My Comments On The Andy Lacis Post On CO2 As A Climate Thermostat

 

By Dr. Roger Pielke Sr.

Andy Lacis has posted two guest contributions on my weblog;

Guest Post “CO2: The Thermostat That Controls Earth’s Temperature” By Andy Lacis

Further Comment By Andy Lacis On CO2 As A Climate Thermostat

I very much appreciate this collegial interaction.

Today, I want to comment on his conclusions.

First, I agree with Andy’s conclusion that if CO2 were removed from the Earth’s atmosphere, the climate system would rapidly cool. I also concur that CO2 is a first order climate forcing and is a non-condensing greenhouse gas forcing.

The more interesting question, however, is how this applies both to how the Earth’s climate system actually evolved, and how incremental increases in CO2 above what was present in pre-industral times alter the climate.

With respect to the early Earth atmosphere, CO2 was emitted from volcanic eruptions but so was water vapor. The two acted together to warm the climate. Indeed, this is one explanation proposed to explain the warm, wet period in the earlier atmosphere of Mars and Venus. While, the model experiment presented by Andy and colleagues is quite interesting, it does not reflect the real climate system.

The second issue is, of course, directly relevant to our future climate. As I posted in

Comment On The Science Paper “Atmospheric CO2: Principal Control Knob Governing Earth’s Temperature” By Lacis Et Al 2010

we have examined the effect of incremental increases in CO2 (and water vapor) as described in detail in

Relative Roles of CO2 and Water Vapor in Radiative Forcing

Further Analysis Of Radiative Forcing By Norm Woods

In regards to the effect of an incremental effect on radiative flux of an increase in the atmospheric concentration of CO2, there is an informative figure at Watts Up With That in a post by David Archibald titled The Logarithmic Effect of Carbon Dioxide. The figure is from 2006 by Willis Eschenbach which was posted  on Climate Audit.

What is of importance to our future climate is the added downwelling radiative fluxes as given by the green and black lines. The Lacis and colleagues study examined the effect of the radiative forcing from red line.

The issue with respect to our future climate is how will it be altered in response to these incremental increases, part of which (particularly in the humid parts of the world) overlaps with water vapor absorption).

In terms of how environmentally and societally important resources are altered, as I have often posted on (e.g. see), in terms of climate, this involves how droughts, floods, tropical cyclones, heat waves, etc are altered. This means  the focus should be on alterations in regional ocean and atmospheric circulations, mesoscale weather patterns, and so forth rather than on trends in the global average surface temperatures.  The addition of CO2 is one factor (both radiatively and biogeochemically) but is not the single ”control” of these climate metrics.

The  equilibrium temperature of Earth is just one of these metrics, and, indeed is not adequate to explain how regional and local climate could change. In fact, even with respect to global warming and cooling, the use of ocean heat content is a much more robust way to diagnose these climate system heat changes than a global average surface temperature trend, as discussed most recently in

Pielke Sr., R.A., 2008: A broader view of the role of humans in the climate system. Physics Today, 61, Vol. 11, 54-55.

Andy’s posts (and paper) do clearly show that

“ there is a clear demonstration that without the radiative forcing provided by the non-condensing GHGs, the terrestrial greenhouse effect collapses because there is no structural temperature support to restrain the current climate water vapor from condensing and precipitating.”

However, there needs to be a recognition that the human influence on the climate system, including global warming and cooling, involves much more than the non-condensing greenhouse gases, and that the role of natural climate forcings and variability remain incompletely understood. We have discussed this in our paper

Pielke Sr., R., K. Beven, G. Brasseur, J. Calvert, M. Chahine, R. Dickerson, D. Entekhabi, E. Foufoula-Georgiou, H. Gupta, V. Gupta, W. Krajewski, E. Philip Krider, W. K.M. Lau, J. McDonnell,  W. Rossow,  J. Schaake, J. Smith, S. Sorooshian,  and E. Wood, 2009: Climate change: The need to consider human forcings besides greenhouse gases. Eos, Vol. 90, No. 45, 10 November 2009, 413. Copyright (2009) American Geophysical Union.

I invite Andy to discuss where he agrees, and where he disagrees, with our conclusions and recommendations in the above paper.

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141 thoughts on “My Comments On The Andy Lacis Post On CO2 As A Climate Thermostat

  1. ” if CO2 were removed from the Earth’s atmosphere, the climate system would rapidly cool”
    Of course it would cool… the earth would be come a dead rock since CO2 is part of the life cycle. There would not be any plants that would take up the CO2 to make oxygen… it would be another snowball earth.

  2. The comment was:
    “First, I agree with Andy’s conclusion that if CO2 were removed from the Earth’s atmosphere, the climate system would rapidly cool.”
    .
    Some scientist you are!
    .
    Removing CO2 would cause the world temperatures to WARM, and NOT cool.
    .
    Without CO2, no plant would survive.
    .
    Without plants on the surface, there would be bare earth on every land.
    .
    Without plants, there would be no transpiration, and the land would become a living hell for any living creature.
    .
    Oh, and then there’s this: What about Mars?
    .
    It’s got all the CO2 in the world, and yet it’s a freezing hell.
    .
    Go ahead, Mr. Scientist, tell us all about that!
    .
    Why is Mars a freezing Hell, yet Venus is a roasting misery, what with all that CO2.
    .
    Can’t have it both ways, Mr. ‘Scientist.’
    .
    And DO NOT be talking about the Sun. The issue here is JUST CO2, and NO THING ELSE.
    .
    You’ll be getting back on that, won’t you, real soon now, Mr. Scientist?
    .
    Right?
    REPLY: This is just rude juvenile trolling, I suggest readers ignore this poster – Anthony

  3. The concept of carbon dioxide as a climate thermostat is complete nonsense. You only need to look at a chart showing global temperature and carbon dioxide concentration through geologic ages to see that. Global temperature was warm but did not fluctuate much from Cambrian to Cretaceous except for the ice ages. Carbon dioxide, on the other hand, was all over the place In the Cambrian it was close to 6000 ppm while in the Cretaceous it was between 1000 and 2000 ppm. The fact that this amount of variation in carbon dioxide had no influence on global temperature tells us that carbon dioxide was not the thermostat. But something had to account for the stability of the temperature over millions of years. If it wasn’t carbon dioxide the only alternative is water vapor and these guys better get to work on that. Oceans are an infinite source of water vapor and it should not be too hard to identify the feedback loop involving temperature and evaporation that must be involved.

  4. It is well known the the main problems posed by global warming on land is not the higher temperature per se but the concurrent changes in rainfall patterns and possible sea level rise. However the temperature rise in the oceans is directly affecting coral reefs and causing phytoplankton decline, plus the impact of lower ocean pH threatens many life forms needs to be taken into account when deciding if mitigation measures should be taken.
    Also the logarithmic relation between CO2 ppmv and radiative forcing and the roughly exponential increase in CO2 ppmv give at least a linear relation in addition to which one has to consider various feedbacks which are mostly positive. Will clouds save us? No one has been able to show that they will. And if the world gets more cloudy, would the increase in clouds negatively impact land and sea plant life by reducing the amount of visible light? CO2 is plant food sure, but rainfall (on land) and light matter a great deal.

  5. In reply to 899:
    I can’t tell you the difference between mars and venus, it’s called density.
    The atmospheric pressure on mars is a minute fraction of what it is on earth and on Venus it’s almost 100 times as dense as it is here. I guess you missed science class in high school…
    me

  6. If only we had an environment on this planet where we could test a lack of CO2, like we have with regards to H2O. I suppose deserts don’t really get cold at night, not with all that CO2 to keep them warm. Who needs observation when we have theory?
    If you truly want the Earth to rapidly cool, you’d have to remove the water vapor first.

  7. Mike says:

    However the temperature rise in the oceans is directly affecting coral reefs and causing phytoplankton decline, plus the impact of lower ocean pH threatens many life forms needs to be taken into account when deciding

    Corals evolved when the pco2 was 12 times what it is now and phytoplankton did fine too. In fact there was more oxygen than there is now.

  8. Mike asks: ” Will clouds save us? No one has been able to show that they will”.
    ??????????????????
    Mike, many of us are not looking to be saved. Not by clouds and not by you guys’ passion for melodrama.
    Is there any chance that you could save the world more quietly?

  9. It occurs to me that a rising plume of condensing air saturated with water vapor must contain an anomalous population of newly formed or newly augmented aggregates or clumps of water molecules that have been excited by the heat of condensation released by the formation of a new polar hydrogen bond. For the most part, that energy must be shared with the surrounding atmosphere as this is the reason the lapse rate cooling of rising wet air is only 3.3 degrees F per thousand feet as opposed to the 5.5 degree F cooling per 1000 feet for dry air.
    It seems to me that these aggregates on initial formation or augmentation should also have a limited probability of radiating photons characteristic of the initial thermal shock of hydrogen bond formation. As I have seen no mention of this fact, I assume either this effect is known to be insignificant or has never been considered worth a detailed study. I would expect this initial condensation radiation would only be absorbed by the Earth or a similar H2O aggregate. Thus I believe that outward bound photons of this type, from the top of a plume of condensing air, should have a good chance of escaping to outer space at altitudes where radiation from CO2 or H2O molecules would readily be re-absorbed by similar molecules above.
    At this time I have a perception, due to all the unsupported speculation (including this) I have on seen, that the process by which convected thermal energy is eventually radiated by the atmosphere to outer space is not well known.
    Below is a reference to an obscure and highly technical paper on bimolecular water absorption as an attempt, I believe, to estimate the contribution of bimolecular water to surface-level heat trapping. It does include a diagram of this molecular complex (which is actually less massive than a single CO2 molecule.) Note that there is a potential vibration mode along the axis of the two linked oxygen molecules that monomolecular H2O cannot match.
    “Field Measurements of Water Continuum and Water Dimer Absorption by Active Long Path Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy (DOAS”) [PDF]
    http://archiv.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/volltextserver/volltexte/2006/6686/pdf/dissertation_lotter.pdf

  10. @899
    wow seriously (don’t you think your being a bit rude)?
    you raised valid points, but could have been more polite

  11. An interesting website the author should familiarize himself with is located here. http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a000000/a003400/a003440/
    From a close inspection of the visualizations it is quite apparent that all the CO2 production increases from the US are coming from the heartland and more in particular where human populations are lowest. How odd. It also indicates and verifies to a large extent that humans contribute only a small fraction of the CO2 generated on this earth. This consistent with humans contributing anywhere from 3-4% of the total CO2 per year (how that’s tabulated remains to be verified). The arguments of tipping points arise from this. What you don’t see: You don’t see pockets of CO2 generation from coal fired power plants. For example, I don’t see a hot spot of CO2 concentration where I know for a fact coal burning power plants exist and they aren’t sequestering a resolution problem? Note how the coasts, Land vs Ocean vary in concentration. The visualizations and the graph indicate a concentration resolution on the order of a few ppm or better so surely you’d be able to observe cities or power plants spewing huge amounts of CO2. Surely all the extra CO2 in FOC (fly over country) would cause the rural temperatures to be higher but we don’t see this in the record. How’s that local forcing working out for you in Boulder? Note also how “well” mixed the atmosphere is. +/- 20ppm across the globe. Perhaps someone could explain to me why the Himalayas have such a huge carbon footprint compared to Bejing and surrounding areas? Plant growth perhaps? Wouldn’t it be funny if the CO2 increase was more due to an increase in flora?
    Didn’t James Hansen indicate that South America and Africa didn’t matter..looks like he’s right with respect to CO2 concentrations in the July time frame. The bottom line: Models not verified by experimentation are worth little, models that can’t predict results are worth less.
    What the “warmistas’ are actually implying is they want to destroy the oceans because they’re generating so much CO2. They want to wipe out FOC because all the people there are generating CO2. They want to level the Himalayas because they spewing so much more CO2. Maybe they should plant more strip bark trees…and strip the bark more often. Cellulose is a good carbon sink, isn’t it?

  12. Mike says: November 11, 2010 at 9:58 pm
    <>
    All of the scare stories are, however, still on the computer screen only, n’est-ce pas?
    Regarding the sea-level change, this is a summary of 105-year monitoring of Japanese tide gauges by our MET:
    http://www.data.kishou.go.jp/shindan/a_1/sl_trend/sl_trend_graph.png
    Thouh the satellite era data over a short period (from 1992) by the Colorado group agrees fairly well with the above graph, our MET says that “no long-term trend is seen” and “a 20-year oscillation pattern is obvious.”

  13. My previous post refers to the following part in Mike’s comment:
    “…..the main problems posed by global warming on land is not the higher temperature per se but the concurrent changes in rainfall patterns and possible sea level rise. “

  14. 899 says:
    November 11, 2010 at 9:42 pm
    You might want to think about switching to decaf…….. Just a thought.

  15. On Mars, the relative CO2 pressure is 16 times that on Earth. The absolute CO2 amount (per surface unit) on Mars would translate to about 5000 ppm CO2 on Earth !!
    And all that HUGE amount of CO2 translates in a tiny increase of 3 kelvin from the -56C radiative temperature to the -53C observed average temperature.
    CO2 isn’t working as a greenhouse gas on Mars. Indeed it’s working as a cooling agent as long as it CONDENSES in the form of CO2 ice on the martian poles raising the very low martian surface albedo.

  16. Oliver Ramsay says: (November 11, 2010 at 10:50 pm ) Is there any chance that you could save the world more quietly?

    A very fine sentence, Oliver.

  17. My reading of the Hadean Earth, is that the crust was too hot for the persistence of any carbonate minerals. All of the CO2 in the carbonate deposits now on Earth would have been in the atmosphere. Planetary scientists typically describe the atmosphere of that time as consisting of 60 to 100 bars of CO2, plus about 1 bar of dinitrogen. See here for example, and here.
    Chemical weathering, after Earth cooled enough to form a solid crust plus a world ocean, removed CO2 from the atmosphere as carbonate precipitates. Tectonics subducted the carbonate, which is one big reason why CO2 now emerges from volcanoes. But the original CO2 was probably accreted by the primordial Earth, not outgassed from volcanoes.
    Calculations, such as here, say that most of the early CO2 would have been scrubbed from the atmosphere, leaving less than the 1 bar needed to avert a frozen ocean. So, the earliest Archaean Earth (the period after the Hadean) would have been frozen, because of the early faint sun, but with only thin ice at the tropics. It’s noted that there would have been century-long “impact summers” when one of the much more numerous bolides came crashing down, which was fairly often. Interesting place, early Earth.
    But anyway, these days, the sun is about 30% brighter than it was 4 billion years ago. So, it’s not clear that loss of CO2 would produce a fully frozen surface, anymore. As Ray points out, loss of CO2 would, of course, produce a dead planet.

  18. Mike wrote: “Also the logarithmic relation between CO2 ppmv and radiative forcing and the roughly exponential increase in CO2 ppmv give at least a linear relation in addition to which one has to consider various feedbacks which are mostly positive.”
    Exponential increase in CO2? Is the rate of increase exponential? I’d like to see some support for that.
    Various feedbacks are mostly positive? That is nothing but a belief-based statement without any basis in reality. There is essentially zero evidence that the various feedbacks are mostly positive. Unless of course you believe that a priori assumptions built into computer models constitute evidence . . .

  19. One takeaway for me here is that since CO2 is a non-condensing GHG, it could actually help moderate temperature drops during periods of heavy precipitation. A climate moderator rather than disruptor. It seems an interesting synergy, CO2 (plus other NC GHG’s) and H2O, with water capable of storing and liberating far more heat, and non-condensors backfilling during periods of unusual condensation. A little more CO2 is good as humidity falls. Steve Goddard did a short piece recently noting that if the entire atmosphere were (suddenly and briefly) 100% CO2, (without increased density) far less IR could be absorbed, and temperature would plummet. The combination appears quite beneficial.

  20. I’d be very interested to see what GISS ModelE said happened to the cloud cover when CO2 was reduced to zero, and what forcing that produced at ground level.

  21. Mr Barney says: In reply to 899:
    “I (can) tell you the difference between mars and venus, it’s called density.
    The atmospheric pressure on mars is a minute fraction of what it is on earth and on Venus it’s almost 100 times as dense as it is here. I guess you missed science class in high school…”
    No to mention parts of kindergarten.

  22. I notice now that the answer to my question is provided in the first of Andy Lacis’ guest posts at Roger Pielke’s blog.

  23. What a ridiculous article that’s been posted here. Why not say the earth’s orbital variances are the earth’s thermostat. Maybe plate tectonics and the accompaning continental uplift resulting in mountains is the earth’s thermostat. I agree with Arno Arrak’s comments above regarding geological evidence.
    Misquoting a well known Lyellism: “The past is the key to the present”, and CO2 concentrations have no correlation to paleotemperatures. I refer you to this article on this website back in 2009: . Also go to Christopher Scotese’s website and read Ian Plimer’s book for more information. Geology Rules!

  24. Anybody care to comment if pressure broadening of the CO2 absorption lines is dependent on absolute pressure or just partial pressure of CO2?
    Lacis claims Mars is cold because of lack of pressure broadening.

  25. Tokyoboy,
    That tide gauge study is very interesting. It appears to track the NH temperature for that period very well.

  26. …….” if CO2 were removed from the Earth’s atmosphere, the climate system would rapidly cool”……………………..
    Who says we need to remove the CO2?
    The true subtraction test for GAGW is much simpler.
    Everything remains the same except that CO2 does not absorb/radiate in the infra red.
    What difference would that bring about?
    I would think very little if any.

  27. The first graph here is headed ‘Modtrans results.’
    I’m sure Ive seen this diagram with the actual temperature rise that should ensue shown. It wasn’t in the links so can anyone here point me to it?
    Tonyb

  28. No!!
    There is no account of the warming through adiabatic heating of atmospheric gasses. If the useless GHG theory(hypothesis) is ignored and adiabatic heating taken into account the GHG hypothesis can go.
    Dr Pielke Sr. has ignored the fact that during the Ordovicean period atmospheric CO2 levels were in excess of 8000ppmv and there was a severe ice age.
    When the earth formed the proto-atmosphere was in excess of 20% CO2 for the simple reason that there was no process then available to produce oxygen. This was started by the cyanobacteria and taken over by plants using photosynthesis. This was around 2.5 billion years BP. Since then atmospheric CO2 levels have varied to today’s dangerously low leveld of 385ppmv, if we are to believe the NOAA figures.
    Dr Pielk seems to forget that plants thrivce in high CO2 levels and will die at atmospheric levels below 200 ppmv. All life on earth came from atmospheric CO2 and this gas is vital gfor life to continue.
    As far as acting as a thermostat CO2 does no such thing. This vital action is carried out by water vapour and clouds which some climatologists are just now realising.

  29. Mike says:
    November 11, 2010 at 9:58 pm
    “It is well known the the main problems posed by global warming on land is not the higher temperature per se but the concurrent changes in rainfall patterns and possible sea level rise.”
    It is also well known that the main benefits offered by global warming are increased productivity of primary producers in the food chain, more efficient fresh water utilization by terrestrial plants, warmer nights, warmer winters, and a greater margin of safety keeping the interglacial period from flipping back over into the glacial period of the ice age the earth has been in for the past few million years.
    I haven’t seen a shred of evidence that indicates global warming is not a huge net benefit for life on the earth and plenty of indisputable testimony from the geologic column that the biosphere blooms mightily when CO2 levels are far higher and global average temperature 8C warmer.
    Before I consider any mitigation as anything other than pure unadulterated stupidity someone has to demonstrate first that warming and higher CO2 is a bad thing. Good luck with that because the clear evidence of the history of this planet shows us that a warmer earth is a greener earth and a colder earth is a deader earth. Personally I prefer my earth warm and filled with plants & animals rather than barren and covered with ice. Ice huggers are nutjobs.

  30. RE: Eric Anderson:( November 11, 2010 at 11:48 pm )
    “Exponential increase in CO2? Is the rate of increase exponential? I’d like to see some support for that…”
    That might be based on an assumed exponential growth of human population. In the last 40 years of the 20th century, the human population doubled. If that continues for 1000 years with 25 doublings, they would have to find living space, food, and energy for over 33 million times the current population of the earth…

  31. This is all good theoretical stuff that can keep endless numbers of climate scientists going for long enough. I wish someone would urgently address why CO2 keeps going up but global temperatures remeain basically steady since 1998 with small variations from year to year http://www.drroyspencer.com/latest-global-temperatures/ and we are probably not getting “the hottest year ever” as predicted in the summer by the “warmers”. Global sea levels are dropping http://sealevel.colorado.edu/current/sl_noib_global.jpg and Argos will not release latest ocean temperatures (believed because they are dropping). From the WUWT sea ice page it is obvious that combined n/s sea ice is within natural variation. I scratch my head and wonder why the climate science community is not focusing on explaining these measured facts. CO2 is going up but the major indications of rising heat in the system such as air and sea temperatures are steady or maybe falling. Global sea levels are falling and sea ice remains basically steady. These are major issues requiring to be addressed. To me as a non scientist it means there are other forcings (and maybe negative feed-backs) that overwhelm CO2. What about an explanation ordinary people can understand????

  32. tonyb says:
    November 12, 2010 at 2:19 am

    The first graph here is headed ‘Modtrans results.’
    I’m sure Ive seen this diagram with the actual temperature rise that should ensue shown. It wasn’t in the links so can anyone here point me to it?
    Tonyb

    Modtrans output cannot be translated to temperature change without an assumption that everything else remains the same. The only certainty about everything else is that it won’t remain the same. Modtrans examines single easy-to-calculate factors in isolation. In the real world these factors are not isolated. For instance modtrans won’t reveal that forcings in the real world aren’t distributed equally. In the real world when we have additional forcings they are concentrated in times and places where forcings are minimal – higher latitudes get more of the net forcing increase than lower latitudes, winters get more than summers, and nights get more than days.
    And even that’s questionable as additional forcing from a well-mixed non-condensing greenhouse gas might very well just result in reduced forcing from the condensing greenhouse gas (water vapor). In fact the best evidence points to exactly that response. Once you have enough non-condensing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to raise the average surface temperature above freezing then the condensing greenhouse gas takes over from there. My major concern is that 280ppm CO2 is factually not enough non-condensing greenhouse gas to keep the earth from entering an ice age. It would be great if we could end the ice age by burning fossil fuels but I fear there aren’t remotely enough recoverable fossil fuels to do that. The future for human civilization is rather grim looking following the end of the Holocene interglacial.

  33. Bryan says:
    November 12, 2010 at 1:39 am

    …….” if CO2 were removed from the Earth’s atmosphere, the climate system would rapidly cool”……………………..
    Everything remains the same except that CO2 does not absorb/radiate in the infra red.
    What difference would that bring about?

    A deeply frozen planet. The average temperature of the moon is -23C and its albedo is around 15%. A snowball earth would have an albedo of 85% and would thus be far colder than the moon. Greenhouse gases are the only thing that prevents that from happening. Water vapor is by far the major greenhouse gas but it is a condensing gas and once it condenses out into snow there is nothing but greenhouse effect from non-condensing gases to melt it.

  34. Dave Springer
    If the only change to the Earths atmosphere was that CO2 did not absorb/radiate in the IR we would end up with a ….”A deeply frozen planet. ”
    Water vapour can still absorb/radiate in the IR.
    We still have Oceans
    We still have an atmosphere.
    ……”Water vapor is by far the major greenhouse gas but it is a condensing gas and once it condenses out into snow there is nothing but greenhouse effect from non-condensing gases to melt it.”……
    Would snow fall on the Oceans?
    The absence of a radiative effect of CO2 would suggest that the Earth would warm slightly more during daylight and cool slightly more at night.

  35. Mike Borgelt says:
    November 12, 2010 at 12:17 am

    Anybody care to comment if pressure broadening of the CO2 absorption lines is dependent on absolute pressure or just partial pressure of CO2?
    Lacis claims Mars is cold because of lack of pressure broadening.

    Huh? Mars is cold because sunlight there is less than half the intensity as it is on the earth. Venus is hot because sunlight there is nearly twice the intensity as it is on the earth. All three planets have essentially the same composition – rocky worlds which all formed at the same time from the same dust cloud. The only thing essentially different between the three is distance from the sun and in the end that’s all that matters.

  36. “First, I agree with Andy’s conclusion that if CO2 were removed from the Earth’s atmosphere, the climate system would rapidly cool. I also concur that CO2 is a first order climate forcing and is a non-condensing greenhouse gas forcing”
    If you remove all the CO2 wouldn’t that kill all vegetation? Doesn’t rotting vegetation produce CO2 and methane? Isn’t methane a greenhouse gas? What then?

  37. O/T but, OMG, Shock!
    Horror!
    The Guardian, of all people, (promoters of the Thermogeddon snuff movie edu-tainment masterpiece “No Pressure”) are today reporting:
    [fanfare]
    “It’s better than we thought. In fact, it’s really rather good.”
    A new reports seems to show that far from killing it stone dead, global warming may actually be good news for the Amazon.
    Go figure.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/nov/11/climate-change-forests-water-amazon

  38. If all the CO2 were removed we would still have all our Nitrogen, Oxygen, trace gases and water vapour plus all our oceans and a continuing hydrological cycle all reacting to solar input just as they do now.
    Would that not maintain atmospheric temperatures at much the same level ?
    We might see a slightly reduced speed for the hydrological cycle with jets a fraction closer to the equator but what else would happen, all other things remaining equal ?

  39. @ 899
    I hope you realise how nice people have been to you. Also, that this site does allow wide expression of opinion, a major “plus”, but I guess you came close to being snipped. Just advice.
    (The theoretical thesis being explored is that if the temp. dropped below freezing, water vapour would condense out and freeze, greatly lowering the water vapour pressure to the extent that only non condensing GHG (non condensing at those kinds of temperatures) would elevate the temp. above what a “straightforward” Black Body radiation calculation shows the Earth would be at.)

  40. tokyoboy says:
    November 11, 2010 at 11:23 pm
    . . . Regarding the sea-level change, this is a summary of 105-year monitoring of Japanese tide gauges by our MET:
    http://www.data.kishou.go.jp/shindan/a_1/sl_trend/sl_trend_graph.png
    Thouh the satellite era data over a short period (from 1992) by the Colorado group agrees fairly well with the above graph, our MET says that “no long-term trend is seen” and “a 20-year oscillation pattern is obvious.”

    The Colorado satellite data covers only a rising portion of the oscillation, and if the pattern holds, we’re coming to the end of the 3.1 mm/yr rise, and might even see sea levels start to fall in a couple years. Indeed, the Jason portion of the chart (since 2002) looks to have a shallower rise of 2.5 mm/yr, eyeball calibrated.
    Satellite sea level has fallen most of this year, and while we would normally expect it to bounce back up, there is a chance it might level off instead. That would put a serious kink in the catastrophic sea level rise theme.

  41. John Marshall says:
    November 12, 2010 at 2:34 am

    All life on earth came from atmospheric CO2 and this gas is vital gfor life to continue.

    Actually it’s widely accepted that all life on earth came from heterotrophs which by definition lack the capacity to fix carbon. All the evidence suggests that the young earth was rich in hydrocarbons. The clincher was finding that comets, which are preserved remnants of primordial conditions, are rich in hydrocarbons. These hydrocarbons served as ready-made food for life until they reduced the supply to such an extent that it was either evolve into autotrophs (carbon fixers) or perish. Heterotrophs don’t need sunlight or CO2 they just need liquid water and a food supply. Today we a have rich mix of both heterotrophs and autotrophs neither of which can survive without the other and sunlight is now required to drive carbon fixation since the primordial hydrocarbon food supply has been used up.

  42. I do find all this very amusing. The first time I seriouslt thought about carbon, was not when I picked up my first pencil, but when I heard the term Carbon Infestations in reference to life on Earth, essentially human beings. It was probably on Star Trek or some such. Jo public generally seem to think that Carbon based life forms are human beings, when in fact ALL LIFE is carbon based. CO2 + H2O = basic sugars. I defy amyone to stand on their nearest hill & point to something living that isn’t Carbon based, oh & I want 0.04% of their profits when they do so & become billionaires overnight for such a discovery. I take great delight in irritating hard nosed environmentlists by asking for a carbon based scribbling device to explain my designs & structural forms. I do get some odd looks but I don’t care.

  43. The fact that CO2 changes lag temperature changes in the paleoclimate record is sufficient, in and of itself, to conclusively refute the assertion that CO2 is the climate thermostat.

  44. Hmmm….
    Pulling in the added impact of plants and such for a statement of “removing CO2 from the atmosphere” is not applicable. The purpose is to state what the impact would be simply to the surface temperature.
    In the humid areas of the world there would be little to no impact to temperature if the CO2 was removed. The non-humid regions would see some cooling. The idea that water vapor would stop existing in the atmosphere is bizarre. The partial pressure of water vapor is not in any way dependent on CO2, it is only dependent on the temperature of the water.
    There is a clear misunderstanding as to what the measured down welling radiation actually indicates, much like there is a misunderstanding of the overall impact of radiative heat transfer. That’s ok, I will fix it. 🙂
    theinconvenientskeptic.com

  45. Came across this the other day…does it have a reasonable contribution to the discussion? I will try to post the link later.
    The atmospheric greenhouse effect, an idea that many authors trace back to the traditional works of Fourier (1824), Tyndall (1861), and Arrhenius (1896), and which is still supported in global climatology, essentially describes a fictitious mechanism, in which a planetary atmosphere acts as a heat pump driven by an environment that is radiatively interacting with but radiatively equilibrated to the atmospheric system. According to the second law of thermodynamics such a planetary machine can never exist. Nevertheless, in almost all texts of global climatology and in a widespread secondary literature it is taken for granted that such mechanism is real and stands on a firm scientific foundation. In this paper the popular conjecture is analyzed and the underlying physical principles are clarified. By showing that (a) there are no common physical laws between the warming phenomenon in glass houses and the fictitious atmospheric greenhouse effects, (b) there are no calculations to determine an average surface temperature of a planet, (c) the frequently mentioned difference of 33 degrees Celsius is a meaningless number calculated wrongly, (d) the formulas of cavity radiation are used inappropriately, (e) the assumption of a radiative balance is unphysical, (f) thermal conductivity and friction must not be set to zero, the atmospheric greenhouse conjecture is falsified.

  46. Stephen Wilde says:
    November 12, 2010 at 4:29 am

    If all the CO2 were removed we would still have all our Nitrogen, Oxygen, trace gases and water vapour plus all our oceans and a continuing hydrological cycle all reacting to solar input just as they do now.
    Would that not maintain atmospheric temperatures at much the same level ?

    For a short while perhaps. The problem is that solar input alone with a rather low natural albedo of 15% is not enough to raise the average surface temperature above freezing. Frozen water has very high albedo so once you get to a point where snow cover grows in duration and extent over time a tipping point is reached where a rapid vicious cycle begins where more snow breeds even more snow with nothing to stop it except non-condensing greenhouse gases. Even so, 280ppm CO2 clearly isn’t enough to stop it in the current orbital configuration and position of the continents as the earth has been in an ice age for the past few million years. It would be great if an anthropogenic doubling of CO2 was enough to break the cycle of 100,000 years of glacial dominance and 10,000 years of glacial retreat but I suspect we can’t sustain the artificial CO2 increase in magnitude or duration enough to accomplish anything more than, at best, delaying the end of the interglacial period. At that point biomass will be greatly reduced with most of it confined to the tropics and most of extant human civilization will be buried underneath miles of ice.
    There seems to be a decided lack of long term perspective amongst the CAGW cabal. They’re being penny wise and pound foolish – all worried about preserving the exact status quo of human civilization at this exact point in time while completely ignoring what’s going to happen a few thousand years in the future when the Holocene interglacial period ends. That end is assured unless something comes along to stop it and the evidence is overwhelming that pre-industrial greenhouse gas concentration isn’t enough to stop it.
    Richard Dawkins famously said “It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid, or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that)”.
    There’s a corollary here in climate change.
    It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe the Holocene interglacial is nearing its natural end, that person is ignorant, stupid, or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).

  47. Stephen Wilde says:
    November 12, 2010 at 4:29 am
    If all the CO2 were removed we would still have all our Nitrogen, Oxygen
    ===================
    I don’t think oxygen would last very long in the atmosphere without CO2, which is almost the sole source of atmospheric oxygen renewal through photosynthesis.
    Plants would be gone without CO2. Without plants to renew the oxygen, it should not take long for it to be completely depleted by oxydizing minerals on the surface of the Earth.
    Of course a CO2-less atmosphere is rather unimaginable unless CO2 is also removed from the lithosphere. But these discussions are illuminating in their power to highlight the olympic vastness of our ignorance. What transpires from all the diverse opinions is that we don’t have much of a clear idea what the temperature would be do in the total absence of atmospheric CO2, and yet we seriously pretend to be able to calculate the small thermal, if any, effect of small variations in the concentration of this gas.
    One might think that testing the thermal effects of a high concentration of CO2 versus zero CO2 in a controlled column of air might be somewhat doable to get at least a rough idea. God forbid! Pure speculation and modelling is so much more fun and freewheeling when not burdened by the vulgarity of empirical endeavors.

  48. Mike:
    “to which one has to consider various feedbacks which are mostly positive”
    stable systems do not have mostly positive feedbacks. If models say they do, the most likely explanation is that the models are wrong. The earth would have gone to hell in a handcart a long time ago if positive feedbacks from c02 were more important than negative feedbacks.
    An exponential increase of c02 being put in the atmosphere is also not the same as an exponential increase in c02 in the atmosphere – 370 to 372 is not an exponential increase even when compared to 370 to 371. There does not even seem to be a lot of evidence that if you put enough c02 in the atmosphere to increase the ppm by 10 that it will increase by 10 – some of the extra may be absorbed by photosynthesis or end up in the oceans. When the only evidence for a crisis is the models – and the models have all of the most important processes missing – there is no crisis. If you are missing one negative feedback or have overstated a positive feedback your models are hopelessly alarmist. Any computer model with an excess of positive feedback will predict that the system it is modelling is unstable, pretty much by definition.

  49. Excerpt from end of By Dr. Roger Pielke Sr’s post.

    Andy’s posts (and paper) do clearly show that
    “ there is a clear demonstration that without the radiative forcing provided by the non-condensing GHGs, the terrestrial greenhouse effect collapses because there is no structural temperature support to restrain the current climate water vapor from condensing and precipitating.”
    However, there needs to be a recognition that the human influence on the climate system, including global warming and cooling, involves much more than the non-condensing greenhouse gases, and that the role of natural climate forcings and variability remain incompletely understood. We have discussed this in our paper [ 2009: Climate change: The need to consider human forcings besides greenhouse gases. Eos, Vol. 90, No. 45, 10 November 2009, 413. Copyright (2009) American Geophysical Union].

    ——————-
    I thank Dr Pielke Sr for arranging with Anthony for this post. I think finally we have some centrally focused meat to chew on regarding AGW theory on GHG effects.
    It will take some time for me to adequately chew it before swallowing.
    I was taken by Dr Pielke Sr’s parting message. It seems to me he is saying IF CO2 is reduced then a cooling effect will be enhanced provided that Andy’s post (and paper) are right. What an extremely sobering thought that is.
    Back at ya after examining all the post and paper references by Dr Pielke Sr and Andy Lacis . Problem is always time.
    John

  50. Bryan says:
    November 12, 2010 at 4:04 am
    “Would snow fall on the Oceans?”
    Is there snow and ice on the surface of the arctic and antarctic oceans?
    The global ocean below the thermocline is only 3 degrees C above freezing – that’s everywhere whether it be the Arctic ocean or the tropical Pacific. 90% of the global ocean is below the thermocline. Once the atmosphere above the ocean surface drops below freezing it’s only a matter of time until ice forms on the surface. Once ice forms it prevents the water below it from being heated by the sun and because ice is highly reflective it doesn’t absorb much energy from the sun either which also limits any melting. Only ocean and air currents driven by convection from lower unfrozen latitudes can remove the sea ice once it forms. As ice forms at lower and lower latitudes there is less and less warmth delivered by convective currents to melt it. The end result is runaway cooling. This has happened a few times in the history of the earth and it’s been happening for the past 3 million years which handily explains why the global ocean today is, on average, barely above freezing.

  51. This is only theoritical. We need to use actual empirical data to see if it is right.
    The temperature impact is logarithmic. If CO2 becomes very low, temperatures and water vapour levels should decline as well.
    But it only takes tiny changes in the logarithmic formula (in the real climate that is) to change Lacis’ results considerably.
    The evidence to date is that CO2 does NOT control 85% of the greenhouse effect as Lacis theorizes, as the climate model results parrot back the assumptions built in. The evidence to date is only 30% to 50%.
    Here is the Logarithmic Warming to date chart based on the data to date (based on Hadcrut3 – the trendlines with the satellites is quite a bit lower).
    http://img829.imageshack.us/img829/4530/logwarmingillustratedse.png
    This is how it looks against time (versus the above chart which is against CO2 levels). This is the warming adjusted for the ocean cycles such as the ENSO.
    http://img705.imageshack.us/img705/4126/hadcrut3warmingsept10.png
    And here is the Logarithmic chart going back into the Paleoclimate as far back as we have estimates for – 545 million years ago. Almost looks like a random scatter really. And it certainly indicates that water vapour levels are NOT controlled by CO2. The last time the Earth was really wet, certainly more humid and wetter than today, 10 million years ago, CO2 was under 280 ppm.
    http://img801.imageshack.us/img801/289/logwarmingpaleoclimate.png

  52. I’m not sure whether this is on topic or off but I’m going to say it anyway. I have come to the point in all these discussions where I find myself thinking that the scientific and political worlds have simply become mad. I’ve just finished reading the CCS post below this one and simply had to stop because outright despair and rage kicked in at the lunacy and irrationality of the geo-engineering proposals involved. A while back I read an article about my home country, Wales, in which the politicians there were setting up legislation which would mean all cattle would have to be kept indoors, to control their CO2 and methane outputs. I’m also beginning to think that there is absolutely no hope for those of us here who believe in logic and the scientific method and that collective insanity and medieval thought patterns have finally and firmly taken over (aided significantly by the prospects of financial gain, increased governmental control and research grants resembling lottery wins). Toddlers believe themselves to be omnipotent, are entirely narcissistic and magical in their thinking; madmen suffer similarly and are grandiose in their view of themselves and their place in the world. Almost all those on the extreme warmist side seem to suffer from these attributes, as well as liberal doses of malignant narcissism, with the world centred around them and their needs and beliefs, along with their hatred for anyone who frustrates or questions those beliefs. I’m about to give up reading anything more to do with climate because I just can’t bear the lunacy anymore. With apologies for the self-indulgence but this is de profundis.

  53. “It’s the sun stupid”. Low Solar Activity may increase temperature oscillations.
    http://motls.blogspot.com/2010/11/low-solar-activity-may-increase.html
    The role of CO2 in our climate system is irrelevant compared to to the dominating processes.
    http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2010/11/11/7394/
    and
    http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2010/11/12/are-climate-scientists-really-as-clueless-as-they-claim/
    CO2 therefore doesn’t deserve the current “scientific” focus.
    Scientists in their popular reporting should be aware that CO2 has become the center of an environmental religion and has been highjacked by a political doctrine.

  54. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure they’ve discovered sulphur-based life forms around underwater volcanic vents Alan

  55. Dr. Pielke Sr.,
    Science missed the rotational wind sheer speed. This is where hurricane, cyclones and tornados get their energy from. In doing so, they missed ALL the actual physical evidence that this planets pressure has built up and is alining the lower atmosphere to the rotation of this planet. This cause the average wind speeds to die down which would blow away precipitation build-up.

  56. Oliver Ramsay says:
    November 11, 2010 at 10:50 pm : …”Is there any chance that you could save the world more quietly?”
    And inexpensively?

  57. R. de Haan says:
    November 12, 2010 at 5:25 am
    “I wonder what’s a bigger disaster for humanity.
    The warmists or the luke warmers.”
    Ron – that’s a good question.

  58. (SarcOn)I’m getting the impression that the real problem is the O2, if we didn’t have so much of that there wouldn’t be a CO2 problem. Yes, the REAL problem is that there’s just too much O2 and we need to sequester it under ground somehow. Right?(SarcOff)

  59. It should also be noted that Lacis’ assertion that CO2 is the control knob controlling the vast majority of the greenhouse effect is …
    … equivalent to the 3.0C per doubling proposition.
    They are exactly the same thing – 3.0C per doubling implies that CO2/GHGs control the rest of the greenhouse effect as well, that is how the math works.
    He couldn’t come up with any other result otherwise it would have indicted global warming theory as incorrect.

  60. I see CO2 as more of a pilot light, as in gas furnace for example, than a thermostat. The thermostat of the Earth is a lot more complicated, I betting.

  61. Mike: Looks like a lot of others have responded to your comment, but let me reply to your comment about the oceans.
    You wrote, “However the temperature rise in the oceans is directly affecting coral reefs and causing phytoplankton decline, plus the impact of lower ocean pH threatens many life forms needs to be taken into account when deciding if mitigation measures should be taken.”
    Unfortunately for AGW proponents there is no evidence that Anthropogenic Greenhouse Gases have caused the rise in Sea Surface Temperature (SST). The rise in SST is proof that the oceans integrate the effects of ENSO, and that’s all it’s proof of.

  62. Dave Springer writes, “There seems to be a decided lack of long term perspective amongst the CAGW cabal. They’re being penny wise and pound foolish – all worried about preserving the exact status quo of human civilization at this exact point in time while completely ignoring what’s going to happen a few thousand years in the future when the Holocene interglacial period ends.”
    This may be the first time that CAGW believers have been labeled penny wise. Agreed, the lack of perspective about what’s coming, i.e. the eventual end of the Holocene, is widespread. Nonetheless, the hundreds of billions spent already do not constitute wisdom of any kind.

  63. Ehm, I’m just looking at that graph and it seems to be saying that the forcing due to CO2 is about 258 watts/metre squared. Isn’t that a bit large? I mean, the average global insolation is only 240 watts/metre squared. Something not quite right.

  64. jorgekafkazar says:
    November 11, 2010 at 11:57 pm (Edit)
    Mr Barney says: In reply to 899:
    “I (can) tell you the difference between mars and venus, it’s called density.
    The atmospheric pressure on mars is a minute fraction of what it is on earth and on Venus it’s almost 100 times as dense as it is here. I guess you missed science class in high school…”
    No to mention parts of kindergarten.

    Could be right. That’s where I learned that Venus is much closer to the sun and Mars is much further away from the sun than Earth is.

  65. Simon says:
    November 12, 2010 at 6:21 am
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure they’ve discovered sulphur-based life forms around underwater volcanic vents Alan
    Firstly, that’s under water so may not count in my example 😉 However, if you can find a link I’d be genuinely interested in reading about it!

  66. Mars has got about 9x as much CO2 in the atmosphere as Earth, it’s atmosphere is less dense than ours, there is very little water vapor in it’s atmosphere, and it gets around half the energy of the sun.
    That said (and including any other factors I have missed), does the CO2 theory hold up on Mars? In other words, if we plugged in all the physical information of Mars into the equations for warming, would the result be close to the known temperature range that we see on Mars?

  67. Simon says:
    November 12, 2010 at 6:21 am
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure they’ve discovered sulphur-based life forms around underwater volcanic vents Alan
    A quick google search has revealed nothing. Only speculation of what life may be based upon elsewhere in the galaxy or solar system. There are of course life forms (carbon based I add) that thirve in the nutrient rich sulphur environment surrounding the vents. I must say I had to check my diary for a moment just in case it was April 1st!

  68. A clever sales/marketing tool is all that I find to be the nature of Lacis posts at Dr Pielke Sr’s blog about “The Science Paper ‘Atmospheric CO2: Principal Control Knob Governing Earth’s Temperature’ by Lacis Et Al 2010” .
    We are presented with a very graphic anthropogenic image that is tailor made for the news media. Climate Control Knob, indeed. Clever, I must say.
    But we are only just presented with another CGM run that postulates once again that the only important ‘first order’ (primary) forcing to be atmospheric CO2. They set up the model to give the response they want, thus giving an impression that the sales/marketing tool represents the only conclusion possible regarding atmospheric CO2 changes.
    The difference with this paper and preceding IPCC supported AGW-by-CO2 literature is just the addition of the Climate Control Knob sales/marketing gimmick. Without the new sales/marketing gimmick it is the same problematical climate science of the consensus variety we have seen in the past 20+ years.
    Lacis’ posts are both very clever and completely misleading. Congratulations on that great scientific looking achievement in sales/marketing . . . not.
    Now, can we please get back to the important task of reclaiming climate science from the biased ideologies of the past 20+ years?
    John

  69. Dave Springer
    …….”The global ocean below the thermocline is only 3 degrees C above freezing – that’s everywhere whether it be the Arctic ocean or the tropical Pacific. 90% of the global ocean is below the thermocline. Once the atmosphere above the ocean surface drops below freezing it’s only a matter of time until ice forms on the surface.”……
    Remember that a radiatively active CO2 has a cooling effect in the upper atmosphere during daylight.
    Your previous reference to the Moon indicates that with a reduced radiative effect the daylight temperatures would be slightly higher – so, no snow forming on oceans.

  70. Mike says: “. . . main problems posed by global warming on land. . .changes in rainfall patterns and possible sea level rise.”
    Since recorded history began, there have been changes in rainfall patterns. Morever, other activities of humans would have more effect on rainfall patterns than ncreasing a gas from .038% of atmosphere to .046%. Consider deforestation, concrete and steel landscapes, and irrigation — just to get started.
    The end of the LIA probably has meant that sea levels have risen 7 inches a century. With more CO2 emissions, that rise could conceivably increase to 9 inches. Any mitigation for 7 inches probably should be engineered for 9 inches while they are at it.

  71. RichieP says:
    November 12, 2010 at 6:12 am
    I’m not sure whether this is on topic or off but I’m going to say it anyway. I have come to the point in all these discussions where I find myself thinking that the scientific and political worlds have simply become mad. I’ve just finished reading the CCS post below this one and simply had to stop because outright despair and rage kicked in at the lunacy and irrationality of the geo-engineering proposals involved […]
    =================
    Yes, our collective lunacy is depressing and hard to believe. I’ve always thought the CO2 sequestration projects could not possibly get underway, because surely the absurdity of it all would become clear. Apparently, no amount of nonsense, no matter how huge, can be ruled out from infiltrating our minds. Yes, sir, it is a dismal landscape.
    Speaking of lunacy, a few years ago there were many serious reports about the viability of mining the Moon for helium-3 turning over and processing vast amounts of the Moon’s surface to collect the stuff (the concentration of helium-3 on the Moon’s surface is thought to be about 13 parts per billion) and ship it to Earth for fusion power, to save us from possible future scarcities of energy resources. There were many such reports, some of them quite enthusiastic. See for example this piece in Popular Mechanics. (It’s a short trip indeed from Lunacy to Lunar)
    http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/space/1283056
    [Excerpt]
    LUNAR MINING
    Samples collected in 1969 by Neil Armstrong during the first lunar landing showed that helium-3 concentrations in lunar soil are at least 13 parts per billion (ppb) by weight. Levels may range from 20 to 30 ppb in undisturbed soils. Quantities as small as 20 ppb may seem too trivial to consider. But at a projected value of $40,000 per ounce, 220 pounds of helium-3 would be worth about $141 million.
    Because the concentration of helium-3 is extremely low, it would be necessary to process large amounts of rock and soil to isolate the material. Digging a patch of lunar surface roughly three-quarters of a square mile to a depth of about 9 ft. should yield about 220 pounds of helium-3–enough to power a city the size of Dallas or Detroit for a year.
    Although considerable lunar soil would have to be processed, the mining costs would not be high by terrestrial standards.

  72. RE: Tallbloke, jorgekafkazar, Barney
    I have read that the atmosphere in Venus is so deep that at the surface it is equivalent to being in the deepest mine on Earth or below. Think Death Valley X 5. Of course it is hot !
    At the altitude where the atmosphere is 1 earth atmosphere it is remarkably close to earth temperature. It is closer to the sun so I would be amazed if it weren’t just a little hotter.

  73. So from this I think I’m becoming a Cretaceous Climate Convert: the believe that we must re-introduce all that carbon from dead dinosaurs back into the atmosphere to recover all those lost species that devolved so tragically.
    I get dinosaurs and cheap energy all in one…
    Let’s shoot for 2000 ppm, now not later!!!
    Power in C^3: Cretaceous Carbon Climate.

  74. If all atmospheric CO2 were to suddenly disappear reducing the CO2 partial gas pressure to 0 kpa, the oceans would boil as the CO2 came out of solution. It would be quickly replaced.
    However, the ocean would maintain temperatures at the equator, long enough for the dead vegetation and animal life to be eaten by bacteria and fungi. This would result in huge additions of methane and additional CO2. Since methane is a more efficient IR scatterer… I, would therefore theorize, that the net result would be an increase in any so called GHE heating. IMHO as a thought experiment. GK

  75. RichieP @ 6:12 AM
    It is an ‘Extraordinary Popular Delusion and Madness of the Crowd’. Suppose I told you that you have to keep reading the lunacy because you are the one bull in the herd who can stop it from going over the cliff. So persevere. Courage.
    ==============

  76. “I wonder what’s a bigger disaster for humanity.
    The warmists or the luke warmers.”
    Lukewarmers are Warmists (Warmers). They just triangulate more to seem more reasonable. Just take Steven Mosher. He’s as much committed to selling Global Warming as anyone I can think of.
    Andrew

  77. Stephen Wilde says:
    November 12, 2010 at 4:29 am
    If all the CO2 were removed we would still have all our Nitrogen, Oxygen, trace gases and water vapour plus all our oceans and a continuing hydrological cycle all reacting to solar input just as they do now.
    Would that not maintain atmospheric temperatures at much the same level ?

    No because N2 and O2 don’t react to the solar input at all and with the drop in temperature the water vapor concentration goes down, the oceans freeze so the albedo increases etc.

  78. ‘With respect to the early Earth atmosphere, CO2 was emitted from volcanic eruptions but so was water vapor. The two acted together to warm the climate.’
    With respect to you but me self fancy a dandy dumb a** question or two: Wasn’t earth’s temperature back in the good old days some zillion degrees or so, ok so maybe almost a zillion degrees less like a cool breeze of say +1500°. A few billion years later and poof we got oxygen producing critters taking up all the good spots in the ocean. Correct me i f I’m wrong here, but didn’t the atmosphere at the time of that hilarious party consist of a few more nasty molecules ‘an just water vapor and the ‘orrible carbon dioxide? How about methane, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, sulfur acid, and the rest of the gang, were they on vacation?
    Like I said might be dumd a** questions but it it seems to me that it would be a rather more rational to bet on earth as the primary driver for heat back then rather then from some puny feedback effect. :p

  79. Vince Causey says:
    November 12, 2010 at 7:18 am
    Ehm, I’m just looking at that graph and it seems to be saying that the forcing due to CO2 is about 258 watts/metre squared. Isn’t that a bit large? I mean, the average global insolation is only 240 watts/metre squared. Something not quite right.

    The measured LW forcing on the earth is ~300 W/m^2 even at the N Pole so that seems reasonable.

  80. kramer says:
    November 12, 2010 at 7:30 am
    Mars has got about 9x as much CO2 in the atmosphere as Earth, it’s atmosphere is less dense than ours, there is very little water vapor in it’s atmosphere, and it gets around half the energy of the sun.
    That said (and including any other factors I have missed), does the CO2 theory hold up on Mars? In other words, if we plugged in all the physical information of Mars into the equations for warming, would the result be close to the known temperature range that we see on Mars?

    Yes, read RP Wayne’s book on planetary atmospheres.

  81. If the CO2 level dropped to 160 ppm most plant life would cease. We were perilously close to that value for a while. Now it is recovering.
    Wheat is a recent, 56-gene dicotlydon and is genetically capable of living at the low CO2 level that preceded its formation perhaps only 10,000 years ago. Wheat can be considered an evolutionary adaption to a new paradign of low CO2. 400 ppm CO2 is not normal on this planet.
    If CO2 were removed from the atmosphere, it is not true all life would die. There are many life forms on earth that use sulphur compounds to survive. I have no idea how large they could become in a CO2-free atmosphere but the myriad forms would continue in CO2-free conditions just as they do now. There may be other energy paths that are sustainable.

  82. This posting sent me looking for the thermostat. I found mostly scholarly articles for which I just don’t have the attention span. Here is one of interest. Dr. Masters says in part:
    “If global warming has triggered the decrease in stratospheric water vapor seen since 2000, it could mean that the climate models have predicted too much global warming, since they don’t predict that such a negative feedback exists. On the other hand, if this is a natural cycle, we can expect the recent flattening in global temperatures to average out in the long run, with a return to steeper increases in temperature in the coming decades. ”
    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=1421
    Water vapor is the dominant greenhouse gas, even at the tropopause cold point temperature of 191 ºK.

  83. Simon says:
    November 12, 2010 at 6:21 am
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure they’ve discovered sulphur-based life forms around underwater volcanic vents.
    They are carbon based bacteria that use H2S in their electron transport systems.

  84. Should have clarified more. Instead of using a photon from the sun to activate the electron transport systems of photosynthesis they use H2S for the energy.

  85. Dave Springer says:
    November 12, 2010 at 3:49 am
    Bryan says:
    November 12, 2010 at 1:39 am
    …….” if CO2 were removed from the Earth’s atmosphere, the climate system would rapidly cool”……………………..
    Everything remains the same except that CO2 does not absorb/radiate in the infra red.
    What difference would that bring about?
    A deeply frozen planet. The average temperature of the moon is -23C and its albedo is around 15%. A snowball earth would have an albedo of 85% and would thus be far colder than the moon. Greenhouse gases are the only thing that prevents that from happening. Water vapor is by far the major greenhouse gas but it is a condensing gas and once it condenses out into snow there is nothing but greenhouse effect from non-condensing gases to melt it.

    I agree with Stephen Wilde
    The water would condense out (as it does at the moment) but it would also be evaporating or even sublimating into the atmosphere dependent on the temperature and the atmospheric vapor pressure of the water vapor.
    Humid air is lighter than dry air and will start rising with dry air moving in to replace it and pick up more water vapor. Therefore, there can be convection even without added heat. This convection will carry water vapor into the atmosphere where it will act as a ‘green house’ gas considerably more powerful than CO2.
    It is extremely difficult to envisage the state of your hypothesis with completely dry atmosphere and all the water as snow or ice even at the equator.
    The argument seems to be an extension of the AGW/IPCC postulate that water only evaporates due to CO2 radiative forcing and is such evaporation is ‘only a feedback’.
    Unless someone can demonstrate that water will not evaporate or sublimate in a dry atmosphere at the equator – this postulate appears to be false.

  86. If CO2 was reduced in a sudden step, the adiabatic lapse rate would increase. Rising moist air would cool faster as the rising air would intercept less IR from below. This must happen. My pet theory says that the result would be a drop in the mean height of the tropopause and a higher temperature there. This would slowly cause the humidity of the stratosphere to rise as the moisture in the stratosphere is controlled by the rising dew point of the lowered tropopause. The IR absorption of the stratosphere would rise. Once equilibrium is re-established, the net optical density of the atmosphere would be at the initial value with more water vapor absorption of IR and, of course, less CO2 absorption.
    This is consistent with constant optical density theory of Miskolczi, the paper:
    “Polynomial Cointegration Tests of the Anthropogenic Theory of Global Warming” by Michael Beenstock1 and Yaniv Reingewertz1; and the measured decrease in humidity at high altitudes over the last fifty years as CO2 has risen.

  87. Mike Borgelt says: November 12, 2010 at 12:17 am
    Anybody care to comment if pressure broadening of the CO2 absorption lines is dependent on absolute pressure or just partial pressure of CO2?
    ————————————————–
    CO2 lasers are common, but absorption line broadening is the reason why you can’t build a CO2 laser by starting with the correct pCO2 and adding nitrogen to make the total 1 atmosphere. The elastic collisions of too many nitrogen atoms distorts the shape of the CO2 atom’s electron cloud. (Anthropomorphic quantum physics anyone?)
    Also, one of the reasons for Venus’ high surface temperature is the lack of convective stirring. No thunderstorms and no evaporation/condensation to carry heat upwards.

  88. Phil,
    “The measured LW forcing on the earth is ~300 W/m^2 even at the N Pole so that seems reasonable.”
    I’m still not convinced. I made 2 calculations of the Stefan-Boltzman equation with surface temperatures of 255k and 287k to mimic a blackbody earth both with and without greenhouse effects. For the lower temperature I get a radiative flux of 240 w/sq meter, and for the higher temperature I get 385 w/sq meter. This is a difference of 145 w/sq meter. So if I’m reading this correctly, the entire forcing due to greenhouse gases is only 145 w/sq meter, so that due to CO2 alone can’t possibly be 258 w/sq meter.

  89. RichieP says:
    November 12, 2010 at 6:12 am
    “I have come to the point in all these discussions where I find myself thinking that the scientific and political worlds have simply become mad.”
    That is my feeling too. Madness, pure and simple. The ony way out would be to send a signal to Lacis & Co that, relax, we will give you money even though you study another molecule, too.

  90. “”””” Mike Borgelt says:
    November 12, 2010 at 12:17 am
    Anybody care to comment if pressure broadening of the CO2 absorption lines is dependent on absolute pressure or just partial pressure of CO2?
    Lacis claims Mars is cold because of lack of pressure broadening. “””””
    Mike, the line broadening mechanism due to pressure, is essentially the collision rates, and mean free path issues. So it depends on just the total number of molecules in a volume, and not their species; so it is not a partial pressure effect.
    Now bear in mind, that since each molecular species has its own molecular mass, the energy and momentum exchanges in collisions are somewhat dependent on who collides with whom; but that is just the fine print in the interractions. Shorter times between collisions leads to broader spectral lines.
    The Temperature broadening is simply a Doppler effect since the average molecular velocity tends to vary as the square root of the Temperature (Kelvins) due to the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution function.

  91. Well I read both of Andy’s posts on Roger Sr’s site and I don’t buy it.
    He ends up by saying that removal of the non condensing GHGs would cause the H2O to simply precipitate out and rapid cooling.
    Hey Earth to Andy; absent all those clouds that precipitated out, and the water vapor that isn’t there either; the ground level solar insolation goes sky high PDQ; it does not head for 255 K. What is the final albedo in your model; without that 70% cloud cover that NASA now tells us we do have.

  92. Dave Springer says:
    November 12, 2010 at 4:08 am
    Phil. says:
    November 12, 2010 at 7:18 am
    George E. Smith says:
    November 12, 2010 at 12:57 pm
    Dan in California says:
    November 12, 2010 at 11:23 am
    Guys I’m only saying what Lacis claimed. The reason I ask is that I’m pretty sure I’ve seen Gavin claim that the extra CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere is a problem because of the extra pressure broadening. As the extra CO2 is negligibly small in the makeup of the total pressure this can’t be right.
    I’m well aware of the Venus and Mars cases and if you do the calculation correctly you get something like 25 times as much mass of CO2 over each square meter of Mars as on Earth.
    Dan, thanks for reminding us about the role of convection. On Earth, with aid of water vapor, it causes cooling.
    I’m with you George. I’m coming to the conclusion that CO2 has a negligibly small effect on temperatures in the troposphere. Above the trop the decreased pressure broadening should let more radiation through the higher you go and there the extra CO2 may have a small effect.

  93. LW radiation has very minute effect on ocean temperatures and it is these that generally control the temperature of the atmosphere. The LW radiation is similar from the poles to the tropics, yet ocean temperatures couldn’t be much different thanks to SW radiation from the sun with the varying seasons. SW radiation at 200w/m2 can’t be compared with LW radiation 200w/m2, they are miles apart. Most of the SW radiation is absorbed by the surface and beyond, keeping tropical oceans 26c+ difference between the poles. Virtually all the LW is reflected back into space and makes very little difference to the surface temperatures. Therefore LW in CO2 has little difference on planet temperatures when SW radiation and the oceans control the thermostat. The oceans themselves have a larger contribution to the retention of energy then all the atmosphere on it’s own. Remove the ocean but keep the same atmosphere and the planet would have a very different climate.

  94. At the moment, I would rather drive over Tollgate later today under the protective cover of a greenhouse gas grown out of control than what is my current reality. Think of the cost reduction of warmer weather! Don’t need two sets of tires. Won’t need to replace my rock chipped window. Won’t have to warm up my car before driving off. Won’t need to umph up the thermostat in the morning just to get dressed. Won’t need shoes AND snow boots. AND! Won’t need to replant my #$%-ing grass every year due to snow mold kill.

  95. One cannot really say that CO2 is the thermostat, given that the role of a thermostat is to keep the temperature within a small temperature range. Water plays the role of thermostat: in the kitchen, as long as there is water in the pot, the temperature of the boiling pot remains close to 100o Celcius (if there was some salt in the water, as water boils off, the temperature raises slightly). Water phase changes (solid to liquid to vapor) is essential to the thermostat mechanism. As CO2 level rises, temperature rises. Now the question: by how much? Given historical data, CO2 increases the temperature very slightly.
    I see a number of comments on Venus and Mars. First, the planetary greenhouse effect is primarily an atmospheric pressure effect. Mars has a near zero atmospheric pressure, thus little greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect has nothing to do with the distance of the Sun: the greenhouse effect of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus – for the upper atmosphere (at least) – is about the same as on Earth, and with little CO2 and plenty of methane.
    Blackbody emission spectrum is INDEPENDENT of the composition (or phase, be it solid, liquid, gas) of the body. Thus a large body of O2 and N2 gas molecules does emit/absorb at all frequencies. But Earth is not at true equilibrium and thus one talks about graybody emission which depends slightly on composition. O2, N2 may not have strong absorption/emission lines in the IR but they can absorb/emit IR via collisions. The point is: if an atom/molecule is a weak absorber, it is also a weak emitter: so if they gain energy, they retain the energy longer. CO2 and H2O are strong IR absorbers so if they gain energy, they release the energy fairly quickly. The denser the atmosphere, the greater the probability that CO2 and H2O transfer the energy (by collision) with O2 and N2, instead of re-emitting. An overall increase in atmospheric CO2 brings about a heating of the lower (more dense) atmosphere and
    a cooling (less dense) of the upper atmosphere. A greater temperature differential develops and brings about atmospheric current dynamics which dissipates the temperature differential change.
    If there were no CO2, would Earth remain solid ice? No. The weather in the troposphere will be about what we have now. All of life resides within the troposphere whose behavior is dominated by water. The role of CO2 is to accelerate the pace from going from an (supposed) initial solid-ice-planet to the current state of affairs. An absence of CO2 would delay reaching the current state by a few million years. From direct impact of sunlight, water will vaporize and sublimate, transferring a good part of its energy to O2 and N2 which holds on to the energy for a long time. Energy
    is accumulated – slowly – by the O2 and N2 molecules. Keep in mind that atmospheric currents bring water up to about 10-20 km above the top of the troposphere. In the stratosphere, water exists in a very fine, very diffuse body of microcrystals.
    The science is not yet settled.

  96. As long as climate scientists indulge in confusions between forcing (introduction of energy into a system from outside) and its redistribution/storage within the system and eventual transmission to space, we’ll get the sort of unfounded claims that are rampant here. There is no sound physical basis for expecting that total elimination of CO2 from the atmosphere would drop the global average temperature below freezing. With ~10% albedo absent any clouds, that is well-nigh impossible. Nor is there any backradiation spectrum from anywhere on the globe that integrates anywhere near ~300 W/m^2 in the Co2 absorption bands.

  97. @”However, there needs to be a recognition that the human influence on the climate system, including global warming and cooling, involves much more than the non-condensing greenhouse gases….”
    Like what ? and we warm AND cool the globe ?
    “and that the role of natural climate forcings and variability remain incompletely understood.”
    Identifying the cause, and predicting is the priority, maybe the role is wake us up to the fact the World keeps getting colder;
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Five_Myr_Climate_Change.svg

  98. Could the gulf be any wider?
    “Water vapor and clouds are fast-acting feedback effects, and as such, they are controlled by the radiative forcing supplied by the non-condensing GHGs.”

  99. If CO2 is a control knob on the Earth’s thermostat by impacting temperatures which then results in a large feedback from water vapour changes, then so is the global Albedo.
    Both affect the global temperature and thus, affect the water vapour levels.
    The Albedo of the Earth looks like it can vary between 25% (Pangea Hothouse) and 50% (Snowball Earth) or a range of as much as 85.0 watts/m2 in solar energy absorbed by the Earth system (just a little higher than the CO2/GHG impact of 3.7 watts/m2 per doubling).
    So, obviously this is going to affect the temperature and water vapour levels as well – at exactly the same rate as that theorized for CO2 – a change in water vapour of 7% for each 1.0C.
    Albedo then provides a very good explanation for the Ice Ages, for the Permian/Pangea hothouse, for Snowball Earth, for the warm and wet Miocene, for the global temperature drop that ocurred when Antarctica glaciated over 33.5 million years etc. etc. – and CO2 does not need to be involved in these changes.
    So why is CO2 such a big control knob and Albedo is not considered at all?

  100. According to this site (http://motls.blogspot.com/2006/07/carbon-dioxide-and-temperatures-ice.html), it is clear that higher concentrations of CO2 and CH4 did NOT lead to any tipping point. After CO2 and CH4 reached high concentrations, the temperatures went down again. Apparently this is due to Milankovitch cycles meaning the distances and inclinations of Earth relative to the sun are much more important “control knobs” than CO2.
    This does not, of course, prove that concentrations of at least 100 ppm of CO2 are not necessary to get things started. However that is only of academic interest anyway. It may or may not be the control knob some people think it is. What IS of importance in the present debate on AGW is whether increasing the CO2 from 400 ppm to 600 ppm is of huge significance. I interpret the CO2, CH4, temperature graph from the above site in Figure 1 to indicate that EVEN IF low concentrations of CO2 act as control knobs, concentrations above 180 ppm have virtually no additional controlling powers. Some may argue that this graph only goes from 180 to 280 ppm. However even the IPCC agrees that the effect is logarithmic, so if increases from 180 to 280 cause no tipping point, there is no reason to suspect 400 to 600 would cause any catastrophe all of a sudden. Certainly the last 12 years have not shown any reason to be alarmed.

  101. Ulric Lyons – November 12, 2010 at 6:54 pm: “Looks to me like the Sun must have been varying the amount of water vapour every 150 million years then;”
    That’s a really nice geologic time chart you show. You are quite right about the approximately 150 million years between cool periods. They are the ice ages, and we are in one of them right now even though we live in an an interglacial period. The reason for the occurrence of ice ages is not clear. Drifting continents have been suggested but the fit is not good. I personally favor Nir Shaviv’s theory of spiral arm passage. The spiral arms are actually density waves and stars can and do pass through them. They are also the birthplace of many supernovas so the environment is charged with lots of high energy cosmic rays. According to Svensmark’s theory these cosmic rays then seed more clouds, more cloudiness increases the total albedo of the earth, and the climate cools. Sounds interesting and believable but needs lots of loose ends to be fixed. But take another look at your own geologic chart. In between the ice ages the temperature is pretty uniformly the same for tens of millions of years at a stretch. This is what I am talking about.

  102. Bill Illis asks, “So why is CO2 such a big control knob and Albedo is not considered at all?”
    The selective vision appears to be governed by naive (rather than deliberately deceptive) sorting of factors into “external”, “internal”, “feedback”, “forcing”, etc. slots.
    Alert students of the psychology of persuasion will spot a conceptual framework twisting in a wind of criticism, but the distinction between deception & naivety is of more fundamental importance.

  103. Bill Illis says:
    November 12, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    So why is CO2 such a big control knob and Albedo is not considered at all?

    Bill, I think Lacis et al made a mistake in the title of their paper. It should have been Atmospheric CO2: Principle Control Knob Governing GISS ModelE’s “temperature”.

  104. Something didn’t look right on Lacis’ plot showing changes in cloud cover, snow cover, albedo, water vapor, etc. but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I thought cloud cover was probably excessive and albedo too low. Water vapor a bit high. It showed the stock temperature drop of 30C everyone always mentioned. I attributed the unlikely looking terminal condition to the ocean not yet having time to reach equilibrium.
    Here’s the deal. It’s one thing to model this and some of the model inputs and assumptions are more reliable than others but actual observations must always trump models once we’re assured that the method of observation isn’t flawed. There’s a certain observation that I often consider when applicable. That is the average temperature and albedo of the moon.
    We know from experiments performed on and below the surface of the moon that it’s average temperature is -23C and we also know from direct observation that its average albedo is 15%. Insolation is of course the same as the earth.
    Lacis’ chart reaches a terminal surface temperature of -20C which is close enough to the -23C of the moon. So at first blush things look about right – virtually no greenhouse gases and we get a result close to the average temperature of the moon. The 3C discrepancy might be attributed to the tiny amount of water vapor remaining in the frigid atmosphere.
    But there’s a BIG problem. In Lacis’ chart the earth is shown to have an albedo over 40% which is far higher than the moon’s albedo. The terminal surface temperature in equilibrium must therefore be far lower than -23C because of the much greater albedo.
    In all fairness Lacis’ projection only goes out 50 years which likely isn’t enough time for the global ocean to equilibrate. It will eventually become solid ice almost everywhere except where volcanic activity might melt it but that won’t be a significant amount. There would also be volcanic ash and micrometeorite debris accumulating on the surface which would lower albedo substantially over the course of millions of years to approxmitely that of the moon but I serously doubt either volcanic activity or extra-terrestrial dust are included in the model.
    The temperature on Lacis’ graph appears like it might still be slowly declining after 50 years but it’s hard to tell. It would be interesting to see the model results after say 10,000 years which is probably enough time for the global ocean to reach equilibrium which at those temperatures is going to be solid ice from top to bottom with an average temperature far lower than -23C due to very high surface albedo compared to the moon.
    The long and the short of my view is that CO2 does far more warming than it’s given credit for when low temperatures shut down the hydrologic cycle and far less than it’s give credit for when the hydrologic cycle is running full steam (pun intended).
    CO2 is “kindling” that ignites the water cycle. Without it the earth wouldn’t be a water world it would be an ice world with an average temperature below -100C at least until volcanic ash covered enough of it to give it the same albedo as the moon. Once we have a water world CO2’s role as a GHG is over and done with except for being in the background keeping the temperature high enough for a liquid ocean when the water cycle is otherwise effectively shut down by low temperatures.
    So there is some truth in my view to CO2 being something of a thermostat but it only serves to set the minimum low temperature. Water (liquid and vapor) limits the maximum high temperature.
    Of course the bottom line remains that the earth is and has been a deep ice age for the past 3 million years with historically minimal (even today with anthropogenic CO2 contribution) which is not the usual state of things. The usual state of things is about 8C warmer than today, CO2 at 2000+ ppm, very little ice anywhere, and green pole to pole. As far as the biosphere is concerned the warm times described in the previous sentence are the conditions where most of evolution of extant multicellular life and all terrestrial evolution took place i.e. from the pre-Cambrian period 600 mya forward. That is the “optimum” climate if the concern is really for the biosphere as a whole. The problem is that human civilization “evolved” in an eyeblink of history which all happened in a few thousand years during a comparatively stable interglacial period. Civilization was optimized for that environment and that environment is NOT normal or long lived. So this is really about what’s best for our fragile civilization not what’s best for all living things. What’s best for all living things is an end to the ice age. Clearly pre-industrial CO2 of 280ppm is not sufficient to end an ice age and I seriously doubt 390ppm is enough to do it either given the exponentially diminishing GHG effect of additional CO2 beyond the first 100ppm or so. We need doublings (plural) from pre-industrial level to have a shot at ending the ice age. The problem is we probably don’t have enough recoverable fossil fuel for two doublings and we certainly don’t have enough to sustain that level for very long. The end of the Holocene interglacial appears to be inevitable and it won’t be pretty for human civilization when everything north of 40 degrees latitude is buried under a mile of ice.

  105. David Spurgeon says:
    [quote]Came across this the other day…does it have a reasonable contribution to the discussion?
    [/quote]
    No because G&T’s paper that you reference is pseudoscientific nonsense (see http://www.worldscinet.com/ijmpb/24/2410/S021797921005555X.html ) that no serious scientist believes, even skeptical scientists like Richard Lindzen and Roy Spencer.
    Paul Vaughan says:
    [quote]
    To acquire perspective, I suggest that the authors do a run of their models with all water removed.[/quote]
    To acquire perspective, I suggest that you read the paper that you comment on before commenting on it. The authors well-understand the role of water vapor; however, as a condensable gas, it is not a control knob but rather has its concentration essentially determined by the temperature.

    If CO2 is a control knob on the Earth’s thermostat by impacting temperatures which then results in a large feedback from water vapour changes, then so is the global Albedo.

    And, what causes the albedo to spontaneously vary? I agree that albedo can have a significant effect…and your notion that its change is the largest contributor to the ice age – interglacial cycles is what the current scientific understanding is (with greenhouse gases being 2nd). However, in that case, the albedo change is understood to be the result of the variations in earth’s orbit and rotation resulting in a change in the seasonal and latitudinal distribution of solar insolation; it doesn’t just spontaneously happen. Also, calculations of the forcings due to the albedo change, greenhouse gas change, and change in aerosols lead to a climate sensitivity in the IPCC range.

  106. By the way, one curious thing to me in Roger Pielke Sr.’s post is the statement:

    With respect to the early Earth atmosphere, CO2 was emitted from volcanic eruptions but so was water vapor. The two acted together to warm the climate.

    To me it seems rather surprising to suggest that the input of water vapor from volcanic eruptions would be so large as to significantly alter the distribution as water vapor in the troposphere given the fast rate of exchange of water vapor with liquid water at the earth’s surface via evaporation and condensation / precipitation. Is there any support for the idea that this was happening…Or, is the idea that it altered the water vapor in the stratosphere where the exchange rate might be slower?
    Perhaps he could clarify this?

  107. *******
    Werner Brozek says:
    November 12, 2010 at 8:32 pm
    According to this site (http://motls.blogspot.com/2006/07/carbon-dioxide-and-temperatures-ice.html), it is clear that higher concentrations of CO2 and CH4 did NOT lead to any tipping point. After CO2 and CH4 reached high concentrations, the temperatures went down again. Apparently this is due to Milankovitch cycles meaning the distances and inclinations of Earth relative to the sun are much more important “control knobs” than CO2.
    ********
    Also this at Motl’s site:
    http://motls.blogspot.com/2010/07/in-defense-of-milankovitch-by-gerard.html
    where Gerard’s paper shows a remarkable correlation between 65 deg north summer insolation & global ice-volume changes. Right there is earth’s “thermostat” direct from empirical data. Note that such a close correlation does not allow any other significant influences, including CO2 (unless correlation with said other influence(s) was exactly the same as the solar insolation). Otherwise the close correlation between 65 deg N solar input and ice-volume changes would be disrupted.

  108. Joel Shore says:
    November 13, 2010 at 7:08 am
    re; early earth
    How early?
    The sun was much dimmer billions of years ago but the earth was born molten due to gravitational contraction and radioactive isotopes were a lot more abundant then (all but the longest lived have gone through numerous reductions in half during each half-life cycle) which also kept it heated. The late heavy bombardment (widely accepted but not undisputed) impeded the solidification of the crust which today insulates the surface (mostly) from the remaining heat of formation and remaining radioisotope decay.
    Mars was evidently a water world for a period of time but due to its smaller mass and greater distance from the sun it cooled off a lot faster than the earth.
    The early earth is thought to have had an exceedingly dense atmosphere composed primarily of CO2 and water vapor. Although the surface temperature was far above 100C liquid water could still exist because the early atmosphere was far denser than today and the higher surface pressure raised the boiling point of water.
    Details of one likely scenario (no early earth scenarios are writ in stone) can be found here:
    Initiation of clement surface conditions on the earliest Earth
    While there’s controversy about all this it’s mostly in the details. The earth was born hot with a very heavy atmosphere which was initially rock-vapor at thousands of degrees C and as the heat of formation bled off became a heavy atmosphere of CO2 and water vapor which remained far above 100C until inorganic chemistry reduced the gaseous CO2 into carbonate minerals which reduced the temperature and pressure to the point where thermophilic forms of life could survive.

  109. @Arno Arrak says:
    November 12, 2010 at 9:02 pm
    “According to Svensmark’s theory these cosmic rays then seed more clouds, more cloudiness increases the total albedo of the earth, and the climate cools. Sounds interesting and believable..”
    {Empirically, increased galactic cosmic ray (GCR) flux seem to be associated with a cooler climate, a southerly shift of the ITCZ..}
    And the lower solar wind speed being responsible for the cooler climate and increased GCR`s. Cloud changes will follow the temperature changes, they are not driven by them.

  110. On the subject of CO2 and albedo control knobs.
    It is noticeable that CO2 levels were dropping during the last 100 million years, finally dropping below 300 ppm 20 million years ago, at which time the Antarctic ice sheet started expanding, and later the northern hemisphere ice ages began. All this was permitted by the low CO2 values, so we can argue CO2 supersedes ice albedo on the longer time scales, and at higher concentrations. Ice ages only have a role in a low-CO2 world.
    Interestingly, now we approach 400 ppm again, we seem to be in a regime where ice sheets are not viable on a long time scale. The book “The Long Thaw” by David Archer, argues that we may have averted the next ice age that was due 25-50 thousand years from now with projected CO2 levels from fossil fuel burning.

  111. Joel Shore says:
    November 13, 2010 at 6:50 am
    And, what causes the albedo to spontaneously vary? …and your notion that its change is the largest contributor to the ice age cycles is the current scientific understanding … the albedo change is understood to be the result of the variations in earth’s orbit and distribution of solar insolation; it doesn’t just spontaneously happen.
    ——————–
    Move North America and Europe just 100 kms farther south (as in simple continental drift) and the Milankovitch Cycles have no impact – there is no ice age cycle. They are no longer succeptible to the Milankovitch Cycles.
    Move them 100 kms farther north and there is a permanent ice age.
    Glacial ice and sea ice has an Albedo of 70%. Normal land and ocean cover (at higher latitudes) has an Albedo of 40%. That is just enough change to have a large impact on the global Albedo.
    The ice ages in the far distant past have always occurred when the continents where at, over or very near the poles allowing high Albedo glacial ice to build up. Global Albedo has followed suit. This explains the climate history far better than CO2.
    So, yes Albedo can spontaneously change (although it will most often change more slowly and it is only when continents are in the Milankovitch succeptible latitudes, that we have more rapid ice age/interglacial Albedo-controlled cycles). Put them closer to the poles, as in Antarctica, and the ice is permanent. CO2 is not as big of a control knob as Albedo is.
    Clouds, as well, are a little more than half of the global Albedo and this also varies, at least with the ENSO cycle and Albedo-dominated temperatures levels (although this runs counter to the glacial ice levels) and who knows what else influences cloud levels.

  112. Ulric Lyons says:
    November 13, 2010 at 9:46 am
    “And at c.450-438 million yrs ago ?”
    There are natural processes that lead to a slow decline in CO2 (maybe 5-10 ppm per million years). These gradual declines are punctuated by rapid increases that are harder to explain (except the recent ones).

  113. “where Gerard’s paper shows a remarkable correlation between 65 deg north summer insolation & global ice-volume changes. Right there is earth’s “thermostat” direct from empirical data.”
    Nah. Think of it at that scale like the cooling system in water-cooled automobile engine. The poles are the radiators. Water is circulated between engine and radiator by a pump in a car where the pump’s power is a small portion taken from engine. In the earth’s case the sun is the engine and most of its energy is transferred by absorption in the tropical oceans. The pump in this case is convective and, like the car, is driven by a portion of the power from the sun.
    That’s pretty basic physics but it’s a good starting point to understanding how excess heat from the tropics is radiated out at the poles. Greatly complicating this over geologic timeframes is continental drift. When continents drift over poles it must greatly reduce the efficiency of the radiator because it blocks ocean currents from reaching the sweet spot for radiative performance where insolation is the weakest and water vapor is almost absent due to extreme cold. That’s why the south pole is much colder than the north – it’s a less efficient radiator.
    Additionally sea ice cover will impede the performance of the radiator. Ice is a pretty good insulator so the warm water coming from the engine can’t radiate nearly as well. As the north polar ice diminishes the radiator becomes increasingly better at radiating. Everything appears to be working just as it should. The so-called “missing heat” is leaving the system through improved performance of the cooling system.

  114. Bill Illis says:
    November 13, 2010 at 9:57 am

    Move North America and Europe just 100 kms farther south (as in simple continental drift) and the Milankovitch Cycles have no impact – there is no ice age cycle. They are no longer succeptible to the Milankovitch Cycles.
    Move them 100 kms farther north and there is a permanent ice age.

    My sediments exactly. Position of the continents critically changes the performance of the cooling system. Right now we’ve got a blocked up radiator at the south pole and and water flow restrictions at the north pole. When the radiators get blocked if everything else remains equal the poles will get colder and the tropics get warmer just as you’d expect when your car’s cooling system becomes impaired.
    Angle of inclination will also have a potential effect because that causes the sweet spot for radiative performance to drift around which effectively moves the sweet spot in relation to the continents which drift much slower than the axis of inclination.

  115. @Jim D says:
    November 13, 2010 at 10:13 am
    Ulric Lyons says:
    November 13, 2010 at 9:46 am
    “And at c.450-438 million yrs ago ?”
    There are natural processes that lead to a slow decline in CO2 (maybe 5-10 ppm per million years). These gradual declines are punctuated by rapid increases that are harder to explain (except the recent ones).
    _________________________________________________
    But they are going in opposite directions, twice;
    http://ff.org/centers/csspp/library/co2weekly/2005-08-18/dioxide_files/image002.gif

  116. Are EOP (Earth orientation parameters) not a part of standard climate science schooling? Perhaps therein lies one of the more fundamental problems. What is the value of a model that cannot reproduce EOP?
    In general there’s too much focus on temperature without (sufficiently) mentioning pressure, volume, spatiotemporal heterogeneity (e.g. lapse rate variations), & tides [both gravitational & thermal].
    These authors took a few wrong turns and haven’t finished what they’ve started, but the paper might help modelers considering upgrades from untenable assumptions:
    Sonechkin, D.M.; & Brojewski, R. (2003). ENSO: A quasiperiodic forced dynamical system.
    http://forum.decvar.org/presentations/ENSO_WORKSHOP/documents/presentations/posters/Sonechkin-poster.pdf
    [Note the reference to strange nonchaotic attractors. More on this at a later date…]
    The convention of basing climate studies on temperature anomalies rather than absolutes also appears to be causing some climate scientists to crucially fail to evade Simpson’s Paradox. Example of a possibly-emerging exception:
    “Fig. 6 Correlations between monthly mean anomalies of surface temperature and precipitation, grouped into the 893 months of November to March and May to September, for 1979 to 2002, adapted from Trenberth and Shea (2005).”
    Trenberth, K.E. (2010). Changes in precipitation with climate change.
    http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/Trenberth/trenberth.papers/ClimateChangeWaterCycle-rev.pdf
    Dave Springer comments, “Only ocean and air currents driven by convection from lower unfrozen latitudes can remove the sea ice once it forms.”
    How about persistent warm rains? It will be interesting to see what graphs vukcevic posts once he starts looking at arctic precipitation…

  117. Jim D says:
    November 13, 2010 at 12:15 pm
    Ulric Lyons:
    November 13, 2010 at 11:31 am
    Do you rule out volcanic activity and meteor strikes as possible causes for cooling?
    Anyway, I prefer this temperature plot which doesn’t have the crazy dips, rises and flat parts.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:All_palaeotemps.png
    —————————————
    I have the actual data from this chart and can post a version which has timeline scale on the same basis throughout and then it can be compared to the CO2 levels (there are some problems with this data, mostly they used a smoothing function which was too long, taking out too much of the variation and it also put the timelines off quite a bit).
    http://img703.imageshack.us/img703/6161/tempco2570myaroyerberne.png
    This is my preferred and it is based on the same original data source but leaves more variation in and has the timelines in the proper place.
    http://img213.imageshack.us/img213/1074/tempco2570mya.png

  118. @Jim D says:
    November 13, 2010 at 12:15 pm
    “Do you rule out volcanic activity and meteor strikes as possible causes for cooling?”
    Well, it cannot be meteor strikes making a regular 150 million year cycles, and as far as I can see, volcanic activity peaks on temperature uplifts.

  119. Ulric Lyons:
    November 13, 2010 at 4:07 pm
    OK, let’s take the most recent 150 million years of cooling. Is your suggestion that it is all caused by increased cloud cover that cools the earth so much that the CO2 was absorbed by the cooler ocean? Or could the more conventional idea related to sequestering CO2 by geological and biological processes have accounted for it? This makes a difference as to where the CO2 went, into the ocean or into the sediments and ground. If it is in the ocean, the current warming is worse than we thought, because that would be easily released to add to fossil carbon, but that is clearly not what is happening because the net flux is still into the ocean.

  120. The view of the anthropogenic thermostat whips seems to be that mountainous natural variations are unimportant because the obedient CO2 highway crew bypasses such nuisances-of-nature by building gently-graded high bridges over deep valleys and by blasting gently-graded tunnels through hills. The view appears based on naive miscategorization of key factors into “internal” & “feedback” slots.
    Anyone following R. de Haan’s link may (after a google search) arrives here:
    Labitzke, K. (2005). On the solar cycle-QBO-relationship: a summary. Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics 67, 45-54.
    http://strat-www.met.fu-berlin.de/labitzke/summary/JASTP-Labitzke-2005.pdf
    Free versions of some of Labitzke’s papers are here:
    http://strat-www.met.fu-berlin.de/labitzke/
    The stratosphere is relatively regular. Due to the turbulence in the troposphere, acceptance of the involvement of the sun in tropospheric dynamics appears unlikely to precede clarification of nonrandomly shared interannual lunisolar patterns that evade detection by standard methods of linear statistical inference. Methodological advances may be necessary to reach some audiences.
    In the meantime, nevermind statistical inference based on untenable assumptions. Skip straight to meaningful exploratory data analysis when investigating complex systems about which you have little information (for example terrestrial climate). For a good primer on mapping conditional dependencies, see W.S. Cleveland’s book “Visualizing Data”.
    http://cm.bell-labs.com/cm/ms/departments/sia/project/trellis/

  121. There is really only one climate change event / extinction event associated with an asteroid strike, Chicxulub and the dinosaurs, 65 million years ago.
    The only confirmed impact structures which are bigger than this one were 1.3 billion years ago (Sudbury Canada) and 2.0 billion years ago (Vredefort South Africa) which were both before complex life developed.
    It looks like the next biggest event(s) would have been 35.5 million years when there three 5 km stikes (causing 90 and 100 km-wide craters) within a few 100,000 years of each other. No change in the climate can be ascertained at this time but there were higher than normal extinctions. There was also a 5 km strike at 214 million years ago (Manicouagan Quebec Canada) with no associated extinctions.
    There are, however, at least four major extinction events associated with climate change – Ordovician extinction (major ice age and probably the coldest temperature in the last 600 million years) – the Permian extinction which was almost certainly caused by the Siberian Traps volcanic events and when temperatures fell considerably – the Devonian extinction when temperatures rose rapidly – the Triassic extinction at 200 million years ago which was likely caused by a strong cooling event as Eurasia transited the North Pole (the isotope data put the coldest part at 160 million years ago but the largest part of the landmass was over the north pole at 200 million years ago).

  122. Paul Vaughan says:
    November 13, 2010 at 12:47 pm
    re; persistent warm rains melting sea ice
    I wrote:
    “Only ocean and air currents driven by convection from lower unfrozen latitudes can remove the sea ice once it forms.”
    Isn’t rain implicit with convective air currents? The point being the water vapor forming the rain didn’t evaporate from a frozen surface. It had to come from a warmer surface. Somewhere warmer, as a general rule, would be a lower unfrozen latitude where evaporation is happening.

  123. @Jim D says:
    November 13, 2010 at 4:47 pm
    “OK, let’s take the most recent 150 million years of cooling. Is your suggestion that it is all caused by increased cloud cover that cools the earth so much that the CO2 was absorbed by the cooler ocean?”
    150 million years of cooling ?
    http://img213.imageshack.us/img213/1074/tempco2570mya.png
    Read: November 12, 2010 at 6:54 pm. The suggestion was less solar activity = less water vapour = cooling (as in; Dryas). After looking particularly at 420 to 460 million years ago, we were not at all convinced the co2 mattered anyway.

  124. Ulric Lyons,
    I would base whether CO2 matters on more recent data, like satellites, and actual physics, than 450 My ago when we have incomplete information to say the least. Obviously it is possible that previous cold periods were also a result of orbital effects and continental configurations in polar areas like the recent ice ages seem to be certainly due to, but when CO2 values are elevated (which I don’t think the data is certain on), you need to find other mechanisms for cooling the earth for it to happen. In the recent Ice Ages we have low CO2 which certainly helped.

  125. Over the weekend, I purchased a Blue Ray Video called “Mother Earth” or words to that effect. It is a home edition of an original Imax film.
    One of the segments is on Antarctica; and it points out that Antarctica is the coldest (by far) and dryest; drier than any tropical desert; and also the highest Continent. I believe they said that the average altitide of Antarctica is three times whoever it is that is second. The segment included photographs from the Amundsen and Scott expeditions.
    The notable thing about those photographs; and the whole film itself, was how much lcoud there is all the time over Antarctica.
    So central Antarctica is PERMANENTLY below the 255 K earth orbit black body equilibrium Temperature that is usually cited for 30% albedo. And even under those conditions there is plenty of water vapor and clouds in the atmosphere.
    So to argue that CO2 can get the earth started from a waterless atmosphere; but the oceans can’t at the present earth orbit location; is just plain silly. Water can start the whole system up by itself with no other GHGs of any kind.
    Can I repeat just one more time; that the solar constant is 1366 W/m^2; not 341.5 W/m^2; and when that shines on a part of the earth, the Temperature does not head monotonically for a limit temperature of 255 K that it can never reach; it heads for something more like 396 K (for that sunlit portion); and that is why you cannot simply treat the earth as an isothermal body at an equilibrium temperature of 288 K all over the surface, even at the depth of the Antarctic winter midnight.

  126. Andy Lacis just said this on Judith Curry’s blog:
    Nature operates according to the laws of physics, and that is the only sensible approach to be studying the global warming problem. Opinions that are not in accord with the laws of physics, are just that – opinions, for whatever else they may be worth.
    This is upside down. The laws of physics more or less reflect the way Nature operates, though every now and then they turn out to be inadequate to the task when newly observed natural phenomena defy them. Often too, it turns out we have misappplied the laws of physics, or failed to take account of not so obvious variables.
    The hubris is breathtaking. This is why we get Kevin Trenberth saying:
    “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a
    travesty that we can’t. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate.”
    Notice the order of assumptions here: The data must be wrong, therefore our observing system must be inadequate. I’m sure our observing system is less than perfect, but did it really not occur to Kevin that maybe, just maybe, the empirical results were showing him that the current co2 global warming theory is up the spout?
    In science, “experimentum summas judex” as Einstein said. You can have many observations which support a theory, but just one conflicting observation can falsify it. But in climate science, it appears that theory trumps experiment, and reality itself.
    Climate scientists could clearly benefit from some historical perspective and a course in philosophy of science.

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