All Rain Is Acid Rain

Opinion; Dr. Tim Ball

The scientific theory I like best is that the rings of Saturn are composed entirely of lost airline luggage. Mike Russell

Lack of Data Is The Fundamental Problem

My first involvement with the Acid Rain scare was indirect, but added to awareness of the limitations of data and understanding of atmospheric and ocean mechanisms. It also heightened awareness of the political nature of environmental science. I knew the extents because of membership in the Canadian Committee on Climate Fluctuation and Man (CCCFM). It was part of the National Museum of Natural Sciences Project on Climate Change in Canada During the Past 20,000 years. The committee was funded jointly by the National Museum of Natural Sciences and Environment Canada. It met yearly for several years, bringing together a wide range of specialists to focus on a region, time period, or area of study. Papers were published in Syllogeus, edited by Dr C.R.Harington of the Paleobiology Division. A review of them underlines how much the IPCC sidelined progress in climatology.

My election to Chair of the CCCFM likely caused its demise. In my acceptance speech I urged people not to rush to judgment on the recent anthropogenic global warming (AGW) hypothesis. I was unaware at the time of the involvement of Environment Canada (EC) in the promotion of the hypothesis and the work of the IPCC. Gordon McBean, was Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM, second highest bureaucrat) at Environment Canada and Chaired the IPCC foundation meeting in Villach Austria in 1985. Within a few months of my election, EC withdrew funding and the Museum could not sustain it alone. One of the last projects was a detailed study of the global impact of the eruption of Mount Tambora, Indonesia in 1815. The conference proceedings were published in C.R.Harington (ed) The Year Without a Summer? World Climate in 1816. 1992, National Museum of Natural Sciences, Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa. Environment Canada’s actions were part of the suppression of people and data that continues to this day.

Dangers of Bureaucrats Doing Research

At the one annual conference under my chair, an Environment Canada researcher approached me to talk about a problem with the issue of Acid Rain. His dilemma underscored my argument that bureaucratic researchers are almost automatically compromised.

He was so nervous that he wouldn’t talk about it at the museum; instead, we met at the airport coffee shop. He was directed to prove US coal burning plants were causing the Acid Rain causing demise of the Quebec Maple Syrup industry. Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney was already, publicly saying they were to blame.

The problem was his research showed the decline in Maple Syrup production was not caused by Acid Rain, but two natural cyclical events. The major one was a drought. The other, was due to a period of Meridional flow (the dreaded “polar vortex”) resulting in a very early spring warming that caused the tree to start leafing, followed by leaf destroying “black” frosts. Both events cause “dieback”, that is a loss of leaves. Trees, like all vegetation, have recovery and catch-up mechanisms that drive them to seed production. They will grow new leaves and go through a shortened and reduced production cycle. This includes the amount of sap flowing.

His dilemma was how to tell his bosses at Environment Canada that evidence didn’t support the Prime Ministers accusations. He even talked of publishing under an assumed name. I pointed out that he might then be fired because he hadn’t done anything for two years, although that is no guarantee in a bureaucracy.

The solution was obvious; he had to retain his scientific integrity and present his evidence. It was not his job to determine what happened to the results. His job was to do thorough, well-documented, research. He was not paid to make political decisions. The report would go up the bureaucratic ladder until somebody, holding a job for political reasons, would put it on a shelf. Later, a joint investigation by three US and three Canadian investigators, confirmed that Acid Rain was not the cause of the decline in Maple Syrup. After climate conditions changed again, yields exceeded previous records.

There is no question that Acid Rain occurred in concentrations sufficient to destroy plants. I lived in Sudbury Ontario for a year, with its smoke stack, identified as the source of 10 percent of North American Acid Rain, and saw the effects. Town leaders were proud of the fact NASA chose the region as most like the moon for astronaut training. At that time, the philosophy was ‘the solution to pollution is dilution’, so they built the smokestacks higher to disperse the sulfur further downwind. Ironically, after scrubbers were put on the stacks, reports appeared of reduced tree growth downwind because small amounts of sulfur were a fertilizer enhancing growth. This appears to support Paracelsus’ 16th century observation that the toxicity is in the dosage.

Types of Acid Rain And Chemical Variations

Water vapor condenses on to particles called condensation nuclei (CN), most of them are clay or salt particles. The CN influences the chemical nature of the liquid water drop created. For example, salt particles change the freezing temperature so the droplet becomes super-cooled and remain liquid below the freezing point. If it is a sulfur particle, the water droplet becomes a mild sulfuric acid droplet and that became the Acid Rain of environmental focus.

Most people don’t know that all rain is acid rain, but not because of the CN. Water, whether in the form of water droplets that take an estimated 1 million to form a medium-sized raindrop, absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. Droplets have a very high ratio of surface area to volume and absorb CO2 at a known rate. The chemical formula is CO2 + H2O clip_image002 H2CO3, which results in a weak, approximately 10 percent, carbonic acid in chemical equilibrium.

How much water is there in the atmosphere and how much does it vary regionally and over time? Two comments give an idea of the lack of accurate information.

One estimate of the volume of water in the atmosphere at any one time is about 3,100 cubic miles (mi3) or 12,900 cubic kilometers (km3).

At any moment, the atmosphere contains an astounding 37.5 million billion gallons of water, in the invisible vapor phase. This is enough water to cover the entire surface of the Earth (land and ocean) with one inch of rain.

Combine these with the extremely poor precipitation data for the entire globe and you have another example of climate science being a modern equivalent of the number of angels on the head of a pin. One-person claims

…the approximate rate of washout of carbon dioxide from the Earth’s atmosphere via rainwater can be determined from the known ocean evaporation rate and from the known solubility of CO2 in distilled water as a function of temperature and CO2 partial pressure.

Fine, but what is the figure? I understand estimates of evaporation are very crude, if not essentially meaningless. In the early atmosphere/ocean computer models they simply assumed a “swamp” approach of 100 percent evaporation. The 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report says,

The spatial resolution of the coupled ocean-atmosphere models used in the IPCC assessment is generally not high enough to resolve tropical cyclones, and especially to simulate their intensity.

 

Carol Anne Clayson of Woods Hole explains the difficulties.

The air-sea interface “is typically the most turbulent part of the ocean,” Clayson said. A dizzying mix of interrelated factors—waves, winds, water temperature and salinity, bubbles and spray, solar radiation, and others—each adds a layer of complexity that occurs over wide ranges of time (seconds to seasons) and space (millimeters to miles). [See illustration above.]

“Getting observations of what’s going on at the air-sea interface is not trivial, especially in extreme conditions such as high winds,” Clayson said. “It’s also difficult to simulate the air-sea interactions, especially in extreme conditions, in laboratory experiments in a wave tank. Current computers don’t have enough computational capacity to incorporate all the processes occurring, on all the spatial and temporal scales involved, to produce realistic simulations.”

So we don’t know and can’t do anything with it. IPCC know the limits, but also know few read or understand the science reports.

 

Unfortunately, the total surface heat and water fluxes (see Supplementary Material, Figure S8.14) are not well observed.

For models to simulate accurately the seasonally varying pattern of precipitation, they must correctly simulate a number of processes (e.g., evapotranspiration, condensation, transport) that are difficult to evaluate at a global scale.

How much CO2 is absorbed in the atmosphere by moisture? How much does it vary spatially with changing temperature of the water droplets and raindrops? How much does it vary with changing air temperature and saturation vapor pressure? How much does it vary with wind speed? How do the quantities relate to human additions of CO2? All we can do is ask questions to help the public realize the inadequacy of the data and lack of understanding of the mechanisms behind IPCC claims.

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90 thoughts on “All Rain Is Acid Rain

  1. “All we can do is ask questions to help the public realize the inadequacy of the data and lack of understanding of the mechanisms behind IPCC claims.”

    What is the point of asking questions without trying to find out the answers?

  2. @Nick Stokes says: , August 15, 2014 at 1:21 pm
    “What is the point of asking questions without trying to find out the answers?”
    Nick, you dummy, haven’t you ever heard of a thing called curiosity?

  3. “What is the point of asking questions without trying to find out the answers?”

    It’s a step up from stating the answers and then trying to find the questions.

  4. So, let me get this straight, we don’t know the details of the most fundamental processes occurring above oceans, and, nor do we know what’s going on at the bottom, for 99.999999% of the area of ocean floor. But fortunately oceans are completely irrelevant to the understanding of climatic variability?

    When the politicians waffle about the ‘precautionary principle’ they don’t mean it, or we’d be taking the basic precaution of having some sort of clue before we claimed “the science is settled”.

    The truth is ‘the science’ has nor been done, we’ve barely scratched the surface of determining what it is we need to find out.

    Lucid article, thanks.

  5. “At the one annual conference under my chair”

    Big chair or small conference?

    English made so much more sense in the good old non-PC, sexist days when a man ( a two legged animal ) who headed a group was allowed to be called a chairman and did not have to pretend to be a chair ( a four legged object ).

    His tenure used to be referred to as his chairmanship.

  6. Nick Stokes says:
    August 15, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    “All we can do is ask questions to help the public realize the inadequacy of the data and lack of understanding of the mechanisms behind IPCC claims.”

    What is the point of asking questions without trying to find out the answers?

    “…..to help the public realize the inadequacy of the data and lack of understanding of the mechanisms behind IPCC claims.”

  7. Greg says:
    August 15, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Grammatically, the suffix “-man” (usually pronounced “mun”) is neuter in gender, which grammatical term of course doesn’t necessarily imply natural sex anyway, although it has been hijacked by “gender studies” programs, so can refer to a person of any sex. See “woman” for a comparable construction.

  8. Sun Spot says: August 15, 2014 at 1:31 pm
    “Nick, you dummy, haven’t you ever heard of a thing called curiosity?”

    Curious people actually look up the answers. Take the question “Fine, but what is the figure? “. That cites this link, which is actually full of figures. I couldn’t see where it calculates the amount of washout, but it tells you how to do it, gives the solubility tables and there are plenty of rainfall estimates there. A curious person could work it out.

  9. Nick Stokes says:
    August 15, 2014 at 1:21 pm
    What is the point of asking questions without trying to find out the answers?
    ————————————————————————————————

    You ask the quesions of the experts (because no-one else is qualified / enitled to voice an opinion) in the hope tha they’ll slip up on the script and answer truthfully. thus demonsrating that they really don’t know squat.

    Don’t forget – just because someone knows more than you or I about somehing doesn’t mean they have a clue what’s really going on ;)

  10. Nick Stokes;
    What is the point of asking questions without trying to find out the answers?
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Because I am rather sick and tired of pointing out facts and getting responses like:

    Well you’re not a climate scientist….
    That’s not peer reviewed….
    97% of scientists agree….

    So (depending on the audience of course) I have taken, in social settings to asking stupid questions:

    Why is ice increasing in the antarctic and on a global scale?
    Why does the IPCC say its models are probably over estimating warming?
    Why hasn’t the temperature changed over the last 15 years?
    Why has sea level rise slowed down?
    Why are the Maldives building new airports and luxury hotels on the land that they insist is going to be swamped by the oceans? And how do they con the investors in those projects to invest if it is?
    Wasn’t the arctic supposed to be ice free by now?
    I thought our children weren’t going to know what snow was?
    etc, etc, etc

  11. Nick – a nice try. When someone asks an inconvenient question, don’t answer it. Drown her/him in data. (I guess that indicates you did not know the answer in the first place).

  12. Unmentionable says:
    August 15, 2014 at 1:36 pm
    So, let me get this straight, we don’t know the details of the most fundamental processes occurring above oceans, and, nor do we know what’s going on at the bottom, for 99.999999% of the area of ocean floor. But fortunately oceans are completely irrelevant to the understanding of climatic variability?

    When the politicians waffle about the ‘precautionary principle’ they don’t mean it, or we’d be taking the basic precaution of having some sort of clue before we claimed “the science is settled”.
    ______________
    This is why Al Gore and all the rest are happy to ride private jets to and fro all over the globe, increasing their “carbon footprint”, without feeling the least bit of guilt. They know the whole AGW thing is politicized science fiction, good enough perhaps for a Hollywood SciFi potboiler but nothing else.

    Not willing to be quite this cynical? Well then, consider what would happen if some country offered to solve global warming by orbiting enough satellites to reflect back into space several percent of the sunshine that would otherwise reach the earth’s surface — and everyone else believed it had the resources actually to do this. All the world’s governments would stand up and scream that interfering with their sunshine would be an act of war, because they would ***know*** that loss of sunshine could have a strong and unknown effect on them. Politicians, with their finally tuned noses for BS of all types, love AGW because they realize at once that anything that their taxpayers pay to have done with respect to CO2 will most likely have no effect whatsoever (besides lining the pockets of well-connected cronies) and that this fact will not become known for several decades, by which time they will have most likely retired from office.

  13. At last! I’ve found out where my luggage got to. Will I be able to check the snazzy luggage strap through my telescope?

  14. Curious George says:August 15, 2014 at 2:15 pm
    “Nick – a nice try. When someone asks an inconvenient question, don’t answer it. Drown her/him in data.”

    So it’s “We want answers, but don’t bother us with data”?

    In fact, I see that “Fine, but what is the figure? ” is answered at the site cited. The “fgigure” is washout. They have a para headed in bold: “FIND THE RATE OF ABSORPTION OF CO2 FROM THE ATMOSPHERE BY RAIN WATER:”
    Answer: 0.1264 X 10^10 tonne CO2 / year

    It seems the logic here is – so many questions. And if we don’t know, no-one knows. And looking it up is sooo hard.

  15. Nick Stokes:

    At August 15, 2014 at 2:29 pm you say

    In fact, I see that “Fine, but what is the figure? ” is answered at the site cited. The “fgigure” is washout. They have a para headed in bold: “FIND THE RATE OF ABSORPTION OF CO2 FROM THE ATMOSPHERE BY RAIN WATER:”
    Answer: 0.1264 X 10^10 tonne CO2 / year

    No, you have not provided a link to the answer.
    You have provided a link to an estimate with no quantified error estimate that is based on assumptions.

    Indeed, the number you cite seems to be plucked out of the air.
    Furthermore, the paper says of its precipitation estimate

    This value compares with typical annual rainfall measurements of about 1 m / year on dry land. However, rainfall measurements on dry land do not take into consideration dew and low altitude condensation that occurs over the oceans.

    Nick Stokes, if that information is the best you can provide then you would do better to admit you don’t know an answer to the question instead of trying to baffle brains with bull sh*it’.

    Richard

  16. richardscourtney says: August 15, 2014 at 3:06 pm
    “Nick Stokes, if that information is the best you can provide”

    No, it’s not the best I can provide. I didn’t introduce the site concerned – that was Tim Ball. It’s actually a site of an apparently retired engineer – no authority, but genuinely curious. He’s trying to work it out.

    My point is though, that Tim Ball took it just to the stage of saying “Fine, but what is the figure? “. One of his many questions. And in the enthusiasm of going on to the next “question”, he didn’t notice that a figure was there.

  17. Nick Stokes says:
    August 15, 2014 at 1:21 pm
    ——
    Nick, Nick, Nick. There you go with the strawmen again. Nobody said anything about not trying to find answers. The point is to not do anything with the answers until you have them in the first place.

  18. Nick Stokes:

    At August 15, 2014 at 3:13 pm you say

    My point is though, that Tim Ball took it just to the stage of saying “Fine, but what is the figure? “. One of his many questions. And in the enthusiasm of going on to the next “question”, he didn’t notice that a figure was there.

    Oh dear! That is a desperate excuse! The facts are
    1.
    Tim Ball said there is no real answer to the question and cited a paper which includes an apparent answer.
    2.
    You made a big deal about that reference including an available answer.
    3.
    I point out that the apparent answer is not a real answer.
    4.
    You reply with the statement I have quoted above in this post.
    5.
    Your reply is a strange choice of words to say that Tim Ball was right and you were wrong.

    Furthermore, you say to me

    No, it’s not the best I can provide. I didn’t introduce the site concerned – that was Tim Ball. It’s actually a site of an apparently retired engineer – no authority, but genuinely curious. He’s trying to work it out.

    So, you claim you could have provided better information but you have not. Yes, Nick, of course you could.

    Richard

  19. Today, that bureaucrat researcher would have no problem connecting US coal plant pollution to the demise of the Quebec maple syrup trees. As we all know now, coal plants are responsible for climate change, and climate change causes droughts and polar vortexes. QED. Of course, climate change also causes earthquakes, hurricanes, cold Winters, warm Winters, lack of huricanes, rail disasters, and the rings of Saturn. You can’t deny science.

  20. Today, that bureaucrat researcher would have no problem connecting US coal plant pollution to the demise of the Quebec maple syrup trees. As we all know now, coal plants are responsible for climate change, and climate change causes droughts and polar vortexes. QED. Of course, climate change also causes earthquakes, hurricanes, cold Winters, warm Winters, lack of huricanes, rail disasters, and the rings of Saturn. You can’t deny science.

  21. richardscourtney says: August 15, 2014 at 3:25 pm
    “So, you claim you could have provided better information but you have not.”

    No, I feel no obligation to provide better information. It is Tim Ball’s question. Specifically, “what is the figure?”. Well, it’s right there on the page. I’m sure it can be criticised, but if you really want to know, then the answer provided is at least worth looking up and discussing.

  22. Nick Stokes says:
    August 15, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    Sun Spot says: August 15, 2014 at 1:31 pm
    “Nick, you dummy, haven’t you ever heard of a thing called curiosity?”

    Curious people actually look up the answers.

    ======================================================================
    I don’t think you’re a dummy.
    That said, curious people don’t just “look up the answers”. They check those answers to the best of their ability. Some, such as our host and Curry and McIntyre and Spencer and Tisdale and etc, have much ability in their field. When they “looked up the answers” in what they had thought were trusted “peer reviewed” sources, they noticed reality didn’t match the answers.
    I checked the record highs and lows for my area and saw they’d been tampered with. (Adjusted if you prefer.)
    There’s nothing wrong with the environment or taking measures to “stop dumping stuff in the crick”. But environmental issues such as acid rain and CO2 have become a political tool and the science has been left behind or swept under the rug.
    (In the case of some like Mann the “rug” takes the form of lawsuits.)

  23. Nick Stokes:

    At August 15, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    No, I feel no obligation to provide better information. It is Tim Ball’s question. Specifically, “what is the figure?”. Well, it’s right there on the page. I’m sure it can be criticised, but if you really want to know, then the answer provided is at least worth looking up and discussing.

    So, you claim to have better information but “feel no obligation to provide” it. Yes, Nick, I’m sure everybody is convinced by that.

    Also, I did “look it up” and in my reply to you at August 15, 2014 at 3:06 pm I explained why it is not credible. Tim Ball rightly did not cite it.

    So, are you going to admit you were wrong?

    Richard

  24. Congratulation Nick. You’ve stirred more response with a one liner than Tim Ball got with his article.

    Not surprising, since the article did not make it’s point ( which is a good one ) very well, and ended in whimper.

    It would have helped put events in context it he had said what year it was he had a conference under this chair.

  25. richardscourtney says: August 15, 2014 at 3:46 pm
    “So, you claim to have better information…”

    No, I have not claimed anywhere to have better information. I just rejected your proposition that I am providing information at all. I referred to what TB’s cited page was saying.

    I admire curiosity, but my own fund of it is not unlimited, and does not extend to the actual amount of CO2 washout. Tim Ball’s quoted site says it is about 1 Gton CO2 per year, or about 0.3 Gton C. That is part of what are generally counted as natural sources/sinks (which are actually just transfers). For the ocean, that’s quoted as about 90 Gton C a year overall. So yes, the precision of our knowledge of that 0.3 Gtons is not greatly important to me.

    And it’s just one of the things that might have been mentioned in this list of questions.

  26. All you have to do is look up the pH data for the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire to realize that after 40 years and massive reductions in SO2 emissions in North America, there has been no substantial reduction in the acidity of rainfall in the downwind Northeast. Similarly, the lakes in the region are still acidic. They are also oligotrophic and surrounded by pine forests and poorly buffered, acidic soils. While the air is surely cleaner, the rain is still acidic and so are the lakes.

  27. There are areas and periods when CO2 washout & ‘acid rain’ estimates were reasonable & based on long-term observation with rigorous sampling /instrumentation. But the areas were small and the period too short. As usual, the results demonstrate some localized effects which hardly warranted the hype that preceded it.

    It is important to emphasize that too much of that science funding diverted into AGW was wasted, political, and garbage science. The opportunity costs of the corruption of science via AGW represents an expensive loss of opportunity that will never be recovered. We need to redirect any future funding back into basic science untainted by political considerations, but I doubt there will be all that much after the current crowd has demonstrated such consistent politically directed behavior.

  28. Nick Stokes says:
    August 15, 2014 at 1:21 pm
    ““All we can do is ask questions to help the public realize the inadequacy of the data and lack of understanding of the mechanisms behind IPCC claims.”

    What is the point of asking questions without trying to find out the answers?”

    and yet you post the question above , and do not try to answer it yourself….

  29. starzmom says: August 15, 2014 at 5:15 pm
    “surrounded by pine forests”
    =====================
    actually, the forests at Hubbard Brook are predominantly hardwood deciduous beech, birch, etc. forests with pin cherry early succession. The problem with granite bedrock areas is that the soils have poor buffering capacity.

    Sulfur emissions from individual power plants may well have been reduced but there are plenty of other acid forming pollutants like nitric acid forming automobile exhaust that have increased in total volume since the 70s. I haven’t seen recent data from the area but it does not take all that much acid forming compounds to change pH of distilled water. In any case, we are talking about total mass transfer effects here and we would need to examine TOTAL acid forming compounds, not those of individual plants.

  30. For Nick:
    The IQ of Nick stokes has been measured to be 76.384, 78.298 and 81.753 which gives an average of 77.253. The standard deviations are 44.378, 39.297 and 52.934, respectively so we are 95% confident that his IQ is 22.278 less than the mean IQ of the population.

    I wonder if he will check the data now.

  31. For BioBob.
    Nitric oxide from lightning is the major source of nitric acid in rain away from urban centres. It has been a very important source of nitrogen for plants well before humans were a twinkle in Gaia’s eye.

  32. “The problem was his research showed the decline in Maple Syrup production was not caused by Acid Rain… His dilemma was how to tell his bosses…”

    I read a study a few years back on the health risks of global warming, where the researchers solved this conundrum rather neatly. The study was commissioned not to examine the pro’s and con’s but to discuss only the con’s. The problem was there was no evidence of the con’s but fairly easily retrievable evidence of the pro’s. (Such as hospital death rates, which were always higher in colder months.) So what did they do? Well, they created a model, of course.

  33. vicgallus says: August 15, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    I am not surprised. It is certain that there are plenty of natural sources of chemicals that acidify precipitation like forest fires, bacterial decay, sulfur emissions from vulcanism and so on.

  34. after scrubbers were put on the stacks, reports appeared of reduced tree growth downwind because small amounts of sulfur were a fertilizer enhancing growth.
    =================
    typo? reports appeared of increased tree growth

  35. Nick Stokes says:
    August 15, 2014 at 1:21 pm
    What is the point of asking questions without trying to find out the answers?
    =============
    In that case, why are you asking a question?

  36. http://www.chemistry.wustl.edu/~edudev/LabTutorials/Water/FreshWater/acidrain.html

    “Natural Acidity of Rainwater

    Pure water has a pH of 7.0 (neutral); however, natural, unpolluted rainwater actually has a pH of about 5.6 (acidic).[Recall from Experiment 1 that pH is a measure of the hydrogen ion (H+) concentration.] The acidity of rainwater comes from the natural presence of three substances (CO2, NO, and SO2) found in the troposphere (the lowest layer of the atmosphere). As is seen in Table I, carbon dioxide (CO2) is present in the greatest concentration and therefore contributes the most to the natural acidity of rainwater.”

  37. Nick Stokes says:
    August 15, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    Curious George says:August 15, 2014 at 2:15 pm
    “Nick – a nice try. When someone asks an inconvenient question, don’t answer it. Drown her/him in data.”

    So it’s “We want answers, but don’t bother us with data”?

    In fact, I see that “Fine, but what is the figure? ” is answered at the site cited. …

    Nick, you either are not reading, or deliberately are using the quote and question out of context of with the rest of the post merely to distract the discussion. The source of your “answer” to where to find the figure says that figure is calculated from “… the known ocean evaporation rate…”, which was Ball’s point. There is no “known” evaporation rate for the world’s oceans. At best there are a range of (barely) educated guesses or, more kindly, estimates.

    What follows is a reductio ad absurdum.

    The very same page also says that water vapour condenses “high in the atmosphere” releasing LWIR, which implicitly suggests that H2O vapour must provide a net cooling effect. “Back radiation” or what ever you want to name it, is emitted in random directions “high in the atmosphere” or anywhere else. Because of the random direction of emission, the radiation will be more likely to remain at altitude or continue outward, rather than track inward due to planetary geometry alone. Less than half the potential directions reduce the altitude at which the next absorption would occur. Take into account the atmospheric pressure gradient, meaning that more molecules are below the emission event than above it, and the possible inward paths are also significantly shorter in length than outward tracks. Those greenhouses gases will then be prone to trap energy emitted high above the surface until re-emission, which again is randomly directed and again has a less than 50% chance of heading back along a line that would intercept the planet’s surface. Statistically then, statements made by the author of “the figure” also imply that water vapour will more likely cool than warm the planet.

    So, one might conclude that the “author,” who asserts how simple it is to estimate global evaporation from the oceans and provide a figure for the return of CO2 to earth, apparently doesn’t believe that global warming is really a problem, regardless of what he writes?

    Remember, you imply that Ball is asking a stupid or lazy question, regardless of what HE wrote, even though the question about the figure is plainly rhetorical, and he supplied the link to the source of the quote and thus to “the figure” as well. If you want to dispute what Ball implies, then do that. Drive-bys are always less efficient than a carefully aimed shot.

  38. If you are in a wood burning area, or have a wood burner in one’s home, then when the rain rushes down, it becomes slightly acid collecting from the roof where smoke has settled. I have an rain water tank as well as tap or mains, for my bonsai mainly. The mains water is obviously chlorinated which is a health necessity. This disipates very quickly. (Can’t spell today)
    Then we have tested the mains and it is alkaline, sometimes over 8.4 p.H. But my rain water tank not being in a large wood burning area of town, is neutral. Anyway the water they use to wash coal is one of the best carbon based fertilizers out. But expensive.

  39. Duster says: August 15, 2014 at 7:50 pm
    “Nick, you either are not reading, or deliberately are using the quote and question out of context of with the rest of the post merely to distract the discussion. The source of your “answer” to where to find the figure says that figure is calculated from “… the known ocean evaporation rate…”, which was Ball’s point.”

    I’m not sure what his point was in quoting that particular site. It is an amateur effort, though I’m impressed by the author’s tenacity in looking for answers. I’ve bookmarked it. He has estimated the evap rate from energy supplied, which is an overshoot. He notes in the next section that average rain is about 1m/yr. He says that’s on dry land, but it’s actually a well-characterised figure globally, at a bit less than 1 m, as used in Trenberth’s calc. He should have used that – he says that he wanted to include dew etc, but in fact that doesn’t transport CO2 anywhere.

    With that, and the known solubility, you can actually do quite a good calc, the main uncertainty being temperature. But as I said, it is in any case only a tiny part of the total air/sea exchange.

    And that’s my real point here. These are quantitative issues, and there’s no point in just plaintively voicing questions without at least looking up some numbers. The fact that CO2 washout is small is easily established. “What is the figure?”. If he didn’t know, he should have (it’s there); if he did, he should have quoted it – it’s relevant to the question, if the question is real.

  40. I was once told that the fly ash that used to go up the stack in a coal fired plant tended to neutralize the sulfur component of the flue gas. My home town had a small coal fired power plant (45MW) and what I know for a fact was that after they installed the gubment mandated scrubber/filters (this was many moons ago) for the allegedly nasty fly ash, acid drops would fall out of the sky on hot, humid, dead calm days. These drops of acid would eat through the paint on your car in a matter of hours, but only affected the poor folks living within a few blocks of the plant.

  41. ferdberple said: August 15, 2014 at 7:11 pm
    “after scrubbers were put on the stacks, reports appeared of reduced tree growth downwind because small amounts of sulfur were a fertilizer enhancing growth.
    =================
    typo? reports appeared of increased tree growth”

    No typo. The scrubbers reduced the amount of sulphur (Note correct spelling of ‘sulphur’ in English and Australian”) and hence the fertilizer effect was reduced. Hence reduced tree growth.

  42. Thank you so much, Dr. Ball. You certainly have given me a five course meal of delicious things to ponder.

    I particularly relished this quote, towards the end of your essay:

    “Getting observations of what’s going on at the air-sea interface is not trivial, especially in extreme conditions such as high winds,” Clayson said. “It’s also difficult to simulate the air-sea interactions, especially in extreme conditions, in laboratory experiments in a wave tank. Current computers don’t have enough computational capacity to incorporate all the processes occurring, on all the spatial and temporal scales involved, to produce realistic simulations.”

    My own experience with the air-sea interface includes being on a 28-foot sailboat, leaving Newport as a rainy night descended, and having a nor’easter blow up as we passed Block Island. By the time we made it to Cape May three days later I’d had quite enough of observing the air-sea interface. For a while I was scared to death, however fortunately I became so seasick I didn’t care if I died, and that put an end to my fear. I agree it is difficult to simulate such conditions in a laboratory wave tank, and, while I know nothing about the computational capacity of current computers, I do know there are some things you can’t describe, either with a pen or with a computer, and a storm at sea is one of them.

    To me it seems that too many people who have never been to sea are diddling about indoors, breathing musty air with eyes focused on computer screens, and then having the audacity to think that doing so makes them outdoors-men and sailors.

    This sort of thinking leads to the idea man trumps nature. Man controls the climate. This is a harmless delusion, until you decide to shut down all the coal-powered power plants, and heat everyone’s homes with pinwheels. It is then, when the brown-out turns to a shut-down of power, and you can’t play on your computer because the batteries are dead, and the house is getting cold as January winds howl outside, and the pipes start freezing and the toilet won’t flush, that the outdoors starts coming indoors, and it starts to occur to people that man may not trump nature after all.

  43. starzmom says: August 15, 2014 at 5:15 pm
    “there has been no substantial reduction in the acidity of rainfall in the downwind Northeast.”
    ====================
    Better look at the Hubbard Brook data again. You made me curious. After a quick look, there has been what I would consider a substantial decrease in sulfur deposition of over 20%. Further, the pH of rain has gone from an average of about 4.0 to around 4.9, according to the data I just looked at.

    I would consider both of those significant. It’s time to build more coal plants and do better than we have in the past !! I know we can do a better job and get that pH down to 2 or 3 !! /sarc

  44. Well I read in one of my bonsai books, that rain can be slightly acid as it falls through the immediate atmosphere. Depends where you live. But it is absorbed with other gases by plants, that’s why my plants grow more on rain fall than hosing.

  45. Somebody measured rainfall at 4.9? During the age of the acid rain scare (middle 80’s), I moved to a place with very alkaline earth and water. The river water measured 9. The soil had a ph of 8.5. I caught rainwater in a test tube and measured it. It was 7.5. I was praying for acid rain. The river water and the soil are made akaline by road salt but what made rain falling from the sky into a plastic tube alkaline? Every year I dug sulfur into the ground and fertilized with a sulfur containing fertilizer. It helped for a year.

  46. Pool owners must maintain that artificial lake at about 7.2 ph. I’ve had a pool in CT and than in IL over the last 30 years, and used my pool test kit to measure the ph of both the rain and ground water. A pool test strip has limited range of pH sensitivity,of between 6 and 8.5. The pH of rain is at the very low end of the scale in both locations every time I’ve measured it. The ground water from our wells however is completely different. Ground water in CT was , like the rain, very acidic. But the water in IL turns out to be quite alkiline. My own conclusion back during the “acid rain” scare was that it was “much ado about nothing”. That the pH of rain, ground water and lakes depended on other factors. But no one asked me.

  47. Nick Stokes:

    At August 15, 2014 at 3:13 pm you wrote

    richardscourtney says: August 15, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    Nick Stokes, if that information is the best you can provide

    No, it’s not the best I can provide.

    And at August 15, 2014 at 3:38 pm you wrote

    richardscourtney says: August 15, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    So, you claim you could have provided better information but you have not.

    No, I feel no obligation to provide better information.

    Then at August 15, 2014 at 4:32 pm you wrote

    richardscourtney says: August 15, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    So, you claim to have better information…

    No, I have not claimed anywhere to have better information

    Nick, dear boy, when trolling you should not use falsehoods because you lack an ability to be consistent with your lies.

    Richard

  48. richardscourtney says: August 15, 2014 at 11:35 pm
    “No, I have not claimed anywhere to have better information

    Nick, dear boy, when trolling you should not use falsehoods because you lack an ability to be consistent with your lies.”

    So where did I claim to have better information?

    Context on that first quote, BTW:
    richardscourtney says: August 15, 2014 at 3:06 pm
    “Nick Stokes, if that information is the best you can provide”
    No, it’s not the best I can provide. I didn’t introduce the site concerned – that was Tim Ball.

    I am simply quoting and rejecting your claim. I did not offer to provide information.

  49. Caleb,
    Man’s hubris has always been humbled before nature. Climate Change hubris is no different. It WILL be humbled.

  50. Nick Stokes:

    re your post at August 15, 2014 at 11:54 pm.

    When in a hole then stop digging.

    You said you HAD information better than that cited. (August 15, 2014 at 3:13 pm here)
    You later claimed you did not say you had better information. (August 15, 2014 at 4:32 pm <a href=http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/08/15/all-rain-is-acid-rain/#comment-1710028here)
    It is not possible for both of your cited statements to be true: at least one – and probably both – of them is a falsehood.

    Additionally, you did not say that you would provide your better information and I ridiculed you about that (August 15, 2014 at 3:46 pm here). But that is an irrelevance you have introduced as a ‘red herring’ to distract from your falsehood.

    Richard

  51. richardscourtney says: August 16, 2014 at 12:57 am
    “You said you HAD information better than that cited.”

    Nonsense. You asked if it was the best I could provide; I said it wasn’t my information, but a site quoted by Tim Ball.

  52. D. Cohen says:
    August 15, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    Unmentionable says:
    August 15, 2014 at 1:36 pm
    When the politicians waffle about the ‘precautionary principle’ they don’t mean it, or we’d be taking the basic precaution of having some sort of clue before we claimed “the science is settled”.

    “Not willing to be quite this cynical? Well then, consider what would happen if …”

    I’m capable of Cecil B DeMille levels of cynicism Dr Cohen, it’s just that I’ve learned over the years that cynicism often leads me off the scent or impairs perceptions, so I limit its use to good healthy tirade ranting fun.

    But to burrow into observation and catch nuances with their pants down you have to put the fun toys aside.

  53. I learn a lot from many of the folks here. For that, I am grateful.
    I never learned anything from Nick Stokes

  54. eternal optimist

    I am grateful that people such as Nick Stokes and Phil post here as they challenge the general consensus. At one time Scott Mandia and Joel Shore were also frequent visitors. All are highly intelligent people and whilst we may rarely agree with them they do present a different perspective that enables us to question our sceptical beliefs.

    tonyb

  55. climatereason says:
    August 16, 2014 at 4:24 am
    ////////////////

    I second that.

    I for one wish to consider all issues/points of view (since I am sceptical of the case against AGW, just as I am sceptical of the case for AGW) so I always like to see contrarian comments, and accordingly, I hope that Nick et al will continue to post on a regular basis. This site will be poorer without their input, since there is no point in simply preaching to the crowd.

    However, the quality of what Nick et al, has to say varies enormously. Sometimes good arguments and comments are constructed, at other times only senseless drive bys. The latter distract and over time tend to diminish the worth of the many good comments/observations that they make. The comments on this thread are a classic example of entrenchment on a non point.

    IMO, if they do not have something useful to say, rather than posting a drive by, they should say nothing, keeping their muster for when they have something important, relevant and worthwhile to say.

    I suspect that they would gain a lot more respect if they were to adopt such an approach. I suspect that many would then stop to consider the merits of what they are saying (and sometimes there is much merit in their comments), rather than skipping over the comment on the assumption that it is a comment by Nick and just a piece of his ‘usual rubbish’

    I guess what I am saying is quality rather than quantity. And when one joins into a debate from a contrarian standpoint (ie., on this site as a believer as opposed to a sceptic), the burden of quality is higher on such a person, if only because it is necessary for them to displace the headwind which attaches to someone who appears neither objective nor impartial, but rather partisan and blinded by their belief.

  56. Richard

    I agree, quality rather than quantity. Mosh would also do well to do less of his drive by shoutings as, like the others, his worth tends to come from his more detailed and thoughtful posts. The trouble is that he tends to use his smart phone to comment sometimes and that makes intelligent conversations difficult.
    tonyb

  57. Bio Bob–Hubbard Brook is largely deciduous, however, much of New England covered in pine forests. I was referring to the broader region. The data I looked at a few years ago was from both the Adirondack lakes and eastern Canada.

    It has been some time since I looked at the Hubbard Brook data. I noted at the time that in looking at the weekly deposition reports, which usually capture few rain events, but is easier to look at than individual events, because the record runs from 1978 on, the lowest pHs recorded had not changed over the years. Nor had the highest pHs. The averages were very close on a weekly basis. This was in a time frame where SO2 emissions from large (and not so large) sources had declined by some 90%, and NOX emissions from large sources had declined by some 50% with the requirements to install FGD scrubbers and SCR/SNCR NOX control systems on power plants. At the same time, most new cars were equipped with catalytic converters to reduce NOX emissions. Overall ambient concentrations of both have declined across the US.

    The reader who commented that damage due to acid deposition after ash controls were installed on a nearby power plant is probably right that the ash served to neutralize the acid. Coal chemistry is very complex, and companies spend millions designing their pollution control systems to handle the chemistry of the precise coal they burn in a particular plant.

  58. I honestly can’t even figure out the point of this essay. Are you suggesting that rain washes out a significant fraction of CO2 from the atmosphere? Or are you suggesting that all rain water is slightly acidic? The latter is true, but the former is demonstrably false, and that is simple to show.

  59. “Nick Stokes says:
    August 15, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    “All we can do is ask questions to help the public realize the inadequacy of the data and lack of understanding of the mechanisms behind IPCC claims.”

    What is the point of asking questions without trying to find out the answers?”

    Nick,

    My interpretation of the article as a whole and how it related to the last statement is this:

    Climate science is extremely complicated and hard to study. The field is immature in many places and the data scanty in important areas. Therefore, one should not jump to conclusions and enact policies without sufficient information. By asking questions such as “why do the models overestimate warming 3-fold” or “why are climate scientists now talking so much about 60 years cycles they used to denigrate”, one can get the public to realize the 97% consensus (as advertised anyway) is nonsense and that we really don’t have much evidence that man is changing the weather, for example. Loaded dice and all that, ya know …….

    The point of asking the questions in this case would be to show how little is known. This is the method of the investigative reporter or the method of the scientist before collecting additional data. Find out what the important questions are, figure out ways to test various hypotheses that address these questions, then collect the data, perform the analysis, etc.
    The point was actually given at the end of the sentence. In this case, the questions are to change the way “the public” views climate science and to get them to “realize the inadequacy of the data and lack of understanding of the mechanisms behind IPCC claims.” I think this is already happening to some extent anyway. Once the public realizes the truth, they may be less likely to embrace extreme solutions. As far as the science goes, the reaction could go either way. Perhaps there will be more studies funded to address the important questions with data rather than just funding more simulations using the same old poorly performing GCMs. On the other hand, if the public decides they have been lied to and that some scientists have behaved improperly, their could be a backlash. Perhaps more research money would flow to biomedical projects instead. That might be a good thing. There is a danger to politicizing science and I hope the backlash is not too bad as I think we do need more climate research as well.

    Our society still expends a lot of time and money on studying the climate, so questions will continue to be answered. I hope that they do figure out why the climate models perform so poorly and are able to understand the 60 year climate cycles better. Hopefully fewer and fewer will follow Schneider’s advice to make up scary stories (and somehow be truthful at the same time??) and the field will mature and not be so useful to politicians and political advocates.

  60. Nick Stokes says:
    August 15, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    I couldn’t see where it calculates the amount of washout, but it tells you how to do it, gives the solubility tables and there are plenty of rainfall estimates there. A curious person could work it out.
    ————-

    Not even a curious person can work out (calculate) the “answer” to a query if one (1) or more of the input factors (data) is an estimated quantity. The best they can hope for in their calculated “result” is just another “estimate of quantity”.

  61. If rain collects CO2 from the atmosphere, would pollution by itself interfere with this collection process? Perhaps the modern rise in CO2 is caused by other factors than just CO2 emission.

  62. In other words, when it comes to really understanding what goes on with weather, clmate, the atmosphere, and the oceans “we don’t know nuthin bout nuthin.”

  63. Dr. Tim Ball said:

    Combine these with the extremely poor precipitation data for the entire globe and you have another example of climate science being a modern equivalent of the number of angels on the head of a pin. One-person claims

    [quoting claim] “…the approximate rate of washout of carbon dioxide from the Earth’s atmosphere via rainwater can be determined from the known ocean evaporation rate and from the known solubility of CO2 in distilled water as a function of temperature and CO2 partial pressure.”

    Fine, but what is the figure?
    ——————

    Well now, there are several “expert” calculating individuals that know exact what that “figure” is …. but for some reason they are intent on keeping it a “secret” from everyone else.

    And I can attest to the above fact of both “knowledge” and “secrecy” because those above said “experts” keep telling me that both the “bi-yearly cycling” (avg 6 ppm) and the “average yearly increase” (1 to 2 ppm) in atmospheric CO2 ppm quantities as measured and defined in/on the Mauna Loa record and/or the Keeling Curve Graph is not a function of, ….. nor has any relationship to, the ingassing/outgassing of CO2 at the interface boundary between the ocean surface and the atmosphere.

    And the only way they could possibly know that their above “ingassing/outgassing” claim is a literal fact is if they also know exactly what the above stated CO2 “washout” figure is.

    One can not estimate a quantity …… and then claim their estimate is a factual physical quantity.

  64. IPCC claim the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere determines most of the increase in temperature since ~1950. They make this claim with a certainty not justified by the severe limitations of knowledge of the total sources and sinks for CO2.

    The amount of CO2 varies considerably and one variation not included, among others, is the amount of CO2 absorbed by the amount of water in the atmosphere. This must vary because the factors that determine the amount of absorption, namely ; the amount of water in the atmosphere, the temperature of the water; the temperature of the air; and the saturation vapour pressure. It is entirely possible that the amount of variation of CO2 in the atmosphere, due to these factors, equals the amount due to human addition of CO2.

    “A few observations and much reasoning lead to error; many observations and a little reasoning to truth” Alexis Carrel

  65. Eve says:
    August 15, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    Somebody measured rainfall at 4.9? During the age of the acid rain scare (middle 80’s), I moved to a place with very alkaline earth and water. The river water measured 9. The soil had a ph of 8.5. I caught rainwater in a test tube and measured it. It was 7.5. I was praying for acid rain. The river water and the soil are made akaline by road salt but what made rain falling from the sky into a plastic tube alkaline? Every year I dug sulfur into the ground and fertilized with a sulfur containing fertilizer. It helped for a year.

    =============================================================
    Water is weird.
    What is sometimes left out of the “acid rain” discussion is alkalinity, not to be confused with an alkaline pH. Alkalinity has to do with the water being able to resist of the water because other chemicals “using up” the H or OH before the leftover H or OH can change the pH.
    Alkaline dust in the air when you took you reading may have neutralized your rain and pushed it into the OH range.

  66. Alkalinity has to do with the water being able to resist of the water because

    ================================================================
    ARGHHHH!
    Should be:
    Alkalinity has to do with the water being able to resist a pH change of the water because

  67. Gunga Din says:
    August 16, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    Eve says:
    August 15, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    ==================================================================
    Also, if your test tube had time to heat up, it would would lost some of the gasses it dissolved, including CO2 and so there would have been a reduction in the carbonic acid.

  68. Tim Ball says:
    August 16, 2014 at 9:50 am

    “A few observations and much reasoning lead to error; many observations and a little reasoning to truth” Alexis Carrel

    ======================================================================
    A scientist was studying fleas.
    He clapped his hands and the flea jumped 6 inches.
    He pulled off a leg.
    He clapped his hands and the flea jumped 5 inches.
    He pulled off a leg.
    He clapped his hands and the flea jumped 4 inches.
    He pulled off a leg.
    He clapped his hands and the flea jumped 3 inches.
    He pulled off a leg.
    He clapped his hands and the flea jumped 2 inches.
    He pulled off a leg.
    He clapped his hands and the flea jumped 1 inch.
    He pulled off the last leg.
    He clapped his hands and the flea didn’t jump.
    He concluded, “All legs gone. Flea can’t hear.”

  69. Samuel C Cogar says:

    >Well now, there are several “expert” calculating individuals that know exact what that “figure” is …. but for some reason they are intent on keeping it a “secret” from everyone else.

    The figure cited above 0.12… x 10^10 looks suspicious because a scientist or engineer would write 1.2… x 10^9. Who’s figure is it? Did whoever made the calculation realize that droplets that freeze kick out the CO2? Snow falling into the ocean leaves the CO2 behind.

    >And I can attest to the above fact of both “knowledge” and “secrecy” because those above said “experts” keep telling me that both the “bi-yearly cycling” (avg 6 ppm) and the “average yearly increase” (1 to 2 ppm) in atmospheric CO2 ppm quantities as measured and defined in/on the Mauna Loa record and/or the Keeling Curve Graph is not a function of, ….. nor has any relationship to, the ingassing/outgassing of CO2 at the interface boundary between the ocean surface and the atmosphere.

    Then they have failed to consider the effect of annual cycling into and out of ice in clouds, on land and covering lakes and seas.

    It is interesting how the combination of secrecy and knowledge an analogy for the Gnostics 1800 years ago. The claim of the Gnostics was to have a ‘secret knowledge’ which was so special it could not be shared with the general population, or even their own laity. How climate-scientific! Gnostic predictions of a future heaven of hell were based on ‘secret knowledge’ which could be shared! It was only accessible to and understood by an elite with a special command of a special language where words mean what they are declared to mean. And they said Lenin was an atheist!

    CAGW = Gnostic priestcraft.

    >…One can not estimate a quantity …… and then claim their estimate is a factual physical quantity.

    Well said. One cannot estimate a future climate condition and then claim that the estimate is a future physical fact.

  70. milodonharlani says:

    >Grammatically, the suffix “-man” (usually pronounced “mun”) is neuter in gender, which grammatical term of course doesn’t necessarily imply natural sex anyway, although it has been hijacked by “gender studies” programs, so can refer to a person of any sex. See “woman” for a comparable construction.

    Well said.

    ‘Man’ is from ‘manus’ meaning ‘hand’. Manual labour = hand labour. It survives in ‘farmhand’ and ‘deckhand’. ‘I could really use a hand here.’ ‘Send a couple of hands to help with the horses,’ does not mean, ‘Send a couple of males.’ The game of Checkers is played with men, not males.

    Man = person
    Woman = female person
    Weaman = male person

    Can’t remember ‘weaman? The only remnant is ‘weapon’ meaning ‘male tool’ and puns based on this were common five centuries ago.

    The misinterpretation of ‘chairman’ to mean ‘chair-male’ demonstrates ignorant confirmation bias amongst a group of social bullies. Quelle surprise.

    Correctly: Mr Chairman or Madam Chairman. To ‘recognize the chair’ is oxymoronic. Chairs do not moderate meetings. People do. In a meeting, ‘chair’ is a verb.

  71. I remember water drawn from bores and wells. Depends on what rocks are involved from the source. Limestone makes water more alkaline, but generally, rain water can be slightly acid without harming trees or plants. The majority of trees don’t mind an acid soil, but some hate alkaline water or soils. Like Azaleas and spruce. If your soils are alkaline, add sulphur. If you want more alkalinity, add lime or dolomite. The aim is a 6.5 pH.

  72. BioBob says:
    August 15, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    “…other acid forming pollutants like nitric acid forming automobile exhaust that have increased in total volume since the 70s.

    Have they? The number of cars has definitely increased, but three-way catalytic converters, introduced in 1981, significantly reduce NOx emissions.As the link says:

    Technological improvements including three-way catalytic converters have led to motor vehicle nitrous oxide emissions in the US falling to 8.2% of anthropogenic nitrous oxide emissions in 2008, from a high of 17.77% in 1998.

    Maybe industrial NOx emissions have increased, but I would expect that from automobiles to have decreased.

    vicgallus says:
    August 15, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    “Nitric oxide from lightning is the major source of nitric acid in rain away from urban centres.”

    As, according to the link above, anthropogenic emissions were never even 1/5th of natural.

    BioBob says:
    August 15, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    ” After a quick look, there has been what I would consider a substantial decrease in sulfur deposition of over 20%”

    It would help for you guys to give a link:

    In the period 1995-1997, wet deposition of sulfate in the Northeast was approximately 20 percent lower than levels in the preceding three years with implementation of the 1990 CAAA.

    Three years. And, 20%. What were the error bars? How observable was the reduction? There is room here, it would appear, to insert an agenda.

  73. Caleb says:
    August 15, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    Beautiful post. It is human nature to assume that we know what is happening in places we have never been, or to people we have never met, or with phenomena we have never personally observed. We tend to put our faith in people who have, or claim to have, done these things, without ever really knowing if they genuinely have, or if they did so without bias toward a predetermined conclusion.

  74. All rain is acid rain is an assertion made by Dr. Dixie Lee Ray in her book Trashing
    The Planet in 1992. The late Doctor would be happy to see that many of the debates
    she started are still being discussed, and in many cases like global warming, that
    her side is winning.

  75. Thanks again for a great post Dr. Ball.
    One other thing not considered in CO2 sea water dissolution is the speed that the other reactions take place converting H2 CO3 to bi-carbonate which will renew CO2 dissolution rates. So even this vital piece of data is nearly impossible to estimate.

  76. “Dave Wendt says: August 15, 2014 at 7:48 pm”

    The description you cite is quite erroneous.
    The weak acidity of rainwater (pH 4.6-5.0) is determined predominantly by SO2, not CO2.
    Though the average concentration of SO2 (5 ppb, or 0.005 ppm) is 80,000-fold smaller than CO2, the acid dissociation constant is much much larger than CO2, and a primitive chemical calculation yields a pH value of 4.85 for 5 ppb SO2.
    A research group of our Environmental Ministry (then Agency) measured rainwater pH for 20 years (1983-2002), and found a very constant value of pH 4.8 plus/minus 0.2 throughout. This is consistent with an idea that the SO2-originated acidity (pH 4.85) is slightly enhanced by CO2, to give a pH value of ca. 4.8.

  77. Nick Stokes says:

    August 15, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    richardscourtney says: August 15, 2014 at 3:06 pm
    “Nick Stokes, if that information is the best you can provide”………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..No, it’s not the best I can provide………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. I didn’t introduce the site concerned – that was Tim Ball. It’s actually a site of an apparently retired engineer – no authority, but genuinely curious. He’s trying to work it out.

    My point is though, that Tim Ball took it just to the stage of saying “Fine, but what is the figure? “. One of his many questions. And in the enthusiasm of going on to the next “question”, he didn’t notice that a figure was there.
    ____________________________________
    “NO, IT’S NOT THE BEST I CAN PROVIDE”

    *****************************************************************************************************************
    The above is a cut and paste copy of Nick Stokes words here with the quote in question isolated in two different ways.
    For those of you confused about reality, including Nick Stokes, that is Nick Stokes SAYING that he has better information he CAN provide shortly before he once again wastes every ones time claiming that he didn’t say something that he did.
    Do you now remember writing that Nick Stokes ? Are you still confused or are you just a liar ?
    I think you should pick one because presently you are looking quite like both. From what I see, not unusual for you here.

  78. BioBob said “Better look at the Hubbard Brook data again. You made me curious. After a quick look, there has been what I would consider a substantial decrease in sulfur deposition of over 20%. Further, the pH of rain has gone from an average of about 4.0 to around 4.9, according to the data I just looked at.” I have studied NTN Site NH02 Hubbard Brook data from August 1978 to December 2007 rainfall chemistry. There were statistically significant drops in Ca (45%), Mg(71%), K(31%), Na(73%), NO3(35%), Cl(53%), SO4 (53%) and H+ (35%)concentrations over this period, and significant increases in NH4(26%) and CO2 (77%). Rainfall was unchanged (n=1260).

    At a site ME02 Bridgton a few km further east, over a similar period, the changes were generally in the same direction, with SO4 reduced by 53% and H+ by 35%, while CO2 increased by 96% (n=1093). At VT99, Underhill, somewhat further west, SO4 was reduced by 46% and H+ by 54% while CO2 increased by 148% (n= 1014).

    The NTN data on weekly chemistry was checked as part of this study and generally found to be excellent. The curious questions that linger include why ions like Na and Cl dropped as well as SO4 – and by a similar amount – and whether the huge increase in CO2 drove the drop in hydrogen ions or vice versa – does more CO2 in the atmosphere fix acid rain (if it ever existed)?

  79. tokyoboy, could the S in your example be from H2S rather than SO2? The oceans produce massive amounts of H2S.

  80. Ice Man

    “The curious questions that linger include why ions like Na and Cl dropped as well as SO4 – and by a similar amount …”

    Na and Cl are found in significant amounts in biomass. There are a couple of reasons why the drop: less burning of biomass, less burning of coal (old biomass). The only way to get the Cl and Na out of biomass like grass is to wash it out by leaving it outside for a winter. It leaches out. The drop you found may correlate to a drop in the use of wood for heating, grass fires upwind, less coal being burned or stack cleaning (though I don’t see how that would apply) or some mystery that remains discovered.

  81. It seems to me that this is a pure academic question without any consequence for the carbon content of the atmosphere.

    The solubility of CO2 in fresh water is very low at the atmospheric CO2 pressure of 0.0004 bar.
    At 1 bar and 0°C it is 3.3 g/l, see:

    http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/gases-solubility-water-d_1148.html

    Thus at 400 ppmv (~μatm), the solubility of CO2 in fresh water is ~1.3 mg/l.

    1 liter rainwater needs all the water vapor of 400 m3 air to form the necessary drops. If that is saturated at 0°C, the total amount of CO2 subtracted from the atmosphere is simply negligible as concentration change: about 0.05 ppmv.
    The same where the raindrops fall down: 1 l/m2 = 1 mm rain/m2. If that runs off in rivers and reaches the oceans, the circle is round. If it all evaporates on the spot, the CO2 is set free and “enriches” the first m3 above the surface with less than 1 ppmv CO2, if there is no mixing by wind with higher air levels at all.

    Thus all what is left is that the gigantic amounts of water vapor circulating over the earth move some relative modest quantities of CO2 from the atmosphere back to the oceans, partly via rivers which may dissolve limestone, but even that needs millions of years to form the beautiful caves one can find all over the earth…

    The fundamental point here is that most of the water/CO2 movements on earth are cycles. The average residence time of water in the atmosphere is a few days. At any moment the water quantity and thus the dissolved CO2 quantity may be double or halve the quantity of before or after a few days, but that hardly changes the total quantity of CO2 in the atmosphere, as the total dissolved quantity of CO2 in fresh water is very low compared to what is in the atmosphere. Further, the fast variations in water content of the atmosphere largely average out over a few days to a few weeks…

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