An Engineer’s Take On Major Climate Change

Guest essay by Ronald D. Voisin

Let’s examine, at a high and salient level, the positive-feedback Anthropogenic Global Warming, Green-House-Gas Heating Effect (AGW-GHGHE) with its supposed pivotal role for CO2. The thinking is that a small increase in atmospheric CO2 will trigger a large increase in atmospheric Green-House-Gas water vapor. And then the combination of these two enhanced atmospheric constituents will lead to run-away, or at least appreciable and unprecedented – often characterized as catastrophic – global warming.

This theory relies entirely on a powerful positive-feedback and overriding (pivotal) role for CO2. It further assumes that rising atmospheric CO2 is largely or even entirely anthropogenic. Both of these points are individually and fundamentally required at the basis of alarm. Yet neither of them is in evidence whatsoever. And neither of them is even remotely true. CO2 is not only “not pivotal” but it is not even clear that atmospheric CO2 influences climate in the least measurable way. And the current spike in atmospheric CO2 is clearly not primarily human caused. Factually, atmospheric CO2 cannot be beneficially changed by human behavior, regardless of what actions we might take. And climate will always continue to change in significant ways that will most likely be poorly predicted.

Nonetheless both these points, 1) atmospheric CO2 pivotally controls climate; and 2) we pivotally control atmospheric CO2, are hard-wired into all General Circulation Models of the climate – Models that attempt to predict the far future behavior of a “coupled, non-linear chaotic system”. One is compelled to consider that this modeling effort may well, in fact, be impossible. Yet these Models constitute substantially the entire evidentiary basis for Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) as opposed to non-anthropogenic global warming (NGW or Natural Global Warming) for which there is a great deal of evidence. There is only one place anywhere in the history of the world where a CO2 increase precedes a temperature increase and that is in the Models themselves. And while extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, after 20+ years and with 10’s-100’s of Billions of global $’s devoted to this issue, the situation is unchanged. Where is the evidence of CO2’s pivotal feedback? And how can you justify a continued belief that rising atmospheric CO2 is entirely or even largely anthropogenic? The most vocal proponents of AGW-GHGHE theory are reduced to literally ask: “How else do you explain it?” But that is not evidence. And, far more importantly, it is also not clear what needs to be explained. See Figure 1.

Figure 1

First, let me make the (actually) profound point that this Earth has gone through 60-70 known major climate transitions over many hundreds, even thousands, of millions of years. It did so while maintaining an exceptionally narrow thermal range (~+/- 6-10OC) throughout all this history. This incredibly tightly controlled, long duration behavior can only be understood in the context of a system overwhelmingly dominated by negative-feedbacks. At an entirely fundamental level this assertion has to be true and profoundly so. However, these negative-feedbacks are poorly represented in our current Modeling efforts and their investigation is underfunded to the point of being ignored.

Further, the ice-core analysis makes clear the relative timing of events. And while it is certain that atmospheric CO2 lags temperature in both directions, so as to more readily be an effect and not a cause of temperature change, the one fact that is most uncertain from ice-core analysis is the exact magnitude of the CO2 spike that accompanies each and every interglacial (and also accompanies warming periods within a given interglacial).

Why? Because, for one, these spikes are, by definition, the highest temporal frequency events – which, of course, bestow on them the greatest sampling uncertainty. But this uncertainty is of magnitude and not of relative timing. The CO2 peaks, as represented from the ice-cores, are the established values obtainable within a finite (and limited) temporal sampling resolution. If higher sampling resolution could be arbitrarily applied, it could only reveal yet higher peaks (i.e. yet higher frequency events). These are facts of statistical sampling (we are fortunate to get 500 years least-count time resolution on any parameter when we go back more than just a few 1000’s of years).

Additionally, this uncertainty of magnitude is further muddied by an incomplete understanding of diffusion processes taking place distributed within an enormous pressure gradient (along with many other poorly understood processes). The uncertainty of this diffusion between ice layers can only act in such a way so as to underestimate the peaks of the highest frequency components as these peaks are also exactly, and by definition, where the diffusion gradient too is the very greatest. (There is no method to recover this lost information as it is no longer present within the samples.)

Therefore an exceptionally important aspect regarding the ice-core analysis, and one that is seemingly wholly under-appreciated, is the fact that this uncertainty of magnitude is substantially (entirely) all in one direction. And that direction is up. The highest peaks (ones that might have durations of only several hundred years) would not be temporally resolved at the very same time that unquantifiable diffusion processes would attenuate them preferentially the greatest (and with most likely significant attenuation as the higher and sharper the peak the more and harder our post-dated analysis will knock it down). Therefore in the end, we do know with certainty that CO2 lags temperature. But for all we know, atmospheric CO2 has spiked to over 1000 ppm (not so unlikely), for a relatively short period of time (quite possibly up to 500 years or even more), during each and every prior interglacial (and to only a marginally lesser extent in prior warming periods of the current interglacial).

Let me state this again, differently, and with as much clarity as is possible. All of the ice-core data, each and every piece, without regard to where the analysis might fall within the spatial extent of the physical ice core sample, supports the relative timing of temperature vs. CO2. And CO2 lags temperature without doubt. However, when it comes to the highest frequency components (the CO2 peaks) we can say with certainty that they are under-represented in the analysis. The true reality of the peaks of CO2 is that they are higher than we have determined, but by an amount higher that we cannot determine. And I would dare to add that prior peaks were very likely >>600 ppm.

See Figure 2.

Figure 2

Next…we then know that every warming period has an attendant, but delayed, atmospheric CO2 spike. And most likely, the currently observed spike is but a fraction of what has occurred in every prior warming period and therefore most likely, but a fraction of what it is to become in this one – and, quite presumably, for the same natural causes of all prior events. So, why it is that some insist that the currently observed atmospheric CO2 spike is anomalous, or anthropogenically dominated, is entirely unclear.

Figure 3 outlines the primary sources of natural CO2 release in decreasing order of quantity of carbon emitted: oceanic release, microbial decay, insect activity, frozen terrestrial release; volcanic release; forest fire and then mammalia exhalations and emissions – summing to a total of ~325-485 petagrams. Then there is our ~2.0% anthropogenic release at ~8-9 petagrams. (Based on terrestrial sources alone, without oceans, anthropogenic release is ~3-4% of the natural flux. Some argue that the oceans are net absorbers and ignore the oceanic release estimate below. However, according to the hypothesis presented herein the oceans are net emitters as indicated below when warmed by ~0.5oC per century).

Figure 3

These natural sources all correlate to global temperature (including, at the least, terrestrial volcanism, as recently verified). When the Earth gets warm, for whatever reason, these natural sources all kick-in together to contribute vast quantities of CO2; and to produce the observed habitual atmospheric CO2 spikes upward. Conversely, when the Earth gets cold, for whatever reason, they all go into remission together; naturally and (generally) coherently to produce a consequential reduction in atmospheric CO2. Each spike or dip in CO2 follows temperature with a lag time averaging 800 years, but proportional to the level and magnitude at which the temperature swings take place.

It is extraordinarily difficult to imagine that these natural sources are not at play during this current period of warming. They most likely are the primary cause of the currently observed CO2 spike. And yes, we humans, as co-inhabitants of this Earth, are emitting CO2. But so are microbes and insects emitting. And each of them is emitting with ~10 times our current anthropogenic emission. In both cases (microbes and insects) there is every reason to believe that their populations are geometrically exploding in this current highly favorable environment to their existence. The recently warming oceans are most likely the largest emitter of all. Atmospheric CO2 is spiking just now. And we have good reason to believe that it is largely, essentially entirely doing so for all the same reasons it has done so within each and every prior warming period of the past. All natural sources of CO2 emission are currently revved-up and in high gear during this extended interglacial. Approximately 98% of the current spike is natural while we add our anthropogenic 2%.

We also have reason to believe that the current spike would be as large, or larger, than now observed, if we humans were never here at all. Why? Because those organisms that would otherwise be here in our stead would most likely emit much more CO2 than we are. i.e. We humans have chosen to systematically limit the proliferation of micro-organisms and insects in the land we use for cultivation and occupation – which represents about 1/3rd of all land. And in the other 2/3rds of all land, microbes and insects are each estimated to emit ~10 times our anthropogenic emission (insects alone outnumber humans >>10,000,000,000:1 – enough to fill several large dumpsters per person).

The relative contribution from microbe and insect emissions would have gone up significantly if we were never here (by a very rough factor of up to 1.5*). They would have filled our void geometrically; unlike our anthropogenic contribution. When we humans get rich, we uniquely self-limit our proliferation, by deciding to have fewer children. And our human emission pales in comparison to the emission from these astronomically vast numbers of other organisms. So if we were never here, greatly enhanced populations of microbes and insects would be emitting many times our anthropogenic emission from the very land that we systematically exclude them from. This situation most likely characterizes the events within prior interglacials.

To put some rough figures on this: current microbial and insect emissions are estimated at ~160 petagrams. If we were never here our 8-9 petagram anthropogenic emission would go away – but only to be replaced by an increase of up to 80 petagrams of additional contribution from microbes and insects. The current spike would then be larger than now observed. And again, this situation most likely characterizes the events within prior interglacials.

*Certainly our limitation to the proliferation of microbes and insects has not been 100% within the lands we cultivate and occupy. However, this limitation need only be an easily accepted value of ~10% or greater for the assertion to be true: we have reason to believe that the current spike would be as large, or larger, than now observed, if we humans were never here at all. i.e. Humanity’s “carbon footprint” is a net negative contribution.

And, yes it is so, that our anthropogenic release is largely made of “long-time” sequestered carbon (unlike that of much microbe and insect emission). But the term “long-time” is quite relative. It is certainly a long-time sequestration by our understanding of human existence. However it is not so long at all on a geologic timescale. Massive-scale natural release of “long-time” sequestered carbon has littered this Earth’s geologic past (and continues today). Some seem to think that this sequestered carbon is so thinly scattered as to be quite rare. This might lead you to believe that it is geologically a one-way function such that this carbon, in many forms such as fossil fuel, is mostly sequestered and rarely, if ever, naturally released (to some great benefit of climate). But the truth is that “long-time” sequestered carbon is ubiquitous by nature, dominates natural release sources, and is often cataclysmically released on very large scales through many natural processes (such as thawing tundra, volcanic and super-volcanic eruption).

There is little reason to believe that our current 2%-of-flux release of “long-time” sequestered carbon is consequential by any geologic standard of the past. Natural processes have surely produced many periods of hundreds of years of sequestered carbon release, wherein each year provided multiple percentage points addition to the just prior natural flux trend. In fact, anthropogenic release is not only very small when compared to the magnitude, but more importantly, the variability of natural release (the significant point here being that the notion of a steady-state 1:1 pairing of natural CO2 sources and sinks is wholly unjustified when natural release events regularly produce huge and large-scale, long-duration disruptions). And keep in mind that approximately 50% of natural, steady-state CO2 release is of “long-time” sequestered carbon while essentially 100% of cataclysmically released carbon is of the “long-time” sequestered variety. Our use of fossil fuels is most likely irrelevant to climate, geologically minuscule and completely lost in the noise of geologic events.

Separately, we know geologically of extended epochs where atmospheric CO2 was many times higher than today’s value (by >10X). But we know of no tipping point in all of Earth’s history (and such an event could not go unnoticed geologically). Epochs where enormously elevated atmospheric CO2 was falling while the Earth warmed to an interglacial. Epochs where enormously elevated atmospheric CO2 was rising while the Earth cooled to glaciation. These facts fly directly in the face of CO2 playing a pivotal role in climate change. In fact they suggest a minor to insignificant role for atmospheric CO2 as regards climate (while they clearly implicate some other truly-pivotal driver).

If we now turn to the supposed positive-feedback and pivotal role of CO2 we have great difficulty notwithstanding the forgoing. During each and every one of the past 60-70 known interglacials we know that atmospheric CO2 spiked. Why didn’t that spiking lead to large increases in atmospheric water vapor? Why didn’t the two of these enhanced atmospheric constituents lead to significant further warming? And then that additional warming would directly lead to yet more CO2 and more water vapor; which would lead to yet more warming, and then more CO2 and more water vapor? Why wasn’t there thermal runaway in each, or any, prior interglacial (as is now feared for this interglacial)? We know that the Earth has never experienced thermal runaway (a tipping point). The likely answer is that the theory of pivotal positive-feedback CO2 may be just plain wrong.

And if CO2 somehow did play a pivotal positive-feedback role in getting to this warm state (which it most likely did not), then how would the Earth ever subsequently and suddenly transit to glaciation (as it has and does) from this latched-up positive-feedback warm state without invoking a yet vastly more powerful and unidentified climate driver?

The very same problem exists in the reverse. When the Earth is glaciated atmospheric CO2 falls, and so does water vapor. Why didn’t the minimization of these two atmospheric constituents lead to significant further cooling? And then to yet lower atmospheric CO2 and water? And then more cooling? Why didn’t the Earth fully ice-over? Why didn’t the ocean depths freeze solid? They never have. The likely answer is that the theory of pivotal positive-feedback CO2 may be just plain wrong.

And again, if CO2 did somehow play a pivotal positive-feedback role in getting to this cold state (which it most likely did not), then how would the Earth ever subsequently and suddenly transit to interglacial (as it has and does) from this latched-up positive-feedback cold state without invoking a yet vastly more powerful and unidentified climate driver?

In another way of asking these questions, how does pivotal positive-feedback CO2 play a role in the major climate transitions? When the Earth is glaciated and atmospheric CO2 is low, what massive CO2 release event accounts for the transition to interglacial? (Recognizing that the tiny radiative perturbations of Milankovitch cycles have been relegated to small amplitude variation at frequencies that are only poorly correlated to climate swings generally, but may nonetheless correlate to major swings in ways speculated herein.) The only possibility is large scale volcanism. But volcanoes are very messy and leave lots of geologic evidence. And we know that that these glacial-to-interglacial transitions are not correlated to preceding major volcanic events. We know that enhanced atmospheric CO2 only arrives, on average, 800 years after the glacial-to-interglacial transition (from natural sources that are consequentially stimulated by the warming). Spiking CO2 is most likely the effect and not the cause.

Similarly, when the Earth is warm and atmospheric CO2 is high, what sudden massive CO2 sequestering event accounts for the transition to glaciation? There is little opportunity here to even investigate another possibility as there are few massive-scale sequestering phenomena, other than oceanic absorption. And the cooling oceans do absorb. But only, on average, 800 years after the climate transition to glaciation (owing to their thermal mass). Again, falling CO2 is most likely the effect and not the cause.

Then there is the most recently observed global temperature and atmospheric CO2 trends. Since 1998 our anthropogenic CO2 emission has skyrocketed (still at ~2% as all natural sources are also just now spiking). But global temperatures are flat to down. It simply cannot be so that pivotal positive-feedback CO2 is at work here. These present-day observations directly conflict with this theory. Something else drives climate change while CO2 is the effect of that change and not the cause.

In the end, it is most safe to say that we simply do not yet know the driver(s) of major climate change. And there is no evidence for a pivotal position regarding CO2. It is not even clear that CO2 plays a tertiary role let alone a primary one. And, most likely, atmospheric CO2 plays no meaningful role at all as regards instigating or amplifying climate change (at <200ppm all life would slowly become crippled; yet CO2’s GHG effect is ~95% saturated at this level).

Some have a difficult time with the idea that anthropogenic emission is largely irrelevant to atmospheric concentration. Their thinking seems to them to be indisputable. i.e. Since we know that atmospheric enhancement is only about ½ our human emission, then removing our human emission would more than account for a reconciliation.

According to some using this thinking, cutting our emission in half might yield a near perfect reconciliation. As if a reconciliation of any sort might produce some meaningful benefit to climate variations (and it would only be, at most, geologically momentary till some natural event changed things again, one way or the other). The cartoon in Figure 4 attempts to illustrate why it is that our contribution is not particularly relevant using some very rough personal yet rational guestimates to make the point.

Figure 4

During the Little Ice Age, natural sinks had overtaken sources so atmospheric CO2 fell (caused by cooling). The warming since then has stimulated natural sources which, in turn, have stimulated natural sinks. And the sources are now out in front, with our modest help to be sure (sinks will always follow sources in both directions). But both sources and sinks have been growing far more rapidly than our anthropogenic contribution in absolute terms. So if our contribution were to be removed in its entirety, there would be little identifiable change. Microbial and insect emissions would more than make up the difference if we let them**. And had we not contributed our 2%, the vegetative sinks would have been most likely under-stimulated by a somewhat similar amount such that there would be little identifiable change. (The water tub analogy where a spigot is filling the CO2 tub, while a drain is draining it, is entirely misleading in the way it is often presented as there is a clearly coupled relationship between changes to the rates of input and output – at least till a saturation event occurs.)

And if the Earth continues to warm, at some point the photosynthetic sequestering sinks will saturate (so that their increasing capacity to sink CO2 will quit increasing). Then very steep atmospheric spiking will ensue just as it so often has in the past. It is very likely that photosynthetic sequestering (biological response) provides an enormous (geologically real-time) negative feedback to additional atmospheric CO2 until such time as it saturates. See Figure 5. This predicted saturation event is not likely very far off into the future if the planet continues to slide sideways on temperature. However, a near-term solar-driven mini ice age may likely interrupt this otherwise predictable event.

**If, for some inexplicable reason, we somehow came to rationally conclude that the Earthly atmospheric CO2 content should rightfully be driven down by our future anthropogenic actions, the most obvious (and simple) actions we could take would involve our further limiting the exponentially growing contribution coming from our competitors in this arena: microbes and insects. A yet further global reduction in their competitive contribution by only ~6% would more than account for the otherwise complete elimination of our anthropogenic CO2 contribution in its entirety. And while this course of action is loaded with potential pitfalls, it is trivially within our anthropogenic means. We have already accumulated a great deal of experience in this regard and already have great insight to its pitfalls (something similar to but possibly much less drastic than what we have done in the lands we use for cultivation and occupation might be performed in certain other lands that we do not currently treat as such). It could likely be done in such a way as to yet further increase crop yields while further minimizing the spread of disease. And it likely is far less subject to unintended consequence than many (all) geo-engineering proposals on the table at this time that I know of – none of which make any sense to me, including this particularly obvious and simple suggested course of action. Why in the world would we choose it inhibit the proliferation of all life on Earth by offsetting our 2% Vitamin C(O2), especially when Nature will continue to wield its 98% in ways totally out of our anthropogenic control.

Figure 5

Summary

1. Climate science is very complicated and very far from being settled.

2. Earth’s climate is overwhelmingly dominated by negative-feedbacks that are currently poorly represented in our Modeling efforts and not sufficiently part of ongoing investigations.

3. Climate warming drives atmospheric CO2 upward as it stimulates all natural sources of CO2 emission. Climate cooling drives atmospheric CO2 downward.

4. Massive yet delayed thermal modulations to the dissolved CO2 content of the oceans is what ultimately drives and dominates the modulations to atmospheric CO2.

5. The current spike in atmospheric CO2 is largely natural (~98%). i.e. Of the 100ppm increase we have seen recently (going from 280 to 380ppm), the move from 280 to 378ppm is natural while the last bit from 378 to 380ppm is rightfully anthropogenic.

6. The current spike in atmospheric CO2 would most likely be larger than now observed if human beings had never evolved. The additional CO2 contribution from insects and microbes (and mammalia for that matter) would most likely have produced a greater current spike in atmospheric CO2.

7. Atmospheric CO2 has a tertiary to non-existent impact on the instigation and amplification of climate change. CO2 is not pivotal. Modulations to atmospheric CO2 are the effect of climate change and not the cause.

Ronald D Voisin is a retired engineer.  He spent 27 years in the Semiconductor Lithography Equipment industry mostly in California’s Silicon Valley.  Since retiring, he has made a hobby of studying climate change for the last 7 years.  Ron received a BSEE degree from the Univ. of Michigan – Ann Arbor in 1978 and has held various management positions at both established equipment companies and start-ups he helped initiate.  Ron has authored/co-authored 55 patent applications, 24 of which have issued.

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204 Responses to An Engineer’s Take On Major Climate Change

  1. A C Osborn says:

    Just so much common sense written here and all brought together in one well written package.
    Essential reading for every Teacher, School Kid Mum, Dad and Politician.
    Perhaps it will help prevent some of the hysteria we see currently being published.

  2. A C Osborn says:

    Oh I forgot Reporters and media, but then they hardly ever bother with facts do they?

  3. Manfred says:

    Thank you for this informative piece.
    So,the recent UN suggestion that insects become a staple would appear to have some merit? /sarc.

  4. Dr Burns says:

    Excellent – as one would expect from a good engineer.
    ” … most likely, atmospheric CO2 plays no meaningful role at all as regards instigating or amplifying climate change”. Nice to see no mention of climate sensitivity to CO2, which is meaningless if CO2 increases follow temperature increases.

  5. Now, this is an informative and clear article, unlike some “scientific sounding musings” that attract a lot of traffic but not much thought.

    In addition to many important balancing feedback mechanisms listed by Mr. Voisin, I keep thinking about photosynthesis. Our planet, including its oceans, is mostly covered with plants. This huge plant cover not only absorbs carbon dioxide and emits oxygen; not only it grows with the increase of the atmospheric CO2, providing a balancing feedback by its growth alone — it also directly transforms solar energy into the long-lasting organic compounds: sugars, proteins, etc.

    Maybe I am blind, but I don’t see in the AGW models and formulas (including the rather simplistic diagram proposed recently by Dr. Pielke Jr.) any accounting for this massive absorption and transformation of the solar energy by plants. It would seem to me that a very large portion of the solar energy hitting Earth must be transformed by plants in this way, and doesn’t immediately find its way into the atmosphere. Some of it is stored practically forever, as far as human civilization is concerned. Therefore, it must substantially influence “forcing” calculations.

    Is it being taken into account by climatologists? If it is, where and how? I cannot find a trace of it.

  6. UK Marcus says:

    Thank you for the clarity and sanity in your well written, well argued and sensible research into how climate science has been manipulated. Coming from an engineer it has credence.

  7. Eric H. says:

    “This incredibly tightly controlled, long duration behavior can only be understood in the context of a system overwhelmingly dominated by negative-feedbacks.” This has always been my take on it a s well.

  8. johnmarshall says:

    Excellent post, the common sense I would expect from an engineer.
    Oceanic dissolved CO2 is from two sources, the atmosphere and ocean ridge volcanism. Ocean ridge volcanism has been estimated to number up to 1,000,000 separate volcanoes all belching out CO2, as well as HCl, HF, and others, with the hot circulating waters. This highly acidic gas rich water cools and the dissolved gas becomes part of the total dissolved gas ensemble of the ocean to outgas at the surface at some time later.
    Yes our ”bit” of CO2 is of no consequence.

  9. Oh help…

    And the current spike in atmospheric CO2 is clearly not primarily human caused. Factually, atmospheric CO2 cannot be beneficially changed by human behavior, regardless of what actions we might take.

    So, we emit about 9 GtC as CO2 per year and we measure an increase of about 4 GtC/year in the atmosphere but the increase is NOT human made?
    As one looks at your mass balance:
    1850: 225 GtC in, 228 GtC out + 1 GtC human gives a drop of 2 GtC/yr. Or a drop of 1 ppmv/yr.
    As the full drop of CO2 over the whole LIA is not more than 6 ppmv for a 0.8°C drop in temperature, if we may assume that the LIA was about 400 years long, the average reduction in CO2 was about 0.0075 ppmv/yr. That is all. What you forget is that once the new temperature is more or less sustained, the new CO2 levels are sustained too.

    Further, nature was a continuous sink for CO2 over the past 50+ years:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/dco2_em2.jpg
    Even with an enormous increase in natural emissions and sinks, the sinks were always larger than the natural sources. All what happened is that the turnover of CO2 increased, without any substantial contribution to atmospheric level, only substantial removal of CO2.

    And please don’t refer to the late Ernst Beck graph. While I do admire the tremendous amount of work he has done, the data where that was based on are completely unreliable: most “peak” data are from land based stations, near huge sources and sinks for CO2. See:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/beck_data.html

    But for all we know, atmospheric CO2 has spiked to over 1000 ppm (not so unlikely), for a relatively short period of time (quite possibly up to 500 years or even more)

    No, that is not possible:
    The resolution of the Dome C ice core is ~560 years over the past 800 kyears. Any cycle with a smaller cycle length than 560 years would not be noticed.
    But any one-sided spike of 3 ppmv sustained over 560 years would have been measured (the accuracy and repeatability of the measurements is 1.2 ppmv – 1 sigma). Or even a 1000 ppmv spike sustained over 2 years would be measured.
    The better resolution (~40 years) ice cores like Taylor Dome go back 70 kyears in time, thus making it even more impossible that huge spikes were unnoticed at the start of the current Holocene (to the contrary, they reveal a sharp drop with high resolution at the Younger Dryas).

    Additionally, this uncertainty of magnitude is further muddied by an incomplete understanding of diffusion processes

    The diffusion was (theoretically) calculated from remelt layers in the Siple Dome ice core: the resolution broadened from 20 to 22 years at medium depth and 20 to 40 years at full depth. For the much colder Vostok and Dome C ice cores, there is no measurable migration, as the constant ratio between CO2 levels and temperature (proxy) shows for each glaciation/deglaciation back in time.
    http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/3773250

    More to come later…

  10. eco-geek says:

    I haven’t seen it anywhere but on Corbyn’s “Weather Action” website. Some discussion paper by one “Beck” I seem to recall that shows accurate “anthropogenic” measurements on CO2 since about 1800. The latest peak ignored by the warmists (and perhaps the closet warmists aka sceptics) was in 1942 when atmospheric CO2 measured > 420ppm!

    This is a must read/discuss paper. Lots of serious scientists have been performing accurate measurements of CO2 for a couple of centuries and the warmists deliberately ignored this work in favour of dodgy ice core data. On its own this dismembers the slain warmist corpse.

  11. Bloke down the pub says:

    All very logical, which means that the warmists won’t understand any of it.

  12. SimonJ says:

    I also am an engineer, dealing with feedback systems. Back in the mists of time, when I first heard about CAGW, and that the theory involved positive feed-back between CO2 and water vapour I immediately spotted this flaw. The poroposed mechanism was bi-stable. Volcano goes off, venting a bit of CO2, which produces warming, produces water vapour, more warming, more vapour, more warming … “can you see what it is yet?” It only stops when we’re at 100% RH! Total bullshit, and always has been!

  13. mogamboguru says:

    Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    June 4, 2013 at 4:01 am
    Oh help…
    ————————————————————————————————————————
    Granted:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/06/03/an-interesting-issue-with-ice-core-data/#more-87561

    An interesting issue with ice core data
    Posted on June 3, 2013 by Anthony Watts

    Guest submission by William Hunt (an excerpt from his book)

    4.3 What About Ice Cores that Suggest Increased Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere?

    There is a claim that ice cores from Greenland’s glaciers and other areas of “permanent” ice caps, such as the Antarctic ice cap, indicate increasing carbon dioxide. Unfortunately, ice cores in these glaciers cannot be used to determine carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere of the past. Carbon dioxide and other atmospheric gases sequestered in ice tend to move upward over time, and this mechanism makes ice cores useless for determining atmospheric carbon dioxide. To understand why, one must know how glaciers form and move.”

    Sometines it helps to read all contributions on this site, and not only those ones one wants to debunk so desperately, because debunking them fits one’s own agenda…

  14. Kasuha says:

    I remain unconvinced about the atmospheric CO2 concentration changes being not at least partially anthropogenic. Of course human influence is very small compared to other sources but what is important is not how big it is but how much has it changed compared to changes in other CO2 sources and sinks. And I don’t see any convincing evidence that there have been any significant recent (~100 years) changes in any other CO2 sources and sinks except two factors – human usage of fossil fuels and human exploitation of land for agricultural and other purposes.
    However small the human contribution is compared to total system turnover, I don’t see it out of proportion to how CO2 concentrations change.

    Would there be the current warming without humans releasing CO2? I believe it would be there. But I believe CO2 concentrations would behave like they always behaved in history and would lag more significantly behind the change in the temperature. To me, recent CO2 increase and warming are more of a coincidence than cause and effect.

  15. A C Osborn says:

    Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    June 4, 2013 at 4:01 am
    And please don’t refer to the late Ernst Beck graph. While I do admire the tremendous amount of work he has done, the data where that was based on are completely unreliable: most “peak” data are from land based stations, near huge sources and sinks for CO2

    And Mauna Loa is where exactly?
    In the middle of one of the world’s largest sources and sinks for CO2, an Ocean.

  16. C.M. Carmichael says:

    Excellent article, so clearly written it is like Willis E. is your editor. Thank you. Now go lambaste Ferdinand.

  17. Athelstan. says:

    Excellent, cogently argued and written in clear precise language – as engineers are won’t to do.

    Thank you, Mr. Ronald D Voisin – can you have a word with Mr. President?

  18. Considering the negative feedback. Remember also that Olavi Kaerner published several papers that showed that the climate data series all show a anti-persistence, which means that they tend to reverse trends, as negative feedback does.

    http://www.aai.ee/~olavi/

    I toyed a bit with that principle with a one dimensional random walk here:

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/g8x2m4d8h6dt51w/feedback-reversals.xls

    and added both negative feedbanck (blue) and positive feedback (red). Notice that the blue negative feedback response makes more reversals than the original walk and stays closer to the baseline while the red positive feedback tends to deviate more from the baseline giving less reversals. So you cvan count reversals on a certain time base to see if a signal is likely to be the result of positive or negative feedback.

    I

  19. Stephen Wilde says:

    Whatever Ferdinand says the data suggests that the human emissions of CO2 are absorbed locally and regionally by the surrounding biosphere.

    See here:

    http://climaterealists.com/index.php?id=9508

    “Evidence that Oceans not Man control CO2 emissions”

    There is absolutely no sign of any ‘excess’ CO2 downwind of our population centres but lots downwind of sun warmed ocean surfaces.

  20. A C Osborn says:
    June 4, 2013 at 4:37 am

    And Mauna Loa is where exactly?
    In the middle of one of the world’s largest sources and sinks for CO2, an Ocean

    The oceans are huge sinks and sources of CO2 so is vegetation. But the average mixing in the atmosphere gives only small variations from day to day if you don’t measure in the middle of a forest or inbetween and other leaves of growing crops, as the 1942 “peak” data of Beck’s were. Here a plot of a few modern summer days in Giessen, Germany, where the largest series of the 1942 “peak” was measured:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/giessen_background.jpg
    all raw data, including volcanic vents at MLO (Mauna Loa), ocean and vegetation influences at MLO and BRW (Barrow) and none of these influences at SPO (South Pole), far away from oceans, volcanoes and vegetation…

  21. Stephen Wilde says:
    June 4, 2013 at 4:56 am

    The graph you referenced is for July only, not for a whole year…

  22. Thomas says:

    This article is a perfect example of the blogosphere echo chamber. Voisin has gotten his information from blogs, other people who also have gotten their information from similar blogs get confirmation for their beliefs and cheer the article and the world a real science get dismissed altogether.

    Just to take one example of how Voisin doesn’t understand climate science. To him “positive feedbacks” means the system has to be unstable, but that is not how the term is used in climate science. There it just means a temperature response that is greater that what you’d get from a simple blackbody.

    When Voisin asks “Why didn’t that spiking lead to large increases in atmospheric water vapor? ” I can only wonder how he knows it didn’t. I don’t think we have any proxy records, but all models certainly assume water vapor increased, and it’s very hard to explain the large temperature shift during the ice age cycles without it.

  23. Stephen Wilde says:

    Ferdinand said:

    “The graph you referenced is for July only, not for a whole year…”

    So what ?

    As the year progresses the bands of maximum CO2 concentration simply drift latitudinally with the seasonal shifts in the subtropical high pressure zones.

    In July the energy use for air conditioning is at maximum. Where are the consequent plumes downwind of our population centres?

    However you try to spin it, your endless convoluted ‘explanations’ as to why the recent increase in CO2 must be human induced just don’t fit the observations.

    If theories don’t fit facts you have to jettison the theories.

  24. RobertInAz says:

    The thinking is that a small increase in atmospheric CO2 will trigger a large increase in atmospheric Green-House-Gas water vapor. And then the combination of these two enhanced atmospheric constituents will lead to run-away, or at least appreciable and unprecedented – often characterized as catastrophic – global warming.

    Sad. This paper does not even set the context correctly. The thinking is that increased CO2 will induce warming which will lead to increased water vapor which will induce more warming which will …… and so and so on.

    So rather than focus on historical CO2, I would look at historical warming periods and see if the positive feedback loop ever kicks off. The evidence says no.

  25. chris y says:

    “The thinking is that a small increase in atmospheric CO2 will trigger a large increase in atmospheric Green-House-Gas water vapor.”

    This is the consensus clamor of the times. However comma, there was an interesting tangential comment in a recent article on a solar panel breakthrough-

    “Patent filing claims a solar breakthrough”, By Greg Gordon / McClatchy Washington Bureau: May 12, 2013

    http://www.bendbulletin.com/article/20130512/NEWS0107/305120389/

    where Kenneth Caldeira used a climate model to demonstrate negative feedback from evaporation. Who knew?!???

    “He proposed to spray huge volumes of sea water into the air at key, windy spots around the planet.”
    “Kenneth Caldeira, a world-renowned Stanford University climate scientist, was intrigued enough to run a computer simulation attempting to roughly approximate Ace’s idea. The computer model used by the world’s top climate scientists projected that, with an extra centimeter of evaporation everywhere on Earth, the planet would cool by nearly 1 degree Fahrenheit within 20 to 30 years.”

    Global average evapo-transpiration is about 100 cm per year.
    A 1% INCREASE in this rate results in a DROP in surface temperature of 1 degree F.

    Hmmm….

  26. Canman says:

    It further assumes that rising atmospheric CO2 is largely or even entirely anthropogenic.

    I’ll believe it when I see measured CO2 concentrations make a sustained decline while fossil fuel emissions continue to rise.

  27. Ryan says:

    [snip . . why not simply state why, rather than just an assertion. Give people meat to chew on . . mod]

  28. Allencic says:

    I wish all scientists and researchers could write with such wonderful clarity. Hell,I wish all writing could be so logical and clear. Thanks for the great article

  29. Thomas says:

    chris, the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere is less limited by evaporation than it is precipitation. Once relative humidity reaches 100% you get rain (or snow), and more evaporation just gives more rain. The reason why water vapor acts as a positive feedback is that it takes more water vapor before you reach 100% relative humidity at higher temperature.

    Messing with the hydrological cycle like in the suggestion of spraying sea water will have all kind of effects in the amount of water vapor, latent heat transfer, clouds etc. Short of doing a large scale experiment you need a climate model to see the result.

  30. Gary says:

    (Recognizing that the tiny radiative perturbations of Milankovitch cycles have been relegated to small amplitude variation at frequencies that are only poorly correlated to climate swings generally, but may nonetheless correlate to major swings in ways speculated herein.)

    Not quite sure what this is saying, but it seems to be waffling. It’s been well established that the Milankovitch cycles regulate the timing of major climate swings and probably are the primary cause given the current configuration of ocean circulation. Of course, it’s very likely that other influences in the complex climate system, particularly lag effects of continental ice, CO2, etc. contribute, but as secondary effects.

  31. dcfl51 says:

    Beck’s report on CO2 measurements during the 19th and 20th centuries has been widely criticized on the grounds that station locations were near to sources of CO2 production and that some rises in CO2 concentration, e.g. in the 1940s, are simply too large to be credible. The web page below might be of interest. Although the thread is rather long, it is worth reading. It is a lively and erudite discussion of these criticisms which was joined by Beck himself. This must have been one of his final public debates before he was taken from us in 2010. By the end of the thread, some of the doubters who had checked out Beck’s claims and found them to be substantiated were beginning to wonder whether Beck might have been right. It is a great pity that he didn’t live long enough to publish the paper which, in the thread, he indicated he was preparing.

    http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/03/06/historic-variations-in-co2-measurements/

  32. Canman says:

    I sort of Moshed my comment @5:32 am. While this post is interesting, I still find the notion that humans are causing the current CO2 rise to be compelling.

    This old article by Peter Huber on the US as a net carbon sink is still pretty interesting:

    http://www.forbes.com/forbes/1999/0405/6307126a.html

  33. Further on the conclusions:

    3. Climate warming drives atmospheric CO2 upward as it stimulates all natural sources of CO2 emission. Climate cooling drives atmospheric CO2 downward.

    The main source caused by warming are the oceans. According to Henry’s Law, that gives 16 ppmv extra for each °C. That is all. No matter how much CO2 circulates over the (deep) oceans. 16 ppmv extra in the atmosphere and everything is again in (dynamic) equilibrium. That implies no increase in ocean releases or uptake once the equilibrium is reached again.
    Shake a bottle of Coke: it doesn’t matter if that is a o.5 l or 1 l or 1.5 l bottle. For the same fill, you will have near the same CO2 pressure above the liquid, except for the relative larger loss in the smaller volume of liquid.

    As the rest of nature (vegetation growth, vegetation area, rock weathering) acts in opposite way for increased temperatures, the average increase for 1°C is 8 ppmv as seen in ice cores from multi-decades (MWP-LIA) to multi-millennia.
    That implies that the contribution of the increase in temperature since the LIA is at maximum 8 ppmv, not the 100+ ppmv we see since 1850 or 70+ ppmv since Mauna Loa in 1959.

    4. Massive yet delayed thermal modulations to the dissolved CO2 content of the oceans is what ultimately drives and dominates the modulations to atmospheric CO2.
    It doesn’t matter how much CO2 is dissolved in the oceans, only the concentration and temperature at the surface matters. If that changes (the temperature, concentration hardly changes in periods of 150 years and more), then the CO2 levels in the atmosphere changes with about 4-5 ppmv/°C (seasons to decades) and up to 8 ppmv/°C for (very) long periods (multi-decades to multi-millennia). The latter includes surface and deep ocean circulations and changes in vegetation area.

    5. The current spike in atmospheric CO2 is largely natural (~98%). i.e. Of the 100ppm increase we have seen recently (going from 280 to 380ppm), the move from 280 to 378ppm is natural while the last bit from 378 to 380ppm is rightfully anthropogenic.

    Quite wrong: it is like saying that a fountain with a 1000 l/minute recycling is the cause of an overflow, even if someone forgets to close the water supply of 1 l/minute.
    From your own natural mass balance:
    400 GtC into the atmosphere, 404 GtC from the atmosphere into other reservoirs. Thus nature is a net sink for CO2 with a “contribution” of -4 GtC/year. Thus the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere by natural sources is zero, nada,…

    6. The current spike in atmospheric CO2 would most likely be larger than now observed if human beings had never evolved. The additional CO2 contribution from insects and microbes (and mammalia for that matter) would most likely have produced a greater current spike in atmospheric CO2.

    As all insects and animals – including humans – depend of plants, it is of interest to look at the CO2 balance over the biosphere as a whole.
    Plants use CO2 and return O2. Insects and animals and rotting vegetation use O2 and return CO2. Thus the balance can be made by looking at the increase or decrease of oxygen in the atmosphere, after taking into account the amounts of oxygen used for fossil fuel burning.
    That shows that there is a small deficit in oxygen use, thus the whole biosphere is currently a net source of O2, thus a net sink for CO2 of about 1 GtC/year:
    http://www.bowdoin.edu/~mbattle/papers_posters_and_talks/BenderGBC2005.pdf
    Still by far not enough to absorb all of the 9 GtC/year that humans emit.
    Before 1990, the biosphere may have been about neutral or slightly contributing.
    Thus biolife as a whole is thanks to human emissions a net sink for CO2…

    Modulations to atmospheric CO2 are the effect of climate change and not the cause.

    While that is true for most of the 800 kyear past, it isn’t for the past 150 years. Only the wiggles around the trend of ~4-5 ppmv/°C are caused by temperature variations. The trend is largely not.
    If that has much influence on climate, is an enitrely different question, but the increase of CO2 in past 150 years is largely human made.

    The continuous insistence of many sceptics on the non-human increase of the current CO2 levels only discredits them on where the real debate should be: the lack of influence of the increase on climate…

  34. DocMartyn says:

    Generally when you are describing the fluxes between two systems there are two terms used; Reservoir and Sink. A reservoir has bidirectional fluxes, thus the atmosphere and oceans represent two CO2 reservoir’s and there is a flux of CO2 from the atmosphere into the oceans and from the oceans into the atmosphere. At steady state these two fluxes are equal. A sink has a quite different meaning. A sink represents a thermodynamically unidirectional local, things go into sinks and don’t come out, at least not within time-frame referenced. Thus, the mineralization of carbon, being trapped in ocean sediments or being converted into insoluble salts is a sink. The system only goes one way, allowing biotic material to form kerogens, oils and coals.
    An irreversible flux means that your system will eventually proceed to zero, unless there is an external input into the system; reservoir’s are like the rooms in a school, with children going in and out of rooms and with different occupancies at different times, whereas a sink is like a snake-pit in the school. Eventually the pit will reduce the numbers of living children to zero.
    The external input into the biosphere is from volcanic sources. CO2 enters the system, circulates throughout all the various reservoir’s and then exits the system due to mineralization. In the absence of humans extracting and burning fossil fuels, the system maintained a steady state of atmospheric CO2 whereby the mineralization rate was equal to the volcanic input. This is not ‘luck’, it is not an accident. The rate of mineralization of carbon by deposition into the marine sludge in the oceans is a function of its bio-productivity, which is in turn, at least partly proportionate to the levels of inorganic carbon in the top, photosynthetic, 100 meters of the ocean.
    Not for nothing are the levels of inorganic carbon, within the respiring zone, denuded compared with lower down. The lineshape of dissolved oxygen and inorganic carbon are mirrored by chance.
    http://www.pnas.org/content/106/30/12235/F2.large.jpg

  35. Bart says:

    Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    June 4, 2013 at 4:01 am

    “Further, nature was a continuous sink for CO2 over the past 50+ years:”

    Groan… No, it was not. This is not how feedback systems work. You have imagined the dynamics as you want them to be, but your conception is totally divorced from reality. In a feedback system, the sinks dynamically adjust in response to the source inputs.

    “Even with an enormous increase in natural emissions and sinks, the sinks were always larger than the natural sources.”

    Complete and utter non sequitur. You cannot uniquely separate natural and anthropogenic source and sink rates. It is an underdetermined system from this point of view.

    “What you forget is that once the new temperature is more or less sustained, the new CO2 levels are sustained too.”

    No, it is an integral relationship, as the data very clearly show.

    This relationship comes about because there is a continual flow of CO2 laden waters upwelling in the tropics, and downwelling at the poles. Any net imbalance between those flows naturally gives rise to precisely such an integral relationship:

    dCO2/dt = k*(T – Teq)

    where “k” is a coupling factor, and Teq is an equilibrium temperature for the current upwelling/downwelling regime. This predictable relationship is confirmed by the data.

    “More to come later…”

    It’s like watching someone perform self-mutilation. Not a pretty sight. The superficial resemblance of emissions to recent atmospheric concentration is diverging, with a sharp divergence begining in about 1990, and accelerated divergence since about 2005. Temperatures are likely to decrease in the next 20-30 years in accordance with the natural ~60 year cycle, but even if they simply remain static, with continued accelerating emissions, it will not be long before the divergence becomes so stark that even you will be forced to admit the obvious, and come to terms with how you deceived yourself by assuming the answer, and then arranging the facts to support your conclusion.

    “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly, one begins to twist facts to support theories, rather than theories to support facts.”
    - Sherlock Holmes

  36. Eric H. says:

    I still don’t have my head around the net positive feedback meme, perhaps because my background is in avionics and working with command and feedback circuits. Here is my logic, y’all can fire away and tell me where I am wrong. Dr. Spencer just confused me more. With net positive feedback any forcing starts the process which creates a small rise in temperature. The climate responds with more forcing (water vapor, CO2, decreased albedo, less low level clouds) and the temp rises some more causing even more positive feedback and forcing. Of course these feedbacks all have a damper effect and diminishing returns but the are acting together. So how does the climate ever reach an equilibrium? Add in lags and the temps would simply start on an upward or downward trend until an opposite forcing larger than the original forcing plus feedbacks came along to reverse the trend. If you look at the temperature effect of volcanoes it doesn’t seem that these positive feedbacks happen in real life. In fact it appears that volcanoes are a good example of a climate ruled by negative feedbacks as the temperature drops are short lived.

  37. Steve Goreham says:

    Excellent article Ron. For quite a while, I’ve thought it improbable that mankind was driving the increase in atmospheric CO2.

    Another point is that Henry’s Law, which describes the equilibrium between a dissolved gas and the gas in the air above a solution, probably is in operation between the oceans and the atmosphere. According to the IPCC carbon cycle model, the oceans contain 50 times as much CO2 as the atmosphere. The atmospheric depth is about 5-6 miles and the average horizontal boundary between the atmosphere and the oceans is on the order of 10,000 miles. That’s a big surface area for CO2 exchange to take place. It’s probably not possible for atmospheric CO2 to double unless driven by the oceans.

  38. Stephen Wilde says:
    June 4, 2013 at 5:16 am

    The bands not only shift, but the e.g. the US changes from a huge sink into a huge source of CO2 in winter, simply because vegetation doesn’t absorb as much CO2 and fallen leaves are rotting.
    See the film of the evolution of CO2 2002-2009 from AIRS:
    http://airs.jpl.nasa.gov/news_archive/2010-03-30-CO2-Movie/

    However you try to spin it, your endless convoluted ‘explanations’ as to why the recent increase in CO2 must be human induced just don’t fit the observations.

    Well, the human contribution is about 9 GtC/year, the natural cycle is about 150 GtC/season in and out, with a deficit of ~5 GtC/year. The 9 GtC/year is about 4.5 ppmv/year or 0.012 ppmv/day or 0.4 ppmv/month. The Mauna Loa measurements are accurate to +/- 0.1 ppmv. The AIRS data to +/- 5 ppmv. AIRS need a much better accuracy or a much smaller footprint in scanned area to detect any human contribution.

  39. beng says:

    I’ve trusted Ferdinand Engelbeen’s CO2 analysis for yrs. Still do.

  40. Richard Binns says:

    For anyone who would like to see a short
    video presentation of the reality on feedback, this is excellent http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gDErDwXqhc&feature=share

  41. Bart says:
    June 4, 2013 at 6:14 am

    Groan… No, it was not. This is not how feedback systems work. You have imagined the dynamics as you want them to be, but your conception is totally divorced from reality. In a feedback system, the sinks dynamically adjust in response to the source inputs.

    Agreed on this: the 100 ppmv increase above equilibrium in the atmosphere is what drives the net uptake by oceans and biosphere at about 2 ppmv/year. That is the feedback of the natural cycle.

    Complete and utter non sequitur. You cannot uniquely separate natural and anthropogenic source and sink rates. It is an underdetermined system from this point of view.

    Not at all: while the absolute fluxes in or out the reservoirs are only estimates, the net difference is quite exactly known, as the human emissions are well known (taxes!) and the increase in the atmosphere is quite accurately known. It doesn’t matter if the fluxes between the atmosphere are 100 or 1000 or 10,000 GtC/year, only the difference after a year matters, as that is what influences the total CO2 level in the atmosphere, not the turnover.

    No, it is an integral relationship, as the data very clearly show.

    As the data for any period longer than a few decades show: there is a direct correlation of CO2 with temperature where CO2 lags temperature. There is no continuous release of CO2 if the temperature gets higher and then stays at the higher level. The integration you did is from an arbitrary zero level and is pure coincidence.

    This relationship comes about because there is a continual flow of CO2 laden waters upwelling in the tropics, and downwelling at the poles. Any net imbalance between those flows naturally gives rise to precisely such an integral relationship:

    If the CO2 inflow from the equator increases (either by concentration or temperature), then CO2 levels increase in the atmosphere. That increase reduces the pCO2 difference between atmopshere and water, thus decreasing the influx at the equator. At the poles, the increased pCO2 of the atmosphere increases the pCO2 difference between atmosphere and water, thus increasing the downwelling flux. The fluxes will be again in equilibrium at half the disturbance at the origin.
    As Henry’s Law gives some 16 ppmv extra for 1°C increase in temperature at the equator only, the increase in the atmosphere with 8 ppmv will bring the fluxes back to the original values…

    Temperatures are likely to decrease in the next 20-30 years in accordance with the natural ~60 year cycle, but even if they simply remain static, with continued accelerating emissions, it will not be long before the divergence becomes so stark that even you will be forced to admit the obvious

    There is an about 0-1 GtC/yr extra sink since the temperatures stopped to increase further, besides the “old” trend of 50-55% of the human emissions. Currently not a big deal to worry about. Still about 50% of human emissions (in quantity) remain in the atmosphere. It would need a 0.5°C per year cooling, every year to come, to remove the rest of the yearly human emissions…

  42. philincalifornia says:

    Thomas says:
    June 4, 2013 at 5:13 am
    Just to take one example of how Voisin doesn’t understand climate science. To him “positive feedbacks” means the system has to be unstable, but that is not how the term is used in climate science. There it just means a temperature response that is greater that what you’d get from a simple blackbody.
    ———————————

    ….. do you have secret handshakes too ??

  43. Chris Wright says:

    I still tend to believe that the CO2 increase was man-made, but I’m open to serious counter-arguments – and this piece by Ron Voisin is certainly impressive. I do recall that one argument based on isotopes appeared to prove it was caused by human emissions. But I also recall that, not long ago, that argument was shown to be wrong.

    Right now I’d say it’s still more likely to be human-caused, but in my view the probablility of this being true is getting smaller almost by the day. What an irony if the CO2 increase did turn out to be completely natural!

    If Voisin is right, there’s an even greater irony: that if mankind did not exist, the current CO2 increase would be significantly greater, due to the greater number of insects.

    By the way, is there any evidence of higher CO2 during the MWP? Are we even able to reliably measure the CO2 amount a thousand years ago?

    We live in interesting times….
    Chris

  44. Steve Goreham says:
    June 4, 2013 at 6:26 am

    Another point is that Henry’s Law, which describes the equilibrium between a dissolved gas and the gas in the air above a solution, probably is in operation between the oceans and the atmosphere. According to the IPCC carbon cycle model, the oceans contain 50 times as much CO2 as the atmosphere.

    As said before: Henry’s Law gives only 16 ppmv/°C (over the total ocean surface) more in the atmosphere to obtain a new equilibrium. The quantities available in the (deep) oceans are of no interest here, only the pressure difference at the surface is important. Currently, the CO2 pressure in the atmosphere is higher than in the ocean surface, in average about 7 microatm higher. See:
    http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/pubs/outstand/feel2331/exchange.shtml
    and following pages.

    Thus the oceans are a net sink for CO2…

  45. DirkH says:

    Thomas says:
    June 4, 2013 at 5:13 am
    “Just to take one example of how Voisin doesn’t understand climate science. To him “positive feedbacks” means the system has to be unstable, but that is not how the term is used in climate science. There it just means a temperature response that is greater that what you’d get from a simple blackbody. ”

    Ok, Thomas, so you use the word feedback for something that is not called feedback in engineering.

    What word do climate scientists use when they want to describe what an engineer calls “feedback”? Or do you not have a word for that? I think it would improve our communication if we knew that term. TIA.

    “When Voisin asks “Why didn’t that spiking lead to large increases in atmospheric water vapor? ” I can only wonder how he knows it didn’t. I don’t think we have any proxy records, but all models certainly assume water vapor increased, and it’s very hard to explain the large temperature shift during the ice age cycles without it.”

    That’s great that the models assume that. Did anyone of you ever get the idea to try and go out and measure it? TIA.

  46. GoneWithTheWind says:

    In other words the increase in CO2 is SOOO powerful that the earth is unable to resist the forces that relentlessly increase our temperature. And yet in the face of increasing CO2 the earth has indeed resisted this enormous force… Hmmmm! Time to make up another excuse/theory

  47. Chris Wright says:
    June 4, 2013 at 7:04 am

    I do recall that one argument based on isotopes appeared to prove it was caused by human emissions. But I also recall that, not long ago, that argument was shown to be wrong.

    That argument still holds:
    - The oceans can’t be the cause of the sharp decline in 13C/12C ratio, as their ratio is (much) higher than in the atmosphere. Any substantial release of extra CO2 from the oceans would increase the ratio in the atmosphere, but we see a sharp decrease in the atmosphere as well in the oceans surface waters in ratio with human emissions.
    - The only other huge possible source of low 13C is the biosphere, but that is a net producer of oxygen, thus a net absorber of CO2 and preferential of 12CO2, thus leaving relative more 13CO2 in the atmosphere. Thus also not the cause of the 13C/12C ratio decline in the atmosphere.
    See:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/sponges.gif

  48. Michael Larkin says:

    As an ordinary bozo on the bus, I must say I hadn’t quite realised the extent to which natural CO2 emissions have been increasing since the Little Ice Age, nor how much larger they are than anthropogenic emissions. I also hadn’t fully realised that natural CO2 absorption had increased in line with natural emissions.

    Mr. Voison, I thank you for this very clear and enlightening posting. I can only hope that it percolates into mass consciousness!

  49. milodonharlani says:

    If the net effect of assumed CO2-induced heating is to generate a positive feedback from more water vapor in the air, then why have satellites not detected such an increase, in fact a decrease, during the recent warming period?

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/03/06/nasa-satellite-data-shows-a-decline-in-water-vapor/

    As always, the Team’s cherished but never tested assumptions crash on the rocks of the reality they so religiously deny. Gavin was right about GIGO models, without realizing that his criticism of social “science” models goes double for his own.

  50. Scott Scarborough says:

    I didn’t see the author mention Plant Stoma for measureing CO2. It does not seem to have the difficulties of diffusion that Ice-core samples have. And stomas indicate that the atmosphere was at 425 ppm about 13,000 years ago.

  51. Steven Mosher says:

    “Yet these Models constitute substantially the entire evidentiary basis for Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) as opposed to non-anthropogenic global warming (NGW or Natural Global Warming) for which there is a great deal of evidence. ”

    Wrong. The basis for AGW goes back over 100 years and has absolutely nothing to do with Models.

    1. The physics of RTE inform us that doubling C02 will add roughly 3.7Watts of additional forcing. Ask any enginer who has to work with the propagation of radiation through a gas.

    2. 3.7Watts of additional forcing will get you roughly 1.1C of additional warming without
    considering feedbacks.

    3. Observational evidence ( the temperature record and paleo record) indicate that
    feedbacks are net positive and constrain estimates of sensitivity to 1C to 6C.

    Models do not provide evidence. Models allow us to excute what if scenarios and get back more detailed pictures than are capable with first principles. Nobody believes in AGW because of models. They are not evidence for fundamental physics. They use fundamental physics.

  52. The deep ocean rift lines are thousands of miles long with a continuous, but not constant, outflow of high temperature, high pressure variety of fission produced gases. If you study the deep sea robot images, you will notice that the bubbles from these gas vent openings disappear almost immediately, as the ambient pressure and temperature conditions at these locations, are below the liquid state. This influx keeps the oceans at maximum saturation of a number of gases which have varying P-T liquid-gas transition conditions. Evidence of maximum saturation at every level, is that movement causes cavitation, releasing the entrained, maximum saturation gases. Deep sea robots and shallow depth submarines both experience bubble tract issues from fast moving propellers and are RPM controlled to limit this cavitation. Thank you Ron for a most detailed and professional analysis.

  53. Impressive and concise. Climate catastrophists appear unable or unwilling to comprehend the entirety of the vast and complex system, as it contradicts their tunnel vision catastrophist’s perspective. Comments by Fern and others merely reinforce this inability. Natural variability of climate is barely understood.

    ie, disregarding the “true” sensitivity of CO2 in the radiative balance, CO2 recycling accelerates as the biosphere rapidly expands to accept any new source — which is but a small part of natural compensation for variations of CO2 injection into the system. Only someone with a fixed and inflexible viewpoint would jump to alarmist conclusions this early in the analysis.

  54. Jim G says:

    “Factually, atmospheric CO2 cannot be beneficially changed by human behavior, regardless of what actions we might take. And climate will always continue to change in significant ways that will most likely be poorly predicted.”

    A bullseye, and of course it is from an engineer. One profession where it is still difficult, though not impossible, for an idiot to get a degree. Also a profession where most would have their tongue snap off if they told a lie.

  55. gymnosperm says:

    Ferdinand,

    It is certainly reasonable to suspect that human 12CO2 is the source of the measured atmospheric increase, but it is impossible to be sure of that given the uncertainties. Many modern estimates put the natural CO2 flux over 200gt. That sets the human contribution at less than 5% and at this point it is silly to think any of this can be measured to that accuracy.

    Any shovel of dirt from your backyard will likely contain species of microbes unknown to us. Prochlorococcus, the critter whose relatives are now believed to have produced most of the Oxygen (and ozone) in the atmosphere was not discovered until the late 1990′s. I have not seen any attempt to quantify the biological flux from the oceans. This flux will not depend on Henry’s Law.

  56. catweazle666 says:

    Excellent piece.

    As one would expect from an engineer, of course.

  57. Gary Pearse says:

    It’s the first time I have heard mention of the idea that the insects displaced by human occupation would have emitted more CO2 than humans do. Of course it is argued that the displaced bugs’ also had their ambient plants as a CO2 sink. However, the ambient plants displaced along with the bugs were replaced by highly efficient human crops, planted, with the aid of fertiliizers more densely than nature’s crops, and these harvested and replaced every year. Is it possible that humans have a net cooling effect (if CO2 is reduced from the natural)? Actual experimentation wouldn’t be too difficult – terrariums and bugs – that sort of thing. We might even discover that CO2 is indeed not the driver after all. I don’t think enough experimental imagination has been invested in the science to get to the root of the CO2-temp question. “What else could it be?” is indeed a doltish question from somewhere other than imagination…

  58. Rod Everson says:

    To Ferdinand Englebeen:

    Clearly you understand the matter being discussed better than most here, and I have some questions of you.

    Could you address the various components in Voisin’s Figure 3 (where contributions of ocean, microbes, forest fires, etc., are indicated) and explain what that figure does say, and what it doesn’t? The chart would imply that oceans, for example, contribute huge amounts of CO2 in a warming period such as we’ve been in, but in reading your previous comments the oceans currently are acting as a CO2 sink due to the difference in CO2 pressures between the two reservoirs (atmosphere and ocean), perhaps due to the time lag required?

    But how about the other components as well, the microbial activity, and the insect activity especially, for these are huge components as well.

    Here’s my point of confusion: In figure 3, all of the components except the last (us) would appear to be increasing their contribution currently because we are in a warming period longer term. (I realize that might not yet be true of the oceans, from what you say, however.) Nevertheless, it would appear reasonable to conclude that the net contribution in a warming period like this (again, longer term, not the last two decades) would be a period where atmospheric CO2 should be increasing, even if humans did not occupy the planet.

    Now, Voisin states that humans could even be a net negative contributor to atmospheric CO2, due to their negative influence on microbial, insect, and possibly forest fire activity, all of which are reduced by modern agricultural practices.

    If I assume both assertions are correct, i.e., that atmospheric CO2 should be rising due to sources other than human (because we’re in a warming period), and that humans are potentially a net negative contributor to the problem, well, then the following makes sense:

    CO2 should be going up due to non-human causes, and, as you wrote, humans are putting 9 GtC of CO2 into the atmosphere per year (I assume that is directly, via fossil fuel consumption), but atmospheric CO2 is only going up 4 GtC per year, so therefore humans are, indeed, suppressing CO2 production from other natural sources. Otherwise, atmospheric CO2 would be going up by 9 GtC per year PLUS the contribution from natural sources in a warming period.

    And if natural sources are adding more than 4 GtC per year, then human activity would be a net reducer of atmospheric CO2. From what you’ve written so far, I assume that you would strongly disagree, but it would be helpful if you could explain why in the context of what I’ve stated above.

    I’m a layman trying to make sense of this. I don’t even have an appreciation of the magnitudes involved, such as how much is a GtC, etc., so please bear that in mind if you decide to answer. I’m guessing, at this point, that your response will be that a rise of 4 GtC per year from strictly natural causes would be an impossibly large number to sustain over decades or perhaps centuries, but that’s purely a guess on my part.

  59. Jan Christoffersen says:

    Mr. Voisin didn’t mention (nor has anyone else) the countless trillions upon trillions of tons of “long-time” CO2 stored in carbonate rocks – limestone is 44% CO2. This enormous CO2 sequestration process continues as we speak and is a direct outcome of the deposition of the shelly remains of (dominantly) marine creatures, mainly since the Cambrian explosion of life about 570 million years ago. “Long-time” carbon stored in fossil fuels constitutes a miniscule fraction of the carbon stored in carbonate rocks.

    So, why do so many people worry about burning fossil fuels?

  60. Gary Pearse says:

    Rod Everson – units are metric tons: kt is kilo (a thousand) tons; Mt is mega (a million) tons and Gt is giga (a billion)tons.

  61. chris y says:

    Mosher says-

    “3. Observational evidence ( the temperature record and paleo record) indicate that
    feedbacks are net positive and constrain estimates of sensitivity to 1C to 6C.”

    The paleo record’s huge error bars for both forcing and response make it the worst place to estimate climate sensitivity.

    The observational evidence with the best SNR (large cyclical variations in forcing) is the intra-annual (winter versus summer) local temperature change due to changes in local surface solar irradiance. It robustly gives a transient climate sensitivity of about 0.1 C/W/m^2, or about 0.4 C for a doubling of CO2. The unequivocal conclusion is that the transient feedbacks are robustly negative.

  62. Ryan says:

    “To put some rough figures on this: current microbial and insect emissions are estimated at ~160 petagrams. If we were never here our 8-9 petagram anthropogenic emission would go away – but only to be replaced by an increase of up to 80 petagrams of additional contribution from microbes and insects. The current spike would then be larger than now observed.”

    This is the weirdest thing I have ever seen on this blog. How in the world could our absence possibly cause a 50% spike in global respiration rates? Is there any ecologist anywhere who thinks this is realistic?

  63. Thanks, Ronald.
    You have summarized and put forth the basics. Well done!

  64. Anthony Scalzi says:

    Alexander Feht says:
    June 4, 2013 at 3:50 am

    In addition to many important balancing feedback mechanisms listed by Mr. Voisin, I keep thinking about photosynthesis. Our planet, including its oceans, is mostly covered with plants. This huge plant cover not only absorbs carbon dioxide and emits oxygen; not only it grows with the increase of the atmospheric CO2, providing a balancing feedback by its growth alone — it also directly transforms solar energy into the long-lasting organic compounds: sugars, proteins, etc.

    Maybe I am blind, but I don’t see in the AGW models and formulas (including the rather simplistic diagram proposed recently by Dr. Pielke Jr.) any accounting for this massive absorption and transformation of the solar energy by plants. It would seem to me that a very large portion of the solar energy hitting Earth must be transformed by plants in this way, and doesn’t immediately find its way into the atmosphere. Some of it is stored practically forever, as far as human civilization is concerned. Therefore, it must substantially influence “forcing” calculations.

    Is it being taken into account by climatologists? If it is, where and how? I cannot find a trace of it.

    _________

    Photosynthesis really is quite inefficient.

    “Any analysis of biomass energy production must consider the potential efficiency of the processes involved. Although photosynthesis is fundamental to the conversion of solar radiation into stored biomass energy, its theoretically achievable efficiency is limited both by the limited wavelength range applicable to photosynthesis, and the quantum requirements of the photosynthetic process. Only light within the wavelength range of 400 to 700 nm (photosynthetically active radiation, PAR) can be utilized by plants, effectively allowing only 45 % of total solar energy to be utilized for photosynthesis. Furthermore, fixation of one CO2 molecule during photosynthesis, necessitates a quantum requirement of ten (or more), which results in a maximum utilization of only 25% of the PAR absorbed by the photosynthetic system. On the basis of these limitations, the theoretical maximum efficiency of solar energy conversion is approximately 11%. In practice, however, the magnitude of photosynthetic efficiency observed in the field, is further decreased by factors such as poor absorption of sunlight due to its reflection, respiration requirements of photosynthesis and the need for optimal solar radiation levels. The net result being an overall photosynthetic efficiency of between 3 and 6% of total solar radiation.”

    http://www.fao.org/docrep/w7241e/w7241e05.htm

  65. nc says:

    Ya but, the 2% is the catalyst for the 98%, sarc.

    Very well written to my level, thank you.

  66. Ed, Mr. Jones says:

    I had never seen the Pentagram measurement unit before. I’m certain I’m not alone in being ignorant of various things, and not aware of it. Cue Mr. Gore and his enablers.

  67. Roy Spencer says:

    Positive feedbacks in climate parlance are not quite the same as in engineering. None of the IPCC climate models, despite being dominated by positive feedbacks, is unstable to perturbations. The confusion for engineers-discussing-climate arises because the MAJOR “negative feedback” stabilizing the (real or modeled) climate system — the Planck effect of a warmer Earth emitting more IR to space — is not put in the “negative feedback bookkeeping column” by climate researchers. This has caused MUCH confusion, and was a mistake by the original climate researchers who established “protocol”.

  68. mkelly says:

    Thomas says:

    June 4, 2013 at 5:13 am

    http://junksciencecom.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/bl23oawciaaulgf-large.jpg?w=500&h=418

    Thomas the link shows that water vapor had been declining since 1948. If the increase of water vapor is necessary, as you state, then CAGW cannot be valid as WV is declining.

    Further, could you please expound your statement: ” There it just means a temperature response that is greater that what you’d get from a simple blackbody.” How is the response larger than the theoretical BB temperature?

  69. Mark Bofill says:

    The confusion for engineers-discussing-climate arises because the MAJOR “negative feedback” stabilizing the (real or modeled) climate system — the Planck effect of a warmer Earth emitting more IR to space — is not put in the “negative feedback bookkeeping column” by climate researchers.

    Thank you, Dr. Spencer. I’ve always wondered about this as well.

  70. Gail Combs says:

    Canman says: @ June 4, 2013 at 5:32 am
    …I’ll believe it when I see measured CO2 concentrations make a sustained decline while fossil fuel emissions continue to rise.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    You will have to wait until some time between 2100 to 2350 for the results of the changes from the Medieval Warm Period to the Little Ice Age to kick in given the ≈800 year lag.

  71. Rod Everson says:

    Gary Pearse says:
    June 4, 2013 at 8:52 am
    “Rod Everson – units are metric tons: kt is kilo (a thousand) tons; Mt is mega (a million) tons and Gt is giga (a billion)tons.”

    Thanks, Gary. Now for the “PgC” in Figure 3. This, I assume is petagrams of carbon, then?

    And a petagram, per wikipedia, is 1,000,000,000,000,000 grams

    So, that’s 1,000,000,000,000 kg, or 1,000,000,000 metric tons, or 1,000,000 kilotons, or 1,000 megatons, or 1 gigaton, right?

    In other words, the PgC used in Figure 3 of the article is equivalent to GtC, right? 1 petagram = 1 gigaton.

  72. Blade says:

    Thanks for this article, it is a necessary discussion and refreshingly skeptical. I have had a bad feeling about these new and convenient measurements of CO2, on Mauna Loa, and in Ice Cores. They are too sure of themselves and I see no simple scientific controls. The tipoff is a perfect hockey stick of CO2 ppm that says it has all been stable for thousands of years. That’s crap and I know it instinctively, and so do most people.

    For example, we must have lots of samples of preserved air perhaps going back a few thousand years (maybe in jars in sunken ships and boats or stashed in pyramids or whatever). In the last two centuries there must be many cases of deliberate samples from labs and other places.

    So if we have a jar with air from 1850 or 1912 or 1970 it should be a simple matter to determine the actual CO2 levels rather than guessing or taking their word for it. With Ice Cores, just how hard could it be to check recently deposited snow, 5 years, 50 years, 100 years, etc, to see if in fact their methods of analyzing the CO2 from cores corresponds with reality. What I am saying is simple, prove it. And after we do this, let’s look for older preserved air sample perhaps in amber and elsewhere and pull all this data together in one place.

  73. Gail Combs says:

    Chris Wright says: @ June 4, 2013 at 7:04 am

    I do recall that one argument based on isotopes appeared to prove it was caused by human emissions. But I also recall that, not long ago, that argument was shown to be wrong…..
    >>>>>>>>>>>>
    Ferdinand Engelbeen says: @ June 4, 2013 at 7:23 am
    That argument still holds:
    – The oceans can’t be the cause of the sharp decline in 13C/12C ratio, as their ratio is (much) higher than in the atmosphere….
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    The argument does not hold. The Trouble With C12 C13 Ratios

    And the Trouble with Warmist CO2 measurements:
    Raw Data and Final Data

    The “Well mixed CO2″ (ha ha) in the atmosphere from JAXA last fall -Aug 2012
    (JAXA is the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, Greenhouse Gas Observation Satellite ‘IBUKI’ link)

    Additional Maps cover April, June, July, Nov. Dec. of 2009, and Jan., 2010

    The “well Mixed” Assumption is a critical part of the CAGW scam BTW. Ernest Beck and now JAXA as well as other measurements such as by balloon show the ASSumption is incorrect.

    MORE:
    The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder, AIRS, during July 2008. link

    AIRS Data, July 2009
    link

    AIRS Global Map of Carbon Dioxide from Space, July 2003 link
    (NASA only releases images for July and not other months)

    Jo Nova has a round-up of the papers on The 800 year lag

  74. Rod Everson says:
    June 4, 2013 at 8:31 am

    Maybe first some units used:

    CO2 in the atmosphere is mainly expressed in ppmv (parts per million by volume), that is the ratio in volume of CO2 in a dry atmosphere. Why dry? Just to make a comparison between different air layers easier as water vapour is highly variable.

    CO2 fluxes are mainly expressed in Gigaton carbon (1 GtC = 1 million metric tonnes of carbon) or officially (SI units) as PgC (Petagram = 10^15 gram)
    That is because CO2 when absorbed by plants is not CO2 anymore, but a mix of other molecules. Again that makes the mass flow easier to follow, as no carbon can be destroyed or created, whatever molecule is created or destroyed where the carbon is/was incorporated.

    The addition or substraction of CO2 to/from the atmosphere gives about 1 ppmv change for 2.1 GtC change in or out.

    Now figure 3:

    The figures given are estimates for the yearly amounts of carbon released and absorbed during interglacials like the one we are currently in. Except for the oceans, as far as I understand the text under the table: in that case that would be the yearly increase in release of the oceans. But it is not clear.

    Anyway, earlier estimates were about 90 GtC (PgC) from the oceans into the atmosphere and 92 GtC out:
    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/CarbonCycle/
    Other estimates were also lower than those of Ron Voisin, but nevertheless, let us assume that his figures are right.

    All non-anthro sources of CO2 together thus are responsible for minimum 232 and maximum 487 GtC, humans for 8-9 GtC per year.

    So far so good.

    But I don’t see a table for the other side, where all that CO2 is going too. Certainly not remaining in the atmosphere, because there is a net deficit of 4 GtC/year compared to the human emissions alone. As human sinks are negligible, the full 4 GtC is going into natural sinks.

    Thus with the minimum 232 GtC/year input, the minimum output in any or many natural sinks together must be 236 GtC/year. With the maximum input of 487 GtC/year, the maximum output must be 491 GtC/year, or the mass balance doesn’t fit.

    As you can see, no matter the height of the natural inputs together, the natural outputs MUST be 4 GtC higher than the inputs, or you violate the mass balance. Thus the exact height of the inputs and outputs doesn’t matter at all, neither does any individual flux, only the difference over a year or years matter. And that is known with reasonable accuracy.

    About the question if the human emissions influence the natural cycle: some parts are influenced, others not: an increase in CO2 of the atmosphere increases the uptake by the (colder) oceans and decrease the release by the (warmer) oceans. It also increases plant uptake. It has no direct influence on animals, insects or bacteria (the indirect influence is by enhanced plant growth, where more plant debris will attract more bacteria and insects). No influence on volcanoes and a moderate effect on rock weathering.

    Thus all together, any increase of CO2 caused by humans will increase CO2 uptake by oceans and vegetation. And maybe somewhat the total cycle. But the increase still is fully attributable to humans (except for a small increase by an increased temperature).

  75. Anthony Scalzi says:
    June 4, 2013 at 9:06 am

    What is more permanently stored in the whole biosphere can be deduced from the oxygen balance: the net production or reduction of oxygen shows if the biosphere (plants + animals + bacteria + insects + ….) are storing more permanently carbon (roots, peat, coal,…) or are a net source of CO2. That was measured and it seems that the whole biosphere is a net sink for CO2 for about 1 GtC/year:
    http://www.bowdoin.edu/~mbattle/papers_posters_and_talks/BenderGBC2005.pdf

  76. Michael Tremblay says:

    Thanks for a very good article which uses evidence from the past and observations from the present to form the backbone of your position.

    I have one critical observation to make –
    You point out that the oceans are the main source and sink for CO2 but your figure 5 fails to show that. You also rightly point out the contributions of microbes and insects to CO2 production. One thing I find is that both sides, when arguing about CO2 production and sequestration, ignore the contributions of life in the oceans which cover 70% of the Earth’s surface. Microscopic phytoplankton are the largest source for CO2 sequestration by living organisms on the planet. They are also responsible for an estimated 70-90% (depending on the reference) of the production of O2. Contrary to arguments about the exchange of CO2 between the oceans and the atmosphere, these organisms are found as deep as 100M, not just in the thin surface layer. Most of the Limestone which we credit to living organisms comes from the production of a microscopic ‘skeleton’ by these organisms and accounts for most of their ability to sequester CO2 – not just their photosynthetic abilities. The seasonal variation in the CO2 concentrations in the reading from Mauna Kea is more likely being produced by the photosynthetic life in the oceans around the Hawaiian Islands than by the photosynthetic life on the continents 3000 miles away – everyone just seems to take for granted the assumption that Keelings’ observations are caused by the plant life on the continents and not by the plant life in the surrounding oceans.

  77. Blade says:
    June 4, 2013 at 10:33 am

    Atmospheric CO2 levels are measured at some 70 stations all over the world in places with minimal disturbance from nearby sources and sinks, by people from different organisations and countries. Results are compared and if necessary corrected if errors are found.
    Common test gases are used to test and calibrate the equipment and regular flask samples are taken by different organisations at the same place. Here the procedures of NOAA:
    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/about/co2_measurements.html

    The 70 “baseline” stations all give the same trends over the years, with some delay between near ground and altitude and between the NH and the SH. And some variability with the seasons, mainly in the NH.

    With Ice Cores, just how hard could it be to check recently deposited snow, 5 years, 50 years, 100 years, etc, to see if in fact their methods of analyzing the CO2 from cores corresponds with reality.

    That is what was done: Etheridge e.a. measured CO2 levels top down in firn until bubble closing depth and in the ice core. The ice core bubbles showed levels equal to the direct measurements at the South Pole within the measurement error (1.2 ppmv – 1 sigma), overlapping over a period of ~20 years:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/law_dome_sp_co2.jpg

  78. GoneWithTheWind says:

    “The basis for AGW goes back over 100 years and has absolutely nothing to do with Models”.
    In fact it goes back to about 1850 when the little ice age ended. Is there anything wrong with setting the basis line at the coldest point in recent history? Was that physics too? The AGW during the Medieval warming was much warmer then this rather moderate global warming. Where did the CO2 come from back then? What do the models show about that period? OH! That’s right the warmies ignore or are in denial over the medivieval warming aren’t they. What about the Roman warm period? That too was hotter then our current very modest warming. Where did thjat CO2 come from? Were the Romans burning too much fossil fuel? Where did the intervening cooling periods come from? Are you seeing a pattern here? Some scientists refer to this as cycles. Wait! Looking back there were other cyclical global warmings and coolings. Interestingly the warming periods were very beneficial for humans while the global cooling periods were very difficult and full of human sufferring. Is that “physics” or common sense? But I understand that does not fit the political agenda. After all you must have a crisis to convince the people to tax themselves and give up their rights and power to politicians/socialist. Ask yourself why it is that every problem a socialist sees requires higher taxes and less individual rights to fix. I assume when the next cyclical global cooling period comes that all the socialist will say we need to tax and spend to “fix it”.

  79. Gail Combs says:
    June 4, 2013 at 10:49 am

    We have been there several times now, but in short:
    There are only two main sources of low 13C/12C ratio on earth:
    The recent biosphere and the ancient biosphere. All other sources (deep) oceans, carbonate rocks, volcanic vents,… are higher in 13C/12C ratio than the atmosphere.

    The recent biosphere is a net sink for CO2, thus only burning the ancient biosphere is responsible for the 13C/12C ratio decline in the atmosphere.

    The “raw” and “final” data are from two different places: one in the middle of a forest, the other from a relative clean place. The former is not used for collecting “background” CO2 data, the lattter is. The former is what many historical data show: a lot of variability over land, completely unsuitable to estimate the global CO2 levels of that time.

    CO2 doesn’t need to be “well mixed” for its influence (as far as there is an influence) all one need is an average increase over time. The month by month change is +/- 5% of the full scale, the yearly averages all are within 2% of full scale. I call that well mixed, taken into account that some 20% of all CO2 in the atmosphere goes in and out over the seasons…

    What I don’t appreciate is that many here use ice core data when the data are in favour of one’s theory, like the 800 year lag, but don’t want to acknowledge the CO2 data when they show that the values in the past were much lower than today at the same and even higher temperatures…

  80. Michael Tremblay says:
    June 4, 2013 at 11:22 am

    everyone just seems to take for granted the assumption that Keelings’ observations are caused by the plant life on the continents and not by the plant life in the surrounding oceans.

    Winds at the Mauna Loa height are mainly trade winds, not much is going from local sealevel to that height. And if it does, it is mostly depleted (-4 ppmv) of CO2 by the vegetation in the valleys.

  81. George says:

    Good article. I am particularly impressed that the author, and electrical engineer, has taken into consideration the large amount of time that must be considered to understand Earth systems, including climate and climate change. Most people who talk about climate, include most on this blog, do not demonstrate an appreciation of time, in the sense that a couple or twenty centuries are not enough time to discern trends, but that we must look at millennia and hundreds of millennia if we are to understand trends. We think we are pretty important, and that a human lifetime is a long time. We are not, and it is not. And we need to understand that, in the long view, that is in the geological record, Earth is “normally” a lot warmer than it is now. Probably 12 to 15 degrees Celsuis warmer, on a global average.

    Also, I would like to suggest that Voisin, when searching for major drivers of climate change, examine the subject of plate tectonics and the effects of moving continental plates on the configuration of ocean currents. For example, the opening of the strait between Antarctica and South America sometime in the Eocene coincides with the establishment of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which sweeps warm Pacific water away from the continent of Antarctica. Subsequent to the establishment of that current, Antarctica began to change from a ice-free temperate land mass into the frozen waste we know today. This also marked the first stage of the global cooling which brought us into the Pleistocene freeze-up.

    Similarly, the rise of the Isthmus of Panama in the Miocene cut off the warm Pacific Current, which had for millions of years kept the North Atlantic warm. This corresponds to the second drop in global temperatures, taking the globe down to the chill from which it is just beginning (about 18,000 years ago) to recover. This second change in ocean currents has been said to have “created the Arctic”.

    Ocean currents would appear to have more effect on global climate than carbon dioxide, and the motion of crustal plates, and related mountain building, must inevitably have a profound and lasting effect on the steering of ocean currents. I do not know if anyone is studying these large-scale changes, because everyone seems focused on small-scale phenomena such as carbon dioxide emissions.

  82. Duster says:

    Ryan says:
    June 4, 2013 at 9:03 am

    “To put some rough figures on this: current microbial and insect emissions are estimated at ~160 petagrams. If we were never here our 8-9 petagram anthropogenic emission would go away – but only to be replaced by an increase of up to 80 petagrams of additional contribution from microbes and insects. The current spike would then be larger than now observed.”

    This is the weirdest thing I have ever seen on this blog. How in the world could our absence possibly cause a 50% spike in global respiration rates? Is there any ecologist anywhere who thinks this is realistic?

    Because, as he said, humans tend to suppress natural biological activity around our dwellings and in agricultural areas. The biggest single effect is the suppression of natural fires. In California this lead initially from the dominant perennial grassland that dominated the Great Valley, to annual grass lands (that are usually mistakenly blamed on sheep and cattle rather than fire suppression), to modern crop lands, where field burning is now pretty much strictly outlawed. We plat shade trees and lawns as well, and the volume of mass in carbon compounds from landscaping is a pretty impressive tonnage, enough to power peak-generation stations in some areas. As he noted with respect to the satellite image (Figure 5), human CO2 sources simply do not stand out against the natural background production. There are not any visible plumes from any important human centers.

    It might simply be that the satellite sensors don’t have the sensitivity to detect human sources. But, wait, isn’t that he said? Human contributions are trivial in comparison to natural sources? So, if natural sources of CO2 over the areas we occupy would be greater if we were not suppressing them, and if the amount of CO2 we release is less than would be produced naturally by those same areas, then despite your SUV, electric lights and air conditioning, you are a net carbon sink. That would mean that the chief climate “concern” would be anthropogenic global cooling instead, if CO2 is in fact important in the climate system.

  83. gymnosperm says:
    June 4, 2013 at 8:07 am

    That sets the human contribution at less than 5% and at this point it is silly to think any of this can be measured to that accuracy.

    Evrybody seems to forget the other side of the equation: humans are 0% of the sinks and while nature is 95% or more of the sources, it also is 97.5 or more of the sinks. So the net contribution of nature to the increase is negative…
    No matter that many individual fluxes are not known to any accuracy, but the net contribution of nature to the sink capacity is well known: that is the difference between human emissions and the measured increase in the atmosphere.

    I have not seen any attempt to quantify the biological flux from the oceans. This flux will not depend on Henry’s Law.

    It depends of temperature and nutritients and it works opposite to the flux from the oceans. Reason why despite huge seasonal fluxes from oceans and vegetation, the change in CO2 in the atmosphere is rather modest: globally only 5 ppmv (~10 GtC) for a global 1°C change in temperature.
    There are several long term series collecting biolife in the oceans, a.o. at Bermuda and Hawaii and regular ship’s surveys. Here for Bermuda:
    http://www.bios.edu/research/projects/bats/

  84. Michael Tremblay says:

    Anthony Scalzi says:
    June 4, 2013 at 9:06 am
    ——————————————–
    You’re quite right that photosynthesis is a very inefficient process. The problem with that sort of dismissal is that photosynthesis is responsible for absorbing an estimated 7% of the incoming solar energy, which takes a relatively large bite out of the incoming solar radiation. Another assumption that many people seem to take is that they can use the total amount of incoming energy across the spectrum to calculate the amount of warming but only IR contributes to the temperature changes so they discount the amount of energy that is absorbed in the UV spectrum. That is an invalid assumption because different materials, and the phases that that material may be in, absorb the energy at wavelengths which are dependent upon the properties of the material. They then convert some of that energy, again based on the properties of the material, into heat which is then emitted at longer wavelengths based on the temperature that the material reaches. Photosynthesis converts the energy it receives from the sun in the UV spectrum into chemical energy and very little into heat, so effectively in the big energy picture it reduces the total amount of energy arriving from the sun that is available as heat.

    In all fairness, if I recall correctly, Trenberth’s energy budget does include the amount of energy used by photosynthesis.

  85. Duster says:
    June 4, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    It might simply be that the satellite sensors don’t have the sensitivity to detect human sources. But, wait, isn’t that he said? Human contributions are trivial in comparison to natural sources? So, if natural sources of CO2 over the areas we occupy would be greater if we were not suppressing them

    Indeed they don’t are sensitive enough to detect the human contribution in the much larger natural fluxes. But that says next to nothing about the cause of the increase…

    Further, there is no reason to think that biolife would make extreme peaks without human influence: there were no peaks of 100 ppmv or more in 150 years time over the past 800 kyears. Even at the end of the last glaciation with temperatures 1-2°C higher at the Holocene “optimum”, CO2 levels were 100 ppmv lower than today. That is visible in ice cores with a resolution of ~40 years.

    That is the main error of the article: Voisin takes the compilation of the late Ernst Beck for granted, while the 1942 “peak” doesn’t exist in any other proxy. Voisin therefore thinks that the ice core values must be wrong, while there is no reason for that.

    BTW, human influences on the biosphere by cutting and burning forests for agriculture are counted as an estimated human contribution of ~1 GtC/year for the loss of carbon storage, including the loss of biodiversity (I don’t know if bacteria are counted with them).

  86. Rod Everson says:

    Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    June 4, 2013 at 12:26 pm
    Everybody seems to forget the other side of the equation: humans are 0% of the sinks and while nature is 95% or more of the sources, it also is 97.5 or more of the sinks. So the net contribution of nature to the increase is negative…”

    First, thanks for your reply to my questions earlier.

    I’m curious about your statement that “humans are 0% of the sinks.” It seems to me that Voison’s point is that humans are not 0% of the sinks, but instead that human habitation of the planet could be generating a significant carbon sink that would not exist without that habitation.

    Granted, it’s not the human body that is sequestering that carbon. In fact, it’s not that carbon is being sequestered at all. Rather, it’s that human influence, via agricultural practices, building of cities, maintenance of lawns, etc., diminish the amount of CO2 that would otherwise be released to the atmosphere, this being due to the reduction in microbes, insects, and fires.

    An example: You said that a change of about 2.1 GtC will change CO2 concentration by one part per million by volume (now near 400 ppmv, correct?) But what if human activity is putting 9 GtC in each year, but that same human activity is suppressing microbes, insects, and fires to the point where they are contributing, say, 11 GtC less each year than they would have without humans on the planet today? With humans adding their 9 GtC’s yearly the CO2 concentration is increasing about 2 ppmv annually. But if we weren’t here, the 9 GtC would not be contributed, but microbes, insects, and fires, no longer suppressed, would contribute an additional 11 GtC above present levels (by assumption.) Thus, without humans, the net flow (flux?) to the atmosphere would be 2 GtC greater than today, resulting in atmospheric CO2 rising 3 ppmv annually instead of the present 2 ppmv.

    Assuming the above example is within the realm of reason, Voisin would seem to have a valid point about the possibility that the net contribution of the human race to atmospheric CO2 is a net negative.

    Now, I’m not saying that’s the case, but it certainly seems to be an alternative that can’t be ruled out. If you disagree, where do you disagree? For, in your answer to me, as well as in your 0% assumption above, you seem to be overlooking the possibility that natural sources CO2 are being suppressed by the presence of humans, possibly to a degree that more than offsets our fossil fuel consumption. Yet that seems to me to be one of Voisin’s key points, a very interesting point that I’ve not encountered before reading it today.

  87. Bart says:

    Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    June 4, 2013 at 6:58 am

    “It doesn’t matter if the fluxes between the atmosphere are 100 or 1000 or 10,000 GtC/year, only the difference after a year matters, as that is what influences the total CO2 level in the atmosphere, not the turnover.”

    That is one equation with two unknowns. It is impossible to solve it uniquely. No matter how many times you assert otherwise, you cannot defeat the math.

    “There is no continuous release of CO2 if the temperature gets higher and then stays at the higher level.”

    I explained where, why, and how you were wrong. Again, it just fails to register.

    “At the poles, the increased pCO2 of the atmosphere increases the pCO2 difference between atmosphere and water, thus increasing the downwelling flux. The fluxes will be again in equilibrium at half the disturbance at the origin.”

    The increase in partial pressure isn’t near enough to make up for the temperature differential. The downwelling flux actually decreases with the increase in temperature which drives the increased flux from the upwelling. Under your scenario, an open can of Coca Cola sitting in the open would never go flat. That is patent nonsense.

    Roy Spencer says:
    June 4, 2013 at 9:46 am

    “None of the IPCC climate models, despite being dominated by positive feedbacks, is unstable to perturbations… the Planck effect of a warmer Earth emitting more IR to space — is not put in the “negative feedback bookkeeping column” by climate researchers. “

    Then, they are not “dominated” by positive feedbacks. The Planck effect, in this example, is the dominating feedback, and it is negative.

    However, that is not sufficient. Despite the binary implication of the words “stable” and “unstable”, there are degrees of stability. A system can be theoretically stable, yet so variable that it destroys itself with wide swings in output. It can manage OK with a particular mix of inputs, yet cross a catastrophe lip when subjected to widely varying forcings such as the Earth has sustained over its history.

    There is a wide body of theory on the stabilization of so-called non-minimum phase systems. These systems tend to be highly variable, with strong internal positive feedbacks generally leading to significantly oscillatory behavior.

    In reality, if CO2 leads to powerful warming, and it is to be expected (and the evidence indicates plainly) that warming has a strong impact on CO2 concentration, then there is a very powerful positive feedback within the loop. Such a system would not remain well-behaved over the long term. It would very likely exhibit wild gyrations over time. I very much doubt any of the IPCC models has this particular positive feedback path properly implemented. If they did, then they would know that CO2 concentration is being driven by temperature, and not human inputs.

  88. Bart says:

    Rod Everson says:
    June 4, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    From Ferdinand:

    “Everybody seems to forget the other side of the equation: humans are 0% of the sinks and while nature is 95% or more of the sources, it also is 97.5 or more of the sinks.”

    It is sophistry. The sinks respond to all inputs, whether they be natural or anthropogenic. The expansion of the sinks due to anthropogenic input can effectively be labelled an anthropogenic sink, since its action is called into being by the anthropogenic inputs.

    This is fundamentally why Ferdinand’s static analysis approach is inadequate to the task. He does not exhibit an understanding of feedback, and how it functions in natural systems.

  89. Mr. Scalzi,

    Photosynthesis may be “inefficient” for a specialist in petrochemical refining or internal combustion, but it has been very efficient in sustaining all life on this planet, and, which is more important, it is ubiquitous. As Mr. Tremblay points out, it absorbs at least 7% of the incoming solar energy, which is a huge amount. This important factor, as well as many other influential aspects, are certainly overlooked in the Dr. Pielke’s simplified chart of solar energy exchange.

    As to Mr. Engelbeen’s firm belief in ice cores, there is one relatively simple way to estimate their reliability. Compare results obtained in multiple different locations (in Greenland and in Arctic), and check if changes of carbon dioxide content in these various locations coincide along the timescale (I don’t believe that it can be resolved with 40-year accuracy, but let us assume that we can talk about, say, 250-year periods). If there is a good match among all bore specimens, then ice cores could serve as proxies for something — though we still wouldn’t know, what exactly, because we don’t know, what really drives those changes of CO2 atmospheric content in the first place. If, however, there is a noticeable disparity between various locations, then all the talk about CO2 in ice cores is deeply suspect.

    All those exact figures in gigatons of CO2 — produced by this and absorbed by that — also look extremely suspicious to me. One has to understand completely mechanisms involved, before making such calculations or discussing them as if there is some finality in them. So far, the only thing painfully clear and final in climatology is that models, formulas, and calculations juggled by Trenberth and his evasive confreres have failed 100%. Why should we listen to anything — anything — these people say? They have shamed themselves, and caused an incalculable financial damage by their hubris and self-deceit (even if one assumes that they believe in what they are saying, which is unlikely).

  90. Rod Everson says:
    June 4, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    For, in your answer to me, as well as in your 0% assumption above, you seem to be overlooking the possibility that natural sources CO2 are being suppressed by the presence of humans, possibly to a degree that more than offsets our fossil fuel consumption.

    There are many theoretical possibilities which may try to explain the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere without human attribution. But near all of them fail one or more observations…

    So let’s see where this one fails.
    Without humans the bioworld might be actively emitting more CO2 in some periods and less in other periods. Including peaks like the 1942 peak in the data of the late Ernst Beck (forget ice cores for a moment).

    Look at the results of a magnitude 100 ppmv peak:
    - no such peak is seen in stomata data over the past century (resolution of a few years).
    - if coming from vegetation, that is equivalent to burning 1/3rd of all land vegetation in seven years and restoring it again in seven years. No insects or bacteria can deliver the equivalent of these amounts in that time span, without being noticed by humans in that period.
    - any such a peak from burning or deteriorating vegetation would give an enormous dip in the 13C/12C ratio in any proxy or direct measurement of the atmosphere or the ocean’s surface. It is not seen in ice cores (8 year resolution), coralline sponges (2-4 years resolution) or tree wood (a few years resolution).
    - if coming from the deep oceans, the only possibility is by a sudden acidification from the deep oceans by some enormous volcanic sulphur release. But that only explains the release. Not the removal of 210 GtC extra in only 7 years. The current removal rate is 4 GtC/year for the same 100 ppmv above equilibrium. A factor 8 too low.
    - if the oceans release such huge quantities of CO2, the 13C/12C ratio of the atmosphere would go up, less fast than the other way out for burning vegetation, but such a change is not seen in any proxy or direct measurement.

    Last but not least the oxygen balance:
    If we assume that the release of bacterial/insect CO2 currently is suppressed by human activities, that would be visible in the oxygen balance and the 13C/12C balance. Based on ice cores (for the 13C/12C balance) and direct measurements, vegetation was about neutral to a slight source of 0.5 GtC/year of CO2 before 1990. After 1990 it is a growing sink of now about 1 GtC/year.
    Thus the difference from indirect human influences on vegetation is at maximum 1.5 GtC/year, far below the 9 GtC/year that humans emit…

  91. Brant Ra says:

    @ Gary

    Multiple, Intense, Abrupt Late Pleistocene Warming And Cooling: Implications For Understanding The Cause Of Global Climate Change

    What can we learn from all of this?

    (1) The ice core isotope data were hugely significant because they showed that the Younger Dryas, as well as the other late Pleistocene warming and cooling events, could not possibly be caused by human emissions of CO2 because they occurred thousands of years before such emissions had any effect on atmospheric CO2.

    (2) The magnitude and intensity of multiple climatic fluctuations has been up to 20 times larger than warming during the past century.

    (3) Single events, i.e., volcanic activity or cosmic impacts, cannot have caused the abrupt Dansgaard/Oerscher warming and cooling events because of the multiplicity of warm/cold events over periods of thousands of years.

    (4) The absence of a time lag between the N and S Hemisphere glacial fluctuations precludes an oceanic cause and is not consistent with the North Atlantic Deep Ocean Water hypothesis for the cause of the Younger Dryas.

    (5) The abruptness of the climate changes and their multiplicity could not have been caused by slow, Croll-Milankovitch orbital forcing, which occurs over many tens of thousands of years. Since fluctuations to and from full glacial climates occurred over short periods of time, clearly a cause other than the Croll-Milankovitch theory is capable of causing the Ice Ages .

  92. Bart says:
    June 4, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    That is one equation with two unknowns. It is impossible to solve it uniquely. No matter how many times you assert otherwise, you cannot defeat the math.

    The unique solution is that the difference between the two unknowns is quite exactly known, that is all what is needed to solve the equation. The two unknowns can be substracted from each other and are no part of the equation anymore.

    I explained where, why, and how you were wrong. Again, it just fails to register.

    I explained several times that if only temperature is involved (or concentration), the increase in the atmosphere will suppress the releases and increase the sinks to the point that the fluxes are again the same as before the change in temperature (or concentration). That is how any normal equilibrium process works against disturbances. Ocean releases and sinks are equlibrium processes and don’t go on at infinitum for a small temperature change.

    The increase in partial pressure isn’t near enough to make up for the temperature differential. The downwelling flux actually decreases with the increase in temperature which drives the increased flux from the upwelling. Under your scenario, an open can of Coca Cola sitting in the open would never go flat. That is patent nonsense.

    Come on Bart, the partial pressure of CO2 in seawater changes with 16 microatm/°C. Thus an increase of 16 microatm (~16 ppmv) in the atmosphere restores the previous CO2 fluxes, in and out the oceans for a 1°C increase in global ocean temperature. If the temperature change is one-sided (either at the sources or the sinks), half the increase is sufficient. And a can of Coke will release CO2 as long as the pressure difference between the Coke and the atmosphere is not equal. That is at a pCO2 of ~400 microatm in the Coke, whatever its temperature. Exactly the same as for seawater: when the average pCO2 of seawater is equal to the atmospheric CO2 partial pressure, the in and out fluxes are in equilibrium.

    It is sophistry. The sinks respond to all inputs, whether they be natural or anthropogenic. The expansion of the sinks due to anthropogenic input can effectively be labelled an anthropogenic sink, since its action is called into being by the anthropogenic inputs.

    As you say: human emissions are not responsible for the increase in the atmosphere, thus not responsible for the expansion of the sinks, as that is a response to the total increase in the atmosphere, not the existense of human emissions…
    Either human emissions are responsible for the increase and are a part of the sink expansion (which still are 100% natural sinks) or they are not responsible.

    This is fundamentally why Ferdinand’s static analysis approach is inadequate to the task. He does not exhibit an understanding of feedback, and how it functions in natural systems.

    After 34 years practical experience with feedback processes ranging from fractions of seconds to several days in the chemical process industry (including a few runaway reactions…), I suppose that I have some knowledge of how feedbacks work…

  93. Ronald Voisin says:

    I have an answer to the dilemma of the Younger Dryas that I hope to post here.

  94. John Parsons says:

    It’s the bugs I tell ya, the bugs. JP

  95. Alexander Feht says:
    June 4, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    The result of different ice cores over the past 1,000 years, all Antarctica, with resolutions between 8 years and 600 years, with snow accumulation rates ranging from a few mm/year to 1.2 m ice equivalent per year and average temperatures of the ice between -20°C to -40°C spanning 150 years to 800,000 years:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/antarctic_cores_001kyr_large.jpg

    Over the past 10,000 years:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/antarctic_cores_010kyr.jpg

    The CO2 levels of the Greenland ice core are not reliable. In all ice cores there is some deposit of sea salt, including carbonates. That is not a problem for Antarctic cores. But Greenland receives frequently highly acidic ash/dust from the Icelandic volcanoes, which can give in-situ formation of extra CO2.

    Not a problem, as the CO2 levels and trends in Antarctica are quite similar to everywhere in the world, except over the first few hundred meters over land near huge sources and sinks, and the ice core CO2 levels are smoothed over several to many years:
    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/dv/iadv/

    Why should we listen to anything — anything — these people say?

    The main problem is that such people discredit all scientists involved. Even those that are only interested in providing the best data one can get. That are people like C.D. Keeling, who devoted his whole life to providing the most exact CO2 data available, against a lot of administrations. Or the ice core people. Or (many of) the (local) temperature people.

    The problem is not with these people, the problem is with the “interpreters” of the data, the modellers of this world…

  96. atarsinc says:

    Ferdinand, You deserve a medal for patience and tolerance. You deserve kudos for a broad understanding of the relevant materials. Mr. Voisin’s lack of knowledge of the published literature shows that his “hobby” is not a “study of climate science”. It’s completely transparent to any fair-minded reader what Mr. Voisin’s real hobby is. JP

  97. Ronald Voisin says:

    Dear puissant atarsinc,
    These are my honest assessments. You don’t have to agree.
    You might consider speaking to my essay rather than speculating what my real hobby is.
    BTW, just what is my hobby by your informed reckoning?

  98. Mark T says:

    Wow, Ferdinand, 34 years… that alone must mean you’ve got it right. Well, that and atarsinc fawning all over you. Impressive, indeed, almost as if you were hanging out in one of them climate scientist circles yourself. At least, that’s how they prove their case.

    Lots of people have feedback experience. Lots of people also lose sight of fundamental issues regarding analyses of closed-loop, MIMO systems while proclaiming their superior knowledge.

    Mark

  99. Matthew R Marler says:

    That is a good post. thank you, Ronald Voisin.

  100. fhhaynie says:

    atarsinc says:

    June 4, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    Please read http://www.retiredresearcher.wordpress.com including comments by Ferdinand before passing judgement. As to my qualifications, you can google “Fred H. Haynie” and judge from that.

  101. Mark T says:

    I also note that Mosher still thinks that the atmosphere has a fixed volume. Sorry, but we don’t live in a glass jar.

    Mark

  102. Matthew R Marler says:

    Ferdinand Engelbeen: That shows that there is a small deficit in oxygen use, thus the whole biosphere is currently a net source of O2, thus a net sink for CO2 of about 1 GtC/year:
    http://www.bowdoin.edu/~mbattle/papers_posters_and_talks/BenderGBC2005.pdf
    Still by far not enough to absorb all of the 9 GtC/year that humans emit.
    Before 1990, the biosphere may have been about neutral or slightly contributing.
    Thus biolife as a whole is thanks to human emissions a net sink for CO2…

    That is a good detail. thank you.

  103. atarsinc says:

    Mr. Voisin, I don’t doubt that the views you expressed are your “honest assessment”. Unfortunately- either because you are unaware of, or choose to ignore- the published literature on the subjects you discuss; the reader simply ends up with your opinion. That’s not science.

    I thought about “speaking to [your] essay”. It is, however, so filled with inaccuracies and misunderstandings of basic atmospheric physics that I simply won’t waste my time. You need to read some basic textbooks.

    You asked for my informed reckoning. It’s this: your hobby is the attempted debunking of the basic principles of climate science. And you’ve failed. Monumentally. JP

  104. Blade says:

    Ferdinand Engelbeen [June 4, 2013 at 11:31 am] says:

    Common test gases are used to test and calibrate the equipment and regular flask samples are taken by different organisations at the same place.

    [...]

    Etheridge e.a. measured CO2 levels top down in firn until bubble closing depth and in the ice core. The ice core bubbles showed levels equal to the direct measurements at the South Pole within the measurement error (1.2 ppmv – 1 sigma), overlapping over a period of ~20 years

    Ferdinand, thanks for the answer.

    Near as I can tell it is still them at the observatory analyzing and calibrating themselves, that is kind of like foxes watching the henhouse. And it looks like they are actually using “infrared absorption” to determine CO2 level, which means using a theory (CO2 effects on LWIR) as the basis for measuring CO2 itself. Isn’t there a non-controversial way to measure all the constituents of a sample using chromatography or spectrometry (both mentioned in their calibration paragraph but not claimed to be used) or something else?

    Let me put it this way. I’m thinking there should be a bulletproof double blind verification procedure ideally using three separate independent labs. Periodically they should be given samples of gas from the Mauna Loa collection chamber and have them analyze and return their results, and they had better match up exactly to each other and then also to Hawaii. Does this sound logical and possible? I mean, if we had a spacecraft that returned atmosphere from Venus or Mars or anywhere else we would certainly expect a thoroughly controlled analysis, double-blind, even with some “placebos”, all to hammer out every last possible error inducing variable.

    Also, what about actual preserved air samples from the past? Is there any effort at locating, archiving and analyzing such examples? Certainly there must be many samples to be had. And yes, these should also be sent to independent labs under the above mentioned uber-careful process. Naturally everything above should also apply to Ice Cores as well.

    I’m sorry to sound so cynical but I have absolutely no trust left thanks to all the AGW scoundrels polluting the airwaves and the Scientific community itself. Consequently, for the sake of Science the samples should be treated like DNA evidence in a capital murder case where mistakes must be avoided at all costs.

  105. Mark T says:

    Oh boy, then atarsinc steps in to prove he’s right by… wait for it, wait for it… telling us he is! Damn, comedy gold. To sum up his silliness “I would, but I really am incapable, and I would rather not demonstrate my inability conclusively.”

    C’mon, give us a demonstration, atarsinc. At least Ferdinand is offering an analysis to go with his claimed expertise.

    Mark

  106. Bart says:

    Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    June 4, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    “The unique solution is that the difference between the two unknowns is quite exactly known, that is all what is needed to solve the equation.”

    You cannot solve for two unknowns with one equation. This is elementary.

    “Ocean releases and sinks are equlibrium processes and don’t go on at infinitum for a small temperature change.”

    They do when you have a continuous transport process.

    “Thus an increase of 16 microatm (~16 ppmv) in the atmosphere restores the previous CO2 fluxes, in and out the oceans for a 1°C increase in global ocean temperature.”

    Think, Ferdinand. Hotter water at the poles does not absorb as much CO2 to carry down. Henry’s law is very temperature dependent.

    Meanwhile, you have a continual upflow of colder water in the tropics. There is always a temperature differential for those upwelling waters. They are always giving up CO2.

    At the poles, the situation is reversed. The waters are always taking CO2 down. But, with higher atmospheric temperatures, they are taking less down.

    Thus, there results an imbalance in the rate of change of CO2 at the surface

    dCO2/ft = k*(T – Teq)

    This is precisely what we see. It really could not be more plain and obvious. The only reason anyone can have for rejecting it is a blindness created by a fixation on how he wants things to be. But, the evidence is very clear, and the emissions and atmospheric concentration are diverging.

    “Either human emissions are responsible for the increase and are a part of the sink expansion (which still are 100% natural sinks) or they are not responsible.”

    You seem very confused about this. “Natural” or not, if they would not have existed without the addition of human inputs in the first place, then they are as good as human made. Thus, you can partition the sinks into a portion due to natural processes, and a portion due to anthropogenic processes. And, thus you have two unknowns to solve for, but only one equation. This is why your logic fails.

    “I suppose that I have some knowledge of how feedbacks work…”

    There is no indication of it in your writing. If you did, you would have no difficulty comprehending the above.

    atarsinc says:
    June 4, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    “You need to read some basic textbooks. “

    You might try some advanced ones, like this one. Maybe you need remedial coursework.

  107. Werner Brozek says:

    And CO2 lags temperature without doubt.

    This was true in the past, but I do not agree with that in the present day. I agree with Ferdinand Engelbeen in this case. If he is not correct, then how can you explain the following graph which is explained perfectly by human emissions but not at all via temperature:
    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3gl/from:1997.25/trend/plot/gistemp/from:2001/trend/plot/rss/from:1996.9/trend/plot/wti/from:2000.9/trend/plot/hadsst2gl/from:1997.1/trend/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:2000.8/trend/plot/uah/from:2008.5/trend/plot/esrl-co2/from:1997/normalise:0.5/scale:0.5/offset:0.34

  108. Bart says:

    Werner Brozek says:
    June 4, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    Is this sarcasm? If not, see the above. The differential equation is

    dCO2/dt = k*(T – Teq)

    It perfectly matches the observations, including the deceleration in the rate of accumulation in precise synchronization with the stall in temperatures. This is something which has not been matched by the emissions, which are aggressively accelerating while the rate of change of atmospheric concentration is flat.

  109. Mike says:

    From a fellow engineer… loved it!

  110. William McClenney says:

    A truly excellent piece Mr Voisin! A couple of points you might want to consider adding to this, in your own way, assuming you may agree:

    1. The Holocene is not actually an “extended interglacial” just yet. Seven of the last eight interglacials dating back to the Mid Pleistocene Transition (MPT) have each lasted about half a precession cycle. The precession cycle varies from 19k to 23k years, and we are at the 23kyr part of that cycle right now, making 11,500 half. As of 2013, the Holocene is 11,716 years old based on annual varve counting across the end of the Younger Dryas cold interval. So, like 7 of the 8 before this one, we are at about half a precession cycle old, meaning unless we can find some way to “engineer” its “extension”, then we have only a 1 in 8 chance of the Holocene “going long” like MIS-11 did (that 8th one that was not on the half-precession clock).

    2. Every warmist that has ever engaged me on the issue of climate change fails to answer the simplest of questions: When do we live? The answer of course is in the point above, the Holocene, the half-precession old and ticking Holocene. For the purposes of discussion, assume that warmists are correct on the thermal effects of CO2. Then ask what the warmist thinks should be done at the already half-precession old Holocene interglacial. (a) Strip assumed climate security blanket CO2 out of the late Holocene atmosphere, so as to not impede mother nature should she decide to have another glacial, like now? (b) Or invoke the Precautionary Principle?

    The obvious hedge is to select choice (b). I prefer to consider this choice the “Educated” choice, as in the post-this-discussion sense. Obviously selecting choice (a) leaves one in the awkward position of favoring the descent into the next ~90kyr long ice age. I have found most will grab for The Precautionary Principle (PP) , a thing they may have heard of, usually not, but it sounded good the first time they hear/heard it. The following discussion is taken from:

    “The Problems with Precaution: A Principle without Principle”
    By Jonathan H. Adler
    Wednesday, May 25, 2011
    The American, The Journal of the American Enterprise Institute

    “The most common articulation of the precautionary principle is the Wingspread Statement on the Precautionary Principle, a consensus document drafted and adopted by a group of environmental activists and academics in January 1998. The statement defined the precautionary principle thus:

    “”When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.

    “”In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof.

    “”The process of applying the Precautionary Principle must be open, informed and democratic and must include potentially affected parties. It must also involve an examination of the full range of alternatives, including no action.””

    The rest is just pure, clean fun. Using the PP, wouldn’t removing CO2 from the late Holocene atmosphere raise the threat in anyone’s mind “to human health and the environment”? In now disused North American geologic nomenclature, the past 4 such ice ages were named Wisconsin, Illinoisan, Kansan and Nebraskan, going back in post-MPT time, for the southernmost of the continental ice sheets terminal moraines. Where will the imminent ice age grind to a halt in AD ~92,000? A lot of humans will have their health affected by miles thick northern hemisphere continental glaciers. Not to mention what happens to Canada’s, Russia’s et al environment(s)……..

    Drawing liberally from the PP, what “precautionary measures” should be taken to prevent such a natural catastrophe? Such that “precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.”

    “In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof.” Which brings us to the Rodney Dangerfield moment of climate change discussions. The PP, in light of “when we live”, puts the warmist shoe on the other foot.

    Proponents must now prove, using the PP, why stripping the(ir) hated climate security blanket from the late Holocene atmosphere will not result imminently (7 in 8 chance) in total subjugation to ice of Canada, much of Russia et al, and the resulting displacement of tens of millions of humans, those whose health survives the onset….

    Which brings us to the gnarly Gordian knot of what “precautionary measures” we could possibly take to delay or deny onset of the next glacial, since there would seem to be only a 1 in 8 chance we are not now on the typical tipping-point of one. Remember here, for them, our assumption for the purposes of discussion: that CO2 truly is the most remarkable and abundant atmospheric insulator. What could we do? What could we possibly do, given that “precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.”

    It (CO2) apparently can reside in the atmosphere for centuries or millenia. Using millenia, is there enough fossil/available/stimulatable CO2 to last ~90 such millenia, because that would appear to be the ideal prescription under our assumption to avoid the next ice age, whenever it gets here, unless you can come up with another less expensive, more reliable, readily deploy-able ice age exterminator. And it would additionally take into consideration “an examination of the full range of alternatives, including no action.”

    The visual of Rodney Dangerfield running his finger around his neckline, eyes bulging out, grimaces galore, the script prescribing lots of “er”, “ah”, “Well”, “But”, “you see” etc.

    Trapped, like a bubble of CO2 in an ice core. However it gets there…….
    ——————————————————————–
    Sorry, got carried away there. Your piece was pdf’d and placed in my “cybrary” under “~A1 Resources”, which name-sorts out on top. Meaning your essay is in the top 220 pieces in a deeply nested structure on climate change and evolution numbering 9,249 such pieces in 310 sub-folders for 11.5 gigs (as of this moment).

    Or an A+

  111. Werner Brozek says:

    Bart says:
    June 4, 2013 at 6:51 pm
    It perfectly matches the observations, including the deceleration in the rate of accumulation in precise synchronization with the stall in temperatures.
    The temperatures are stalled but the CO2 concentration is going up at a steady pace. I agree the CO2 concentration change is neither accelerating nor decelerating, but why is it going up instead of staying flat?

  112. atarsinc says:

    re: Mark T

    As I said Mark, although I’m tempted by the target rich environment; Ferdinand, Werner and others are doing a fine job of showing Mr. Voisin the many errors he has made. All of which stem from ignoring the climate science literature. Mr. Voisin appears to have spent seven years investigating climate change “skeptic” blogs and composing his post from the information he gleaned from that echo chamber. That’s unfortunate, as he appears very capable of a fuller understanding of the material. JP

  113. dbstealey says:

    Werner Brozek says:

    “…why is [CO2] going up instead of staying flat?”

    My conjecture: CO2 is rising possibly due to human emissions — and/or due to outgassing from warming oceans.

    The important metric is that global warming is not accelerating, despite steadily rising CO2. Thus, CO2 cannot the primary cause of global warming. CO2 may have nothing at all to do with global warming. It certainly has nothing measurable to do with warming [which has anyway stopped for the past decade and a half].

  114. Werner Brozek says:

    dbstealey says:
    June 4, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    “My conjecture: CO2 is rising possibly due to human emissions — and/or due to outgassing from warming oceans.”

    Human emissions are actually slightly accelerating, but so are the main sinks, namely cooler sea surface temperatures and more photosynthsis.

    See:

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadsst2gl/from:1997.1/plot/hadsst2gl/from:1997.1/trend/plot/hadsst2gl/from:1997.1/to:2004/trend/plot/hadsst2gl/from:2004/trend

    See:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/05/31/agu-says-co2-is-plant-food

    “The important metric is that global warming is not accelerating, despite steadily rising CO2.”

    I agree, this is the most important point!

  115. Bob says:

    Mr Voisin:

    I just finished reading your article and many of the comments. First of all, I thought the article was well written, although I don’t necessarily agree with all your points. Your main points of current climate change being:

    1) a powerful positive-feedback,
    2) an overriding (pivotal) role for CO2
    .”

    As an engineer, I agree with your first point, but there are probably several positive feedback mechanisms at work in the earth’s climate. However, it is NOT a net-positive feedback system. Plus, I agree that CO2 is not the primary (pivotal) driver of climate that so many people claim, otherwise we would not seeing a swamping of the predicted CO2 positive feedback.

    In our EE courses we learned to design positive or negative feedback into systems to achieve the desired result. It appears that the climate folks are inventing some positive feedback to achieve their ends, too.

    One of the things I find lacking with discussions such as this one is the use of seemingly absolute numbers of quantities that obviously had to be estimated. Sometimes these are numbers are pulled out of convenient orifices. In this case I am talking about the petagrams, or giga-tons of carbon being blown into the atmosphere, or sucked into nature’s carbon sinks. Maybe I missed you would be interesting, too.

    If your numbers are correct, we are dealing with anthropogenic CO2 as almost indistinguishable from the margin of error of the carbon cycle. What is the evidence that the volumes in sources and sinks are linked, other than there is spare capacity to handle CO2 in the system?

    Somebody accused you of reading skeptic blogs for seven years just to overturn the current state of climate science. Actually, I think climate science is doing a pretty good of that all by itself. Without skeptical web sites, the world would never have learned about the bad science published by Mann, Steig, Gergis, Marcott,, Lewendowsky, Cook, and others.

  116. Bart says:

    Werner Brozek says:
    June 4, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    “I agree the CO2 concentration change is neither accelerating nor decelerating, but why is it going up instead of staying flat?”

    Because there is an imbalance between CO2 coming in and going out of the surface system, and it is accumulating. It will not stop accumulating until the reasons for the imbalance go away. Major factors contributing to the imbalance include temperature and CO2 content of upwelling waters. These natural flows are nearly two orders of magnitude larger than human inputs. It does not take much of an imbalance to produce the increase we have observed, while Nature shrugs off our puny contributions with barely an acknowledgement.

    Very few dynamic variables in nature have a memoryless, instantaneous relationship. In reality, none do, but they appear to when viewed on a particular scale in space and time. Physical processes evolve based on differential relationships. The relationship here, to a very high degree of fidelity in the modern observational era, is

    dCO2/dt = k*(T – Teq)

    In words, the rate of change of CO2 is proportional to temperature with respect to a particular equilibrium level or baseline. This relationship has been remarkably stable for the past 55 years, at the time when most of the atmospheric CO2 increase of the past century occurred. It is all you need to determine current CO2 levels to high accuracy, given the temperature record and the starting point, as I showed here. Human inputs are not even needed, and obviously do not significantly contribute.

    This mathematical relationship is to be expected. It is exactly what you get when there is a continuous transport system which is conveying some quantity into the system faster than it is being removed. Think of the oceans as a continuous conveyor belt of CO2 into the surface system in the tropics, and out of it at the poles.

    If global temperatures were to drop to below Teq, you would see CO2 begin to retreat. Or, if a regime change in the upwelling ocean circulation were to occur, the values of “k” and “Teq” to describe the new dynamics might change. So, Teq might jump above T, and you would get a retreat. All of this depends on the content of the waters currently upwelling, which first began their trek from the surface to the depths and back again centuries ago.

    But, in accordance with the differential equation above, the rate of change of atmospheric CO2 is flat, and it flattened coincident with the time at which temperatures flattened. Emissions are not flat, and in fact have been continuing to accelerate. In the not-too-distant future as temperatures take a downturn, we will begin to see a gross divergence between emissions and atmospheric CO2. Then, maybe researchers will recognize that the naive assumption that human inputs drive atmospheric CO2 is wrong, and begin to put effort into understanding the actual CO2 dynamics in our atmosphere.

  117. Eric H. says:

    Dr. Spencer,
    Thank You for your reply as I now understand what you were saying in your 2009 blog post and understand net climate feedback (or I think I do).

    Cheers,

    Eric

  118. Tim Clark says:

    {Werner Brozek says:
    June 4, 2013 at 7:36 pm}

    Why don’t you plot Hadcrut back to 1880? Then determine if [CO2] increases lag temperature increases.

  119. Phil. says:

    Bart says:
    June 4, 2013 at 6:27 pm
    Think, Ferdinand. Hotter water at the poles does not absorb as much CO2 to carry down. Henry’s law is very temperature dependent.

    Another of your errors/misconceptions, the Henry’s Law coefficient is slightly temperature dependent. For example at an atmospheric pCO2 of about 33Pa increasing the Tss from 0ºC to 0.5ºC would only increase pCO2 by ~0.5 Pa.
    kH(T)=kH(Tº)exp(-2400(1/T-1/Tº))

  120. Werner Brozek says:

    Bart says:
    June 4, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    These natural flows are nearly two orders of magnitude larger than human inputs.
    I agree with that, but that does not mean that human contributions can be ignored. As an analogy, suppose a 200 pound man needs 2000 Calories a day to maintain his mass. But let us assume he eats 20 Calories worth of extra chocolate a day for 40 years. That 20 Calories is also two orders of magnitude less than the 2000 he needs, but after 40 years, that will add up to a mass gain the man may not appreciate.

  121. wbrozek says:

    Tim Clark says:
    June 5, 2013 at 6:31 am
    Why don’t you plot Hadcrut back to 1880? Then determine if [CO2] increases lag temperature increases.

    Here you are. The only time in 130 years that both CO2 and temperature went up at the same time is during the 27 years from 1975 to 2002. Is it possible that the sun or ocean cycles or CFCs were responsible for this simultaneous rise rather than CO2?

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:1880/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:1880/to:1910/trend/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:1910/to:1945/trend/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:1945/to:1975/trend/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:1975/to:2002/trend/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:2002/to:2014/trend/plot/esrl-co2/from:1958/normalise

  122. John B., M.D. says:

    Question: If you have two identical silica glass bottles (closed to the air), except one is filled with nitrogen/oxygen, and the other with 100% CO2, and you put them in identical sunlight for the same amount of time, which bottle interior will be warmer and why?

    Would it be unreasonable to say that the one with some oxygen in it would be WARMER? Yes, I said warmer, albeit slightly, just as in Anthony’s experiment. The glass in each bottle would block the UV and IR components of the spectrum of sunlight equally. According to the absorption spectrum info below, oxygen appears to absorb a tiny bit in the visible spectrum (400-700 nm), whereas carbon dioxide does not. Hence, the gases in the nitrogen/oxygen would tend to warm relative to the CO2 bottle.

    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Atmospheric_Transmission.png
    http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=absorption+spectrum+carbon+dioxide&qs=n&form=QBIR&pq=absorption+spectrum+carbon+dioxide&sc=0-21&sp=-1&sk=#view=detail&id=8131DB44279F9512E8E54B66AE5BF0E152936FBF&selectedIndex=3

    I would add that this experiment cannot be generalized to the Earth’s atmosphere, as it is
    1) not enclosed by glass
    2) not enclosed at all, thus permitting convective and radiative heat transfer
    3) also contains water vapor

    Opinions, please.

  123. Mark T says:
    June 4, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    Wow, Ferdinand, 34 years… that alone must mean you’ve got it right.

    Not at all, but it was mainly practical experience: upgrading products from laboratory scale to 17 tons batch scale, with all the problems that gives and implementing “models” of how a process theoretically should work, but didn’t in the real world…
    That made me quite critical of any model, until proven in practice.

  124. Bart says:

    Phil. says:
    June 5, 2013 at 7:34 am

    You have obviously not been following the thread. The question is if increasing partial pressure of the gas due to increased outgassing of upwelling waters in the tropics will increase the uptake of downwelling waters at the poles to achieve a balance. It will not. It is a completely one sided phenomenon. More gas comes up in the tropics, and less goes down at the poles. And, because there is a constant flow, that imbalance will accumulate continuously in the surface system.

    Werner Brozek says:
    June 5, 2013 at 7:55 am

    “That 20 Calories is also two orders of magnitude less than the 2000 he needs, but after 40 years, that will add up to a mass gain the man may not appreciate.”

    How much? 292,200 calories worth? What if he establishes a feedback path by which he measures every additional calorie he takes in, and exercises proportionately to burn them off? Because, that is what the planet does in response to increased CO2 input.

  125. Blade says:
    June 4, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    It is normal that calibration gases are prepared by one organisation. In the past, that was Scripps until a few years ago and nowadays that is NOAA, as appointed by the WMO. Scripps was not happy with that decision ans still makes its own calibration mixters and still takes its own flask samples at Mauna Loa. The calibration mixtures at Scripps are/were measured for CO2 by a manometric method, accurate to 1:40,000 (the one invented by C.D. Keeling some years before Mauna Loa, still in use a few years ago), allowing NDIR measurements of CO2 accurate to better that 0.1 ppmv.

    The calibration gases from NOAA are spread over the world and tested by different organisations in different coutries and different labs. Crossexamination of equipment in different labs is frequently done.

    NDIR measurements are non-controversial, they are simple absorbance measurements like is done for many other gases and vapours, including water vapour. It is used simply because it needs a minimum of mechanical equipment, is very robust and can work for months without need of human intervention. But nevertheless, there are several stations in the world which do work with GC’s to measure CH4 and a lot other gases together with CO2. And many flask samples (taken every week or biweekly) at a lot of places (including Mauna Loa) are measured with mass spectroscopy to check the isotope balance.

    So, there is little room left for doubt on CO2 measurements. One can only hope that one day temperature measurements would be performed as rigorously quality controlled as the CO2 measurements are… Much of it is the work of C.D. Keeling from the start on. I can recommend his authobiography, a fascinating story of a driven man:
    http://scrippsco2.ucsd.edu/publications/keeling_autobiography.pdf

  126. jjs says:

    good job Ron, us engineers need to stick together. JJS ME P.E.

  127. Werner Brozek says:

    Bart says:
    June 5, 2013 at 8:53 am

    What if he establishes a feedback path by which he measures every additional calorie he takes in, and exercises proportionately to burn them off? Because, that is what the planet does in response to increased CO2 input.

    The planet is really trying to “exercise” to burn it off via more photosynthesis. See:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/05/31/agu-says-co2-is-plant-food/

    “The satellite data agreed, showing an 11 percent increase in foliage after adjusting the data for precipitation, yielding “strong support for our hypothesis,” the team reports.”

    But the planet apparently is not “exercising” enough since only part of the anthropogenic CO2 is used up which is why CO2 presumably went up from 280 ppm in 1750 to 400 ppm now.

  128. Bart says:

    Werner Brozek says:
    June 5, 2013 at 9:35 am

    “But the planet apparently is not “exercising” enough since only part of the anthropogenic CO2 is used up which is why CO2 presumably went up from 280 ppm in 1750 to 400 ppm now.”

    This is mere conjecture on your part, and it is falsified by the temperature relationship I have been highlighting. An equally likely possibility from your point of view is that the Earth is “burning” off the anthropogenic input without any problem, but the temperature dependence is force-feeding it with more than it can handle.

    Indeed, it is more than equally likely, it is a fact, which is attested to by the very tight temperature relationship shown in this plot. This relationship accounts for very nearly the entire “weight gain”. The lack of any need to account for human inputs to reach this very high level of agreement with observations establishes that they do not have a significant impact.

  129. Bart says:

    Ferdinand –

    I think maybe the reason for our disconnect is that you are assuming something for which there is no basis to make an assumption. Implicit in your notion is that the upwelling waters have the same CO2 partial pressure as waters already at the surface.

    Those waters downwelled centuries ago, and they have taken a very long path to get back to the surface. We have no way of knowing their composition.

  130. Bart says:
    June 4, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    You cannot solve for two unknowns with one equation. This is elementary.

    One can solve every equation with two unknowns if the difference between these two is known and the difference is what one needs to know:

    Increase in the atmosphere = human emissions + natural emissions – natural sinks
    4 GtC/yr = 9 GtC/yr + natural emissions – natural sinks
    or
    4 GtC/yr = 9 GtC/yr – 5 GtC/yr

    The result is a net sink of 5 GtC/year somewhere in nature. Not the slightest need to know any or all of the natural emissions or sinks. They or gone out of the equation.
    Indeed that is elementary.

    They do when you have a continuous transport process.

    Think, Ferdinand. Hotter water at the poles does not absorb as much CO2 to carry down. Henry’s law is very temperature dependent.

    The temperature dependence of pCO2 in seawater is about 16 microatm for 1°C increase in temperature.
    The CO2 flux out of the oceans near the equator is proportional to the pCO2 difference between the ocean waters and the atmosphere.
    The CO2 flux into the oceans near the poles is proportional to the pCO2 difference between the atmosphere and the ocean waters.
    Assuming in both cases no change in wind speed (the other main influence on fluxes) or ocean currents.

    From Feely e.a. ( http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/pubs/outstand/feel2331/exchange.shtml ):
    The pCO2 around the equator can reach 750 microatm.
    That gives a pCO2 difference water – air of ~350 microatm.
    The pCO2 around the poles can reach 150 microatm.
    That gives a pCO2 difference air – water of 250 microatm.

    The flux into the atmosphere near the equator is not exactly known but may be X GtC/year
    The flux into the polar waters is not exactly known but may be Y GtC/year.

    Now, worldwide ocean temperatures suddenly increase with 1°C. The effect on the fluxes at zero time is (new pressure difference / original difference):
    Incoming from the equator: X * (350 + 16) / 350 = 1.046 X
    Outgoing near the poles: Y * (250 – 16) / 250 = 0.936 Y
    where
    pCO2(equator) = 766
    pCO2(air) = 400
    pCO2 (poles) = 166

    Thus the influx gets 4.6% higher and the outflux gets 7.4% lower. Net result, an increase of CO2 in the atmosphere (compared to the previous situation, whatever that was).

    However, the increase in the atmosphere doesn’t go on forever, but only until the increase in the atmosphere also gets 16 microatm (~16 ppmv) higher (new pressure difference / original difference):
    pCO2(equator) = 766
    pCO2(air) = 416
    pCO2(poles) = 166
    That gives as fluxes:
    Incoming from the equator: X * 350 / 350 = X
    Outgoing near the poles: Y * 250 / 250 = Y

    That is exactly the situation as it was before the temperature increase, reached by only an increase of 16 ppmv in the atmosphere.

    Meanwhile we see an increase of 100+ ppmv (70+ ppmv since Mauna Loa started), with a temperature increase of a few tenths of a degr. C. The above shows that the earth’s processes don’t go on indefinitely releasing CO2 for a small increase in temperature. The process stops when a new equilibrium is reached, that is when the increase in CO2 levels of the atmosphere reaches the average increase in pCO2 of the oceans, that is with maximum 16 ppmv/°C.

    Conclusion: your formula can’t be right, na matter how nice the fit is. As the above also shows is that the influence of temperature changes on the fluxes is rather modest and that pressure differences are far more important. The current 100+ ppmv extra is what drives the net sink rate in the oceans, temperature variations only give the variability in sink rate.

    Your basic error is that in nature many different processes with widely different response times to temperature and increased CO2 levels are at work. You are using one formula that fits all…

  131. Bart says:
    June 5, 2013 at 10:09 am

    I think maybe the reason for our disconnect is that you are assuming something for which there is no basis to make an assumption. Implicit in your notion is that the upwelling waters have the same CO2 partial pressure as waters already at the surface.

    Those waters downwelled centuries ago, and they have taken a very long path to get back to the surface. We have no way of knowing their composition.

    My assumption is that the upwelling water have the same composition and have the same upwelling speed, but pCO2 is also influenced by temperature. As we are discussing the influence of temperature on the CO2 levels, only the pCO2 differences caused by temperature variations are important. Changes in composition and/or upwelling fluxes (for which there are no indications) are additional variables which make it more complex.

    If the increase was the result of changes in upwelling flux or composition, then temperature is just a coincidental variable and your temperature-only formula fit is just coincidence…

  132. Ronald Voisin says:

    Dear Ferdinand,
    Could you comment on my Figures 2,3,4&5. This isn’t some mysterious rocket-science that requires digestion of mountain of minutia. It’s rather strait forward.

  133. Ronald Voisin says:

    Dear Ferdinand,
    In anticipation of your difficulty with Figure 4, let’s modify the 1850 column numbers. Let’s change all absorption from 228 to 226.5. Then Delta Emit-Absorb becomes -0.5 and the text below reads Here CO2 is falling in the cold of the Little Ice-Age at -0.5 PgC/year.
    There, are things better now?

  134. Duster says:

    Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    June 4, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    ..
    BTW, human influences on the biosphere by cutting and burning forests for agriculture are counted as an estimated human contribution of ~1 GtC/year for the loss of carbon storage, including the loss of biodiversity (I don’t know if bacteria are counted with them).

    “Loss of biodiversity” is one of those catch phrases that can either be informative, or an emotional trigger. Fire suppression is a net carbon sink on a year-to-year scale since plants and trees live, and dead material accumulates as O horizon material on the ground, indeed on a decadal scale as well. If you consider the statistics on fires in Yosemite NP, prior to the formation of the park, tree-ring data (I do trust them to show fires) indicates that the entire park area experienced burns on about a 25-year interval. That doesn’t mean the entire area burned all at once, but that over a 25-year span, the entire area burned in over lapping patches. This would keep fuel levels down, meaning the carbon was in the atmosphere. After the park was formed, none of the area burned for over 50 years. In that time the biomass within the park increased by several orders of magnitude. The change is well documented in historic photographs. This same pattern holds for the entire montane west including Canada. That means that fire-suppression alone accounts for gigatonnes of carbon sequestered in forest tree growth and understory formation. Burning forests are the direct result of fire suppression for economic reasons (timber harvest) and to protect occupation areas, which is I believe the OP’s point.

    If you firmly believe in the significance of carbon in the atmosphere, then in order to really assess human influences, the century or better of fire suppression has to be entered into the balance, and to make matters even more complicated, the west coast’s biological structure, pretty much was set by fire.. In fact it was the product of deliberate aboriginal burning that was intended to 1) improve visibility, 2) provide habitat for valuable plants that won’t grow in deep forest or need fire to reproduce – in fact the “Big Tree” or Sierran Redwood needs fire to reproduce, and the very parks established to protect them damaged their chances for survival. Talk about unintended consequences. Third, fires helped maintain browse for deer herds and permitted increased herd size. Deer prefer young growth (one to three years or so) chaparral, especially chemise. However, as stands age the brush loses palatability and the herds move or shrink. There’s evidence that chaparral stands increased in area several times over the last few thousand years thanks to increased fire frequencies. And – those perennial grasslands in the valley, well, the fires that maintained them were also set by the indians. Ranchers moving in with cattle and sheep explained – occasionally at the point of a gun – that the indians living there were no longer allowed to burn the grass lands. Again the fires insured that valuable species that needed fire to reproduce, did so.

    Available evidence provides similar narratives for other parts of the world including Africa, Australia and Europe where swidden agriculture triggered massive shifts in biological community structure, and quite likely Mesolithic landscape management practices did so before that. In short, I very much doubt that anyone has the data and the detailed historical and prehistoric knowledge to cast even a semi-accurate carbon balance for humanity’s effects on the planet and its carbon. Nor is possible to define a state of “nature.”

  135. Werner Brozek says:

    Bart says:
    June 5, 2013 at 9:55 am
    but the temperature dependence is force-feeding it with more than it can handle

    The temperature dependence can only force-feed this process if the temperatures were rising, but on three data sets, they have been going down over the last 8 or 9 years as shown here:
    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/rss/from:1996.9/plot/rss/from:1996.9/trend/plot/rss/from:1996.9/to:2005/trend/plot/rss/from:2005/trend/plot/hadcrut3gl/from:1997.33/plot/hadcrut3gl/from:1997.33/trend/plot/hadcrut3gl/from:1997.33/to:2005/trend/plot/hadcrut3gl/from:2005/trend/plot/hadsst2gl/from:1997.1/plot/hadsst2gl/from:1997.1/trend/plot/hadsst2gl/from:1997.1/to:2004/trend/plot/hadsst2gl/from:2004/trend
    As well Le Chatelier’s Principle seems to be applying to CO2 levels as well. See:
    http://motls.blogspot.ca/2007/11/le-chateliers-principle-and-natures.html
    Le Chatelier’s principle and nature’s adaptation
    “One possible way to describe Le Chatelier’s principle is to say that feedback mechanisms in stable systems are negative. When you add CO2, various processes that consume it (such as photosynthesis) become more frequent. So the ultimate increase in CO2 will be lower than if those processes didn’t exist. For the concentration of CO2, it is essentially a standard example of the principle in action. No one doubts it.”

  136. dscott says:

    Now here is the reason why the observations made in this piece bear out. The Ideal Gas Laws (PV=NRT) and Venus’s atmosphere disprove CO2 as a significant source of warming. The atmospheric temperature/pressure profile of Venus indicates that where the atmospheric pressure in the air column is similar to Earth at 1 bar, the air temperature is virtually the same as here despite having CO2 as the primary gas of the atmosphere. I say virtually since the temperature is slightly but not significantly higher. Venus at half the distance to the Sun receives 4 times the insolation (solar energy input) of Earth. In Science they call it a “Law” for a reason, there are no exceptions. The theory of AGW violates the Basic Gas Laws and basic Thermodynamic Laws, thus is invalidated. Radiative back scattering is nonsensical otherwise Mars would be as warm as Earth and Venus at 1 bar in the atmospheric column would be way hotter.

    The Martian atmosphere is cold despite being virtually 100% CO2, why? Air pressure of 7 millibar and distance to the Sun making insolation 1/4 that of earth. Why is Jupiter hot being so far from the Sun? Air pressure. There are only two major variables that determine air temperature on a planetary scale: 1) Atmospheric pressure and 2) Insolation.

    There are plenty of lessor and derivative variables such as humidity, gas composition, particulates, sea temperature and cloud cover that nibble on the edge but NONE of these determine the planetary temperature bracket/range.

  137. Duster says:
    June 5, 2013 at 11:40 am

    I know that there are a lot of problems with the estimates of the human influence on land use changes. E.g. how do you estimate the loss of carbon if you replace a forest with a crop field? On what time frame? Burning down the forest or cutting an selling the wood? What crops are planted?

    Thus in my opinion too many estimates. So, I never use these figures, only the burning of fossil fuels, as these are more accurate (as based on fuel sales and burning efficiency). Any land use changes in general are probably additional: slashing/burning forests in many countries is more than enough to dwarf the extra planting of trees in the Western world…

  138. Bart says:

    Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    June 5, 2013 at 10:18 am

    “The result is a net sink of 5 GtC/year somewhere in nature.”

    But, which portion of that sink is due to anthropogenic forcing, and which portion to natural forcing? You do not know. There are two variables there, and you only have one equation.

    This is a dynamic system. Sinks expand due to forcing. Natural sinks do not respond to only natural forcing, they respond to both. There is a portion of that sink which was created by the anthropogenic forcing, and a portion which is a response to natural forcing.

    Two unknowns, one equation. You cannot solve it uniquely. This is elementary.

    Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    June 5, 2013 at 10:35 am

    “My assumption is that the upwelling water have the same composition and have the same upwelling speed…”

    There is your error here. There is no basis for such an assumption. Indeed, it would be quite remarkable if that were the case out of all the possibilities. It’s like the ancients assuming planetary orbits had to be circular. Out of all the possibilities, they chose circles. And, they were wrong.

    “If the increase was the result of changes in upwelling flux or composition, then temperature is just a coincidental variable and your temperature-only formula fit is just coincidence…”

    No, the rate is temperature dependent. It has tracked the long term slope in temperature as well as the shorter term variations. If T approached Teq, the rate would drop to zero.

    That slope leaves no room for significant human additions, because the human additions have a slope, too, and there is no more room for it.

    Werner Brozek says:
    June 5, 2013 at 11:40 am

    “The temperature dependence can only force-feed this process if the temperatures were rising…”

    At the root, you are making the same mistake as Ferdinand. A regime shift in upwelling waters creates a temperature dependent pump into the atmosphere. Such a shift occurred, probably in about 1945, and CO2 has been rising in temperature dependent fashion since. It does not need a temperature change to continue pumping. It needs a temperature change to accelerate or decelerate the pumping.

  139. John B., M.D. says:

    Jupiter does generate some internal heat too.

  140. fhhaynie says:

    Bart says:

    June 5, 2013 at 10:09 am

    In addition to your answer to Ferdinand, if that upwelling cold water came from the bottom, it was probably saturated with CO2 and dissolved inorganic carbonates. The ocean bottom is covered with carbonate rocks. When it warms up at the surface it either goes into the atmosphere or precipitates and floats back down to the bottom.

  141. Bart says:

    Thanks, Fred. And, thanks for your yeoman’s work in opening my eyes to what was really happening. In the end, we will be vindicated. The divergence between emissions and atmospheric concentration is already apparent, and will only accelerate in the years ahead.

  142. John B., M.D. says:

    Any experts like to comment on my post from 8:29 a.m. (was hidden waiting for moderation)? The Bill Nye thread died so I reposted here.
    Thanks.

  143. wbrozek says:

    Bart says:
    June 5, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    A regime shift in upwelling waters creates a temperature dependent pump into the atmosphere. Such a shift occurred, probably in about 1945, and CO2 has been rising in temperature dependent fashion since.

    Even if this were true, it is quite possible that the cold water with the CO2 concentration was no where close to being saturated. So even if this water warms up, it still could possibly be unsaturated. I will not flat out say that this is wrong, but to me, it totally stretches credibility that this shift from almost 70 years ago should still be emitting CO2 that just happens to be about half of what humans emit each year. Of course this begs the question: What is happening to the portion we emit each year?

  144. Ronald Voisin says:
    June 5, 2013 at 10:42 am

    Dear Ferdinand,
    Could you comment on my Figures 2,3,4&5. This isn’t some mysterious rocket-science that requires digestion of mountain of minutia. It’s rather strait forward.

    About figure 2:
    The problem is not with the ice cores, the problem is with the late Beck’s compilation. I had years if (friendly) discussion with him, but he didn’t change his ideas.
    The main problem with the historical data was not the accuracy of the measurements (normally within +/- 10 ppmv, although some were only accurate to +/- 150 ppmv!), but where was measured. One can’t use any data measured on land near huge sources and sinks. Land vegetation is a huge source at night (especially under inversion) and a huge sink during the (sunny) day. That already gives a bias of +/- 40 ppmv, as the inversion outweighs the drop, as during the day, the air is better mixed (good luck for plants anyway).
    Ernst Beck simply averaged all available data, the good, the bad and the ugly in his compilation, without looking at the possibility of bias.
    But if you look at all the historical data, the samples taken on board of seaships or coastal with wind from the sea, then you see that all values are around the ice core values for the same period. Unfortunately, there are no seaside data over the years of the 1942 “peak”, which doesn’t exist in any other proxy neither in ice cores.
    See further:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/beck_data.html

    About figure 3:

    The main objection I have is the lack of the counterbalance: no estimates for the sinks are given.
    Take the position of an interglacial: forests are growing on a much larger area and also show (in general) increased growth per unit, thanks to higher temperatures. Thanks to that growth of vegetation, animal life (including humans) find (or grow) more food and bacteria and insects also have more food. So the increase in sink rate by vegetation is the source for the increase of source rate by the rest of the food chain. After all, the cycle speeds up, but that doesn’t say anything about CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

    Important is the balance: ice cores like Vostok and Dome C show the direct relation between CO2 and temperature, where CO2 lags temperature.
    During a deglaciation, temperature increases and CO2 levels follow with about 8 ppmv/°C. The increase is about 12°C and 100 ppmv for the pevious interglacial, the Eemian. The speed of increase was about 0.24°C/century and 2 ppmv/century over 5000 years. Thus the massive amount of CO2 in the oceans didn’t play much role as only 2 ppmv/century increase or in total 210 GtC from the 56,000 GtC in the oceans were released by 12°C increase in temperature.

    No matter how much more carbon circulated from oceans to atmosphere and back or from vegetation to the atmosphere and back, when the temperature changed, the CO2 levels changed. When the temperature stayed at a level, the CO2 levels stayed at a level (all of course with some wiggles), as well as in glacials as in interglacials. The circulation speed may have been much higher during interglacials, but that had no direct influence on the change of CO2 levels. Only temperature changes did that. The only indirect influence may be on the lag of CO2: the lag is much more pronounced during a glaciation than during a deglaciation.

    This already being long, next part later…

  145. Stephen Wilde says:

    I said this in 2008:

    “If the oceans warm for any reason they will release CO2 into the atmosphere because water holds less CO2 at higher temperatures”

    As part of this wide ranging article which is turning out to be more relevant as time passes:

    http://climaterealists.com/index.php?id=1041

    “Global Warming and Cooling – The Reality”

    I have also previously suggested that variations in oceanic CO2 absorption capability would be transmitted along the thermohaline circulation to influence atmospheric CO2 levels centuries later.

  146. wbrozek says:

    John B., M.D. says:
    June 5, 2013 at 8:29 am
    Question: If you have two identical silica glass bottles (closed to the air), except one is filled with nitrogen/oxygen, and the other with 100% CO2, and you put them in identical sunlight for the same amount of time, which bottle interior will be warmer and why?

    The specific heat capacity of air is 1.0035 J/gK and 20.7643 J/molK at 0 C at a constant volume.

    The specific heat capacity of CO2 is 0.839 J/gK and 28.46 J/molK at constant volume.

    So everything else being equal, if you have the same mass of each, then CO2 warms faster. But if you have the same number of moles of each, then air heats faster.

    As for the other factor, I am not sure here, but since oxygen is never mentioned as a greenhouse gas, my guess would be that any absorption that does take place by oxygen is dwarfed by the differences in specific heat capacities, but I could be wrong on this last part.

  147. John B., M.D. says:

    I’m not sure different heat capacities of the different gases is the issue. I thought the important factor is which gas absorbs the sunlight after the glass has already blocked long wave infrared. The light that passes through the glass is primarily visible wavelengths, and per the absorption spectra I linked to, oxygen absorbs more than CO2 (albeit not much) at these wavelengths. For clarity, assume the N2/O2 mix is same as Earth’s atmosphere.

    I’m trying to explain Anthony Watts’ results found upon replication of the Gore/Bill Nye experiment.

    Thanks for your input.

  148. cba says:


    Thomas says:
    June 4, 2013 at 5:13 am

    This article is a perfect example of the blogosphere echo chamber. Voisin has gotten his information from blogs, other people who also have gotten their information from similar blogs get confirmation for their beliefs and cheer the article and the world a real science get dismissed altogether.

    Just to take one example of how Voisin doesn’t understand climate science. To him “positive feedbacks” means the system has to be unstable, but that is not how the term is used in climate science. There it just means a temperature response that is greater that what you’d get from a simple blackbody.

    When Voisin asks “Why didn’t that spiking lead to large increases in atmospheric water vapor? ” I can only wonder how he knows it didn’t. I don’t think we have any proxy records, but all models certainly assume water vapor increased, and it’s very hard to explain the large temperature shift during the ice age cycles without it.

    The feedback concept was borrowed from engineering. hansen read some 1948 book by bode and decided he knew all about positive feedback. Note I could be wrong in that hansen may have only claimed to have read bode’s book and might not have actually read it. If he did read it, I don’t think he succeeded in understanding it. However, when you borrow terminology, you are constrained to not try to redefine it into some meaningless drivel. There is a very narrow area of operation where positive feedback can exist and not be unstable. Fortunately though, it’s verfiable by simple models and actual numbers that the net feedback is negative in that realm you mention – where the temperature increase required is less than that of a blackbody.

  149. wbrozek says:

    Stephen Wilde says:
    June 5, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    “If the oceans warm for any reason they will release CO2 into the atmosphere because water holds less CO2 at higher temperatures”

    Would this still be the case if humans add CO2 into the atmosphere every year? If we assume we are at 400 ppm now and we put in 4 ppm every year, by how many tenths of a degree would the oceans have to warm on the average so the complete 4 ppm stays in the air without any going into the ocean?

  150. cba says:

    ” Thomas says:
    June 4, 2013 at 5:53 am

    chris, the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere is less limited by evaporation than it is precipitation. Once relative humidity reaches 100% you get rain (or snow), and more evaporation just gives more rain. The reason why water vapor acts as a positive feedback is that it takes more water vapor before you reach 100% relative humidity at higher temperature.

    Messing with the hydrological cycle like in the suggestion of spraying sea water will have all kind of effects in the amount of water vapor, latent heat transfer, clouds etc. Short of doing a large scale experiment you need a climate model to see the result.

    my my, have you forgotten the concept of lapse rate as well as the water cycle?

    If your surface gets a bit hotter and if there is in fact water present, you will get more evaporation. That moist air weighs less than dry air so will rise – not to forget it is likely to trap more IR and warm slightly. Of course the energy that went into evaporation did not go into raising the temperature but now you’re headed up in the atmosphere where the RH will ultimate hit 100% under normal conditions. Where you hit that point might change some in altitude but it will always be somewhere and will depend upon heat flow and conservation of energy.

    Regardless of just how much absolute h2o content there is, you’re already quite saturated down low and energy will be transferred almost exclusively by convection. Until you get passed the cloud cover which is usually over 60% coverage, what isn’t absorbed by co2 and h2o get’s run into the rather opaque cloud and all that magic bs about co2 doubling causing a 3.7 w/m^2 blockage increase in IR only is for clear skies.

    Since h2o vapor is already IR saturated, and limited to RH<100%, do you have any clue how much of a temperature increase is required to achieve a doubling of h2o vapor or roughly what the added IR blocking would be to generate your precious positive feedback. Hint, for a constant RH (a fairly reasonable assumption to have with changing co2 content and temperature), a 5 deg C rise in T could only add about 30% more h2o vapor and like c02 it's a log function – double it and get 8 or 9 w/m^2 added absorption.

    In an overly simplistic model, one can see much of this stuff and when one starts to see what is happening with the numbers, one starts to find out the whole CAGW BS as being political rather than scientific.

    I think our author has done quite a good job at evaluating and explaining things and has reached conclusions that are probably right on for the most part. And, he did so without getting into the details of what they are.

  151. cba says:


    mkelly says:
    June 4, 2013 at 9:58 am

    Thomas says:

    June 4, 2013 at 5:13 am

    http://junksciencecom.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/bl23oawciaaulgf-large.jpg?w=500&h=418

    Thomas the link shows that water vapor had been declining since 1948. If the increase of water vapor is necessary, as you state, then CAGW cannot be valid as WV is declining.

    Further, could you please expound your statement: ” There it just means a temperature response that is greater that what you’d get from a simple blackbody.” How is the response larger than the theoretical BB temperature?

    mkelly,
    Thanks for that link. I’ll try to answer for thomas on the other item. His claim is that positive feedback means it takes a greater T rise to radiate the total incoming energy to space. than a simple black body increase in T would require. That is if 238w/m^2 are absorbed by Earth and a co2 doubling reduces the amount radiated by 3.7w/m^2, an increase in T of a blackbody to radiate 3.7 W/m^2 more than 238 W/m^2 would be less than what the Earth’s temperature would have to increase to get 3.7w/m^2 radiated out. When you make the model slightly more complex than the most simplistic it turns out to require less T increase – implying a – feedback rather than a + feedback. However, both are somewhat too simple to actually model the Earth but applying Earth’s real numbers, you can see that it does require less. One must take into account solar in, albedo, blocking by cloud cover, surface temperature, and atmospheric ghg blocking. Again, the real Earth can’t be modeled but a simple one and Earth’s real numbers will show it requires less – negating a + feedback.
    Real numbers, Earth absorbs about 239w/m^2 average so must radiate that much on the long term. About 2/3 of the Earth’s surface is cloud covered and IR absorption for clear skies is around 100 w/m^2. Surface average is around 288.2K and hence radiates about 390w/m^2 from the surface aand about 239w/m^2 escapes – meaning just over 150w/m^2 is trapped by the real atmosphere. A blackbody would radiate 239w/m^^2 at a T of about 255 which is 33 deg C which means all ghgs and atmosphere warms Earth by 33 deg C. Average of that is 33/150 = 0.22 deg C rise per W/m^2 which means a co2 doubling should increase T in the real Earth by only about 0.8 deg C – well within normal typical daily and seasonal variations of T. Note that the big buggaboo of Thmas’ concerning h2o vapor would increase by a miniscule fraction- well under 30% (less than 13%) and no where close to a doubling. It would actually be a small fraction of the co2 contribution and so could not add hardly anything to the T.
    Amusingly enough, our author’s analysis doesn’t require these sort of cute little models to reach significant conclusions – some of which are in accord with these – and some exceed what can be concluded. AND if thomas understand the article – he has got to be chaffed or in major DENIAL, LOL.

  152. Bart says:

    wbrozek says:
    June 5, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    “…it is quite possible that the cold water with the CO2 concentration was no where close to being saturated.”

    All that is required is that it have more CO2 content than present surface waters. The data show that a temperature dependent source is feeding and driving the atmospheric CO2 concentration.

    “…it totally stretches credibility that this shift from almost 70 years ago should still be emitting CO2 that just happens to be about half of what humans emit each year.”

    It has to be something. I it no less credible than the idea that the amount of anthropogenic CO2 hanging around in the atmosphere just happens to be about 1/2 of the amount emitted.

    And, it is only over a finite interval of time. As I have been saying, that relationship is currently diverging.

  153. Bart says:
    June 5, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    But, which portion of that sink is due to anthropogenic forcing, and which portion to natural forcing? You do not know. There are two variables there, and you only have one equation.

    As implied before: that is a totally uninteresting question. It doesn’t matter if the increase in the atmosphere is caused by humans or by nature: all sinks are natural and the natural sinks are larger than the natural sources. That is all that counts. Human emissions are (near) 100% one-way additional. It is as asking what part of the net loss of a bank is your part, if you have deposited more in the bank than they still gain per year (in that case, better look for another bank).

    But that is a side show. More interesting is that whatever temperature does, CO2 levels in the atmosphere simply follow the temperature and everything is again in balance. If that is the only variable.

    But the flows and concentrations of the deep ocean circulation may have changed, by coincidence when the temperature started to rise. That is already the second coincidence: human emissions rises, temperature rises and upwelling concentration/flow rises all in concert.

    Then No, the rate is temperature dependent. It has tracked the long term slope in temperature as well as the shorter term variations. If T approached Teq, the rate would drop to zero.

    Sorry, but that simply can’t be. Al you see is a nice curve fit (which BTW doesn’t fit the 1945-1975 period so well). The CO2 levels stop to increase or decrease when the average pCO2 of the oceans equals the pCO2 of the atmosphere above it. Whatever the temperature or the concentration or the fluxes at that moment are. That works for a coke bottle as good as for the oceans.

    As I have tried to show: if the CO2 levels in the atmosphere increase, the release of CO2 from the oceans is reducing and the uptake is increasing, until a new equilibrium is reached. That is elementary process dynamics. No matter what caused the increase of CO2 in the first place: humans, ocean circulation speed, ocean upwelling concentration or temperature.

    But let us assume that the concentration at the upwelling places suddenly increased, so that the pCO2 increased with 10%, which is a huge change (not seen in any observation of the equatorial waters). That gives (all in microatm) at zero time:
    pCO2(equator) = 825
    pCO2(air) = 400
    pCO2 (poles) = 150
    The change in fluxes then is:
    Incoming from the equator: X * (350 + 75) / 350 = 1.214 X
    Outgoing near the poles: Y * 250 / 250 = Y

    Thus a huge increase in concentration of the upwelling waters will increase the incoming flux to the atmosphere with some 21%. Again a huge change. That of course will increase the CO2 levels of the atmosphere, as in first instance the sinks didn’t increase. But when the CO2 levels in the atmosphere increase, then the incoming fluxes are reducing and the outgoing fluxes are increasing. That ends when all fluxes are back in equilibium. That is with an increase of halve the disturbance (37.5 ppmv) in the atmosphere:
    Incoming from the equator: X * (350 + 75 – 37.5) / 350 = 1.107 X
    Outgoing near the poles: Y * (250 + 37.5) / 250 = 1.15 Y
    pCO2(air) increased to 437.5 ppmv and all is back in equilibrium.

    If at the same moment as the disturbance also the temperature increased with 1°C, the pCO2(air) only need to increase with a further 16 ppmv to get again the old state of affairs.
    Still not reaching the 70+ ppmv rise as seen in the atmosphere over the past 50+ years.

    Last resort: for some unknown reason, the deep ocean circulation doubled. Without other variables changing at the same moment (3 such coincidences at the same time is more like winning the Euromillions), that does hardly change the atmospheric CO2 levels, as if the oceans in general are not piling up in one place, both the CO2 fluxes in sources and sinks may have about doubled. But even if that did give some difference in net input of CO2, the atmosphere would adjust accordingly with halve the change in CO2 level.

    Anyway in no case does an stepwise increase of CO2 influxes by temperature, concentration, ocean circulation or combination thereof give a continuous increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. In all cases it results in a limited increase.

  154. fhhaynie says:
    June 5, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    In addition to your answer to Ferdinand, if that upwelling cold water came from the bottom, it was probably saturated with CO2 and dissolved inorganic carbonates.

    In fact it is largely undersaturated, but when warming at the surface it turns into oversaturated, releasing a lot of CO2. The question is, why would that have changed in recent times, just by coincidence when humans start to emit lots of CO2?
    And the MWP is already some time ago, so most of the upwelling waters now are from the end of the MWP or begin LIA, thus should be more depleted in CO2 than some time ago.

    Further, to explain the 70 ppmv increase since Mauna Loa, the upwelling waters should be 140 microatm higher in pCO2 than previous. That is impossible high if that is from the deep oceans and would imply such an increase in ancient times in the atmosphere. But that isn’t noticed in ice cores, neither in current ocean surface measurements.

  155. Bart says:
    June 5, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    A regime shift in upwelling waters creates a temperature dependent pump into the atmosphere. Such a shift occurred, probably in about 1945, and CO2 has been rising in temperature dependent fashion since.

    It seems that I missed that one…

    From the link:
    A) CO2 measurements prior to 1958 are problematic – that is why MLO was set up. If the data from ice cores were trustworthy, why would they have needed anything else?

    Mauna Loa and other stations were set up because the historical data from chemical measurements were far less accurate (+/- 10 ppmv) and mostly taken near huge sources and sinks.
    The first ice cores were examined for CO2 in the 1980′s and more recent years. They show the same CO2 levels as at the South Pole in the overlapping period of ~20 years (1960-1980) for the high resolution ice cores of Law Dome. Ice cores with the most diverging accumulation rates, temperature and resolution all show the same CO2 levels within +/- 3 ppmv for the same periods in time. Thus in my opinion near as reliable than the direct measurements today.

    And of course, you can induce a convenient shift in k and Teq for each period that the data don’t fit the formula. So you can explain the glacial and interglacial shifts and periods by adjusting the constants and baseline as you like… Isn’t that the kind of manipulation what we skeptics object to climate models?

  156. Werner Brozek says:

    Bart says:
    June 5, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    If you are correct, then the pH of the ocean should be going up. Do you have evidence that this is the case over the last 70 years?

  157. Phil. says:

    Bart says:
    June 5, 2013 at 9:55 am
    Werner Brozek says:
    June 5, 2013 at 9:35 am

    “But the planet apparently is not “exercising” enough since only part of the anthropogenic CO2 is used up which is why CO2 presumably went up from 280 ppm in 1750 to 400 ppm now.”

    This is mere conjecture on your part, and it is falsified by the temperature relationship I have been highlighting. An equally likely possibility from your point of view is that the Earth is “burning” off the anthropogenic input without any problem, but the temperature dependence is force-feeding it with more than it can handle.

    It’s not conjecture, we know that year on year that the CO2 accumulates in the atmosphere at half the rate at which we emit it by burning fossil fuels. The earth is not ‘exercising enough’!

    Indeed, it is more than equally likely, it is a fact, which is attested to by the very tight temperature relationship shown in this plot.

    ‘This plot’ shows that there is a constant rate of increase in addition to the fluctuation which correlates with the temperature fluctuation (why SH by the way?). The fluctuation is consistent with the ocean temperature modulating the rate of absorption by the ocean, as expected due to Henry’s Law.

  158. Phil. says:

    fhhaynie says:
    June 5, 2013 at 12:40 pm
    Bart says:

    June 5, 2013 at 10:09 am

    In addition to your answer to Ferdinand, if that upwelling cold water came from the bottom, it was probably saturated with CO2 and dissolved inorganic carbonates. The ocean bottom is covered with carbonate rocks.

    Check out Calcite saturation horizon, the ocean is undersaturated at depth.

  159. fhhaynie says:

    Ferdinand,

    Think about the water at about 0 C on the bottom of the ocean off the coast of Peru. Don’t you think it will tend to equilibrate with the limestone and basalt that is scattered over the bottom. The upwelling of a la Nina is rich with dissolved carbonates (the best time for fishing). As that water rises it will mix with warmer water that contains less CO2. As the water on the surface warms by as much as 15 degrees C as it crosses the Pacific, solubility of CO2 will decrease and much of it will go into the air. The amount in a year from just this source is probably greater than 20 times all anthropogenic sources believe it or not. The rate will change as the rate of warming across the Pacific changes. As you have stated, about 97.5% will be swallowed up each year by the biosphere and cold polar waters. At the same time, those sinks will be swallowing up 97.5% of the anthropogenics.

  160. thunderloon says:

    OMG, way way too much reply posting.
    Global “warming” violates the law of thermodynamics. Maximum average temperature is controlled by gravity.

  161. fhhaynie says:

    Phil,
    I’m talking about upwelling of the cold waters from below the saturation horizon.

  162. Bart says:

    Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    June 5, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    “…all sinks are natural…”

    No! A thousand times NOOOO! A portion of those sinks WOULD NOT EXIST if there were no anthropogenic forcing. That portion is, in truth, artificial. It is created artificially. It exists artificially. It is an artificial sink.

    I cannot believe you are seriously arguing this. I keep expecting you to reflect, and realize that since your argument is so simple and I cannot possibly have missed your point, I must not have.

    I get your argument. Truly. It is simple, straightforward, and hopelessly wrong. I am thinking on a more subtle level than you, and you need to study my argument. Because you are as wrong as you could possibly be.

    “…which BTW doesn’t fit the 1945-1975 period so well…”

    Hardly surprising, given that you do not have good measurements from that period. The errors you speak of in your next post are amplified in the derivative. This is very basic, and you haven’t a leg to stand on.

    “The CO2 levels stop to increase or decrease when the average pCO2 of the oceans equals the pCO2 of the atmosphere above it. “

    There is a continuous stream of concentrated CO2 water continually rising. You have made a bad assumption. The oceans are not homogeneous.

    “In all cases it results in a limited increase.”

    It does not. You are wrong, and the temporary, superficial relationship between emissions and atmospheric concentration is diverging.

    Werner Brozek says:
    June 5, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    “If you are correct, then the pH of the ocean should be going up.”

    Werner, think this through.

    Phil. says:
    June 5, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    “…we know that year on year that the CO2 accumulates in the atmosphere at half the rate at which we emit it by burning fossil fuels.”

    So what? That does not implicate the burning of fossil fuels in the observed rise. It is incredibly naive to think so.

    “‘This plot’ shows that there is a constant rate of increase in addition to the fluctuation which correlates with the temperature fluctuation…”

    It ALL correlates, across the board, in the long term AND the short term. It is as close to a smoking gun as you can get.

    “…why SH by the way…”

    It produces a nicer fit, which suggests that this is indeed predominately an oceanic phenomenon. However, there is a very nice fit with the higher accuracy global satellite data as well, but it is not over as long a time period.

  163. Bart says:

    There is nothing more to be said. You guys are just flailing, and I am just keep repeating arguments which you keep ignoring. Time will reveal all. Regards to you, Fred.

    Until next time…

  164. Phil. says:

    dscott says:
    June 5, 2013 at 11:56 am
    Now here is the reason why the observations made in this piece bear out. The Ideal Gas Laws (PV=NRT) and Venus’s atmosphere disprove CO2 as a significant source of warming. The atmospheric temperature/pressure profile of Venus indicates that where the atmospheric pressure in the air column is similar to Earth at 1 bar, the air temperature is virtually the same as here despite having CO2 as the primary gas of the atmosphere. I say virtually since the temperature is slightly but not significantly higher. Venus at half the distance to the Sun receives 4 times the insolation (solar energy input) of Earth.

    Not true, Venus scatters back 90% of the light incident on it compared with Earth which scatters 31%. At 1 bar pressure the temperature is 66ºC (~50 km altitude) not ‘virtually the same as’ earth at all.

    In Science they call it a “Law” for a reason, there are no exceptions.

    Not true, there are exceptions which is why we need different equations of state under certain conditions, e.g. van der Waals equation.

    The theory of AGW violates the Basic Gas Laws and basic Thermodynamic Laws, thus is invalidated. Radiative back scattering is nonsensical otherwise Mars would be as warm as Earth and Venus at 1 bar in the atmospheric column would be way hotter.

    Wrong again, you haven’t taken spectral broadening into account.
    Three strikes and you’re out!

  165. Phil. says:

    Bart says:
    June 5, 2013 at 3:06 pm
    wbrozek says:
    June 5, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    “…it is quite possible that the cold water with the CO2 concentration was no where close to being saturated.”

    All that is required is that it have more CO2 content than present surface waters. The data show that a temperature dependent source is feeding and driving the atmospheric CO2 concentration.

    No, the data show that there is emission into the atmosphere and a temperature dependent sink for CO2 which is modulating the concentration. This total sink capacity isn’t adequate to remove all the excess emissions therefore [CO2] increases.

  166. Phil. says:

    Bart says:
    June 5, 2013 at 6:36 pm
    There is nothing more to be said. You guys are just flailing, and I am just keep repeating arguments which you keep ignoring. Time will reveal all.

    The reason your arguments are ignored is because they are wrong and don’t agree with the observed facts, get that straight and maybe you’ll be listened to.

  167. Phil. says:

    fhhaynie says:
    June 5, 2013 at 5:05 pm
    Ferdinand,

    Think about the water at about 0 C on the bottom of the ocean off the coast of Peru. Don’t you think it will tend to equilibrate with the limestone and basalt that is scattered over the bottom.

    No it’s undersaturated, and what does basalt have to do with it>

    The upwelling of a la Nina is rich with dissolved carbonates (the best time for fishing). As that water rises it will mix with warmer water that contains less CO2. As the water on the surface warms by as much as 15 degrees C as it crosses the Pacific, solubility of CO2 will decrease and much of it will go into the air.

    No plankton in your ocean?

    The amount in a year from just this source is probably greater than 20 times all anthropogenic sources believe it or not.

    Not a chance!

  168. philincalifornia says:

    Bart says:
    June 5, 2013 at 6:36 pm
    Time will reveal all.
    ——————————————–
    Amen to that Bart.

    What stretches credibility for me is that grown-ups, with access to chemical and enzyme kinetic textbooks, can come to the conclusion that in a dynamic system, when 1.0 units of an input goes to 1.03 units, then 0.015 from THAT added 0.03 units (50%) is added to the system. It’s just infantile.

  169. Phil. says:

    philincalifornia says:
    June 5, 2013 at 8:13 pm
    Bart says:
    June 5, 2013 at 6:36 pm
    Time will reveal all.
    ——————————————–
    Amen to that Bart.

    What stretches credibility for me is that grown-ups, with access to chemical and enzyme kinetic textbooks, can come to the conclusion that in a dynamic system, when 1.0 units of an input goes to 1.03 units, then 0.015 from THAT added 0.03 units (50%) is added to the system. It’s just infantile.

    Yes after all it’s just a simple material balance equation:

    D[CO2]/dt= Fossil Fuel Combustion+ Natural Sources- Sinks

    0.015=0.3+ Natural Sources- Sinks

    therefore Natural Sources- Sinks= -0.015

    Simple isn’t it?

  170. Joel Shore says:

    phil: You don’t have the right picture in your head. Imagine that you have two tanks of water that exchange between each other ~30 gallons per minute in a way that keeps the volume of water in the two tanks equal. Then, you start adding water to one of the tanks water from an outside source at the rate of 1 gallon per minute.

    As the amount of water in both tanks increases by 0.5 gallons per minute, what is responsible for this rise?

  171. Stephen Wilde says:

    wbrozek asked:

    “If we assume we are at 400 ppm now and we put in 4 ppm every year, by how many tenths of a degree would the oceans have to warm on the average so the complete 4 ppm stays in the air without any going into the ocean?”

    Depends on whether that 4ppm is extracted locally and regionally by biosphere sinks as looks likely from the chart I linked to previously which shows no CO2 plumes downwind of human population centres but lots downwind of sun warmed ocean surfaces.

    Our artificial emissions seems to result in nearby artificially energised sinks which pretty much eliminates our emissions without needing to involve the oceanic CO2 change significantly or at all.

    I’m not convinced by the isotope argument because there is so much biosphere activity in the oceans that I think Ferdinand’s basic assumptions about the respective isotope sources and sinks are unreliable for the diagnostic purpose he puts them to.

    Our artificial sources create corresponding artificial sinks as I think someone else suggested upthread.

  172. fhhaynie says:
    June 5, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    As the water on the surface warms by as much as 15 degrees C as it crosses the Pacific, solubility of CO2 will decrease and much of it will go into the air. The amount in a year from just this source is probably greater than 20 times all anthropogenic sources believe it or not.

    I am a non-believer as long as no rational answer is given, based on observations. I have no problems with the continuous release of CO2 in the Pacific upwelling places, as that simply follows the rules of Henry’s Law: at the temperatures of the Pacific equator, the deep ocean upwelling is oversaturated and releases a lot of CO2. At the poles, the oceans shows a large undersaturated ocean surface where CO2 sinks to the bottom of the oceans. In the past 800 kyrs that shows a quite nice equilibrium between temperature and CO2 levels.

    What I don’t believe is that the release of CO2 from the Pacific continuously increased over time at an increased rate, just mimicking human emissions, either from increased temperatures or from increased concentrations or from increased circulation (the latter has virtually no effect, as that implies a near equal sink rate increase).
    In the former cases, that would be seen in a gradual increasing increase of the pCO2 in the Pacific equatorial waters, faster than the increase in the atmosphere, or there is simply no increased flux into the atmosphere. Such an increase in pCO2 is not seen anywhere in the world, to the contrary, the overall pCO2 difference between atmosphere and oceans increased over time, thus the oceans are an increasing sink for CO2.

    A simple search on the release of CO2 / pCO2 in equatoral Pacific waters reveals that the upwelling shifts with El Niño / La Niña episodes and with a shift in the PDO. The latter has reduced the uptake of CO2 in the oceans with about 2.5%. That is all:
    http://www.publicaffairs.noaa.gov/releases2003/oct03/noaa03-131.html
    All based in regular pCO2 measurements by seaships in the upwelling zone.

    Further an interesting piece of work with measurements made in the period 1985-1997 over the Pacific equator (100 W):
    http://www.tellusb.net/index.php/tellusb/article/download/16474/18379
    There is only a small trend in pCO2 of the ocean surface, largely fluctuating with changes in upwelling, but as over the same period the pCO2 of the atmosphere increased, there was no trend in flux at all (see fig. 5).
    In that period, humans emitted some 80 GtC. The increase in the atmosphere was 42 GtC (20 ppmv). According to Bart’s theory, the upwelling of extra CO2 from the equatorial sources would need a gradual increase/yr of in total 800 Gt over the same period, or the influence of humans would be more than 10%. Not seen at all…

  173. fhhaynie says:

    Ferdinand,
    Partial pressure differences are the driving force that tells us the direction the CO2 will go. It does not tell us the flux (rate). Think about the difference in CO2 concentration in the surface water at 15 degrees in the Eastern Pacific and 30 degrees in the Western Pacific. Where do you think that difference will go? Into the atmosphere.

  174. Phil. says:

    fhhaynie says:
    June 6, 2013 at 5:38 am
    Ferdinand,
    Partial pressure differences are the driving force that tells us the direction the CO2 will go. It does not tell us the flux (rate). Think about the difference in CO2 concentration in the surface water at 15 degrees in the Eastern Pacific and 30 degrees in the Western Pacific. Where do you think that difference will go? Into the atmosphere.

    Into biomass via phytoplankton which is why the upwelling regions are such biologically productive regions of the ocean. One of the ways to locate them from space is to look for high levels of chlorophyll-a! They’re also the most productive areas of the oceans for fisheries.

  175. fhhaynie says:

    Phil,

    I agree that biomass is an important sink especially in cold polar waters where you have phytoplankton blumes in the spring melts. However, in the equatorial Southern Pacific. the surface waters are nearly always saturated with CO2 down to the thermocline. When the water warms as it crosses the Pacific, the solubility decreases and the biomass isn’t going to be able suck it up and it will either go into the atmosphere or precipitate as solid carbonates.

  176. Bart says:
    June 5, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    “…all sinks are natural…”

    I don’t have the slightest problem with assuming that 0% to 100% of the extra change in sinks are human made, as that is not of the slightest interest in this debate. If, as you assert, at least 90% of the increase in the atmosphere is natural and 10% is human made, then humans are responsible for 10% of the increase in sink rate.

    What is important is that humans are emitting 9 GtC/year, starting from some 2 GtC/yr some 50 years ago. With the same 90/10 ratio in mind, the total sinks should have increased a 4.5 fold in the same time span (which is the case for the net sinks), but also the natural sources. But there is not the slightest indication that there was such an increase in natural releases or total sinks. The pCO2 difference over large parts of the oceans where most of the CO2 emissions occur don’t show any increase in pCO2 compared to the atmosphere in the period 1985-1997, while CO2 levels still go faster and faster up in the atmosphere. Thus it is highly unlikely that the oceans increased their output/throughput a 4.5 fold in the past 50 years.

    Hardly surprising, given that you do not have good measurements from that period.

    If you don’t like the data, you simply don’t accept them? Just like 13C/12C ratio’s, 14C/12C ratio’s, mass balances,…

    There is a continuous stream of concentrated CO2 water continually rising. You have made a bad assumption. The oceans are not homogeneous.

    Of course they are not. The equatorial oceans are a continuous source and the polar waters are continuous sinks. The mid-latitude waters are seasonal sinks and sources.

    The wrong assumption you made is that the increase in the atmosphere has no effect on the release rates and sink rates. That is the normal feedback for a disturbance on a system in equilibrium. And you say that I have no idea what feedbacks in nature do?

    The only parameter that counts in this discussion is the pCO2 difference between ocean surface and the atmosphere. That of the oceans is influenced by concentration and by temperature. If the pCO2 difference doubles, then the CO2 flux doubles (assuming that wind speed doesn’t change). If the atmospheric CO2 increases, the pCO2 difference is reduced at the upwelling places and increased at the downwelling places.

    No matter the cause of an increased influx, the increase in the atmosphere will stop once a new equilibrium is reached at some higher CO2 level, where incoming and outgoing fluxes are again equal. Your continuous release of CO2 from a step change in temperature doesn’t take into account the feedback of the natural cycle…

  177. fhhaynie says:
    June 6, 2013 at 5:38 am

    Partial pressure differences are the driving force that tells us the direction the CO2 will go. It does not tell us the flux (rate). Think about the difference in CO2 concentration in the surface water at 15 degrees in the Eastern Pacific and 30 degrees in the Western Pacific.

    The pCO2 difference not only tells us the direction but also the change in flux rate. If the pCO2 difference doubles, the flux doubles, for the same wind speed. Wind speed is the other main variable influencing CO2 fluxes: diffusion of CO2 in water is very slow, thus increasing the surface and mixing the waters is important for the flux rate too.

    The pCO2 is directly related to temperature and concentration (and pH, salt content,…) while temperature increases enormously from poles to equator, concentrations largely depend of biolife and upwelling. Temperature and biolife/upwelling often compensate for each other.

    The main point of my discussion with Bart is that he assumes that near all of the increase is natural, but there is no probable or even possible source on earth that increased a 4.5 fold over the past 50 years, without leaving a trace in any observation.

  178. Stephen Wilde says:

    “but there is no probable or even possible source on earth that increased a 4.5 fold over the past 50 years, without leaving a trace in any observation.”

    More sunlight on the tropical oceans during a period when global cloudiness decreased?
    and / or
    Re-surfacing CO2 rich water from the thermohaline circulation which was originally absorbed during the Mediaeval Warm Period?

    Meanwhile our emissions get quickly absorbed by an accelerated local and regional biosphere for zero or near zero net effect on the global CO2 exchange.

    That is consistent with the AIRS data that I linked to previously:

    http://climaterealists.com/index.php?id=9508&linkbox=true&position=10

  179. dscott says:

    Phil, sigh, an umpire that can’t tell a strike from a home run…

    http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2012/06/27/venus-one-more-time/

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/05/06/hyperventilating-on-venus/

    The spouting of technobabble is no substitute for facts or understanding. While (49.5 km altitude) 66 C at one bar on Venus vs Earth (15 C at sea level) is technically correct you missed the point entirely.

  180. Stephen Wilde says:
    June 5, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    Depends on whether that 4ppm is extracted locally and regionally by biosphere sinks as looks likely from the chart I linked to previously which shows no CO2 plumes downwind of human population centres but lots downwind of sun warmed ocean surfaces.

    I think that we were there already before, but nature doesn’t make a differentiation between natural and human CO2. It does react on the total amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. That decreases the releases from the oceans and increases the uptake by the oceans and vegetation. Any CO2 molecule released by humans may be captured by the next nearby tree, but that would be instead of a natural CO2 molecule that therefore remains longer in the atmosphere, adding to the total amount of CO2 there.

    The AIRS data are simply not accurate enough, and the scanned area not small enough, to see the small human emissions in the large movements of natural CO2. But with local towers, one clearly can see the human influence. See the measurements of Diekirch (Luxemburg) during weekdays and weekenddays during rush hours (fig. 12-14):
    http://meteo.lcd.lu/papers/co2_patterns/co2_patterns.html

  181. Stephen Wilde says:
    June 6, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    More sunlight on the tropical oceans during a period when global cloudiness decreased?
    and / or
    Re-surfacing CO2 rich water from the thermohaline circulation which was originally absorbed during the Mediaeval Warm Period?

    In both cases, there would be an impact on the 13C/12C ratio of the atmosphere (and the ocean surface). If there was more CO2 release from the (deep) oceans, the 13C/12C ratio of the atmosphere would increase, not firmly decrease in lockstep with human emissions, as can be seen in direct measurements, firn and ice cores, and in the ocean surface:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/sponges.gif

    BTW, the 13C/12C ratio decline in the atmosphere and the oceans shows that a lot of human emissions are NOT captured by the next nearby tree. The other possible source of low 13CO2 is rotting vegetation. But the biosphere as a whole is a net sink for CO2, preferentially 12CO2, thus leaving relative more 13CO2 in the atmosphere. Again not the cause of the 13C/12C ratio decline.

  182. Stephen Wilde says:

    Ferdinand said:

    “Any CO2 molecule released by humans may be captured by the next nearby tree, but that would be instead of a natural CO2 molecule that therefore remains longer in the atmosphere, adding to the total amount of CO2 there.

    I don’t think that is right.
    The additional CO2 from human emissions energises the natural sinks by encouraging faster growth so the system can still take up as many natural molecules as before. I think someone else up thread mentioned that possibility.
    It isn’t just vegetation either. The air and soil are full of biological organisms that respond to changes in the amount of CO2 available.

    “The other possible source of low 13CO2 is rotting vegetation.”

    How about rotting biological organisms in the oceans?

    I don’t think we yet have a firm handle on all the sources of 13C/12C in the system and their relative scales. I judge you to be overconfident with your diagnosis.

    The AIRS data is good enough in my view. If the human emissions are not large enough to produce plumes then it is more likely that most if not all is being absorbed by the local biosphere.Local towers of CO2 may well be present but they don’t get far.

  183. Stephen Wilde says:
    June 6, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    The additional CO2 from human emissions energises the natural sinks by encouraging faster growth so the system can still take up as many natural molecules as before.

    The whole biosphere releases and consumes some 120 GtC over the seasons. That includes plant upta

  184. Ronald Voisin says:

    In the text I said:
    And if the Earth continues to warm, at some point the photosynthetic sequestering sinks will saturate (so that their increasing capacity to sink CO2 will quit increasing). Then very steep atmospheric spiking will ensue just as it so often has in the past. It is very likely that photosynthetic sequestering (biological response) provides an enormous (geologically real-time) negative feedback to additional atmospheric CO2 until such time as it saturates. See Figure 5. This predicted saturation event is not likely very far off into the future if the planet continues to slide sideways on temperature. However, a near-term solar-driven mini ice age may likely interrupt this otherwise predictable event.

    However, this is misleading and I should have been more careful with the wording of the last sentance. Let’s suppose that we are indeed in a cooling cycle that will last for 25-30 years (or much more). The predicted saturation event will be interrupted so as to occur quite quickly. The thermal mass of the oceans will be substantially unaffected by a 30 year’ish cooling cycle. But the biological sinks will respond in virtual real-time. Atmospheric CO2 will abruptly begin spiking.

    When this occurs, and I predict it has already just begun, we can expect the AGW proponents to interpret that Mother Nature has had her fill of poisonous human CO2 emission – she can no longer choke-down any more, so we must ever more urgently arrest our emission. But the oceans will continue to be the ones contributing the majority.

    Nonetheless, our fractional percentage contribution will then go up rapidly so that we can look forward to increasing alarm on the one hand; on the other hand it will be painfully obvious that the Earth is cooling.

    I then predict that the alarm will continue in the form of AGC or anthropogenic global cooling.

  185. Something got wrong here…

    Stephen Wilde says:
    June 6, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    The additional CO2 from human emissions energises the natural sinks by encouraging faster growth so the system can still take up as many natural molecules as before.

    The whole biosphere releases and consumes some 120 GtC over the seasons. That includes plant uptake and respiration and animal/insect/bacterial use of plant debris and feed/food. Human emissions are 9 GtC/year. Sinks are about 5 GtC/year, of which 1 GtC/yr in land plants and the rest in the (deep) oceans.

    Thus all what the human emissions “energised” is an extra 1 GtC uptake in plants, mainly land plants, as sea plants have plenty of CO2, that is not the limiting factor, other nutritients are.
    Thus land plants increased with less than 1% uptake from all that extra human-made CO2 in the atmosphere.

    The relative change in 13C/12C ratio from the whole biosphere (land + seaplants, animals, insects,…) is positive. That is based on oxygen measurements: plants release oxygen when absorbing CO2 and the plant users for food use oxygen and produce CO2 (with the same 13C/12C ratio as their food). The oxygen balance show a small production of O2 (after taking into account the oxygen use for fossil fuel burning). Thus the biosphere as a whole is a net sink for CO2.

    AIRS data are accurate to +/- 5 ppmv, the human contribution is 9 GtC/year or 4.5 ppmv/year or 0.011 ppmv/day. You need a 500-fold regional increase of CO2 over the AIRS footprint to be noticed by the satellites. Moreover, AIRS still only publishes the data from the mid-latitudes, where most of the CO2 emissions are already mixed in. Small and tall towers (up to a few hundred meters) show the human influence in their own region. If human CO2 can reach a small tower, there is less chance that it gets captured further on by vegetation near ground.

  186. Stephen Wilde says:

    So without humans releasing 9GtC it would be 111 GtC over the seasons?

    Human induced releases result in extra human induced consumption and the system carries on regardless in the background.

    What were the figures at the peak of the MWP and the depths of the LIA?

    There is nothing fixed or sacrosanct about the natural CO2 exchange either in the release rate or consumption rate or the relationship between them.

    At all times they depend on temperature and the availability of atmospheric CO2 and water plus various other factors that you mentioned previously.

    Once the isotope based diagnosis is challenged there is nothing left for you to say.

    The oceans are loaded with the by-products of organic life. The death of microscopic oceanic organisms constantly showers the ocean floor with sequestered CO2 in carbonate form

    Do those organisms produce low 13C after ditching the sequestered portion as does rotting vegetation on land?

    I don’t think that any single source itself needs to increase 4.5 fold. All that is necessary is for there to be a changed net balance from all sinks and sources combined that builds up an increasingly changed atmospheric CO2 content over time.

    It would not surprise me if atmospheric CO2 varied widely over the centuries in response to small changes in ocean heat content but that the ice core record is too coarse to show it.

    Stomata data show larger variations but even they may not be perfect proxies for the natural swings resulting from purely natural changes in the air / ocean exchange.

    I think you have built a pyramid of speculation on quicksand.

  187. Sorry, “mid-latitudes” must be “mid-altitudes” in the previous message…

  188. Stephen Wilde says:

    Ronald Voisin said:

    “The thermal mass of the oceans will be substantially unaffected by a 30 year’ish cooling cycle. But the biological sinks will respond in virtual real-time. Atmospheric CO2 will abruptly begin spiking.”

    Except that the oceans cool first and the atmosphere follows.

    Cooling of the oceans occurs when global cloudiness and albedo increase with less solar energy getting in so the oceans will begin releasing less CO2 before the decline in the ability of land based vegetation to absorb it.

    We can already see that initial oceanic cooling with the current trend for El Nino events to decline relative to La Nina events, the previous rise in ocean heat content seems to have stalled and the jet streams are now more meridional with increased global cloudiness.

    Furthermore a pending spike is not apparent in the smooth rising trend for CO2 (apart from the seasonal variations).

    I suspect that atmospheric CO2 will stop rising 10 to 15 years after the tropical oceans start cooling. The current stall in the temperature rise doesn’t yet seem to be enough to do it.

    Not really surprising given oceanic lag times. The warm waters from the El Ninos of the past ten years are still in the system working their way towards the poles and I think we need that warm water out of the way before we will see a significant change in the CO2 trend.

    So I don’t think we need to panic over a pending CO2 spike or saturation of the biosphere.

  189. Stephen Wilde says:
    June 6, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    So without humans releasing 9GtC it would be 111 GtC over the seasons?

    No, old equilibrium:
    120 GtC into vegetation, 60 GtC out of vegetation, animals, insects, 60 GtC out of soils by soil bacteria.
    New equilibrium, with 210 GtC (30%) extra in the atmosphere (whatever the cause):
    121 GtC into vegetation, 60 GtC out of vegetation, animals, insects, 60 GtC out of soils by soil bacteria.

    Of course that are rough estimates, but based on measurements of the 13C/12C movements over the seasons.

    There is little known of the CO2 fluxes in other time spans. What is known is the net result of these fluxes. That shows levels of 280-285 ppmv CO2 during the MWP and 275-280 during the LIA, or a drop of average 6 ppmv for a difference of 0.8 degr.C. The ice core of Law Dome where that is based on has a resolution of ~20 years. And forget stomata data as they mainly show regional variability over land and its regional bias.

    I don’t think that any single source itself needs to increase 4.5 fold.

    If temperature is the cause, the only huge and fast source are the oceans. Vegetation works the other way out for higher temperatures. The current estimated air-ocean flux in/out is ~90/94 GtC over the seasons. There is no other source in the world that can increase its CO2 releases a 4.5 fold in 50 years time (except volcanoes, but they too have the wrong 13C/12C fingerprint). Not that I think that that happened, but that is what Bart implies in his formula…

  190. joeldshore says:

    dscott: The concept that pressure determines temperature is nonsense that doesn’t even obey Conservation of Energy. You cannot have a planet at a surface temperature where it is radiating more out into space than it (the planet + atmosphere) is absorbing from the sun unless some of this emitted radiation is being absorbed by the atmosphere (greenhouse effect) or there is another source of thermal energy (e.g., gravitational collapse). In Venus’s case (as Earth’s), we know that there is no magic source of energy…but that in fact the planet + atmosphere are emitting back out into space about the same amount of energy as they receive from the sun even though the surface is emitting more (a lot more in the case of Venus!!). This is the greenhouse effect.

    The claim that the Ideal Gas Law somehow constrains surface temperature is also nonsense. There are 3 variables in the ideal gas law (well, 4, but really 3 independent ones for an open system with a fixed density rather than number of particles and volume fixed independently). In this comment, I demonstrated mathematically that the ideal gas law plus the hydrostatic condition still doesn’t constrain the temperature distribution: http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2012/02/21/joel-shore-the-radiative-greenhouse-effect/comment-page-1/#comment-18180

  191. joeldshore says:

    P.S. – Phil.’s statement about the van der Waal’s equation is also true, although the ideal gas law is a good approximation for gases at pressures in our atmosphere. Pressures on Venus may start

  192. joeldshore says:

    … (accidently submitted prematurely)…

    Pressures on Venus may start to get large enough that deviations from the ideal gas law are at least somewhat significant, but that isn’t the primary issue, which is that even under the assumption that the ideal gas law (and hydrostatic equilibrium) holds, you can’t conclude anything about the atmospheric temperature distribution.

  193. Ronald Voisin says:

    Stephen: So I don’t think we need to panic over a pending CO2 spike or saturation of the biosphere.
    No one is going to panic other than the AGC crowd. But you watch, biological response will be very abrupt and I think it quite reasonable to expect atmospheric CO2 spiking.

  194. Ronald Voisin says:

    Sources will most likely always lead the lagging sinks.

  195. phlogiston says:

    A superb article, the refreshing elegance of the language and logic seem to reflect a French scholarly influence, as also suggested by the author’s surname.

    a “coupled, non-linear chaotic system”

    Indeed, in such a nonlinear / nonequilibrium pattern system, the input of energy results in the emergence of “dissipative structures” (a.k.a. Prigogine’s nonlinear thermodynamics).

    Why are they called “dissipative”? What are they dissipating? Anyone?

  196. Ronald Voisin says:
    June 6, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    But you watch, biological response will be very abrupt and I think it quite reasonable to expect atmospheric CO2 spiking.

    There was no such spike like the current one in the past 800 kyears. First, all what bacteria and insects and animals can do is return the CO2 back to the atmosphere that was removed from the same atmosphere some months to decades before by plants. Thus that is only recycling.
    Second, normally the plant users grow in number and diversity with the availability of food. That shows a “sawtooth” development for each separate species, but far less for the species combined.
    Third, any huge change either in plant uptake or plant decay will give a huge “fingerprint” in 13C/12C ratio in the atmosphere and ocean surface. The current change is about 1.6 per mil d13C over 150 years. The previous 350 years (coralline sponges – resolution 2-4 years) show a variability of +/- 0.2 per mil d13C. Ice cores over the LGM and Holocene (20,000 years, resolution ~40 years) show a change of few tenths of per mil over the transition and a variability of +/- 0.2 per mil over the whole Holocene…

  197. Ronald Voisin says:
    June 5, 2013 at 10:42 am

    Here my comment on Fig. 4 & 5…

    Figure 4:
    Main problem: we don’t have estimates for the fluxes in and out of the atmosphere for 1850. All we have is the net effect, as measured in ice cores (less than a decade resolution) for CO2 levels and for 13C/12C ratios in atmosphere and in the ocean surface.

    Point 1) is overblown: there is no 2 PgC/yr drop in CO2, as the drop over the MWP-LIA was about 0.8°C, which caused a drop of about 6 ppmv in 1650 over a period of 50 years, thus 0.12 ppmv/year or 0.26 PgC/year. Further once the temperature stabilised and the lag was resolved, the net change in CO2/year was zero.

    Point 2) is right, but the increase in uptake is a direct consequence of the increase in the atmosphere, not from increased circulation of CO2…

    Point 3) is right, but irrelevant, as the 2% human contribution is additional, not part of the original natural cycle.

    Point 4) is wrong: there is no indication that the natural carbon cycle increased a 4.5 fold over the past 50 years, as implied if nature was the main cause of the increase. In that case, natural circulation must mimick the human emissions which increased a 4.5 fold in that time span.

    Figure 5:

    The AIRS data are simply not accurate (and the footprint not small) enough to detect the human contribution to the CO2 levels and the published data only are from the mid-altitudes. Maybe the Japanese satellite measuring the full column CO2 will give more detailed results, but the first results are very coarse in regional coverage:
    http://www.jaxa.jp/press/2012/12/20121205_ibuki_e.html

  198. Ronald Voisin says:

    Dear Ferdinand,

    Could you summarize your position in a couple sentences?
    Is climate controlled by CO2?
    Does our anthropogenic contribution control / dominate as the driver of atmospheric CO2?
    Are we going to hell-in-a-hand-basket if we don’t change our ways.
    Please keep it pithy; as close to yes/no as you can.

  199. Ronald Voisin says:
    June 7, 2013 at 7:57 am

    Dear Ferdinand,
    Could you summarize your position in a couple sentences?

    I am pretty sure that the increase of CO2 levels since about 1850 is mostly caused by the human use of fossil fuels + in part land use changes. That fits all known observations: mass balance, 13C/12C and 14C/12C ratio changes in atmosphere and ocean surface, ocean pH and DIC (measured increase in dissolved inorganic carbon) and oxygen use. See for a compilation of all facts:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/co2_measurements.html
    Every alternative explanation I have heard of violates one or more observations…

    But I am as sure that current climate models show an overblown influence of the CO2 increase on climate. The predictive skill of the climate models meanwhile is out of the 95% range, thus significantly wrong. All current models are overtuned by positive feedbacks like clouds (which are probably negative feedbacks or even may drive climate) and tuning “knobs” like human-made aerosols.
    Thus in my opinion the about 1°C increase from 2xCO2 radiant absorption is what it probably will get, which is largely beneficial for humans and biolife…

    And I am pretty sure that the human race has lots of skills too survive any challenge that may come our way, including an always changing climate…

  200. phlogiston says:

    Human input of CO2 to the atmosphere is an unmitigated good, not harm, since the biosphere is incontrovertibly CO2-starved.

    It dont matter how CO2 gets there, the more there is in the atmosphere the better.

    If, that is, you take the controversial view that life is a good thing.

  201. Ronald Voisin says:

    Dear Ferdinand,

    Great, we’re on the same page. We can just agree to disagree about the causes of CO2 increases. I assume then that you also concur:
    Factually, atmospheric CO2 cannot be beneficially changed by human behavior, regardless of what actions we might take. And climate will always continue to change in significant ways that will most likely be poorly predicted.

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