CO2 and ocean uptake – maybe slowing

While this article makes a strong case, looking at SST and CO2 can also be revealing:

http://icecap.us/images/uploads/ENDERSBEE.JPG

A review of this WUWT post might also be instructive: A look at human CO2 emissions -vs- ocean absorption

From Columbia University: Oceans’ Uptake of Manmade Carbon May be Slowing

First Year-by-Year Study, 1765-2008, Shows Proportion Declining

Carbon released by fossil fuel burning (black) continues to accumulate in the air (red), oceans (blue), and  land (green).  The oceans take up roughly a quarter of manmade CO2, but evidence suggests they are now taking up a smaller proportion.(Click on image to view larger version)

Carbon released by fossil fuel burning (black) continues to accumulate in the air (red), oceans (blue), and land (green). The oceans take up roughly a quarter of manmade CO2, but evidence suggests they are now taking up a smaller proportion.

Credit: Samar Khatiwala, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

The oceans play a key role in regulating climate, absorbing more than a quarter of the carbon dioxide that humans put into the air. Now, the first year-by-year accounting of this mechanism during the industrial era suggests the oceans are struggling to keep up with rising emissions—a finding with potentially wide implications for future climate. The study appears in this week’s issue of the journal Nature, and is expanded upon in a separate website.

The researchers estimate that the oceans last year took up a record 2.3 billion tons of CO₂ produced from burning of fossil fuels. But with overall emissions growing rapidly, the proportion of fossil-fuel emissions absorbed by the oceans since 2000 may have declined by as much as 10%.

Some climate models have already predicted such a slowdown in the oceans’ ability to soak up excess carbon from the atmosphere, but this is the first time scientists have actually measured it. Models attribute the change to depletion of ozone in the stratosphere and global warming-induced shifts in winds and ocean circulation. But the new study suggests the slowdown is due to natural chemical and physical limits on the oceans’ ability to absorb carbon—an idea that is now the subject of widespread research by other scientists.

“The more carbon dioxide you put in, the more acidic the ocean becomes, reducing its ability to hold CO₂” said the study’s lead author, Samar Khatiwala, an oceanographer at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “Because of this chemical effect, over time, the ocean is expected to become a less efficient sink of manmade carbon. The surprise is that we may already be seeing evidence for this, perhaps compounded by the ocean’s slow circulation in the face of accelerating emissions.”

The study reconstructs the accumulation of industrial carbon in the oceans year by year, from 1765 to 2008. Khatiwala and his colleagues found that uptake rose sharply in the 1950s, as the oceans tried to keep pace with the growth of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide. Emissions continued to grow, and by 2000, reached such a pitch that the oceans have since absorbed a declining overall percentage, even though they absorb more each year in absolute tonnage. Today, the oceans hold about 150 billion tons of industrial carbon, the researchers estimate–a third more than in the mid-1990s.

For decades, scientists have tried to estimate the amount of manmade carbon absorbed by the ocean by teasing out the small amount of industrial carbon—less than 1 percent—from the enormous background levels of natural carbon. Because of the difficulties of this approach, only one attempt has been made to come up with a global estimate of how much industrial carbon the oceans held—for a single year, 1994.

Khatiwala and his colleagues came up with another method.  Using some of the same data as their predecessors— seawater temperatures, salinity, manmade chlorofluorocarbons  and other measures—they developed a mathematical technique to work backward from the measurements to infer the concentration of industrial carbon in surface waters, and its transport to deep water through ocean circulation. This allowed them to reconstruct the uptake and distribution of industrial carbon in the oceans over time.

Their estimate of industrial carbon in the oceans in 1994—114 billion tons—nearly matched the earlier 118 billion-ton estimate, made by Chris Sabine, a marine chemist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Organization in a 2004 paper in the journal Science.

Sabine, who was not involved in the new study, said he saw some limitations. For one, he said, the study assumes circulation has remained steady, along with the amount of organic matter in the oceans.  “That being said, I still think this is the best estimate of the time variance of anthropogenic CO₂ in the ocean available,” said Sabine. “Our previous attempts to quantify anthropogenic CO₂ using ocean data have only been able to provide single snapshots in time.”

About 40 percent of the carbon entered the oceans through the frigid waters of the Southern Ocean, around Antarctica, because carbon dioxide dissolves more readily in cold, dense seawater than in warmer waters. From there, currents transport the carbon north. “We’ve suspected for some time that the Southern Ocean plays a critical role in soaking up fossil fuel CO₂,” said Khatiwala. “But our study is the first to quantify the importance of this region with actual data.

The researchers also estimated carbon uptake on land, by taking the known amount of fossil-fuel emissions and subtracting the oceans’ uptake and the carbon left in the air. They were surprised to learn that the land may now be absorbing more than it is giving off.

They say that until the 1940s, the landscape produced excess carbon dioxide, possibly due to logging and the clearing and burning of forests for farming. Deforestation and other land-use changes continue at a rapid pace today—but now, each year the land appears to be absorbing 1.1 billion tons more carbon than it is giving off.

One possible reason for the reversal, say the researchers, is that now, some of the extra atmospheric carbon—raw material for photosynthesis–may be feeding back into living plants and making them grow faster. “The extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere may be providing a fertilizing effect,” said study coauthor Timothy Hall, a senior scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.  Many other scientists are now working to determine the possible effects of increased carbon dioxide on plant growth, and incorporate these into models of past and future climates.

Khatiwala says there are still large uncertainties, but in any case, natural mechanisms cannot be depended upon to mitigate increasing human-produced emissions. “What our ocean study and other recent land studies suggest is that we cannot count on these sinks operating in the future as they have in the past, and keep on subsidizing our ever-growing appetite for fossil fuels,” he said.

In a related paper in Nature, Khatiwala describes how the research was done.

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136 thoughts on “CO2 and ocean uptake – maybe slowing

  1. Hmmm…. do they account for the disappearance of large swaths of rain forest in the green line? Seems those are large hungry plants…

  2. “The more carbon dioxide you put in, the more acidic the ocean becomes, reducing its ability to hold CO₂” said the study’s lead author, Samar Khatiwala, an oceanographer at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
    That comment is a lie. The ocean is currently alkali and is becoming less alkali but no where near acidic.

  3. “The more carbon dioxide you put in, the more acidic the ocean becomes, reducing its ability to hold CO₂”. If the ocean is alkaline, not acidic, how can it be made more acidic?

  4. “…they developed a mathematical technique to work backward from the measurements to infer the concentration of industrial carbon in surface waters…”
    Oh boy.
    In other news, no bristlecone pines live in saltwater, so maybe there is a chance they are correct about CO2 absorption.

  5. Here’s another scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies studying the Earth. Does NASA study space anymore? If not, shouldn’t it be renamed?

  6. Well, I haven’t read the full paper. But talk of the oceans “struggling to keep up” with rising emissions, whilst reckoning that a ginormous 1% of the CO2 in the oceans is “industrial” leads me to think I’ve probably better things to do.
    And I see they are trotting out the fashionable ‘acid’ oceans scare, as well. Apart from in close proximity to volcanic underwater vents (such as around Ischia, where kind UK licence payers send BBC “environMental” reporters for a touch of scuba diving), is there any record of ocean pH values even approaching 7.0 ? Anywhere?
    Back to your X-boxes fellas and go dream up another ‘reconstruction’.

  7. The ocean holds 50 times the CO2 that the atmosphere does as described by henry’s law. To double the Atmospheric CO2 you have to double the total CO2 in both the atmosphere and the oceans. At the present rate of emission that should take about 5000 years. This is why they lie about the lifetime in the atmosphere, because 49 out of 50 parts of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere will be happily be dissolved into the ocean at equilibrium.(assuming constant temp) Of course chemistry is foreign to these folk or they would have realised there is an unlimited supply of carbonate rock exposed to the ocean that will buffer against pH changes.

  8. The first graph, which I presume is not part of the study, says either,
    Atmospheric CO2 levels determine SSTs
    or,
    SSTs determine atmospheric CO2 levels.
    Both of which are hard to accept. A puzzle.

  9. “The researchers estimate that the oceans last year took up a record 2.3 billion tons of CO₂ produced from burning of fossil fuels. But with overall emissions growing rapidly, the proportion of fossil-fuel emissions absorbed by the oceans since 2000 may have declined by as much as 10%.”
    How does the ocean know to discriminate against fossil-fuel CO2 instead of forest fire CO2?

  10. I do not understand the first pink graph. What sense has to use “moving average” for X and Y axis values for constructing such graph? For me the graphs shows that rising atmospheric CO2 is a result of degassing of warmer water.

  11. This (the posted part – I have not ready the full study) completely fails to consider the absorption of carbon in increased plant growth (due to increased food).
    I would also love to see this compared with the ‘natural’ CO2 cycle!

  12. Oh dear use of the green function suggest correct boundary problems solutions which transfers the boundary Value problem(bvp) to an initial value problem (ivp)
    eg Ghandouri,
    http://www.jstor.org/pss/2100174
    This requires a significant set of temporal measurements at the quantum and molecular interface, such as the geometry and size of the taxa say for phytoplakton eg
    Changes in the Global Carbon Cycle: Evidence from the Measurements of O2/N2 in the Atmosphere and CO2 Partial Pressure at the Ocean–Atmosphere Boundary
    V. G. Gorshkov and A. M. Makar’eva
    Abstract
    —The global carbon budget includes inorganic and organic constituents. The rates of fossil fuel combustion and inorganic carbon accumulation in the atmosphere and the ocean are known. The organic constituents include changes in the abundance of organic matter in ocean and land areas. Proceeding from changes in CO2 content and O2/N2 concentration ratio in the atmosphere and the known stoichiometric proportions of oxygen binding at organic matter decomposition, changes in the masses of organic substances were quantified in terrestrial and marine environments. The resulting values of organic constituents of the carbon budget are consistent with independent estimates based on the data on anthropogenic land cultivation and the concentration ratio 14C/12C in the dissolved organic carbon of the ocean. We took into account an increase with time in the rate of concentration changes of dissolved inorganic carbon in the ocean inferred from 13C/12C
    measurements.Profiles were constructed for changes in CO2 partial pressure and
    d13C through the atmosphere–ocean boundary, which correspond to the obtained values of the total carbon uptake by the ocean in inorganic and organic forms.
    Concludes
    : The traditional estimates of carbon flux on the basis of measurements of the difference of CO2 partial pressures and d13C in the atmosphere and the surface mixed oceanic layer do not account for the biotic changes in the profiles of CO2 and d13C in the microscopic nearsurface layer. This results in contradictions between the changes in the concentration of dissolved organic and inorganic carbon in the ocean calculated from measured 13C/12C and 14C/12C values. Accounting for carbon absorption by marine biota reveals small extrema of pCO2 and d13C at microscopic distances from the interface boundary comparable with the size of phytoplankton cells. The existence of these extrema, which are difficult to detect, eliminates the contradictions between the results obtained by various techniques for
    the determination of atmospheric carbon uptake by the ocean. The necessary magnitudes of the extrema are attained if 5% of oceanic gross primary production is
    produced by phytoplankton cells in direct contact with the interface boundary. This is consistent with the observed distribution of the phytoplankton biomass
    with depth in the euphotic layer of the ocean

    http://www.bioticregulation.ru/index.php
    The absence of said measurements is a second law violation eg Morowitz
    : Abstract Cartesian mind body dualism and modern versions of this viewpoint posit a mind thermodynamically unrelated to the body but informationally interactive. The relation between information and entropy developed by Leon Brillouin demonstrates that any information about the state of a system has entropic consequences. It is therefore impossible to dissociate the mind’s information from the body’s entropy. Knowledge of that state of the system without an energetically significant measurement would lead to a violation of the second law of thermodynamics.
    :

  13. Deforestation and other land-use changes continue at a rapid pace today—but now, each year the land appears to be absorbing 1.1 billion tons more carbon than it is giving off

    There are two parts of this and they are sort of connected.
    The “Deforestation …. continue at a rapid pace” isn’t quite as true as it was once thought to be. While there certainly has been deforestation in some areas, reforestation in the Northern Hemisphere has recently been discovered to be much more than expected making overall net deforestation close to zero. For example, look at a major Midwestern city. Count all the trees in all the yards and parks in an area that prior to settlement had no trees at all. There are trees growing now in areas that had no trees at all 50 or 100 or 200 years ago. How many trees grew in Las Vegas or Phoenix in 1909? How many in Wichita in 1809?
    Now other land use changes is a big item not to be ignored, but it is only now being realized that we have more trees growing in the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere today than we have had since we started recording history.

  14. Being an old country farmer who after close to three quarters of a century on this rock has developed a very skeptical bent and also being very mathematically challenged amongst the very erudite denizens of this blog, for my simplistic old farmer’s mind there are quite a few problems with the claims in this above paper.
    The world’s ocean volumes are given at somewhere over 1.3 billion cubic kilometres of water.
    The water in each one of those cubic kilometres weighs in at, for simplicity sake, more than a thousand million tonnes; ie; a billion tonnes of ocean water in each of those cubic kilometres.
    Now this is simplistic in the extreme!
    The Columbia University researchers claim that the oceans absorbed some 2.3 billion tonnes of CO2 annually or a mass of CO2 that equals the mass of just 2.3 cubic kilometres of ocean water out of all that 1.3 billion cubic kilometres of ocean water.
    And that is a very serious situation??
    I must try that one on my bank manager sometime when comparing my lack of financial assets to the financial assets of one of the “big four” banks here in Australia!
    Now I know that the distribution of the CO2 absorption areas of the oceans is highly variable and only occurs at the ocean surface.
    But there is another factor that those who never deal with anything biological will more often than not overlook.
    Plants love CO2 and wheat, one of the wold’s major food grain crops gives it’s highest yields at around 700 ppm of CO2 so we still have a long way to go to improve wheat yields by possibly another 15% or 20% just by raising atmospheric CO2 levels to 700 ppm.
    CO2 Science has a whole set of data tables on this; http://www.co2science.org/data/plant_growth/photo/photo_subject.php
    The plant world of the oceans include truly enormous tonnages of Algae and other plant type animals who like all plants use CO2 as a part and parcel of the photosynthetic process.
    I have yet to find estimates of algae and other ocean plant tonnages, their CO2 absorption rates, their growth rates and mass tonnage changes with increased or decreased ocean CO2, or the path of the CO2 as the plants are eaten or die and slowly disperse down into the deep oceans even while acting as an enormous food source for the myriad small creatures of the ocean food chain.
    I have read some articles on this algal food chain and some on the possible path that absorbed CO2 follows in small shelled sea creatures but information on algal and other ocean plant growth due to increased ocean absorbed CO2 just does not seem to exist.
    Nobody seems to take account of this universal ocean biological CO2 absorption / plant growth process or seems to have tried to assess the effects of increasing CO2 levels on the ocean biology.
    And that regular annual variation if the CO2 levels could very easily be just the changes in the ocean’s algal and plant life as the seasons wax and wane and the ocean surface temperatures rise and fall with the seasons and the ocean plant life, booms, busts and dies.
    Who would know as the relatively unexplored oceans cover close to 80% of the globe’s surface and the great Southern Ocean and the southern most parts of the Pacific and Indian Oceans have barely been touched let alone researched down to the levels of assessing the long term cycles and levels of ocean plant life activity.
    And that annual CO2 variation at all the main global CO2 measuring stations may even have a simple way of checking the source of the CO2 variations.
    Way back in 1963 experiments were held to see if Algae could be used as an O2 generator in submarines when supplied with CO2 and sufficient light and etc.
    “Gas Exchange with Mass Cultures of Algae”
    http://aem.asm.org/cgi/reprint/11/5/450.pdf
    Simply measuring any changes in the O2 levels captured in the same CO2 measuring flasks at stations such as Mauna Loa might just show that there is a close correlation between the atmospheric levels of the two gases and if that is the case then the seasonal swings of the oceans are more than likely to be the reason for the annual swing in measured CO2 levels.

  15. Well the oceans would be taking up less for the time being due to generally warmer ocean surfaces over the past 150 years or so than were experienced during the Little Ice Age.
    However the IPCC seems to accept that the human influence was not significant until mid 20th Century so how do they explain the longer term trend ?
    The ocean surfaces seem to warm and cool over centuries on their own independent time scales, probably via several overlapping cycles.
    Warm oceans take up less CO2, cool oceans take up more CO2. What is there to cause the current panic ?
    Even the CO2 base level is in question due to the change from chemical methods of measurement to the current systems.
    There is considerable doubt about the reliability of ice core proxies for longer term past levels of CO2 in the air.
    What we need to see is the change in the trend of CO2 amounts in the air when ocean surfaces cool again but that is going to take decades even if we are now past the peak of the oceanic cycles and that is not yet certain.
    I see nothing but panic stricken conclusions based on wholly inadequate data.

  16. OK. As far as the ‘A look at human CO2 emissions -vs- ocean absorption’ post is concerned, I have some qualms, which were expressed by others, notably (and a bit caustically) JamesG (05:18:37).
    According to the writer’s self-admittedly simple model, the steady state flux of CO2 from the planet is essentially 0.0215 * 285 = 6 ppm, whereas his annual emissions are 1.5-4.5 ppm, or roughly 50%. I have always read that anthropogenic emissions are more on the order of 1-4% of the total.
    This is the biggest problem I have accepting the assertion that manmade CO2 is responsible for the atmospheric increase of the past 50-odd years – the increase due to anthropogenic forcing in a closed loop system like this really ought to be less percentage-wise than the greatest percentage of yearly forcing, or at least, not much more for a reasonably behaved climated system. Until someone can show me with rigorous mathematics a reason that the marginal sensitivity for the anthropogenic forcing should be so much greater than the average sensitivity for the natural forcing, I will continue to have doubts.
    I also read with interest some of the other commenters who offered a variety of reasons that the CO2 record may not be entirely trustworthy. My wariness regarding proxy measurements of more than a half centrury ago, which may or may not be well founded, is this: resolution. All sensing devices are band-limited. Some still have very wide bandwidths, but nevertheless, they all have some limit. Time and entropy also tend to degrade materials, soften edges, and remove high frequency content. The warming we have seen recently is really just a blip in geologic time. Do such blips really have time to become fixated in the geologic record, and remain so throughout the ages of storage? Might what is seen in certain repositories, such as ice cores, essentially be low pass filtered versions of reality, in which such blips would essentially be flattened out?
    Into this contemplation stepped Dave Middleton (07:34:58), who noted that studies of Plant Stomatal Index indicate far greater variation in historic CO2 concentrations. Does anyone out there have any recent news of where such studies stand?
    As for the current post… eh? Looks like they found what they were looking for.

  17. I think this very parameterization and methodology of the “airborne fraction” and the fraction that is being absorbed is incorrect.
    What do you think would happen with the CO2 concentrations in 10 years if we abruptly stopped all man-made CO2 emissions tomorrow?
    Well, today, we emit roughly 3.9 ppm worth of CO2 a year. But the concentration (now at 388 ppm) doesn’t increase by 3.9 ppm a year but by 1.8 ppm only. So someone must eat the remaining 2.1 ppm, to match the observed CO2 with the known CO2 emissions. It’s clearly mostly oceans and forests, but add anyone else whom you like. They are eating the CO2 because they’re encouraged to do so, by the enhanced CO2 concentration above 280 ppm, not because we want them to absorb some quotas from our emissions. They don’t really care where the CO2 comes from.
    What would happen if the emissions stopped? I think it’s obvious that the oceans and forests would still absorb approximately 2.1 ppm, and the concentration would therefore drop by 2.1 ppm, at least for many years. How could it not? The rate how much CO2 is being swallowed by a tree can only be affected by the local observables – such as the local CO2 concentration – and it can’t be affected by our CO2 emissions during the last year. The tree doesn’t read newspapers to learn about our emissions, in order to adjust its growth rate. The tree’s growth rate is given by the local temperature and CO2 concentration, among other things, and because those change just a little bit every year, it’s clear that the trees and oceans will subtract 2.1 ppm from the atmosphere even if the emissions stop abruptly.
    So the CO2 absorbed by the oceans and forests should be parameterized as the fraction of the deviation of the current CO2 concentration from the 280 ppm value (now the difference is about 108 ppm, and 2 percent of this difference is being liquidated by the extra natural absorption every year), where 280 ppm is calculable as the equilibrium concentration for the modern temperature (which haven’t changed since 1800 in any way that would significantly influence these calculations).
    Of course, because the CO2 emissions were approximately growing exponentially since 1800, with some pretty constant rate, the deviation of “C” from 280ppm grew exponentially, too – with the same rate. So in the long run, it doesn’t really matter whether we compute the expected absorption as a percentage of the annual emissions, or percentage of the deviation of C from 280 ppm.
    But for any imbalance, rapid enough change of the exponential growth of the CO2 emissions or its rate, it matters a lot how you calculate these things, and the correct method is to calculate the expected CO2 absorption as a multiple of (C-280 ppm). Because they don’t seem to do this basic point right, I won’t read the paper.

  18. I put to thee these questions three:
    Question One: How is CO2 measured?
    Question Two: Where is CO2 measured?
    Question Three: By whom is CO2 measured?
    I just want know.

  19. Personally, I find the use of the proportion of annual CO2 emissions taken up by the environment a pretty useless and probably misleading statistic.
    I suggest that everyone refers back to the “A look at human CO2 emissions -vs- ocean absorption” link provided.
    The rate of up take is closely related to the time integral of the of the (emission rate – up take rate), giving the degree of imbalance. If we held emissions constant (zero annual increase) the up take rate would take years to go down (half live ~50 years (ocean proportion only)) so the up take proportion ratio would become infinite.
    For the up take proportion to be meaningful one would have to look at timescales greater than about 50 years. Also of note is the short (geologically) time scale of the CO2 excess, in truth there is a much longer time constant required to finally purge the CO2 from the atmosphere/ocean/biosphere by geological processes and that does indeed have a geological time scale.
    Alex
    The reco very rate

  20. I did that too quickly it should of course read if we held Total Aggregate Emissions constant (i.e) annual emissions zero, not something that we are likely to do, but it illustrates the point.
    Alex

  21. But we know the uptake rate is a lot quicker. When SE Asia caught fire in the early ’90s the smoke could be seen from space. That year there was a blip at Mauna Loa’s CO2 station, but gone within less than 5 years.

  22. Wasn’t there a recent paper from Bristol universtity that came to the opposite conclusion, that the absorbtion of CO2 has been increasing steadily?
    This new paper claims proudly to be based on measurements. I’m not sure what measurements and how, but the only measurement that matters is what’s happening in the atmosphere. So far, the amount of CO2 sequestered is increasing year on year to maintain a constant fraction of the CO2 humans emit.

  23. Looks like the same old….perhaps we have an interesting subject, but I must say at the end AGW is god or I wont get paid.
    This is not science…it carrot on a stick.

  24. Lubos Motl
    you say Man emits the equivalent of 3.9 ppm of CO2 per year.
    Now if Henry’s law works, then we should see a rise in atmospheric CO2 in the order of 1/50 x 3.9 = 0.078 ppm/yr due to man.
    But, we see an actual rise of around 2.4 ppm, so 2.322 ppm must come from natural sources.
    My money is on the oceans outgassing as a result of slight warming, possibly at depth.
    And, as we are told that Co2 increases lag surface temperature rises by about 800 years, then perhaps we are looking at the effect of the medieval warming period.
    (…. and if the numbers stack up, we could see another good reason to suppress that historic warming period)

  25. Alexander Harvey (03:31:43) :
    “Personally, I find the use of the proportion of annual CO2 emissions taken up by the environment a pretty useless and probably misleading statistic.”
    I agree with this. There is some very wooly thinking in this study.
    First, the statement “slowdown in the oceans’ ability to soak up excess carbon from the atmosphere” sounds almost anthropomorphic – the oceans have ability to do things like people. For people doing this study who are primarily politicians, not scientists, this is understandable.
    The language is dumbed-down for greater political effect, at the expense of loss of clarity, confusion and ambiguity.
    The word “slowdown” suggests that some properties of the ocean are changing due to CO2. The solubility? Capacity? This is confused thinking. Seawater has a certain CO2 solubility and capacity at all temperatures from 0-100C: this can be measured as a curve and is a property of seawater. This property does not change. The laws of physics and chemistry do not change with changing atmospheric CO2 concentration.
    Furthermore, as is so often the case in AGW alarmist activist “science”, what is presented as experimental data turns out to be a hybrid of read data and mathematical modelling:
    “Khatiwala and his colleagues came up with another method. Using some of the same data as their predecessors— seawater temperatures, salinity, manmade chlorofluorocarbons and other measures—they developed a mathematical technique to work backward from the measurements to infer the concentration of industrial carbon in surface waters, …”
    This trick of presenting as data what is in the end a model prediction is a common one in AGW literature.
    Of course the conclusions of the paper and the language and tone of the paper are intended to convey a sense of crisis, that even though the poor old oceans are doing the best they can, they are in a beleagured state and approaching CO2 fatigue, and cant prevent CO2 in the air or water reaching crisis levels, which will wipe out calcified marine life such as corals and calcified plankton, not to mention causing run-away atmospheric heating. All very gloomy stuff.
    The “ability” (so to speak) of living organisms to calcify their tissue evolved in the sea during the Cambrian explosion (if you exclude the previous “small shelly fauna”). Tissue calcification is done by many groups of marine organisms from fish to molluscs, crustaceans and also single celled plankton, as well as sessile organisms notably corals. This whole ensemble of calcified organisms has flourished continuously (punctuated by mass extinctions followed by rapid recovery) over the half billion years from then to now. During this period the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has fluctuated and has sometimes been up to 10 times higher than today for tens of millions of years.
    What happened during those periods such as (if I remember rightly) in the Triassic with many times more CO2 in the atmosphere than now. Was seawater like lemonade? Could you see bubbles rising from it all the time – was the pH 2-3? Did all biological calcium in the sea dissolve? And did the earths surface become for tens of millions of years like Venus (then later somehow recover)?
    None of these historic implications are explored nor indeed have they likely even crossed the minds of these somewhat uncurious authors.
    How will the oceans “respond” to the current increasing levels of atmospheric CO2? Answer – in the same way that they always have in the past. We may not know exactly what that response was. But the response clearly did not include anything especially harmful for life in the seas or on land.

  26. If the study is or influenced by GISS, it should be scrutinized very carefully.
    Since Hansen works at Columbia, it should be doubly suspicious.
    The numbers do not add up, and anyone talking about the oceans ‘acidifying’ is already misleading people.

  27. RobJM (23:36:57) : The ocean holds 50 times the CO2 that the atmosphere does as described by henry’s law. To double the Atmospheric CO2 you have to double the total CO2 in both the atmosphere and the oceans. At the present rate of emission that should take about 5000 years. This is why they lie about the lifetime in the atmosphere, because 49 out of 50 parts of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere will be happily be dissolved into the ocean at equilibrium.
    Clearly we’re not ‘at equilibrium’. Isn’t that the whole point? We’re pumping CO2 into the atmosphere *much* faster than it can be absorbed by natural sinks. We’ve increased atmospheric CO2 by nearly 40% in (say) the last 200 years, and it’s been accelerating. What mechanism is suddenly going to kick in to make the other 60% take 5,000 years?

  28. Philip_B (23:38:03) : The first graph, which I presume is not part of the study, says either,
    Atmospheric CO2 levels determine SSTs
    or,
    SSTs determine atmospheric CO2 levels.
    Both of which are hard to accept. A puzzle.

    Atmospheric CO2 level affects atmospheric temperature (greenhouse effect).
    Atmospheric temperature affects ocean temperature.
    Ocean temperature affects atmospheric CO2 level (feedback).
    Is any of that hard to accept?

  29. Good grief. The oceans regulate climate by “absorbing more than a quarter of the carbon dioxide that humans put into the air.” Funny, I thought they did it via absorbing energy from the sun and re-radiating it in varying intensities manifested by the PDO, AMO, and the thermohaline current. Silly me. The oceans apparently have struggled mightily all these years to take in our evil “Carbon”, but now are exhausted. The plants have stepped up valiantly to do their dirty work, but can’t be counted upon forever. Presumably, they will become exhausted too at some point.
    It’s a shame this sort of codswallop is what passes for science nowadays.

  30. Phlogiston (04:55:28) : First, the statement “slowdown in the oceans’ ability to soak up excess carbon from the atmosphere” sounds almost anthropomorphic

    The word “slowdown” suggests that some properties of the ocean are changing due to CO2.

    If you read the article above it talks about the “proportion declining” and says “The researchers estimate that the oceans last year took up a record 2.3 billion tons of CO₂ produced from burning of fossil fuels. But with overall emissions growing rapidly, the proportion of fossil-fuel emissions absorbed by the oceans since 2000 may have declined by as much as 10%.”
    I think that’s fairly clear – the oceans are absorbing more anthropogenic CO2 than ever before in terms of tonnage but it’s becoming a smaller proportion of the total as time goes on.

  31. RobJM (23:36:57) :
    The ocean holds 50 times the CO2 that the atmosphere does as described by henry’s law. To double the Atmospheric CO2 you have to double the total CO2 in both the atmosphere and the oceans. At the present rate of emission that should take about 5000 years. This is why they lie about the lifetime in the atmosphere, because 49 out of 50 parts of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere will be happily be dissolved into the ocean at equilibrium.(assuming constant temp) Of course chemistry is foreign to these folk or they would have realised there is an unlimited supply of carbonate rock exposed to the ocean that will buffer against pH changes.

    Chemistry is apparently foreign to you since you think that Henry’s law applies to CO2 in the ocean!

  32. Poor logic on this paper. Just because the land is absorbing more carbon doesn’t mean the capacity of the oceans is decreasing. Human emitted carbon happens primarily over land, so land processes are getting first crack at absorbing it, leaving less of the total to the oceans to absorb.

  33. hunter (05:31:23) : I find it amazing that the oceans can distinguish man made CO2 from natural CO2.
    They don’t. No-one claims they do. That’s what *we* have to do. It’s in the article cited, here:
    http://www.earth.columbia.edu/articles/view/2586
    “For decades, scientists have tried to estimate the amount of manmade carbon absorbed by the ocean by teasing out the small amount of industrial carbon—less than 1 percent—from the enormous background levels of natural carbon. Because of the difficulties of this approach, only one attempt has been made to come up with a global estimate of how much industrial carbon the oceans held—for a single year, 1994.”

  34. Rom (01:22:10)
    nice one, most don’t realise how much water there really is on this planet, but, if you have a globe (world map) and take it out of its mount and turn it so as the Antarctic is facing you, now tell me that we have land on earth. Its all water.

  35. Dear supercritical,
    I am afraid that your assumption that the oceans will always hold 50 times more CO2 than the atmosphere is only true at extremely long timescales that are needed for the gas to penetrate to the deep ocean, which may be thousands of years.
    At shorter timescales closer to a decade or a century, only the upper or extreme upper portion of the ocean is relevant, and this object only contains roughly the same amount of CO2 as the atmosphere, so it absorbs about 1/2 of the emissions.
    Of course I agree that in the extremely long run, the actual rise in the atmosphere will be negligible because the oceans return us to the equilibrium value that will only be raised by 1/50 of our future emissions from the present values. At the very end, 49/50 of the added CO2 will drop to the ocean while 1/50 will stay in the atmosphere.
    But it will take thousands of years for this equilibrium to be reached. Before it is reached, only the atmosphere and the very upper ocean will see elevated CO2 concentrations while the deep ocean will be largely unchanged.
    Best wishes
    Lubos

  36. This comment is somewhat on topic, but more related to yesterday’s post:
    CO2 still going up, but temperature not following the same trend
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/11/17/co2-still-going-up-but-temperature-not-following-the-same-trend/#more-12902
    I just wanted to share an “Aha” moment I had yesterday. For a while I’ve been wondering why my best regression against total CO2 PPM was using a 3rd order polynomial. Then yesterday I saw the above post discussing a “paper – by scientists from the internationally respected climate research group, the Global Carbon Project (GCP)”.
    The links led me to the following:
    Powerpoint:
    http://www.aussmc.org/documents/Raupach.CarbonCycle.V01.pdf
    Carbon Budget Data:
    http://lgmacweb.env.uea.ac.uk/lequere/co2/carbon_budget.htm
    On page 13 of the Powerpoint they show the graph “Fraction of CO2 emissions remaining in the atmosphere”. This graph showed the fraction going from 40% to 45% between 1959 and 2008. It also stated that it is likely to increase another 5% over the next 50 years. This meant that they were using a linear regression to model the change in percentage.
    As seen in the data file, the growth in CO2 emissions is also of a linear nature. My “Aha” moment was that the growth in CO2 concentration is the product of two linear equations which is a second order polynomial. If we take the integral of this we get a third order polynomial, which is the area under the curve, which is the total CO2 in the atmosphere.
    Next I regressed the Mauna Loa annual CO2 PPM growth rates and Carbon Budget Data’s (CBD) atmospheric CO2 GTon growth rates. As suspected, these are highly correlated with 1 PPM ~ 2 GTon and the intercept near zero. Not surprising as the GCP’s data is probably derived from the Mauna Loa data. I just wanted to confirm the relationship.
    I then regressed the annual mean PPM’s for 1959-2008 against x^3, x^2, and x, with x=0 at 1959. The hindcasting skill of the model was great with r2 = 0.999. One surprise was that the x^3 coefficient was negative, even after allowing for stdev. This could only be true if the CO2 fraction remaining in the atmosphere was trending negative, which was contrary to the GCP’s powerpoint. Looking back at the GCB’s data, however, the stdev was greater than the trend coefficient itself so it is entirely possible.
    Do I personally believe that the fraction trend is negative. Maybe. In the universe of all plausibilities, I believe this to be as plausible as the atmospheric trend being positive. You would have to believe, however, that the growth in the growth of atmospheric CO2 will at some point turn negative, which seems counter-intuitive. It could be true if the land sink’s portion is increasing greater than the ocean sink’s decrease. My guess is that at some point the fraction will be constant, but what that fraction might be is anybody’s guess.
    Aren’t regressions fun? One can look at the same set of data and reach the opposite conclusion of someone else. Even an “internationally respected climate research group”. More fruit for the bakery, I guess.

  37. Phillip Bratby (23:14:46) :
    “The more carbon dioxide you put in, the more acidic the ocean becomes, reducing its ability to hold CO₂”. If the ocean is alkaline, not acidic, how can it be made more acidic?
    Great point. If it went from 8.3 to 8.2 Ph, it is slightly less alkaline. I presented this in the form of a question on Climate Progress when they had a rant about the highly acidic oceans and the question was deleted. I merely asked what would be acid neutral and what was the average ph of the ocean. They do not allow questions which call for facts in the answers.

  38. Luboš Motl (01:47:16) :
    I think this very parameterization and methodology of the “airborne fraction” and the fraction that is being absorbed is incorrect.

    The increase in plant growth in response to increasing [CO2] is enhanced by increasing global precipitation in response to increasing temps. Who says warmer is bad?
    Icarus (05:45:27) :
    Clearly we’re not ‘at equilibrium’. Isn’t that the whole point? We’re pumping CO2 into the atmosphere *much* faster than it can be absorbed by natural sinks. We’ve increased atmospheric CO2 by nearly 40% in (say) the last 200 years, and it’s been accelerating. What mechanism is suddenly going to kick in to make the other 60% take 5,000 years?

    Since CO2 is beneficial to plant growth and warming temperatures increase precipitation, then I hope there is no mechanism. And I’m unconcerned about sea level, polar bears, and glaciation.

  39. Somewhat OT. Thomas L Friedman has gone off again, “What They Really Believe”:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/18/opinion/18friedman.html
    “If you follow the debate around the energy/climate bills working through Congress you will notice that the drill-baby-drill opponents of this legislation are now making two claims. One is that the globe has been cooling lately, not warming, and the other is that America simply can’t afford any kind of cap-and-trade/carbon tax.”
    “But here is what they also surely believe, but are not saying: They believe the world is going to face a mass plague, like the Black Death, that will wipe out 2.5 billion people sometime between now and 2050. They believe it is much better for America that the world be dependent on oil for energy — a commodity largely controlled by countries that hate us and can only go up in price as demand increases — rather than on clean power technologies that are controlled by us and only go down in price as demand increases. And, finally, they believe that people in the developing world are very happy being poor — just give them a little running water and electricity and they’ll be fine. They’ll never want to live like us.”
    Isn’t calumny wonderful?

  40. I see a bright, green crap table in the middle of this enormous casino; around its thick, rich polished sides stand rows of spectators, all eyes on the passionate thrower at the player’s end of the field.
    To his left is the steely-eyed keeper-of-the-game, handing out a seemingly endless stack of chips to the sweaty-browed player casting his dice as fast as his free hand can sling, while the other claw doubles down on every bet — taking time only to scribble another IOU to add to the growing pile.
    He is the passionate ‘warmist’ come to play his final game, and the stakes are the house.
    The fascinated spectators grow in number, knowing the very floor where they stand depends on the luck of the throw:
    Will they walk away or will they tear down the house?

  41. Most of the CO2 on the planet comes from the ocean. While the ocean creates vast percentages of CO2, it also by photosynthesis creates oxygen and plant life.
    How do we know what % of the CO2 in the ocean came from our air and what part came from decay of dead plant and animal life in the water?

  42. Lubos Motl,
    I have difficulty in believing that the upper portion of the ocean is somehow ‘saturated’ as you claim, when Henry’s law postulates that it is the partial pressure that drives the absorbtion. So, if the partial pressure of CO2 is seen to have increased by 3ppmv, then the equivalent of 50X this amount will have been absorbed.
    Can you explain why Henry’s law somehow gets suspended in the conditions we are talking about?
    And just to forestall claims that “things are not in equilibrium because it takes a long time for Henry’s Law absorbtion/outgassing to happen” … it seems to work pretty quickly enough for the fizzy-drink bottling industry. So if possible I’d like to know if there are any experimental values for the absorbtion rates of CO2 in water.

  43. To see if the general undestanding of Henry’s law is ‘as advertised’, here is a thought-quiz that should settle the question;
    In our lab, we have a closed pressure vessel fitted with a pipe outlet at the top, connected to a pressure gauge and then an inlet valve. We fill the vessel with water almost to the top, leaving a 1 litre gap which we fill with CO2 gas at 1 atmosphere. We close the valve.
    1. After a while, we look at the guage.
    a) What will it read?
    b) How long does it take to stabilise?
    2. We open the valve to the atmosphere. What happens?
    We empty the pressure vessel and start again from scratch with a fresh filling of water. This time, we want to increase the CO2 pressure in the 1 litre gap so that the guage reads a steady, stable 2 Atmospheres.
    3. How many litres of CO2 will we have to use?

  44. The article says:

    Khatiwala and his colleagues came up with another method. Using some of the same data as their predecessors— seawater temperatures, salinity, manmade chlorofluorocarbons and other measures—they developed a mathematical technique to work backward from the measurements to infer the concentration of industrial carbon in surface waters, and its transport to deep water through ocean circulation. This allowed them to reconstruct the uptake and distribution of industrial carbon in the oceans over time.

    We only have somewhat accurate seawater temperature measurements for the last half century or so. We have very little information about global salinity. Chlorofluorocarbons have only been made for half a century. Our understanding of the totality of ocean currents is low.
    Could someone explain to me how they can use these to say how much carbon was absorbed by the ocean in say 1850 or 1920? Sounds like guesswork to me, not science.

  45. Well the first pink graph seems quite hokey to me.
    So it shows two different “line” plots.
    But the big heading at the top alleges that the plot “shows the dependence of atmospheric carbon dioxide on global average sea surface temperature”
    No it doesn’t ! there’s not a scintilla of information (on that graph) that would indicate that either one depends on the other. Now the casual observer might “infer” that the CO2 is dependent on the SST; but then another equally casual observer, might “infer” that in fact it shows that the SST is dependent on the CO2. How could yopu possibly distinguish those two cases, based on those graphs. Simply switching the X and Y axes would presumably switch the dependence. You could probably plot a rolling average of the population of the USA over the same time period, and plot it against either the CO2 or the SST, and infer that the US population is dependent on the sea surface temperature; or on the atmospheric CO2 whichever point you wanted to promote.
    As for the second graph; I don’t take kindly to graphs that have the positive Y-axis going down instead of up; for whatever reason; theres’ no simple way by eye to deduce that what the authors claim is true, that the ocean take up of CO2 is slowing down.
    Now the rogue observer might infer that there is some other unknown (to the grapher) driving force, that is controlling both the SST and the CO2.
    Well the mathematicians might infer that those two plotted quantities; CO2 and SST; and rolling averages at that, show a strong correlation. But it is quite trivial to construct data sets that show strong correlation; yet have no cause and effect relationship whatsoever.
    But as I said above; absolutely nothing on that page indicates that either of those quantities is dependent on the other

  46. for Supercritical,
    You don’t give enough information to give more than vague answers to you quiz, but here goes.
    1. Depends on what type of gage you have as well as the temperature and volume of your tank.
    If the gage reads in PSIG, then the gage reading won’t change.
    If the gage reads in PSIA, then the reading will go down, how much depends on the temperature and volume of the tank. The bigger and colder the tank, the more the reading will go down.
    And it will stabilize within minutes, but will take longer if there is a bigger or colder tank.
    2. Open the tank to atmosphere and the tank will suck air in.
    3. The amount of CO2 that will dissolve in the tank in this case depends on the volume and temperature of the tank. It will take more if the tank is cold and big.
    In regards to some of the acid base questions here are some explanations.
    Neutrality occurs when the amount of H+ ion and OH- ions are equal in solution. The pH that this occurs at is very slightly above 7, as the product of the concentrations of H+ and OH- is very slightly above 1.0 EE -14 and increase slightly with temperature.
    Even if the oceans are basic, with pH above 7.0, it is correct to say they are becoming more acidic if the pH is dropping even though the pH remains above 7.0.
    The reason is that things can be both acidic and basic at the same time, and it is incorrect to say something is acidic and not basic, unless you are talking about protons, which are always acidic, or helium atoms, which are always basic. Everything else is both.
    An example is sodium bicarbonate, which is applicable to the discussion, which is NaHCO3. It neutralizes both acid and base. Take a solution of sodium bicarbonate and add acid, and you get the salt of the acid and H2CO3, or add base, for example NaOH, you get Sodium carbonate and water.
    And H2CO3 is also what you get when you dissolve CO2 in water.
    Change the NaOH to CaOH and you get calcium carbonate or limestone.
    And water is both an acid and a base.
    Sorry for the chemistry lesson.

  47. Here’s a carbon sink for you, http://spacefellowship.com/2009/09/11/plentiful-plankton-from-space/
    Raw numbers on something that size? Better than the estimates for this one? http://www.earthweek.com/2009/ew091016/ew091016c.html
    And catch the snow on the ground in the first shot, not exactly prime living conditions, but hey as long as the plankton like it!
    Putting more food into the bottom of the food chain leads to a larger food chain, hard to see how that could be a bad thing.

  48. Mr Ace
    – If you want it to be 4km deep, it can be … AFAIK it should make no difference
    and bob,
    yes, assume a PSIA guage. And assume a constant room-temperature throughout, as implied, to keep things simple.
    Again AFAIK volume should make no difference … but if you need it, assume 50 or even 100 litres of water.

  49. supercritical (09:43:37) :
    Lubos Motl,
    I have difficulty in believing that the upper portion of the ocean is somehow ’saturated’ as you claim, when Henry’s law postulates that it is the partial pressure that drives the absorbtion.

    It’s not that the upper ocean is saturated with CO2 that is the issue, it’s that only the upper ocean is in direct contact with the atmosphere. It’s over the ocean-atmosphere boundary that diffusional CO2 exchange occurs and hence the boundary layers (both atmospheric and oceanic) where CO2 exchange is occuring is where Henry’s Law directly applies.

    So, if the partial pressure of CO2 is seen to have increased by 3ppmv, then the equivalent of 50X this amount will have been absorbed.

    Not quite. The roughly 50:1 partitioning of inorganic C (as CO2 in the atmosphere and DIC in the ocean) is simply the ratio you get for the prevailing chemical conditions. The partitioning of CO2 between the air and seawater fractions is not constant though–it varies non-linearly as you change DIC concentration and/or total alkalinity (i.e., acid neutralizing capacity). See Stumm and Morgan (Aquatic Chemistry), Zeebe and Wolf-Gladrow (CO2 in Seawater), etc. for extensive discussions of carbonate chemistry.
    The change in buffer intensity for a given change in DIC is often expressed with the short-had Revelle factor (good for back of the notebook estimations). For more precise answers you’ve gotta do the calculations.

    Can you explain why Henry’s law somehow gets suspended in the conditions we are talking about?

    As above, it doesn’t, but Henry’s Law only directly operates at the ocean-atmosphere interface, where CO2 exchange actually occurs.

    And just to forestall claims that “things are not in equilibrium because it takes a long time for Henry’s Law absorbtion/outgassing to happen” … it seems to work pretty quickly enough for the fizzy-drink bottling industry.

    Yes, definitely. A soda or bottle of soda in contact with pure CO2 is something like the boundary layer in the ocean and atmosphere. CO2 exchange is relatively fast there. However, it takes thousands of years for an equivalent parcel of water to be transported though the ocean via thermohaline circulation.

    So if possible I’d like to know if there are any experimental values for the absorbtion rates of CO2 in water.

    Yep, there is a fair bit of data. I’d suggest Millero, 2006 Chemical Oceanography as a starting point.

  50. Luboš Motl (07:57:57) :
    “Of course I agree that in the extremely long run, the actual rise in the atmosphere will be negligible because the oceans return us to the equilibrium value that will only be raised by 1/50 of our future emissions from the present values. At the very end, 49/50 of the added CO2 will drop to the ocean while 1/50 will stay in the atmosphere.”
    The problem with this chain of logic is that it likely contradicts the widely disseminated claim that anthropogenic emissions are a small fraction of natural emissions.
    Here is a simple model strictly to illustrate the point.Suppose the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is C, and its nominal equilibrium value is Co. Consider a differential equation of the form
    Cdot = (Co – C)/tau + a
    where “a” is the anthropogenic forcing and tau is the time constant. Suppose tau is very large, so that (Co – C)/tau is negligible, and the equation is approximately
    Cdot := a
    In the near term, the value of C is approximately
    C = Co + integral(a)
    Aha! So, we go up approximately by integral(a). Since integral(a) is about double the overall rise we have seen thus far, then it is perfectly plausible that most of the rise we have seen so far is due to “a”, right?
    But, wait. Co/tau actually represents the rate of CO2 coming back into the system to keep it steady at C = Co without the anthropogenic forcing. It is said that “a” is no greater than 3% of natural emissions at the present time (and you say 1/50 or 2%), so we must have at most a is less than or equal to 0.03*Co/tau to date. If tau is very large, then “a” will be negligible. Since we know “a” is not negligible, tau cannot be very large.
    In fact, if you assume Co is about 300 ppm more or less, and “a” is maybe 1-5 ppm/year at its maximum, then tau is less than or equal to 0.03*300/1 = 9 years. In this model, C is never greater than 1.03*Co up to the present time, being limited to Co*(1.03-0.03*exp(-t/tau)) up to the present time.
    The model may be extremely simplified, and nonlinearties change the gains based on concentration, temperature, and other things. But, you can still analyze things the same way via linearization, and the result you come up with is that the local sensitivity has to be much greater than I believe would be likely given the historical record.

  51. Chris,
    Thanks for your post. I am trying to keep things simple, so given the rough 1:50 ratio of atmospheric CO2 to dissolved CO2, that Henry’s law predicts at any level of partial pressure of CO2, I do understand that this ratio varies a bit for different conditions of salinity, etc .. (as well as temperature which I haven’t go to yet )
    But, surely it does not vary all the way down to 1:2 as Lubos Motls’ post implies?
    And \as I note that you do agree that the soda-bottle analogy does support Henry’s law; perhaps you could have a go at my experiment-quiz, which you can find upthread a little.

  52. Supercritical,
    By my calculations, the volume does make a difference.
    For room temperature with a 1 liter tank the final gage pressure is 0.53 bar.
    For room temperature with an 100 liter tank the final pressure is 0.01 bar.
    Does that agree with you?

  53. Bart (15:02:01) :
    What is Co here? We don’t know what that is. You need to model the ocean, too. And then the trees and dirt, for good measure. I think what you’re also losing is that the natural flows from ocean to atmosphere and from atmosphere to ocean take place at different places on the earth. You need a global model to capture that.
    The net transport from atmosphere to ocean (at any given spot) will have the driving force (actual partial pressure of CO2 in the bulk atmosphere) minus (the partial pressure of CO2 that the air right at the surface would have, if it were in equilibrium with the CO2 in the top layer of the water, as expressed by Henry’s Law).
    But then, you have to consider all the inorganic chemistry (as the CO2 goes to bicarbonate), and the interactions with biology, and the actual patterns and time scale of mixing with the deap ocean, and the temperatures and circulation in the ocean, and the rate of carbon sedimenting out to the bottom of the ocean, and you’d have to get net transport into the ocean at the Southern Ocean, net transport out of the ocean in the tropics…
    You’ll note there are multiple time scales here, as there are multiple processes with different time scales – diffusion at the surface, mixing with the deep ocean, response of marine biology, etc.
    Pretty soon, you’d have re-invented the wheel that’s already been built and published by David Archer.
    Sometimes a simple cartoon model can be instructive. I suppose this one could be, but only over a very small section of area, and only in the well-mixed top part of an ocean.
    It absolutely won’t give you the global outflows and inflows into the ocean; you need a global model for that.

  54. Vincent (04:35:09) :
    “Wasn’t there a recent paper from Bristol universtity that came to the opposite conclusion, that the absorbtion of CO2 has been increasing steadily? ”
    I was wondering if anybody would notice these two papers were on similar topics. That paper (Knorr, 2009) was much, much more simple than this one. Knorr basically divided the red curve (air) by the black curve (emissions)* in the figure above, and found that there was no significant trend in the resulting fraction (airborne fraction). Though by his method, if there was a subtle change in the airborne fraction in the last decade, I don’t think he’d have found it. If these guys (Khatiwala et al) discuss the airborne fraction, I didn’t see it on skimming the paper. So it isn’t obvious there is an opposite conclusion.
    [*Also, I think Knorr’s version of the black curve included some things that are in these guys’ green curve (land); something to check. Note that the curves look smoothed in this new paper.].
    Knorr did not even attempt to find the blue curve (ocean) above, as it requires a good deal more work. So the major contribution of this paper is that they found that blue curve, assuming they did a good job of it. The green curve is then simply found by subtraction, they they claim it roughly matches what others have found going forwards.
    The attention comes from the ocean sink (blue curve) not quite keeping up the pace recently. On the other hand, the land and biosphere (green curve) picks up some of the slack.
    Given how complicated this one is, I’d remember this work, but wait to see what else gets published in this area.

  55. Something about the c02 cycle puzzles me. There seems to be considerable agreement that about half the anthro CO2 introduced into the atmosphere is removed within a year, or less. Some is dissolved in sea water, some taken up by terrestrial and marine plants, and some (about 25%) disappears into the “missing sink.” This loss fraction appears to remain constant regardless of the atmospheric partial pressure of CO2 (at least that has been the assumption until this new paper).
    At the same time, the “accepted” half-life of a given quantity of CO2 added to the natural cycle is 38 years. E.g., if we were to instantly add 100 ppmv of CO2 to the atmosphere, then (ignoring all possible feedbacks) that addition would be reduced to 50 ppmv in 38 years, halved again in another 38 years, etc., until a new equilibrium was reached.
    These two assumptions are clearly inconsistent. If we add 4 ppmv/annually, but only 2 ppmv is measured only months later, how can the half-life be 38 years?
    Anyone have an explanation for this?

  56. bob,
    Do your results point to Henry’s law needing to include a term for the ratio of gas and liquid volumes?

  57. carrot eater (17:06:44) :
    “But then, you have to consider all the inorganic chemistry (as the CO2 goes to bicarbonate), and the interactions with biology, and…”
    No, that’s really not it, CE. As long as the model is globally linear and time invariant*, in the steady state, I am never going to get more percentage-wise than the extra forcing I put in. I might get a transient with some overshoot, but in the end, it’s going to settle down proportional to the input**. Moreover, the magnitude of any transient is going to depend on the rapidity of the increase in the input forcing***, and our increasing CO2 output has been at a gradually rising, measured pace over the past century.
    Suppose there were a large transient, though, and it took 50 years from now to settle out****. Further suppose that, by that time, we were outputting 10% of the level of the natural flux into the atmosphere. The CO2 level, according to such a model, would only be up 10% from this forcing. Given that anthropogenic forcing currently stands accused of increasing CO2 concentration 30% or more in the last 50 years, that’s not a very big deal.
    What is needed to square the circle is for some nonlinearity to produce a markedly increasing (factor of 10 or more) marginal sensitivity. But, if such a large sensitivity were to exist, it should show up as increasingly chaotic behavior due to yearly variations in the natural forcing (the natural variations would be amplified, too). I have no access to the raw data so, for all I know, they could be seeing that, but I tend to think they would have broadcast it by now, because it would significantly bolster their case.
    * constant gain parameters – time varying system parameters usually come about because of linearization of some nonlinearity along a particular trajectory though, so this is almost redundant
    ** please don’t argue with me on this, it is definitional for linear systems – look for more promising angles of attack in what comes later
    *** how far the frequency content is beyond the bandwidth of the closed loop system or, relatedly, to what order the input is continuous
    ****I am doing a reductio here, because that likelihood, in my opinion, is slim to none

  58. Bart, let me maybe make it more clear.
    You have a term (Co – C)/tau. You don’t know what Co is, which is itself troubling, but let’s go with it. If the concentration in the air exceeds Co, then this term will get rid of it by removing it to some unspecified sink, by unspecified physical processes. Very well.
    But Co-C is just your driving force. If you really want to equate the term with some physically observed value, then it has to be the global NET carbon flow into the atmosphere. For the moment, let’s use the numbers in here, as they’re handy:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Carbon_cycle-cute_diagram.svg
    At the time of the diagram, your term (Co-C)/tau is equivalent to -2.2 GtonCarbon/year (I’m not going to bother fussing with the conversion to ppm).
    Meanwhile, at the given time, your term ‘a’ is equivalent to +5.5 GtonCarbon/year (again, not bothering with converting to ppm)
    Assuming I added correctly, about 60% is staying in the air.
    So far, so rough, but OK for limited purposes. We should stop there, as it’s as far as this line of inquiry is going to take us.
    Here’s your problem: you try to go further, and try to assign physical values to things which you cannot. “Co/tau actually represents the rate of CO2 coming back into the system to keep it steady at C = Co without the anthropogenic forcing.”
    No, it doesn’t represent that, at all. You seem really wanting to separate (Co-C)/tau into two separate elements, Co/tau and C/tau, and setting them equal to things you see on the diagram: the sum of the inflows, and the sum of the outflows. You simply can’t. Co-C is just your global driving force; written as you have, you can’t break it up and give the two parts some physical meaning. Over the globe, the term adds up to -2.2 gton carbon/year at the time of the diagram. You really want to equate Co/tau with 211.6 gton/year and C/tau with 213.8 gton/year, but that isn’t valid. In order to actually find the INDIVIDUAL flows in and out of the atmosphere, you absolutely need a global model that describes all those individual flows, as in my last comment – a global model that has oceans, ocean chemistry, ocean biology, ocean circulation, and the works. All your model can do is give some really rough idea of the overall NET flow, based on the assumption that the net flow will have a single time scale and a simple driving force, as expressed by (Co-C)/tau.

  59. In retrospect, my last comment might have been unduly picky. The main disconnect is that I don’t understand exactly what Bart is trying to learn from his little model. What, exactly, are you trying to show? Once that is clear, then the level of detail required in the model would also be more clear.
    If emissions stopped tomorrow, and went straight to zero, then a thinking along Bart’s lines would be vaguely useful. For the first couple years, the net outflow from the atmosphere would probably be about what it is now (as Motl says above, I think); over time this net outflow would necessarily decrease as some steady state is approached (as Bart’s model captures). You might get some rough ballpark idea of a half-life from here.
    However, it must be remembered that there isn’t a single physical process here; there are multiple, each with different time scales. And the steady state value Co isn’t obvious ahead of time. So a simple little exercise like this might add some rough understanding, but to get the whole picture, I’d suggest looking at the work already done by David Archer.

  60. Has anybody out there looked at Henry’s Law lately? That “experience curve” looks a LOT like a plot of experimental data for a chemistry lab on Henry’s Law.

  61. Tadchem,
    Yes, I have, and you are right, it does look a lot like Henry’s law.
    But which is it?
    The warming oceans increasing the CO2 in the atmosphere or the increasing CO2 warming the oceans?
    Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm,
    Supercrit,
    No, I didn’t consider any ratio of volumes between the gas and the liquid.
    I calculated the amount of CO2 gas present in 1 liter of CO2 at room temperature using the Ideal Gas Law, in moles.
    Then I calculated the partial pressures by Henry’s law for the liquid and (partial) pressure by the Ideal Gas Law for the gas part, using the amount in moles calculed above minus n for one and n for the other, (summed they equal the amount calculated above) and set them both equal and sovled for the amount of CO2 in moles in each part (gas and liquid)
    Then used that amount to calculate the pressure.
    All that showed to me is that CO2 dissolves in water.

  62. carrot eater (07:01:51) :
    None of this matters, really. What I said is true no matter what your model is. If it is globally linear, then the sensitivity to forcing is linear.
    “The main disconnect is that I don’t understand exactly what Bart is trying to learn from his little model. What, exactly, are you trying to show?”
    What I am showing is that things are not so simple as “we have put in X gT of carbon and atmospheric CO2 has risen by 1/2 that amount, therefore the rise is due to us”. That statement is naive to the point of imbecility, and I have ground the enamel off my teeth from hearing it so often.
    The other thing I am showing is that, in order to accept the AGW hypothesis, you have to accept an nonlinear climate response with dramatically increasing sensitivity, for which there appears to be little evidence, at least in what has filtered down to my level. In situations like that, my experience has been that a narrative has been constructed, and the caution and uncertainties expressed behind closed doors have not made it out to the final report for public consumption. On a topic as critical as this one for the health and well-being of the citizens of this nation, I am not content merely to take the word of “experts”. I want proof.
    I looked up your David Archer on the web. He does not appear to have published anything openly available which delves into the nuts and bolts of the actual climate models. Do you have a link to such a reference?

  63. Bart (09:19:11) :
    “What I am showing is that things are not so simple as “we have put in X gT of carbon and atmospheric CO2 has risen by 1/2 that amount, therefore the rise is due to us”.”
    Taken on its own, you couldn’t say that without a doubt, but it’d be very strongly suggested. That’s why people bother to study the carbon cycle. The ocean and land/biosphere are net sinks for carbon. The ocean pH is decreasing, after all. (The land is a sink if you put deforestation effects into the human emission column). That leaves no option; the only net source is human activity. On top of that, carbon isotope data is consistent with all of this. Your little model isn’t going to change any of that – especially since it uses some of the data from all that, anyway. To change the picture, you’d have to challenge the flows on the carbon cycle itself, and somehow turn the ocean into a net source.
    “The other thing I am showing is that, in order to accept the AGW hypothesis, you have to accept an nonlinear climate response with dramatically increasing sensitivity”
    Increasing sensitivity of what to what? So far, we’ve been discussing the carbon cycle. Are you still on the carbon cycle itself? Are you surprised that the oceans are a net sink?
    “I looked up your David Archer on the web.”
    The paper I had in mind was “Fate of fossil fuel CO2 in geologic time”, Journal of Geophysical Research, vol 110 (2005). I don’t know if it’s floating around in the public domain. But no matter. The Global Carbon Project or somebody else must have stuff available to look at.

  64. bob
    From my thought-quiz, with a sealed container with N litres of water and a 1 litre headspace initially filled with CO2 at 1 bar. My first approximation at a result would be a for an absolute pressure reading stabilising at a steady 0.02 bar, within seconds.
    Then if I increased the CO2 into the headspace so that I got a steady 2 bar reading, I reckon I’d need to inject 100 litres of C02. Again, this should be pretty quick.
    So if I started the quiz again to simulate the atmosphere, and filled the 1litre headspace with CO2 to get a steady reading of 300 ppmv ( or 0.3 millibars, or 0.3 cc) I’d reckon on injecting about 15 cc of CO2.
    And then, if I wanted to simulate the increase of atmospheric CO2 by 2 ppm/year, ( i.e. ~ 0.003 millibars, or 0.003cc) I would have to inject another initial 0.15 cc of CO2.
    So what? It means that, to increase the 300 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere by 2ppm, I would need to initially add 50x this amount, or 100 ppm. And then it would not take very long at all for the new reading to stabilise at the new 302 ppmv.
    But there are estimates that claim that man puts out about 4 ppm/y of CO2 directly into the atmosphere ..so if after a short while 49/50 of it will be absorbed then we can only be accountable for around 0.04 ppm/y of the residual CO2 in the atmosphere. Where is that other 2 – 0.04 = 1.96/y ppm coming from?
    My first idea is that we are looking for a CO2 source which is entirely coincidentally emitting some 50x more than man.
    And, I would start by looking at CO2 from those recently discovered huge numbers of ocean hydrothermal vents (a form of volcano, after all ) and maybe separately, their warming effect down in the deep oceans, which could cause considerable outgassing from the local waters as well.
    But next, I need a quick rule-of-thumb for the temperature effects on the Henry’s law ratio of 1:50 for CO2 and water, in the form of a modifier for the ratio, per degree C. Does anybody have such a number to hand?

  65. “That leaves no option; the only net source is human activity.”
    This is argumentum ad ignorantiam. You do not know of any other option, therefore the premise must be true. This is a commonly employed logical fallacy. Process of elimination only works if you have a fully known, compact set of alternatives. The recent unanticipated global cooling cycle should give any reasonable person grounds to suspect that the AGW establishment is not so thoroughly omniscient.
    “Increasing sensitivity of what to what”
    Increasing sensitivity of the level of atmospheric CO2 to the input forcing. Natural release of CO2 far outweighs that of anthropogenic sources on a yearly basis; I have been citing 3% as a widely accepted upper bound. See the post Bart (11:36:11) : here for some background. Don’t let the fact that I was assuming Philip_B’s value of 4% instead of my usual 3% confuse you.

  66. The CO2/H2O equilibrium is complicated:
    http://www.chem.usu.edu/~sbialkow/Classes/3600/Overheads/Carbonate/CO2.html
    The simplest explanation is the information in the above link is that, for a given pH, the warmer the temperature of the water – the higher the pressure of CO2 in the air that will be in equilibrium with it. The alkali content of the water (“hardness” if you prefer) will ‘pull’ the carbonic acid / bicarbonate / carbonate distribution towards the carbonate, making room for more CO2 to dissolve in the water while lowering the pH *very* slightly.
    The heat capacity of the ocean overwhelms the trace concentration of CO2 in the air and makes the temperature the driver of this system.
    Bottom line, the ocean becomes a HUGE sink for CO2, and the correlation between CO2 levels and temperature shown in the “experience curve” demonstrates that this system is in equilibrium, so minor fluctuations in the CO2 levels from other sources will be dealt with quantitatively.
    The real source of CO2 in the atmosphere (and the driver for ‘global warming’ models) is therefore whatever is supplying heat to the oceans: solar energy or geothermal energy (recall the Mid-Atlantic ridge, ‘black smokers,’ and the multi-year Gakkel Ridge eruption, to name just a few).

  67. Bart (11:24:20) :
    “This is argumentum ad ignorantiam.”
    Oh, please. It is no such thing. Just imagine what you need to happen, for your idea to work. You would need either the oceans or land/biosphere to be a net source of carbon. If you try to put forward any other hypothesis (a CO2 pipeline from Venus, or volcanoes, or..), that hypothesis can be immediately shown to be untenable. So we’re back to air, ocean and biosphere/land. Pick a source, and then try to figure out how it can possibly be consistent with the observed fluxes and isotope data.
    “Increasing sensitivity of the level of atmospheric CO2 to the input forcing.”
    I still don’t follow what you mean. You add carbon to the system; it builds up in different places. What’s the big mystery?
    “Natural release of CO2 far outweighs that of anthropogenic sources on a yearly basis; I have been citing 3% as a widely accepted upper bound.”
    And what is the natural flow back out of the atmosphere, Bart? Why is it that you fixate on the arrows going up in this diagram, but not the arrows going down?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Carbon_cycle-cute_diagram.svg

  68. Supercrit,
    I don’t know how you figured out how fast the gas would dissolve in solution, but here is the equation I came up with to figure out the pressure.
    P= (Henry’s K)(moles of CO2 gas)(Volume of CO2 gas)(R)(T)
    ——————————————-
    ((Volume Tank)(R)(T)+(Henry’s K)(Volume of CO2 gas))(Volume CO2 gas)
    where Henry’s K is the Henry’s law constant (variable)
    R is the Ideal gas law constant
    T is temperature
    So, I’m wondering where you got the 50 to 1 ratio.
    I think it comes from the natural sources (and sinks) of CO2 being 50 times what man produces.
    We don’t need to look for a source we already know that.
    The reason CO2 doesn’t go up as fast as 4ppm per year is that about half is absorbed by the sinks one of which is the oceans.
    And then there really is no simple rule of thumb for Henry’s law with temperature but there is an equation.
    Henry’s Constant for temp T = H time e to the exponent -2400(1/T-1/298)
    and I apologize for being in a hurry and not doing sub and superscripts for the above equation.
    thanks

  69. bob,
    I got 1:50 ratio at 25 deg C from slide 23 of Tom Segalstad’s presentation:
    http://www.slideshare.net/stevenfoley/gw-tom-segalstad
    And Wiki gives “Partial pressure of CO2 in seawater doubles with every 16 K increase in temperature”
    So, if this is right it looks like a sea temperature change of only 0.00032 deg C is required to see an outgassing of 2ppm of CO2!
    Wow!

  70. Sorry, correction:
    Sea temperature increase of ~ 0.08 degrees needed to increase atmospheric CO2 by 2ppm.
    Stil a ‘Wow!’ result?

  71. There is an annual dip in CO2 caused by something water temp/flora/algae/etc.
    http://img175.imageshack.us/img175/9698/manyco219992001.jpg
    If absorbed by flora/algae (living stuff) then presumably the rise from the dip would be less than the fall into the dip – some CO2 would be retained by the growth. This is not apparent.
    If it is sea water then its the wrong way up – summer would be higher CO2 (warm water). Also sea water is not saturated by CO2 so would it breathe with temperature?
    Since 1974 the depth of the annual dip in CO2 (Start april end August) has increase from 14.5 to 20ppm approx:
    http://img183.imageshack.us/img183/1212/depthofptbarrowdip.jpg
    If warming is happening then sea water and air temp will be warmed to the same value where absoption occurs earlier each year:
    days from jan 1st = -1.945E-04x + 2.377E+02
    plot here:
    http://img89.imageshack.us/img89/1610/barrowdateofminiman.jpg
    Note that in Barrow there is little/no change in the date of minimum (.0002 days/year) but temperature has significantly increased.

  72. There is an annual dip in CO2 caused by something water temp/flora/algae/etc.
    http://img175.imageshack.us/img175/9698/manyco219992001.jpg
    If absorbed by flora/algae (living stuff) then presumably the rise from the dip would be less than the fall into the dip – some CO2 would be retained by the growth. This is not apparent.
    If it is sea water then its the wrong way up – summer would be higher CO2 (warm water). Also sea water is not saturated by CO2 so would it breathe with temperature?
    Since 1974 the depth of the annual dip in CO2 (Start April end August) has increase from 14.5 to 20ppm approx:
    http://img183.imageshack.us/img183/1212/depthofptbarrowdip.jpg
    If warming is happening then sea water and air temp will be warmed to the same value where absorption occurs earlier each year:
    days from Jan 1st = -1.945E-04x + 2.377E+02
    plot here:
    http://img89.imageshack.us/img89/1610/barrowdateofminiman.jpg
    Note that in Barrow there is little/no change in the date of minimum (.0002 days/year) but temperature has significantly increased.

  73. This will probably kill the thread but what the hell – sometimes you just gotta…
    The Ordovician era. I came across an article on it from the palaeos web site (see link below). This era just after the Cambrian and its explosion of life has something interesting to say on the current climate debate.
    http://www.palaeos.com/Paleozoic/Ordovician/Ordovician.htm
    In AGW narrative a “plan B” exists in the shape of ocean acidification. We all know CO2 is increasing (leave aside for now whether its anthropogenic or not). Basically, if CO2 cant be relied on to warm the atmosphere, then at least it will “acidify” the oceans and dissolve all the beautiful coral. A kind of reserve catastrophe on the subs bench.
    So what does the Ordovician era have to say on this subject?
    (1) During the ordovician, atmospheric concentration of CO2 was 8-20 times higher than now.
    (2) The Ordovician was a good era for marine lifeforms, including those with calcified parts (which contribute most fossils). “It was also one of the largest adaptive radiations in the Earth’s history.” In particular, it was the era in which corals first evolved.
    (3) Did the oceans acidify due to the high atmospheric CO2 and kill of the coral? Evidently not.
    (4) What kind of catastrophic warming was caused by the high atmospheric CO2? This kind: the era ended with one of the severest ice ages in earth’s history, of the “snowball earth” variety, with glaciers covering what is now the Sahara.
    Christian creationists (who of course dont represent all christians) recognise history only 6000 years back. For AGW proponents, the earth began in 1850. However for the CO2 linked AGW hypothesis to hold water, it needs to be credible in the context of well established palaeohistory of climate. In the Ordovician, the hypothesis fails absolutely.

  74. carrot eater (12:07:39) :
    “Oh, please. It is no such thing.”
    This shows you do not understand the tenets of formal logic or the minimum requirements for proof. This is the kind of thinking which led humankind for centuries to believe that bleeding patients with leeches would cure illness, or that “night gases” were responsible for sickness, or that regular bathing was bad for your health. Not knowing of microbial life, they had exhausted all other possibilities, therefore, the logic of their conclusions appeared inescapable.
    We like to imagine that we are intellectually superior to our forebears, merely because we know more. But, the processes of logic never change, and though the fallacies to which we cling may become more sophisticated, to them we remain magnificently vulnerable via our innate hubris.
    “I still don’t follow what you mean. You add carbon to the system; it builds up in different places. What’s the big mystery?”
    It doesn’t just build up, it also dissipates. The rate at which it builds up and dissipates is key to the entire puzzle. By placing a limit on the rate at which we are forcing the buildup (my 3%), we gain insight into the possible trajectories of its concentration as a result of our actions, and can falsify various hypotheses as to how it will all unfold.
    “And what is the natural flow back out of the atmosphere, Bart?”
    That is my whole point. And, that outward flow rate is lower bounded by the rate at which we are putting emissions into the air, the rate at which we have observed concentrations rise, and the plausibility of the given flow rate models.
    carrot eater (10:45:25)
    “The paper I had in mind was “Fate of fossil fuel CO2 in geologic time”, Journal of Geophysical Research, vol 110 (2005).”
    I found the paper here. Color me unimpressed. A paper this sketchy would never have passed the peer review of the journals in my field in which I have been published. It is difficult to grasp his entire methodology given the level of detail. But, at the very least, I notice two things:
    1) He states that “the maximum amount that could ultimately be released would seem to be about 5000 Gton C, on a timescale of several centuries.” He then projects his two significantly alarming accumulation projections based on “…2000, and 5000 Gton C are released following a Gaussian trajectory of 150 years half-width centered on the year 2100.” That is, he releases 40% and 100% of the entire reservoir in a mere 150 years.
    2) The responses have a large transient, which indicates only the degree to which his forcing exceeds the bandwidth of his assumed system response, and when you are pumping out so much in such a short time, and assuming a 1000 year fundamental time constant, it is hardly surprising that you get a huge blip before the system eventually settles out in the very long term steady state to just barely above the level he started with.
    In short, the worst case results in this analysis are almost completely conjectural, and depend critically on assumptions which are not based on real world behavior.
    “The Global Carbon Project or somebody else must have stuff available to look at.”
    Meaning, you have taken it on faith that “somebody else” has looked at this, and that is good enough for you. It is not good enough for me.

  75. Bart (12:28:39) :
    Spare me the lecture on unrelated matters. You are asserting that somehow, the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere could somehow unrelated to the carbon being added to the carbon cycle by use of fossil fuels (along with deforestation). Instead of speaking of leeches, you might put forth some hypothesis as to how this might be, and how such a hypothesis would be consistent with observations.
    “It doesn’t just build up, it also dissipates.”
    By dissipate, I assume you mean the accumulation in the oceans. If that’s what you’re interested in, just study what we know about ocean-atmosphere exchange.
    “I found the paper here. Color me unimpressed. A paper this sketchy would never have passed the peer review of the journals in my field in which I have been published.”
    It is a short one, yes; don’t read it in isolation. I just gave you a starting point. You can follow up on the rest of the literature from there. Archer has also a book on the topic.
    “He then projects his two significantly alarming accumulation projections based on “…2000, and 5000 Gton C ”
    He did it for 300, 1000, 2000 and 5000. The amount we’ve already emitted is in the 300 range, isn’t it? Why did you neglect to point that out? The rest of your points fall out from there, I’d say. What I’m meaning for you to look at is the actual physics. These aren’t mathematical abstractions; there are actual physical processes at hand.
    “Meaning, you have taken it on faith that “somebody else” has looked at this, and that is good enough for you. It is not good enough for me.”
    I’ll speak for myself, thanks. I had the impression you couldn’t get behind paywalls, so I was offering a place where you might find information, outside the literature. Chapter 7 of IPCC WG1 probably also has a review of the area.

  76. carrot eater (16:23:34) :
    “Spare me the lecture on unrelated matters. “
    Spare me the pose. If you are uninterested in formal logic, there is no point in further discussion. You can go back to reading chicken entrails or beseeching burning bushes for enlightenment if that is what you choose, it does not really matter to me.
    “He did it for 300, 1000, 2000 and 5000. The amount we’ve already emitted is in the 300 range, isn’t it? Why did you neglect to point that out?”
    The increases for the first two cases do not appear to be particularly worrisome, so I focused on the latter two. That is why I stated “…his two significantly alarming accumulation projections…”.
    For the rest, I have to admit, I was not familiar with the currently claimed levels of output. I jumped to the conclusion that, after he had stated that “the maximum amount that could ultimately be released would seem to be about 5000 Gton C, on a timescale of several centuries,” and he then appeared to proceed to release it all over a 1.5 century interval, then by his own description, he appeared to have speeded up the process considerably. That, however, may not be the case, depending on what he meant by “Gaussian trajectory”, which suggests different types of functions in different disciplines. It could mean that his effective forcing interval is at least 300 years, which can fit the definition of “several”. The details of how that trajectory is formed are, lamentably, missing.
    Regardless, it still falls flat, because in the time that anthropogenic emissions would be 2000 to 5000 Gtons, natural processes would add over 100 Tera-tons. So, we have a net 5% or so additional input at most. To get the type of amplification he is projecting, his model has to be extraordinarily sensitive to high frequency behavior (the model has to be dependent on derivatives of the forcing rate) or his marginal sensitivity has to be extraordinarily high (the system is very nonlinear), and his dominant time constants have to be extraordinarily and unrealistically long (the very fact that the rise in CO2 concentrations of the last 50 years is only half of the recognized anthropogenic forcing is not compatible with the asserted 1000 year dominant time constant).
    I have argued each and every one of these points over this series of exchanges with you. If you can point me to sources which have detailed mathematical descriptions of the model or models, then I can deconstruct them for you and tell you precisely what is going on, and which parts of the models are, by my lights, reasonable and which are not. Otherwise, I believe we are at an impasse, and we no doubt both have more productive uses for our time than to continue reiterating points we have already made to one another.

  77. Supercritical —
    See the pink graph at the top of this thread. Increase of 0.265C corresponds to a rise of 40 ppmv CO2.
    Correlation of SST with atmospheric CO2 is 0.996.

  78. Sabine, who was not involved in the new study, said he saw some limitations. For one, he said, the study assumes circulation has remained steady, along with the amount of organic matter in the oceans.
    The old Economics joke about this “technique” is “Given these conclusions, what assumptions can we draw?”..
    The organic stuff in the ocean is not constant. The circulation has not remained steady. (PDO, AMO, … these things show change.)
    They say that until the 1940s, the landscape produced excess carbon dioxide, possibly due to logging and the clearing and burning of forests for farming. Deforestation and other land-use changes continue at a rapid pace today—but now, each year the land appears to be absorbing 1.1 billion tons more carbon than it is giving off.
    In other words, they have no clue and are ASSUMING it must be land use doing it… How can you on the one hand say continued and accelerating clearing of the Amazon now is raising CO2 but CO2 is being absorbed more on land, yet say that in the past when we had much more of the Amazon, it was absorbing less?
    These folks are just making stuff up.
    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/06/02/of-trees-volcanos-and-pond-scum/
    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/02/25/the-trouble-with-c12-c13-ratios/
    I also note in passing that this is Yet Another Article that purports to look at CO2 absorption into the ocean and completely ignores the issue of very cold rain acting as a “stripper column”. Anyone who does ChemE stuff knows that when you want to strip a gas of a contaminant one of the best ways to a counter current flow of solvent drops or mist. Far better than sitting over a puddle of solvent.
    And we have a sky filled with cold falling water. Some is snow, some is sleet, some is just rain. ALL of it, even fog, an ideal CO2 absorber / stripper. Heck, wasn’t Acid Rain in part blamed on carbonic acid? Were not caverns in limestone reputed to be leached by carbonic acid in rain? How did we get so much carbonic acid without stripping CO2?
    Yet they focus on a large flat body of water with minimal surface area and much slower flow rates as The Thing.
    Just Silly.
    If you would understand what happens in the air and to the gas mix, you must look at the CONSTANT global flow of thousands of tons of microscopic sized scrubber droplets of COLD water falling through that air and floating around as clouds. Not the warm interface of a quiet tropical sea…
    I think they need to hire some ChemE guys in climate science departments …

  79. contrarian,
    thanks for mentioning the pink graph formula; I had not wanted to use it to broach the subject. But since you have, it seems that the Mauna Loa measurements of 2ppm/yr could be explained by a local sea-temperature increase of 0.0128 deg C/yr
    Now apart from the physical near-impossibility of measuring such a temperature difference directly, there would be the question of where and how this heat could be coming from.
    As I understand it, Mauna Loa is a shield volcano, and apart from the ‘runny’ lave-flows running into the local sea to heat it up, there is the possiblity of a local network of undersea hydrothermal vents also adding to local warming. We are looking at a temperature rise of around 13 thousanths of a degree!
    [PS as an aside, might Mauna Loa’s NDIR measurement of airborne C02 in ppm, be more an actual example of an exquisitely sensitive thermometer rather than evidence of AGW?]
    And E.M.Smith,
    The idea of raindrops acting as powerful scrubbers leads to the question of crystallisation.
    What is the difference in CO2 absorbitivity between the various phases of water?
    And when there is a rapid phase-change, say when ice-crystals form, is there a consequent rapid release of C02?

  80. Contrarian,
    Even if the Mauna Loa figure of 2ppm/yr increase in atmospheric CO2 was not local, you would agree that a sea-surface temperature rise of 13 thousandths of one degree per year would be sufficient to cause such an increase?

  81. supercritical (01:55:09) :
    “Sea temperature increase of ~ 0.08 degrees needed to increase atmospheric CO2 by 2ppm.”
    Well, plotting the Mauna Loa year-on-year increase against the year-on-year change in SST indicates the short term (~1 year) response of atmospheric CO2 to change in average sea surface temperature is about 5 PPM/C. This SST driven variation is superimposed on a gradual emissions driven increase in atmospheric CO2, partially off-set by ocean absorption and increased uptake by plants. (see “A look at human CO2 emissions -vs- ocean absorption” and the comments that follow, that Anthony referenced above, if you have not already done so).
    The pink graph above hides the short-term temperature response because of the 21-year moving average of temperature increase. Only the top (100 – 200 meters or so) of ocean has changed much (~0.4C) in temperature past 50 years; the deep ocean (which has ~95% of the ocean’s volume and CO2 absorbing capacity) has hardly changed at all in temperature over that 50 year period. So the volume weighted average increase in ocean temperature over the past 50 years is tiny (probably in the range of 0.02C).
    The 21-year lagged increase in sea surface probably correlates well with the increase in atmospheric CO2 because the slow, long-term SST rise is being driven by radiative warming from increased atmospheric CO2 (and other infrared absorbing gases), not because the CO2 level is being driven by sea surface temperature changes. Increases in SST (from about 1900 on) are consistent with a relatively low climate sensitivity to radiative forcing: a little under 1 degree C for the radiative forcing that comes from doubling CO2 in the atmosphere, as lots of people have observed. (Which is in contrast with the IPCC, which suggests ~3C warming for a doubling of CO2.)

  82. E.M.Smith (00:32:05) :
    I am not qualified to comment on the “stripping” action, but there is a hell of a lot of surface area there. Do you have any reliable references in which this is studied?

  83. As another mathematically challenged lurker, following is a simple minded analysis I did back in mid 2004.
    3) http://cdiac.esd.ornl.gov/ftp/ndp030/global.1751_2004.ems
    From tables accessible at 2) and 3) we can do some decadal average annual analysis as:
    Decade 1 2 3 4 5
    Years ’54-63 ’64-’73 ’74-’83 ’84-’93 ’94-`03
    Ave. annual fuel emissions (Gt/yr) 2.4 3.4 5.0 6.0 6.7
    Percent change decade to decade 42 47 20 12
    Ave. annual atmos. conc’n delta (ppm/yr) 0.8 1.1 1.4 1.5 1.8
    Atmos. conc’n delta per Gt emission (ppB) 333 324 280 250 270
    Implied atmospheric retention (Gt) 1.7 2.3 2.9 3.1 3.7
    Airborne fraction (%) 71 68 58 52 55
    Ocean uptake from fuel (Gt) 0.7 1.1 2.1 2.9 3.0
    Deforestation factor (%) guesstimate* 1.03 1.06 1.09 1.12 1.15
    Total emissions (Gt) 2.5 3.6 5.5 6.7 7.7
    Airborne fraction of total (%) 68 64 53 46 48
    Ocean uptake total (Gt) 0.8 1.3 2.6 3.6 4.0
    *The above fuel emissions from 3) do not include any factor for deforestation/land use. Recent total emissions have been estimated by AGW advocates as slightly less than 8 Gt/yr total, giving about an additional 15% for deforestation/land use. As deforestation is to a degree linked to third world population, we can assume that factor was sequentially lower going back to prior decades. Using a higher factor for prior decades won’t change anything much. Column 3 fuel emissions data corresponds almost exactly with IPCC SAR figures.
    While total average annual emissions have gone up by a factor of 3, ocean uptake has gone up by a factor of 5. That is hardly consistent with slow mixing or near saturation of surface waters. What seems to be happening is that increasing atmospheric partial pressure is increasing the rate of ocean uptake with the rate of increase slowed by surface

  84. Steve Fitzpatrick,
    I am not convinced that consideration of deep ocean water has any relevance, unless the surface water becomes somehow saturated with CO2 to the point where Henry’s law stops working.
    As I understand it, Henry’s law is saying that the big factors driving the amount of CO2 to be found in the atmosphere, and in seawater, are a) the gas partial pressure and b) the temperature of the sea surface water.
    If the atmospheric pressure of CO2 is to rise, then Henry’s law predicts that we would have to add ~50 times this amount to begin with, as ~ 49/50 of the extra amount will dissolve in the seawater, leaving only 1/50th in the air. So, for an observed increase of 2ppm in the atmosphere , where is that 100 ppm coming from?
    But, we would not have to add any extra CO2 if we warmed the water by 0.08 degrees, because Henry’s law predicts that CO2 would then out-gas from the seawater until the atmospheric CO2 increased by 2ppm.
    I conclude from these rough first-order considerations, that;
    – The CO2 increase is more likely to come from a tiny amount of sea-surface ocean warming, than say from Anthropic or other sources.
    – If Anthropic CO2 is estimated at say 4 ppm/yr, then Henry’s law predicts that 98% of this added amount will be absorbed by the seas, leaving the Anthropic increase as only 0.08ppm/year
    (in other words, Man’s responsibility is for around 4% of the annual increase in atmospheric CO2. And, given a climate sensitivity of 1 degree for a doubling of CO2, then man’s activity speaks for one ten-thousanths of a degree per year, or so)
    And unless someone can show that these considerations are way way wrong, I for one do not think that AGW is a starter.

  85. Supercritical,
    It is plausible (based mainly on Henry’s Law) but there are complicating factors, e.g., buffering. Seems the sort of question that could be answered experimentally, i.e., de-gassing a volume of seawater, introducing an atmosphere above it with a known concentration of CO2, and measuring the equilibrium points at different temps. Don’t know if anyone has done this.
    Of course, if atmospheric CO2 is the effect, not the cause, of rising SSTs, then you need another energy source for the temp increase.

  86. Steve F —
    ” Increases in SST (from about 1900 on) are consistent with a relatively low climate sensitivity to radiative forcing: a little under 1 degree C for the radiative forcing that comes from doubling CO2 in the atmosphere, as lots of people have observed.”
    Yes. But if there is another driver of SST temps, then the sensitivity to CO2 is even lower.
    The 50-year long period of increased solar activity (about 1950-2000), and the possible effect on cloud formation (and thus reduced albedo) has not been ruled out, as far as I know. I believe Dr. Spencer is working on this.

  87. Supercritical,
    For sure, there is nothing wrong with Henry’s law!
    The ocean uptake is actually a bit more complicated, because much of the absorption/desorption is related to chemical combination of CO2 with carbonate ions to form bicarbonate. The pH of ocean water (about 8.3, I think I remember) and the level of dissolved carbonate gives the ocean substantial additional capacity for absorption of CO2 compared to what the partial pressure of CO2 in the atmosphere would yield over pure water.
    To simplify things, let’s consider how much the top 100 meters of ocean could adsorb/desorb from the atmosphere for a 1C change in temperature, without considering the buffering action of carbonate ions. I choose 100 meters because that is where most of the year-on-year change in ocean temperature takes place.
    One atmospheric pressure of pure CO2 in equilibrium with pure water gives a weight fraction of CO2 of about 2 grams/liter at 15C (about the average surface temperature of the ocean). At 388 PPM partial pressure (the present atmospheric pressure of CO2), the solubility in pure water at 15C would be about 2 * 388/1000000 = 0.000776 gram per liter. Increase the temperature by 1C, and the solubility would fall by 3.4%, or a change of about 0.000026 g/liter.
    How much weight of atmosphere is above the ocean? ~1 kg per sq. cm. The weight of CO2 in all the atmosphere directly above one square cm is about 1000 * 0.000388 *44/29 = 0.59 gram. The factor of 44/29 accounts for the higher molecular weight of CO2 compared to N2 and O2. So all the CO2 in the atmosphere above 1 one square cm is about 0.59 gram.
    Now consider how many liter’s of water lie below that same square cm of water surface if you go down to 100 meters (the region that subject to relatively rapid temperature changes). The volume is 100 meters * 100 cm/meter * 1cm sq. = 10,000 cm cubed, or ~10 liters. We calculated above that the concentration of CO2 in 1 liter of water in equilibrium with the atmosphere is ~0.000776 g at 15C, so in that 10 liters, the total weight of CO2 dissolved (at equilibrium with 388 PPM in the air) would be about 0.00776 gram, while the weight in the air above is about 0.59 gram. In other words, the top 100 meters would contain only about 1.3% as much CO2 as is in the atmosphere above. For a change of 1C in temperature, the dissolved CO2 in the top 100 meters (under 1 sq cm) would drop by ~3.4%, or about 0.034*0.00776 = 0.00026 gram. So if we warmed the surface of the top 100 meters from 15C to 16C, at equilibrium the ocean would off-gas 0.00026 g/cm sq.
    So how much of a change in the atmosphere doe this correspond to? It is, 0.00026g/1000g = 2.6 PPM by weight per degree change for the top 100 meters. Since atmospheric CO2 concentration is normally expressed as volume fraction (not weight fraction), the atmospheric change would be ~2.6 * 29/44 = 1.71 PPM by volume Now, since the ocean covers only ~70% of the Earth’s surface while the atmosphere coves 100%, the actual response would be higher by a factor of 1/0.7, or about 1.71 PPM/0.7 = 2.44 PPM per degree C. Note that this assumes equilibrium is established between the atmosphere and the top 100 meters of ocean (which may not be correct). Because of the buffering/chemical neutralization of carbonate ions, the actual rate of desorption/adsorption is higher than pure water. The year-on year change in atmospheric CO2 that can be attributed to changes in average ocean surface temperature is in the range of 5 PPM per degree C (as I noted in my earlier comment), due mostly to the much higher absorption capacity of buffered ocean water compared to pure water, partially off-set by less than perfect approach to equilibrium between the atmosphere and the ocean surface.
    If you extend the above calculation for water to the bottom of the ocean (about 4000 meters deep on average, then the change in atmospheric CO2 per degree would be (for pure water) 40 times larger, or about 100 PPM per degree C change. For buffered sea water, the capacity of the whole ocean is substantially higher.
    However, please keep in mind that the deep ocean (below a few hundred meters) has not changed by more than a couple of hundreths of a degree in the last 50+ years (if that!), so the CO2 in the deep ocean has not been released by surface warming.
    In the real world, the deep ocean is always very cold (it is fed by sinking very cold water near the poles), and so it has an even high CO2 holding capacity. Upwelling water in the tropics actually out-gases CO2 as warms, while very cold water at high latitudes absorbs CO2. The ocean on average is a large sink for CO2 because the sinking very cold water absorbs more CO2 than the warming upwelling water out-gases. The cold water sinking now is not going to release that extra CO2 to the atmosphere until it return to the surface a long time from now (somewhere between 750 and 1500 years, depending on what circulation rate data is correct). So the ocean will continue to be a net absorber of CO2 for many centuries to come.
    As the concentration of CO2 in the air rises, the weight of CO2 lost to the deep ocean will continue to rise.
    Finally, the paper about loss of ocean uptake capacity (above) looks pretty shaky to me. I think the authors go about it ass-backwards. The simplest approach is to determine (chemically) how much absorption capacity there is for real ocean water samples by measuring at different CO2 concentrations in air. To try to estimate the ocean’s capacity based on uncertain historical records of land use and fossil fuel use is extremely uncertain.

  88. E.M.Smith (00:32:05) :
    I also note in passing that this is Yet Another Article that purports to look at CO2 absorption into the ocean and completely ignores the issue of very cold rain acting as a “stripper column”.

    see (repeated below):
    bill (09:15:54) :
    There is an annual dip in CO2 caused by something water temp/flora/algae/etc.
    http://img175.imageshack.us/img175/9698/manyco219992001.jpg
    If absorbed by flora/algae (living stuff) then presumably the rise from the dip would be less than the fall into the dip – some CO2 would be retained by the growth. This is not apparent.
    If it is sea water then its the wrong way up – summer would be higher CO2 (warm water). Also sea water is not saturated by CO2 so would it breathe with temperature?
    Since 1974 the depth of the annual dip in CO2 (Start April end August) has increase from 14.5 to 20ppm approx:
    http://img183.imageshack.us/img183/1212/depthofptbarrowdip.jpg
    If warming is happening then sea water and air temp will be warmed to the same value where absorption occurs earlier each year:
    days from Jan 1st = -1.945E-04x + 2.377E+02
    plot here:
    http://img89.imageshack.us/img89/1610/barrowdateofminiman.jpg
    Note that in Barrow there is little/no change in the date of minimum (.0002 days/year) but temperature has significantly increased.

    Surely in NH rain will be warm and less in summer = less CO2 uptake and Cool and more in winter = more CO2 uptake.
    This does not agree with the 20ppm dip from spring to late summer seen at pt Barrow Alaska.
    Also at the end of july / beginning of August the CO2 starts to be released back into the atmosphere from where ever it was stored. Woul slightly cooloing ocean give it up?
    If plankton then warm water+sunlight= growth = uptake of CO2?
    But does death of plankto release the CO2 back. If incorporated in shells would it not sink?
    Land based growth would absorb for leaf growth but would decay release it back so quickly?
    Thoughts?

  89. Just a few comments from a physical chemist regarding Henry’s Law. This law says that the CO2 in the atmosphere will seek an equilibrium with the dissolved CO2 in the water (as carbonic acid – H2CO3). The exact proportions will depend on the temperature of the water, with warmer water less able to hold CO2 in solution. The mathematical statement is that at equilibrium the ratio of the partial pressure of CO2 to the concentration of H2CO3 is a temperature-dependent constant:
    K(T) = P[CO2]/[H2CO3]
    (see Wiki’s section on Henry’s_law#Temperature_dependence_of_the_Henry_constant)
    This simple truth is complicated by the fact that there are two other equilibria involved, both of which depend on the pH of the water, rather than the temperature.
    H2CO3 ionizes in water to produce a bicarbonate ion (HCO3-) and a proton (H+, acidity).
    Bicarbonate ion ionizes further in water to procude a carbonate ion (CO3=) and a proton (acidity, again).
    The pH of sea water ranges froma high of about 8.4 to a low of about 7.5.
    At a pH of 8.4, 98% of the dissolved carbon dioxide is present as bicarbonate ion, and only 1 percent of the dissolved CO2 is present as carbonic acid, and another 1% as carbonate. That mean that 99% of the CO2 that the ocean absorbs becomes ions that cannot be released back into the air. Only carbonic acid can release CO2 back into the air.
    The airborne CO2 is in equilibrium with only 1% of the CO2 in the sea. The sea is a terrific sink for CO2.
    Even at a pH of 7.5, 90% of the CO2 in sea water is present as bicarbonate, and only about 10% as carbonic acid. [Carbonate holds only about 0.1% of the dissolved CO2 at this pH.] This relatively high concentration of carbonic acid means that the atmospheric CO2 reaches equilibrium with the dissolved CO2 faster in the more acidic portions of the sea.
    Carbonic acid only predominates as the dissolved form of CO2 when the pH is less than 6.37 – a situation we have not yet seen. Above this pH the sea absorbs more CO2 that it releases.
    CO2 can be driven out of solution by raising the temperature or by lowering the pH. Since the pH is not low enough to make an isothermal sea a net source of CO2, the way to take CO2 out of the sea is by raising the temperature.
    Can anybody tell us if any of the IPCC models account for submarine heat sources? These heat sources are not trivial. I am talking about “black smokers”, mid-ocean rifting, and ocean floor vulcanism (e.g. Gakkel Ridge, Arcitc Ocean; Lo`ihi volcano, Hawaii:). I don’t believe that they do.

  90. Steve Fitzpatrick (20:22:16) :
    Thank your patience in doing the detailed explanation. I’m trying to get my head around the somewhat counterintuitive result that 2.6ppm by weight would equate to 1.7 ppmv even though CO2 is denser than air
    Another thing that concerns me is the behaviour of dissolved gases in that emormous column of oceanic water where pressures get ridiculously high and the temperature drop must double the absorbtivity of CO2. It seems that even smaller changes in temperature would result in considerable outgassing, and the previous post talks about those hydrothermal vents and other recently discovered ocean-floor heat sources. But, how CO2 could migrate up from these depths without needing an upward water current?
    And given the difficulty of measuring such tiny temperature differences in situ, and
    also the problem of actually measuring the CO2 content of samples from these depths, there seems to be plenty more science to be done, and as a taxpayer I’d rather contribute to more research than be stuck with a huge international tax-hike.
    (And I’d prefer the research done by chemists and physicists . Seems you can’t trust climatologists these days.)

  91. Bart (19:02:57) :
    The data say that for every unit of CO2 emitted by humans, about half accumulates in the atmosphere, and half accumulates in the oceans/biosphere/land. This distribution seems rather surprising to you, though I don’t follow why. You also seem to think that there are other ways of explaining the accumulation in the atmosphere. So, out with it. Put forth any sort of hypothesis. Where is the other source? Is it the ocean? Is it the soil? Volcanoes? Then, give a rough idea of what the net flow from that source would need to be, in order to account for the atmospheric accumulation, as well as drown out the effect of the human-related emissions. Describe the other flows around the system, as well. Then explain why this source would have become active just at the same time as human-emissions, and followed the same ramp. Also explain how this other source has the isotope signature of fossil fuel use.
    You invoking an unknown unknown, and stopping there, seems hugely unproductive, as well as strangely incurious.
    “2000 to 5000 Gtons, natural processes would add over 100 Tera-tons. ”
    You continually make statements like this, without noting the simultaneous natural outflow. Those natural processes were active before human emissions, too. Are you somehow amazed then, that the atmospheric CO2 level was fairly stable during the thousands of years of the current interglacial, before human emission? That’s thousands of years of natural processes, adding gigantic amounts of carbon. And yet the atmospheric level remained within a band 20 ppm wide or so.
    We are taking carbon that has been out of the cycle, and putting it back in. It has to accumulate somewhere. I don’t know why it is surprising to you that it accumulates in both air and sea. Where did you think it was going to go?
    “That, however, may not be the case, depending on what he meant by “Gaussian trajectory”,”
    A Gaussian distribution with a half-width of 150 years. That’s unambiguously defined; I don’t see how there is confusion.

  92. I haven’t mentioned it yet, but I have no idea what I’m looking at, in the pink plot at the top. They’re plotting monthly data, fine, using a 12 month moving average for the CO2 level, and a 21 YEAR moving average for the SST?
    I’ll allow that SST data is noisy (as is all temperature data), but a 21 year average?? Why plot a data point for each month if you’ll use that much averaging? Autocorrelation, anybody? I can understand smoothing the noisy side a bit, but this seems like an extreme mismatch. If you showed me this, and I knew nothing of the topic, I would ask to see CO2, SST anomaly and global surface anomaly, using the same smoothing, plotted against time, though I already know what that looks like.
    I don’t see what you can hope to learn from the pink plot. SST is going up, CO2 is going up. If you use a 21 year average on the SST side to suppress the noise, the correlation looks quite nice. But we knew that. Though I thought some here were disputing the former, or that there was much of any correlation between the two.

  93. carrot eater (15:40:43)
    “You continually make statements like this, without noting the simultaneous natural outflow.”
    Are you kidding?!!! It’s all I talk about. The natural outflow does not discriminate between the natural inflow and what we put in. It takes it all back out, and it does so elastically. It opposes the deviation from the mean. This is negative feedback in action. This is what negative feedback does. It is what makes feedback so marvelously useful, and feedback regulated systems so marvelously robust.
    The whole point is that the system is removing all that naturally produced CO2 just fine, but then it supposedly chokes up on a measly few percent-at-most additional input. That would make it, most decidedly, a non-robust feedback loop.
    “A Gaussian distribution…”
    How do you read “trajectory” and get “distribution”? I could think of a dozen ways to generate a trajectory off the top of my head which would fit such a description. There are all kinds of possibilities, which is why I said this paper would never have gotten past peer review in my field. We take pains to outline each and every step, and rigidly define each and every quantity, in our papers so that they will be useful to others who wish to replicate our results. That does not appear to be the goal at all here, and that in itself is a travesty.
    The system response can be extremely sensitive to the type of function used. As I stated before, frequency components beyond the bandwidth of the system can excite transients, and the plots in the paper do appear to show large transient spikes, though it is difficult to tell from the resolution of the time axis. If it is not a transient spike, then it makes no sense at all, for reasons I have outlined previously.
    There is no reason at all to arbitrarily choose the profile of a Gaussian distribution. And, it would leave plenty of questions if that is what he did, such as, how far down the tail did he go for the start date? If, e.g., he used a distribution centered at 2100 with a “standard deviation” of 150 years, and he started the model in the year 2000, then he was already way up the curve when he started, and
    that would introduce horrendous high frequency content to feed a transient. Even starting 200 or 300 years previous would require a huge initial step. Where did he start?

  94. “Where did he start?”
    And, if the answer is, he started at the peak in 2100 and tailed off from there, then the whole thing is just gibberish, and not reflective of reality in the least. The transients, which reflect only the response to the sudden step input and not reality, would be enormous, and that may be just what we see in the plots.

  95. Bart (16:43:05) :
    I think I’ve finally figured out what’s driving your thinking.
    Basically, you are surprised that CO2 is able to accumulate to any appreciable extent in the atmosphere, because you imagine the carbon cycle as a feedback control loop that keeps the atmospheric level in check. You are drawing analogies to whatever systems you study in your work, and you are thinking that the carbon cycle will work the same way, without stopping to consider the actual physical processes and time scales involved. I think this is a rather poor approach. You should put some time into studying the ocean-atmosphere exchange and the time scales involved, as well as the other processes involved, such as the weathering of rocks (which, as one might imagine, is quite slow). Only then would you have an idea of where the carbon should go, and how quickly it should go there.
    On the level that you are thinking, you could flip the picture upside-down and reach the opposite conclusion. If man were pumping CO2 directly into the ocean, shouldn’t your feedback mechanism oppose the deviation from the alleged setpoint and promptly put all the CO2 into the atmosphere? How do you know that your feedback mechanism will work to keep stasis in the air, instead of the ocean?
    These are the dangers that arise when you don’t actually look at how carbon is cycled throughout the system (and ultimately removed from the system), and just imagine it as some black box feedback control loop.

  96. Bart (16:43:05) :
    “How do you read “trajectory” and get “distribution”? ”
    I think it’s pretty straightforward. The trajectory of the emissions look like a gaussian curve. The center is at time x; the half-height width is y. Doesn’t seem the least bit confusing to me. Start from zero, ramp up, hit the maximum at year x, then ramp down. Write to him, if you don’t believe me.
    “There is no reason at all to arbitrarily choose the profile of a Gaussian distribution. ”
    Why not? He has to choose something. The goal is to see the long term response; to see that clearly, the emissions have to ramp back down again.
    Is the actual history Gaussian so far? No, nor need it be for the paper to be instructive. (you can see the actual history in Fig 1 here, http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/11/10/bombshell-from-bristol-is-the-airborne-fraction-of-anthropogenic-co2-emissions-increasing-study-says-no/)

  97. Bart, one more – Archer and Caldeira (freshly of Superfreakonomics fame), among others, recently published a intermodel comparison of how different models handle a pulse of CO2 emissions. I haven’t had time to read it carefully, but it has a better discussion, and being more recent, it gives more recent references as well. Mainly, I think it’d be useful to actually consider the different processes at hand, so you don’t imagine the thing as some sort of black-box PID loop.
    The paper actually discusses the sorts of confusion seen among the public regarding issues such as CO2 lifetime; apt as this exact confusion was seen in the thread here about the Bristol work (Knorr).
    http://dge.stanford.edu/labs/caldeiralab/Ongoing_changes.html , the 2009 publication with Archer, et al

  98. carrot eater (19:04:52) :
    “You should put some time into studying the ocean-atmosphere exchange and the time scales involved…”
    No, that’s not it either. I have covered every possible variation for a continuous feedback system. These are very general principles I have been putting forward. More in a minute…
    “If man were pumping CO2 directly into the ocean, shouldn’t your feedback mechanism oppose the deviation from the alleged setpoint and promptly put all the CO2 into the atmosphere?”
    Define “promptly”. Feedback systems evolve in time based on their bandwidth. And, they regulate inputs according to how well that bandwidth covers the input bandwidth. This is why the form of any hypothetical input has to be very carefully constructed so as not to trigger false dynamics.
    “How do you know that your feedback mechanism will work to keep stasis in the air, instead of the ocean?”
    It is a different system response, and they are not symmetric. The ocean is the repository at the minimum energy state. Everything in nature wants to reach its minimum energy state. This is why things have reached their present state – it is as low down the energy scale as they can go in the presence of the external forcing of the Sun. I tried to explain to you earlier how this worked, how nature gets into a rut from which it will resist being dislodged, but I don’t think you considered it very carefully.
    “Start from zero, ramp up, hit the maximum at year x, then ramp down. “
    How? A Gaussian function has infinite tails. You can truncate at some point, but you then have a discontinuity, and you will elicit a false transient proportional to that discontinuity. If your Gaussian function has a “halfwidth” of 150 years, you have to go back (or forward) from the central point several centuries to get an insignificant discontinuity.
    “Why not? He has to choose something”
    How about something which is assured of having a frequency content which will not excite transients? Put in an FIR filter impulse response which is tailored to maintain frequencies within the bandwidth of the system. At least then you can lower bound the effect without causing potentially misleading transients.
    “Mainly, I think it’d be useful to actually consider the different processes at hand, so you don’t imagine the thing as some sort of black-box PID loop.”
    I have not done so. I have stated that if the system is overwhelmingly linear, there are fundamental limits on response no matter the actual form of the system. I have also stated that, if there are significant nonlinearities, then the sensitivity must be significantly amplified at the margins for this to all add up, and I have further stated that, that increased sensitivity should be recognizable in increasing variability as the CO2 level rises. These are very general principles, as I said. They must hold no matter what the actual form of the system.

  99. Note: I am interpreting “half-width” as the width at which the function reaches half its peak, in reference to how power engineers measure the half power bandwidth of a network. But, maybe this refers to a width such that the tail of the distribution is “negligible”. If that is the case, then he is dumping up to 100% of the carbon reservoir of the Earth into the atmosphere in a very short time interval, which is not realistic.

  100. Carrot eater —
    “I’ll allow that SST data is noisy (as is all temperature data), but a 21 year average?? Why plot a data point for each month if you’ll use that much averaging?”
    I’ve seen that pink graph before, but couldn’t find the source with a bit of browsing. But we can guess.
    You normally choose a smoothing average based on the frequency of the noise you wish to filter out. Hence the one-year for the CO2, which has an annual period. With the SSTs, they are probably trying to smooth out the ENSO/PDO variability, which oscillates every 20 years or so.

  101. Bart —
    “I am not qualified to comment on the “stripping” action, but there is a hell of a lot of surface area there. Do you have any reliable references in which this is studied?”
    Given a nominal pH of 5.7 for rainfall (the usual figure), and assuming all the acidity is due to carbonic acid, then each liter of rainwater should be removing 0.0000878 g of CO2.

  102. Thanks, Contrarian.
    To Carrot Eater – let me clarify something I have really only hinted at. There could well be a transient response to our forcing, which could cause some overshoot from the steady state. But, predicting that overshoot is like predicting the weather. It is fast dynamics which are extraordinarily sensitive to model parameters and to the form of the input.
    The arguments put forward by some lay people to the effect of “how can we predict the climate in 50 years when we cannot predict the weather in 2 weeks,” as you and I both presumably know, are naive. Fast dynamics, sometimes to the point of being stochastic in nature, are devilishly tricky to estimate. Slower dynamics are much easier, and almost all of our technology, indeed the very function of our brains by which we form our observations, depends on this distinction.

  103. Contrarian (03:24:04) :
    According to this site, there is globally 914 trillion liters of rainfall on the planet each day, or 334 tera-liters per year. That, given your figure (I am assuming “g” is for grams), could remove 30,000 metric tons of CO2 per year. As our emissions appear to be estimated at about 30 Gtons per year, this does not appear to be very significant.

  104. supercritical (07:56:04) ,
    The volume fraction of CO2 in the atmosphere is proportional to the number of molecules of CO2 compared to the total number of molecules of everything (mostly N2 and O2, but also a little bit of argon, CO2, N2O, methane, halocarbons, and ozone). The weight fraction is proportional to the number of molecules of CO2 multiplied by its molecular weight divided by the sum of the numbers of each type of molecule multiplied by their respective molecular weights (or atomic weight, in the case of argon). This means (in essence) that the volume fraction and weight fraction of CO2 in the air are related to each other by the ratio of the molecular weight of CO2 compared to the “average” molecular weight of everything in the air:
    Fw = Fv* (44/29)
    or by rearranging the terms,
    Fv = Fw * (29/44)
    where Fw is the weight fraction and Fv is the volume fraction. The “29” is very close to the averge molecular weight of everything in the air. If you have any further doubt, a college level introductory general chemistry or introductory physical chemistry text will probably explain better than I can. Lots of sources are on the internet as well.
    With regard to pressure: Pressure in the deep ocean is (of course) astonomical (400 bar at 4 Km depth), but this does not mean that the quantity of CO2 in the deep water is changed by that pressure. If you could increase the pressure of the atmosphere, more CO2 would, of course, dissolve in the surface of the ocean. But you can’t increase the pressure of the atmosphere, so the absorption/desorption always takes place at 1 atmosphere pressure at the surface, not at the high pressure present in the deep ocean. If you collect a sample of water from the deep and reduce its pressure to 1 atmosphere it is not going to out-gas CO2 like a freshly opened beer, because the concentration of CO2 in that water is not very high; it was set by the atmospheric concentration of CO2 when the water was last in contact with the air.
    With regard to deep ocean vents: There could of course be some contribution of these vents to both the temperature of the deep ocean and to the concentration of CO2 in the deep ocean (assuming that CO2 is a significant fraction of what comes out of the vents). However, please keep in mind that the actual (measured) temperature of the deep ocean is quite close to the temperature of the sinking surface water at high latitudes, and that the measured concentration of CO2 in the deep ocean is really not high; it is about what would be expected for having been in contact with the atmosphere with a CO2 concentration of about 280 PPM by volume.
    Anyway, ocean absorption of CO2, while complicated in the details, seems to me a pretty straight forward physio-chemical process when considered in light of the basic structure of the ocean and the very slow “turn-over” due to surface and deep currents. There is (of course) some uncertainty about the relative importance of absorption, biological ocean up-take, and increased CO2 uptake by land plants, as well as other factors (like effects from deep ocean vents, but the overall process is pretty well understood.

  105. Contrarian (03:24:04) :
    According to a site which the spam filter appears not to like (Wiki-answers) there is globally 914 trillion liters of rainfall on the planet each day, or 334 tera-liters per year. That, given your figure (I am assuming “g” is for grams), could remove 30,000 metric tons of CO2 per year. As our emissions appear to be estimated at about 30 Gtons per year, this does not appear to be very significant.
    Maybe the spam filter distrusts the site for good reason. Maybe this is just rainfall over land, or is totally wrong altogether. Does anyone have a different estimate? I can’t seem to find one in a cursory search.

  106. Bart (08:15:42) :
    Rainfall has to almost equal ocean evaporation. Nobody knows exactly what that is, but a reasonable (very rough) estimate is in the range of 0.25 cm per day on average.
    If the ocean area is about 360 million sq Km (assuming I’ve done my math right), then the total daily volume should be 0.25 * 1000000 * 10000 * 360,000 liters per day, or 9 * 10^14 liters per day, or 900 trillion liters per day. So the 914 trillion number looks reasonable. Seems unlikely to be more than 50% off.

  107. Bart (20:19:46) :
    “No, that’s not it either. I have covered every possible variation for a continuous feedback system. ”
    You are talking generic principles of feedback control loops. You have spent zero time considering the physical processes involved in moving carbon from one place to another. How you think you can understand the carbon cycle without actually looking at the carbon cycle is beyond me.
    “Define “promptly”.”
    That’s what I was hoping YOU would do. I’ve referred you to literature that discusses the time scales of the different processes involved. You seem to want the time scales to be shorter, but have not described the physics that would allow this. You can talk about bandwidth as long as you want, but it won’t have meaning until you look at the physics of the carbon cycle.
    “The ocean is the repository at the minimum energy state.”
    Actually, in the end it ends up as minerals and rocks on the sea floor and land.
    Let me help out here – you were trying to write a overly simple model before; let’s resurrect it for a bit. Let me work with mass, instead of concentration: N = mass of carbon in the atmosphere. Then,
    dN/dt = -k*(N-No) + human emissions(t)
    where No is the equilibrium amount of carbon. For now, let’s call No to be the preindustrial amount, though as it turns out, that’s a bad assumption. We’re assuming a single simple linear term; we have no physical basis for doing so (and it’s incorrect), but it makes life easy for the moment.
    So, what do we know? This is where you kept erring before. Let’s take an estimate for the current value of -k*(N-No): eh, let’s say it’s 2.5 Gton C/year. Looking at Fig 7.3 of the IPCC WG1, let’s say N is currently 760 Gton C, and No is 600 Gton C. Thus, k is equal to 0.016 1/yr.
    Before, you kept confusing the issue by considering the total flows, not the net flows. I don’t know why; this model doesn’t have the physics to be able to describe the individual flows.
    So, if emissions stopped today, what would happen? Taking the current conditions as the initial conditions Ni, we get
    (N-No)/(Ni-No) = exp(-kt)
    The time constant is 63 years. As awful as this exercise was, that’s not a terribly wrong result. However, as seen in the literature, there isn’t a single simple time scale to this process, but multiple physical processes, all operating at different time scales. Add the descriptions of those processes, and you get a ‘long tail’, not a simple exponential decay, and you don’t approach the pre-industrial value for a long, long time.
    Happy? Or are you still hung up on why the term [-k*(N-No)] has been roughly equal to 1/2 of the human emissions, over time, as opposed to 1/10, or 1/5, or some changing fraction? For that, you have to consider the physics of how the carbon cycle reactions to the human perturbation. There is no alternative; you cannot analogise to other systems.

  108. Contrarian (23:06:23) :
    But with that much smoothing on the SST side, you shouldn’t be surprised the correlation looks so good. All the pink plot says is that both CO2 and SST are going up. But we knew that.

  109. Carrot eater —
    “But with that much smoothing on the SST side, you shouldn’t be surprised the correlation looks so good.”
    Why not? The smoothing does not effect the slopes of those curves, and thus the correlation.

  110. Contrarian (15:33:09) :
    Does the value of the slope have any particular significance? Does 143.6 mean anything to you? Anyway, the pink plot looks clean because of the huge amount of smoothing; if you just plotted monthly data or even yearly means, you’d see scatter. I suppose it’s fine if you don’t want to see the scatter, but remember that it would have been there. In any case, I don’t see why anybody would plot a different point for each month, if they were going to use 21 years of averaging. Anyway, I’m still puzzled as to what we’re supposed to draw from the plot. The earth has been warming for 30-some years. Great.

  111. Carrot eater —
    “Does the value of the slope have any particular significance? Does 143.6 mean anything to you?”
    I assume the 143.6x is the conversion from monthly data to annual; the 334.1 the CO2 baseline. The slope agreement is significant because it is so close. It may have a bearing on the direction of causation. Ocean outgassing of CO2 with temperature occurs instantly, while ocean warming from increased atmospheric CO2 would be slower, and would lag. The tight correlation suggests (to me) the former causal arrow.
    Maybe Anthony can give a link to the source of the graphic.

  112. Contrarian (21:56:09) :
    I really don’t see how you’re getting any of that.
    “I assume the 143.6x is the conversion from monthly data to annual; ”
    Huh? No, it’s simply the slope of CO2 vs SST, the latter averaged over 21 years. What I’m asking is whether that was a number you expected. At this point, it’d also be helpful to know whose measurement of SST that is, so we know how anomaly is defined.
    “Ocean outgassing of CO2 with temperature occurs instantly, while ocean warming from increased atmospheric CO2 would be slower, and would lag. The tight correlation suggests (to me) the former causal arrow.”
    So that’s what this is all about?
    If you’re looking for an instantaneous relationship, then you wouldn’t have a 21 YEAR moving average on the SST side. You wouldn’t need it, because the CO2 level would instantaneously track every single bump and dip in the SST. Beyond that, the cleanness of the correlation would disappear if you used data prior to 1985. 1940 to 1960 would look pretty ugly on that plot.

  113. I think that the top chart on this page is the most convincing evidence that I have yet seen that the current carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere may be an ‘effect’ rather than a ’cause’ of ocean warming.
    I believe the slope of the curve would depend on the total effective volume of ocean being heated and the average reduction of CO2 solubility of per degree C in that volume plus the net anthropogenic CO2 that happened to be released per degree C of ocean temperature increase.

  114. Spector (05:04:11) :
    You think so? The chart at the top of the page obscures the temporal history; you can’t see from the chart that CO2 is leading temperature, not lagging it. It also doesn’t show you what happened before 1980 or so; the correlation would fall apart if it did.
    Beyond that, there are measurements that show the ocean’s carbon content is increasing, and isotope analysis would rule out the ocean as a source, anyway. And if the oceans were net outgassing, and you don’t want the fossil fuel emissions to be going into the atmosphere, then where on earth are the fossil fuel emissions going? If you don’t mind the oceans outgassing into the atmosphere, then why aren’t fossil fuel emissions allowed to do the same?

  115. Bart: Ah, let’s just put an end to the thing. I hate the little linear model, as I would not expect it to reflect reality much at all, but if you really want to use such a form, let’s see what happens. I solved it for the case where human emissions decrease to zero, instantaneously. Let’s see what it looks like if human emissions continue over time. Pick a functional form for the human emissions term – the front end of a gaussian curve, maybe? or linear, from some point in time? From the look of it, I might be able to eke out an analytical solution if we use linearly increasing emissions; anything else would require numerical solution (which would probably be faster and easier to do, anyway).

  116. The chart at the top of this section shows an apparent lock-step linear relation between carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere and global average sea-surface temperature anomaly. As, I believe, the greenhouse effect is nonlinear – depending on the log of the CO2 in the atmosphere, I would expect to see an exponential curvature in the CO2 versus temperature curve.
    On the other hand, I would expect to see a linear out-gassing or non-in-gassing effect depending on the relative solubility of CO2 in the atmosphere and in the ocean. I do not think this indicates that the ocean would stop being a sink for carbon dioxide. It would just say that the CO2 concentration of in the atmosphere must increase to achieve an equilibrium condition as the average sea-surface temperature increases.

  117. Again, Spector – your lock-step disappears if you add data before 1980 to the plot, or if you don’t use a 21 year average. This should be obvious if you look at data plotted against time. So I wouldn’t draw any conclusions like that, at all.
    If the ocean is a net source, then it cannot be a net sink.

  118. My comment applied to the data as presented here. As best as I can tell, it is derived from an article published by Dr. Lance Endersbee entitled “Oceans are the main regulators of carbon dioxide.” in the April 2008 issue of the Civil Engineers of Australia journal
    I believe the ocean could be a net sequestration sink as well as a temperature dependent storage system.
    REF: http: // icecap.us / images / uploads / OceansandCO2EngrsAustapr08 . pdf

  119. Here is a clickable link to the Endersbee paper:
    http://icecap.us/images/uploads/OceansandCO2EngrsAustapr08.pdf
    (Thanks Spector)
    Carrot eater —
    Endersbee used SSTs after 1980 because that is the extent of the more accurate satellite record. The 21-year average was used to embrace 2 solar cycles, and even out ENSO/PDO variations. The oceans can be a net source, and still a sink for anthro emissions.
    He may not be right WRT to a “decline in levels of CO2 in the atmosphere” with SST cooling. The oceans could not re-absorb CO2 when cooling as quickly as they would release it when warmed, because the excess CO2 is dispersed throughout the atmosphere.

  120. I figured the source was using satellite readings. Point is, even if you think there is some error in previous SST measurements, the error can’t plausibly be that wrong – it is still quite obvious that the correlation breaks down if you look at other time periods.
    As for the long average: I understand perfectly well why they used it. They wanted to remove all the short term variability due to ENSO and whatever else. The thing is, you have to remember that it has to be removed because the CO2 level doesn’t follow that variability, so you can’t use language like ‘lock-step’ or ‘instantaneous’. And the point remains, nobody in their right mind would plot a point for each month, if they were using that much averaging. It’s not wrong per se; just pointless. So all they’ve succeeded in doing is showing that SSTs are going up, and so is CO2. But we knew that.
    I see you’re invoking a neat little hysteresis to try to explain why CO2 might still go up in periods where the ocean might be cooling. Good luck with that. If you’re actually going to think about the physics, you’ll just see that the ocean is increasing in carbon content. It cannot both increase in carbon content, and cause the increase in carbon content in the atmosphere. Can’t be done; basic arithmetic won’t allow it. You need another source to explain it, and we know what that source is. A source that is consistent with isotope analysis, by the way – the isotope ratios alone rule out the oceans being the main source.

  121. Carrot Eater —
    “If you’re actually going to think about the physics, you’ll just see that the ocean is increasing in carbon content. It cannot both increase in carbon content, and cause the increase in carbon content in the atmosphere.”
    Your second statement there is certainly true, and would settle the question. But there is no evidence that the carbon content of the oceans has increased. The IPCC claims that “The uptake of anthropogenic carbon since 1750 has led to the ocean becoming more acidic with an average decrease in pH of 0.1 units.”
    http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/syr/ar4_syr_spm.pdf
    But that claim is based on model calculations which assume that the oceans are a net carbon sink, not on empirical evidence (and it would be virtually impossible to reconstruct a global ocean pH trend accurate within 0.1 unit).
    Here are a couple of sources. If you know of others, please post links.
    http://pangea.stanford.edu/research/Oceans/GES205/Caldeira_Science_Anthropogenic%20Carbon%20and%20ocean%20pH.pdf
    http://www.ipsl.jussieu.fr/~jomce/acidification/paper/Orr_OnlineNature04095.pdf

  122. I believe the Ocean may have two roles in the carbon cycle. First, it may be a region where carbon is sequestered as insoluble mineral deposits and second, it can serve as a storage tank for carbon dioxide with a storage capacity that decreases with increasing temperature.
    I have compiled raw sea-surface temperature and smoothed CO2 atmospheric concentration data from various sources going back to 1880. I see reasonable correlation between the SST and CO2 concentration from about 1946 onward. There appear to be extra SST anomalies of about -0.4 around 1910 and +0.3 around 1940.
    I also note that application of a three-stage tandem exponential decay low-pass filter to the SST data can create a curve reasonably proportional to the CO2 concentration data over the whole 129 year interval if the decay time constant of each stage is 30 years (decay compounded monthly) and the initial anomaly values for the three stages are set to -.185, -.250, and -.240 respectively. I thought this system of multiple exponential decay filters (similar to electronic resistor-capacitor filters) might serve as a crude model of heat transfer to lower depths.

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