"Unaccounted feedbacks": to B or not to B

University of Helsinki via Eurekalert

feedback_system

Unaccounted feedbacks from climate-induced ecosystem changes may increase future climate warming

The terrestrial biosphere regulates atmospheric composition, and hence climate. Projections of future climate changes already account for “carbon-climate feedbacks”, which means that more CO2 is released from soils in a warming climate than is taken up by plants due to photosynthesis. Climate changes will also lead to increases in the emission of CO2 and methane from wetlands, nitrous oxides from soils, volatile organic compounds from forests, and trace gases and soot from fires. All these emissions affect atmospheric chemistry, including the amount of ozone in the lower atmosphere, where it acts as a powerful greenhouse gas as well as a pollutant toxic to people and plants.

Although our understanding of other feedbacks associated with climate-induced ecosystem changes is improving, the impact of these changes is not yet accounted for in climate-change modelling. An international consortium of scientists, led by Almut Arneth from Lund University, has estimated the importance of these unaccounted “biogeochemical feedbacks” in an article that appears as Advance Online Publication on Nature Geoscience‘s website on 25 July at 1800 London time. They estimate a total additional radiative forcing by the end of the 21st century that is large enough to offset a significant proportion of the cooling due to carbon uptake by the biosphere as a result of fertilization of plant growth.

There are large uncertainties associated in these feedbacks, especially in how changes in one biogeochemical cycle will affect the other cycles, for example how changes in nitrogen cycling will affect carbon uptake. Nevertheless, as the authors point out, palaeo-environmental records show that ecosystems and trace gas emissions have responded to past climate change within decades. Contemporary observations also show that ecosystem processes respond rapidly to changes in climate and the atmospheric environment.

Thus, in addition to the carbon cycle-climate interactions that have been a major focus of modelling work in recent years, other biogeochemistry feedbacks could be at least equally important for future climate change. The authors of the Nature Geoscience article argue that it is important to include these feedbacks in the next generation of Earth system models.

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This work was promoted by iLEAPS (Integrated Land Ecosystem and Atmospheric Processes), a core project of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, and developed through workshops supported by the Finnish Cultural Programme.

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Journal Reference: (note the actual paper was not provided with this press release)

A. Arneth, S. P. Harrison, S. Zaehle, K. Tsigaridis, S. Menon, P. J. Bartlein, J. Feichter, A. Korhola, M. Kulmala, D. O’Donnell, G. Schurgers, S. Sorvari & T. Vesala. Terrestrial biogeochemical feedbacks in the climate system. Nature Geoscience, July 25, 2010 DOI: 10.1038/ngeo905

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trbixler

So Dyson suggests that there are many unaccounted for feedbacks and suddenly they are found to be positive. The model is correct again. On further reading Dyson suggests get out of the air conditioned computer lab and do some measurements. Did that happen? How about the proof that the measurements indicated the cause?

wws

“There are large uncertainties associated in these feedbacks”
Huh. Imagine that.

James Sexton

Crap! It’s worst than we thought!!! Although we admittingly don’t know very much about many of the feedbacks, we’re pretty sure its gonna be real bad once it reaches a tipping point. sigh.

Alex the skeptic

“There are large uncertainties associated in these feedbacks….”
My Grandma once thought me to keep my big mouth shut until I know exactly what I’m talking about.
These warmists need a lesson or two from my grandma.

DirkH

Good to see A. Arneth, S. P. Harrison, S. Zaehle, K. Tsigaridis, S. Menon, P. J. Bartlein, J. Feichter, A. Korhola, M. Kulmala, D. O’Donnell, G. Schurgers, S. Sorvari & T. Vesala pondering this important question, and after serious pondering, coming to the conclusion that it “may increase future climate warming” and that “There are large uncertainties associated in these feedbacks”. What would we do without A. Arneth, S. P. Harrison, S. Zaehle, K. Tsigaridis, S. Menon, P. J. Bartlein, J. Feichter, A. Korhola, M. Kulmala, D. O’Donnell, G. Schurgers, S. Sorvari & T. Vesala.

latitude

“There are large uncertainties associated in these feedbacks”
“The authors of the Nature Geoscience article argue that it is important to include these feedbacks in the next generation of Earth system models.”
==========================================================
Has not stopped them in the past, so why not?
Let’s put something in the computer games that we have absolutely no understanding of, and then make outrageous claims about the future.

A “what if” document.
I completely ignore.
We have a local consulting psychologist, Lucinda Basset. She works with chronic worriers, people FROZEN by “what if” thinking.
It’s a serious mental malady. Nothing to joke about.
Max

John Campbell

It would be interesting if the authors were to give, in the abstract of their article, some indication of the degree of uncertainty associated with their suppositions. In addition, they might indicate (also in the paper’s abstract) whether their work shows causation or only correlation.

Bill Marsh

Today’s entry in the ‘it’s worse than we thought’ literature

Casper

Have you tried to simulate a simple model using Simulink/Matlab?

Dave L

Models are not fact or observational data.
When is this virtual reality crap going to stop?

John Wright

“(…)it acts as a powerful greenhouse gas as well as a pollutant toxic to people and plants.”
— as a what?!!!

londo

Why is it so in climate science that all uncertainties are of the same sign, the publishable sign, so to speak?

Enneagram

Just forget it: The system in the picture above is an ELECTRIC CIRCUIT!

Enneagram

OT: We need a post on the STORM on Washington. A COLD front is Summertime….Run!, Climate Change is here!

[sings] “The only way is up!” [/sings]

wobble

Given the content of the article, couldn’t the headline have read this instead?

Unaccounted feedbacks from climate-induced ecosystem changes may decrease future climate warming.

Alan the Brit

Another espisode in the Lara Croft XBox360 fantasy world! Call me Mr Cynical, sounds like someone is doing some goal-post shifting to me! Classic advocate behaviour, move on to something else before what’a already been said can be analysed for certain! Eg Global Warming, to Climate Change, to Ocean Acidification, etc. Always handy to have the other what ifs in the bank for later use.

k winterkorn

1. It is the “+” sign in the diagram that indicates these are not scientists, in the best understanding of the term. The sign should either be a “?” or “+/-“, but that would probably interfere with future funding of their research.
Historical facts in the Earth’s Geo/Bio/whatever record indicate that the net feedback must be negative for the whole system. Despite a large range of conditions, the global mean temperature has only varied by a few percent (using a Kelvin scale) in the last billion or so years. This would seem to indicate a central equilibrium around which the temp deviates due to various proddings (eg., orbital anomalies, solar change, maybe variance in the interstellar dust density as the solar system revolves one its orbirt in the Milky Way.)

dp

There exists a weasel word in the title and in the first sentence, second paragraph, a declaration they don’t know what they’re doing. Perhaps they should go to Hogwarts – er, UEA, and consult the sorting hat.
They should eat this up at RC.

jmrSudbury

“Nevertheless, as the authors point out, palaeo-environmental records show that ecosystems and trace gas emissions have responded to past climate change within decades. ”
CO2 levels have been increasing since the industrial revolution. Their levels have skyrocketed since the 1940s. It has been at least 6 decades already. Is that not enough to see how the ecosystem responds to trace gas emissions?
John M Reynolds

latitude

Dave L says:
July 26, 2010 at 7:47 am
Models are not fact or observational data.
When is this virtual reality crap going to stop?
======================================================
Dave, ask any person if they think our climate is static, and they will say no.
Then ask them, since it’s not static, which is better warmer or colder.
They will all say warmer, and colder would be a catastrophe.
Ask any person if they think we know enough to design computer models to predict the future.
They will tell you no.
There’s only one reason for anyone to believe any of this.
They are hearing what they want to hear.
The crap will never stop, as long as there are people that are hearing what they want to hear.

pyromancer76

Nature and Nature Geoscience must front for the JournoList of leftist pseudo-scientists who continually spout a party line without one shred of hard evidence. Uncertainties? Massive Uncertainties? Who — what climate “scientist” — must account for these? Not us!

Ken Hall

“There are large uncertainties associated in these feedbacks….”
Yeah, but the media will ignore that bit and focus on the headline… “It’s worse than we thought”
From what I read I heard…
The models are incomplete and wrong, SO we must add more stuff that ONLY forces the models to show even more warming.
Forget the negative feedbacks. Ignore the ACTUAL climate sensitivity to CO2, just make the models show new and more scary ways that ONLY show warming.
I am not convinced. Can ya tell?

HaroldW

We’ve seen approximately 0.5 of a doubling of CO2 concentration, which would be an increase of 41.4%. [In logarithmic terms, half of a doubling means an increase to the square root of 2 times the original level.] The increase has been going on for about a century, so any feedbacks which operate on a scale of a few years to decades will have been largely or fully realized.
We’ve seen approximately 0.5 K increase in mean surface temperature. [Per IPCC AR4 WG1 FAQ9 figure 2, temperature increases up to ~1950 can be accounted for with natural (non-anthropogenic) causes.]
So whatever feedback paths exist with short-to-medium time scales, they’re not scary.

Max

@Dave L:
And yet computer models are used every day. Most of the cars you drive in are developed using computer models. The bridges you passed were stress-tested with the help of computer models. Difference between computer models designed and developed by engineers is that we actually can (and do) have to check them against reality (meaning the theory has to be backed by evidence).
Another difference is that a false simulation by engineers has more fallout and graver direct consequences than what these fortran-manipulates have. If we mis-design, people could die in car accidents. If those modelers from climate science err, it will only hit people in a few years and than also only the poor, so the well-paid academics have nothing to fear.
But more seriously: I am still baffled by the way financial and climate researchers conduct model construction, it is a very sloppy way to do it and then to entirely believe in one’s models Oo

I read as far as the line at the end of the first paragraph where CO2 is described as ‘a pollutant toxic to humans and plants’ and, much as I tried, I couldn’t force myself to read further. My eyes glazed over and a sudden weariness made me feel very sleepy but I snapped out of it quickly and thought
“Wow!! It’s worse than we think!”
This sort of research is at the level of ten-year-olds on a camping trip attempting to frighten each other by telling each other scary stories about un-named but malevolent creatures all around them hiding in the forest.
And no more ‘scientific’ than that, either.

Liam

This looks similar to the the old CO2-H2O forcing hypothesis beloved by gloomy warblers: CO2 raises temperature a teensy bit > warmer planet evaporates more water > water vapour traps more heat > more water vapour > more heat> more water vapour > more heat> … > runaway hellfire planet death. Now we add in some extra CO2 production to cause even more water vapour, we’re all gonna die.
Except
Any warming would cause some increased water evaporation, which by the above hypothesis should lead inevitably to global meltdown, but we know for a fact that in reality the planet doesn’t go into some kind of catastrophic heating feedback loop as a result. Ergo, the hypothesis is bunkum.

Tenuc

I find it very sad that people like A. Arneth, S. P. Harrison, S. Zaehle, K. Tsigaridis, S. Menon, P. J. Bartlein, J. Feichter, A. Korhola, M. Kulmala, D. O’Donnell, G. Schurgers, S. Sorvari & T. Vesala, can spout such rubbish, without a mention of the deterministic chaos which ultimately drives the system.
It would seem that they have a linear belief that all feed-backs work to retain energy thus causing global warming when, in reality, our chaotic climate seeks to dissipate the maximum amount of energy, which leads to rapid cooling (ice age) type events.

Ken Hall

There should be a branch C looping back to a circular node with a ‘-‘ sign in it too.
Or do the scientists not believe that there is any such thing as a negative feedback?
It reminds me of the scientists who were screaming about melting ice in 2007, claiming that there was ONLY positive feedbacks in the ice melting changing the albedo to accelerate even more ice melting.
If that were the case, then 2008, 2009 and 2010 would have even less summer ice than 2007. Following their logic, it was impossible for the 10%+ recovery of ice in 2008 and 2009 to even occur.
Also if we follow the same logic now, then the last two summer’s recovery was so rapid that it creates the same kind of albedo feedback and we are heading for an ice age!
None of these scientists have mentioned a mechanism in nature that is stronger than CO2 to regulate the temperatures.

J.Hansford

Oh my Gawd…..
Th’ kids are in the shed, bangin’ on the walls and making big scary noises as they play their world catastrophe game…… BOOMMMM, It’s a ragin’ storm bill….. LOOKOUT! there’s a Tsunami comin’ Scot…. ARRRHG.
One day we’ll have scientists that actually grow up….. But until then…. It looks like the ol’ tin shed is it, for mainstream science….. 😉

Ken Hall

“The crap will never stop, as long as there are people that are hearing what they want to hear.”
That is sad. But sadly it is true of people on ALL sides of the climate change debate. I think, myself included.

DR

So let’s get this right. We still don’t understand the sun or clouds or oceans, and now yet more uncertanties are introduced.
This will either be claimed as more justification for the precautionary principle or common sense will prevail and we will admit our knowledge is too low to assume anything about climate processess.

Graham Green

I don’t know if this is just a coincidence but funnily enough I too have though of some things which are supported by no evidence whatsoever. I haven’t actually tried to quantify any of these things but they could be very important. Can I have some money please?

Enneagram says:
July 26, 2010 at 7:48 am
> Just forget it: The system in the picture above is an ELECTRIC CIRCUIT!
Not really, it’s more of a generic system block diagram. An electronic circuit would likely show an op-amp with both positive and negative inputs and use those instead of that circle with a plus sign. The above basic diagram is used in many hydraulic and mechanical feedbacks.
Even it it were an electronic circuit, there’s nothing wrong with that. In my EE courses we often flopped between using mechanical systems as analogies for electronic systems and vice-versa.
You could argue it’s too simplistic. I haven’t looked, there’s a good chance Anthony found the drawing separately – dressing up a chunk of text with a little graphic of some sort is often worthwhile and Anthony has one is almost all of his posts. OTOH, editors of refereed scientific journals need to be a bit more careful, as we’ve seen.

Mikael Pihlström

k winterkorn says:
July 26, 2010 at 8:00 am
1. It is the “+” sign in the diagram that indicates these are not scientists, in the best understanding of the term. The sign should either be a “?” or “+/-”, but that would probably interfere with future funding of their research.
——-
It is not their diagram. They have +/- arrows (when relevant) in
their figures. For models haters, I am happy to inform you that it
is review article, based on real science (fluxes of methane, monoterpenes,
NO2 etc). Of course your armchair musings beat everything else.
The ones I know about have funding for their specialities, so I guess they
are performing a public service?

pat

but looking at the long history of CO2 concentrations, there is every reason to believe any such feedback is either remedial or irrelevant. man kind is still a relatively small factor in climate, but a huge factor in the environment. It is there we should be concentrating out efforts.

Jaye Bass

Difference between computer models designed and developed by engineers is that we actually can (and do) have to check them against reality (meaning the theory has to be backed by evidence).
Yep. After studying this issue for the last 5 or so years. I think the main fault line is between academics and professional engineers. People that write papers vs people that have to actually make stuff work.

Sorry missed ‘italic out’, here is correct version.
Paul Vaughan says: July 26, 2010 at 2:54 am
vukcevic, we seem to be in agreement:
1) The lower correlation with PDO is not surprising given that the teleconnection is atmospheric.
2) AMO & PDO are related but there is a 1/4-cycle phase-difference.

Agree with the “teleconnection is atmospheric” but that may not be whole story (work in progress).
There is also a strong possibility that intensity of the huge arctic storms is influenced and directed by the Arctic’s geomagnetic flux, having direct reflection on the temperatures. Additionally precipitations’ strength affects amount of the ice build-up and also salinity of the surface currents.
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/PS.htm
More details here
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/NFC1.htm
[reply] Correct, but wrong thread I think. 😉 RT-mod

John Prendergast

Of course with this sequence, if it did not get hotter, it would cool, if it cooled then the feedback would set in fast, aided by increasing albedo. I wouldstick to a modest globals warming if I were you, it avoids hypothemia. Hypothermia kills far more people currently than heatstroke.

Enneagram

vukcevic says:
July 26, 2010 at 9:11 am Have you seen E.M.Smith’s “Ozone Hole History?”
Recent changes in those “connection points” look meaningful.
http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2010/07/21/ozone-hole-history/

Cassandra King

It appears that they do not know anything about supposed feedbacks, they dont know the causes and they dont know the effects, they dont know if they exist and what effects they have on the climate.
So they take something they know almost nothing about and quantify it using extropolation of pure supposition adding in a dash or three of wild guess work based on their prejudice, they feed this into a climate model and expect what to come out the other end?
I have the feeling that they really do not know what they are talking about, their sacred models are churning out trash that bears no resemblence to reality and to keep the research cash flowing they have to find a way of modifying their rubbish models and allowing them to make adjustments as and when required. The end result will be simply a model that can be more easily fiddled and distorted and adjusted.
The models do not work so instead of admitting failure they try to add false parameters? Have these people not considered phlogiston? It could be just the theory they need and just waiting to be explored again.
Thar be dragons in them woods, we aint seen em yet but they must be in there hiding?

Douglas DC

FTP-“This work was promoted by iLEAPS” -so we are asked to make an “iLEAPS” of faith?
Sorry, I really am. Sorry…
Kind of like my Springer being caught with a Pansy in his mouth.
Sorry…

DirkH

Mikael Pihlström says:
July 26, 2010 at 9:06 am
“[…]It is not their diagram. They have +/- arrows (when relevant) in
their figures. For models haters, I am happy to inform you that it
is review article, based on real science (fluxes of methane, monoterpenes,
NO2 etc).”
Luckily, they cam up with a net positive feedback in the end. More funding, please, we are not certain.
” Of course your armchair musings beat everything else.
The ones I know about have funding for their specialities, so I guess they
are performing a public service?”
A service i’d happily do without. Or even better, give me this money-spinning machine. I’d perform this public service for half of what these 13 people take; that would still leave me with 6.5 wages.

Billy Liar

I read as far as the first ‘may’……..
It was on the first line.

Enneagram

vukcevic says:
July 26, 2010 at 9:11 am
[reply] Correct, but wrong thread I think. 😉 RT-mod
With due respect: Not at all, it is trying to find the actual cord and plug connecting the feedback (if any) system with the mains.
[reply] I’m not saying it’s not apposite to this thread. Just that it’s a different threaad to the one the first version of the post went to. RT-mod

Roy Clark

Changes in CO2 or other greenhouse gas concentrations have no effect on climate. Atmospheric energy transfer is controlled by convection not radiation. The solar heating of the surface drives the convection. The convection sets the laspe rate and the lapse rate sets the energy transfer. Everything related to radiative forcing and associated feedbacks and forcings is totally fraudulent. This is just fishing for grant money.
Energy and Enivonment 2194) 171-200 (2010) ‘A null hypothesis for CO2’

Michael Schaefer

Try water vapor and latent heat, for a beginning.
But wait: Both are suited to heat, as well COOL the planet!
Dammit!

This is another example of “fund my research because we don’t know what doom the future may bring”.

Roger Knights

Just to be fair, the last sentence in the first para. was referring to ozone, not CO2:

All these emissions affect atmospheric chemistry, including the amount of ozone in the lower atmosphere, where it acts as a powerful greenhouse gas as well as a pollutant toxic to people and plants.