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Friday, February 12, 2010

The Earth's energy imbalance since the 1980s is going into the oceans (from John Cook's Skeptical Science)

From Skeptical Science, John Cook answers a comment:

Your figure 2 seems to indicate that ice-mass loss in Greenland seemed to accelerate around 2000. This is also around the time global atmospheric temperatures seemed to flat-line. Isn't it classic thermodynamics, that the temperature of a system won't increase while a material is changing phase? Is it possible that the 'acceleration' of ice-mass loss from Greenland, and perhaps other ice-areas of earth as well, is responsible for the perceived deceleration in global temperature increase seen in the last 10 years?  

Response: The amount of energy that goes into ice melt is fairly small compared to the amount of energy being absorbed by the oceans. In the figure below, all the energy gone into ice melt is included in the red "Land + Atmosphere" segment:

Note that the oceans are still absorbing massive amounts of energy even during recent years when surface temperatures have either flattened or shown short term cooling.


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