The Emily Litella moment for climate science and CO2 ?

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Professor Murry Salby

There is quite a bit of buzz surrounding a talk and pending paper from Prof. Murry Salby  the Chair of Climate, of Macquarie University. Aussie Jo Nova has excellent commentary, as has Andrew Bolt in his blog. I’m sure others will weigh in soon.

In a nutshell, the issue is rather simple, yet powerful. Salby is arguing that atmospheric CO2 increase that we observe is a product of temperature increase, and not the other way around, meaning it is a product of natural variation. This goes back to the 800 year lead/lag issue related to the paleo temperature and CO2 graphs Al Gore presented in his movie an An Inconvenient Truth, Jo Nova writes:

Over the last two years he has been looking at C12 and C13 ratios and CO2 levels around the world, and has come to the conclusion that man-made emissions have only a small effect on global CO2 levels. It’s not just that man-made emissions don’t control the climate, they don’t even control global CO2 levels.

Salby is no climatic lightweight, which makes this all the more powerful. He has a strong list of publications here. The abstract for his talk is here and also reprinted below.

PROFESSOR MURRY SALBY

Chair of Climate, Macquarie University

Atmospheric Science, Climate Change and Carbon – Some Facts

Carbon dioxide is emitted by human activities as well as a host of natural processes. The satellite record, in concert with instrumental observations, is now long enough to have collected a population of climate perturbations, wherein the Earth-atmosphere system was disturbed from equilibrium. Introduced naturally, those perturbations reveal that net global emission of CO2 (combined from all sources, human and natural) is controlled by properties of the general circulation – properties internal to the climate system that regulate emission from natural sources. The strong dependence on internal properties indicates that emission of CO2 from natural sources, which accounts for 96 per cent of its overall emission, plays a major role in observed changes of CO2Independent of human emission, this contribution to atmospheric carbon dioxide is only marginally predictable and not controllable.

Professor Murry Salby holds the Climate Chair at Macquarie University and has had a  lengthy career as a world-recognised researcher and academic in the field of Atmospheric Physics. He has held positions at leading research institutions, including the US National Center for Atmospheric Research, Princeton University, and the University of Colorado, with invited professorships at universities in Europe and Asia. At Macquarie University, Professor Salby uses satellite data and supercomputing to explore issues surrounding changes of global climate and climate variability over Australia. Professor Salby is the author of Fundamentals of Atmospheric Physics, and Physics of the Atmosphere and Climate due out in 2011. Professor Salby’s latest research makes a timely and highly-relevant contribution to the current discourse on climate.

Salby’s  talk was given in June at the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysic meeting in Melbourne Australia.   He indicates that a  journal paper is in press, with an expectation of publication a few months out.  He also hints that some of the results will be in his book Physics of the Atmosphere and Climate which is supposed to be available Sept 30th.

The podcast for his talk“Global Emission of Carbon Dioxide: The Contribution from Natural Sources” is here (MP3 audio format). The podcast length is an hour, split between his formal presentation ~ 30 minutes, and Q&A  for the remaining time.

Andrew Bolt says in his  Herald Sun blog:

Salby’s argument is that the usual evidence given for the rise in CO2 being man-made is mistaken. It’s usually taken to be the fact that as carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere increase, the 1 per cent of CO2 that’s the heavier carbon isotope ratio c13 declines in proportion. Plants, which produced our coal and oil, prefer the lighter c12 isotope. Hence, it must be our gasses that caused this relative decline.

But that conclusion holds true only if there are no other sources of c12 increases which are not human caused. Salby says there are – the huge increases in carbon dioxide concentrations caused by such things as spells of warming and El Ninos, which cause concentration levels to increase independently of human emissions. He suggests that its warmth which tends to produce more CO2, rather than vice versa – which, incidentally is the story of the past recoveries from ice ages.

Dr. Judith Curry has some strong words of support, and of caution:

I just finished listening to Murry Salby’s podcast on Climate Change and Carbon.  Wow.

If Salby’s analysis holds up, this could revolutionize AGW science.  Salby and I were both at the University of Colorado-Boulder in the 1990′s, but I don’t know him well personally. He is the author of a popular introductory graduate text Fundamentals of Atmospheric Physics.  He is an excellent lecturer and teacher, which comes across in his podcast.  He has the reputation of a thorough and careful researcher.  While all this is frustratingly preliminary without publication, slides, etc., it is sufficiently important that we should start talking about these issues.  I’ll close with this text from Bolt’s article:

He said he had an “involuntary gag reflex” whenever someone said the “science was settled”.

“Anyone who thinks the science of this complex thing is settled is in Fantasia.”

Dr Roy Spencer has suspected something similar, See  Atmospheric CO2 Increases: Could the Ocean, Rather Than Mankind, Be the Reason? plus part 2 Spencer Part2: More CO2 Peculiarities – The C13/C12 Isotope Ratio both guest posts at WUWT in 2008. Both of these are well worth your time to re-read as a primer for what will surely be a (ahem) hotly contested issue.

I’m pretty sure Australian bloggers John Cook at Skeptical Science and Tim Lambert at Deltoid are having conniption fits right about now. And, I’m betting that soon, the usual smears of “denier” will be applied to Dr. Salby by those two clowns, followed by the other usual suspects.

Smears of denial and catcalls aside,  if it holds up, it may be the Emily Litella moment for climate science and CO2 – “Never mind…”

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DEEBEE

About time this field of climatology gets a dose of real science — theory, counter-theory, rather than consensus. We have wasted 30 years doing climatology.

AlanG

OT but, A British tourist has been mauled to death and four other people have been injured in a polar bear attack in Norway. The attack happened today in the Norwegian Arctic Archipelago of Svalbard.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/norway/8683416/British-tourist-mauled-to-death-by-polar-bear-in-Norway.html

wayne Job

As an Australian I can only hope that some of our best can put paid to this alarmism non sense.

richard verney

It will be interesting to see how this research pans out, since it is essentially a game player.
On a related point, we need to know why natural sinks today are absorbing more CO2 than they were 5 or 10 or 15 or 20 years ago etc.
For example, if say back in 1980, natural sinks had the same capacaity as they do today to absorb CO2 then there would not have been an increase in CO2 levels in 1980/1, ditto If say back in 1981, natural sinks had the same capacaity as they do today to absorb CO2 then there would not have been an increase in CO2 levels in 1981/2.
We need to better understand the natural processes involved both in the release of CO2 and in its absorpttion.

[snip – Bzzzt penalty box. Not enough time has elapsed between the posting of this comment and the posting of the story. Listen to the audio THEN comment and whine about what was or what was not said. – Anthony]

John Marshall

Part of his research has shown that temperature drives CO2 levels which confirm other research on ice cores.
The main parts on C12/C13 ratios is very good and shows past estimates to be in wild error.

Won’t make any difference. What he’s saying has been obvious to anyone who can read graphs for 20 years.
The Gaian High Priests won’t give up until their money, power and glory are gone. When all hope of making money from “carbon offsets” is gone, when nobody outside their own ranks will listen, that’s when they will quietly slink away and find some other fraudulent and criminal way to get money, power and glory.
Unfortunately the government agencies will not give up, because government agencies exist and expand forever, no matter what happens to their original goal.

lemiere jacques

yes science is settle, i used to think of medieval warm period which is about 800 years ago…what we learnt from ice is there should be an increase of co2 now causes by this period of warming …how much?

Tomas

to Nick Stokes:
but those are just CO2 proxies, not measurements. I suggest you listen to the lecture, Professor Salby explains why they are inaccurate. His theory is based on the factual measurements since 1960s.

Luis Dias

Anthony, Nick did listen to the audio, since this story broke out on Climate Etc yesterday, and he did comment on it.
Also, many comments were made wrt this story. Despite all the noise (it’s a scam I knew it! or, there the denialists go again!) some arguments were made on Judith Curry blog.
The most pertinent criticism I think was quoted on Cetc but it was made by Gavin Schmidt. It is basically this point: if CO2 was so sensitive to temperatures (we are talking about 100ppm per 1 degree celcius), then the ice age data stops making sense. In the ice ages, CO2 was 180ppm, while in the warmer gaps between ice ages, CO2 was 280ppm. But the temperature was 6 degrees celcius higher. If the CO2 was as sensitive as Selby says, the difference ought to be 600ppm+- (or more), not 100.
So something’s very off right there.
REPLY: By his own admission below, Nick did not listen to the podcast – Anthony

C Porter

It is a pity that we are not able to see what an obdurate warmist like Nick Stokes has to say about this extremely important subject, the logic of which has been so obvious to me for a long time. It would have been interesting for me and others here to see him tying himself up in knots.

KenB

Initial response so far, warmists don’t want to listen, don’t want to discuss or acknowledge any point he makes. So its avoidance, fingers in ears, and attempts to divert attention away in the hope that the usual suspects at RC will either play the man, or diss the substance of his talk and then the puppies can be let out to troll the chosen line. The longer that goes on it looks downright encouraging!!

Anthony, my comment at 3:41 am was far from being the first. My comments were based on the abstract. Is the rule that everyone has to have listened to the podcast in full before commenting?
REPLY: It has nothing to do with being first or not, it has everything to do with the content of your comment. You made no claims of listening to the podcast, but then commented on the lack of anything substantial, saying “we have nothing written” while taking the entire issue to task complaining you have nothing to go on. Now you say you were commenting on the abstract. Clearly then you didn’t listen.
Sorry Nick, given you past behavior here with thread hijacks, I simply don’t believe you. Listen to the podcast, then diss it all you want. – Anthony

John Tofflemire

Wow. Food for thought. Have heard the presentation once and will listen over again to understand what he is getting at. This is either someone who has gone off the deep end or this guy is the Einstein of climatology.

richard verney

I seem to recall reading a few years back a paper discussing C12/C13 isotope rations on Mars and concluding that these were not as expected and that they cast doubt on whether one can use that relationship on Earth to determine whether increased CO2 levels on Earth were truly manmade. Unfortunately, I cannot recall the paper but someone might remember it.
A similar theme is discussed at:
http://oilismastery.blogspot.com/2008/06/lack-of-c13-isotope-proves-nothing.html

Shaun Dunne

The same thing happens every month.
WOW!” AGW TURNED ON ITS HEAD!!!1!
But then nothing.

Shaun Dunne

I want a T-Shirt that says…
I GET MY SCIENCE FROM RON CRAM

Scott

Sort of a bad news/good news sort of day when you think about it. Markets are really bad, but I expect this news to be cause for optimism for the future of mankind. We ain’t that bad after all. Nice.

AndyG55

@ wayne Job
Unfortunately, the government under B.Brown and his lackey J.Gillard will not take any notice of any REAL science that is produced. Its not about the science any more, if it ever was (which I doubt).
From BB’s point of view it is a power/control trip, and from JG’s pov it is proving how tough she is in not backing down. To the great detriment of Australia. 🙁

P Wilson

I was arguing 10 years ago that today’s c02 was outgassing from warmer oceans – as it takes 800 years for a complete circulation of oceans. Even if we cease anthropogenic c02, it will rise and rise for several hundred years yet

Gavin has already dismissed it completelely in the “unforced variations” thread over on nasas unofficial propoganda blog. Amazing as the paper is not out for six weeks.

Nick Stokes says:
August 5, 2011 at 3:41 am
[snip – Bzzzt penalty box. Not enough time has elapsed between the posting of this comment and the posting of the story. Listen to the audio THEN comment and whine about what was or what was not said. – Anthony]

Point of order, Anthony; Nick might already have listened to the podcast – I listened to it a couple of days ago, and even blogged about it yesterday.
http://dereksorensen.com/?p=112
REPLY: See Nick’s comment and my reply upstream. – Anthony

Richard A.

I wouldn’t worry. Someone from Green Peace will go through his trash and find he once bought a tank of gas from Exxon or BP. This will obviously mean he is on the payroll of Big Oil, and his views can be summarily dismissed.

LazyTeenager

If the extra CO2 in the air is coming from the oceans due to warming oceans, then the amount in the oceans should be going down.
As far as I know ocean CO2 is going up not down.

huishi

If this means that the rise in CO2 comes from natural causes; will the USA government arrest mother nature?

Beesaman

I want a t-shirt that says “I want my Carbon Taxes back!”

Scott

“Shaun Dunne says:
August 5, 2011 at 4:14 am
The same thing happens every month.
WOW!” AGW TURNED ON ITS HEAD!!!1!
But then nothing.”
Everything has been changing Shaun. You needn’t worry so much. This announcement seems to bring it all together.

John Finn

Aussie Jo Nova has excellent commentary
Perhaps, I’m jumping the gun here but, reading Jo Nova’s summary, it looks as though Professor Salby is simply repeating many of the same arguments we see on numerous blogs.
We know atmospheric CO2 concentration responds to temperature. When it’s warmer CO2 concentration increases – BUT WHEN IT’S COOLER IT SHOULD DECREASE. Not once in the past 50 years has there been a year on year fall.
There was an increase of ~100 ppm (180ppm -> 280 ppm) following the last ice age but this was in response to 5-6 deg increase in global temperature . The temperature increase since ~1850 has only been about 0.7 deg yet there has been another 100+ ppm increase in CO2 concentrations.
According to many posters on this blog, we’ve had no warming since 1998. In 1998 CO2 concentrations were ~366 ppm. In 2010 CO2 concentrations were ~390 ppm. According to UAH, 2010 and 1998 pretty much tied for warmest year, Why was there ~24 ppm more CO2 in 2010 than in 1998?
Human emissions are causing the increase in CO2. Temperature simply determines the rate of that increase.
Oh dear I’ve just noticed from another post that I’m agreeing with Gavin Schmidt. Unfortunately, in this case, Gavin is right.

Richard S Courtney

Anthony:
Thankyou for linking to a contribution from Roy Spencer at
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/01/25/double-whammy-friday-roy-spencer-on-how-oceans-are-driving-co2/
As you say, both his ‘CO2 papers’ on WUWT are pertinent and worthy of a revisit by all considering the work of Salby.
In the thread at the link I post above, I posted a brief outline of some of our findings which directly contradict the Team mantra that “We know human activities are increasing the CO2 in the air.” To save people the trouble of finding that comment, I copy it here.
Richard S Courtney says:
January 25, 2008 at 8:23 pm
Dr Spencer’s article reaches similar conclusions to those in
Rorsch A, Courtney RS & Thoenes D, ‘The Interaction of Climate Change and the Carbon Dioxide Cycle’ E&E v16no2 (2005).
I expanded on that paper in a presentation at a climate conference held in Stockholm on 11 & 12 September 2006. I could provide Dr Spencer with a copy of it were he to contact me.
There are some surprising similarities between Dr Spencer’s article and my presentation. For example, his Figure 3 presents the same data in the same way as my Figure 1, and he draws the same conclusion from it as we do in our paper.
Importantly, our paper provides six models that each match the empirical data.
We provide three basic models that each assumes a different mechanism dominates the carbon cycle. The first basic model uses a postulated linear relationship of the sink flow and the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. The second used uses a power equation that assumes several different processes determine the flow into the sinks. And the third model assumes that the carbon cycle is dominated by biological effects.
For each basic model we assume the anthropogenic emission
(a) is having insignificant effect on the carbon cycle,
and
(b) is affecting the carbon cycle to induce the observed rise in the Mauna Loa data.
Thus, the total of six models is presented.
The six models do not use the ‘5-year-averaging’ to smooth the data that the IPCC model requires for it to match the data. But all of the six models match the empirical data. However, they provide very different ‘projections’ of future atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration for the same assumed future anthropogenic emission. And other models are probably also possible.
The ability to model the carbon cycle in such a variety of ways means that according to the available data
(1) the cause of the recent rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is not known,
(2) the future development of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration cannot be known, and
(3) any effect of future anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide on the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration cannot be known.
All the best
Richard

klem

Guaranteed he will be brushed off and accused of being paid by Koch or Exxon, guaranteed.

Derek,
No I hadn’t listened to the podcast then (I have now). My comment explicitly referred to the abstract.

This will be very, very interesting. I have been looking at the ice-core records more closely in recent months. Not only is there a regular 1000 year delay from the temperature peaking during deglaciation to the CO2 peaking, but on occasions, temperature is falling while CO2 is still rising. The overall correlation of CO2 to temperature is clearly a consequence of temperature change driving CO2 rise and with a time lag that almost certainly is related to oceans degassing. The argument that the higher CO2 then drives the temperature higher is related entirely to the issue of assumed but unproven feedbacks and there is no evidence for it in the actual rate or sign of the change of temperature and rate or sign of the change in CO2.
Thus, one would expect an enhanced release of CO2 parallel to the current temperature rise…with a time delay. And given the post LIA rise began in 1800, then 1950 would be plenty of time for the ocean response to contribute. What is odd, however, is that research has shown the proportion of emissions that is sequestered by the global ecosystem has stayed constant despite the rise from 2GtC/year to 7 GtC/year in annual emissions.
I have simply assumed that the specialists dealing with isotopic ratios knew what they were doing!

Nick Stokes says:
August 5, 2011 at 4:56 am
Derek,
No I hadn’t listened to the podcast then (I have now). My comment explicitly referred to the abstract.

Fair enough, I’ll wind my neck in. Anthony: apologies.

Up Wing

Salby is saying that The CO2 rise is a natural response to the global termperature rise. So you can accept his explanaion but this also requires accepting that glbal temperatures are increasing.
Is everyone here accepting that then?

Julian Braggins

richard verney says:
August 5, 2011 at 3:37 am
It will be interesting to see how this research pans out, since it is essentially a game player.
On a related point, we need to know why natural sinks today are absorbing more CO2 than they
were 5 or 10 or 15 or 20 years ago etc.
————————————————————————————————————————
The planet has greened since then (added CO2), shown in satellite photos.
A further point Murry Shelby seems to show pretty well that warming is causing most if not all of the increase in CO2. If we do get cooling, and CO2 does not decrease then we still won’t know if he is right or wrong as we are due for the ~800yr boost from the MWP ?

RL

I consider that,above all other research, this paper has checkmated AGW theory

Alex the skeptic

So finally we have it that CO2 increases are due to warming and not the other way round. That is, when the oceans (liquids) warm up, the more gassing occurs. That is the higher the temperature of the oceans the more CO2 bubbles out.
But this is known by any Aussi beer drinker.

Richard M

John Finn and Gavin claim that the ice age changes negate this theory. However, they quote air temperatures. What is the change in ocean temperatures? Isn’t this more important?

Blade

John Finn [August 5, 2011 at 4:50 am] says:
“We know atmospheric CO2 concentration responds to temperature. When it’s warmer CO2 concentration increases – BUT WHEN IT’S COOLER IT SHOULD DECREASE. Not once in the past 50 years has there been a year on year fall.”

But what was the overall temperature doing ~800 years ago?
This is clearly not settled science at all. And if the theories of a multi-century lag (from temperature changes to resultant CO2 changes) are correct, you would not expect to see CO2 going up or down because of current temp delta.
Humans are really stuck in a realtime narcissistic limbo, where everything must happen within a life timescale or else they mentally self-destruct.

Blade

John Finn [August 5, 2011 at 4:50 am] says:
“We know atmospheric CO2 concentration responds to temperature. When it’s warmer CO2 concentration increases – BUT WHEN IT’S COOLER IT SHOULD DECREASE. Not once in the past 50 years has there been a year on year fall.”

But what was the overall temperature doing ~800 years ago?
This is clearly not settled science at all. And if the theories of a multi-century lag (from temperature changes to resultant CO2 changes) are correct, you would not expect to see CO2 going up or down because of current temp delta.
Humans are really stuck in a realtime narcissistic limbo, where everything must happen within a life timescale or else they mentally self-destruct.

J.Hansford

“The Emily Litella moment for climate science and CO2 ?”
What moment? That the science is Seattle?….. Well of course there’s science in Seattle. There’s probably even Scientists there…. Nevermind…….;-)

nofreewind

A good paper by D’Aleo and Seddons is
CO2 – The Houdini of Gases
The paper discusses why the CO2 levels are not what they should be if the carbon sink data and models are accurate.

Wijnand

Oooooh YEAH!!!!!

John W.

“Shaun Dunne says:
August 5, 2011 at 4:14 am
The same thing happens every month.
WOW!” AGW TURNED ON ITS HEAD!!!1!
But then nothing.”
Fair observation. We had years of hysteria over AGW. It won’t be undone by a single paper or study. It will be overcome as solid research, such as the subject study, causes solid scientists, such as Dr. Curry, to rethink the issue. Good science is the result of an evolved consensus that a particular hypothesis (or set of them) provides the best explanation for all available data.
Which is why the claim that “the science is settled” led me to doubt AGW from the start.

commieBob

klem says:
August 5, 2011 at 4:53 am
Guaranteed he will be brushed off and accused of being paid by Koch or Exxon, guaranteed.

We haven’t seen the book or the paper yet but I expect they will show that the work was done with full academic rigor. It will be hard to brush off. It will have to be refuted with the same rigor with which it was produced.

Luis Dias

However, they quote air temperatures. What is the change in ocean temperatures? Isn’t this more important?
I have no idea, but if you are saying that the ocean temperatures weren’t colder in an ice age, I can’t really follow you. If not, what’s really your point Richard?

Chilli

It would be very helpful if we could see the slides he’s referring to in the talk..

Luis Dias

REPLY: By his own admission below, Nick did not listen to the podcast – Anthony
Yeah, you’re right. Sorry.

REPLY: By his own admission below, Nick did not listen to the podcast – Anthony
Anthony, it is not an admission. I at no stage claimed to have listened to the audio. In fact, my comment made it clear that I had not, as I said in my initial comment: ” The problem is, we don’t have a written account of what he said, and I gather that the audio references slides that one can’t see. In the abstract is that he is talking about perturbations…”
Have you listened to the podcast?

I am a little nonplussed here.
I mean, all those explanations “Wow!” and “Revolutionary!” while this is something most reasonable people regarded as obvious from the beginning.
I’ve been saying the same things for more than 10 years now.
But no, those like Judith Curry must pretend that they never knew this.
Fine heroes of science, true warriors of truth, those “lukewarmers,” peeking out of their hiding places when the battle is over.