Every cloud has a silver lining – Antarctic glacier retreat creates new carbon dioxide store

From a British Antarctic Survey Press Release. Next time some alarmist wails about ice melt in Antarctica, point them to this story that shows nature has self regulating features for our planet. (h/t to Hu McCullough)

Antarctica glacier retreat creates new carbon dioxide store

Issue date: 09 Nov 2009

Number: 11/2009

Antarctic Peninsula Map

 

Antarctic Peninsula Map (click to enlarge)

Large blooms of tiny marine plants called phytoplankton are flourishing in areas of open water left exposed by the recent and rapid melting of ice shelves and glaciers around the Antarctic Peninsula. This remarkable colonisation is having a beneficial impact on climate change. As the blooms die back phytoplankton sinks to the sea-bed where it can store carbon for thousands or millions of years. Reporting this week in the journal Global Change Biology, scientists from British Antarctic Survey (BAS) estimate that this new natural ‘sink’ is taking an estimated 3.5 million tonnes* of carbon from the ocean and atmosphere each year.

Lead author, Professor Lloyd Peck from BAS says,

“Although this is a small amount of carbon compared to global emissions of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere it is nevertheless an important discovery. It shows nature’s ability to thrive in the face of adversity. We need to factor this natural carbon-absorption into our calculations and models to predict future climate change. So far we don’t know if we will see more events like this around the rest of Antarctica’s coast but it’s something we’ll be keeping a close eye on.”

Location map

 

Location map (click to enlarge)

Professor Peck and his colleagues compared records of coastal glacial retreat with records of the amount of chlorophyll (green plant pigment essential for photosynthesis) in the ocean. They found that over the past 50 years, melting ice has opened up at least 24,000 km2 of new open water (an area similar to the size of Wales) – and this has been colonised by carbon-absorbing phytoplankton. According to the authors this new bloom is the second largest factor acting against climate change so far discovered on Earth (the largest is new forest growth on land in the Arctic).Professor Peck continues, “Elsewhere in the world human activity is undermining the ability of oceans and marine ecosystems to capture and store carbon. At present, there is little change in ice shelves and coastal glaciers away from the Antarctic Peninsula, but if more Antarctic ice is lost as a result of climate change then these new blooms have the potential to be a significant biological sink for carbon.”

ENDS

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73 thoughts on “Every cloud has a silver lining – Antarctic glacier retreat creates new carbon dioxide store

  1. In other words they found the biosphere simply doing what it does best in periods cold and warm, soak up CO2 and soak up even more of it when levels rise, it’s doing what it’s supposed to be doing.
    No big surprise, during previous warm periods more CO2 was locked up because of the warming making previously hostile regions more favorable for plant life, it was bound to happen again.

  2. Of course,that map needs updating: you need to knock the ice bridge and 3,000 square kilometers off Wilkins Ice Shelf. Fingers crossed that we see the extra phytoplankton pull CO2 back to equilibrium!

  3. If I am not repeating the obvious, not only have we a carbon sink but an energy sink too, as photosynthesis is endothermic.

  4. Excuse me, isn’t the phytoplankton stealing the CO2 that we need for crops? Between the IPCC and the phytoplankton we could starve in the near distant future. Shouldn’t we be cooling the planet down so those voracious phyto whatchamacallits don’t have a chance to sequester all of our precious CO2? /fun

  5. Nick in 1956 the biggest measured iceberg came off the Filchner shelf… 1956 and it was about 335 by 95 km, i.e. 31,000km2…

  6. “This remarkable colonisation is having a beneficial impact on climate change.”
    Isn’t that stretching the credulity a bit?

  7. The key isn’t that they bloom, but that they sink to the ocean floor and stay there when they die. This was the basis of the recent geo-engineering experiment where they tried to use iron to stimulate the exact same process.
    In that case, it didn’t work – I think they ended up with the wrong kind of plankton, and it was eaten by other critters instead of dying and sinking.

  8. “Next time some alarmist wails about ice melt in Antarctica, point them to this story that shows nature has self regulating features for our planet. ”
    So, you think that the additional absorption of ~3.5 million tonnes of CO2 by phytoplankton blooms will regulate away the annual human emissions of ~26 gigatons of CO2? Done math much? If 24,000 km2 of new open water captures 3.5e+6 tonnes of CO2, how many km2 of ice must melt to capture 2.6e+10 tonnes of CO2?

  9. Brian, go do the science. This is just an added bonus for us to fling at the true denialists — the ones who deny that nature is, was and always will be in control.
    As Adam from Kansas says, nature is doing what she’s supposed to do, trying to keep the planet in a reasonably stable state.

  10. There has to be some means for the Earth to have stored so much Fossilised Fuels. Looks like it can do it despite the computerized nonsense spewing forth from IPCC models. Imagine that: The perfect solar panel is made by nature. Talk about an agenda that kicks a gift horse in the mouth.

  11. But shouldn’t we think long term? Won’t this extra sea-floor carbon store eventually be subducted and once more rise into the atmosphere through volcanic eruptions?
    It’ll mean extra unnecessary CO2 in the atmosphere in about oh 500,000,000 years or so. What do the computer models tell us about the climate then eh? We’d better do something about it now just in case. How about another tax?

  12. I think they are wrong…. I think krill populations will increase because of the extra food…. Therefor much of the CO2 does not sink but is re-released during metabolic processes.
    Once again the media reports a scientist’s guess as factual science.

  13. carrot eater (15:04:23) :
    : In that case, it didn’t work – I think they ended up with the wrong kind of plankton, and it was eaten by other critters instead of dying and sinking.
    Nope it did work,as would be expected due to the hierarchical structure of the” law of the sea’
    This is well understood eg Hutchinson
    In 1961, (the paradox of the plankton) Hutchinson posed his classic question: “How is it possible for a number of species to coexist in a relatively isotrophic or unstructured environment, all competing for the same sorts of materials?”
    Hutchinson gave the particular example of the phytoplankton, from which the paradox is named. Most species of phytoplankton are autotrophic, requiring light, CO2 and about 17 mineral elements, not all of which will be limiting in any particular waters. Yet considerably more species than implied by this can coexist, although in a continued state of increasing and decreasing populations in self organization away from equilibrium in response to environmental and competitive changes ranging from seconds to centuries.
    Changes to absorption and emission of nutrients are also responsive to changes in both the type and spectra of radiation, these inhibit some populations and enhance others.Indeed what we can see is the ecological communities of microflora, changing rapidly to meet their changing levels of nutrients and energy is a Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction diffusion mechanism.
    Recent work by two theoretical ecologists (Huisman & Weissing, 1999; 2001),has shown that competition for resources by as few as three species can result in long-term oscillations, even in the traditionally convergent models of plankton species growth. For as few as five species, apparently chaotic behavior can emerge. Huisman and Weissing propose these phenomena as one possible new explanation of the paradox of the plankton, in which the number of co-existing plankton species far exceeds the number of limiting resources, in direct contradiction of theoretical predictions. Continuously fluctuating species levels can support more species than a steady, stable equilibrium distribution.
    Their results show that external factors are not necessary to maintain non-equilibrium conditions; the inherent complexity of the “simple” model itself can be sufficient.

  14. How can there be rapidly melting ice sheets at the same time the antarctic is seeing the highest level of sea ic in many years?

  15. Brian Dodge, I assume the person posting it read the attached article, which did say the actual amounts were small in context.
    Sam the skeptic, “As Adam from Kansas says, nature is doing what she’s supposed to do, trying to keep the planet in a reasonably stable state.”
    I find this to be a religious sentiment, not a scientific one. Nature isn’t supposed to do anything but follow the laws of physics. Some things adjust, some things don’t. There are positive feedbacks, there are negative feedbacks. But there is no reason to assume that unknown and unpredicted negative feedbacks will arise in just the right amounts to have whatever effect we think we desire.

  16. Had to smirk reading brian dodge comment.
    Any time somebody begins comment with “so…” You know they will be a know it all smart ass

  17. maksimovich (16:55:37) : You apparently didn’t hear of the experiment I was talking about. Beyond that, I don’t follow what your comment has to do with experiments in seeding the ocean with iron, and whether they result in carbon being sunk to the bottom of the ocean.
    Articles about the experiment:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7959570.stm
    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-03/haog-lpn032409.php
    J Hansford: the issue of krill is discussed if you read more about it. In the experiment I’m talking about, it was copepods that ate the plankton. If you get the right kind of plankton, with silica coatings, the plankton is protected from being eaten by such little critters. However, in that part of the ocean, there was insufficient silicic acid for that kind of phytoplankton to grow. Perhaps by the Antarctic Peninsula, the silica-covered plankton can grow.

  18. Nick (13:37:54) :
    Of course,that map needs updating: you need to knock the ice bridge and 3,000 square kilometers off Wilkins Ice Shelf. Fingers crossed that we see the extra phytoplankton pull CO2 back to equilibrium!
    I’m afraid it’s bad news for the phytoplankton. The latest anomaly graphic shows the Wilkins Ice Shelf has expanded well beyond the 1979 to 2000. average.
    The silly season for Antarctic reporting doesn’t start until about March. Have your notepad and pencil ready and develop you amnesia skills as they report the same thing all over again.
    http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/s_extn_daily.html

  19. Clark, the Antarctic Peninsula is one of the fastest-warming spots on earth. Different parts of Antarctica have different characteristics.

  20. Nick (13:37:54) :
    Here you go Nick. You just have to change the dates and juggle the words around and you too can be an environmental reporter.
    Wilkins Ice Shelf, Near Antarctica, Hanging By Its Last Thread
    ScienceDaily (July 10, 2008) — The Wilkins Ice Shelf is experiencing further disintegration that is threatening the collapse of the ice bridge connecting the shelf to Charcot Island. Since the connection to the island in the image centre helps to stabilise the ice shelf, it is likely the break-up of the bridge will put the remainder of the ice shelf at risk.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080710115142.htm
    Collapse Of The Ice Bridge Supporting Wilkins Ice Shelf Appears Imminent
    ScienceDaily (Apr. 4, 2009) — The Wilkins Ice Shelf is at risk of partly breaking away from the Antarctic Peninsula as the ice bridge that connects it to Charcot and Latady Islands looks set to collapse. The beginning of what appears to be the demise of the ice bridge began this week when new rifts forming along its centre axis resulted in a large block of ice breaking away.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090403080827.htm

  21. Brian Dodge: It doesn’t change your conclusions at all (that this is a minuscule sink), but you might be off by a factor of 44/12, since I think you might have been comparing an amount of CO2 to an amount of C.

  22. I like the idea that this is the second biggest negative feedback on CO2 that alarmists know of.
    Nobody knows for sure what the net movement in biomass of tropical forests has been and measurement of phytoplankton biomass is in its infancy.
    The flows of CO2 around the planet both biologically and geologically are not fully known, let alone understood, so current ‘estimates’ are guesses with error bars in the orders of magnitude.
    There is something touching about the childish simplicity of alarmist dogma that becomes scary when passed off as science.

  23. carrot eater,
    I’m fond of vegetables, too, but you said: “Nature isn’t supposed to do anything but follow the laws of physics.”
    I can’t agree. I think you’ve got it backwards. The laws of physics are trying to follow Nature, and well they should since they are are our best understanding of Nature.

  24. “Brian Dodge (15:12:26) :
    So, you think that the additional absorption of ~3.5 million tonnes of CO2 by phytoplankton blooms will regulate away the annual human emissions of ~26 gigatons of CO2? Done math much? If 24,000 km2 of new open water captures 3.5e+6 tonnes of CO2, how many km2 of ice must melt to capture 2.6e+10 tonnes of CO2?”
    ~26 gigatonnes is still 9.99/10’s of sweet FA in the grand scheme of things.

  25. We’re all going to die from krill farts, if we don’t do something quick.
    Or do I have it backwards? Are krill farts good for me?

  26. Assume the IPCC is correct about climate sensitivity. What effect will the absorption of 3.5 million tonnes of CARBON by the biosphere have on temperature? We multiply the carbon removed as carrot eater above has said by 44/12 or 3.7 to get the number of tonnes of CO2, the gas, that will be removed. The amount is 14 million in round numbers.
    To find out how many degrees C this loss of CO2 will cool the temperature by, we express it as millions of metric tons and divide by 1.8 million. It is a very, very small number. As various people point out above, to take out 14 million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere will make no difference to global warming, assuming it all works as the IPCC says it does.
    How much difference, then, would it make if we did something truly dramatic to atmospheric CO2? Let us say that the US cut its emissions, at present 6 gigatonnes a year, to 1. To do that, of course, suburbs and cars and malls and airtravel would have to be abolished. Agriculture would have to become organic and maybe even horse powered, nationwide. That might just about do it. Imagine 1870, but with a larger population, better medicine, and the internet. Oh, and a few windmills.
    Take 5,000 metric tons and divide it by 1.8 million. Does it feel like a big number of degrees centigrade? The answer is 0.0028. And that, if the IPCC is right, is the number of degrees C per year that the planet is cooler for the reduction.
    So, it is true that the difference that the increased ocean extent makes is too tiny to calculate on 10 digit calculators, and of no importance whatever to world temperatures, and anyone using this to talk about natural negative feedbacks to CO2 induced warming does not have both oars in the water. Or is, perhaps, as they say, in denial.
    But it is also true that even were the US to revert to uninhabited plains and emit no CO2 whatever, it would, in the IPCC’s own terms, make little difference to global temperatures. You want to make a dent in this stuff, its not the 6 gigatonnes you have to worry about, its the 26 gigatonnes. If you want to deny this, you are also, as they say, in denial.

  27. Martin G Atkins,
    you can watch animated progress of the Wilkins collapse at the European Space Agency ‘Observing the Earth’ page. Latest ENVISAT image is a few days old.
    The ice bridge collapsed months ago,and there’s maybe 40 by 100+km of shattered shelf slopping about in some skinny sea-ice,waiting to be flushed in summer…you do know the difference between sea-ice and shelf,don’t you?

  28. “”” Mike H. (14:20:51) :
    Excuse me, isn’t the phytoplankton stealing the CO2 that we need for crops? Between the IPCC and the phytoplankton we could starve in the near distant future. Shouldn’t we be cooling the planet down so those voracious phyto whatchamacallits don’t have a chance to sequester all of our precious CO2? /fun “””
    What makes you think that this phytoplankton all just lives and dies of old age, and sinks.
    This is just the start of the whole oceanic food chain. Zooplankton feed on these phytofolks, and in turn get eaten by krill and other higher organisms.
    The cold waters of Antarctica are among the most productive in the ocen food chain; why do you suppose that whales spend so much time there scarfing up all that krill.

  29. Brian Dodge (15:12:26) :
    So, you think that the additional absorption of ~3.5 million tonnes of CO2 by phytoplankton blooms will regulate away the annual human emissions…
    Perhaps not. But, how many other negative feedbacks are there of which we have been unaware?
    carrot eater (17:08:25) :
    But there is no reason to assume that unknown and unpredicted negative feedbacks will arise in just the right amounts to have whatever effect we think we desire.
    It doesn’t have to. It just has have a minimal bandwidth and/or integral action. Negative feedback systems are self-regulating.

  30. Oliver Ramsay (20:45:05) —
    I’d go one step further and suggest that nature and the laws of physics are essentially the same thing. At least there is a corpus of natural laws which includes the laws of physics (and of chemistry, and thermodynamics, and so on).
    And I am not suggesting that “nature” regulates itself to suit us, but I am suggesting that it regulates itself according to its own laws and we are part of the natural order (or were the last time I looked).

  31. Nature is opportunistic. 100 years is nothing in the grand scheme of things or on an evolutionary scale so ‘adaptation’ is ‘making best use of what each organism can already do’. If you accept CO2 has increased since the dawn of the industrial era, then we are probably seeing opportunistic increases in plant growth across the globe, mitigated by temprature, rainfall etc. at a local level.
    What I am saying is – we notice blooms, but we probably would not notice say an average 0.5-1% increase in forest productivity. Even a very small increase in photosynthetic rates – on average – worldwide will have a huge effect. We may already be seeing this, but have not been measuring it.
    Witness the seasonal rise and fall in CO2 as measured at Mauna Loa – that corresponds with Northern Hemisphere seasonal productivity and decay. Measure that too against the changes in atmospheric CO2 as a result of chemical dissolution/release in cooler/warmer seawater – changes on which we can only do a ‘best estimate’ as the sea is not homogeneous in temperature or alkalinity.
    Nature will self-regulate; it is only a matter of time. You could say though that in that timescale we don’t matter.

  32. michel 23:01:51
    Thanks for your clear exposition of what these figures actually mean.
    Alfred E. Neuman (Mad Magazine) was right all along when he said”What-me worry?”

  33. Nick (00:06:17) :
    Martin G Atkins,
    you can watch animated progress of the Wilkins collapse at the European Space Agency ‘Observing the Earth’ page. Latest ENVISAT image is a few days old.

    My web skills are terrible. I can’t find anything on that site showing Wilkins more recent than April. Is there an exact link available?

  34. Nick (00:06:17) :
    you can watch animated progress of the Wilkins collapse at the European Space Agency ‘Observing the Earth’ page. Latest ENVISAT image is a few days old.
    Nup can’t find it. Could you actually post a link to the image?
    The ice bridge collapsed months ago,and there’s maybe 40 by 100+km of shattered shelf slopping about in some skinny sea-ice,waiting to be flushed in summer
    And just how many months ago was that Nick 3, 4 or 6.
    you do know the difference between sea-ice and shelf,don’t you?
    Yes I do. Sea ice is formed at sea and shelf is ice pushed into the sea that inevitably breaks up and floats away. Good job it does because if it didn’t the whole world would be covered in ice. Here’s something else calm your fears. It’s the October 2009 Sea Ice Concentration. The red areas are in percent above the anomaly.
    http://i599.photobucket.com/albums/tt74/MartinGAtkins/S_200910_anom.png
    In the serious department Nick, it really is an insignificant part of the Antarctic. Ice shelves grow break up and float away all the time. It’s been going on for 11 thousand years.

  35. MartinGAtkins (07:41:31) :
    Nick (00:06:17) :
    “you can watch animated progress of the Wilkins collapse at the European Space Agency ‘Observing the Earth’ page. Latest ENVISAT image is a few days old.”
    Nup can’t find it. Could you actually post a link to the image?

    http://www.esa.int/esaEO/SEMYBBSTGOF_index_0.html
    “The ice bridge collapsed months ago,and there’s maybe 40 by 100+km of shattered shelf slopping about in some skinny sea-ice,waiting to be flushed in summer”
    And just how many months ago was that Nick 3, 4 or 6.

    Over 6.
    “you do know the difference between sea-ice and shelf,don’t you?”
    Yes I do. Sea ice is formed at sea and shelf is ice pushed into the sea that inevitably breaks up and floats away.

    There’s more to it than that, in the Antarctic sea ice is predominantly annual and thin, whereas the shelf is perennial and very thick in the case of the Wilkins it’s not being ‘pushed’ (~200m thick).

  36. Bart (00:43:35) :
    “But, how many other negative feedbacks are there of which we have been unaware?”
    We know that C14 depleted CO2 from human fossil fuel use is increasing the CO2 in the atmosphere. We also know, by comparing economic data about fuel use to the CO2 increase in the atmosphere, that about half the amount emitted is absorbed by the oceans directly and the biosphere by conversion to biomass. Just how much goes where and how that changes over time are important science questions and subject to much study(hence the publication of the article under discussion. For an in-depth discussion of why these details are important, see https://www.up.ethz.ch/education/biogeochem_cycles/reading_list/cox_etal_nat_00.pdf.)
    Just because we don’t know what all negative feedbacks are doesn’t mean that we can’t tell what they will or won’t do, and so the more important question for policy decisions is “Will the unknown negative feedbacks significantly alter the trajectory of CO2 in the atmosphere absent any changes in fossil fuel use?”. You can see for yourself that despite changes in the global temperature which are caused by all sorts of chaotic and periodic factors which influence the weather, and plankton blooms, and presumably other negative feedbacks, the past rise in CO2 doesn’t show any significant response – http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/esrl-co2/from:1960/offset:-330/scale:0.01/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1960. The “known unknowns” changing negative feedbacks in CO2 drawdown (ENSO – droughts, rainfall changes,sea surface temperatures; solar cycles; GCR effects on cloudiness and those sorts of things) have had a much larger effect on temperature than CO2 rise. Their may be “unknown unknowns” that will kick in with negative feedbacks, and make things better; “unknown unknowns” that kick in to make thing worse are just as likely.
    “Negative feedback systems are self-regulating.” Only total negative feedback systems are self regulating. If the positive feedback of less CO2 absorbed by the ocean as its temperature rises exceeds the negative feedback of more plankton blooms as the ice melts, the system will respond more to a CO2 change, and may jump to a new equilibrium. This can work both ways e.g. PETM warming, Younger Dryas cooling. The assymetric shape and sometimes rapid transitions of climate to the sinusoidal Milankovich forcing suggests that the climate has short term positive feedbacks that favor rapid warming. While it is true that the integral negative feedback of biogeochemical carbon sequestration did eventually stabilize the CO2 after the PETM, and probably will eventually remove the excess anthropogenic CO2 if nothing else does, “eventually” is equal to “forever” in human society & policy terms.

  37. Brian Dodge (12:19:51) :
    “We know that C14 depleted CO2 from human fossil fuel use is increasing the CO2 in the atmosphere.
    No. We know the relative quantity of 12C has been increasing by a slight amount. Some have speculated this change might be due to the burning of fossil fuels, because a majority of plant life appears to have a slight preference for metabolizing 12C over its the other isotopes. Spencer relates that the 13C/12C ratio varies with the SST, so there is no need to hypothesize an anthropogenic driver.
    “Only total negative feedback systems are self regulating.”
    All locally stable systems are self-regulating within the stability boundary. The only question is how well they regulate. This relates to the bandwidth and integral action qualifications I raised, and you implicitly acknowledge in your last sentence.
    But, these topics, and any potential nonlinear divergences, are beyond the scope of my comment. The question I was responding to was whether such actions had to be balanced on an unlikely knife’s edge, as CE implied. His comment of “negative feedbacks will arise in just the right amounts to have whatever effect we think we desire” triggered my innate response of, “but that is precisely what negative feedback does.” It rises to the exact level needed to balance the system.

  38. Now that you’ve gotten up to speed,Martin,you need to look at what kind of ice-shelf Wilkins is,and the timeline of its disintegration. It is not like one of the super shelves fed by very large catchments on continental Antarctica,which actively calve large fragments. It is very sensitive to regional temperature change compared to the high throughput shelves.
    Wilkins is a modest sized shelf with only a small input from land ice-some valley glaciers on Alexander Island. It is predominantly sustained by surface accumulation. It is mechanically ‘pinned’ by that island and the smaller Charcot,Latady and Rothschild Islands. It has been retreating for 30 years in a series of collapses from a mechanical optimum expressed by those islands positions and regional temperatures. It has not been calving and advancing around a relatively stable/optimum size/front,because its land input is relatively insignificant:input has not been compensating for loss. Loss has been dramatic:close to 10,000km2 since 2005.
    Why is sea-ice trending up in area around Antarctica? A shorthand attribution;there are a lot of papers on the facets of this trend. This is happening because of-not despite- rising sea temperature trends in the Southern Ocean,which seem to be changing stratification properties of the surface layers, see Zhang 2007. Rising air temperatures enable more rain and snow over the ocean,as verified by the increases in precipitation noted on the Antarctic Peninsula. Also,the ozone-hole enabled stratospheric cooling causing strengthening of the circum-Antarctic winds,creates more polynya thence ice formation.

  39. It looks like these tourists got caught with their global warming pants down:
    http://m.guardian.co.uk/ms/p/gmg/op/shaP–x4AmDIPSkOd_cicLg/view.m?id=238445&tid=120787&cat=Conservation
    “Eighty British tourists on a journey to watch emperor penguins in the Antarctic have been stranded for a week after their cruise ship got stuck in the ice. The Kapitan Khlebnikov, a Russian icebreaker that takes people through the icebergs of the Weddell Sea and to Snow Hill Island rookery, set out on 3 November and was due to return tomorrow.
    But bad weather caused the sea-ice to compact, making it impossible for the ship, with its 105 passengers, including the 80 Britons, to break through. ”
    Just when they thought it was safe to trust predictions of global warming from among the alarmist’s, these jokers tested Mother Nature, and lost.
    And an icebreaker ship that can’t bust out of ice. That hilarious.

  40. Also,the ozone-hole enabled stratospheric cooling causing strengthening of the circum-Antarctic winds,creates more polynya thence ice formation.
    I thought there was recent evidence that stratospheric cooling caused ozone-hole expansion. That the ozone hole problem first came to light at the end on a long term cooling trend lends some credence to this notion. As has its recovery during the subsequent warming years.
    http://www.sepp.org/key%20issues/ozone/ozoneeos.html

  41. Nick (15:18:32) :
    “This is happening because of-not despite- rising sea temperature trends in the Southern Ocean,which seem to be changing stratification properties of the surface layers, see Zhang 2007.”
    I HATE declarations like that. First the categorical imperative, followed by the perfunctory disclaimer, and it is clear the certainty expressed in the precedent is predicated on the uncertain subsequent. AAArrrgggghhh!

  42. @ Bart (14:46:03) :
    I said “We know that C14 depleted CO2 from human fossil fuel use is increasing the CO2 in the atmosphere.”
    To which you replied “No. We know the relative quantity of 12C has been increasing by a slight amount.”
    In the URL you give, Dr. Spencer says “Of course, some portion of the Mauna Loa increase must be anthropogenic, but it is not clear that it is entirely so.”
    and you leap to the conclusion that ” there is no need to hypothesize an anthropogenic driver.”
    Do you think that humans aren’t burning fossil fuels at rates sufficient to account for approximately twice the rise in CO2 actually seen?
    Do you think that the CO2 that people are sending into the atmosphere is magically be sequestered someplace, only to be replaced by exactly enough CO2 emissions from warming oceans to give an equivalent rate of rise , even though the warming of the oceans is much noisier than the rise in CO2?
    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/esrl-co2/from:1960/offset:-330/scale:0.01/plot/hadsst2gl/from:1960
    The relative quantity of 12C is not only increasing in the atmosphere, but in the ocean as well, indicating that the ocean is a sink, not a source as Spencer claims; the pH is declining as well, an independent indication that the CO2 missing from the human emissions to the atmosphere have gone into the ocean.
    http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/News/2005/July/01070501.asp
    For a comprehensive rebuttal of Spencer’s claim for natural origins of rising CO2, see http://tamino.wordpress.com/2009/01/19/a-bag-of-hammers/

  43. Phil. (09:55:27) :
    Thank you for the link. It makes life so much easier. ;-^

    And just how many months ago was that Nick 3, 4 or 6.

    Over 6.
    So the bridge broke up at the time maximum ice melt. There is nothing remarkable about a narrow strip of ice joining an island and an ice shelf breaking up.
    There’s more to it than that, in the Antarctic sea ice is predominantly annual and thin, whereas the shelf is perennial and very thick in the case of the Wilkins it’s not being ‘pushed’ (~200m thick).
    My description of the difference between sea ice and ice shelves was a generalization and framed as such my description was correct. Even without a strong glacial influence accumulated land ice will slowly push the shelf away from the land mass.
    This effect is somewhat restricted by the island and land formations around the Wilkins Sound. The shelfs connection with the Latady and Charcot islands has always been tenuous.
    There is nothing about the annual dance of the Wilkins ice shelf that has anything meaningful to say about the global climate.

  44. Brian Dodge (18:20:27) :
    “In the URL you give, Dr. Spencer says “Of course, some portion of the Mauna Loa increase must be anthropogenic, …”
    Of course it is; 0.00001% is “some portion”. Not saying it is 0.00001%, just making the point.
    “Do you think that humans aren’t burning fossil fuels at rates sufficient to account for approximately twice the rise in CO2 actually seen?”
    I think the key to your question is “at rates sufficient to account for approximately twice the rise in CO2 actually seen”. This indicates there is negative feedback which, despite our best efforts, is handily dealing with our output, and the far greater output from natural processes.
    “… the pH is declining as well, an independent indication that the CO2 missing from the human emissions to the atmosphere have gone into the ocean.”
    Let me see if I have this straight. CO2 has been increasing in the atmosphere: check. The oceans have become marginally more acidic: check. Atmospheric CO2 absorbed in the oceans could contribute to ocean acidity: check. Therefore, this is independent verification that the rise in CO2 is largely manmade: …huh?
    This is circulus in probando. Do you really not see that? I mean… really?
    “For a comprehensive rebuttal of Spencer’s claim for natural origins of rising CO2, see http://tamino.wordpress.com/2009/01/19/a-bag-of-hammers/
    For a comprehensive waste of time, you mean. First, Tamino starts hopping up and down and shrieking that Spencer has treated the data incorrectly, despite the fact that, that is how the data are reported for d13C, as Spencer makes clear just before Figure 1. It may be a stupid convention, but it is the convention nevertheless, and you have to follow it if you want to get good data.
    Next, Tamino gleefully announces that Spencer has made a “stupid” error and, in the process, commits one himself. He states that Spencer’s Figure 6 is merely a shifted version of Figure 3. But, he fails to note the titles on Figures 4 and 5, which clearly indicate that the detrending took place on the derivative sequences. Now that you have gotten an idea of the quality of Tamino’s work, take a few moments to eyeball Figures 4 and 5 for yourself. Do these sequences look uncorrelated to you?

  45. And Brian, BTW, if I tried to point out this stupid error on his part at his blog, nothing would happen. Literally. My post would simply fail to appear. This happened to me several times long ago, and I never go back to that site, except this time to see what you were crowing about.
    You should be aware of this, if you are depending on his blog for guidance. Contrary voices are not allowed in the arena. If you ever noticed someone failed to answer the challenge, and thought they had retreated ignominously from the field of battle because they knew their POV had been roundly defeated, it is likely that their further comments were simply censored.

  46. Nick (15:18:32) :
    Now that you’ve gotten up to speed,Martin,you need to look at what kind of ice-shelf Wilkins is,and the timeline of its disintegration. It is not like one of the super shelves fed by very large catchments on continental Antarctica,which actively calve large fragments. It is very sensitive to regional temperature change compared to the high throughput shelves.
    Yes Nick it is by it’s nature “very sensitive to regional temperature change” and we know the southern ocean and therefore the peninsular has warmed
    since 92/95 (satellite). The peninsular is a small part of the Antarctic that juts up toward the equator. The temperature of the southern ocean has plateaued since then. It doesn’t change the fact that the Wilkins ice loss is trivial when you consider the overall gain in ice at the Antarctic over a similar period of time.
    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/current.anom.south.jpg
    Get your concerns into perspective. Look at the stupidly small area you are making such a fuss about.
    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/NEWIMAGES/antarctic.seaice.color.001.png
    Why is sea-ice trending up in area around Antarctica? A shorthand attribution;there are a lot of papers on the facets of this trend.
    I’m sure there are many papers produced by pseudo scientists trying to explain away what is an inconvenience for the AGW proponents. They will no doubt be peer reviewed by pseudo scientists who are also AGW proponents.

  47. Bart,
    Since the emissions due to humans far exceed the amount of CO2 removed from the atmosphere by humans, and natural systems remove about 1/2 of what is emitted by humans, one can draw the conclusion that humans are responsible for 100% of the net increase in CO2 observed by the Mauna Loa measurement station.
    To pretend otherwise is self deception.

  48. Bart, from your various comments I’m guessing you might be a control systems engineer. Which is all well and good, but unless you are invoking a God or a Gaia, the Earth simply isn’t designed/engineered to regulate itself in the manner of the systems you would study.
    There are positive feedbacks that would amplify a perturbation. There are negative feedbacks that would counteract that amplification. Ahead of time, you won’t know how it all works out – you have to physically describe the feedbacks, their magnitudes and timescales. There’s isn’t some designed control loop that brings you back to the original setpoint within 100 years – the Earth does go through ice age cycles, after all. It’s not as if something on the Earth responds to the orbital wobble and keeps the temperature from going down for thousands of years.
    What I am responding to is commenters here who seem to think we can actually count on unpredicted and currently unknown negative feedbacks to arise, to keep the temperature anomaly below whatever level. It’s this idea that I’m saying is religious. Yes, maybe there will be some major new negative feedback that nobody ever thought of, and hasn’t been observed in action yet. But you can’t assume there will be one.

  49. Eric A (06:42:53) : [SNIP]
    carrot eater (08:40:03) : you just do not have the experience I do, and you do not understand feedback systems.

  50. CE: let me give you a little more meat to chew on.
    “the Earth simply isn’t designed/engineered to regulate itself in the manner of the systems you would study. “
    Even if you do not believe in a god or gods or any other conscious designer entity, you do not have to go very far to see complex control regulation occurring in nature. As you read these words, your brain is sending a signal to your eyes to move to the next word, and your eyes are responding with precision to rotate and settle with negligible overshoot, to the point you are hardly aware of the amazing functionality being expressed.
    But, there are other, more subtle, less complex principles which enforce robust regulation in nature. One very simple one is the minimum energy principle. Energy wants to flee, at every opportunity it can, and join the vast sea of entropy expanding throughout the universe. Spacecraft utilize this principle regularly to perform seemingly impossible tasks with guaranteed assurance conferred by the inexorable forces of nature.
    Systems naturally move into an equilibrium position which is determined by the minimum energy state. And, when they do so, it takes a lot of energy (relatively speaking) to get them out of it. The Earth has had many eons to converge to its present state. It will naturally resist being moved out of it. It is wedged into that state, like a knot in your shoelaces, or a thatch of debris lodged in a crevice.
    It is like a ball rolling down a hill. It encounters obstacles along the way, and briefly is caught by them, before other events joggle it free and it moves farther down the hill. The farther down the hill it goes, the harder it is to move it back up to the top. Eventually, it is at the bottom of the pit, and it isn’t going anywhere without a major push upward.
    If the Earth’s climate system is so finely balanced that a paltry few percent of extra CO2 a year would be enough to send it back up over the figurative hill, then I am convinced we would be done for, and actually would be living on borrowed time already.

  51. “It’s this idea that I’m saying is religious.”
    For my money, the religiosity on display is on the other side, and is akin to the savage tribes which sacrificed virgins to appease the volcano because their crops had failed. The AGW bandwagon is chock full of the kind of people who believe we have angered their abstract, immanent God, and must make sacrifices to appease it.

  52. “”” Eric A (06:42:53) :
    Bart,
    Since the emissions due to humans far exceed the amount of CO2 removed from the atmosphere by humans, and natural systems remove about 1/2 of what is emitted by humans, one can draw the conclusion that humans are responsible for 100% of the net increase in CO2 observed by the Mauna Loa measurement station.
    To pretend otherwise is self deception. “””
    So how exactly do humans go about removing CO2 from the atmosphere.
    At 388 ppm by volume (your Mauna Loa measure) the atmosphere does NOT represent a very effective source for raw CO2; it would be extremely inefficient to obtain CO2 for dry ice and Coca Cola by extracting it from the atmosphere.
    So exactly what human operations are you familiar with that go about extracting CO2 from the atmosphere. We Don’t extract Helium from the atmosphere either, even thoguh there is some to be had; but oil and gas wells provide a much better source for Helium. I wonder what we are going to use in place of Helium, when all the oil and gas operations are shut down for environmental reasons.
    So we’ll give you that we emit more to the atmosphere than we extract (CO2); that’s a no brainer.
    The rest of your thesis could use some supporting evidence.
    If North America is a net carbon sink, as is claimed in the peer reviewed scientific literature; that would imply that your statement regarding the removal of only half of our emitted CO2, would seem to not apply to at least North America. So what is everybody else doing wrong, that makes them net carbon emitters ?

  53. MartinGAtkins (00:36:52) :
    Phil. (09:55:27) :
    So the bridge broke up at the time maximum ice melt. There is nothing remarkable about a narrow strip of ice joining an island and an ice shelf breaking up.

    Indeed, but it is only recently that it became ‘a narrow strip of ice’, previously it was a stable ice sheet without a history (~ a century) of calving events.
    “In February 2008 an area of about 400 km² broke off from the ice shelf, narrowing the ice bridge down to a 6 km strip. At the end of May 2008 an area of about 160 km² broke off, reducing the ice bridge to just 2.7 km. Between 30 May and 9 July 2008, the ice shelf experienced further disintegration and lost about 1 350 km².
    The Wilkins Ice Shelf, a broad plate of floating ice south of South America on the Antarctic Peninsula, had been stable for most of the last century before it began retreating in the 1990s. ”
    “There’s more to it than that, in the Antarctic sea ice is predominantly annual and thin, whereas the shelf is perennial and very thick in the case of the Wilkins it’s not being ‘pushed’ (~200m thick).”
    My description of the difference between sea ice and ice shelves was a generalization and framed as such my description was correct. Even without a strong glacial influence accumulated land ice will slowly push the shelf away from the land mass.

    Really, why?
    This effect is somewhat restricted by the island and land formations around the Wilkins Sound. The shelfs connection with the Latady and Charcot islands has always been tenuous.
    Not so, see for instance: http://www.esa.int/images/Wilkins_IceShelf_SAR_IMP_Orbit02586_19920113_inverted_H.jpg
    There is nothing about the annual dance of the Wilkins ice shelf that has anything meaningful to say about the global climate.
    There isn’t an ‘annual dance’, the last few years have seen its demise after many years of stability. My guess is that the main connection to Latady won’t last much longer.

  54. Bart,
    “you just do not have the experience I do, and you do not understand feedback systems.”
    Spare me the appeal to your own authority. What you need to do is identify the various feedbacks, and quantify them. You’ve got ice-albedo, lapse rate, water vapor, clouds, changes in vegetation, changes in sealife, methane from the permafrost, possibly changes in the ocean’s effectiveness as a carbon sink – all these things are in the picture, and more.
    All these things affect the climate response. Some are stronger than others; some will not really kick in until into the future. The question is, on a timescale relevant to us humans now – say, over the next 100 years, how much will these amplify or counteract the effect of greenhouse gas emissions?
    “As you read these words, your brain is sending a signal to your eyes to move to the next word, and your eyes are responding with precision to rotate and settle with negligible overshoot, to the point you are hardly aware of the amazing functionality being expressed.”
    That living things have evolved through natural selection to have complex internal systems is completely irrelevant to the question at hand. Please discuss the feedbacks actually active in the climate system.
    “Systems naturally move into an equilibrium position which is determined by the minimum energy state. And, when they do so, it takes a lot of energy (relatively speaking) to get them out of it. The Earth has had many eons to converge to its present state. It will naturally resist being moved out of it. It is wedged into that state, like a knot in your shoelaces, or a thatch of debris lodged in a crevice.”
    The energy is coming from the Sun, Bart. If you disrupt the radiation balance around the earth, such that more energy is coming in than going out, it will have to get warmer. This is true of anything, including the Earth. This can happen if the sun decides to start giving off more radiation. This can also happen if you change the composition of the atmosphere. It can happen if variations in the Earth’s orbit cause changes in how much solar radiation the Earth receives. The latter is what triggers the ice age cycles. In your little picture of “the Earth will resist any changes because it’s in equilibrium”, ice ages would be impossible. Yet they occur.
    Your ideas are straight out of James Lovelock and Gaia. That line of thought is philosophical, not scientific.

  55. CE: it really is no use discussing things with you. You latch onto the inconsequential pedagogical and heuristic information which I include so that you can ignore the substance of the whole. Your reasoning is circular and sloppy.
    This is the second time I have engaged with you. Frankly, it is tiresome. [snip, enough of these petty insults ~ ctm] Have a nice day.

  56. Eric A (06:42:53) : Too bad my comment got snipped. It pithily summed up the quality of your argument. If you want to go read through the thread and pay attention to it, [snip, enough of these petty insults ~ ctm]

  57. Petty insults?
    “Your ideas are straight out of James Lovelock and Gaia.”
    What was that?
    “To pretend otherwise is self deception.”
    Or that?
    Don’t worry about it. I recognize your wish to keep the discussion civil. A la Joe Pesci as “My Cousin Vinny”, I’m done these guys.
    Reply: It’s a tough subjective road to keep discussions civil. It gets more complex with multiple moderators in the mix. I might be snipping you while insults directed at you get through via another moderator. The intent is positive. I apologize if you feel you received the short end of the stick. ~ charles the moderator

  58. Bart, feel free to clearly explain what the substance of your argument is. So far as I can tell, you are trying to make an a priori argument for why negative feedbacks will dominate over the positive ones. How you can make such a statement without actually examining the feedbacks, I cannot understand.
    Do you at least accept that the earth must warm up, if the solar energy coming to it exceeds the energy leaving it?
    I’m used to sceptics emphasizing the natural variability of the earth’s climate. Here, you seem to be saying the opposite – that there can be no variations, because the Earth is stuck in some equilibrium. I’ve heard a lot of arguments over the years, but this is a new one on me.

  59. Bart, have a look at the Gaia hypothesis, and you’ll see a marked similarity to what you are saying here. It was not flung as a random insult. The Gaia hypothesis holds that the various geological and biological systems on earth somehow provide feedbacks to ensure that conditions on earth are maintained so as to be appropriate for life: a homeostasis of the earth, so to speak. This appears very similar to what you are saying.

  60. Carrot eater, in the last billion years the earth has had the ice-caps meet at the equator, been smacked by asteroids, had volcanic events that covered continents in ash (Yellowstone Park) and suffered flood basalt events whose climatic effects have been disastrous.
    Yet always the climate has returned to a norm within 10 C (18 F) of today’s climate.
    Despite your inflated guilt complex I can assure you Man’s influence cannot compare with these events, and yes, the climate can handle it.

  61. Sandy: Nobody has ever said that man’s influence will ever cause a change as drastic as snowball earth, or an meteor impact. Well, nobody who is properly representing the scientific position.
    What is being disputed above is whether man can cause any change at all. And one person seems to think no changes are possible.
    Sandy, think about all those examples you just gave. The impact of a meteor eventually passes from the climate because the dust eventually settles out, etc. In the meanwhile, there can be extinction events. Same with volcanoes – the climate recovers after the ash clears out. Not because of some magical feedback.
    Or, take the ice ages. They’re caused initially by changes in the earth’s orbit; less solar radiation makes it in. The earth gets quite a bit colder. There aren’t magical feedbacks that keep this from happening; in fact, there are feedbacks that amplify it. Does the ice age stop because of some magical regulatory feedback? No, it stops when the orbit wobbles back and there is again more solar radiation.
    It’s pretty simple. More energy coming into the earth than leaving it = warming.

  62. @ Bart (01:09:14) :
    “0.00001% is ‘some portion’”. 0.00001% is not equal to “no need to hypothesize an anthropogenic driver.” 0.00001% is not even close to 200%, the “portion” we’re actually emitting. To shameless steal Wolfgang Pauli’s snark, 0.00001% is not even wrong.
    “negative feedback which, despite our best efforts, is handily dealing with our output.” I’d say “handily dealing withhalf our output.” (assuming handily=acidifying the oceans) What about the other half? (Insider snark -Carrot eater, what’s the stability of a PID control loop going to be if you divide the loop coefficients in half?)
    “Let me see if I have this straight. CO2 has been increasing in the atmosphere: check. The oceans have become marginally more acidic: check. Atmospheric CO2 absorbed in the oceans could contribute to ocean acidity: check. Therefore, this is independent verification that the rise in CO2 is largely manmade: …huh?”
    Nope, you don’t have it straight – you left out a few things.
    Humans are emitting a large amount of CO2 from fossil carbon fuels into the atmosphere with an identifiable 13C/12C ratio. (check?)
    CO2 has been increasing in the atmosphere at a rate which accounts for about half the amount we are emitting, and with the same 13C/12C ratio as our emissions.
    The oceans have become marginally more acidic* by 1-absorbing more CO2 from some source with 2- a 13C/13C ratio similar to fossil fuel emissions.The shortest distance between point 1 and point 2 is a straight line, not a circular argument.
    Atmospheric CO2 absorbed in the oceans could contribute to ocean acidity and has the same 13C/12C isotopic signature as the observed increase in seawater carbonate acidity, unlike, for instance, Mid Ocean Ridge CO2 emissions, or GCRs which make 14C.
    * William Howard and co-author Andrew Moy of the University of Tasmania in Australia in recent research published in Nature Geoscience, show shell weights of modern-day foraminifera falling between 30 and 35 percent. Howard told Reuters “We’ve already changed the pH of the ocean by about 0.1. At these levels this represents about a 30 percent increase in the acidity of the oceans,” I think the spin word you’re looking for is “significantly”, not “marginally”. Why don’t we just say “30% more acidic” and let others vote on whether its marginal or significant.
    “First, Tamino starts hopping up and down and shrieking” Ad hominem. (I took Latin in high school, though I have forgotten most of it)
    What do people think of a scatterplot that shows r^2=0.999880? What about 2 allegedly different scatterplots that BOTH show r^2= 0.999880?
    Dr Spencer says “Let’s say the oceans are producing an extra 1 unit of CO2, mankind is producing 1 unit, and nature is absorbing an extra 1.5 units. Then we get the situation we have today, with CO2 rising at about 50% the rate of human emissions.” And if mankind weren’t producing 1 unit, then CO2 would be declining at 0.5 units per year; CO2 isn’t declining, therefore mankind’s emissions are responsible for the rising CO2.

  63. Brian Dodge (14:57:36)
    I showed you conclusively that Tamino made a stupid error and was wrong, and you are clutching on the incredibly thin straw that something I said might hurt his feelings? Is Tamino a saint who never would stoop to such depths of depravity (oh, the horror!)? Hardly. The guy’s a one man sarcastic wrecking crew. What a joke.
    “What do people think of a scatterplot that shows r^2=0.999880? What about 2 allegedly different scatterplots that BOTH show r^2= 0.999880?”
    That was the whole point… you know?
    Really, Brian, you came in strong, but you’re just flailing now. Everything you put forward starts with the presumption that the rise in CO2 is caused by humankind, then uses the effects of a rise in CO2 to claim that the rise is due to humankind. Did your Latin include “circulus in probando”? How about “petitio principii”?

  64. Bart (16:23:39) :
    “‘What do people think of a scatterplot that shows r^2=0.999880? What about 2 allegedly different scatterplots that BOTH show r^2= 0.999880?’
    That was the whole point… you know?”
    I thought the point was the slope, not the correlation; as Spencer says “Significantly, note that the ratio of C13 variability to CO2 variability is EXACTLY THE SAME as that seen in the trends!”
    “Everything you put forward starts with the presumption that the rise in CO2 is caused by humankind…” My starting presumption is “we know humankind is producing lotsa CO2(by looking at economic data, not Keeling data); where is that CO2 is going?” Going back to Spencer, “The slope of this line (1.0952%) represents the ratio of C13 variability to C12 variability associated with the trend signals. When we compare this to what is to be expected from pure fossil CO2 (1.0945%), it is very close indeed: 97.5% of the way from “natural” C13 content (1.12372%) to the fossil content.
    At this point, one might say, ‘There it is! The anthropogenic signal!'”
    IMHO, that’s a good start. Throw in the correlation in amounts, the carbonification of the oceans(which precludes them being a source of CO2), and the expert opinions of many other scientists, and it’s pretty much a slam dunk.
    As far as using Latin, I tend to avoid it – makes it seem like I’m desperately trying to sound as erudite and sophisticated as Lord Christopher Monckton.

  65. @ Terryskinner (16:08:53) :
    The luminosity of the sun increased 30 percent in the last 4 billion years. solarscience.msfc.nasa.gov/presentations/20080227_UAH.ppt
    500,000,000 years from now solar forcing will be ~341.5(1+5e8/4e9), or about 384 watts/m^2, assuming a continued linear increase in luminosity. I wouldn’t sweat the additional forcing from the return of subducted CO2.

  66. Phil. (11:34:13) :
    The Wilkins Ice Shelf, a broad plate of floating ice south of South America on the Antarctic Peninsula, had been stable for most of the last century before it began retreating in the 1990s.
    So what? It’s still a piddling little piece of ice on a Peninsula of a massive frozen continent. The world isn’t and has never been in a static state.
    The Antarctic is about 14.0 million km^2. 98% is covered by ice, which averages at least 1.6 kilometres (1.0 mi) in thickness and is surrounded by countless ice shelves that make the Wilkins look like a pimple on an elephants arse.

    Even without a strong glacial influence accumulated land ice will slowly push the shelf away from the land mass.

    Really, why?
    Gravity.

    The shelfs connection with the Latady and Charcot islands has always been tenuous.

    Not so, see for instance:
    http://www.esa.int/images/Wilkins_IceShelf_SAR_IMP_Orbit02586_19920113_inverted_H.jpg

    Yup like I said tenuous.
    There isn’t an ‘annual dance’, the last few years have seen its demise after many years of stability. My guess is that the main connection to Latady won’t last much longer.
    Never mind. Try not to think of it so much as an ice loss as to it being new home for phytoplankton.

  67. in reply to my post
    “Since the emissions due to humans far exceed the amount of CO2 removed from the atmosphere by humans, and natural systems remove about 1/2 of what is emitted by humans, one can draw the conclusion that humans are responsible for 100% of the net increase in CO2 observed by the Mauna Loa measurement station.
    To pretend otherwise is self deception.”
    George E Smith wrote,
    “So how exactly do humans go about removing CO2 from the atmosphere.
    At 388 ppm by volume (your Mauna Loa measure) the atmosphere does NOT represent a very effective source for raw CO2; it would be extremely inefficient to obtain CO2 for dry ice and Coca Cola by extracting it from the atmosphere.
    So exactly what human operations are you familiar with that go about extracting CO2 from the atmosphere. We Don’t extract Helium from the atmosphere either, even thoguh there is some to be had; but oil and gas wells provide a much better source for Helium. I wonder what we are going to use in place of Helium, when all the oil and gas operations are shut down for environmental reasons.
    So we’ll give you that we emit more to the atmosphere than we extract (CO2); that’s a no brainer.
    The rest of your thesis could use some supporting evidence.
    If North America is a net carbon sink, as is claimed in the peer reviewed scientific literature; that would imply that your statement regarding the removal of only half of our emitted CO2, would seem to not apply to at least North America. So what is everybody else doing wrong, that makes them net carbon emitters ?.”
    The answer to your first question is CO2 can be removed from the atmosphere by planting treees.
    http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/co2_human.html
    :”All land areas such as farms, grasslands and forests can be sources or sinks of CO2, depending on the particular agricultural and forestry practices on these lands. In the U.S., forests and other types of lands have been significant sinks since 1990, due in large part to forest and soil management practices. Nationally, carbon sequestration offset or removed 13 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions
    in 2006. The largest share came from forest growth, increasing forest area and an increase in the amount of carbon stored in durable wood products. The rate of carbon sequestration has decreased since 1990, particularly in forests. The following links provide more information on carbon sequestration:”
    There was a peer reviewed paper in 1998 that claimed North America was a net absorber of CO2.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/10/981020074617.htm
    “Ecosystems in North America are absorbing carbon dioxide at a rate that is greater than expected, according to findings by a team of scientists from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Princeton University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
    The study, which its authors said was subject to confirmation, may mean that land-based carbon-absorbing zones could play a greater role than expected in managing greenhouse warming of the atmosphere. ..
    “But observations tell us otherwise. The mean atmospheric CO2 concentration on the East Coast has been observed to be lower than that over the Pacific coast. This means that more CO2 is taken up by land ecosystems over the United States than is released by industrial activities.”..”
    A more recent study shows the opposite. North America emits more CO2 than it absorbs.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071114111141.htm
    “First-Ever ‘State Of The Carbon Cycle Report’ Finds Troubling Imbalance
    ScienceDaily (Nov. 17, 2007) — The first “State of the Carbon Cycle Report” for North America, released online this week by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, finds the continent’s carbon budget increasingly overwhelmed by human-caused emissions. North American sources release nearly 2 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year, mostly as carbon dioxide. Carbon “sinks” such as growing forests may remove up to half this amount, but these current sinks may turn into new sources as climate changes. ”
    So the study which its authors said was subject to confirmation has not been confirmed, and new data says the opposite.

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