CO2 causes unchecked wetdry

Drying may be magnified, except when it makes it wetter in some areas

This is important because scientists are concerned that unchecked global warming could cause already dry areas to get drier. (Global warming may also cause wet areas to get wetter.) Cao and Caldeira’s findings indicate that reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide could prevent droughts caused by climate change.

Via press release in Eurekalert, from Stanford, and the Carnegie Institution:

Cutting carbon dioxide helps prevent drying

Washington, D.C.—Recent climate modeling has shown that reducing the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would give the Earth a wetter climate in the short term. New research from Carnegie Global Ecology scientists Long Cao and Ken Caldeira offers a novel explanation for why climates are wetter when atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations are decreasing. Their findings, published online today by Geophysical Research Letters, show that cutting carbon dioxide concentrations could help prevent droughts caused by global warming.

Cao and Caldeira’s new work shows that this precipitation increase is due to the heat-trapping property of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide traps heat in the middle of the atmosphere. This warm air higher in the atmosphere tends to prevent the rising air motions that create thunderstorms and rainfall.

As a result, an increase in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide tends to suppress precipitation. Similarly, a decrease in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide tends to increase precipitation.

The results of this study show that cutting the concentration of precipitation-suppressing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would increase global precipitation. This is important because scientists are concerned that unchecked global warming could cause already dry areas to get drier. (Global warming may also cause wet areas to get wetter.) Cao and Caldeira’s findings indicate that reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide could prevent droughts caused by climate change.

“This study shows that the climate is going to be drier on the way up and wetter on the way down,” Caldeira said, adding:”Proposals to cool the earth using geo-engineering tools to reflect sunlight back to space would not cause a similar pulse of wetness.”

The team’s work shows that carbon dioxide rapidly affects the structure of the atmosphere, causing quick changes precipitation, as well as many other aspects of Earth’s climate, well before the greenhouse gas noticeably affects temperature. These results have important implications for understanding the effects of climate change caused by carbon dioxide, as well as the potential effects of reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations.

“The direct effects of carbon dioxide on precipitation take place quickly,” said Cao. “If we could cut carbon dioxide concentrations now, we would see precipitation increase within the year, but it would take many decades for climate to cool.”

###
[UPDATE ] Anthony, a most interesting find on your part. A bit more information. The abstract of the paper says:

Recently, it was found that a reduction in atmospheric CO2 concentration leads to a temporary increase in global precipitation. We use the Hadley Center coupled atmosphere-ocean model, HadCM3L, to demonstrate that this precipitation increase is a consequence of precipitation sensitivity to changes in atmospheric CO2 concentrations through fast tropospheric adjustment processes. Slow ocean cooling explains the longer-term decrease in precipitation. Increased CO2 tends to suppress evaporation/precipitation whereas increased temperatures tend to increase evaporation/precipitation. When the enhanced CO2 forcing is removed, global precipitation increases temporarily, but this increase is not observed when a similar negative radiative forcing is applied as a reduction of solar intensity. Therefore, transient precipitation increase following a reduction in CO2-radiative forcing is a consequence of the specific character of CO2 forcing and is not a general feature associated with decreases in radiative forcing.

If someone will send me a copy of the paper (willis [at) surfacetemps.org) I’ll be happy to take a look.

The beauty of the paper seems to be that it describes a situation (a quick reduction in atmospheric CO2 concentration) that, as far as I know, hasn’t been observed in nature …

So usually I’d ask “Where’s the comparison of the model with the observations?” But it appears they’ve sidestepped that very neatly.

But heck, I could be wrong, it’s just a press release and an abstract. The paper may say something different.

w.

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I heard that global warming might have made the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, worse.
I guess the logic there is that global warming (especially AGW) dehydrates the ocean waters, which makes the tsunami lighter (therefore higher and faster) and also far more able to absorb water (therefore increasing in mass).
The fact is, tsunami destructive force was increased exponentially by AGW[!]

I continue to weep for science – is there anyone currently working in climate science who can speak out and say, “We cannot model what we do not comprehend!”?

a jones

It is only a model of course.
If you actually bothered to compare observations over many years you would find a very different answer.
But far be it for me to question this wonderful balderdash.
Kindest Regards

Arizona CJ

It’s quite simple, really: Global warming has the intrinsic ability to cause humidity to simultaneously increase and decrease in the same place.
On a more serious note, I’l love to see someone who supports both this and the old rubric that global warming causes more severe storms (which are claimed to be more severe due to increased convection!) try to explain themselves.

SSam

“… The results of this study show that cutting the concentration of precipitation-suppressing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would increase global precipitation…”
So, increased CO2 causes less precipitation? I wonder how the plant life of the Carboniferous period got by on so little water. At about 800 ppm CO2, it must have been as dry as a bone…

Is this a Tim Flannery correction already? Where is the /sarc tag?

Whoa there
Cao and Caldeira’s new work shows that this precipitation increase is due to the heat-trapping property of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide traps heat in the middle of the atmosphere. This warm air higher in the atmosphere tends to prevent the rising air motions that create thunderstorms and rainfall.
Isn’t this where reality differs from “models” – the middle atmosphere is not warming as fast as their models predicted – or have I missed something somewhere
Andy

KenB

Modeling and it all MAY
Perhaps we need to excise the month of May to reduce the effect. or, add another month of May to increase the effect. It may/could perhaps happen one way or the other, fifty fifty chance, possibly….thats the way I read it.

This shows that global precipitation is increasing with increasing with increasing CO2 http://www.bom.gov.au/cgi-bin/climate/change/global/timeseries.cgi?graph=global_r&region=global&season=0112&ave_yr=0,
then they say that …
“Their findings, published online today by Geophysical Research Letters, show that cutting carbon dioxide concentrations could help prevent droughts caused by global warming.
Cao and Caldeira’s new work shows that this precipitation increase is due to the heat-trapping property of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide traps heat in the middle of the atmosphere. This warm air higher in the atmosphere tends to prevent the rising air motions that create thunderstorms and rainfall.
As a result, an increase in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide tends to suppress precipitation. Similarly, a decrease in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide tends to increase precipitation.”
And Australia’s recent ten year drought was caused by CO2 increase they(AGW scientists) said , and it would get worse and worse they(AGW scientists) said …now we have floods and floods and more floods, which is also now caused by CO2 increase they(AGW scientists) say…and decreasing CO2 will cause more precipitation they (AGW scientist) say……..Excuse me, my mind has become befuddled with confusing contradictions and opposite statements!……what does it cause and what does not it cause?!…….Me thinks they(AGW scientists) have lost the plot!!!

Mats Bengtsson

“I guess the logic there is that global warming (especially AGW) dehydrates the ocean waters, which makes the tsunami lighter (therefore higher and faster) and also far more able to absorb water (therefore increasing in mass).
The fact is, tsunami destructive force was increased exponentially by AGW[!]”

Yes, that is probably the logic behind the claim. In a nutshell “since it is lighter, it becomes more heavy”. Clearly on the same line as “since it is warmer it becomes cooler”.

Grumpy Old Man

According to recent research, Western Australia is greening up, in part due to the breaking of a decade-long drought. During this period , we are told, the amount of plant food in the atmosphere has been increasing. Using the logic of the authors of this paper, surely then it would follow that increased CO2 in the atmosphere leads to increased precipitation in arid areas?

oldseadog

So let me see if I’ve got this right:
NE Aus is very wet at the moment so more CO2 will make it drier.
But it used to be quite dry there and the extra CO2 made it wetter.
Now I get it; CO2 makes everything happen.
Seems to me this post is just a few days early.

Andrew

It think the increasing amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is causing climate scientists to become befuddled in their thinking, a bit like Apollo 13.
“The team’s work shows that carbon dioxide rapidly affects the structure of the atmosphere, causing quick changes precipitation, as well as many other aspects of Earth’s climate, well before the greenhouse gas noticeably affects temperature.”
How on earth can a trace gas have this affect? What scientific evidence as compared against a null hypothesis and not a computer model as stated can they make such a statement. A computer model can only give the answer that it is programmed to give.

David L

Yet another model…

David L

Can we just stop funding this crap research?

“Cao and Caldeira’s new work shows that this precipitation increase is due to the heat-trapping property of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide traps heat in the middle of the atmosphere. This warm air higher in the atmosphere tends to prevent the rising air motions that create thunderstorms and rainfall.”
This whole article is rubbish! CO2 does not and cannot “trap” heat anywhere in the atmosphere, it just scatters IR in all directions. That is not trapping, that is scattering. And IR is NOT heat, it is electromagnetic radiation, NOT heat. If a CO2 molecule were to convert the IR from the narrow waveband with which CO2 can interact into heat energy (i.e vibration), the gas would heat up and when a gas heats, it rises, the CO2 would then release the heat as IR radiation higher up in the atmosphere until it escapes into space. This is not “trapping” heat at all.
Plus, the so-called greenhouse gas “hot spot” has never been found, it does not exist because the whole CO2 theory and the modelling derived from this idea is utterly false. see here http://www.tech-know.eu/uploads/A_lesson_on_basic_physics.pdf

Stacey

If it looks like a climate scientist
Talks like a climate scientist
Then its a Quack?

Andy G

ROFLMAO…
and when there were lower levels of CO2, there were never droughts ?
These guys should look at some history !!

Nylo

Ermmmm… if what they say happened to be true… I mean, a higher temperature up in the atmosphere preventing the rising air that causes thunderstorms by carrying humidity… wouldn’t that destroy the water vapour positive feedback that is claimed by IPCC to support their disproportionately big climate sensitivity estimations? And if it destroyed the water vapour positivew feedback, wouldn’t the temperature increase up in the atmosphere be smaller than modelled? And then, wouldn’t the whole idea be stupid enough not to think about it ever again?

David L

You have to give them credit. Older AGW scare stories only predicted one thing: such as a warmer climate or the disappearance if winter snow. But now they are getting smarter and predicting opposite ends of the spectrum all at once in the same paper! But sadly there’s more that they missed. Drier places can get drier and wetter placed can get wetter… In addition wetter places can get drier and drier places can get even wetter.

John Marshall

‘Trapped heat in the mid troposphere’?
Firstly you can not trap heat or store it because whatever you do it will always flow away. You can reduce the flow by insulation but you can’t stop the flow to trap it or store it.
Secondly this mythical heat in the mid troposphere has yet to be found. The models state that it is there because of the Greenhouse Effect but try as we might we can’t find it. The atmosphere insists on cooling adiabatically as observations show.
Once again we have a claim built upon some model based research which will not/cannot follow the real world. Total rubbish.

son of mulder

What goes up must come down. If it is warmer then there is more evaporation so more water goes up and then more water comes down. What am I not understanding? Or will a giant, ever growing lake form in the sky or maybe more clouds? I’ll be able to save on sunscreen.
And on the question of “Carbon dioxide traps heat in the middle of the atmosphere” has this hot spot predicted by models now been found? I remember debating with someone who said ‘you can’t trust the balloons and satellites to measure temperature in the troposphere, you have to work it out from wind speed/shear up there’.
Or maybe it’s a different middle of the atmosphere.
I’m seeing the light http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/'Pataphysics
Alfred Jarry, the founder of ‘Pataphysics would be proud of Global Warming science.

sophocles

In a crazy way, they are right but not how they know it. Look at the weather during the LIA (Little Ice Age). There were droughts (some very bad ones) and there was a lot of rain—it being cold and wet across Europe far more than the Europeans were used to (which is why the witch hunts began and Renaissance paintings show such horribly cloudy skies … when they show the outdoors at all).
And, during the Little Ice Age, the atmospheric CO2 level was lower than it is now: about 280 ppm.
Therefore, reduce the CO2 level and you increase the rain.
Q. E. D.
There were droughts during this period too, but we’ll hide the decline (of the rainfall) as it’s a permissible “trick.”

Carl Chapman

The predicted hot spot isn’t there, as confirmed by thousands of balloon carried thermometers and millions of satellite readings.
By relying on the predicted hot spot, rather than the measured lack of a hot spot, this is another “postmodern” science, where a researcher examines the models and ignores the reality. It’s the exact opposite of science.
They don’t even bother to discuss the non-existence of the hot spot.

Massimo PORZIO

So: “Recent climate modeling has shown that reducing the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would give the Earth a wetter climate in the short term. ”
What if the contrary is?
That is: if Henry’s law works to rain droplets too, it’s more logical to me imagine a CO2 atmospheric depletion due to the wetter climate than vice versa.
But, I’m not a scientist and I’m surely wrong 🙂

Dr. John M. Ware

The article is the inevitable result of the “publish-or-perish” mandate for attaing tenure or promotion at a university. Like Photoshop, a model can be made to look like whatever the user wishes. These researchers know what side to be on to impress their superiors. I’ve seen it happen before, and I trust the results now no more than I did back in the days when I was a university teacher and administrator. Garbage in, garbage out–people understood that even at the beginning of the computer age, and it’s still true.
It would be so refreshing to see a study based on actual observations! Oh, wait–we have seen quite a few, and they contradict the above-mentioned “study” on just about every statement.

Brian H

More of the (Un)Intended Consequences of Simplistic Linear Equations allowed to run wild. SLEs are the preferred output of Expert Brains, a belief in the ignorance of which is, per Feynman, the definition of Science.

Richard M

“The direct effects of carbon dioxide on precipitation take place quickly”
So, 60 years is not quickly? I wonder what they mean by “quickly”. Maybe we need to add slowquick (or is that quickslow) to the ever expanding climate dictionary.

Allanj

This report begs for the Willis treatment. I look forward to his assessment.
What is most worrisome to me are the repeated calls for some massive intervention in the global system (geo-engineering). We may find the medicine is worse than the (model predicted) disease and then we may find it impossible to undo the damage.

Terry

mmmm I get it, the same as Old Seadog above.
The West Coast of New Zealand has up to 6000 mm of rain and is clearly wet. That means it will get dryer. Most Coasters will be glad of that since they wont have to keep all the car doors open on sunny days anymore to dry them out.
The East Coast of New Zealand is often dry with droughts, So it will get wetter, ie borrow a bit of rain from the West Coast.
That is a perfect solution, since only a few years ago there was talk of running a huge pipeline from the West Coast to the East Coast to mitigate the droughts.
These models are just a great way to solve problems with a click of a mouse.

anna v

Carbon dioxide traps heat in the middle of the atmosphere. This warm air higher in the atmosphere tends to prevent the rising air motions that create thunderstorms and rainfall.

They seem to be regenerating in their model the hot spot, which has been soundly refuted by data. CO2 has been going up, the hotspot down.
Maybe it is monkeys who do the peer reviews of climate papers.

Tom Harley

More ecostrology from ecostrologists…out to help their colleagues, the climastrologists and paleostrologists.

Ian W

And this went through peer review to get into Geophysical Research Letters?
They allowed a paper that based all its logic on a model prediction of a tropospheric hot spot that has been repeatedly falsified by observations?
This puts Geophysical Research Letters somewhere below The National Enquirer.

Dave in Delaware

I think these lads have the process backwards. They say –
“Carbon dioxide traps heat in the middle of the atmosphere. This warm air higher in the atmosphere tends to prevent the rising air motions that create thunderstorms and rainfall.”
At current CO2 concentrations, the ‘path length’ for nearly complete absorption in the CO2 sensitive wavelengths, is on the order of 10 to 100m. That means that virtually none of the ‘original’ emitted photons from the surface even reach the middle of the atmosphere. More CO2 means the ‘original’ photons are captured closer to the ground surface, not higher up in the ‘middle of the atmosphere’.
What then? Once captured, we are told that, rather than being re-emitted to the middle atmosphere, it is 10,000 times more likely that the CO2 will bump into an O2 or N2 molecule, and the captured photon becomes thermalized – that is, that photon will be converted to heat/kintetic energy in the other atmospheric gasses. At which point, the warm rising thermals take over and typical Lapse Rate cooling occurs.

H.R.

Right off the bat…
“Recent climate modeling has shown […]”
Look – – – out – – – the – – – window – – – every – – – now – – – and – – – then.
.
.
.
(For some odd reason I keep thinking about CAGW climate science and those old chain letters where you sent a dollar to the name at the top of the list. All sorts of dire things were supposed to happen if you broke the chain. There are some who will do just about anything to keep their name at the top of the list.)

Joe Lalonde

Anthony,
If I did a 2 day graph and said it was climate for all the billions of years would you be gullible to it?
Why not? It is part of the billions of years.
On a brighter note…It is a crisp -15 degrees C here and has been abnormally cold by an average of 4-5 degrees C this winter with many below 10-12 degree C days averages to previous years.

M White

“The team’s work shows that carbon dioxide rapidly affects the structure of the atmosphere”
Does it.

Vince Causey

Ken Caldiera in his lab, is heard crying out, “A mid troposphere hotspot, a mid troposphere hotspot – my nobel prize for a mid troposphere hotspot.”
Of course, I just made that up. Ken Caldiera never said it because he lives in a world of virtual electrons that is the world of climate models, and would never have looked at real world data. Had he done so, he would have known that this warming of the mid troposphere predicted by his models does not actually exist. He would have known that the premise of his paper is therefore false.
Too bad. A nother paper that should have been tossed in the garbage.

Bob Barker

I think a moratorium on funding studies using climate models would be in order.

Mike

CO2 levels are not going to decrease so this is an abstract “what if” paper. One of the authors has done past work on geoengineeering, so maybe that is his motivation. Here is the abstract.
http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2011/2011GL046713.shtml
It seems confusing at first. You may have to read it several times to get it. I have no idea if the results are correct, but what they are doing is not inherently illogical as some people here seem to think.

Mike

“The team’s work shows that carbon dioxide rapidly affects the structure of the atmosphere, causing quick changes precipitation, as well as many other aspects of Earth’s climate, well before the greenhouse gas noticeably affects temperature.”
Amazing. Co2 now has the ability to affect the “structure” of the atmosphere and “quickly” cause changes to all sorts of climate things…WITHOUT NOTICEABLY AFFECTING TEMPERATURE.
I wonder what physical process they envision that allows that huge mass of CO2, you know, at 380 parts per million, to change things without warming or cooling? Oh, its right there in their article. They postulate both that there will be warming caused by CO2 high in the atmosphere, AND nobody will notice it.
With apologies to Mr. A. C. Clarke.
Any sufficiently advanced total bu**sh*t is indistinguishable from science. If anyone wonders what the three *’s are, they stand for PNS.

I have here further ontological proof for AGW.
Half a bee, philosophically,
Must, ipso facto, half not be.
But half the bee has got to be
Vis a vis, its entity. D’you see?
But can a bee be said to be
Or not to be an entire bee
When half the bee is not a bee
Due to some ancient injury?
Singing…

Theo Goodwin

Are they saying that CO2 causes stalled high pressure areas and what we used to call “heat inversions?” That, supposedly, is what caused the hot summer of 1980 in St. Louis and, a few years later, a similar phenomenon in Dallas. But these phenomena are few and far between. I don’t believe they occurred again in St. Louis or Dallas.

DirkH

Well, just model something and see whether you make it into the IPCC report. Climate science works like a beauty contest. Millions of young wannabe climatologists prepare their paper, each one trying to find a new and innovative way CO2 yould make everything worse, and Pachauri will later decide who of them will become a famous doom-monger.

Pete H

Vince Causey says:
March 26, 2011 at 5:01 am
“Ken Caldiera in his lab, is heard crying out, “A mid troposphere hotspot, a mid troposphere hotspot – my nobel prize for a mid troposphere hotspot.”
You took my very words Vince! At what point will they admit that the models just do not work? They ignored the weather balloon evidence, and other subsequent evidence that backs it up.
The satellites say the hottest recent year was 1998, and that since 2001 the global temperature has levelled off again blowing another hole in their broken theory but hey, lets cherry pick, homogenize and generally bend the data till it squeaks to keep the gravy train on its track.
Sorry Mike @ 5:18 am but the last thing needed right now is a “What If” paper muddying the waters.

DirkH

““This study shows that the climate is going to be drier on the way up and wetter on the way down,” Caldeira said, adding:”Proposals to cool the earth using geo-engineering tools to reflect sunlight back to space would not cause a similar pulse of wetness.””
I liked this one; it’s rather poetic – “drier on the way up and wetter on the way down” – like “what goes up must come down”… and “Pulse Of Wetness”.
The Pulse Of Wetness
Coming To A Nobel Prize Ceremony Near You Real Soon Now.
Oh what a pulse of wetness. Pulse me wet.

DirkH

Mike says:
March 26, 2011 at 5:18 am
“It seems confusing at first. You may have to read it several times to get it.”
The moment it stops appearing confusing to you, you know the confusion has seeped into your brain, and confusing things now appear normal to you. From that moment on, your brain will stop processing normal input and become dependent on more confusing input. Until you find yourself craving more warmist modeling papers.

Jit

Problem:
if your model finds that CO2 affects jack, you’ve got no paper.
if your model finds that CO2 affects ANYTHING, you’ve got a paper. CO2 will make it hotter/colder, wetter/drier, windier/less windy, cloudy/less cloudy. Now you have a shiny paper. Congratulations. All you had to do was press “GO!” on your computer.
If these guys were modelling aerodynamics they would come up with:
CO2 causes more drag except when we would rather go slow, when it gives a dangerous and unexpected velocity boost eg at take-off or landing.
CO2 decreases lift except at high altitudes when our models show we could be sucked into the vacuum of space.
etc.

I think they have it backwards. Changes in sea surface temperature control the rates of evaporation/condensation in and out of the atmosphere as well as vertical convection. SST changes also control the rates of CO2 transfer between oceans and atmosphere. Cold water in clouds absorb CO2 and returns it to the oceans in rain thus tending to control the concentration of CO2 in air. So SST changes are controlling CO2 levels, not CO2 changes controlling SST. CO2 concentration changes will lag SST changes. They need to introduce different “what ifs?” into their models.