"Snowball Earth" ended by methane – now an impossible theory

From Eurekalert: Caltech-led team debunks theory on end of ‘Snowball Earth’ ice age

Finds that rocks used as key geologic evidence were formed deep within Earth millions of years after the ice age ended

PASADENA, Calif.—There’s a theory about how the Marinoan ice age—also known as the “Snowball Earth” ice age because of its extreme low temperatures—came to an abrupt end some 600 million years ago. It has to do with large amounts of methane, a strong greenhouse gas, bubbling up through ocean sediments and from beneath the permafrost and heating the atmosphere.

The main physical evidence behind this theory has been samples of cap dolostone from south China, which were known to have a lot less of the carbon-13 isotope than is normally found in these types of carbonate rocks. (Dolostone is a type of sedimentary rock composed of the carbonate mineral, dolomite; it’s called cap dolostone when it overlies a glacial deposit.) The idea was that these rocks formed when Earth-warming methane bubbled up from below and was oxidized—”eaten”—by microbes, with its carbon wastes being incorporated into the dolostone, thereby leaving a signal of what had happened to end the ice age. The idea made sense, because methane also tends to be low in carbon-13; if carbon-13-depeleted methane had been made into rock, that rock would indeed also be low in carbon-13. But the idea was controversial, too, since there had been no previous isotopic evidence in carbonate rock of methane-munching microbes that early in Earth’s history.

Crystals of highly carbon-13-depleted carbonate are observed using a light microscope. Credit: Thomas Bristow

And, as a team of scientists led by researchers from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) report in this week’s issue of the journal Nature, it was also wrong—at least as far as the geologic evidence they looked at goes. Their testing shows that the rocks on which much of that ice-age-ending theory was based were formed millions of years after the ice age ended, and were formed at temperatures so high there could have been no living creatures associated with them.

“Our findings show that what happened in these rocks happened at very high temperatures, and abiologically,” says John Eiler, the Robert P. Sharp Professor of Geology and professor of geochemistry at Caltech, and one of the paper’s authors. “There is no evidence here that microbes ate methane as food. The story you see in this rock is not a story about ice ages.”

To tell the rocks’ story, the team used a technique Eiler developed at Caltech that looks at the way in which rare isotopes (like the carbon-13 in the dolostone) group, or “clump,” together in crystalline structures like bone or rock. This clumping, it turns out, is highly dependent upon the temperature of the immediate environment in which the crystals form. Hot temperatures mean less clumping; low temperatures mean more.

IMAGE: This is a view from one of the cap dolostone collection sites in south China, looking along the cliffs of the Yangtze Gorges.

Click here for more information.

“The rocks that we analyzed for this study have been worked on before,” says Thomas Bristow, the paper’s first author and a former postdoc at Caltech who is now at NASA Ames Research Center, “but the unique advance available and developed at Caltech is the technique of using carbonate clumped-isotopic thermometry to study the temperature of crystallization of the samples. It was primarily this technique that brought new insights regarding the geological history of the rocks.”

What the team’s thermometer made very clear, says Eiler, is that “the carbon source was not oxidized and turned into carbonate at Earth’s surface. This was happening in a very hot hydrothermal environment, underground.”

In addition, he says, “We know it happened at least millions of years after the ice age ended, and probably tens of millions. Which means that whatever the source of carbon was, it wasn’t related to the end of the ice age.”

Since this rock had been the only carbon-isotopic evidence of a Precambrian methane seep, these findings bring up a number of questions—questions not just about how the Marinoan ice age ended, but about Earth’s budget of methane and the biogeochemistry of the ocean.

“The next stage of the research is to delve deeper into the question of why carbon-13-depleted carbonate rocks that formed at methane seeps seem to only be found during the later 400 million years of Earth history,” says John Grotzinger, the Fletcher Jones Professor of Geology at Caltech and the principal investigator on the work described. “It is an interesting fact of the geologic record that, despite a well-preserved record of carbonates beginning 3.5 billion years ago, the first 3 billion years of Earth history does not record evidence of methane oxidation. This is a curious absence. We think it might be linked to changes in ocean chemistry through time, but more work needs to be done to explore that.”


In addition to Bristow, Eiler, and Grotzinger, the other authors on the Nature paper, “A hydrothermal origin for isotopically anomalous cap dolostone cements from south China,” are Magali Bonifacie, a former Caltech postdoc now at the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, and Arkadiusz Derkowski from the Polish Academy of Sciences in Krakow.

The work was supported by an O. K. Earl Postdoctoral Fellowship, by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Earth Sciences and its Geobiology and Environmental Geochemistry program, and by CNRS-INSU (French research agency).

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May 25, 2011 5:12 pm

“….these findigs bring up a number of interesting questions….”
1 Who was the warmist agenda driven Paleoclimatologist that first advanced the loony idea that Methane clouds melted a 2/3 frozen planet ?
2 How did this “theory” queue jump the hypothesis phase ?
We have way too much Faux Science being passed off as Theory when it is no more than conjecture. How ‘convenient’ that it was a greenhouse gas that held this mysterious Earth warming power. Convenient now turned disgusting.

May 25, 2011 5:12 pm

MgO + CaO + (CO2)2 = MgCa(CO3)2 = otherwise known as dolomite. There’s that pesky plant food again.

May 25, 2011 5:19 pm

It’s worse than we thought!

Tom T
May 25, 2011 5:23 pm

What no mention of computer models?

May 25, 2011 5:44 pm

I was kinda following along until the part about: …. ” technique of using carbonate clumped-isotopic thermometry”….
Oh well, I’m sure the windmills will stabilize everything to our liking.

May 25, 2011 5:56 pm

I could never believe that Methane could do that much warming anyway.

Lee Klinger
May 25, 2011 6:03 pm

I recently attended a meeting entitled Life and the Planet held at the Geological Society of London where there was much talk of the Huronian glaciations, the Snowball Earth glaciations (Cryogenian), and the Ordovician cooling. In almost all cases the scientists attributed the temperature swings almost entirely to greenhouse gases, as if changing CO2 and/or CH4 concentration is the only way to warm/cool the planet. The only exception was the paper by James Lovelock, who sensibly proposed a feedback mechanism involving life, not greenhouse gases.
I offer readers a summary and critique of that meeting in the following posts:

Terra Incognita
May 25, 2011 6:03 pm


Terra Incognita
May 25, 2011 6:05 pm


May 25, 2011 6:14 pm

There are any number of astronomical and earth bound events that could as easily explain this melting. Until there is some incontrovertible evidence they are all conjectures.

May 25, 2011 6:22 pm

Am getting weary of all the hypotheses (aka theories) about climate and weather in the past based on very weak evidence which typically has no causal relationship.
Have decided to wait till Mr Peabody invents his wayback machine so we can go back and take real measurements.

Melinda Romanoff
May 25, 2011 6:47 pm

There will be no discussions of decay today.
I blame the leaf blowers they used back then, too.

May 25, 2011 6:56 pm

Henrik Svensmark’s GCR theory explains all of this quite adequately. Read the book: The Chilling Stars.

ferd berple
May 25, 2011 7:06 pm

Everyone knows what ended snowball earth. It was folks driving around in V-8’s creating CO2 pollution and warming the earth.

Prior to that climate scientists were just as sure climate change was caused by atomic testing. Before that McCarthy swore it was caused by communists. During the war we knew Hitler had caused it. Before that it was the Great Depression that caused things to warm up. 1934 being the height of the depression and the warmest year before the records were adjusted.

May 25, 2011 7:51 pm

I don’t understand why the methane alarmists say their gas is 1.7 ppm, when 1,700 ppb sounds so much scarier.☺

May 25, 2011 7:54 pm

One reason for the lack of oxidation of methane might be that the things that create a lot of methane didn’t really evolve until after 600 million years ago. Also, Earth’s atmosphere had only about half the oxygen that it has now. We are talking about a time when multicellular life was only just appearing.
The oxidation of a lot of methane requires a lot of oxygen. There just wasn’t a lot of O2 in the atmosphere at that time.

May 25, 2011 7:59 pm

So now we don’t know what cause the Marinoan Ice Age to end.
Do we even know how it began?
Here’s a link:
“The ‘switch-on’ and ‘switch-off’ of the Earth’s strong dynamo can lead to the onset and disappearance of the Snowball Earth. The galactic model infers that gamma ray burst associated with starburst creates huge amounts of clouds which would cut off sun rays and freeze the Earth.”

May 25, 2011 8:04 pm

Smokey says:
May 25, 2011 at 7:51 pm
Parts per billion. Billions & Billions. Inverse threats.
Alas, we truly miss Carl who knew the difference between ppb and billions.

May 25, 2011 8:21 pm

On the subject of geology, I found a book in my local library titled:
“Geology underfoot in Illinois”, by Raymond Wiggers.
(bachelor’s degree in geology from Purdue University).
After reading it, I bought it online.
I’ve read a lot of books, and know a good writer when I read one.
The book explains local geology within the state, and where to see the evidence (with some alternate theories ) of its causes.
I’m not trying to sell the book, only hoping someone wrote one for your area.
It opened my eyes, it tells of inland seas and ice ages. And more.
I’ve seen the evidence.

May 25, 2011 8:55 pm

Hmm. Hot, hydrothermally formed dolomite. Sounds like an ore-forming environment to me. I hope someone is sampling this stuff and the environs and analyzing for Au, Ag, whatever. The Earth is an amazing chemist.

Terra Incognita
May 25, 2011 8:58 pm

[snip. GTFA. ~dbs, mod.]

May 25, 2011 8:59 pm

Disproving a very foolish idea. That is science at it’s best.
As always it is about the energy and these people just don’t want to understand that. Very hot Earth and snowball Earth are inherently unstable points.

Bill Illis
May 25, 2011 9:58 pm

During the last 2 snowball events (and there were at least 2 other major ones), the continents had formed into a super-continent which was mostly centred over the South Pole. Think Antartica times 20.
Glaciers build up on land at the South Pole, spread out by gravity across most of the land which is attached together. Huge amounts of sunlight are reflected by the glaciers. Even the oceans up to the tropics freeze and the global temperature is somethin like -25C.
Snowball ends when the super-continents break apart (as they always do) and the pieces drift off the poles. Ice melts – less sunlight is reflected, more ice melts and so on. Cambrian explosion of complex life happens once enough continental drift has occurred and temperatures have increased to about 10C globally 40 million years later.
There is only one solid proxy measurement of CO2 as the last Snowball was ending and this is only 12,000 ppm. It had no impact on the Snowball ending at these low levels because it needed to be close to 250,000 ppm to overcome the temperature decline caused by all that ice.
Continental drift can very adequately explain the whole series of events. No CO2 or Methane needs to be involved at all.

May 25, 2011 10:00 pm

This is the new carbon demonology at work again. In the dark ages and medieval period, (and in animist societies in general) demons or evil spirits were/are blamed for natural disasters and other phenomena. In the new climatology, carbon in the atmosphere is the new demon – only atmospheric carbon is acceptable as an explanation for any climate shift; anything else is heresy.

May 25, 2011 10:19 pm

OT The new WMO head will be David Grimes a veteran of Environment Canada…
Any information on this appointee? Is he a Gordon McBean follower?

a jones
May 25, 2011 10:19 pm

Excuse me Moderator but what does GTFA, used in your snip above, stand for?
My mind boggles. I know I live in a backwater but I do try to keep up.
Kindest Regards
[Hint: G = Go… A = Away. I should have not lost my temper. Sorries all around.
~ dbs]

Greg, Spokane WA
May 25, 2011 10:33 pm

ferd berple says:
May 25, 2011 at 7:06 pm
Everyone knows what ended snowball earth. It was folks driving around in V-8′s creating CO2 pollution and warming the earth.
Various UFO related groups insist that there have been advanced technological civilizations preceding ours by many millions of years.
Clearly it was the CO2 stripping geo-engineering projects which caused the snowball in the first place and it was only their re-invention of the v8 engine (biofuel powered for greater CO2 emission) which ended the snowball.
Ok ok…

May 25, 2011 10:40 pm

Earths Atmospher: N2 is 780,800 ppm, O2 is 200,950 ppm, Ar is 9,300 ppm, H20 varies 1,000 to 30,000 ppm, CO2 is 395 ppm and CH4 is 1.7 ppm. Looks like whatever runs the water vapor is the key: the other Greenhouse gases are just plain scarce.

Geoff Sherrington
May 25, 2011 11:24 pm

One more word of caution, if I may. After a career in rock-related geochemistry, I humbly realise that many aspects of even a simple-sounding mineral like dolomite are just beginning to be understood. Unfortunately, its understanding has probably been slowed by the drain of brains into the near-compulsory environment scene of the last few decades. It would take just a few minutes to sketch out a dozen projects for PhD theses about dolomite. We know that there are many unknowns.
Therefore, on a general blog like this, good as it is, do lock your keyboard before firing off a retort that involves high specialism, unless you can add to it. Carbonate isotope clumped thermometry is such a specialism, most probably.
But don’t read this as if I’m a party pooper. Have fun, keep well.

John Gorter
May 25, 2011 11:46 pm

From my hazy recollection, I thought that there were cap dolomites over a couple at least of the Neoproterozoic glaciations. If true, that would imply, given the new interpretation of cap dolomite formation as I understand it here, that the same non-methane associated processes of cap dolomite formation must have occurred several times, not just at the end of the Marinoan.

May 25, 2011 11:48 pm

Wholeheartedly agree with Bill Illis! Invoking great earth-changing climatic events on changes in the gas contents of the atmosphere just doesn’t make sense from an energy budget point of view.

Pete H
May 26, 2011 12:09 am

a jones says:
May 25, 2011 at 10:19 pm
“Excuse me Moderator but what does GTFA, used in your snip above, stand for?”
Something like….Leave this area using groin jerking movements to someplace distant ;=)

John A
May 26, 2011 12:47 am

“Excuse me Moderator but what does GTFA, used in your snip above, stand for?”
I think it means “go away”

May 26, 2011 2:06 am

GTFA – could mean Go The F… Away
[Reply: My apologies for losing it. Moderating thousands of comments a week can get tedious, but that is no excuse. The poster in question is a banned site pest who hides his URL. Info here. ~dbs, mod.]

May 26, 2011 2:25 am

I always thought that volcanic outgassing was a major factor in thawing out snowball Earth.

May 26, 2011 2:26 am

Bill Illis says:
May 25, 2011 at 9:58 pm
There is only one solid proxy measurement of CO2 as the last Snowball was ending and this is only 12,000 ppm. It had no impact on the Snowball ending at these low levels because it needed to be close to 250,000 ppm to overcome the temperature decline caused by all that ice.
I like the understatement! it puts our current 380 ppm in a correct perspective.
Was there not a Huronian “snowball earth” event about 2 billion years ago. How did that start and end? CO2 must have been pretty high back then.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)
May 26, 2011 2:38 am

From a jones on May 25, 2011 at 10:19 pm:

Excuse me Moderator but what does GTFA, used in your snip above, stand for?
My mind boggles. I know I live in a backwater but I do try to keep up.

It’s a very old English expression, “Get thy foulness away!” Not surprising that you haven’t heard it. I believe Shakespeare may have used it, but don’t take my word for it, go ahead and check yourself. 😉
[Reply: Yes, that’s it. That’s it exactly ☺. ~dbs]

John Marshall
May 26, 2011 2:46 am

The Snowball Earth theory failed some years ago by two separate universities in the UK. The Open University Geological Dept. did a study in Scotland and found evidence of dropstones in the sediments of that time. Dropstones are stones picked up by glaciers, transported over open sea in icebergs and dropped as the berg melts. Since open water is required for this to happen, as well as temperatures for berg melting, the theory of complete ice cover of the planet was shown to be wrong.
Imperial College, London, also calculated that recovery from total planetary ice cover would be such a prolonged period that we could still covered by ice.
Nice to know they are correct. Solar and Milanchovian changes were to blame as they are now.

May 26, 2011 2:48 am

GTFA = Guam Track and Field Association
[That’s also correct. ~dbs]

May 26, 2011 2:49 am

@bill illis
12,000 ppm? Can you confirm this is not a typo? 120 ppm or 120,000 ppb (parts per billion).

May 26, 2011 3:10 am

See the explanation in AdderW’s post above. And as an American protectorate, Guam folks know that GUAM means: “Give Us American Money!”☺
As always, America complies.

May 26, 2011 3:13 am

The volcanic outgassing theory for the ending of the postulated c.600Ma b.p. snowball earth episode has been presented by P.F.Hoffmann and D.P.Schrag of Harvard Univ. I only have a German translation of one article to hand (Spektrum der Wissenschaft, Dossier 1/2002, pp. 34-41), but I’m sure the authors have also published their work in English language journals.
The authors argue that with the world ocean 100% ice covered (itself IMO a speculative idea, not proven) the steady CO2 output of volcanoes could not be dissolved in the ocean and would accumulate in the atmosphere until the latter became so warm that it melted the ice.
The main piece of empirical evidence to support this theory is the observation in several parts of the world of substantial carbonate deposits – in some cases primary aragonite CaCO3 rather than dolomite CaMg(CO3)2 – overlying the supposed glacial tillites and dropstone beds. These deposits are explained by the rapid incorporation of the excess atmospheric carbon into marine carbonate once the ocean was re-exposed to the atmosphere.
I don’t buy the theory, but IMO it does deserve to be taken seriously.

May 26, 2011 3:40 am

[Reply: My apologies for losing it. Moderating thousands of comments a week can get tedious, but that is no excuse. The poster in question is a banned site pest who hides his URL. Info here. ~dbs, mod.]
Bahahaha… and not smart enough to know that changing his workstation/laptop IP makes no difference as to get to the internet. The outbound connection NATs it to a public address other than his own 99% of the time. And also not smart enough to understand DHCP leasing but will try to use it as a tool. No wonder he posts there.

May 26, 2011 3:41 am

Apology – the q tag did not work so well.
REPLY: The slash ALWAYS goes before the q, not after, same for B and i
– Anthony

kadaka (KD Knoebel)
May 26, 2011 4:07 am

From John Marshall on May 26, 2011 at 2:46 am:

The Snowball Earth theory failed some years ago by two separate universities in the UK. (…)
Imperial College, London, also calculated that recovery from total planetary ice cover would be such a prolonged period that we could still covered by ice.

Yet it was previously reported here in 2010 that evidence suggested global glaciation during an earlier ice age than the one mentioned above, aka a “snowball Earth.”
Yowzer! “sea ice extended to the equator 716.5 million years ago”
The pics with that post are not loading for me, so here is the Science Daily version of the press release with what should be the second pic in the WUWT post going by the captions. From it:

“This is the first time that the Sturtian glaciation has been shown to have occurred at tropical latitudes, providing direct evidence that this particular glaciation was a ‘snowball Earth’ event,” says lead author Francis A. Macdonald, an assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard. “Our data also suggests that the Sturtian glaciation lasted a minimum of 5 million years.”

Even in a snowball Earth, Macdonald says, there would be temperature gradients on Earth and it is likely that ice would be dynamic: flowing, thinning, and forming local patches of open water, providing refuge for life.

So it looks like “snowball Earth” happened before, the planet warmed up, so why couldn’t it have happened about 100 million years later?
To note it, the Imperial College specified “total planetary ice cover” while the “snowball Earth” was said to still have patches of open water, thus the differences may come from comparing “snowballs” and “ice balls,” the Imperial College calculations started with something that is considered unrealistic.

Alan the Brit
May 26, 2011 4:33 am

I am sorry to be Mister Picky, but the Earth cannot have looked like that image shown back then, assuming Mr Wegener was right, & was in Pangea state!
We know Snowball Earth must have occurred under current theories as evidenced by the presence of drop-stones in palces like South Africa, which was at one time believed to have not undergone glaciation, however the drop-stones suggested otherwise. Of course BBC’s Horizon programme some years ago, demonstrated this (before it succumbed to the AGW faith) in an excellent prog. They did also show that life can exist on the microbal scale & even life scale, with evidence of sea-life existing in Antarctica under the ice. Of course it soon started showing theories of mass extinctions being caused by Siberian lava flows/eruptions of millions of years that warmed the planet by 5°C, which then caused methane clathrates in the sea bed to melt raising the temperature by another 5°C, which would do the trick priming us for AGW catastrophe, except the methane didn’t keep rising. All very well as a theory I suppose.
Whilst the Shakespearean reference to GTFA is most eloquent, I prefer the other definition, being of Anglo-Saxon decent! However, the moderator could always refer to VHF radio parlance by advising the perpetrator to “Foxtrot Oscar”, rather as Richard North of EU Referendum is prone to do! At times a really good swear is good for the soul & I for one would not criticise anyone for so doing on the right occasion!

Gary Pearse
May 26, 2011 4:33 am

Bill Illis pretty well says it all – we used to be a giant Antarctica before we broke into pieces. Also, do you have to be an old geologist to be aware of dolomitization of calcareous limestone – a high risk development for old Ca-limestones – seawater is loaded with Mg++. GHG seems to be dolomitizing young geologists’ brains (and young physicists, chemists ….) The literature of the past few decades seems to be largely cotton candy.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)
May 26, 2011 4:35 am

George said on May 26, 2011 at 3:41 am:

Apology – the q tag did not work so well.

That’s putting it mildly. Full quote marks around every page element after your use, even blank lines… Try using “blockquote” next time, apparently people often mess that up without messing up the page. It seems wordpress automatically fixes blockquote when a comment is posted.
However it’s not all bad, as it brought a nice corollary to Murphy’s Law to mind:
If you make it, they will break it.

Beth Cooper
May 26, 2011 4:38 am

And I thought the science was settled, Methane caused Snobal Warming!

stephen richards
May 26, 2011 4:46 am

The original theory that I saw for the end of snowball earth was that the ice had suppressed volcanic activity to the point that it began to cause massives eruptions through the ice sheets, emitting massive amounts of CO² into the atmosphere which then warmed the earth and later became incorporated as dolomite

Don K
May 26, 2011 5:43 am

While I don’t question for a moment that the Chinese cap dolomites have been subjected to a high temperature and pressure regime, the article doesn’t ring exactly right to my ears. It sounds like whoever wrote/edited it thinks the dolomites are intrusive rocks like the Sierra Nevada granites — rocks injected in between existing sedimentary rock layers.
I’m not a geologist, but that seems somewhere between unlikely and highly improbable. As I understand it, dolomites are normally sediments deposited — like all sediments(?) — at the Earth-air or Earth-water boundary. They can, I believe, be either primary dolomite deposited with the Magnesium in place, or secondary dolomite — limestone where some of the Calcium has subsequently been replaced by Magnesium in some way that I, at least, don’t really understand. (And I really do have a long disused degree in Chemistry from an otherwise reputable university).
Anyway, I’d like to know a whole lot more about where the C13 depleted Carbon originally came from, why recrystalization is ruled out, etc and the hypothecated geothermal history of the rocks before I wrote off the Methane theory. In any case I think the headline is misleading. It should say something like “THEORY THAT METHANE ENDED SNOWBALL EARTH CALLED INTO QUESTION” Even if every word of the article is correct, it merely says that the evidence is dubious, not that the theory is impossible.
To John Gorter. Yes there are other hypothecated cap dolomites — The Noonday Dolomite in the Death Valley area for example. I thought that the conventional explanation is that the seas of the snowball earth were enriched in CO2 from volcanic activity and were saturated in Calcium. As the Earth started to warm — whatever the cause — the Calcium Carbonate — being less soluble in warm water than cold — precipitated out as a massive layer of carbonate rock.
Geoff Sherrington. Thanks for that. I’m glad that I’m not the only one somewhat baffled by dolomite chemistry.

Kelvin Vaughan
May 26, 2011 6:07 am

The question is not why did snowball earth melt, but why did it form in the first place.
No CO2?

May 26, 2011 6:14 am

It looks like Piers Corbyn got it right again (three weeks in advance):
May 2011 issued 2/3:
WeatherAction long range USA Extreme weather Events & scenario forecast for May 2011 issued 2/3 May 2011 explicitly and in detail warned of the tornado swarm in the South/ mid West 22-23-(and continuing to 24th).
EXTRA TOP RED Warning 23-24
High strengthens in West and double low / complex Low deepens South/West of Great Lakes.
Hot air from South & cold air from North meet with very large temperature contrasts.
Deluges, massive hail thunder and many tornadoes – DANGEROUS tornado swarm in South / SouthEast parts – AL, TN, KY. IL. MO etc

Bill Illis
May 26, 2011 6:59 am

Here is a continental reconstruction map by Christopher Scotese at 650 Mya, about 15 My before the peak of the last Marinoan Snowball period. Note that most of the continents near the equator are drifting south in this period, and meet the other continents near the South Pole at 635 Mya and form the super-continent Pannotia. Result, 5 km high glaciers.
Also note that some people who are obscessed with CO2 controlling the climate for example, will attempt to put all the continents near the equator in this period. If you try to follow all the earlier and later positions of the continents, this positioning makes no sense at all.
Now let’s go back to the previous Snowball, the Sturtian, which peaked at 715 Mya. Here are the continent positions at that point. The super-continent Rodinia.
A really good paper which explains how these two similar continental positions would result in a Snowball.
Let’s go back to the other two Snowballs at 2.4 Bya and 2.2 Bya. Super-continent Columbia (well, we don’t know where that was exactly but you can probably guess, one of the poles).
This paper has the only CO2 proxy estimates covering the last Marinoan Snowball event which is 12,000 ppm and then 5,000 ppm during the Sturtian Snowball. CO2 would need to be much, much higher than these levels to put even a dent in Snowball conditions.

May 26, 2011 7:07 am

“As I understand it, dolomites are normally sediments deposited — like all sediments(?) — at the Earth-air or Earth-water boundary. ”
The thing about dolomite is, geologists think it can form in many ways, not just at the earths surface. Dolomite is an amigma.
Heres a quote “Dolomite in addition to the sedimentary beds is also found in metamorphic marbles, hydrothermal veins and replacement deposits. ” In other words it can form anywhere anyhow.
Read here; http://www.galleries.com/minerals/carbonat/dolomite/dolomite.htm

Willis Dillard
May 26, 2011 7:36 am

Of course this study has nothing to do with what is happening today, but have it clones.
Same old anti climate change text book move, just try to prove that the scientific community is wrong, about anything (which doesn’t occur above) then ask yourself, what else could they be wrong about? What we often discover is anti climate change theories (especially in regards to climate forcings) on sites like this are the theories that are constantly being proven false. Keep up the good work!

nandheeswaran jothi
May 26, 2011 7:52 am

the earth has 500 million KM^2 surface ( some 125 million of them land ) and some folks decide, a small cliff in china represents the whole shabang accurately???
WOW!!! why are we wasting all the time studying NH/SH/all the continents? we could save a lot of loot by migrating to that cliff and doing all the studies

Alexander Vissers
May 26, 2011 8:13 am

Little we know, almost infinite knowledge to be gained, science never settled, at the best not yet falsified. This is the wisdom we learn time and time again.

Theo Goodwin
May 26, 2011 8:21 am

Willis Dillard says:
“What we often discover is anti climate change theories (especially in regards to climate forcings) on sites like this are the theories that are constantly being proven false. Keep up the good work!”
That is impossible because no one on this site has offered an anti-climate change theory. Unlike Warmista, we are aware that there are no physical hypotheses that explain forcings. Unlike Warmista, we have not claimed that our existing understanding of forcings can explain them. You do seem to be making the nuckle-dragging Warmista logical mistake of believing that to criticize a theory or hypothesis one must first have another to replace what is criticized. That is childish. Science is the critical enterprise par excellence.
Someday, Svensmark’s hypotheses might prove to be well confirmed. When they do I hope that he will publish on this site.

May 26, 2011 8:35 am

Subduction leads to orogeny. 😉

May 26, 2011 8:48 am

The idea that how light or dark a gray ( flat spectrum ) a radiantly heated ball is makes a difference in its equilibrium temperature continues to be a ubiquitous misconception .
The equilibrium temperature for a gray ball in our orbit is about 4c , significantly above 0c . I have yet to see a study calculating the equilibrium temperature for the spectrum of H2O snow , much less whatever material spectra can approach the 255k temperature asserted for a naked planet .

May 26, 2011 8:57 am

Willis Dillard,
The only crowd that refuses to believe that the climate naturally changes are Michael Mann’s acolytes.
Mann tried to convince the world that the climate never changed until the start of the industrial revolution [the long shaft of his debunked Hokey Stick chart, which attempted to erase the MWP and the LIA].
Scientific skeptics [the only honest kind of scientists] have always known that the climate naturally varies. And there is no evidence that CO2 is the cause, or that CO2 causes damage. Conclusion: CO2 is a harmless [and beneficial] trace gas, and Michael Mann is a climate charlatan.

May 26, 2011 8:57 am

“a small cliff in china represents the whole shabang accurately???”
Well, nobody is mentioning that at the time that rock was formed, that particular land was practically at the North Pole. That might have some influence on how things react, too.

ferd berple
May 26, 2011 9:07 am

“What we often discover is anti climate change theories (especially in regards to climate forcings) on sites like this are the theories that are constantly being proven false.”
Science has a long history of ultimately proving all theories either wrong or incomplete. The test for correctness of all scientific theories is prediction. What does the theory say about events that have not yet come to light?
If the theory is correct, then when new observations are made, it will be consistent with the theory. However, when the theory is not consistent with observation, this is reasonable evidence that either the theory is wrong or the observation is wrong.
To make sure the observation is correct, we need to look at the experimental design. Was the data collected in such a way that the experimenters own subconscious bias did not affect the results. If not, then we cannot trust the observations. Even wikipedia admits that it is impossible for an experimenter to keep their own bias out of an experiement without proper design – and the experimenter will not even be aware of what is happening.
This is a concern with global temperature records. The raw data was itself was collected by many different people. As such it is unlikely subject to bias. However, the adjustments were not made in such a fashion. They were made by the same people that control the temperature records without appropriate controls to exclude bias. As such, it is physically impossible that bias has not affected the temperature records.
Thus, since we cannot trust the adjusted temperature records to be free of bias, we cannot trust any theories or computer models that rely on the temperature records to be correct.
“In experimental science, experimenter’s bias is subjective bias towards a result expected by the human experimenter… The inability of a human being to be objective is the ultimate source of this bias. It occurs more often in sociological and medical sciences, where double blind techniques are often employed to combat the bias. But experimenter’s bias can also be found in some physical sciences, for instance, where the experimenter rounds off measurements”

James Sexton
May 26, 2011 9:18 am

“Reply: My apologies for losing it. Moderating thousands of comments a week can get tedious, but that is no excuse. The poster in question is a banned site pest who hides his URL. Info here. ~dbs, mod.”
So, am I to understand the folks at CP are being all anti-science, again?

ferd berple
May 26, 2011 9:31 am

In the case of climate science there is a second problem beyond experimenter bias. The problem of consistency of theory with new observations. Climate science made a number of predictions for the GHG CO2 theory. The major predictions were increasing temperatures with increasing CO2 and the existence of a tropical hotspot.
On these two major predictions, the CO2 GHG theory has not matched observations. Unadjusted temperatures have not continued to increase with increased CO2 and the measurements show there is no tropical hotspot. In any other branch of science this would constitute falsification of the CO2 GHG theory. Clearly some underlying assumption in the theory is at odds with the real world.
Mainstream climate science has in the past use aerosols to explain why the CO2 GHG theory did not match predictions from 60 years ago (pollution) and from 120 years ago (volcanoes). It appears that this same argument is being dragged out this time (mt pinatubo dead cat bounce) to explain why temperatures have repeated the same pattern 60 year and 120 years latter. Coinicidence or is there a simply a 60 year cycle in the climate that mainstream climate science has missed?

May 26, 2011 10:54 am

My understanding was that snowball earth started due to having a single land mass from pole to pole. It ended because plate techtonics allowed sea water to flow around the inbetween the new land masses coupled with the volcanic activity that came with the movement putting ash on the ice/snow. The combined effects ended snowball earth.

Matt G
May 26, 2011 12:00 pm

Willis Dillard says:
May 26, 2011 at 7:36 am
Really, why not look into this?
There is only one mechanism that can warm the surface sea/ocean from the atmosphere and that is by convection. This convection only occurs when winds blow warm air from land over onto the coasts towards to sea/ocean. This is limited to so many miles away from the coast and will have no affect once reached a certain distance away. The rest of the ocean surface (~98 percent of it) convection has no affect and the atmosphere can’t warm the surface because the temperature is less than 0.5c difference between the surface and 2m above it (with the 2m temp normally cooler – gets cooler with increasing height).
Latent heat always has much larger influence then any change this 0.5c has. Therefore this comes about to the only possibilty, can the 2% warm the entire world oceans. The simply answer is no because energy gained during the Summer months is lost during the Winter by convection, but of course with much cooler air. (this can be observed by looking at SST’s through the years) Depending on weather patterns and tropics, the 2% warming or cooling of coastal areas is never reached anyway.
Increasing ocean heat content is not confirmation that GHG atmospheric warming is occuring. This is due to other factors do cause the ocean heat content to rise and there is no evidence that GHG’s can increase the actual heat content. The only evidence so far is it can retain energy a bit longer in the skin layer. This tiny energy gain is easily lost and therefore balanced out during the night period, when there is of course much less SWR to maintain it. I’m not the first that mentioned evaporative cooling exchanges, far larger energy amounts on a daily basis (orders higher).
El Ninos and cloud albedo covering the ocean have a large influence on short wave radiation (SWR) reaching the ocean surface and therefore do change the ocean heat content. Global cloud albedo has declined over recent decades until this century, when it had stabilised, until a very recent increase. Too much a coincidence that global temperatures have also stabilised too? (no, because it is the only one that matches all different trends) A one percent change in global cloud levels is easily enough to have influence on ocean heat content and global atmospheric temperatures. Especially when SWR not only warms the ocean, but also controls them too, with El Nino and La Nina there common sign of energy transfer around the ocean via albedo.
The ocean heat content (OHC) is responding well to global cloud levels shown below. (satellite data originally from NASA)
A decrease in 5 percent of global cloud levels until 2001 then little rise with stable levels since. (shown up to 2009)
Atmospheric and ocean temperatures also respond the same way.
Not suprising really since shortwave radiation (SWR) controls the temperature of the oceans and a movement has resulted due to changing levels of clouds that cause increases in OHC, SST’s and global temperatures. Now over recent years cloud levels have become stable the OHC, SST’s and global atmospheric temperatures also follow suit. Could this be a coincidence? I really don’t think so because the energy involved in 5 percent reduced global cloud levels is higher than most of the energy change since the 1850′s according to the IPCC.
Since the 1850′s?
The offset is just for easier on the eye comparison of global SST”s and atmospheric temperatures. Notice since the 1850′s there has actually only been a increase in temperatures of around 0.5c which may suprise some people. Yet the temperature increase since 1983 is around 0.4c which only occured while global cloud levels were decreasing by 5 percent.
mkelly says:
May 26, 2011 at 10:54 am
“My understanding was that snowball earth started due to having a single land mass from pole to pole. It ended because plate techtonics allowed sea water to flow around the inbetween the new land masses coupled with the volcanic activity that came with the movement putting ash on the ice/snow. The combined effects ended snowball earth.”
Plate techtonics and the positioning of land masses are indeed the best explaination for snowball Earth and why there are ice ages over millions of years, whereas different periods over millions of years there are none. It is the only explaination at the moment because at those time scales nothing else changes slow enough to have a enough influence. These greatly affect how much the global albedo can range for over a very long time.

May 26, 2011 12:22 pm

GEOCARB III Puts the bottom of the uncertainty region for CO2 levels at 600 mya at well over 2500 ppm.
Graphed here.
Lets’ see, Dr. Hansen’s catastrophic tipping point is about at 450 ppm, am I right. So it has already happened before, right?

May 26, 2011 3:02 pm

Did the lack of oxygen come before or after the earth got snowed in? What happens to the temperature when, like, 95% of the oxygen production is killed off, what with methane and CO2 would rise after such an event, and oxygen, of course, tend to keep things exciting. :p

John The Trog
May 26, 2011 3:21 pm

CO2 increased after the temperature increased yet was still cited as the cause of the temperature increase, so what’s the problem?

May 26, 2011 4:10 pm

As a geologist – it is hard for me to comprehend this so called methane warming theory as anything other than fantasy. Apart from anything else, depositional environments (for sediments) are not ‘fixed’ and post depositional changes (to the rock formations) can and will occur for any number of reasons (think igneous intrusions, etc!). Whilst I accept that chemical analysis of rocks has helped in many parts of geology – in others, in can merely obfuscate the view.
Take slate for example – it’s a mudstone that has been heated and pressured at a later date – making it hard, etc. – chemical changes will have occurred also but they do not necessarily reflect the depositional environment of the original mud!
So, using this information, from a slate, all we know is that there was a mud forming environment – chemical analysis does not adequately confirm the pre-metamorphis state at all! Ergo, it follows that care is required in any interpretation of rocks!

Dave Springer
May 26, 2011 5:18 pm

Coldish says:
May 26, 2011 at 3:13 am
“The authors argue that with the world ocean 100% ice covered (itself IMO a speculative idea, not proven)”
It’s controversial but only to the degree of whether or not coverage was total or some thin equatorial belt was spared.
“the steady CO2 output of volcanoes could not be dissolved in the ocean and would accumulate in the atmosphere until the latter became so warm that it melted the ice.”
No. The most of the world’s volcanoes are on the ocean floor in deep trenches, the so-called ring of fire where new crust forms. At that depth the pressure is so great that CO2 forms droplets of pure liquid which is a very recent discovery.
If the oceans are covered by ice one wonders how volcanic CO2 would possibly escape. One might liken the ice to a cork on a champagne bottle. Then on might wonder what happens when a sufficiently large meteor breaks it. Over a long enough period of time you can bank on large meteorite impact…
“The main piece of empirical evidence to support this theory is the observation in several parts of the world of substantial carbonate deposits – in some cases primary aragonite CaCO3 rather than dolomite CaMg(CO3)2 – overlying the supposed glacial tillites and dropstone beds. These deposits are explained by the rapid incorporation of the excess atmospheric carbon into marine carbonate once the ocean was re-exposed to the atmosphere.”
The re-exposure might have been more rapid than they presumed and the increase in atmospheric CO2 when the cork popped far higher for a brief period of time.
“I don’t buy the theory, but IMO it does deserve to be taken seriously.”
I’m going with the champagne cork hypothesis until someone convincingly explains to me where they think it goes wrong.

F. Patrick Crowley
May 26, 2011 7:56 pm

JimF says:
May 25, 2011 at 8:55 pm
Hmm. Hot, hydrothermally formed dolomite. Sounds like an ore-forming environment to me. I hope someone is sampling this stuff and the environs and analyzing for Au, Ag, whatever. The Earth is an amazing chemist.
Instead of Ag Au, which are usually found in silicate rich environments, I would look at the rare earth elements. And China is the world’s largest producer of REE.

May 26, 2011 8:17 pm

Matt G says:
May 26, 2011 at 12:00
Especially when SWR not only warms the ocean,
You’ve mentioned this several times in your post, and its taken for granted that this is so by both warmists and skeptics, yet, I can’t get one explanation that makes sense.
Surely on a site with so many scientists someone can explain and show workable that Visible Light can heat the land and oceans? Can Blue Visible Light heat even a cup of water?
It bounces off, is scattered, by all the molecules of Nitrogen and Oxygen in the Air, hence our blue sky, it just keeps on going until it fades away in our oceans, transmission, how is it heating anything?

May 26, 2011 11:19 pm

Global ice ages had another important effect – or to put it another way, left an important legacy: soil. Moving ice sheets over land grinds the rock into soil. The Marinoan and Varangian ice ages (600-750 Mya) and also the Saharan-Andean (end of Ordovician) left layers of “weathered silicates” or in common parlance, soil. This set the stage for the evolution of land plants culminataing in trees and forests, which over the Silurian, Devonian and Carboniferous created the megaflora of forests that transformed the global climate, bringing down both temperatures and CO2 levels, and also promoting the hydrological cycle over land. Between them, the megaflora (and all plants globally) together with the hydrological cycle, created the robust stability that has characterised the climate over the Phanerozoic, and have allowed multicellular life to thrive for half a billion years. BTW the fluctuation of CO2 levels between 5000 and <1000 ppm over this period has no evident correlation with global temperature.

Crispin in Waterloo
May 27, 2011 6:05 am

I made a couple of comments (with numbers so we were talking about actual science) at http://climateprogress.org/2011/05/19/arctic-sea-ice-volume-death-spiral/ (look to the end while it it still there) and even got two replies from Lewis C before he choked and cut the conversation very short. It seems that looking at melting permafrost in a chemically balanced, or one could say ecologically balanced way quickly inspires an ad hom response.
I analyse it as follows: they make a few statements, ‘Oh it is so terrible, and that Watts character is misleading people’. Then, you make some perhaps better informed comment with actual numbers showing that the alarmist position is perhaps overstated. You get a polite response the first time telling you to perhaps read a little – though Lewis did come back with a few cherry-picked numbers from one side of the equation (carbon emerging from the soil with a misrepresented CO2e value for CH4).
My second post showed that when real soil and trees and thawing permafrost are put together the result was a huge drawn-down in CO2 from the atmosphere when snowball earth (permafrost) ends.
Lewis C’s response was as follows: “The strength of your assurance that you know better than the many scientists who have studied this issue for decades plainly leaves no place for rational discussion.
“I’d suggest that you apply for a BSc degree with a reputable university – but you clearly already know all you need to know to proclaim science wrong.”
Well, he is right about his allowing no place for a rational discussion! Wow. Just to put a few things straight (as he closed the discussion after spitting on my shoe):
a) No one has studied this for decades, in fact the equipment for doing so has only been available recently and there is a good machine now from LiCor if you are interested. b) I was having a rational discussion and the problem was the conclusions were disturbing to Lewis C. c) I don’t want a BSc as nearly all universities would fail me for not repeating the ‘CO2-will-kill-us-all” meme. That is the gate-keeping that keeps the ‘industry’ alive. d) It is apparent from this very short interchange that I do indeed know enough to state someting factual about the issue and the facts oppose the alarmist stance. e) ‘The science’ that he says I claim to be ‘wrong’ is 1/2 science, not all. Science is balanced, like equations. That is why they are called ‘equations’. When discussing the emergence of CH4 from thawing permafrost, it is imperative to look the other obvious processes that are concurrent: plant growth, carbon sequestration, carbon emerging as CH4 and CO2, realistic timelines for decomposition and biomass accumulation and so on.
The permafrost alarmist position is like claiming gigantic gas mileage for a car when it goes downhill. Well, once you bring balance into the equation, the uphills, it becomes real science. What does down must come up.

May 27, 2011 6:54 am

SWR doesn’t heat the land and oceans does it? It’s just more junk science like “CO2 traps heat”.
Smokey replied to someone claiming that CO2 traps heat, to look around his house, did he have any appliances which worked by CO2 trapping heat. Same here, I look around my house and I don’t have anything that cooks my food or heats my bath water with Visible Light.
AGWScience is a science all to itself. It makes proposterous claims about the basic properties and processes of stuff in our real physical world and creates a totally imaginary world.
Anyway, that aside, from the posts here and some trawling about dolomite, all very confusing as its called that in its crystal form too, I think I’ve got this right: dolomite the rock is merely limestone with added magnesium, which replaces some of the calcium and creates dolomite, so it doesn’t take heat and has nothing to do with methane?
Limestone is critter shells compressed, but how then does the dolomite form in that? Someone said seas are rich in magnesium so this could be going on all the time? How then are there large distinct amounts of it separate from limestone?
This also says that limestone can form direct in seas, (http://www.mountainnature.com/geology/Deposition.htm), but again, how does some only react with magnesium to form distinct dolomite?

May 27, 2011 7:01 am

Also, found this: http://www.whoi.edu/page.do?pid=10519&cid=22611&c=2
Iridium found in concentration amounts in basal layers of cap dolomite formations overlying glacial sediments deposited during Snowball Earth and earlier Sturtian glaciations, says lends credibility to hard Snowball and not slushy.

May 27, 2011 1:19 pm

Mr. Watts.
I’ve been wondering lately about the correlation between the loss of Mars atmosphere and the first snowball earth.
I would like to find out if it’s possible the cause of snowball earth was because it was hit a gamma ray burst that burned off most of the atmosphere around the same time mars lost its atmosphere.
If this was the case the Ice would not have been covered in snow, it would have been Ice Cube (lol) earth.
I’ve lived in the Yukon and it is very common for Ice puddles to simply vaporize when it is sunny and well below freezing. Could this not be how our atmosphere began to recover and in turn held heat to begin ice melt?

May 28, 2011 2:52 am

“Jeremy says:
May 25, 2011 at 6:56 pm
Henrik Svensmark’s GCR theory explains all of this quite adequately. Read the book: The Chilling Stars.”
Exactly! The snowball Earth events co-incide nicely with the passage of our solar system through the thick part of the galactic arms. Therefore, extra Cosmic rays penetrate the atmosphere, seeding more low clouds thereby increasing the Albedo of the Earth, reflecting more sunlight back into space, and hence we get a global super ice age.
The end of the snowball earth occurred as our solar system left the galactic arm.

Brian H
May 28, 2011 1:54 pm

mod; I immediately figgered out GTFA from context, but tried to find it in accepted acronyms, even the Urban Dictionary. No joy. So you invented a self-explanatory Acronym, the best kind!
‘Grats and Kudos.
[Reply: I was having a bad day and I regret my unprofessional response, even after Villabolo (G. Hernandez) posted under another fake screen name for the third time. ~dbs, mod.]

Brian H
May 28, 2011 1:58 pm

Cole says:
May 27, 2011 at 1:19 pm

I’ve lived in the Yukon and it is very common for Ice puddles to simply vaporize when it is sunny and well below freezing. Could this not be how our atmosphere began to recover and in turn held heat to begin ice melt?

A sublime theory!

May 28, 2011 3:22 pm

Is Svensmark’s then based on, or the same as, Pavlov et al (2005)? : http://www.snowballearth.org/news.html
Scroll down to: “Astonomical origin for snowball earths?”
While the blurb for the Chilling Stars just says its the Sun playing cricket/baseball with the cosmic rays. http://www.amazon.com/Chilling-Stars-Theory-Climate-Change/dp/1840468157

May 28, 2011 4:30 pm

Re the abundance of CaCO3 – this looks to be a halfway stage in creating Dolomite: http://www.galleries.com/minerals/carbonat/dolomite/dolomite.htm

Disputes have arisen as to how these dolomite beds formed and the debate has been called the “Dolomite Problem”. Dolomite at present time, does not form on the surface of the earth; yet massive layers of dolomite can be found in ancient rocks. That is quite a problem for sedimentologists who see sandstones, shales and limstones formed today almost before their eyes. Why no dolomite? Well there are no good simple answers, but it appears that dolomite rock is on the the few sedimentary rocks that undergoes a significant mineralogical change after it is deposited. They are originally deposited as calcite/aragonite rich limestones, but during a process called diagenesis the calcite and/or aragonite is altered to dolomite. The process is not metamorphism, but something just short of that. Magnesium rich ground waters that have a significant amount of salinity are probably crucial and warm, tropical near ocean environments are probably the best source of dolomite formation.

Dolomite differs from calcite from the addition of magnesium ions.
So is what should be looked for after the ‘Snowball’ Earth, a rapid/prolonged addition of magnesium from some source in the warming waters?

May 28, 2011 4:46 pm

Popcorn rocks! http://www.teachersource.com/Images/UserDir/RM-375.html
Dolomite doesn’t need high temps to form, does it? So, could they have been measuring the ‘heat’ from something else rather than dolomite formation? Just asking.
Something like that?

May 28, 2011 7:32 pm

I have never accepted the snowball earth conjecture. As I have posted several times on WUWT over the past year, Prof Richard Lindzen has stated:
“There is ample evidence that the Earth’s temperature as measured at the equator has remained within +/- 1°C for more than the past billion years. Those temperatures have not changed over the past century.”
I trust that Dr Lindzen would not make that statement without plenty of corroborating evidence. Thus, the idea that the planet was a “snowball” or an “iceball” in the past was merely conjecture. And as the article shows, it is now a falsified conjecture.

May 28, 2011 8:47 pm

Thanks for the Science Daily link. I especially enjoyed their “What is Astral Projection” link. That fits in perfectly with SciDaily, IMHO – not much different than New Scientist.

Matt G
May 29, 2011 3:49 am

Myrrh says:
May 26, 2011 at 8:17 pm
Hi myrrh,
Shortwave radiation from solar energy does heat the land and the ocean. Just that land loses heats far quicker than water does and penetrates much further down to 100m with latter. The UHI affect is just caused by this energy heating the concrete surface and slowly emitting during the night period. This is just one of the reasons why cities have much warmer temperatures than the countryside.
This give an idea how short and long wave radiation affect the planet.
If you are still unsure just look at the surface ocean temperatures where the difference between the poles and the tropics is increasing solar energy penetration from the sun.
A simple experiment to confirm this can be done by anyone. Shortwave radiation in the sun does warm a cup of water and in fact easily warms a large bowl of water during the day. Try this yourself by comparing two containers of the same type and volume, both outside. Place one in the shade all day and the other exposed to the sun. Measure both temperatures and compare the difference. The volume of water must be same for both and just use it from a cold water tap. The one in the sun rises greatly just during one day. (about 20c difference bewteen the two – using container of about 3 litres)

May 29, 2011 9:54 am

Matt G – Short Wave Radiation, “Solar” of the AGWScience KT97 Energy Budget v Thermal IR.
In other words, this does not include Thermal IR, which is in play in your descriptions.
How does, say, Blue Visible Light heat water and land?

Matt G
May 29, 2011 1:14 pm

Myrrh says:
May 29, 2011 at 9:54 am
“Matt G – Short Wave Radiation, “Solar” of the AGWScience KT97 Energy Budget v Thermal IR.
In other words, this does not include Thermal IR, which is in play in your descriptions.
How does, say, Blue Visible Light heat water and land?”
I refer to all shortwave radiation with infrared having less influence overall. Shortwave radiation represents any type of small wave length including visible that overlaps infrared a little, but still counts as relatively short wavelengths. While many people attribute all radiant heating to infrared light and/or all infrared radiation to heating.
This is a widespread misconception, since light and electromagnetic waves of any frequency will heat surfaces that absorb them. Infrared light from the Sun only accounts for the minority of the heating of the Earth, with the rest being caused by visible light that is absorbed then re-radiated at longer wavelengths. So to answer your quesion visible light behaves very similar to infrared except it penetrates water deeper. Well done for spotting what seemed shortwaves = infrared only.

May 29, 2011 1:45 pm

Matt G – Shortwave Infrared is not thermal.
May I ask when you were taught this?

May 29, 2011 4:24 pm

Matt G – AGWScience is a corruption of real traditional science. It takes basic well-known, well-tested, used in countless applications basics in the real world, and twists them ever so cleverly. Sometimes as here, simply by making a statement that Solar SWR heats the Earth, most don’t ever check, it’s become so prevalent, that is the opposite of what are the true properties of the wavelengths. But as you note, some still say this isn’t true, that it’s not traditional well-known, well-tested, etc., so, we’re still in the middle of this brainwashing, deliberate, it can’t be anything but deliberate, to create an extremely ignorant generation, and by and large they’ve succeeded because this has been introduced into the school system. No need to burn books, just teach a new science and confuse the masses, including scientists in other disciplines who will take such planned misdirection as if fact.
But it’s fiction. AGWScience is ScienceFiction, completely made up.
I’m not going to continue discussing it with you at the moment, I’ve just had a rather long stint of doing that elsewhere, but here’s one page of traditional science you might like to think about.
Saved on: http://www.webcitation.org/5y68eeRD
The Short Wave Radiation of Visible Light is not thermal, it is not the heat we feel from the Sun. The Heat from the Sun is Thermal Infrared, it is what heats the water and land, it is the heat we feel from the Sun that actually warms us. Visible Light can’t do that.
Try heating water with Visible Light to make your coffee. Don’t bother giving me descriptions of ‘how it does it’, I’ve heard them all, show it works. Put it to the Smokey test and look around your house first, and then look for proof that it can in any way you like. [Hint, just because, say, Blue Visible Light penetrates deeper in the ocean, doesn’t mean it’s creating heat while doing so.]
Remember, what you have to prove is that these SWR, (UV, Visible and Near IR) convert to heat the land and oceans to raise the temperature of the Earth globally, from which the hot Earth then radiates out the Thermal IR claimed in the AGWScience’s Energy Budget.
Good luck.

Matt G
May 29, 2011 5:21 pm

Myrrh says:
May 29, 2011 at 1:45 pm
I don’t include most of MWIR (thermal) and none of LWIR (thermal) because it doesn’t penetrate the skin surface of water and can be classed as longwave. Shortwave radiation has never been meant to be thermal IR in my descriptions. These include skin layer mentioned, with longwave radiation that thermal IR mainly comes into. To be clear by shortwave from the sun, it represents a range of total energy from 0 – 4μm. This includes for example visible, uv and infrared (but only part of it)

May 29, 2011 7:13 pm

Seems to me the paper talks only about the dolomites in south China, not about cap dolomites in general. Most of the cap carbonates I know of have distinctive sedimentological features that indicate they formed as surface deposits, not in a “very hot hydrothermal environment, underground”.
I did my undergrad mapping in the Flinders Ranges, South Australia, where the Nuccaleena Formation is the cap carbonate immediately, and probably conformably (i.e. no break in the stratigraphic record) overlying the Elatina Formation, which often contains characteristic glacial sediment facies; none of the formations overlying the Nuccaleena has any glacial features. The interpretation of the Nuccaleena for several decades at least was that it was abiogenically formed from carbonate precipitating out of the sea water in the super-greenhouse that immediately followed the super-icehouse of the Cryogenian (no talk about methanotrophs and clathrates). This was probably partly caused by CO2 having built up to gigantic levels due to volcanic outgassing in the absence of significant weathering, before its heating effect was able to overcome the albedo effect of the huge ice sheets; so when the ice was gone and the climate got very hot, very quickly, the ocean chemistry changed abruptly and the carbonate precipitated out very quickly. The paper has nothing to say against this hypothesis.

May 29, 2011 7:44 pm

Crispin in Waterloo: you can’t compare today’s permafrost with that of Snowball Earth, as terrestrial plants and soil as we know it were still several 100 million years off.

May 29, 2011 11:12 pm

Matt G – the claim is that Non-Thermal converts to heat the Earth, land and sea, I understand what you’re saying… The IR included in AGWScience’s energy budget is problematic, billed as Near IR, it is into Mid which is thermal. Taking the two shortwaves away either side, UV and IR, prove that Visible Light heats the oceans and land. Just try with Blue Light, since the claim is that this heats the oceans because it goes down furthest. I won’t hold my breath waiting for an answer.
I couldn’t find any details of their actual study, only the announcement of it. How does cap dolomite differ from any other?

May 30, 2011 2:24 pm

Clear and useful analysis, Mr. Eschenbach — for those who are inclined to analyze.
But tell me this:
Would any analysis, criticism, logical argument or factual evidence help to persuade and bring around those who firmly believe in their irrational ideology, sacred book or mock-scientific dogma? Or those who derive their livelihood from these lies?
My point is, our most important and immediate task is to find effective practical ways and means — financial, organizational, and legal — to overcome the nascent green faith, to deprive it of political support, to take away its access to public funds, and — which is absolutely necessary! — to see that the most active fraudsters stand trial and go to jail.
Scientific bankruptcy of the green scaremongering is obvious not only to us but to its preachers themselves. The most influential priests of “man-made climate change” scare are smiling when they see us debunking their swindle in our blogs. While we are at it, they do the real thing, making political connections, finding rich sponsors, controlling professional and mainstream magazines and associations, dominating in academic institutions and international organizations, incessantly brainwashing the masses with total impunity.
They have money and power. We have none. Money and power are what we need to extinguish this poisonous source of lies before the whole world becomes one faceless, Chinese-style dictatorship spewing pious propaganda, gagging all dissidents, and keeping the large minority of working people under control by feeding products of their ingenuity and labor to the majority of parasites.
In essence, to fight off green lies, we must radically change the structure of democracy. In its present form, there will be soon no real difference between what we call “democracy” in the United States, and what they mean by “democracy” in Syria, Russia, and China.

Brian H
May 30, 2011 7:16 pm

Myrrh says:
May 29, 2011 at 11:12 pm

You often make good posts, but this inane misunderstanding of yours got real old and tiresome long ago.
The blue light penetrates furthest because it takes that much water to stop it. So a flask-full would only intercept a little. But in deep water all of it turns into heat. Which is the whole point.

Matt G
May 31, 2011 2:09 am

Myrrh says:
May 29, 2011 at 11:12 pm
All of CAGW science is made up or assumptions, but this is definetly not one of them. It is impossible to create visible light without energy. All chemical reactions that create visible light give off heat. There are many examples that prove this from candles, bulbs, tv’s, LCD’s and nuclear fission. Can make enough light at once to vaporise a entire swimming pool, nevermind warm it to make coffee. A kettle could easily be converted to a 2KW visible light source to heat water, just that it’s not practical because the source is limited.

Matt G
May 31, 2011 3:53 am

Snowball Earth is also related to this discussion about shortwave radiation because the sun was around 30 percent dimmer around hundreds of millions of years ago. Therefore energy warming the Earth’s oceans and atmosphere from this would have been reduced back then. Hence, even if the same situation occured now they might never be a snowball Earth. Snowball Earth can be represented as a planet mainly covered by ice, not entirely covered which some are persuming. For example even a computer simulation (not evidence) shows above freezing around the equator.

June 1, 2011 11:49 pm

Brian H says:
May 30, 2011 at 7:16 pm
You often make good posts, but this inane misunderstanding of yours got real old and tiresome long ago.
The blue light penetrates furthest because it takes that much water to stop it. So a flask-full would only intercept a little. But in deep water all of it turns into heat. Which is the whole point.

The whole point of my posts on this is that this is simply not true.
Sorry it’s so tiresome for you, so perhaps you can understand how even more tiresome it is for me to see this untrue physics repeated ad nauseum by even more people on the net misdirected in their education, one of us is wrong. In fact, I was so disheartened to see you simply ignore what I’ve been saying on this, and the other couple of responses similar, that I seriously considered no longer bothering to reply to such or to ever mention it again. It was such a depressing thought that a whole generation in ‘western’ education has lost the knowledge we have gained in science, that this deliberate misdirection in education has eliminated real physics as surely as book banning and burning and mass murder of the educated did in Russia and China and Cambodia.
That’s why I call it AGWScience, not to be cute as someone thought, but because in it basic well-known facts about the properties of matter and processes have been deliberately changed in this ‘package’, and these changes have been repeated and repeated and taught and taught on every level of education for several decades that they are now taken as the norm, as if real scientific fact, when they are simply fabricated, and impossible in the real world.
In the real world, for the moment at least, those who actually produce stuff and still know how things work are around in sufficient numbers that we can still use real science knowledge from real engineers and such, the applied scientists, and benefit from their applications though they are routinely derided by AGWScience claiming the 2nd Law isn’t being violated for example, but perhaps if this misdirection becomes complete real science from which we get real progress will be made impossible for the masses, for any not in the ‘hierarchy’ which is manipulating this destruction of knowledge. So more insidious is the example of your post, and Matt G, that you have been educated to believe this fiction and so are aiding in spreading it to the detriment of the next generation. It’s only amusing for a while that the ‘skeptics’ who have been so thoroughly indoctrinated to believe these fictional claims are real science and even use them for their calculations and arguments against AGW. These AGWScience memes are viral.
Basic real world Science is that Light energies and Heat energies are different, they have different properties, they are different sizes for example and have different effects depending on the matter they encounter, did you take that in from the NASA page I’ve saved? The difference in size between the microscopic of Near Infrared and the pinhead size of Thermal Infrared? Don’t you think this might give some actual physical difference in encounters with other matter? Heat is an actual energy, Blue light is not hot, it has no heat energy. A massive amount of Heat energy can produce visible light, but that is only some one ten billioneth of the full spectrum of wavelengths produced by the Sun and these do not carry any Heat energy in their encounters with other matter, nor the invisible short wave Near IR and UV either side.
For example, UV is not hot, it does not heat the skin it ‘burns’, it acts by damaging the DNA and it takes melamine to transform those photons into benign heat. Overwhelmed by overexposure by skin unused to such we get sunburn. Luckily for us, UV is incapable of penetrating our bodies any further than the first layer of skin, the epidermis. Or we’d be in constant danger of getting sunburn all the way through our innards..
So in the AGWScience fiction of the KT97 Energy Budget, just how much is UV actually converting to heat the land and oceans of the Earth?
Visible light from the Sun is completely benign, it neither carries bigger Heat energy nor does it have the properties of UV, and the even shorter ionising wavelengths, to alter DNA to ‘burn’ our skin. Just how is it then capable of heating land and oceans as you say?
Visible light is tiny, it moves more quickly in the same length of space that thermal infrared moves, but it is light weight. It bounces off every molecule of oxygen and nitrogen it encounters, the scattering of light which gives us our blue sky as it reflects off these molecules. In these encounters then, the only effect is change of direction, there is no heat created. Water likewise with air is transparent to visible light, which is reflected off the molecules of oxygen in clear water to scatter randomly in all directions to give us blue seas. There is no heat exchange, there is no alteration in the molecules of water to ‘burn them’ as UV can burn skin, they are simply bounced away without alteration to their wavelength until they fade away.
Except for example when their energy is being used by the life forms in the oceans for chemical changes, which do not create heat, such as photosynthesis. 70% of all photosynthesis takes place in the oceans, the blue light’s energy used to create sugars as on land.
If blue light can’t heat a cup of water, then how can it heat an ocean of it? You say it’s because there is more light, but there is also more water.
Matt G – I’m not talking about what it takes to create visible light, but what effects visible light actually have. Converting visible light to electricity to heat a kettle is as you say impracticable because there isn’t enough of it, but that is not the direct heating of land and oceans claimed by AGWScience in their Energy Budget, KT97, which CLAIMS that Visible Light DIRECTLY converts to heat the land and oceans. As you see Matt has just claimed it heats the ocean.
So how does it do this?
The only energy from the Sun which can DIRECTLY heat land and oceans is Thermal Infrared.
And we have countless real world application to prove that Thermal Infrared heats matter, from room heaters to healing applications from penetration in bodies to raise temperature – thermal infrared heat pads for example.
AGWScience has so twisted and tweaked the properties of matter and energy to create a totally imaginary world of impossible workings. Even blatantly as Ira continues to say, that the heat we feel from the Sun is from these Solar energies – the opposite of what is true in real well-known physics, traditionally taught, as that NASA page gave; that the Heat WE FEEL FROM THE SUN, is Thermal Infrared.
While there are some who still remember, and still teach, traditional real world physics, using the knowledge in real world applications, any who claim AGWScience saying the opposite must prove traditional science wrong.
There are thousands of companies selling thermal infrared heaters to heat buildings, where are the thousands selling visible light heaters to heat buildings? If it can’t heat buildings how is it heating the land in the AGWScience claim?
Visible light can barely produce enough by first conversion to electricity to heat a tank of water, and yet the claim is that it DIRECTLY heats the oceans. Prove it. [There are Solar heating applications which use the direct energy of the Sun’s thermal infrared to heat water.]
If you can get your heads around the deliberate misdirection from AGWScience in the way it tweaks at giving properties of one thing to another, you’ll find it easier to spot how it does this with all its claims, for example giving Carbon Dioxide the physical properties of ideal gas, i.e. that it has none, and saying that this is how it acts in our real world atmosphere.
Remember the NASA page which no longer exists, but saved on web capture, that the heat we feel from the Sun is thermal infrared, this has been completely excluded from the AGWScience energy budget. That in itself shows the their energy budget isn’t real world science and so not to be taken as credible, not worth being skeptical about.., but their twisting of this to say that it is Light energies heating the Earth, giving them the properties of thermal infrared, is deliberate deviousness, to create ignorance.

June 2, 2011 4:49 am

Typo alert! melanin not melamine… 🙂 Seen any abdominal snowmen recently?

Brian H
June 3, 2011 2:13 pm

Just an aside; doesn’t faze you AT ALL that no one, not one poster, agrees with you? Regardless of lack or depth of science background?
But I think your core misstatement above is that “blue light … has no heat energy”. Myrrh, ALL ENERGY is heat energy when it disperses and its entropy increases. That’s what thermodynamics is all about. That’s what the “Heat Death of the Universe” is all about.
There is NO energy that does not ultimately end up as heat.
And a blue laser will burn a hole in you just fine.

Brian H
June 3, 2011 2:16 pm

P.S. Try holding your hand next to a blue flame, the hottest kind. Or getting up close and personal with a blue star, likewise the hottest kind (with the exception of possible UV stars, which are hotter. Or X-ray pulsars, hotter still. Etc. )

June 4, 2011 1:05 pm

What you are feeling is the heat of the object creating the visible light, not the blue light WHICH YOU CANNOT FEEL, which is an effect, coloured light, produced by the great heat you are feeling, which is Thermal IR. Just as an ordinary lightbulb gives of around 95% of the energy as heat, which is thermal IR, visible light only a small part of that.
There are countless real world applications created out of knowing the difference. Show me one real world application which uses blue visible light for heating.

June 4, 2011 1:12 pm

Brian H,
For the different ways energy can be used which do not produce heat, and other posts. If you want to continue this discussion it would be better there as I’ve been objecting to Ira’s pushing of this AGWScience fiction meme.

Brian H
June 6, 2011 7:27 am

Your blue light ignorance stands on its own.
Red flames are around 1000K.
The hottest flame is blue (or a shade thereof), around 5000K.
In industrial processes, such as oxy-fuel welding and cutting, the base of the flame tends to be closer to the ultraviolet range. Frequencies in this range and higher are not considered “colored light”.
Pass your hand quickly over a red flame. No problem.
Pass your hand quickly over a blue flame. No hand.

June 8, 2011 10:22 am

And my point is, is it the flame or the thermal energy that is burning your hand? Light energies are not thermal, you cannot feel light as hot, but the heat that you’re feeling, that comes from the fire and burns your body if standing too close to it, is thermal infrared.
It is the heat that is creating the light.
The more thermal energy there is the higher frequency of light being emitted, but, the majority of the light emitted will be in the thermal infrared, this is what you feel as heat and that is what burns you. All the colour of the flame shows is how hot the source. The blue light emitted is an effect, not a cause of the heat.
Like an ordinary lightbulb, 95% of the energy created is heat, thermal infrared, which you cannot see but you can feel as heat. The 5% emitted as light is not heat. This is bog standard understanding in traditional physics, there are light energies and there are heat energies.
Thermal infrared, is heat on the move. From our Sun we get heat and light energies. Light energies are not hot. It’s the thermal energies which heat us and the land and the oceans.
Heat, thermal infrared, is powerful, it can be used to do work – like the internal combustion engine :
AGWScience deliberately and maliciously confuses this point by overemphasising ‘high energy’ of visible light. This doesn’t equal power to do work, to heat things, to actually raise the temperature of something.
Read this page on light (http://www.physicsclassroom.com/Class/light/u12l2c.cfm) and note particularly what it says about transmission and reflection – blue light in the oceans is tranmitted through the water – it is not creating heat, it is not heating up the oceans, merely passing through.
Although note that it doesn’t mention chemical changes, this is what happens in photosynthesis where the energy is used to create sugars out of carbon dioxide and water, this is not a creation of heat. So light can become more light, can be used for a chemical change or heat.

Brian H
June 8, 2011 10:29 pm

O 4 X’s sake.
Higher frequency EM has more energy per wave, per anything you want to meter. That energy does stuff to whatever it impinges on. That something reduces, quickly or slowly, to mechanical agitation, or heat. There is no “blueness exception.”

June 9, 2011 1:19 am

Blue visible light is highly energetic, this does not therefore mean more powerful, it means only that it is travelling faster in the same distance (which means that since all light reaches us at the same time) the wavelengths are much much much much smaller, it doesn’t mean anything else.
These tiny wavelengths get bounced all over the sky by molecules of nitrogen and oxygen, that’s how we get a blue sky and blue oceans, the blue light is refected back at us and our eyes pick it up. Our eyes don’t get heated up by looking at the blue sky and sea.
UV is even more highly energetic than visible light, you can stop them by putting a shirt on. UV doesn’t have the power to get any further into your body than the FIRST layer of skin, (there are three layers), the epidermis. It doesn’t create heat when its energy gets into your skin, it doesn’t have the power to raise the temperature because its energy not powerful enough. It acts on the small DNA to change it, it’s melanin which the body produces as a defence mechanism against this, so you get a tan. If exposed to lots of it where it is intense, like high up on mountains, or unused to it, it can ‘burn’ you, but it’s not doing that by raising your temperature. Our bodies use UV in chemical changes, to create vitamin D, not to create heat. Do make the effort to read that page and take in how it requires a change of vibrational state to create heat, short wave do not have the power to raise this long enough or high enough or consistently enough to raise the temperature of something, they are too small and puny.
UV doesn’t penetrate organic matter to any depth because it is small and puny. It can act only smaller stuff like DNA but doesn’t have the power to move molecules of water into higher vibrational states to heat them up.
You’re confusing highly energetic with strong power because you’ve been brainwashed into thinking this. And it’s got to a point, because this is deliberately organised to play on the emotions of people to energise them into action to change how this is taught in schools, that real physics, the real knowledge we have gained so comparatively recently in our history, is being destroyed for the ‘masses’. Like book burning by totalitarian regimes everywhere creating ignorance by destroying the teachers and the educated of the next generations, like indoctrination and re-writing history.
Visible light is BENIGN. It is not hot either, is not thermal energy, it does not create heat because it is too puny to act that way with larger molecules of matter. It is not as energetic and larger than UV, it doesn’t mess with DNA to ‘burn’, as do also the other smaller more energetic wavelengths like gamma. It can penetrate skin a bit more than UV but it is then reflected back out at us, which is why we can see the world around us, because light is being reflected back at us, because it is not absorbed. That’s why you cast a shadow.
It is a ‘convention’ that light is described by the temperature of the source creating it, it is not the temperature of the wavelength. Wavelengths of light can create temperature in matter, the amount it can raise the vibrational energy state of the matter to create heat, but it takes thermal invisible light energies to be able to do that because they are more powerful.
In a nuclear explosions highly energetic shorter wavelength can vapourise matter completely, but that is due to the volume of it – in the space and time, the intensity. The burn victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki where at a distance far enough for them not to be vapourised to nothing.

Brian H
June 11, 2011 2:01 am

Myrrh, that post is so jam-packed with errors and misconceptions that I’m forced to award you an honorary Doctorate in Dontopedology.

June 11, 2011 8:04 am

Shrug. That’s the problem with AGWScience fed understanding, no concept of volume, size, any properties and processes, living in a one dimensional world where molecules don’t take up any space.

June 11, 2011 4:56 pm

Speaking of understanding, did you study physics in junior high? Or even crack a textbook?

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