Got a warming wound? Rub a salt marsh in it.

From the University of Virginia, comes yet another incomplete press release that doesn’t give the name of the paper or the DOI:

Marsh Bride Brook and Coastal Salt Marsh, East...

Marsh Bride Brook and Coastal Salt Marsh, East Lyme Conn. July 2003; 1204 pixels X 521 pixels. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Salt marsh carbon may play role in slowing climate warming, study shows

A warming climate and rising seas will enable salt marshes to more rapidly capture and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, possibly playing a role in slowing the rate of climate change, according to a new study led by a University of Virginia environmental scientist and published in the Sept. 27 issue of the journal Nature.

Carbon dioxide is the predominant so-called “greenhouse gas” that acts as sort of an atmospheric blanket, trapping the Earth’s heat. Over time, an abundance of carbon dioxide can change the global climate, according to generally accepted scientific theory. A warmer climate melts polar ice, causing sea levels to rise.

A large portion of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is produced by human activities, primarily the burning of fossil fuels to energize a rapidly growing world human population.

“We predict that marshes will absorb some of that carbon dioxide, and if other coastal ecosystems – such as seagrasses and mangroves – respond similarly, there might be a little less warming,” said the study’s lead author, Matt Kirwan, a research assistant professor of environmental sciences in the College of Arts & Sciences.

Salt marshes, made up primarily of grasses, are important coastal ecosystems, helping to protect shorelines from storms and providing habitat for a diverse range of wildlife, from birds to mammals, shell- and fin-fishes and mollusks. They also build up coastal elevations by trapping sediment during floods, and produce new soil from roots and decaying organic matter.

“One of the cool things about salt marshes is that they are perhaps the best example of an ecosystem that actually depends on carbon accumulation to survive climate change: The accumulation of roots in the soil builds their elevation, keeping the plants above the water,” Kirwan said.

Salt marshes store enormous quantities of carbon, essential to plant productivity, by, in essence, breathing in the atmospheric carbon and then using it to grow, flourish and increase the height of the soil. Even as the grasses die, the carbon remains trapped in the sediment. The researchers’ model predicts that under faster sea-level rise rates, salt marshes could bury up to four times as much carbon as they do now.

“Our work indicates that the value of these ecosystems in capturing atmospheric carbon might become much more important in the future, as the climate warms,” Kirwan said.

But the study also shows that marshes can survive only moderate rates of sea level rise. If seas rise too quickly, the marshes could not increase their elevations at a rate rapid enough to stay above the rising water. And if marshes were to be overcome by fast-rising seas, they no longer could provide the carbon storage capacity that otherwise would help slow climate warming and the resulting rising water.

“At fast levels of sea level rise, no realistic amount of carbon accumulation will help them survive,” Kirwan noted.

Kirwan and his co-author, Simon Mudd, a geosciences researcher at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, used computer models to predict salt marsh growth rates under different climate change and sea-level scenarios.

###

The United States Geological Survey’s Global Change Research Program supported the research.

Contact: Fariss Samarrai  fls4f@virginia.edu (and tell him to make complete press releases please)

===============================================================

After some searching, I found the paper and the abstract:

Response of salt-marsh carbon accumulation to climate change

Matthew L. Kirwan & Simon M. Mudd

Nature 489, 550–553 (27 September 2012) doi:10.1038/nature11440

About half of annual marine carbon burial takes place in shallow water ecosystems where geomorphic and ecological stability is driven by interactions between the flow of water, vegetation growth and sediment transport1. Although the sensitivity of terrestrial and deep marine carbon pools to climate change has been studied for decades, there is little understanding of how coastal carbon accumulation rates will change and potentially feed back on climate2, 3. Here we develop a numerical model of salt marsh evolution, informed by recent measurements of productivity and decomposition, and demonstrate that competition between mineral sediment deposition and organic-matter accumulation determines the net impact of climate change on carbon accumulation in intertidal wetlands. We find that the direct impact of warming on soil carbon accumulation rates is more subtle than the impact of warming-driven sea level rise, although the impact of warming increases with increasing rates of sea level rise. Our simulations suggest that the net impact of climate change will be to increase carbon burial rates in the first half of the twenty-first century, but that carbon–climate feedbacks are likely to diminish over time.

 

 

About these ads

112 thoughts on “Got a warming wound? Rub a salt marsh in it.

  1. The article says;

    A large portion of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is produced by human activities, primarily the burning of fossil fuels to energize a rapidly growing world human population.

    “A large proportion”?

    Nature emits 34 molecules of carbon dioxide for each molecule of carbon dioxide emitted by all human activities.

    Richard

  2. It all reminds me of the Aristotlelian Science of epi-cycles where the failure of the theory to predict events was gradually modified with ever increasing complexity to keep up with reality. Rather than re-think the CAGW theory, counteractive mechanisms are added continuously to the model ib order to explain the failures. Eventually people notice that the theory is falling apart.

  3. They discovered CO2 is good for plants? Wow.

    Basically a win-win situation, except to stay on message (and continue the grant money flowing), they had to throw in a reference to a very fast sea level rise (how likely is this?) messing things up.

  4. Carbon dioxide is the predominant so-called “greenhouse gas”
    ——-
    Predominant????

    There goes there credibility.

  5. “But the study also shows that marshes can survive only moderate rates of sea level rise. ”

    Good thing sea levels are only rising by a couple of millimeters a year

  6. richardscourtney: “Nature emits 34 molecules of carbon dioxide for each molecule of carbon dioxide emitted by all human activities.”

    But if we don’t do something now it could rise from 1 in 35 to 1 in 34. And then we’d all be doomed. As a purely selfish benefit do you have any links handy on this matter from sources that are acceptable to the climatology crowd?

  7. The salt marsh in North Wales, immediately east of Portmadoc produces the finest lamb you can buy. Contrary to popular belief the meat is not naturally salty. The plants that grow there repel salt so the lambs that eat them have a naturally herby flavour. This salt marsh was deliberately created by William Maddocks and his hombres from Anglesey. Scientists were not involved at any point. Good job.

    William S. Burroughs had a good quote about scientists but it is very rude.

  8. “Carbon dioxide is the predominant so-called “greenhouse gas” that acts as sort of an atmospheric blanket, trapping the Earth’s heat. Over time, an abundance of carbon dioxide can change the global climate, according to generally accepted scientific theory. A warmer climate melts polar ice, causing sea levels to rise.

    Gees.. count the errors !!!!!! and that’s just in one sentence !!!!!

    roflmao !!!

  9. Seems like propaganda for teenagers, with words like “cool” and “Sort of” ,,,,,,,,,,Those are really precise terms. The best part was how the roots would grow and and keep the plants above water while the Sea level rises…..as if the water level never changes in marshes. It’s just drivel for the masses.

  10. “research assistant professor of environmental sciences in the College of Arts & Sciences.”

    When they start bundling Arts and Science, you KNOW they have a big problem !

    Poor Uni.Virginia. Credibility takes yet ANOTHER major hit .

  11. Concerning the method used for sequestration of carbon by salt marshes, the same could equally be said of peat bogs, huge areas of which are being gratuitously destroyed by the construction of wind farms and their associated facilities such as access roads, so not only are huge quantities of sequestered carbon being released into the environment, the capability of the bog to sequester future emissions will be heavily compromised too.

    And yet as far as I can tell, this aspect of wind farm construction has not been considered worthy of even minor investigation.

    What a surprise….

  12. “… A warmer climate melts polar ice, causing sea levels to rise. …”

    Non sequitur?
    Seems to me I’ve heard somewhere that the South Pole has net growth in ice.
    Seems to me somewhere I’ve heard that the North Pole is floating [sea] ice.
    Where did I go wrong?

  13. CO2 is NOT the “predominant” greenhouse gas. It’s the one that gets the most attention, and the one we pay the highest taxes on, but it’s not the one that is most prevalent in the atmosphere.

  14. The usual mindless assumption of causation.

    It occurs to me that we don’t actually know if the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere is OUTGASSED FROM the ocean, as it did EVERY PREVIOUS TIME it increased.

    Should be possible to determine this experimentally. I’d imagine something like a large airtight dome floating on the ocean, descending down far enough that its edge would never be exposed to the air by wave motion. This would naturally experience a moving ‘selection’ of water but no new atmosphere. Keep it in place for a year, measuring air and water temperature and complete chemical content of air inside and outside. After four seasons, you should have a pretty good idea of how much CO2 was added or subtracted to the initial air by the water underneath.

  15. The problem is not just sea level, though we can expect roughly a meter by 2100. The authors (at least in this summary) did not quantify the amount of CO2 that would be sequestered by salt marshes. Forests are the main terrestrial carbon sinks, and they are in decline, from logging, fires, pests, and disruptive global warming. Salt marshes can’t do much to offset degraded sinks.

  16. Mike Roddy says:

    “The problem is not just sea level, though we can expect roughly a meter by 2100.”

    That’s on your planet, Mike. Here on Earth we can expect several inches. Maybe even a foot.

  17. I love eg Chiefios Carbon-is-Plant-Food stories, however the green stuff gives back all that it sequestered at end of life. To give wood a NET carbon sequestration effect, we need to cut down the trees and lacquer them before they decompose. Instead of buying carbon offsets in a forest where the natives use slash and burn, Gore needs to start storing piles of plastic- coated lumber behind his manse.

  18. From the Abstract:

    Our simulations suggest that the net impact of climate change will be to increase carbon burial rates in the first half of the twenty-first century, but that carbon–climate feedbacks are likely to diminish over time.

    The first half goes without saying, but due to the higher atmospheric CO₂ levels causing increased plant growth thus increasing “carbon burial” as peat and tree trunks, and there’ll be more “buried” if the forest fires are kept controlled.

    But the second half sounds like an echo from the “ocean acidification” doomsaying, Nature will absorb some of the excess CO₂, as it is currently absorbing about half of the total “excess anthropogenic” emissions. But at some point the absorption mechanism will get saturated, and then…!

  19. As soon as I see “heat trapping” I know they’re clueless. You can’t trap heat. Energy that isn’t being transferred isn’t heat. Zero credibility.

  20. Sarcasm says:
    September 26, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    “I love eg Chiefios Carbon-is-Plant-Food stories, however the green stuff gives back all that it sequestered at end of life.”

    This expresses a logical error which gets repeated often. It is a dynamic reservoir. It stores carbon in proportion to the current size of that reservoir. If the size increases, so does the amount it is holding. The only way you are going to get zero net is if, after increasing in size, it decreases back to what it was before it increased.

  21. I do not even have the energy to read this carp. The MSM is just a state propaganda organ, kow-towing to whatever statist idea is in vogue. Don’t forget that Warmistas are funded by the state, indirectly and directly; and the Warmistas’ organisations are directing their energy at state policy.

    It’s called a gravy train.

  22. At the start of the Holocene, our present pleasant interglacial which began 20,000 years ago, sea levels were 440 ft below current level. Therefore, in the last 20,000 years, oceans were able to rise 439 ft WITHOUT ANY HUMAN ASSISTANCE. Surprising to the A & S clowns at UV, salt marshes were able to ‘relocate’ with sudden rises of as much as 50 ft in one year. This ‘report’ is a juvenile effort to get on, or stay on, the AGW gravey train. An atmospheric CO2 molecule cannot capture, store or redirect outgoing radiation, it merely vibrates for a billionth of a second as the photon passes on it’s way to outer space. Consider ‘sequestration’ for what it is….vegetation struggling to provide a base for the food chain. Stop with the GHE drama and be greatful for this wonderous, self balancing world….that GROWS on CO2.

  23. Since I was brought up:

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2010/10/10/got-wood/

    As the amount of CO2 in the air over a given area is very little in mass, a standing forest consumes more than ALL CO2 overhead. Bamboo is even faster.

    I have a series of pictures in the posting of a 1 foot square tile with a chunk of plant stuff on top of it that holds the equivalent of ALL CO2 above the tile to the top of the air. Like this one:

    Notice that the citrus tree trunk behind it has much more wood per square foot….

    The necessary conclusion is that forests will rapidly deplete excess CO2 down to the level where plants have trouble growing at full rate. That adding CO2 causes rapid increases in plant growth confirms we were in that state prior to our recent production of it to excess (and chopping down giant swaths of forest globally…)

  24. All these sea level rises…. and that would be where exactly ?

    As somebody professionally tasked with measuring sea levels – I find the rising sea levels meme trotted out by paid for alarmists exasperating in the extreme. The global rising sea level has as many facets as the global surface temperature – and I think most here are aware of the liberties some folk take with that….

    Salt marshes are very trendy ecosystems in eco-land and are attracting shed loads of money and it would seem clouds of a new type of blood sucking midge. In the UK – eco cash is being lobbied hard for – one can hardly blame farmers if they make more money from subsidy farming of taxpayers.

    Get a load of the fake charities and assorted midges hanging around this project

  25. There is a good side to this. Remember the long list of possible factors affecting ‘climate change’? Well this one was not on that list nor is it in the models. So this is climate science admitting we missed a carbon sink that could affect our models, but it won’t affect our future prediction of CAGW.

  26. @ E.M.Smith.

    If you study predator/prey or other food source type data you will see that is is how things work.

    It also points to the so-called stable value for CO2 of around 250 -280ppm is actually the BARE SUBSISTENCE level for the balance between plant life and CO2.
    At around this value most plants have their stomata packed in about as tight as they can, and are higly inefficient in their use of water, because so much of it transpires through the packed stomata.

    PLANTS NEED MORE CO2. STOP STARVING THE PLANTS !!!

    toward 600+ ppm :-) !!!

  27. Mike Roddy says:
    September 26, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    I hope you are NOT related to Dave Roddy with whom I worked at USGS when they were still part of this planetary system! Dave Roddy was a scientist, pilot and personal friend, who departed this earth much too soon. He studied REAL threats to planet Earth i.e. meteor strikes, etc. (think Meteor Crater, near Flagstaff, AZ) He also knew cAGW was hogwash as did the other scientists who were employed at that time. I’m ashamed of where USGS now finds itself!!

  28. I’m surprised that the paper’s authors didn’t take immediate exception to the several, incorrect assertions made in the press release – http://tinyurl.com/d3adzcx (link to UV press release). I believe both skeptic and alarmist agree on the following (which have already been pointed out by a number of commentators):

    1. Water vapor and not carbon dioxide is the (only) predominant greenhouse gas;
    2. Carbon dioxide does not trap heat but it does absorb and re-radiant a portion of the earth’s thermal energy; and
    3. 5-9% of atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions (as emitted annually by humanity) does not represent a large portion of all atmospheric carbon but rather reflect a minority interest.

    While other assertions may be true (or not) depending upon how they are nuanced (e.g., what is an “enormous” quantity of carbon, a warmer “climate” melts polar caps and rises sea levels, and what is the global climate other than Gaia), the prominent stumble vis-a-vis the press release invariably diminishes the paper – at least with those who adhere to the scientific method and its results reporting process.

    Although the paper is behind the Nature paywall, I trust Kinwan and Mudd note Connor et al. (2001) in their references, who (more or less) concluded the same with regard to the carbon capture potential of salt marshes (more than 10 years ago) – http://tinyurl.com/boxhcmf (link to Global Biogeochemcial Cycles paper).

  29. “Salt marsh carbon may play role in slowing climate warming, study shows”
    Anybody knows how much of the Earth’s surface are salt marshes?
    This is like painting roofs white in order to cool down the Earth’s temperature.
    When are these never-ending claims of silly assumptions going to stop?

  30. “Carbon dioxide is the predominant so-called ‘greenhouse gas’…..” Even leaving out water vapor, is it?.
    The last time there was discussion here at WUWT about whether to use scenario A or B from Hansen’s 1988 paper (back in May, I believe) I decided to start a detailed look at the scenarios. The first thing I looked at was CO2. I made up a spread sheet to calculate the year by year CO2 for each of the scenarios.
    For 2011, the CO2 ambient concentration for scenario A was 393.7 ppm and for scenario B the concentration was 391 ppm. The greenhouse gas concentration differences for the two scenarios were in the other gases he used. So if CO2 is the predominate greenhouse gas, and Hansen’ scenario A and B have essentially the same CO2 concentration in 2011, how come there is a 25% difference in the A and B temperature anomalies for 2011 (1.0 to 1.25 deg. C)?. Then consider the fact 394 ppm is close to the actual ambient level in 2011, and the actual temperature anomaly is about 0.4 deg. C
    Well, I suppose you could define “predominant” to mean: causes greater than 51 percent of the temperature anomaly increase in the models.

  31. Carbon dioxide is the predominant so-called “greenhouse gas” that acts as sort of an atmospheric blanket, trapping the Earth’s heat.

    No, it’s not. Water vapor is the predominant “greenhouse gas.” The effect of carbon dioxide needs amplification by water vapor to cause any catastrophic result.

    A large portion of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is produced by human activities, primarily the burning of fossil fuels to energize a rapidly growing world human population.

    Since when did less than 3% become a “large portion”?

    Kirwan and his co-author, Simon Mudd, a geosciences researcher at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, used computer models to predict salt marsh growth rates under different climate change and sea-level scenarios.

    It’s models all the way down.

  32. How about we start giving such press releases what they deserve?
    If they don’t name the paper, ignore it. We can’t be certain that any papers which we find are the ones being described in the press release. So just show the press release and laugh at its lack of release.

  33. It’s hard to credit this stuff to thinking adults, yet it is the domain of Science Academies, Governments, Greenies, Warmists et al and, if one is to believe it, the populus as a whole and all scientists but the silliest fringe of the mentally compromised, or so we are told.

    Never has it been more true that: “The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane”
    Marcus Aurelius

  34. Um,,,,,, let me ask a simple question. What is the actual global warming temperature differential that we talk about?

    Okay, in simpler terms, would it not be appropriate to have a global warming thermometer calculator thingy? Like the debt clock thing……

    Is the global warming you’re actually talking about actually 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit over the last 160 years?

    If not, what is it?

    What is the actual number for global warming that we all reference and everyone talks about ?

    It is a bit perplexing, no?

  35. E.M.Smith says:
    September 26, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    ===================

    I followed the links you post in your above comment. Excellent way to put CO2 in perspective.

    I hope that this can be vetted and placed as a leading post on WUWT for much greater exposure. Your description is worth more than a thousand words.

  36. John West says:
    September 26, 2012 at 4:22 pm
    As soon as I see “heat trapping” I know they’re clueless. You can’t trap heat. Energy that isn’t being transferred isn’t heat. Zero credibility.
    ======================================================================
    “Heat trapping” is the PETA-approved replacement for “snipe hunting”.

  37. “We find that the direct impact of warming on soil carbon accumulation rates is more subtle than the impact of warming-driven sea level rise, although the impact of warming increases with increasing rates of sea level rise.”
    I think I get it. Higher sea builds up the marsh, but too high sea drowns the plants.
    Saltwater marshes may store enormous amounts of carbon, but they also emit enormous amounts of methane, so what’s the point.

  38. “One of the cool things about salt marshes is that they are perhaps the best example of an ecosystem that actually depends on carbon accumulation to survive climate change: The accumulation of roots in the soil builds their elevation, keeping the plants above the water,” Kirwan said.
    ==========================================================================
    Is that better?

  39. “…A warmer climate melts polar ice, causing sea levels to rise…”

    So, it stands to reason that if the warmer climate has given us the greatest melt of Arctic Sea Ice since the start of the satellite observations, we should also be seeing the greatest amount of sea level rise in the same time period.

  40. ”Salt marsh carbon may play role in slowing climate warming, study shows”

    NO, study doesn’t show, it’s a creation of a ”BACKDOOR EXIT” – for spending trillion bucks for preventing the non-existent global warming; sold to the Urban Sheep as ”climate change” to get themselves out of trouble.

    Marshes, sunspots, galactic dust, ozone, the sea, the polar ice; just not to admit that ”it was a gigantic / expensive lie, and nothing more. Fake Skeptics are faithfully assisting the Warmist – to cover-up the Warmist shame, for lying = The so called ”Skeptics” reduced themselves into a Warmist’s ”Fig leafs” welcome to the circus…

  41. @eyesonu:

    Thanks! Anthony has ‘carte blanche’ to use anything I post that he finds useful.

    The strange thing is that I did those calculations at least a dozen times. Still, when I look at the one tile with the corn stalk standing on it, leaning against the large tree trunk behind it, I think “Naahhh… can’t be”…. and do the calculations again… Even this time, did a quick estimate of about 10 ounces as a ‘sanity check’ on CO2 over a tile…

    It really is a startling “visual”…

    I have a stand of “Timber Bamboo” in my back yard that shoves up a 3 to 4 inch stem, 30 to 40 foot tall, in about a month of growth (out of the year). That means it is sucking ALL the CO2 out of a column above it of several square feet per stem. BAM!! gone from the air…

    My neighbor planted a few Redwood Trees about 20 years ago. Now “several feet” circumference and headed for 100 foot tall. (They grow very fast). Some Poplars (Hybrid Black Cottonwood) and some Eucalyptus can put on 50 TONS / acre of wood per YEAR. (Yes, for most species and environments, 12 to 20 tons is more common, but 50 can be done). That’s “wet”, so you need to roughly cut it in half for dry. Still, the numbers are astounding.

    IMHO, the reason CO2 has gone up in the last 200 years is the rate of forest clearing for farming over Europe, North and South America, etc. We’ve cut off a major sink and burned most of it.

    Want to get CO2 scrubbed from the air? Plant a forest of ‘fast growth’ trees and stand back…

    Global cement production (a big CO2 producer) used / released 377 M tons of carbon as CO2 in 2007. Oh, the panic… Yet to consume that would take about 200 x 300 miles of high growth trees (at full production) for a year. Not enough to even notice if replanted in some of the strip mined clear cut areas of The Federal Forests…
    (As a rough approximation just now done, so needs checking…)

    http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/emis/tre_glob.html

    “Emissions from cement production (377 million metric tons of carbon in 2007)”

    Then remember that algae production can a few times more than that per acre… and there’s a lot more water in the world…

    Sucking CO2 out of the air is NOT a problem. Nature can do it, has done it, and is very very good at it… down to about 250 – 280 ppm… then it gets slow. As does food production.

    So more CO2 is a very good thing, and “less” it what happens naturally as a runaway thing… until the plants are starving again…

    Short Form: Air is very light weight. CO2 is a trivial part of the air. Wood is very heavy. Doesn’t take much wood formation to suck up ALL the CO2 in a given column of air…

  42. “henrythethird says:
    September 26, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    “So, it stands to reason . . . ”

    Quite so. And it was thoughtful of you not to finish that exposition. The cognitive dissonance would have been too much for some of the CAGW crowd and some heads might explode.

  43. E.M.Smith says:
    September 26, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    “ . . .replanted in some of the strip mined clear cut areas . . .

    E.M., I’m wondering why you did the strike through there? Maybe it was a way of equating those two things. But, I grew up in Western Pennsylvania with a dragline operator for an uncle. My cousins and I played on the spoil heaps and swam in the water filled cuts. The only attempt to help the land recover came from a local boy scout troop that planted scotch pines. All plants grew quite slowly on these rocky and porous heaps. Later on – I had moved away – restoration efforts improved. Maybe the CO2 concentration was sufficiently low to contribute to that slow growth.
    My grandparent’s small house became a hunting cabin for new owners and they planted the land in Christmas trees to pay the taxes. Many such cases of that. Many of those abandoned farms have returned to mostly natural forest. Some have gone urban. See and read about the maps, here:

    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/AncientForest/ancient_forest6.php

  44. Tree sinks… It only works if you don’t burn the product or let it decompose. Of course sequestering blocks of wood is a lot more convenient than and carbon sequestration plans I’ve seen for coal power plants, and less scary than Yucca Mountain. Yes, big government, you may store wood in my back yard.

    If it could be encased in something strong, we could develop wooden skyscrapers? The hope would be a tall building denser in stored carbon than the Forrest that used to be around it.

    Wood decomposes hardly at all when frozen. We could deploy massive wooden rafts in the Arctic sea ice and kill two birds at once – carbon sequestered and polar bears rescued from drowning.

  45. @ E.M.Smith

    World biomass has increased significantly in the last couple of decades.

    We MUST keep feeding it. More CO2 = GOOD !!

    By burning coal, we are releasing long buried CO2 that SHOULD be in the atmosphere.

  46. “Carbon dioxide is the predominant so-called “greenhouse gas” that acts as sort of an atmospheric blanket, trapping the Earth’s heat.”

    How do these people get away with publishing utter garbage like this?

  47. Please Sir,

    If warming causes sea levels to rise, doesn’t that mean more ocean area and less land area, so wouldn’t the perimeter of the smaller land area also get smaller, and wouldn’t a smaller perimeter, mean there would be less salt marshes ??

    Just asking Sir; can your computator figure that out for us ?

  48. Despite all the alarmism built into the article, I still see a Negative Feedback function in salt-water marshes. It may be an extremely minor one, but they all add up, whereas the IPCC models NEVER add up…

  49. Scientists should include disclaimers in their papers ‘The authors are not responsible for any claptrap that the press office invents with regards to this paper, or for any ludicrous headlines that journals dream up’

  50. Maus:

    At September 26, 2012 at 3:15 pm you quote my having said,

    Nature emits 34 molecules of carbon dioxide for each molecule of carbon dioxide emitted by all human activities.

    and ask me

    As a purely selfish benefit do you have any links handy on this matter from sources that are acceptable to the climatology crowd?

    OK. I can justify my statement in several ways and according to several references, but I understand you to be asking for comparative natural and anthropogenic CO2 emissions data which is “acceptable to the climatology crowd” . The IPCC AR4 is the ‘Bible’ of “the climatology crowd” so I answer by citing that although it gives a slightly different value.

    Please note that this reply to you is long because it explains the uncertainties which provide the different answers but concludes by providing the short answer you say you want.

    The pertinent AR4 chapter is ‘7.3 The Carbon Cycle and the Climate System’ and its relevant section is ‘7.3.1.1 The Natural Carbon Cycle’ which can be read at http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch7s7-3.html

    Its data is summarised in Figure Figure 7.3 which shows

    The global carbon cycle for the 1990s, showing the main annual fluxes in GtC yr–1: pre-industrial ‘natural’ fluxes in black and ‘anthropogenic’ fluxes in red (modified from Sarmiento and Gruber, 2006, with changes in pool sizes from Sabine et al., 2004a). …

    And can be seen at

    http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/figure-7-3.html

    Figure 7.3 shows total fluxes to the atmosphere by nature of 190.2 GtC/year
    with 119.6 GtC/year from “vegetation, soil and detritus” and 70.6 GtC/year from “surface ocean”.

    And Figure 7.3 shows total anthropogenic emissions are 8.0 GtC/year
    with 6.4 GtC/year from “fossil fuels” and 1.6 GtC/year from “land use change”.
    (It is rarely commented that the IPCC attributes 20% of anthropogenic CO2 emissions to “land use changes” but the IPCC does all it can to exaggerate anthropogenic effects.)

    Using those emission values, nature emits 190.2 molecules of CO2 for each 6.4 molecules of CO2 emitted by human activities. This equates to nature emits 30 molecules of carbon dioxide for each molecule of carbon dioxide emitted by human activities.

    Clearly, there is a discrepancy between the IPCC indication (i.e. 30) and my statement (i.e. 34). This results from the sources selected by the IPCC and the uncertainties in those estimates. The AR4 says of the values in its Figure 7.3

    Gross fluxes generally have uncertainties of more than +/-20% but fractional amounts have been retained to achieve overall balance when including estimates in fractions of GtC yr–1 for riverine transport, weathering, deep ocean burial, etc. ‘GPP’ is annual gross (terrestrial) primary production.

    Clearly, IPCC science is unusual in that it cites e.g. 119.6 GtC/year for a value that is only known to +/-20% (i.e. +/- 24.0 GtC/year) and compares that to 6.4 GtC/year from “fossil fuels”.

    However, I am answering your desire for information “acceptable to the climatology crowd” so I answer:
    The IPCC AR4 says in Chapter ‘7.3 The Carbon Cycle and the Climate System’ that nature emits 30 molecules of carbon dioxide for each molecule of carbon dioxide emitted by human activities.

    I hope this answer is clear and what you wanted.

    Richard

  51. richardscourtney says:
    September 26, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Nature emits 34 molecules of carbon dioxide for each molecule of carbon dioxide emitted by all human activities.

    You know, we have been discussing this already many times…

    What you and many others here (“humans only emit 3% of the natural emissions”) don’t mention is that for every 34 molecules of natural CO2 emissions, the nature absorbs 34.5 molecules again within the same year. Thus 34 molecules are simply going in and out, that is throughput and doesn’t add to the total amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. It is the 1 molecule of human input and the 0.5 molecule that is extra absorbed (by oceans and vegetation), that makes the difference. Not the 34 molecules of natural emissions…

  52. polistra says:
    September 26, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    It occurs to me that we don’t actually know if the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere is OUTGASSED FROM the ocean, as it did EVERY PREVIOUS TIME it increased.
    Should be possible to determine this experimentally.

    According to Henry’s Law, the maximum increase of CO2 for 1°C temperature rise is 16 ppmv. As vegetation works the other way out, the average seen over ice ages (thus including large changes in vegetation/land ice cover and ocean ice/currents) is 8 ppmv/°C. As we may assume that the warming since the LIA was maximum 1°C, the total increase caused by the oceans was maximum 16 ppmv or 8 ppmv including vegetation responses. Not the 100+ ppmv we have seen since 1850 or 70+ ppmv since the measurements at the South Pole and Mauna Loa started.

    There are a few places where the total CO2 (DIC) in seawater and in the atmosphere were continuously monitored, plus a lot of frequent ships surveys. These all show that the oceans are a net absorber of CO2 over the past decades, not a net source. See:

    http://www.bios.edu/Labs/co2lab/research/IntDecVar_OCC.html

  53. About the net quantity of CO2 absorbed by the total biosphere…

    There is a relative simple method to calculate how much CO2 is released or absorbed by the total biosphere (that is plants, microbes, animals): the oxygen use. Plants capture CO2 and release at the same time oxygen in the photosynthesis process. Microbes and animals use the carbohydrates as food and use oxygen to “burn” them, that way producing CO2 and use the energy set free in that process. Thus looking at the O2 changes over time, one can calculate how much CO2 the total biosphere released or did take up. The main challenge: the necessary accuracy of the measurements of O2 in air: less than 1 ppmv in 200,000 ppmv…

    Oxygen use from fossil fuel burning can be calculated from fossil fuel sales and burning efficiencies, of course with some margins of error. That shows that there was some small oxygen use from the biosphere before 1990 and an increasing oxygen production since 1990. Thus indeed, the biosphere is growing and more carbon is stored in semi-permanent reservoirs (most of the bulk growth and decay is over the seasons in leaves and small stems, only part is stored in trunks and roots and more permanent humus, peat, browncoal,…). See further:

    http://www.bowdoin.edu/~mbattle/papers_posters_and_talks/BenderGBC2005.pdf

  54. Ferdinand Engelbeen:

    Your post at September 27, 2012 at 2:19 am says in total

    richardscourtney says:
    September 26, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Nature emits 34 molecules of carbon dioxide for each molecule of carbon dioxide emitted by all human activities.

    You know, we have been discussing this already many times…

    What you and many others here (“humans only emit 3% of the natural emissions”) don’t mention is that for every 34 molecules of natural CO2 emissions, the nature absorbs 34.5 molecules again within the same year. Thus 34 molecules are simply going in and out, that is throughput and doesn’t add to the total amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. It is the 1 molecule of human input and the 0.5 molecule that is extra absorbed (by oceans and vegetation), that makes the difference. Not the 34 molecules of natural emissions…

    1.
    Yes, we have debated this repeatedly.
    2.
    My statement that you quote is correct and you do not dispute it.
    3.
    Nature does NOT distinguish whether a CO2 molecule entered the atmosphere from an anthropogenic or a ‘natural’ source so it is a meaningless statement that says “34 molecules are simply going in and out, that is throughput”.
    4.
    There is no way to determine why nature does not sequester all the equivalent of all the CO2 emitted to the air (from both anthropogenic and ‘natural’ sources) so your assertion that “It is the 1 molecule of human input and the 0.5 molecule that is extra absorbed (by oceans and vegetation), that makes the difference” may or may not be true. I doubt it, but I cannot show you are wrong any more than you can show you are right.

    Richard

  55. Ferdinand Engelbeen:

    At September 27, 2012 at 2:59 am you say

    About the net quantity of CO2 absorbed by the total biosphere…

    There is a relative simple method to calculate how much CO2 is released or absorbed by the total biosphere (that is plants, microbes, animals): the oxygen use.

    As I cite reference, link and quote in my above post at September 27, 2012 at 2:07 am, the IPCC says natural emissions total 190.2 GtC/year with an error of +/- 20%. This is an error range of +/- 38 GtC/year. And the uncertainty in the sequestration is similar.

    The uncertainty of +/- 38 GtC/year in the natural emissions completely dwarfs the total anthropogenic emission of 8.0 GtC/year.

    Unless, of course, you care to dispute the IPCC’s estimates of the uncertainties?

    Richard

  56. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    September 27, 2012 at 2:59 am
    The main challenge: the necessary accuracy of the measurements of O2 in air: less than 1 ppmv in 200,000 ppmv

    Hi Ferdi, what is the current error range in ppm on measurement of the oxygen content of the entire atmosphere?

  57. I think what Ferdinand is trying to say, in a rather clumsy way, is that nature reached a saturation point, and any extra will mostly accumulate.
    Which is fine, I can see that. But I like the idea that nature will step in and take advantage of the surplus by ‘greening’ up and even if there is still a surplus, it has not led to any horrors that the doom sayers and models predicted

  58. Ferdinand Engelbeen says: September 27, 2012 at 2:59 am

    Found some data – plotted here comparing CO2 and O2

    http://www.climateandstuff.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/further-thoughts-on-co2-cycle.html

    The rate of yearly variability in CO2 (dips in spring – peaks in winter) is too quick for plant growth and decay to explain. (how long does it take dead leaves to decay in cold).
    The “suck/blow” of CO2 is happening in the arctic region as shown by the difference in min and max being higher in the polar stations – the peak to peak being almost nil in antarctica

    Phyoplancton is a good candidate as it is respires in the dark (co2 out o2 in) and photosythesises in light (co2 in o2 out)

  59. ““At fast levels of sea level rise, no realistic amount of carbon accumulation will help them survive,” Kirwan noted.”

    Reef-cuilding corals grow up to 20 cm a year.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Staghorn_coral

    This guy says marshes are not able to do that? Extraordinary claim. But anyway – the parts that drown under his assumed meltwater pulse 1A-style “fast sea level rise” could turn into reefs… and withstand 20 cm a year of sea level rise…

  60. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    ”for every 34 molecules of natural CO2 emissions, the nature absorbs 34.5 molecules again within the same year

    Ah, the mythical source/sink balance (with a twist) raises its ugly head. Ok, let’s assume that 34:34.5 ratio is true, then it’s a good thing humans came along to release sequestered carbon or there’d be less CO2 in the atmosphere than plants require to live in something on the order of 160-200 years from the supposed pre-industrial levels. The carbon sinks would have caused a super (duper) mass extinction. LOL. Seriously though, as with all things climatological, it’s just not that simple. The ratio of emission:absorption depends upon many variables. The ocean, for example, is not one homogenous mass of water. The polar oceans are colder and therefore capable of dissolving more CO2 than the equatorial oceans. Perhaps in a CO2 induced warming world with less ice cover at the North Pole, the exposed cold water may absorb more CO2, thereby changing the ratio. Oh no, a negative feedback.

    I’ll see your link to “hockey stick” style amalgamation ending circa 2003 and raise you a link to raw data ending in 2012:

    http://132.239.122.17/co2qc/batches.html

    Note the slightly negative trend in total CO2 since 1990. Hmmm.

  61. EternalOptimist:

    At September 27, 2012 at 4:22 am you say

    I think what Ferdinand is trying to say, in a rather clumsy way, is that nature reached a saturation point, and any extra will mostly accumulate.

    It is for Ferdinand to state what he is trying to say and I make no comment on the accuracy of your interpretation. I write to comment on your point.

    It is absolutely certain that nature did not reach “a saturation point, and any extra will mostly accumulate”. This is known for three reasons.

    1.
    If the system were saturated then CO2 equivalent to all the anthropogenic emission would stay in the air, but only an amount of CO2 equivalent to about half the anthropogenic emission stays in the air. An amount of CO2 increases in the air that is about 2% of the total annual CO2 emission (anthropogenic and natural).

    2.
    If the system were saturated then variations in the anthropogenic CO2 emission would relate to variations in the atmospheric CO2 content, but they don’t.

    Annual anthropogenic emissions may be accounted for different 12-month periods so it is reasonable to average the data over 2 years to account for this. And errors may cause some of the anthropogenic emissions to not be accounted in the year they are emitted but to be accounted in an adjacent year, so it is reasonable to average the data over 3 years. But there is no known reason to average over more than 3 years.

    The IPCC averages over 4 years because that degree of (unjustifiable) smoothing is required to obtain agreement between variations in the anthropogenic CO2 emission and variations in the atmospheric CO2 content.

    3.
    The observed dynamics of atmospheric CO2 sequestration show the system of the carbon cycle can easily sequester all the total CO2 emission (both natural and anthropogenic) of each year. This denies that the system is near to saturation.

    At issue is why the system does not sequester all the annual emission (both anthropogenic and natural) of each year when the system dynamics indicate the system can easily sequester all of it.

    Richard

  62. Ferdinand,
    Your analysis/understanding is naive. As CO2 is emitted and the CO2 concentration increases plant photosynthesis increases along with it. But there is a lag, Plants can’t consume the CO2 at the same time as it is emitted. This means that while emission is increasing, photosynthetic sequestration can’t balance it out. If CO2 emission was to increase less quickly photosysthesis would naturally come to equilibrium with Emission and the increase would stop.

    Ergo, the only factor that allows CO2 to increase is that CO2 emissions are increasing, not that they are high. By increasing CO2 emission slowly enough to allow plants to come to equilibrium, we can keep burning coal without affecting CO2 levels much at all.

    You suggest that Plants can’t sequester carbon, but that is pure bunkum. Here is a simple (primary school science) proof. Almost all of the oxygen in the atmosphere comes from photosynthesis converted from CO2 to Carbohydrates and Oxygen. For each oxygen molecule in the atmosphere one carbon molecule was permanently sequestered by a plant, if it was not, then the Oxygen would have been reconsumed, in the decay process, clearly much oxygen is not therefore Plants HAVE in fact sequested billions of tonnes of Carbon.

    PS I also think the billions wasted on this claptrap should be spent on curing cancer and feeding the hungry – and so should you!

    Bob

  63. richardscourtney says:
    September 27, 2012 at 3:23 am

    The uncertainty of +/- 38 GtC/year in the natural emissions completely dwarfs the total anthropogenic emission of 8.0 GtC/year.

    The error range of the natural emissions and natural uptake is not of the slightest interest (it may be 10 or 100 or 1000 GtC/year in and out, that doesn’t alter the total CO2 level in the atmosphere), as only the difference between these two is important to know for what happens in the atmosphere: an increase of CO2, a decrease or a steady state. And that difference is quite accurately known: currently about 4 GtC/year +/- 2 GtC natural variability and an error margin of +/- 1.5 GtC. Thus in average 4 GtC/year more natural sink than natural source, as the human input is about 8 GtC/year and the human output is virtually zero. That was the case for the past 50+ years, be it that the natural variability 50 years ago was about the same, but the human input a lot smaller, as was the increase in the atmosphere:

  64. Are these unvetted “press releases” proportional to the amount of taxpayer junk-grants a Uni receives (and must spend to justify them)?

    And EternalOptimist, whatever Ferdinand is, I’ve never considered him clumsy….

  65. tallbloke says:
    September 27, 2012 at 3:36 am

    Hi Ferdi, what is the current error range in ppm on measurement of the oxygen content of the entire atmosphere?

    According to the link I sent, they reached an accuracy of 0.6-0.8 ppmv for the oxygen measurements. But of course, sampling needs to be done at places as far away from oxygen sources and sinks, that are the same places as where the current baseline CO2 stations are. Despite that, one can see the same (opposite) seasonal and year-by-year variability and the same lag in SH data as is visible in the CO2 levels.

  66. sergeiMK says:
    September 27, 2012 at 4:35 am

    The “suck/blow” of CO2 is happening in the arctic region as shown by the difference in min and max being higher in the polar stations – the peak to peak being almost nil in antarctica

    That the SH stations don’t show much seasonal variability does in fact prove that plankton is not the main cause: sea ice / plankton in the SH also goes up and down with the seasonal temperature swings. But both the oxygen and 13C/12C ratio changes show that anyway plants are the cause, thus land plants, as the NH has much more land than the SH.

    That the NH polar stations show the largest variability is a bit misleading, because the largest seasonal variability is in the mid-latitudes, but the Ferell cells move that air polewards where it sinks again and comes back. If one compares the seasonal variability at sealevel in mid-latitudes (here the Shetland Islands, even larger swings noticed in the now abandened Schauinsland station – Southern Germany), one sees the same amplitude as in the far north:

    Mauna Loa at 3400 m height takes more time (about a month) to follow the seasonal swings and there the swings are already more mixed in with the CO2 levels of the higher troposphere.

  67. John West says:
    September 27, 2012 at 5:21 am

    then it’s a good thing humans came along to release sequestered carbon or there’d be less CO2 in the atmosphere than plants require to live in something on the order of 160-200 years from the supposed pre-industrial levels.

    Please look up for the Le Châtelier Principle: for a system in dynamic equilibrium, any disturbance will give a reaction to remove that disturbance. The ice cores of any length and resolution show that there is a dynamic equilibrium in CO2 levels, only depending of the temperature. If humans (or volcanoes) add some extra CO2, that is absorbed by different processes. How fast, is a matter of how fast these processes can react on a disturbance. But the end of such a process is that the disturbance is removed until the dynamic equilibrium is reached again. That is not at zero CO2, but at the temperature dictated equilibrium…

    The ratio of emission:absorption depends upon many variables.

    Yes and some responses are far from linear. Therefore it is quite remarkable that CO2 levels follow temperature with such a near-linear rate (of about 8 ppmv/°C) over the past 800,000 years, except in the past 150 years…

    I’ll see your link to “hockey stick” style amalgamation ending circa 2003 and raise you a link to raw data ending in 2012:

    You are looking at reference batches used to calibrate on the spot measurements. These batches were taken at different places of the oceans and some were even synthetic. That doesn’t say anything about trends in the ocean waters, which must be taken over time at the same places.

  68. chardscourtney says:
    September 27, 2012 at 5:29 am

    It is absolutely certain that nature did not reach “a saturation point, and any extra will mostly accumulate”. This is known for three reasons.

    I do agree with point 1. be it that the 2% of all emissions in my opinion is not relevant.

    2.
    If the system were saturated then variations in the anthropogenic CO2 emission would relate to variations in the atmospheric CO2 content, but they don’t.

    No, that would only be true if the human emissions were the only variable. But temperature variability has a large, short term effect, which overwhelms the small (in fact unmeasurable) effect of variations in human emissions.

    But there is no known reason to average over more than 3 years.

    There is no reason to restrict any averaging over less than 4 years. All depends of the signal to noise ratio. For sea level rise even 25 years is necessary to filter out any rise in the huge wave and tidal “noise”.

    At issue is why the system does not sequester all the annual emission (both anthropogenic and natural) of each year when the system dynamics indicate the system can easily sequester all of it.

    That is the main difference between our viewpoints:
    In my opinion, there are different processes at work: fast processes, but with a limited capacity and slow processes with a much larger capacity. The seasonal swings are from the fast processes: the warming/cooling of the sea surface layer and the fast growth/decay of leaves mainly in the mid-latitudes. Both are limited in capacity: the oceans surface follows the CO2 levels (and temperature) very fast, but at maximum with 10% of the change in the atmosphere. Leave growth may be influenced by more CO2, but much of it decays again in fall.

    The slow processes are responsible for the removal of the bulk of the excess CO2: the exchanges with the deep oceans, which have a much larger capacity, but a limited exchange rate with the atmosphere. The same for the more permanent storage of carbon in land vegetation: that takes more time. A 100% increase in CO2 of the atmosphere causes an average 50% increase in growth in the best circumstances, which are seldom met in nature. The current 30% increase in the atmosphere caused maybe 2% more permanent storage (1.5 GtC / 60 GtC exchange rate) per year in the biosphere.

  69. Find two years with the same average max temperature for the same month. (It’s not very common.) Then look up the minimum.

    Central England August 1898 average temperature for month 20.1°C max and 12.1 min.
    Central England August 2009 average temperature for month 20.2°C max and 12.4 min.

    Central England July 1882 average temperature for month 20.0°C max and 11.1 min.
    Central England August 2000 average temperature for month 20.4°C max and 11.2 min.

  70. Bobl says:
    September 27, 2012 at 6:11 am

    There is no difference in opinion here: CO2 emissions are increasing slightly exponential over time which leads to a slightly exponential increase in the atmosphere and a slightly exponential increase in uptake rate. The net result is that the ratio of increase in the atmosphere (the “airborne fraction”) is in remarkably linear ratio with the human emissions:

    and

    If the human releases were steady, the CO2 levels would go assymptotical to a new equilibrium somewhere higher than the old equilibrium, just sequestering all the human emissions in quantity. And if human emissions would stop today, CO2 levels would go back to about 290 ppmv, which is the equilibrium level for the current temperature, with an e-folding rate of ~53 years (~40 years half life time)…

  71. This paper is full of assumptions which are accepted without question — the world is warming, carbon dioxide is causing it, etc. It makes no attempt to evaluate those assumptions. It accepts the so-called ‘consensus view’ but does not actually offer any science to support that view.

  72. Ferdinand Engelbeen:

    For convenience, I am answering two of your posts to me in this post

    At September 27, 2012 at 6:29 am you write

    richardscourtney says:
    September 27, 2012 at 3:23 am

    The uncertainty of +/- 38 GtC/year in the natural emissions completely dwarfs the total anthropogenic emission of 8.0 GtC/year.

    The error range of the natural emissions and natural uptake is not of the slightest interest (it may be 10 or 100 or 1000 GtC/year in and out, that doesn’t alter the total CO2 level in the atmosphere), as only the difference between these two is important to know for what happens in the atmosphere: an increase of CO2, a decrease or a steady state.

    We are interested in the cause of “what happens in the atmosphere: an increase of CO2, a decrease or a steady state”.

    If the error in the estimates of natural emissions completely dwarfs the magnitude of the anthropogenic emission – and they do – then it cannot be known if “what happens in the atmosphere” is a result – in whole or in part – of variations of the natural emissions.

    But you assume the natural emission and sequestration have the same variation now as in the past and assert, “See the anthropogenic emission has caused the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere”. Your assumption is unjustified so your assertion is unjustifiable.

    Your post at September 27, 2012 at 7:44 am implies that I do not consider both fast and slow processes in the carbon cycle. That implication is misleading because you know my view of the processes which I have repeatedly stated including on WUWT.

    For clarity, I again post my view of the main processes is as follows.

    Mechanisms of the carbon cycle

    The IPCC reports provide simplified descriptions of the carbon cycle. In our 2005 papers
    (ref. Rorsch A, Courtney RS & Thoenes D, ‘The Interaction of Climate Change and the Carbon Dioxide Cycle’ E&E v16no2 (2005) )
    we considered the most important processes in the carbon cycle to be:

    Short-term processes

    1. Consumption of CO2 by photosynthesis that takes place in green plants on land. CO2 from the air and water from the soil are coupled to form carbohydrates. Oxygen is liberated. This process takes place mostly in spring and summer. A rough distinction can be made:
    1a. The formation of leaves that are short lived (less than a year).
    1b. The formation of tree branches and trunks, that are long lived (decades).

    2. Production of CO2 by the metabolism of animals, and by the decomposition of vegetable matter by micro-organisms including those in the intestines of animals, whereby oxygen is consumed and water and CO2 (and some carbon monoxide and methane that will eventually be oxidised to CO2) are liberated. Again distinctions can be made:
    2a. The decomposition of leaves, that takes place in autumn and continues well into the next winter, spring and summer.
    2b. The decomposition of branches, trunks, etc. that typically has a delay of some decades after their formation.
    2c. The metabolism of animals that goes on throughout the year.

    3. Consumption of CO2 by absorption in cold ocean waters. Part of this is consumed by marine vegetation through photosynthesis.

    4. Production of CO2 by desorption from warm ocean waters. Part of this may be the result of decomposition of organic debris.

    5. Circulation of ocean waters from warm to cold zones, and vice versa, thus promoting processes 3 and 4.

    Longer-term processes

    6. Formation of peat from dead leaves and branches (eventually leading to lignite and coal).

    7. Erosion of silicate rocks, whereby carbonates are formed and silica is liberated.

    8. Precipitation of calcium carbonate in the ocean, that sinks to the bottom, together with formation of corals and shells.

    Natural processes that add CO2 to the system

    9. Production of CO2 from volcanoes (by eruption and gas leakage).

    10. Natural forest fires, coal seam fires and peat fires.

    Anthropogenic processes that add CO2 to the system

    11. Production of CO2 by burning of vegetation (“biomass”).

    12. Production of CO2 by burning of fossil fuels (and by lime kilns).

    Several of these processes are rate dependant and several of them interact.

    At higher air temperatures, the rates of processes 1, 2, 4 and 5 will increase and the rate of process 3 will decrease. Process 1 is strongly dependent on temperature, so its rate will vary strongly (maybe by a factor of 10) throughout the changing seasons.

    The rates of processes 1, 3 and 4 are dependent on the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. The rates of processes 1 and 3 will increase with higher CO2 concentration, but the rate of process 4 will decrease.

    The rate of process 1 has a complicated dependence on the atmospheric CO2 concentration. At higher concentrations at first there will be an increase that will probably be less than linear (with an “order” <1). But after some time, when more vegetation (more biomass) has been formed, the capacity for photosynthesis will have increased, resulting in a progressive increase of the consumption rate.

    Processes 1 to 5 are obviously coupled by mass balances. Our paper (4) assessed the steady-state situation to be an oversimplification because there are two factors that will never be “steady”:
    I. The removal of CO2 from the system, or its addition to the system.
    II. External factors that are not constant and may influence the process rates, such as varying solar activity.

    Modelling this system is a difficult because so little is known concerning the rate equations. However, some things can be stated from the empirical data.

    At present the yearly increase of the anthropogenic emissions is approximately 0.1 GtC/year. The natural fluctuation of the excess consumption (i.e. consumption processes 1 and 3 minus production processes 2 and 4) is at least 6 ppmv (which corresponds to 12 GtC) in 4 months. This is more than 100 times the yearly increase of human production, which strongly suggests that the dynamics of the natural processes here listed 1-5 can cope easily with the human production of CO2. A serious disruption of the system may be expected when the rate of increase of the anthropogenic emissions becomes larger than the natural variations of CO2. But the above data indicates this is not possible.

    The accumulation rate of CO2 in the atmosphere (~1.5 ppmv/year which corresponds to 3 GtC/year) is equal to almost half the human emission (~6.5 GtC/year). However, this does not mean that half the human emission accumulates in the atmosphere, as is often stated . There are several other and much larger CO2 flows in and out of the atmosphere. The total CO2 flow into the atmosphere is at least 156.5 GtC/year with 150 GtC/year of this being from natural origin and 6.5 GtC/year from human origin. So, on the average, 3/156.5 = 2% of all emissions accumulate.

    The above qualitative considerations suggest the carbon cycle cannot be very sensitive to relatively small disturbances such as the present anthropogenic emissions of CO2. However, the system could be quite sensitive to temperature. So, our paper considered how the carbon cycle would be disturbed if – for some reason – the temperature of the atmosphere were to rise, as it almost certainly did between 1880 and 1940 (there was an estimated average rise of 0.5 °C in average surface temperature).

    As temperature rises the rate of the main CO2 production processes 2 (decomposition of organic matter) and 4 (desorption from the oceans) would rise, as would the rate of the consumption process 1 (photosynthesis). However, the rate of absorption in the ocean (process 3) will not be increased. The rates of processes 1a and 2a will rise more quickly than the rates of processes 1b and 2b, but it is not obvious which would rise most. Obviously, the net result would be an increase of CO2 production by desorption from the oceans. This is a relatively slow process, because the mass transfer coefficient between the sea water and its surface is relatively low (the rates of both absorption and desorption in the oceans have time constants that are probably of the order of decades). This would mean that a disruption by a temperature rise would result in a relatively slow increase of CO2 production. Gradually, the consumption processes 1 (photosynthesis) and 3 (absorption in cold ocean waters) will increase and slow down the excess CO2 formation.

    As long as the anthropogenic production of CO2 is less than, say, 10% of the average natural production (2.5 times the present level), the CO2 level in the atmosphere might become 2.5 times higher than it was originally. However, it will eventually become much lower again, due to the delayed action of process 8 (the “true sink”).

    The above considerations of available data strongly suggest that the anthropogenic emissions of CO2 will have no significant long term effect on climate. The main reason is that the rate of increase of the anthropogenic production of CO2 is very much smaller that the observed maximum rate of increase of the natural consumption of CO2.

    In the light of all the above considerations it would appear that the relatively large increase of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere in the twentieth century (some 30%) is likely to have been caused by the increased mean temperature that preceded it. The main cause may be desorption from the oceans. The observed time lag of half a century is not surprising. Assessment of this conclusion requires a quantitative model of the carbon cycle, but – as previously explained – such a model cannot be constructed because the rate constants are not known for mechanisms operating in the carbon cycle.

    Richard

  73. UVA Today

    Senior News Officer

    Mr. Samarrai,

    Your article, http://news.virginia.edu/content/salt-marsh-carbon-may-play-role-slowing-climate-warming-study-shows, contains statements regarding the mechanics of climate and carbon dioxide interactions which suggest a lack of understanding and scientific knowledge on your part. By doing so you cast needless doubt on the accuracy of the remainder of the article, the work of the researchers whom you depict, and the UVA Today image .

    Carbon dioxide is not the “predominant” greenhouse gas as you claim. Water vapor is the primary greenhouse gas and is understood to account for approximately 95% of the greenhouse gas effect. Carbon dioxide makes up about 3.6 percent of the effect. The fraction of total carbon dioxide generated that is attributable to human activity is estimated at 3.22 percent. Thus human activity is estimated to contribute about 0.117 percent of the greenhouse effect…a long way from being “predominant.” “A large portion of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is produced by human activities”…NOT.

    “A warmer climate melts polar ice, causing sea levels to rise.” Do you understand that there are two poles? If you are speaking of North polar ice (Arctic), it could all melt, as it has in the past, and there would be no change in sea level (try Googling Archimedes). The Antarctic (pole) has been adding to its total ice mass.

    There has been no increase in atmospheric global temperatures for 12+ years; the rate-of-rise of sea level has recently stalled, and the longer term rate-of-rise remains stable at approximately 10-12 inches per century.

    Does your “generally accepted scientific theory” include solar, solar radiation wavelength, and cosmic particle interactions?

    I find it regrettable that such errors pass your editorial board.

    Yours truly,

    Charles Battig, MD

    VA-Scientists and Engineers for Energy and Environment

    Charlottesville

  74. Now I understand. Man is Gaia’s way of freeing the precious carbon locked away where the Earth’s hungry biomass cannot reach it.

  75. richardscourtney says:
    September 27, 2012 at 8:49 am

    If the error in the estimates of natural emissions completely dwarfs the magnitude of the anthropogenic emission – and they do – then it cannot be known if “what happens in the atmosphere” is a result – in whole or in part – of variations of the natural emissions

    As said before, even without knowing any of the many natural emissions, we know the result: an increase of 4 +/- 2 GtC/year, that is average halve the human emissions, both in increase rate and natural variability. Thus whatever the natural emissions and sinks are, were, or varied over the (far) past, over the past 50 years nature as a whole was a net sink for CO2. That is all we need to know.

    I was of course aware that you consider several processes. The problem I have is with:
    It is absolutely certain that nature did not reach “a saturation point, and any extra will mostly accumulate”.
    That implies that the fast processes are dominant. If that were the case, then indeed all extra CO2 would be sequestered in short time. But as only halve of the extra CO2 input is sequestered, even at 100 ppmv CO2 above dynamic equilibrium, that is not the case. The problem is that the fast processes are limited in storage capacity and the slow processes are limited in exchange speed.

    Your reasoning is based on the huge exchanges which take place during the seasonal temperature swings. These are indeed huge, but limited: the global (NH+SH) temperature change over a year is about 1°C, mainly the influence of the NH (more land than ocean). The resulting global averaged CO2 swing is about 5 ppmv. Thus the seasonal temperature influence is not more than 5 ppmv/°C.

    There is little indication that the seasonal amplitude changed much over the past 50 years, thus the increase of CO2 had little influence on the fast processes that govern the seasonal variation. Thus the increasing sink capacity that removes about halve of the human emissions (as mass, not original molecules), is by the slower processes. Which don’t remove the increasing CO2 excess fast enough to keep pass with the human emissions…

    The total CO2 flow into the atmosphere is at least 156.5 GtC/year with 150 GtC/year of this being from natural origin and 6.5 GtC/year from human origin. So, on the average, 3/156.5 = 2% of all emissions accumulate.

    Common error, heard here many times.
    Take a fountain where water is pumped from a bassin at the bottom and flows back into the bassin. The pump delivers 1,000 l/minute to the fountain. Besides some evaporation and spills, no water disappears and the level in the bassin stays equal. Now the maintenance guy opens a small supply valve in the input to the fountain, delivering an additional 10 l/min of water. The resulting (measured) increase in de bassin after some time is the equivalent of 10 l/min. Thus on average only 1% of all water inputs accumulate. But still 100% of the increase is from the additional supply…

    For the CO2 balance (human input increased to the current 8 GtC/year):
    158 GtC/year goes in, of which 150 GtC natural and 8 GtC human. 162 GtC goes out as the current mix of natural and human CO2, all in natural sinks. Net balance: an increase of 4 GtC/year, fully caused by the human emissions, even if that is not more than 5% of the inputs (and some more % of the outputs)…

    As said before, both the biosphere and the oceans are currently net sinks for CO2. I think we all agree that the biopshere is a net sink (the “greening earth”). The absolute highest increase of CO2 from the oceans is maximum 16 ppmv/°C, no matter if that water comes from the deep oceans of 800 years ago or from the surface layer today. Thus no temperature increase or decrease from the past or the present can explain the 100+ ppmv since 1850, or 70+ ppmv increase since 1960.

    Even if humans are (near) 100% responsible for the CO2 increase, that doesn’t mean that the influence of the increase is huge or catastrophical. That is a complete different discussion. But in my opinion, skeptics do a disserve to their cause by insisting that there may be doubt of the origin of the increase, which is an item where the “mainstream” science is very strongly rooted in real observations…

  76. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    September 27, 2012 at 11:54 am

    “Thus whatever the natural emissions and sinks are, were, or varied over the (far) past, over the past 50 years nature as a whole was a net sink for CO2. That is all we need to know.”

    The thoroughly discredited “mass balance” argument rears its ugly head once again.

    “Take a fountain where water is pumped from a bassin at the bottom and flows back into the bassin.”

    Completely inappropriate analogy. This fountain has a drain, which removes water permanently. That water has to be replaced. The level in the fountain reaches an equilibrium level when the rate of inflow matches the outflow rate through the drain. Add an additional 3% of inflow, and the level increases… wait for it… 3%.

    This is an active feedback system – the drain responds to the pressure in the water column above it, expanding and contracting in such a way as to attenuate changes in the level due to variation in the inflow. Static analogies are not even remotely applicable.

    The temperature to CO2 rate of change relationship accounts for almost the entire change in CO2 in every detail. There is no possibility of significant human forcing.

  77. Ferdinand and Bart:

    I now again find myself in the middle between the two of you: Ferdinand is certain the recent atmospheric CO2 rise has a completely anthropogenic cause and Bart is equally certain the cause is completely natural.

    Me? I don’t know the cause and I want to know it. So, I again withdraw in hope that the continuing argument between the two of you will tell me what I want to know.

    Richard

  78. E.M.Smith says:
    September 26, 2012 at 8:47 pmGlobal cement production (a big CO2 producer) used / released 377 M tons of carbon as CO2 in 2007. Oh, the panic… Yet to consume that would take about 200 x 300 miles of high growth trees (at full production) for a year. Not enough to even notice if replanted in some of the strip mined clear cut areas of The Federal Forests…

    Ummmm…no. The Forest Service (mismanages more than 200 MILLION acres of forest, almost all in the West), wouldn’t know how to spell the word, clear cut. Since we were lied to during the Clinton administration that the NW Forest Plan would make National Forest land management more rational and still produce a steady stream of timber = jobs + gobs of cash, the Forest Service and more recently the BLM as well, have mismanaged the timber lands under their care.

    The example in Oregon is most egregious. Conservative estimate of growing stock = 700 BILLION bd ft, growing at a net annual rate of more than 11 BILLION bd ft. The current harvest on FS lands in OR = less than 100 million bd ft. There is a wall of wood out there, and the Forest Service is pi$$ing it away, and flushing jobs and cash to the counties along with it.

  79. richardscourtney says:
    September 27, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Oh no you don’t! I was taking a powder on this one letting you two slug it out. But, I can only take so many times of seeing that utterly ridiculous and silly “mass balance” argument regurgitated before my resolve weakens.

    Please continue – I really don’t want to go through the whole futile exercise again.

  80. Bart says:
    September 27, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    I was waiting for your reaction…

    The thoroughly discredited “mass balance” argument rears its ugly head once again.

    As long as there is no destruction of matter, the carbon mass balance must be obeyed at any moment either static or dynamic…

    Completely inappropriate analogy. This fountain has a drain, which removes water permanently. That water has to be replaced. The level in the fountain reaches an equilibrium level when the rate of inflow matches the outflow rate through the drain. Add an additional 3% of inflow, and the level increases… wait for it… 3%.

    The fountain has a drain: via the pump and back into the bassin. But let’s assume that the fountain has a natural supply from an unregulated underground well and has an overflow drain at the other side. The level in the bassin above the overflow drain then will be proportional to the supply, any supply. Now we add some more water from the drinking water network of the town via a hose, slowly increasing that extra supply and then we measure the increase in the bassin: that is in average about halve the extra supply over time with some variability also at about halve the extra supply. Thus the drain in average removes about halve the extra supply. How much of the observed increase then comes from the natural supply?

    The temperature to CO2 rate of change relationship accounts for almost the entire change in CO2 in every detail. There is no possibility of significant human forcing.

    There are clearly two separate processes at work: a high frequency process of 1-3 years and a process that has at least a period of 200 years, as the curvatory of the trend over the past 50 years is not even 1/4 of a period and the end is not in sight (not even after 160 years if you may believe the ice cores). So there is no reason to think that the same processes are involved and any resemblence of the same factor for fast and slow (temperature) processes is entirely spurious. That implies that the fast response to temperature is from fast processes (but limited in storage capacity) and the increase is from slower processes, but mostly from the human emissions, or you are violating about all known observations, while slower process are responsible for the removal of the bulk of the excess CO2 in the atmosphere.

  81. Bart and Ferdinand:

    Oh yes I do again withdraw from the debate about the cause of recent rise in atmospheric CO2. I have been through this time and again for about a decade.

    There is insufficient data to resolve the issue and the mind-bendingly mistaken ‘mass balance argument’ only serves to pretend sufficient data exists.

    For example, nobody knows the variability of CO2 output from volcanoes and the ‘mass balance’ attributes its effect on atmospheric CO2 to the anthropogenic emission!

    The two of you can debate your different certainties and – in the unlikely event that one of you says something new – then I and others may learn from that.

    Richard

  82. Ferdinand,

    What are your thoughts on the reports that coal seam fires emit some 2% – 3% of all CO2? These fires are unquenchable, and they have proliferated since the start of the industrial revolution. There are thousands of them now. Would they not have the same isotope signature of mined coal?

  83. D Böehm says:
    September 27, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    What are your thoughts on the reports that coal seam fires emit some 2% – 3% of all CO2? These fires are unquenchable, and they have proliferated since the start of the industrial revolution. There are thousands of them now. Would they not have the same isotope signature of mined coal?

    If these are the result of human intervention (started in coal mines?) they should be added to the human input. If they are natural (and probably much older than human intervention), they add to the natural input. These are rather difficult to classify things at the edge of natural and human. The same e.g. for wood: burning wood is classified as not adding to the human input, as most of the released CO2 was sequestered a few years to a few decades before from the atmosphere. But if you cut a lot of forest for agriculture it is added, because there is an unbalance in carbon sequestered. The same for historical things: burning 600 year old oak wood is not adding to the human input, but 600 year old peat is…

    Anyway, the “fingerprint” in isotope signature is the same, if you or nature burns wood or coal. But the fine point of the oxygen balance shows the difference: Substracting the more certain oxygen use from inventories of fossil fuel burning from the measured oxygen use, shows a small deficit in decrease. Thus the whole biosphere, including uncertain low-13C sources like coal seams burning and natural forest fires is a net source of oxygen, thus a net sink for CO2 and preferably for 12CO2 and thus not the cause of the increase in the atmosphere neither of the 13C/12C ratio decline measured in the atmosphere.

  84. richardscourtney says:
    September 27, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    For example, nobody knows the variability of CO2 output from volcanoes and the ‘mass balance’ attributes its effect on atmospheric CO2 to the anthropogenic emission!

    All what the mass balance says is that no material can be destroyed or created from nothing.

    In the case of the carbon balance: what goes in must reside there or must go out, but the total amount of carbon in all reservoirs can’t be different before or after the movements.

    Humans add 8 GtC/year. We measure an increase in the atmosphere of 4 +/- 2 GtC/year. No matter how high or how variable the natural inputs were, the mass balance must be obeyed. That means that the natural outputs must be 4 +/- 2 GtC larger than the natural inputs.

    Thus if the volcanoes increased their input from 10 GtC/year to 20 GtC/year from one year to the next year, that has no effect on the mass balance: either the CO2 levels in the atmosphere increased with 10 GtC extra or – which is the case – the measured increase stayed within the +/- 2 GtC natural variability and some other natural process sequestered (part of) the extra 10 GtC. In all cases, the human input was larger than the increase in the atmosphere, thus the only cause of the increase, because nature was a net sink for CO2…

  85. @Ferdinand Engelbeen

    The validity of isotope analysis to deferatiate natural/antro CO2 emissions presupposes that there aren’t any processes in the atmosphere that will alter the isotope balance over time. Like maybe cosmic rays for example.

    Isn’t C14 supposed to be created in the atmosphere by cosmic ray bombardment? Can you rule out something similar for C13

  86. D Böehm:

    Your post at September 27, 2012 at 2:24 pm mentions CO2 emissions from coal seam fires. Such fires have always existed and so have natural methane leaks and oil seepages. The methane oxidises to CO2 and the oil is degraded by biota to eventually become CO2.

    Variations in these natural CO2 sources are completely unknown and will probably remain unknowable.

    In fact, almost everything about the carbon cycle is unknown or unquantifiable. And it is this ignorance which causes difficulty in having certainty about causation of the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration.

    Bart says his processing of the atmospheric CO2 and the global temperature time series demonstrates the rise is completely caused by temperature change. He may be right, but his analysis relies on assuming measurement accuracies which the data do not have.

    Ferdinand says the unknown variations in natural sources and sinks can be ignored so the rise must be completely anthropogenic. He may be right, but his analysis relies on the improbable assumption that natural variations can be ignored.

    The bottom line is that there is insufficient data to resolve the issue.

    Richard

  87. Ferdinand Engelbeen:

    I am not returning to the debate but I write to point out to onlookers that your answer to me at September 27, 2012 at 3:17 pm demonstrates why I do not agree with your mass balance argument. I anticipate that you will dispute this post but I shall not respond to that because my sole purpose is to demonstrate our disagreement to others.

    Your post begins saying

    richardscourtney says:
    September 27, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    For example, nobody knows the variability of CO2 output from volcanoes and the ‘mass balance’ attributes its effect on atmospheric CO2 to the anthropogenic emission!

    All what the mass balance says is that no material can be destroyed or created from nothing.

    In the case of the carbon balance: what goes in must reside there or must go out, but the total amount of carbon in all reservoirs can’t be different before or after the movements.

    Of course it is true that, “the total amount of carbon in all reservoirs can’t be different before or after the movements”. But so what? At issue is why the carbon has changed in one specific reservoir; i.e. the atmosphere.

    If a volcano increases its CO2 emission then the reservoir of the Earth’s magma reduces its carbon and the reservoir of the atmosphere increases its carbon. The only data one has about changes in reservoirs is the increase in the atmosphere, and that tells nothing about the reduction in the magma, so the mass balance assumes the increase is from the anthropogenic emission. The increase is NOT from the anthropogenic emission: it is from the magma!

    And the same accounting error is true for any other variation in natural emission or sequestration when conducting the mass balance.

    Richard

  88. Richard,

    As usual I agree with your comments. I don’t think I was explicit enough in my question to Ferdinand, though. To clarify, it seems reasonable that although there were always some coal seam fires before the industrial revolution, rising industry must surely have resulted in many more fires. Numerous fires in Appalachia were started during the past century, and almost all of them are still burning. Wherever there are coal fields there are underground coal fires.

    We really do not know all the sources of CO2, or all the sinks for that matter, or all the ways in which they interact. But we do know that there is no discernable global harm or damage as a result of rising CO2. We also know that the biosphere has benefited from the rise in that harmless airborne fertilizer.

    If and when someone is able to post measurable, testable evidence of global harm due to CO2, I will pay close attention. But there is no such evidence at present. Therefore, the principle of parsimony argues against adding the extraneous and unnecessary variable of CO2 to the discussion of global warming. Without any evidence to the contrary, it appears that the added CO2 is a net global benefit, with no apparent downside.

  89. D Böehm:

    Your post at September 27, 2012 at 4:09 pm says you agree with my argument, and I confirm that I agree with your argument concerning the benefit to the biosphere of increased atmospheric CO2.

    However, I have an overarching position concerning the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) hypothesis. That hypothesis has three assumptions as its components; viz.
    1.
    The anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, notably of carbon dioxide (CO2), are to some degree accumulating in the atmosphere.
    2.
    The anthropogenic GHG emissions are causing the observed recent rise in atmospheric GHG, notably CO2, concentrations whatever proportion of the emissions is accumulating in the atmosphere.
    3.
    The recent rise in atmospheric GHG, notably CO2, concentrations is significantly raising the global temperature.

    There are reasons to doubt each of these three assumptions. I am a climate realist and, therefore, I accept whatever empirical data informs about these assumptions. Hence, I am certain that assumptions 1 and 3 are untrue because they are denied by empirical data. However, as I have repeatedly said in this thread, available empirical data is not sufficient to know if assumption 2 is true or not.

    Importantly, if any one of the three assumptions is untrue then the AGW-hypothesis is falsified. And the hypothesis is doubly falsified because assumptions 1 and 3 are untrue. If assumption 2 were also known to be untrue then the entire AGW-hypothesis would be known to be wrong.

    Richard

  90. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    September 27, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    We’ve been through this all so many times before. Your arguments are invalid. They simply do not recognize the dynamic nature of the system, and how such systems are required to behave by physical and mathematical laws.

    richardscourtney says:
    September 27, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    “…but his analysis relies on assuming measurement accuracies which the data do not have.”

    Individually. But, instantaneous measurement accuracy only indirectly limits our ability to estimate the states of an ongoing process. Processing and filtering data, to dig down beneath the errors in measurement and divine the underlying content, is the entire raison d’etre of Estimation Theory. When you get overall agreement this good, it isn’t happenstance.

  91. “””””…..ntesdorf says:

    September 26, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    It all reminds me of the Aristotlelian Science of epi-cycles where the failure of the theory to predict events was gradually modified with ever increasing complexity to keep up with reality. Rather than re-think the CAGW theory, counteractive mechanisms are added continuously to the model ib order to explain the failures. Eventually people notice that the theory is falling apart……”””””

    So do tell; what is your theory of an earth centric solar system that DOES NOT include Epi-cycles.

    Einstein tells us there is NO absolute frame of reference, so you can choose anyone you like. If you put the earth as the center of the solar system, then you end up with epicycles. And if you are stuck with ancient instrumentation, then fitting the pieces into such a system, would likely require periodic updates as better observations became available.

    Gee, even today, GISS keeps updating climateTemperature observations that are barely 150 years old. So I would say that Aristotle did a pretty damn good job with his epicycles.

    I once read a whole textbook, with charts, all about the solar system epicycles.

  92. george e. smith,

    Here is a great orrerry. You can set it for Copernican or Tychaen views; a sun-centered solar system, or earth-centered epicycles [a little hard to see the choices unless you put the cursor on them].

  93. henrythethird says:
    September 26, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    “…A warmer climate melts polar ice, causing sea levels to rise…”

    So, it stands to reason that if the warmer climate has given us the greatest melt of Arctic Sea Ice since the start of the satellite observations, we should also be seeing the greatest amount of sea level rise in the same time period.

    The Arctic ice is floating on the ocean, so if it melts it has no impact on sea level rise. Greeland and Antarctica, being land masses covered in ice, would impact sea levels should they experience melting.

  94. Matt says:
    September 27, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    The validity of isotope analysis to deferatiate natural/antro CO2 emissions presupposes that there aren’t any processes in the atmosphere that will alter the isotope balance over time. Like maybe cosmic rays for example.

    Isn’t C14 supposed to be created in the atmosphere by cosmic ray bombardment? Can you rule out something similar for C13

    Indeed 14C is created (in deviation of the mass balance!) in the atmosphere as result of collisions of nitrogen with cosmic ray particles. The amounts are quite low: some 12 orders of magnitude lower than 12C. It is continuously destroyed in radioactive decay, back to 14C with a half life time of about 5.7 kyr.
    13C is a stable isotope and I have no knowledge of some extra creation via cosmic rays, but as it actually is over 1% of all carbon (the bulk is 12C), it is unlikely that a small increase via cosmic rays would be important.

    To make a difference between the origins of CO2, one can use the 13C/12C and 14C/12C ratio, besides oxygen use:
    - All inorganic carbon has a “high” 13C/12C ratio. The chosen standard, Pee Dee Belemnite (PDB) was a carbonate deposit somewhere in the US, but as that was exhausted, the new standard is a fixed ratio between 13C and 12C, called the Vienna PDB or VPDB. All other carbon sources are compared to that one and expressed in per mil to the standard. A lower per mil means a lower 13C/12C ratio. Inorganic carbon in general is around zero per mil, that is for all carbonate deposits, volcanic vents (subduction volcanoes, deep magma volcanoes are slightly lower), seawater releases, etc.
    - All organic carbon has a (much) lower 13C/12C ratio: photosynthesis prefers 12CO2 above 13CO2, which makes that all historical (fossil) and new plants have a low per mil: between -14 and -40 per mil, depending of the biological processes involved.
    Fossil fuels, including coal and oil are around -25 per mil, natural gas is much lower.
    - Fossil fuels don’t contain measurable quantities of 14C, because too old. Recent formed wood does contain 14C, depending of the age of formation. Thus here one can make a distiction between fossil fuel burning and e.g. forest fires.
    - The atmosphere was at about -6.4 per mil over the past ice ages, until some 160 years ago. The variation over the ice ages and the last interglacial was a few tenths of per mil around that value until about 1850. Since then, the 13C/12C ratio dropped to -8 per mil, completely in ratio with fossil fuel burning. At the same time, the 14C/12C ratio dropped, so that since 1870 correction tables were necessary to correct the carbon dating. That only can be from 14C depleted fossil fuels.
    - The drop in 13C/12C ratio of the atmosphere can’t be from the oceans, as any substantial release of oceanic CO2 would increase the 13C/12C ratio of the atmosphere. But it could be from vegetation decay (of about 1/3rd of all land vegetation!). But there, the oxygen balance is of help: the oxygen balance shows that the whole biosphere is a net absorber of CO2, and preferably of 12CO2 and thus not the cause of the 13C/12C ratio decline, or the CO2 increase.

    Thus all together, the isotope and oxygen balances are a quite firm confirmation that humans are responsible for the CO2 increase in the atmosphere…

  95. Bart says:
    September 27, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    We’ve been through this all so many times before. Your arguments are invalid. They simply do not recognize the dynamic nature of the system, and how such systems are required to behave by physical and mathematical laws.

    Indeed, many times… But I am curious about your answer on the revised fountain example, which is about the same dynamic behavior of what happened/happens with CO2 in the atmosphere…

    And some answer how why you think that the same physical processes are responsible for the fast responses and the still not defined trend/cycle of at least 200 years…

  96. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    September 28, 2012 at 12:51 am

    Of course,
    It is continuously destroyed in radioactive decay, back to 14C
    must be
    It is continuously destroyed in radioactive decay, back to 14N…

  97. richardscourtney says:
    September 27, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    1. The anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, notably of carbon dioxide (CO2), are to some degree accumulating in the atmosphere.
    and
    I am certain that assumptions 1 and 3 are untrue because they are denied by empirical data.

    I don’t know of any empirical data which prove that human induced CO2 is not accumulating to some degree in the atmosphere. To the contrary: the decrease in 13C/12C ratio and 14C/12C ratio proves that CO2 from fossil fuel burning does accumulate in the atmosphere…

  98. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    September 28, 2012 at 2:30 am

    “But I am curious about your answer on the revised fountain example,…”

    Again, you’ve given a static example in which the input from the well is fixed. You are begging the question. By assuming that is so, you have already fixed the outcome.

    It all depends on the magnitude of the flows, and the size of the drain. In the very simplest terms possible, assuming slowly changing flows

    L := k*(A + N)

    L = level in the basin
    A = hose input rate
    N = well input rate
    k = coupling factor dependent on drain

    You know L and A, but you do not know k and N. That gives you one equation with two unknowns, for which there is no unique solution. When you assume you know N, then you can solve for k. But, in actual fact, there is an infinite set of possible solutions for k and N, and you have simply chosen the one which pleases you.

  99. The terms “sequestration and emission” are inappropriately applied to CO2. The correct terms are depletion and enrichment.

  100. bwdave says: ”The terms “sequestration and emission” are inappropriately applied to CO2. The correct terms are depletion and enrichment”

    Good on ya mate, good on ya! Can you answer my question: Q: who is the clown to know that 150y ago was the best amount of CO2 for the trees and crops?!?!?!

    The carbon bashers have lower knowledge / IQ, than cabbage and an oak-tree. What’s the fuss about? state of Queensland / Australia has built the first carbon geosequestration plant. 3 years ago. Not one molecule of CO2 has being buried since then, by that plant – but lots of CO2 was produced, to build it and 102 million bucks buried, to build the white elephant. CO2 is made 66% of oxygen – that oxygen is needed above the surface, not deep down.

    CO2 is washed in the sea by the rain -> corals / algae collect it -> keep the carbon for themselves -> release the oxygen in the water for the fish. Part of the oceans, for big part of the year are oxygen depleted – not enough to sustain many variety of fish. 3]Oxygen in the atmosphere is a perfect insulator – on the moon, no oxygen & nitrogen = between day and night temp difference of 230C.

  101. Bart says:
    September 28, 2012 at 10:28 am

    Bart, nobody says that the input of the well is static. All what is observed is that there is some variability in the level increase L and L is always less than what may be expected from the inflow of A which is increasing over time. That is all.

    The discussion now is not what k and N are, which indeed can have a lot of values, but what the cause of the increase in L is. There may be values for k and N which makes that the increase is mostly from N and not from A. But there are a few problems with that, as that implies huge in/out flows and huge variations in in/out flows:

    - Several indications show that the refresh rate of the basin from the natural input N is only 20% per hour.
    - There is an observed difference in calcium and sodium content between the natural inflow and the additional supply. The change in composition of the water in the basin shows that about 33% of the additional supply builds up in the basin.

    The first point shows that N is about 20% of total L per hour, while the second point shows that despite the relative huge refresh rate, a substantial part of the additional supply builds up in the basin. Thus N is not extremely huge, and k is not extremely small and most of the increase in L is from the additional supply…

    In the case of CO2 in the atmosphere, the observed refresh rate (a.o. from the 14C bomb spike) shows that about 20% of all CO2 in the atmosphere per year (~150 GtC) is exchanged with CO2 from other reservoirs. And about 33% of all human induced CO2 still can be found in the atmosphere as a 13C/12C and 14C/12C ratio reduction.

    If e.g. the human emissions (currently at 8 GtC/year) were responsible for 10% of the increase in the atmosphere (currently at 4 GtC/year), the natural supply must deliver 90% of the increase for the same k: thus some 72 GtC/year extra (worse if the human influence is less). That is 50% over the observed refresh rate. No such increase (or any increase) in refresh rate over the years is observed…

  102. BTW, here an overview of the different “residence times” found over the years based on different (or the same) observations:

    As far as I can tell from this mess, it doesn’t look like that the residence time shortened over the years, as would be the case if some natural source increased the throughput of CO2 in the atmosphere with some 50% or more…

    The IPCC does use the “adjustment time” (but happens to confuse that with “residence time”…), the one that removes an extra amount of CO2 above equilibrium. Nothing to do with the residence time, which doesn’t change the total amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Something a lot of sceptics have difficulty to see the difference…

  103. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    September 29, 2012 at 2:08 am

    Ferdinand, you are handwaving and rationalizing. You are imagining you have solid information which you do not, and constraining the solution arbitrarily to suit your bias. And, it all conflicts with the simple observation that the rate of change of CO2 is proportional to the properly baselined temperature anomaly, and that relationship precludes significant human forcing. The evidence is quite clear and there really is no rational argument against it – you might as well be arguing that the sky isn’t really blue. I’ve done all I can to help you see. You will simply have to reap the rewards of your intransigence. Sayonara for now, until we meet again…

  104. Bart says:
    September 29, 2012 at 11:35 am

    And, it all conflicts with the simple observation that the rate of change of CO2 is proportional to the properly baselined temperature anomaly, and that relationship precludes significant human forcing.

    Bart, if you weren’t so overfocused on that completely spurious 50 years correlation (for the trend, not the year-by-year variability), you might see that your solution violates about all observational evidence…

    But we see each other again, next time…

Comments are closed.