Bruny Island easily shows the difference between sand beaches on sheltered and open waters. Compare these with wild places around Strahan, Port Davey, estuaries and man made hydro lakes.

    BTW the red patches in the steep scrub on the isthmus are fairy penguin rookeries.

    My best pictorial evidence however came from a recent introduction to Browlee Island Reserve below Batemans Bay on the coast of NSW. Above the isthmus at the end of the long beach is a perpendicular shape where the hight tides have been into the island on the sheltered side.

  27. Comment from: gavin

    I forgot to mention that with this great tide tool above; we can actually see changing colour in the canopy of older forest on the lee side of Broulee Is as salt slowly kills root syetems of large trees.

  28. Comment from: Agamemnon

    gavin: “If you don’t know the difference between an Aussie downunder on Jen’s and the big boys on RC, I suggest you piss off home now.”

    Heh. gavin actually thinks he’s one of the “big boys”?!?

    Looky here, gavin. Read ‘em and weep:

    Your government-subsidized, George Soros-subsidized site got ONE-TENTH the number of votes of Anthony Watts’ “BEST SCIENCE” site. How’s that for ‘consensus’?

    See, gavin only posts at other sites so enough people read his propaganda. Realclimate doesn’t generate enough hits by itself to satisfy gavin’s leashmaster, Mr. Soros [and it IS "Mister" Soros, isn't it? And you DO have your hat in your hand when you say, "Yes Sir, MISTER Soros, Sir."]

    See gavin? Two can play at your snide game. So man-up for a change, and admit the AGW/CO2 hypothesis is spiraling down in flames.

  29. Comment from: Bill Illis

    Give us some credit here gavin.

    You link to an old chart from the United Nations Environment Program website.

    And then you give us one which doesn’t account for land subsidence or glacial rebound.

    How about Juneau Alaska sea level from your link. Looks like sea level has been falling drastically for about 70 years now.

    How about Tuktoyaktuk, Canada where sea level has fallen 20 metres in the last 4,000 years.

  30. Comment from: toby

    Gavin, anything to do with the recent king tides that were at 25 year highs in january?

    have you asked the locals to verify your findings? my experience is they would probably laugh at you. the coast line and sand dunes are constantly changing, at broullee island the rock platforms are the same as i remember them from 30 years ago when i first started diving there.
    i have no doubt you believe what you are “seeing”….but is it your bias that leads you to find ” proof” alongf the coast lines, and from planes etc?…you can of course equally throw this back in my face…hence i ask have you asked the locals? the ones i talk to are pretty sceptical.

  31. Comment from: DG

    The argument can be settled quite easily really. IPCC AR4 weighted its conclusions heavily on ocean heat content as the telltale sign for human induced global warming, and that only on 10 years of data.

    What makes some think OHC should ever diminish for any period of time? It should continue upward year after year if the CO2 AGW hypothesis is correct, particularly since humans have supposedly overridden ‘natural variation’.

    Is the following statement (the ubiquitous “smoking gun”) true or false? A very simple yes or no will do. No more obfuscation.

    “Our climate model, driven mainly by increasing human-made greenhouse
    gases and aerosols, among other forcings, calculates that Earth is now absorbing
    0.85 +/- 0.15 watts per square meter more energy from the Sun than it
    is emitting to space. This imbalance is confirmed by precise measurements of
    increasing ocean heat content over the past 10 years. Implications include (i) the
    expectation of additional global warming of about 0.6-C without further change
    of atmospheric composition; (ii) the confirmation of the climate system’s lag
    in responding to forcings, implying the need for anticipatory actions to avoid
    any specified level of climate change; and (iii) the likelihood of acceleration of
    ice sheet disintegration and sea level rise.”

    Sorry Luke & friends, there is no “heat in the pipeline”.

  32. Comment from: gavin

    Toby; “have you asked the locals? the ones i talk to are pretty sceptical”

    From experience; any conversation regarding the concept of rising sea levels is quite difficult, particularly with those still working in the marine industry. However not treading on the toes of young salts is my speciality. The best this year was when a tourist boat opperator at Akaroa in NZ claimed the storm surges (up tp 1M) keep damaging his landing platforms. Another in the Anakiwa area on the north coast claimed the inlet rose up through their boat house recently. Note, it’s hardly open sea anywhere in the Queen Charlotte Sound.

    With other interests I’m generally pretty keen to get all the oral and writen history that I can. Searching for extra clues is something I do almost every day with old wares, hand tools, instruments, vintage toys, sewing machines, kitchen ware and so on. I take the same approach with old mills, power stations, breweries, railways, motor transport, aircraft, ships and jettys. It’s this time frame I explore most.

    Beware though, probing the living memory requires a few tricks and lots of other references before developing any sort of accuracy. A good example is having a prior idea of which generation in the family actually played with a particular meccano or clockwork train set for the first time.

    Toby; I suggest you look up soon, any written history on the most likely instalation date for that piece of rusty old jetty rail on Broulee Is that still juts horizontally from the middens just above the high water mark. By my calculations the whole structure was most unlikely to have been built to suffer from periodic wave bashings back then.


  33. Comment from: Steynian 339 « Free Canuckistan!

    [...] THE OCEAN Really is Cooling …. [...]

  34. Comment from: toby

    Thx Gavin I will have a look…but erosion is substantial along the coast and storms and sea spray will of course cause rust. Also i would think they would build teh rail line on flat land…much of the island is not flat!

  35. Comment from: John Watson

    Re leaving the lights on during earth hour . I have always thought it was in poor taste to sit in our first world luxury in the dark for an hour as if to mock the third world who do not have access to cheap electricity like we do

  36. Comment from: gary gulrud

    “If this is right then surely AGW is dead and buried’

    Along with Communism, the innate good in men, government as competent servant, and other empirical failures.

    Guess we’re on Zombie Time then.

  37. Comment from: Cooler Heads Digest 27 March 2009  |

    [...] The Oceans Are Cooling Jennifer Morahasy,, 21 March 2009 [...]

  38. Comment from: Jennifer Marohasy » Six Tons of ‘Geoengineered’ Iron: Just another Drop in the Ocean

    [...] [...]

  39. Comment from: nanodrv7

    I live on a hill in Seattle. I have never seen so much snow on the mountains we call the Cascades to the east.
    Why we are entering a cooling phase according to Theodore Landscheidt, who died in 2004, and predicted all this.
    1. We have no sunspots, Teddy predicted this would happen.
    2. Sunspots create what is called a solar wind.
    3. Solar wind knocks away cosmic rays. Cosmic rays come from outer space. Things like supernova. They are actually atoms without the electrons.
    4. Cosmic rays seed clouds and makes rain.
    5. No clouds clear sky. Sun warms earth and especially the ocean. Because the ocean is dark and has what is called a low albedo. Ocean albdo about 10%.
    6. If you have dark clouds, believe it or not. The other side of that cloud is a bright white. (rocket science?). This bright white is reflecting the suns energy into space. The earth gets only so much energy a year. If we don’t get it from sunshine we go to the bank (eg. the ocean) and get it from there.
    7. The ocean is really big in scientific terms.
    8. If the ocean loses heat the earth loses heat. (more rocket science).
    9. We and our plants get cold. Our plants get cold, we get hungry.
    10. If the earth gets cold and warm clouds come in we have storms. If it is cold enough it snows. If the sun doesn’t melt the snow. The snow stays where it is. unless you get off your lazy bum and shovel it away.
    11. Like the other side of clouds, snow is very white and has a high albedo. More energy is reflected into outer space and warms up the martians, but we and our plants and oceans get colder.
    12. We go to the bank some more, but pretty soon everybody on earth is cold.
    13. Teddy warned us this would happen. Is it what you want?
    14. If the Russians get cold they have what are called nuclear weapons. They produce a lot of heat. If they are hungry they would probably ask for food. If we don’t give it to them. We should probably think this out. What would you do if you were hungry?
    15. All this thinking because you are too lazy to shovel a little snow.

  40. Comment from: Jennifer Marohasy » Ocean Cooling Falsifies Global Warming Hypothesis

    [...] Previous blog post on this issue: The Ocean Really is Cooling [...]

  41. Comment from: Ocean Cooling Falsifies Global Warming Hypothesis « Where’s my Global Warming Dude? By Global Freeze

    [...] Previous blog post on this issue: The Ocean Really is Cooling [...]

  42. Comment from: Ocean Cooling Falsifies Global Warming Hypothesis « Conservative Thoughts and Profundity

    [...] blog post on this issue: The Ocean Really is Cooling Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Oceans are cooling according to NASAGlobal Warming [...]

  43. Comment from: Roland Storbeck

    Anyone with a rudimentary grasp of thermodynamics knows that the oceans can absorb vast amounts of heat and not change significantly. The rate of evaporation is totally being overlooked by these buoys in addition to most people in the global warming debate. Those who argue that there is no AGW as evidenced by increased snowfall in Calgary or even increased glacier growth are missing the point entirely. Scientists tell us that during the last ice age sea levels were as much as 200 feet below current levels worldwide and glaciers were up to 2 miles thick. Now, how can all that moisture leave the oceans to form 2 mile thick glaciers since we can all agree that water can’t flow uphill? Anyone?? Yes boys and girls, global warming can and will trigger an ice age. Please get away from this “Global Warming” smokescreen and concentrate on “Climate Change” for proper perspective. Sea level temperatures are totally irrelevant.

  44. Comment from: uninformedLuddite

    I’m no expert Gavin but when water ‘rises’ up through a boat it’s often because the boat is sinking.

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