“The magnitude of the increase is unprecedented.”
A new study published by Norman Loeb and co-authors at NASA examines the measurements made by the CERES satellite instruments on how the Earth’s radiant energy budget has changed. The time period they study is rather limited, 2005-2019, in order to be able to use what is probably the most extensive deep sea temperature data from Argo-Float.
The study contains a fairly detailed breakdown of which sunlight-reflecting and infrared-emitting processes are responsible for the changes, which is very useful. They also point out that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) is responsible for some of what they see in the data, while anthropogenic forcing (and feedback from all natural and man-made forcing) is believed to make up the rest.
One of the encouraging results for NASA’s CERES team is that the increase in the accumulation of radiant energy in the climate system is the same in the satellite observations as in the calculation on site Data, especially the Argo float measurements of the upper half of the sea depths. It should be noted, however, that the absolute value the imbalance cannot be measured with the CERES satellite instruments; instead, ocean warming is used to carry out an “energy-balanced” adjustment of the satellite data (this is the “EB” in the CERES EBAF dataset). Nevertheless, the CERES dataset has proven to be extremely valuable, even if its absolute accuracy is not as high as we would like it to be in climate research.
The main problem I have is media coverage of these results. The animated graphic in the Verge article shows a planetary energy imbalance of around 0.5 W / m2 in 2005, rising to around 1.0 W / m2 in 2019.
First of all, the energy imbalance of 0.5 to 1.0 W / m2 is much smaller than our knowledge of the natural energy flows in the climate system. It can be compared to the estimated natural energy fluxes of 235-245 W / m2 in and out of the climate system on an annual basis, roughly 1 in 300.
Second, there is no justification for the claim as we don’t have good global energy imbalance measurements before this period.the extent of the increase is unprecedented. ” To expect that the natural energy flows in the climate system will remain stable at 1 in 300 over millennia has no scientific basis and is only a creed. We have no idea if such changes have taken place over the past centuries.
This should not affect the CERES data. I think NASA’s Bruce Wielicki and Norm Loeb did a fantastic job with these satellite instruments and their detailed processing of that data.
What bothers me is the alarming language associated with (1) such a tiny number and (2) the likelihood that no one bothered to mention that the authors are part of the change in a natural climate cycle, the PDO, ascribe.