Well, I was enthralled (for about 2 minutes) with the semantic math argument WUWT had yesterday. It’s cute. The discussion was over pH values and how they’re represented. I won’t get into that, because I’ve provided the link, and I’ll provide another and some base information. This part is just background.
In chemistry, pH is a measure of the activity of the (solvated) hydrogen ion. p[H], which measures the hydrogen ion concentration is closely related to, and is often written as, pH. Pure water has a pH very close to 7 at 25°C. Solutions with a pH less than 7 are said to be acidic and solutions with a pH greater than 7 are basic or alkaline.
pH is a logarithmic calculation. I think commenter John West best illustrated this at the WUWT discussion.
A pH of 8.2 = 0.00000000630957 mol/L H+ ion.
A pH of 8.1 = 0.00000000794328 mol/L H+ ion.
pH H+ mol/L
Okay, enough of that. I don’t worry about the sea pH because of the many buffering agents. CO2 actually increases the buffering capacity of the oceans.
But, by now you’re wondering what the heck this has to do with anything. Well, it’s all very interconnected. pH to salinity which relates to sea level both directly and indirectly, and towards Ocean Heat Content. That is to say view in should give you some pretty good insights towards another. For instance, warmer water has less CO2 solubility than cooler water. So, the warmer the water, the more outgassing of CO2, which should decrease acidity. Further, this should reflect sea level rise, via thermal expansion. Cold ocean water tends have less salinity and is more dense than warm ocean water. But, the more salinity, the higher the pH! Ocean pH varies from about 7.8 to 8.3, but pure water as noted has the pH of 7. (at 25°C)
Now, we have various tools to measure all of this…. sort of. We’ve got our argo floats, the sea level satellites, and other satellites such as GRACE, which employs a separate technology from say Jason I.
A while back, some people had started to try and show a sea level “budget” (pdf) of the different factors which went into sea level rise and reconcile the various measurements.
Now, before I go much further, I’ll point out that while this graph appears consistent. It is not. Let’s note that “minus Argo” is the difference maker there. So what is it, exactly that this is referencing from the Argo floats? There are two components of sea level Argo is measuring, combined they call it “steric sea level”. The two components are “thermosteric” and “halosteric”. Thermosteric refers to the expansion of water via the warming component and the halosteric refers to the salinity content. One of the maddening things on this little adventure is that I’ve had a difficult time getting at all of the data I want. They’ve got this stuff scattered throughout the internets! So, here’s NOAA’s interpretation of Argo’s interpretation of the steric components of sea level….. sort of. We should only concentrate on the most recent time frame. Argo’s deployment should probably only be viewed from 2004 on. The rest comes from other measurements.
But, this is still wrong. Look at the mass and steric components! They’re showing very little in rise. Here’s Jason I in the time frame referenced. Data from here.
The difference is somewhat subtle, but easily detected by a keen eye, for both the supposed total sea level rise and the steric rise. This may help in the steric component.
But, the salinity doesn’t seem to change much. Further, the SSTs don’t seem to reconcile well, either.
Yes, I understand lower depths can increase heat content while the surface could decrease, but only temporarily. The thermocline is fairly well established.
And, it’s inconsistent with the upwelling and salinity. Warmer should mean higher salinity and less acidity. The heat gradient just doesn’t work this way. Of course, given the recent antics of satellite people. Here and here. I’m inclined to simply disregard what the supposed sea level measurements are through these mechanisms.
Temperature (top) and salinity (bottom) as functions of latitude and depth in the upper 1500 m of the Pacific Ocean. (The image includes the Arctic Ocean on the extreme right.)
So, what does all of this mean? Well, it means they’re wrong. The data is difficult to track down and the way some of these graphs were processed tends to be even more vague. I’m going to try and keep track of some of this stuff, but putting it all together and trusting that one agency or the other won’t retroactively change the values is more like wishful thinking than anything. Indeed, NOAA contradicts itself on up the page. The graphic (fig3) showing the steric sea level is in disagreement with the reported steric component of sea level(fig2) on the graph directly above. The reported ocean acidity doesn’t jive with the salinity nor a warming ocean, but the heat has decided to stay under the surface for over 15 years! I don’t know what part is wrong but, this isn’t proper nor correct.
Somebody is wrong, and likely most of them are.