Earth’s self regulation of Carbon Dioxide is remarkably stable

From CSIRO:

“What we learned is that in spite of droughts, floods, volcano eruptions, El Niño and other events, the Earth system has been remarkably consistent in regulating the inter-annual variations in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels,”

Tropical ecosystems regulate variations in Earth’s carbon dioxide levels

Rising temperatures, influenced by natural events such as El Niño, have a corresponding increase in the release of carbon dioxide from tropical forest ecosystems, according to a new study out today.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that a temperature anomaly of just 1ºC (in near surface air temperatures in the tropics) leads to a 3.5-Petagram (billion tonnes of carbon) anomaly in the annual CO2 growth rate, on average. This is the equivalent of 1/3 of the annual global emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels and deforestation together.

Importantly, the NASA Earth Exchange (NEX) study results provide scientists with a new diagnostic tool to understand the global carbon cycle as it undergoes major changes due to the influences of human activities.

NASA study co-author, CSIRO’s Dr Pep Canadell, said that the study’s 50-year analysis centred on temperature and rainfall patterns during El Niño years, when temperatures increase in tropical regions and rainfall decreases. An accompanying analysis assessed the effects of volcanic eruptions, which lead to decreased temperatures due to volcanic aerosols in the atmosphere.

“Our study indicates that carbon exchanges in tropical ecosystems are extremely sensitive to temperature, and they respond with the release of emissions when warmer temperatures occur”.

“Many processes involved in this response are the same as what is known as the carbon-climate feedback, which it is thought will lead to an acceleration of carbon emissions from vegetation and soils and into the atmosphere under future climate change.

“The observed temperature changes are more important than changes in rainfall in influencing concentration of atmospheric CO2“.

“Warming is the one thing that we know with most certainty will occur under climate change in the tropics, but there are still large uncertainties about the future precipitation in tropical regions,” says Dr Canadell, who is also Executive Director of the Canberra-based Global Carbon Project.

“What we have is a strong and robust coupling between seasonal variations in atmospheric CO2 growth and tropical temperatures over the past 50 years and this provides us with a key diagnostic tool to assist in our understanding of the global carbon cycle,” he said.

The team, led by Dr Weile Wang, analysed widely available data on atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration and global air temperature between 1959 and 2011.

“What we learned is that in spite of droughts, floods, volcano eruptions, El Niño and other events, the Earth system has been remarkably consistent in regulating the inter-annual variations in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels,” said Dr Weile Wang, lead author of the paper.

The team used the NEX platform to analyse outputs from several global dynamic vegetation models to understand the mechanisms underlying the persistent coupling and the role of tropical ecosystems in the observed coupling.

The study highlights the importance of long-term observations of temperature and carbon dioxide, simple yet crucial, for improving our understanding of the Earth system.

What they found was, unlike in other parts of the planet, year-to-year changes in temperature over the tropics act in concert on both photosynthesis (absorption of carbon dioxide) and respiration (release of carbon dioxide), the two important mechanisms that naturally regulate year-to-year changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations.

“For example, a rise in temperature over the tropical regions results in a decline in photosynthesis as well as an increase in carbon losses through respiration, amplifying the temperature effect on carbon cycling” says Rama Nemani, Principal scientist for the NEX project.

The study highlights the importance of long-term observations of temperature and carbon dioxide, simple yet crucial, for improving our understanding of the Earth system.

The study was supported by NASA’s Earth Exchange project, the Australian Climate Change Science Program, and the Global Carbon Project.

Read more media releases in our Media section.

Wang A, Ciaisc P, Nemanid RR, Canadelle JG, Piaof S, Sitch S, Whitei MA, Hashimotoa H, Milesia  C, Mynenij RB. 2013. Variations in atmospheric CO2 growth rates coupled with tropical temperature. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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72 thoughts on “Earth’s self regulation of Carbon Dioxide is remarkably stable

  1. At the risk of boring regular WUWT readers, may I post this graph again?

    CO2 is good for one thing: expanding the biosphere through airborne fertilization. But as we see, it does not affect global temparatures in any measurable way at current concentrations.

    Lots of things are very good at one thing, but not good at all at other things. A cow is very good at producing milk. But it isn’t any good at jumping over the moon.

    Just because CO2 is essential to life on earth does not mean that it controls global temperature at current concentrations. And that is the crux of the entire global warming debate, no?

  2. This whole idea of “stable” temperatures, “stable” CO2 levels, stable anything…
    ….comes from ignoring biology
    You can’t have biology, and have stable the way it’s been defined.;..

    chemistry is easy, biology is harder….and chemical biology is hard

  3. So we could eliminate 1/4 of global carbon emissions if we just eradicate the rainforests – and thus reduce global climate change more dramatically than if all of China went back to walking!

  4. I have had a whole week of 90 degrees here in the UK which is not bad for a man of my age!

  5. Earth’s self regulation of Carbon Dioxide is remarkably stable
    ————————————————-
    Doesn’t that statement imply that the earth is sentient?

    CO2 level is what it is; no “stable” or “unstable” level except what humans ascribe to it. Gaia isn’t desperately trying to balance out the CO2 man is contributing to the environment against some predetermined standard.

    Maybe I am picking at nits, but it kinda bugs me when stuff like this creeps into the collective subconscious.

  6. Hmmm, does this mean the warmists can start blaming tropical forests for a change instead of our SUV’s?

  7. The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that a temperature anomaly of just 1ºC (in near surface air temperatures in the tropics) leads to a 3.5-Petagram (billion tonnes of carbon) anomaly in the annual CO2 growth rate, on average. This is the equivalent of 1/3 of the annual global emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels and deforestation together.

    ____________________________________________________________________________

    Surely, if CO2 is a strong driver of temperature then that much of an effect, especially in the exact part of the globe that should be most sensitive to it, would create an overwhelming positive feedback? Like, the sort of feedback that should have created runaway warming at some point in the past?

    Unless, of course, CO2 doesn’t affect temperature very much after all. Just sayin’……..

  8. “a temperature anomaly of just 1ºC (in near surface air temperatures in the tropics) leads to a 3.5-Petagram (billion tonnes of carbon) anomaly in the annual CO2 growth rate”
    Are they saying a temperature increase drives the CO2 concentration?!
    Oh, the Blasphemy!

  9. What is the Global Carbon Project. Well, it’s an organization that, among other things, in December of this year is going to have a Radical Emission Reduction Conference. I copied these quotes directly from the Global Carbon Project’s website concerning this conference:

    ‘Today, in 2013, we face an unavoidably radical future. We either continue with rising emissions and reap the radical repercussions of severe climate change, or we acknowledge that we have a choice and pursue radical emission reductions: No longer is there a non-radical option. Moreover, low-carbon supply technologies cannot deliver the necessary rate of emission reductions – they need to be complemented with rapid, deep and early reductions in energy consumption – the rationale for this conference.

    Details of the Conference

    While there is a wealth of research and experience in delivering incremental reductions in demand, there is little cogent analysis of non-marginal, step-change and systemic reductions – either from a research or from a practitioner perspective. This conference is intended to catalyse such a critical transition in the climate change agenda and provide an evidence-base for developing radical-mitigation strategies.

    More specifically the two-day conference, hosted at the Royal Society (London), will consider how to deliver reductions in energy consumption of at least 8% per year (~60% across a decade). It will foster an up-beat and can-do mentality.’

    Pretty cool, huh? Now, what’s the likelihood that the Global Carbon Project is funded directly through taxpayer funds or indirectly through crony capitalism and rent seeking? I’d say very high. Wouldn’t it be nice if these vicious parasites had to fund themselves? Then they could live, not immune from, but under the direct consequences of their prescriptions. After all, if they’re recommending a “radical option” let them be the direct recipients as well. Moreover, I suspect, when the pedals get peeled from the rose, that the radical option will look a lot like Detroit. We can have a whole nation of Detroits? Nations of Detroits. And the developing world? Keep it there. That’ll cut CO2 by 80%. For some reason I suspect these climate warriors know that that’s the only radical solution that would work. Let them live it too. Make it part of the contract. Then let’s see how many other Earth amplification scenarios they continue to dream up for CO2 as the previous scenarios are found wanting.

  10. Mark and two Cats says:
    July 23, 2013 at 11:52 am
    3.5-Petagram (billion tonnes of carbon)
    —————————–
    I thought giga was a billion.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Yes, but a tonne is a million grams

  11. Mark and two Cats says:
    July 23, 2013 at 11:52 am
    3.5-Petagram (billion tonnes of carbon)
    —————————–
    I thought giga was a billion.

    Maybe it’s people for the ethical treatment of grams?

    You did note that the author switched units between metric and imperial didn’t you? (grams v. tonnes) CSIRO may have been trying to keep it simple for the metric impaired.

  12. “Warming is the one thing that we know with most certainty will occur under climate change in the tropics,…”

    I thought it was the poles that would warm due to the lack of WV to impede CO2. Did the goal post change again?

  13. Mark and two Cats says:
    July 23, 2013 at 12:07 pm
    Earth’s self regulation of Carbon Dioxide is remarkably stable
    ————————————————-
    Doesn’t that statement imply that the earth is sentient?

    CO2 level is what it is; no “stable” or “unstable” level except what humans ascribe to it. Gaia isn’t desperately trying to balance out the CO2 man is contributing to the environment against some predetermined standard.

    Maybe I am picking at nits, but it kinda bugs me when stuff like this creeps into the collective subconscious.

    It doesn’t at all imply sentience. A level regulating amplifier isn’t sentient yet will keep an output level to within a small variance of levels dictated by its component specifications over rather large input swings. If the Earth system is taken as a whole, the biosphere response could be (overly simply) modeled as a regulating amplifier for CO2 (all other inputs – sun, nutrients, water being sufficient to support the growth). As with any regulating amplifier, it can reach oversaturation, but looking at the geological record, I don’t think we will be reaching any of the extremes seen in the past that did not oversaturate this system. In the Earth model sense however, the components seem to have evolved by chance (or selected by a creator for those of a religious bent) to achieve this effect It also seems to be a bit imperfect at its task, or else the CO2 levels would be absolutely flat.

    Ok, so my electronics background is coming out again – I always seem to come back to amplifiers for my analogies.

  14. One primary characteristic of Biology is that of internal self-regulation, aka homeostasis.
    It’s not surprising (to biologists) that eco-systems on a planetary scale for billions of years have produced an environment that promotes self-regulating characteristics, ie negative feedback. James Lovelock has been saying this for most of his life.

    Physicists have no clue how the carbon cycle works on a planetary scale because they ignore biology. Atmospheric evolution is a study of biology. Earth’s atmosphere is entirely a product of biology, except Argon which is geological. Water is the fluid that ties biology to geology.

  15. tadchem says:
    July 23, 2013 at 12:11 pm
    “a temperature anomaly of just 1ºC (in near surface air temperatures in the tropics) leads to a 3.5-Petagram (billion tonnes of carbon) anomaly in the annual CO2 growth rate”
    Are they saying a temperature increase drives the CO2 concentration?!
    Oh, the Blasphemy!

    that observation thing gets in the way again! I always noted my fizzy drink goes flat faster on a warm day then a cold day…I wonder if it is related (/sarc)

  16. Oh boy.

    “What we have is a strong and robust coupling between seasonal variations in atmospheric CO2 growth and tropical temperatures over the past 50 years and this provides us with a key diagnostic tool to assist in our understanding of the global carbon cycle,” he said.

    Whenever I hear climatologists talking about “robust” correlations my inclination is to place a call to Steve McIntyre. The press release does not give and r^2 value, without which the word “robust” is an empty claim.

    The team used the NEX platform to analyse outputs from several global dynamic vegetation models to understand the mechanisms underlying the persistent coupling and the role of tropical ecosystems in the observed coupling.

    … and what they found was a remarkable (and robust) correlation between the models’ output and the assumptions made when the models were created (95% confidence).

    What this appears to say is they’ve found another positive feedback — warming releases more CO2, and all of course according to the models.

  17. Joe confirms;

    “The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that a temperature anomaly of just 1ºC (in near surface air temperatures in the tropics) leads to a 3.5-Petagram (billion tonnes of carbon) anomaly in the annual CO2 growth rate, on average. This is the equivalent of 1/3 of the annual global emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels and deforestation together.”

    See figure 4 in particular of my study into paleo proxies and more recent times. Anomalies of 1 degree are very common on an annual and decadal scale so co2 emissions ought to be all over the place

    http://judithcurry.com/2013/06/26/noticeable-climate-change/

    tonyb

  18. Owen in GA says:
    July 23, 2013 at 12:16 pm
    “You did note that the author switched units between metric and imperial didn’t you? (grams v. tonnes) CSIRO may have been trying to keep it simple for the metric impaired.”

    There are many tonnes but only one metric ton, of 1,000,000 grams. Which they used.

  19. Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7 says:
    July 23, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Note that they still can’t put the chicken and egg back into any order of appearance. The problem is while there is no doubt that warm water holds less CO2 then cool water, if there is no CO2 – temperature feedback or feedback that is overwhelmed by water and other feedbacks then the released CO2 merely creates richer growth in the biosphere which is an endothermic feedback process.

    They have in effect stated that fizzy drinks go flat faster in warm weather than in cold, which any observant school child could have told them.

  20. tadchem says:
    July 23, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    Are they saying a temperature increase drives the CO2 concentration?!
    Oh, the Blasphemy!

    Martin A says:

    July 23, 2013 at 12:26 pm
    This seems to provide a vindication of one aspect of Murry Salby’s work.

    Everybody agrees that the fast changes in temperature cause fast changes in CO2 absorbance. That may be opposite for different time frames:
    – the seasonal temperature swing in the NH causes a global change of 5 ppmv/°C by more uptake from growing leaves in mid- to high latitude forests.
    – an interannual increase in temperature causes more CO2 release by tropical corests, partly due to changes in rain patterns and partly due to more respiration, but still not more than 2 ppmv in one year, mostly fully compensated over the next year(s).

    Very long term (MWP-LIA and glacial-interglacial transitions) show some 8 ppmv/°C change over the past periods of 50 years to 800 kyrs.

    Medium term changes are where the discussion is: according to Salby (and Bart), by integration against an arbitrary baseline even over 100 ppmv/°C…

  21. DirkH says:
    July 23, 2013 at 12:41 pm
    Owen in GA says:
    July 23, 2013 at 12:16 pm
    “You did note that the author switched units between metric and imperial didn’t you? (grams v. tonnes) CSIRO may have been trying to keep it simple for the metric impaired.”

    There are many tonnes but only one metric ton, of 1,000,000 grams. Which they used.

    Ahh yes the metric ton which in the American literature is always fully designated as such…I should have guessed it though as an imperial ton is about 4,400,000 grams (2.2kg/lb *2000lb)so the math wouldn’t have lined up. Of course the math not lining up in a climate study wouldn’t have tipped me off to the error in my units, as maths do not seem to be required areas of study for climate scientists.
    Thanks for pointing that one out.

  22. Joe says:
    July 23, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    “Surely, if CO2 is a strong driver of temperature then that much of an effect, especially in the exact part of the globe that should be most sensitive to it, would create an overwhelming positive feedback?”

    Very astute of you. The answer is YES. Which is why we (well, you and I at least) know there can be no significant forcing of temperature by CO2.

  23. bw says:
    July 23, 2013 at 12:30 pm
    “One primary characteristic of Biology is that of internal self-regulation, aka homeostasis.
    It’s not surprising (to biologists) that eco-systems on a planetary scale for billions of years have produced an environment that promotes self-regulating characteristics, ie negative feedback. James Lovelock has been saying this for most of his life.”

    Which didn’t stop him from also cashing in big time as a latter day catastrophist, starting with his participation in the Endangered Atmosphere conference in Stanford, 1975, with Schneider, Holdren and Mead.

    http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/highlights/Fall_2007.html

    http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/Articles%202007/GWHoaxBorn.pdf

    What an intelligent double-faced crook.

  24. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    July 23, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    “… 8 ppmv/°C change… over 100 ppmv/°C”

    It is not a direct proportional relationship like this. Temperature modulates the natural flux rate of CO2 into the atmosphere, and that rate then accumulates.

  25. Interesting article and would be more interesting if it weren’t for the anthropomorphisms on CO2 regulation and the use of units (petagram, etc) that sound really big and aren’t easily recognized.

  26. This is the hallmark of a closed loop system dominated by negative feedback. A system that is remarkably stable despite significant impulses (upsets).

    “What we learned is that in spite of droughts, floods, volcano eruptions, El Niño and other events, the Earth system has been remarkably consistent in regulating the inter-annual variations in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels,”

  27. Owen in GA said:
    July 23, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    Mark and two Cats says:
    July 23, 2013 at 12:07 pm
    Earth’s self regulation of Carbon Dioxide is remarkably stable
    ————————————————-
    Doesn’t that statement imply that the earth is sentient?

    CO2 level is what it is; no “stable” or “unstable” level except what humans ascribe to it. Gaia isn’t desperately trying to balance out the CO2 man is contributing to the environment against some predetermined standard.

    Maybe I am picking at nits, but it kinda bugs me when stuff like this creeps into the collective subconscious.

    It doesn’t at all imply sentience. A level regulating amplifier isn’t sentient yet will keep an output level to within a small variance of levels dictated by its component specifications over rather large input swings. If the Earth system is taken as a whole, the biosphere response could be (overly simply) modeled as a regulating amplifier for CO2 (all other inputs – sun, nutrients, water being sufficient to support the growth). As with any regulating amplifier, it can reach oversaturation, but looking at the geological record, I don’t think we will be reaching any of the extremes seen in the past that did not oversaturate this system. In the Earth model sense however, the components seem to have evolved by chance (or selected by a creator for those of a religious bent) to achieve this effect It also seems to be a bit imperfect at its task, or else the CO2 levels would be absolutely flat.

    Ok, so my electronics background is coming out again – I always seem to come back to amplifiers for my analogies.
    —————————————-
    “A level regulating amplifier isn’t sentient yet will keep an output level to within a small variance of levels dictated by its component specifications…”

    An amplifier is built to a purpose dictated by its designer.

    So if there are CO2 specifications that are being regulated for – it sounds like “intelligent design”.

    “In the Earth model sense however, the components seem to have evolved by chance (or selected by a creator for those of a religious bent)…”

    As an Agnostic, I cannot make any statement about chance/creator; I was just commenting on the observational bias of assigning a balance or imbalance to the CO2 level.

  28. Bart says:
    July 23, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    It is not a direct proportional relationship like this. Temperature modulates the natural flux rate of CO2 into the atmosphere, and that rate then accumulates.

    The direct relationship the researchers found is ~3 ppmv/°C, if you take the temperature variation extremes as base (1992 Pinatubo and 1998 El Niño), you may get 4-5 ppmv/°C. But if you integrate the observed accumulation (which has very little to do with temperature), you get 2 ppmv/year which gives some 70 ppmv increase over the past 50 years for a few tenths of a °C or over 100 ppmv/°C…

  29. When these guys get into small items, they forget they are negating the catechism of CO2-causes- warming (in this hypothesis, warming causes CO2!). So the tropics are the key, not the poles and we already know that SST can’t exceed 31C or it kicks in the “Thermostat” of clouds and thunderstorms.

    Brazil’s weather – gee it’s cooler than you think.

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

    “There is little seasonal variation near the equator, although at times it can get cool enough for wearing a jacket, especially in the rain….Snow falls more frequently in the states of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, and Paraná and less frequently in the states of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, and Espírito Santo. Temperatures in the cities of Belo Horizonte and Brasília are moderate, usually between 15 °C (59 °F) and 30 °C (86 °F), because of their elevation of approximately 1,000 meters (3,281 ft). Rio de Janeiro, Recife, and Salvador on the coast have warm climates, with average temperatures of each month ranging from 23 to 27 °C (73.4 to 80.6 °F), but enjoy constant trade winds. The cities of São Paulo, Curitiba, Florianópolis and Porto Alegre have a subtropical climate similar to that of southern United States, and temperatures can fall below freezing in winter.”

  30. Here are 2 papers which probably show a part of this self-regulation.

    Randall J. Donohue et. al. – 31 May, 2013
    Abstract
    CO2 fertilisation has increased maximum foliage cover across the globe’s warm, arid environments

    [1] Satellite observations reveal a greening of the globe over recent decades. …….Using gas exchange theory, we predict that the 14% increase in atmospheric CO2 (1982–2010) led to a 5 to 10% increase in green foliage cover in warm, arid environments. Satellite observations, analysed to remove the effect of variations in rainfall, show that cover across these environments has increased by 11%.…..

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/grl.50563/abstract

    Abstract – 2013
    “…..,.,.the increase in gross primary productivity (GPP) in response to a doubling of CO2 from preindustrial values is very likely (90% confidence) to exceed 20%, with a most likely value of 40–60%…..”
    doi:10.5194/bg-10-339-2013, 2013.

    Let’s just hope we don’t get runaway greening.

  31. This appears to me to be confirmation of Professor Murry Salby’s findings on temperature controlling atmospheric CO2 content and thus the falsification of the hypothesis that CO2 controls temperature and further it should be the end of this part of the CAGW saga.

  32. TinTin says:
    July 23, 2013 at 12:58 pm
    1 petagram = 1 gigatonne = 1 billion tonnes (American) = 1 milliard tonnes or 0.001 billion tonnes (British)

    Ahh, but it is far worse than that you see, because if you tell an American something weighs 1 billion tons, they assume you are using the 1 ton = 2000 lbs unit and that would not be correct. Here you have to say metric tons every time or we will think you mean something about 4.4 times as massive as you actually mean. Sometimes folks in America forget there is such a thing as a metric ton, being as metric adverse as we are, so even saying metric ton won’t convey the meaning. I had forgotten about the “milliard” term, as I had only heard it as 1,000 million in the past.

    So the line goes like:
    1 petagram = 1 gigatonne = 227+ million tons (American)= 1billion metric tons (American) = 1 milliard tonnes or 0.001 billion tonnes(British). (though I have seen some movement in British circles to use the American numbers on this so who knows where that contamination will lead – tower of Babel anyone?)

    All these English speakers who misunderstand each other worse because we all assume we know what the others are saying when the meanings of the words have subtle differences amongst the different populations. Then throw in the poor other natives language speakers who observe these conversations through their own translation filters. It is a wonder any of us can get a concept across at all. I had to look up CSIRO to see it was Australian before I realized DirkH was absolutely correct that I had mistranslated Australian to American.

  33. Owen in GA @ 12:50 – There are about 2.2 lb per kg, so your math could still line up to climate scientist standards. About an order of magnitude agreement seems to be a job well done.

  34. Captain Dave says:
    July 23, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    Hate when I look at the fraction upside down…I should have written it down on paper first, I always do that when I type my math. Then I don’t catch my mistake until I try to actually use the figures and see there is way too much or way too little material.

    Good catch!

  35. “Warming is the one thing that we know with most certainty will occur under climate change in the tropics … ”
    Uh-huh. But it isn’t happening. Seems to me this is modelling addiction talking.
    But wait … ” … Canberra-based Global Carbon Project”. Grant money addiction talking as well?
    Until recently, the polls indicated a wipe-out of their current benefactors, but that is now looking slightly less certain. They might “get well” after all ….

  36. David Albert says:
    July 23, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    This appears to me to be confirmation of Professor Murry Salby’s findings on temperature controlling atmospheric CO2 content

    Sorry to disappoint you. The not so recent findings of this research is only for the interannual variations, where fast responding temperature dependent processes are at work: ocean surface waters and plant uptake/respiration.
    Not directly connected to what happens with slower processes which are pressure dependent: uptake by the deep oceans and uptake by plants in more permanent carbon storage (peat, browncoal, coal,…). Quite different, unrelated processes at work…

  37. So to fix my post of 1:41 about the line…
    we think there is 0.9 times rather than 4.4 times (makes more sense since people like to throw them around as though they are equivalent.)

    and the line becomes:
    1 petagram = 1 gigatonne = 1.1 billion tons (American)= 1billion metric tons (American) = 1 milliard tonnes or 0.001 billion tonnes(British).

    I tell you: look at one fraction upside down and the whole conversion chain collapses.

  38. Owen in GA says:
    July 23, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    Ahh, but it is far worse than that you see, because if you tell an American something weighs 1 billion tons, they assume you are using the 1 ton = 2000 lbs unit and that would not be correct. Here you have to say metric tons every time or we will think you mean something about 4.4 times as massive as you actually mean.

    What?

    Let’s not make this more confusing that it absolutely has to be. I saw the word “tonnes”, not “tons”, so there is no confusion: a “tonne” is a “metric ton” or 1,000 kilograms, or 2,200 pounds. A “ton” is not 4.4 times as massive as a “tonne”; quite the contrary — it ss about 10% less massive.

    Now the confusion over “billion” is really unfortunate — especially since we bandy that unit about so commonly in discussions of government spending.

    “Britain and America: two great nations divided by a common language”. — variously attributed, but most like Geroge Bernard Shaw.

  39. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    July 23, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    “The direct relationship the researchers found is ~3 ppmv/°C…”

    Then, they do not understand how the system works, and you are trying to shove a square peg into a round hole, and claiming the hole does not exist because you cannot do it.

    Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    July 23, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    “Not directly connected to what happens with slower processes which are pressure dependent: uptake by the deep oceans and uptake by plants in more permanent carbon storage (peat, browncoal, coal,…). Quite different, unrelated processes at work…”

    Sorry to disappoint you, but natural systems do not behave in this manner. We see none of the resulting phase distortion in the observations which would be required for such fast/slow delineations. The temperature fits the rate of change of CO2 like a glove. It is all you need to reconstruct CO2 in the last 5 decades.

  40. “Warming is the one thing that we know with most certainty will occur under climate change in the tropics, but there are still large uncertainties about the future precipitation in tropical regions,”

    Not really. Warming is the one thing most certain to occur under global warming in the tropics, but the good doctor Canadell has apparently missed the memo about avoiding any commitment to actual warming, lest the instrumental record prove uncooperative, so he did not properly reflect the latest consensus of 97% of climate scientists. He should have said:

    Unprecedented temperature fluctuation is the one thing we know with most certainty will occur under climate change in the tropics …

    There: at least as scarey and harder to falsify.

  41. Bart says:
    July 23, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    Next round?

    Then, they do not understand how the system works, and you are trying to shove a square peg into a round hole, and claiming the hole does not exist because you cannot do it.

    The seasonal and multidecadal to multi-millennial response of vegetation on a temperature increase is more uptake (reverse of ocean surfaces).
    The interannual response of vegetation to an increase in temperature is a net release of CO2 (the same as for ocean surfaces).
    Thus surely different processes at work…

    Rest will be for tomorrow, need some sleep now…

  42. bw says,
    “Physicists have no clue how the carbon cycle works on a planetary scale because they ignore biology. Atmospheric evolution is a study of biology. ‘Earth’s atmosphere is entirely a product of biology’, except Argon which is geological. Water is the fluid that ties biology to geology.”

    Very nice bw. Perhaps there is something to be gained by a complete picture of Carbon and CO2 and not looking at those in a sort of one dimensional way. To say that CO2 does one thing and one thing only.

    My shorthand for the situation. Carbon is Life. CO2 is Life. H2O is Life. These 3 elements: C, H, and O are central to Life. Have they and their common compounds gone rogue?

  43. Here is a piece from Viv Forbes blog, by a teacher of horticulture. A worthy lesson in perception and facts.
    “I have come to understand that few people actually have any concept of what 350 ppm and 400 ppm or 700 ppm actually means. I teach horticulture, and in a recent class on the role of co2 in photosynthesis, the usual ” we are all all going to die” statements began.

    On the the white board, I drew a square with 1 meter sides, and invited the students to show what they understood to be 400 ppm, the current concentration of co2 in the atmosphere, in this square.

    I was astonished to see that half to three quarters of the square was seen as 400 ppm.

    As result, I asked the group, how many millimetres are in a square metre. I was staggered to find most had no idea.

    Carefully, so as to avoid offending people, I explained that there are 1,000,000 mm2 in a square metre, (1000 x1000 = 1,000,000. Then I drew a square with 20 mm sides and said this is 400 mm2, or 400ppm, there was dead silence. Then I drew a square with 4mm sides and said this represent the 4 % that human activity is generally considered to contribute, and what is claimed to control our climate.

    There was more silence followed by angry statements, of how that could be possible, have we been lied to, it does not make sense, and further statements of enlightenment.

    This was the most success I have had in trying to get people to understand that CAGW is rubbish, and it felt good”.

  44. More sound and fury signifying nothing.

    They have such small numbers of non-random, non-replicated field observations (my guess is that ALL of a pitiful number of site observations equal n=1) that any pretense that data drawn from them applies generally to the ‘tropics’, the entire biome-area they are in, or the rest of the globe for that matter, are absurd.

    By all means enlighten me.

  45. A colleague emailed me this link (“Adrift”), showing fog moving into and out of San Francisco Bay. My first reaction was to think to all those enamored with models, “Model This”.

  46. Warming will reduce photosynthesis in the tropics? Oh, reaally?

    Increase of CO2 concentration reduces transpiration requirements. Maybe that’s what got them confuzed.

  47. The atmosphere, especially our favorite part, oxygen, are entirely the result of life. ALL the 20% O2 was once part of CO2 that had its C stolen by plants to make fancy molecules. That we then eat.

    If, eg, a huge GCR burst were to sterilize the planet tomorrow, by next year there would be little or no free O2. It was all once part of CO2, which has been eaten down to traces by infinitely greedy plants. IMO, it’s our assigned role and duty to boost the return leg of the cycle by de-sequestering it from the geology where plants and plankton stashed it.

  48. @ Gerry Parker – absolutely right well said!

    But are they perhaps also offernig an explaination of why CO2 levels lag temperature?

  49. Bart says:
    July 23, 2013 at 2:29 pm
    ///////////////////////
    Bart

    It appears to fit but for a blip around 1993 when the derivative drops significantly but temperatures do not.

    Any explanations/theories for this discrepancy?

  50. “The team used the NEX platform to analyse outputs from several global dynamic vegetation models to understand the mechanisms underlying the persistent coupling and the role of tropical ecosystems in the observed coupling.”

    Computer model outputs were the inputs to this study?

    “The study highlights the importance of long-term observations of temperature and carbon dioxide, simple yet crucial, for improving our understanding of the Earth system.”

    This was a LOL statement for me.

  51. “CSIRO:

    “What we learned is that in spite of droughts, floods, volcano eruptions, El Niño and other events, the Earth system has been remarkably consistent in regulating the inter-annual variations in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels,””

    Given the group used computer model outputs as inputs to the study, this statement is pure politics. What they mean is that any change to CO2 levels, primarily from human emissions, outside that “consistent inter-annual” variation will lead to instability in climate. Or “climate disruption”, it’s the new scare du jour!

  52. Another set of claims built on guesses,cherry picking etc.. Temperatures are not certain to increase in the tropics, that is a guess built on poor models. We do not know for certain the exact CO2 budget and exchanges so those are also guesses.

  53. Brian H,
    ALL the 20% O2 was once part of CO2 that had its C stolen by plants to make fancy molecules.
    = = =
    Correction: All the O2 was once part of H2O that had its H stolen to make carbohydrates.

  54. I am not sure why this is news. All biochemists know that metabolism of all organisms goes up with temperature. The rule of thumb in marine biology is that metabolic rates triple for every 10 deg C increase in water temperature. It makes complete sense that an ecosystem’s overall “holometabolism” would go up with warming of the climate.

  55. richard verney says:
    July 24, 2013 at 12:14 am

    “It appears to fit but for a blip around 1993 when the derivative drops significantly but temperatures do not. Any explanations/theories for this discrepancy?

    Pinatubo.

  56. And here is …. Dr. Murry Salby! to speak for himself and show why the above article is only partly correct and why F. Englebeen is almost completely mistaken.

    Hamburg, Germany, 4/18/13

  57. Janice Moore says:
    July 24, 2013 at 11:16 am

    And here is …. Dr. Murry Salby! to speak for himself and show why the above article is only partly correct and why F. Englebeen is almost completely mistaken.

    Except that Dr. Salby is completely mistaken on several points, which I have responded to here and following.

    – The source of low 12CO2 is not from current vegetation, as current vegetation is a net sink for CO2, thus preferentially of 12CO2, leaving relative more 13CO2 in the atmosphere.
    But we see an enromous decline of 12CO2 in the atmosphere.
    – The return of 14CO2 from vegetation is slightly lagging the 14CO2 levels in the atmosphere, but 14CO2 levels from fossil fuels are zero, leading to additional drops in 14CO2 of the atmosphere.
    – There is little migration of CO2 in relative “warm” ice cores, leading to some small broadening of the resolution (20 to 22 years at medium depth, up to 40 years at full depth) virtually absent in the colder inland ice cores. According to Salby, a change of 1000 ppmv 100 kyrs ago may be hidden due to some theoretical migration, not based on any real measurement. But he forgets that such a peak must be compensated by a similar drop in CO2 levels to maintain the average, as the average is not influenced over the resolution period. A little difficult if the average is 180 ppmv over a period of 90,000 years…

  58. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    July 24, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    “According to Salby, a change of 1000 ppmv 100 kyrs ago may be hidden due to some theoretical migration, not based on any real measurement.”

    Not so. Salby showed, in considerable detail, how the measurements were consistent with CO2 migration.

    “But we see an enromous decline of 12CO2 in the atmosphere.”

    We see a small decline, and it varies with temperature, too.

  59. Bart says:
    July 24, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    Not so. Salby showed, in considerable detail, how the measurements were consistent with CO2 migration.

    He calculated the migration as result of his theory what the measurements should be, not of what they were and didn’t take into account the different resolutions of different ice cores with huge differences in accumulation. Then he only mentions that a measurement of a 100 ppmv “peak” over an interglacial (at 280 ppmv) in (his) “reality” may have been a 1000 ppmv peak. But as that was over 10% of the time, in the other 90% of the full 100 kyear time, the 180 ppmv measured thus in “reality” would be below 80 ppmv. Where all plant life on land would have died…

    Further, if there was such a huge migration, that doesn’t stop after 100 kyears. It goes on for every glacial/interglacial transition back in time. Thus decreasing the 1000 ppmv peak at the first interglacial to 100 ppmv, then to 10 ppmv then to 1 ppmv…
    But there is not the slightest decrease in CO2/temperature ratio measurable over 800 kyear…

    “But we see an enromous decline of 12CO2 in the atmosphere.”

    We see a small decline, and it varies with temperature, too.

    The decline in 13C/12C ratio (12CO2 was a typo of mine, it is 13CO2 which is declining) during glacial-interglacial transitions as measured in ice cores is a few tenths of a per mil. The natural variability over the Holocene was +/- 0.2 per mil with little to no trend (measured in ice cores with a resolution of 8-40 years and in ocean waters by sponges over the past 600 years with a resolution of 2-4 years). The current drop since ~1850 is 1.6 per mil, four times the natural variability over 800 kyear… I think I may call that enormous.
    See: http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/sponges.gif

    Further, I had quite a lot of comment on Dr. Spencer’s work at that WUWT page…

  60. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    July 24, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    “Where all plant life on land would have died…Thus decreasing the 1000 ppmv peak at the first interglacial to 100 ppmv, then to 10 ppmv then to 1 ppmv…”

    This is not how filtering processes work. Low pass filtering never takes out the dc component, and a peak at a particular frequency is only taken out once, while other peaks in the passband are largely unaffected.

    “The current drop since ~1850 is 1.6 per mil, four times the natural variability over 800 kyear…”

    Again, assuming a quality of historical measurements which cannot be independently verified.

  61. Bart says:
    July 24, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    This is not how filtering processes work. Low pass filtering never takes out the dc component, and a peak at a particular frequency is only taken out once, while other peaks in the passband are largely unaffected.

    Migration in the firn before the pores are fully closed is what gives the (assymetric) filtering of several years (10 to 600 years) in ice cores. The resolution only depends of the accumulation speed and temperature, as that gives the speed of blocking further gas exchanges via the pores and ultimately full closure. See Fig.11 at:

    http://courses.washington.edu/proxies/GHG.pdf

    Thus any one year peak of 20 ppmv or any sustained increase of 2 ppmv over 10 years would be detected in the fast accumulating ice cores of Law Dome (accuracy ~1.2 ppmv, 1 sigma). Even the current one-sided 100 ppmv increase over 160 years would be detected within the 560 or 600 years resolution of the Dome C (800 kyr) or Vostok (420 kyr) ice cores. If it was part of a full cycle, it still would be detected as the increase speed still is not decellerating, thus the full cycle is longer than 600 years…
    Dr. Salby didn’t take into account the differences in accumulation and hence resolution of the different ice cores…

    Migration of CO2 in ice is the distribution of high peaks over lower levels over time. That is only affected by the difference in CO2 level and time. Given sufficient time, that will level all differences. Thus a 10x drop in peak against a “baseline” of 180 ppmv over 100 kyrs will get a 100x drop over 200 kyrs, etc.

    It is not clear to me to which of the two migration paths Dr. Salby alludes in his calculations, but for both pathways he is way out of reality…

  62. Bart says:
    July 24, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    Again, assuming a quality of historical measurements which cannot be independently verified.

    In the case of 13C/12C ratio’s, the data are independently verified in tree wood (and leaves), ice cores and coralline sponges. The latter of course in water, not in air, but there is a huge, fast exchange of CO2 (including all isotopes) between the surface waters where coralline sponges grow (down to 200 m depth) and the atmosphere (coralline sponges d13C follows air changes with a delay of 2-3 years). Taking into account the fractionation at the air-water border, that gives a third confirmation of the 13C/12C changes over time.

  63. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    July 25, 2013 at 5:58 am

    Salby’s methodology is sound.

    Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    July 25, 2013 at 9:26 am

    Even if I accept this with no references or explanation of methodology, these are all subject to aging effects. There is no closed-loop experiment possible where you inject the isotopes in, and measure them eons later.

    You are rationalizing, and hanging your hopes on what is merely consistent with your narrative. But, consistency is not proof, and the most recent, reliable, and verifiable evidence says your narrative is wrong.

    I think that’s about it for now. Take care until we meet again…

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