A blast from the gas in the past

From the AGU today, I find they are moving the cause of ancient planetary disaster from comets impacts and volcanoes or other big events to CO2 causing acidification of the oceans, literally they have a blast from the gas, to make CO2 the villain here. Of course, it’s just another modeling exercise in uncertainty.

The Permian–Triassic (P-Tr) extinction event is the most significant extinction event in this plot for marine genera. Source Wikipedia

From Wikipedia, a clear cut case of “we don’t know“:

There are several proposed mechanisms for the extinctions; the earlier phase was likely due to gradual environmental change, while the latter phase has been argued to be due to a catastrophic event. Suggested mechanisms for the latter include large or multiple bolide impact events, increased volcanism, and sudden release of methane clathrate from the sea floor; gradual changes include sea-level change, anoxia, increasing aridity, and a shift in ocean circulation driven by climate change.

From the AGU Highlights:

1. Was ocean acidification responsible for history’s greatest extinction?

Two hundred and fifty million years ago, the world suffered the greatest recorded extinction of all time. More than 90 percent of marine animals and a majority of terrestrial species disappeared, yet the cause of the Permian-Triassic boundary (PTB) die-off remains unknown. Various theories abound, with most focusing on rampant Siberian volcanism and its potential consequences: global warming, carbon dioxide poisoning, ocean acidification, or the severe drawdown of oceanic dissolved oxygen levels, also known as anoxia.

To narrow down the range of possible causes, Montenegro et al. ran climate simulations for the PTB using the University of Victoria Earth System Climate Model, a carbon cycle-climate coupled general circulation model. The model’s highlights include dynamic representations of terrestrial vegetation, ocean carbon fluxes, and net primary production. The researchers ran nine simulations, using three different concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide, three modes of ocean floor topography, and two competing theories for the geography of the time.

The authors find that varying the ocean floor topography by adding deep ocean ridges increases the strength of the Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC) – a convective cycle that mixes ocean waters. Also, the presence of the MOC was not abated by elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide as was found in previous research, suggesting that the ocean would have been well mixed and well oxygenated, restricting the chances of widespread deep ocean anoxia.

Further, the researchers find that if atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were 3000 parts per million by volume or higher, fitting within estimates for the Permian-Triassic boundary, the ocean pH would have been 7.34 or lower. At those levels, the authors say the ocean’s acidity would have had significant negative impacts on mollusks, corals, and other species that rely on oceanic calcium carbonate, suggesting ocean acidification may have been the main culprit in the Permian-Triassic boundary extinction.

Source: Paleoceanography, doi:10.1029/2010PA002058, 2011 http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2010PA002058

Title: Climate simulations of the Permian-Triassic boundary: Ocean acidification and the extinction event

Authors: A. Montenegro: Department of Earth Sciences, St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada, and Environmental Sciences Research Centre, St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada;

P. Spence and K. J. Meissner: Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia;

M. J. Melchin: Department of Earth Sciences, St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada;

M. Eby and S. T. Johnston: School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

Advertisements

82 thoughts on “A blast from the gas in the past

  1. And the outpouring of HCl or SO2 from the volcanoes we know about, for sure, had no impact on ocean pH?

  2. Further, the researchers find that if atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were 3000 parts per million by volume or higher, fitting within estimates for the Permian-Triassic boundary, the ocean pH would have been 7.34 or lower

    If the CO2 is in the atmosphere, then it is not in the oceans to cause acidification. Unless they believe another 3000ppm went into the oceans, in which case they’d have to explain where that total of 6000ppm came from.
    If I’m on the wrong track, I’m sure someone will correct me. thnx in advance.

  3. What exactly do we learn from simulations such as this? The models are full of assumption, best guesses and out-and-out fudge factors. You can’t duplicate the results except through another model, which hardly counts as validation.

  4. AND: (CAPITALS INTENDED) ACIDIC=pH LESS THAN 7, and substantially so. The mistreatment of pH by climate science is ridiculous. Ocean acidification is a long way off, if ever. So QUIT this foolish pH-mangling and misnomering of everything from carbon to acid. Bunk.

  5. Because 7.34, which is a slightly basic pH, is now “acidic”? And it would hurt those ancient, 100’s of million years ago animals because they were obviously adapted to the exact same conditions as current ones, and lacked any ability to adapt to gradual decreasing alkalinity in the oceans as proposed here? Oh, and of course this event in the oceans happened to be able to wipe out almost all terrestrial life as well?
    I can tell you there is a mass extinction going on right now: a mass extinction of scientific fact and rationality.

  6. I’m not sure what to make of this.
    From a heretical point of view, it just shows that the science (Wild Ass Guess) is not settled on anything.
    From the religious Church of Global Warming it will prove that they were right all along.
    So many choices, so many decisions, so many contradictions, what to do? I will once again meet with a representitive of BEER.

  7. the whole ‘acidification’ scare is making me insane! we should stop encouraging use of that word. i guess ‘ocean neutralization’ isnt dramatic enough….

  8. Is there any reason why that extinction couldn’t have been caused by a widespread viral or bacterial disease?

  9. Oceans currently contain something like 39,000 gigatons of carbon, and roughly 100,000,000 gigatons of carbon are contained in marine sediments and sedimentary rocks … carbon that was once in the oceans.
    So oceans have had adequate means to dispose of excess carbon, and have done so.
    Makes the 750 gigatons in the atmosphere and the 6 gigatons produced annually by humans seem a bit puny, doesn’t it?

  10. An interesting hypothesis I read, regarding the P-T extinction, was that an asteroid impact antipodal to then-Siberia caused the fracturing of the Siberian crust, allowing the large volumes of lava flows that we now call the Siberian Traps. Antipodal crust fracturing has been observed on some of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, and has been observed in computer models of asteroid impacts: the impact waves travel around the world, and all reinforce themselves on the opposite side.
    Thus, ocean pH changes could have been caused by the Siberian lava flows, but the initiator was an impactor.
    There’s still much investigatory science to do before the mystery is settled.

  11. Here we go again, yet more ill thought out drivel to scare the s*** out of the gullible and get more money from governments.
    I agree with the previous comments that ph 7.34 is alkaline, but where did they get the figure of 7.34 from? I can measure the ph in my fish tank tonight to either ph7.0 or ph 7.5, nothing in between! These “scientists” claim to be able to measure the ph of of the sea 250,000,000 years ago, 50 times as accurately (if my maths is correct). If Co2 was once at this level, how did it come down to the present level? Wasn’t this process supposed to be one of +ve feedback, which if my science is correct, means it should never stablise at lower levels?

  12. And they “know” that the high CO2 levels weren’t CAUSED by whatever event caused the extinction… how?
    >house burns down
    >fire causes high levels of CO2 in area
    >CAGW theory says high CO2 caused the house to collapse

  13. I wonder how or if they took into consideration how different the ocean topography was at the time in their general circulation model. Or if the model only applied to “the Carbon Cycle”.

  14. Last time I looked, the solubility of CO2 goes down with increased temperature. Putting 2 and 2 together and getting something between 3 and 5 as the answer (which these guys do not seem to be able to do) you either have to have global warming or increased carbonic acid in the oceans. Short of some really high pressures, you can’t have both.

  15. What really annoys me about this is how ignorant these people are.
    Carbonic acid is a very weak acid which anyway is heavily buffered in the oceans. The evidence is all around us.
    Yet the outgassing of the earth releases huge amounts, not even quantified or guesstimated at, of very strong acids into the oceans by volcanic action.
    Moreover if there was in the recent past, by which I mean a few hundred million years evidence of acid oceans we would see it in the geologic record. But we do not.
    It is just another speculative fantasy unsupported by any observation whatsoever, and if the evidence were there we would be able to detect it. That we cannot speaks volumes.
    One for the circular filing cabinet I think.
    Kindest Regards

  16. This is simply absurd. They used ”the University of Victoria Earth System Climate Model, a carbon cycle-climate coupled general circulation model. The model’s highlights include dynamic representations of terrestrial vegetation, ocean carbon fluxes, and net primary production.”
    Remember we are talking about the Permo/Triassic boundary here, that’s about 250 million years ago.
    The terrestrial vegetation was vastly different from now, no flowering plants just for a starter, and we know it only by the barest outline. How do you model the vegetation dynamics of plants who are long gone? In some cases even the entire orders the plants belonged too (e. g. seed-ferns) have gone extinct.
    The geography was also vastly different from now, and is only vaguely known. For example North and South China, then two separate Australia-sized continents were somewhere out in the Panthallassic Ocean. We know their latitude and orientation fairly well but the longitude is guesswork, and could easily be out by a couple of thousand kilometres. Wouldn’t the climate and ocean currents be a bit affected by moving two Australias around?
    And they use the “net primary production” in their model. There has been a lot of discussion about whether the oceanic primary production went up or down at the P/T boundary, and as far as I know the jury is still out on that one.
    “The authors find that varying the ocean floor topography by adding deep ocean ridges increases the strength of the Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC) “
    Again pure guesswork – there is no way we can determine where and how many deep ocean ridges there were at that time, every scrap of ocean bottom that old has long ago been subducted, except for a few bits and pieces accreted to continents (Japan for example). These show that there were ocean ridges and deep oceans basins out there somewhere, but not nhow many and where.
    “the presence of the MOC was not abated by elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide as was found in previous research, suggesting that the ocean would have been well mixed and well oxygenated, restricting the chances of widespread deep ocean anoxia.”
    That is very interesting since there is vast amounts of empirical evidence that there was indeed very widespread oceanic anoxia at the P/T boundary. If elevated CO2 does not have that effect, then it would suggest either that CO2 had nothing to do with the extinction or, more likely, that the model is way off.
    So what did cause the P/T extinction? Almost certainly the eruption of the Siberian Traps. That is the largest magmatic province in the world, containing at least 3,000,000, and perhaps as much av 5,000,000 cubic kilometres of basalt (that is enough to cover the entire Earth (including oceans) 20 to 30 feet deep), and it all seems to have erupted in less than 2 million years, with single eruptions being as large as 20,000 cubic kilometres.
    The only historical flood basalt eruption was Laki on Iceland in 1783. That was 14 cubic kilometres in eight months. It killed almost half the population of Iceland and caused crop failures and famine over much of the northern hemisphere.

  17. “the ocean pH would have been 7.34 or lower. At those levels, the authors say the ocean’s acidity would have had significant negative impacts on mollusks, corals, and other species”
    7.34 pH is not acidic. “Acidification” is the correct technical term for lowering pH whether from 7.5 to 7.3, or from 12 to 10, or from 5 to 2; but, to say [something’s] “acidity” when that [something] has a pH of 7.34 is wrong. Hopefully that’s a misquote of the scientists.
    Neutralization would be the more accurate term to use in this case.

  18. John A. Fleming says:
    August 31, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    And the Deccan Traps are almost antipodal the Chicxulub impact. Interesting, no?
    When it rains, it pours.

  19. John A. Fleming says:
    August 31, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    And the Deccan Traps are almost antipodal the Chicxulub impact. Interesting, no?
    When it rains, it pours.

  20. If this study is true, then shouldn’t we see evidence in the fossil record in the Eocene, Miocene and Cretaceous ages of diatoms?? Did they suffer the extinction as well? Obviously not, so we should see a clear trend of the impact of increased “acidification”.

  21. Any ancient disaster is blamed on Climate Change (usually not spelling out the name of the evil gas, CO2); it’s a sign of a huge academic apparatus looking for justification of its existence.
    I know how you Americans could slash your deficit.
    Did somebody say we need a new Apollo project? Well it looks like you have one.

  22. I just want to know, since the atmospheric CO2 levels increased roughly 800 years after each Ice Age melted into an Interglacial and these high atmospheric CO2 level should have been reflected in an “acidification” of the oceans, shouldn’t we have episodes of extinction 800 years after the conclusion of each Ice Age? Where’s the evidence for that? Since these extinction episodes would not be so long ago compared to the Permian-Triassic Boundary, certainly we would see some evidence of them, wouldn’t we?

  23. Many commenters here doubt the modellers’ results, but I, for one, do not. Computer models don’t lie. In fact, if I lived in one of their computer models, let me tell you, I’d be very very scared right now!
    Oh look, “Two and a Half Men” is on!

  24. Ocean Acidification:
    We owe Dr Craig Idso a great deal of gratitude for his very datailed 81-page report summarising factual science to the contrary [1]. Only a very knowledgable insider would be able pull this off. So here folllows a summary of his findings:
    1) coral bleaching: scientists discovered that corals are not picky about the type of symbiotic alg (a dinoflagellate) they host, and are capable of adopting temperature-hardier variants of symbiodinium in a process named symbiont-shuffling. In fact, corals may have some hardier variants already as part of their customary algal lodgers. Once a coral recovers from bleaching, it proves to be hardier and not as easily bleached. So coral reefs adapt in a matter of months to years. Corals also respond favourably to warmer water by also growing faster (3-5% for one degree Celsius).
    2) rising seas: many reefs are already limited in their growth by falling dry during spring low tides. Also fresh water floating on the surface, limits their growth. Fossil cores have shown that reefs have kept up with rising and falling seas during the ice ages and long before that. Most corals grow much faster than the worst-case predicted rise in sea level.
    3) ocean acidification: because corals are encapsulated by live tissue within which the concentrations of minerals are controlled by the coral polyp, they are not very sensitive to acids outside. However, since their metabolism depends on that of their algal symbionts (who provide the food), they react favourably to raised levels of CO2, also producing skeleton faster. Warmth and CO2 work together, resulting in rapid growth, rather than decay.

    And someone slipped up in mentioning the est. 3000 ppm CO2 level during that period, that’s over six times Hansen’s Eco-catastrophe tripping point, so, why aren’t we Venus?

  25. Gee, and I was under some misplaced perception that the conundrum of the Permian extinction had been comfortably explained a couple of decades ago as simply a consequence of coalescence of continents via Continental Drift, (Pangea anyone?) reducing the available habitat for shallow sea marine organisms.
    http://books.google.com/books?id=yfXJhKmp1wUC&pg=PA288&lpg=PA288&dq=stephen+jay+gould+permian+extinction&source=bl&ots=ldoCojHbX3&sig=a41eiMiZFfs8fpQLh4E6vvDfSDM&hl=en&ei=1KNeTqWjCIbeiAKUpoWzBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CCcQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q&f=false

  26. Kevin Kilty says:
    August 31, 2011 at 1:19 pm
    John A. Fleming says:
    August 31, 2011 at 12:22 pm
    And the Deccan Traps are almost antipodal the Chicxulub impact. Interesting, no?
    When it rains, it pours.
    =====
    An Iridium layer, presumably from Chicxulub, has been found between lava flows in the Deccan Traps. That would indicate that the volcanism started before the bolide arrived. I’d like to see a credible theory explaining how an area of magma flows induces an asteroid to strike the opposite side of the planet. I certainly can’t conjure up a remotely plausible explanation other than coincidence.

  27. If so much carbon dioxide were to be dissolved into the water so that the pH moved a perceptible amount, the amount of limestone formed in the bottom sediments would be off the charts. Do we see large sediment layers of limestone corresponding to this period? In order to change the pH of a buffered solution, one must first overcome the buffer. I am not a geologist, but I don’t recall hearing about any unexplained excessively thick worldwide limestone layers. Call me skeptical on this one.

  28. “Further, the researchers find that if atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were 3000 parts per million by volume or higher, fitting within estimates for the Permian-Triassic boundary, the ocean pH would have been 7.34 or lower.”
    Wait a minute! “would have been”? Did they use a computer model for this? This is an experiment that can easily be done. Anyone got access to a bucket of seawater and a pH meter? (ideally: materials, apparatus, procedure, observations, analysis, conclusions – that’s how we used to do “science”!)
    Best,
    Frank

  29. “… if atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were 3000 parts per million by volume or higher, fitting within estimates for the Permian-Triassic boundary …”
    But that’s way past the tipping point. How come we’re here?

  30. So the tens of millions of animals that lived hundreds or even thousands of miles from the ancient oceans were killed by ocean acidification?
    I’d like to hear them explain that one.

  31. “jeez says:
    August 31, 2011 at 2:15 pm
    Gee, and I was under some misplaced perception that the conundrum of the Permian extinction had been comfortably explained a couple of decades ago as simply a consequence of coalescence of continents via Continental Drift, (Pangea anyone?) reducing the available habitat for shallow sea marine organisms.”
    Nope, the extinction also affected land animals and land plants quite badly. And it hit deep water organisms if anything worse than shallow water ones. Also it is hard to see why the coalescence of Pangaea should cause extinctions on the North China and South China continental blocks, which were off by themselves somewhere out in the Panthallassic Ocean.

  32. Kevin Kilty says:
    “And the outpouring of HCl or SO2 from the volcanoes we know about, for sure, had no impact on ocean pH?”
    I think you may have put your finger on the main sleight of hand there. I remember in the late 1980s that ocean acidification was one of the main candidates even then for the P-T extinction, and the main postualted source of this acidification was SO2 from either the Siberian or Deccan traps (I forget which). The specific reason why was that they are massive eruptions of basic lava, which is charactisitcally accompanied by high levels of SO2. Acidic lavas just won’t cut it for this. Here they have adopted this old theory, but seemlessly cut out the SO2 and replaced it with CO2, which better fits the next stage of the “we must end our evil fossil fueled society” narrative once people realize that the warming isn’t going to be anywhere near as large or destructive as the scare mongers want us to believe .

  33. “Owen says:
    August 31, 2011 at 2:41 pm
    If so much carbon dioxide were to be dissolved into the water so that the pH moved a perceptible amount, the amount of limestone formed in the bottom sediments would be off the charts. Do we see large sediment layers of limestone corresponding to this period?”
    No, The typical marine deposits of this interval are black organics-rich shales. interpreted as beeing due to anoxic conditions in the deep ocean. Incidentally this deposition of carbon rich sediments must have drawn down the CO2 level in the atmosphere quite a lot.

  34. So it got so acid that all the buffer was gone….even though carbonates are…………carbon
    …and that explains why we have no calcium carbonate fossils from that period ///////snark
    Must be really hard on the paleo guys, to skip a million years………….

  35. Three points
    1 – this assumes that life then required absolutely the same chemical environment as life now.
    2 – How did ocean acidification manage to kill off land animals?
    3 – Where did the CO2 come from? It certainly wasn’t from Man’s activities.

  36. Do you remember Snowball and Napolean, the two pigs leading the animals’ revolt against humans in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” satire of Soviet communism? Snowball played a leading role in the opening “Battle of the barnyard” against the humans, getting peppered with shot gun pellets. By contrast Napolean plays minor role. However a few months later, Napolean takes power and drives away Snowball from Animal Farm.
    Snowball and Napolean are satirical equivalents of Trotsky and Stalin. In the months and years following Snowball’s expulsion, Napolean and the ruling “panel” of pigs progressively re-educate the farm animals about the history of the Battle of the Barnyard, changing the account such that Napolean rather than Snowball was actually the hero. In the end they go so far as to state that Snowball was actually a traitor and fought on the side of the humans.
    Something analogous to this is happening to climate science and climate history. CO2 and ocean “acidification” are playing the role of Napoleon, and climate palaeo history being re-written for political expediency so that, just as in Soviet Russia nothing was achieved without Stalin’s direct personal involvement, so no event in geological or climate history can have any explanation other than CO2.
    Thus you will see that childishly spurious arguments, straw men and non-sequiturs are being used to attack any heretically non-CO2 explanation of past events such as extinctions. For instance: ” ocean ridges can speed up deep ocean circulation. Therefore, ocean anoxia cannot have taken place.” They ignore well-known sedimentary evidence for such anoxia:
    There is evidence that the oceans became anoxic (severely deficient in oxygen) towards the end of the Permian. There was a noticeable and rapid onset of anoxic deposition in marine sediments around East Greenland near the end of the Permian.[109] The uranium/thorium ratios of several late Permian sediments indicate that the oceans were severely anoxic around the time of the extinction. [110]
    Reference 110: Monastersky, R. (May 25, 1996). “Oxygen starvation decimated Permian oceans”. Science News.

    link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permian%E2%80%93Triassic_extinction_event#Anoxia
    Then the author assert that levels of CO2 of 3000 ppm are sufficient to cause and “acid” pH of 7.3 [sic] and that this alone can cause the PT mass extinction. Again they conveniently forget that during the Cambrian era, where every single one of the marine phyla of organisms first evolved, CO2 levels were in the range 5000-10000 ppm. Thus their assertion is utter nonsense. In fact it is now known that several marine phyla including calcified forms (e.g. “small shelly species”) were in existence prior to the Cambrian, where CO2 levels would have been higher still.
    This wretched excuse for a scientific study is an utterly despicable exercise, aimed not at scientists (any real scientist will immediately recognise it as twisted nonsense) but at the non-scientific public, contributing to a growing mood music where CO2 becomes more and more the villain behind every threat and catastrophe.
    Just as in Animal farm under Napolean’s regime, every bad turn of events was blamed on sabotage by Snowball, now CO2 is the new Snowball. This is idiotically childish, sinister and totally dishonest but the reality of the current politicised climate “research” community.

  37. Does anyone else object, as I do, to the use of the word “find” here (as in “The researchers find……”)? The results of a model which cannot be tested against the real world are not facts. One has created these results rather than “found” them. In true empirical research one does “find” or “discover” data. From models untestable against reality one only manufactures results. All of the predictions of the CAGW crowd are of this nature. They are creations, closer to fictions, that may or may not resemble truth. Without a test against empirical facts one cannot know their truth value.
    As the Great Obama says, “Words matter…..” These “researchers” should be scorned for saying they have “found” something.

  38. There appears to have been an oceanic anoxic catastrophe at the PT event, as shown in this Nature paper.
    http://www.nature.com/ncomms/journal/v2/n2/full/ncomms1217.html.
    “We discover a sulphur isotope signal (negative δ34S with negative Δ33S) that suggests episodes when porewater sulphate was converted nearly quantitatively to sulphide. This S-isotopic signal may have resulted from mixing of pyrites and suggests that shoaling of deep anoxic water may have contributed to the significant biodiversity loss before the final catastrophic extinction.”
    Now an acidification event would have drive the process the other way, acidic oceans would have increased the atmospheric/oceanic H2S ratio and it would have auto-oxidized back to sulphate.
    If the rock had hit a carbonate opposite it would explain both things, CO2 in the air and precipitation in the anoxic but alkali oceans.

  39. Baa humbug reckons
    Unless they believe another 3000ppm went into the oceans, in which case they’d have to explain where that total of 6000ppm came from.
    Over time the ocean CO2 to atmospheric CO2 ratio is fixed. Google Henry’s law CO2 for the value of the ratio for CO2..

  40. Pull My Finger says:
    August 31, 2011 at 11:22 am
    How can they model an enviornment about which we know practically nothing about?
    ———-
    Well obviously enough is known to define the starting point for the model. Just because you don’t know doesn’t mean a bunch of other people also don’t know.

  41. Nuke Nemesis says:
    August 31, 2011 at 11:23 am
    What exactly do we learn from simulations such as this? The models are full of assumption, best guesses and out-and-out fudge factors. You can’t duplicate the results except through another model, which hardly counts as validation.
    ————
    It means you have a whole bunch of predictions which you can compare to the results of other research derived from fieldwork that has already been done or will be done in the future. Then there will be a whole lot of debate over whether the model is correct or which observations are correct. Crucial pieces of missing information will
    be identified and then the gaps filled in by more research. Eventually the contradictions will be resolved and a self consistent picture will emerge. This process could include changes to the original model that allow the model to work effectively over a wider range of climate conditions.

  42. Mike Bromley the Kurd says:
    August 31, 2011 at 11:27 am
    AND: (CAPITALS INTENDED) ACIDIC=pH LESS THAN 7, and substantially so. The mistreatment of pH by climate science is ridiculous. Ocean acidification is a long way off, if ever. So QUIT this foolish pH-mangling and misnomering of everything from carbon to acid. Bunk.
    ———-
    You’re just displaying your ignorance.
    The use of the term acidity in this way is universal in technical fields that deal with water quality. Its not just the climate scientists who use this kind of terminolgy.
    The use of the term acidity in this way has also been in place for decades and decades, well before ocean acidity became a topic of research.
    So your pretending to be an expert on chemical terminology based on stuff you half understood from year 11 science, looks really really silly.

  43. There was another study a few weeks ago that blamed a massive increase in dead-tree eating fungus with the extinction event.
    Let me see, the biggest volcanic events in the history of the Earth kills 90% of the plants and animals, yet it was the fungus that grew on the dead vegetation which was the cause of the extinction.
    Climate science relies on the scientists themselves to suspend their natural instinct to look for the obviously-true causes (and they DO IT).
    ———–
    I also note that global temperatures prior to this event were about the highest that the Earth has seen in the history that we know about – around +10C compared to today with absolutely massive unlivable deserts in the centre of the Super-continent Pangea for example.
    But right at the Siberian Traps volcanic events, global temperatures dropped by about 8C. So all that extra CO2 from the biggest volcanoes in Earth’s history actually resulted in one the largest cooling events also in Earth history.

  44. GED says
    lacked any ability to adapt to gradual decreasing alkalinity in the oceans as proposed here?
    ———
    Well it’s a good point, they would adapt, eventually. It’s just a question of how fast can animals adapt to changes in CO2 compared with how fast the change in CO2 was. If the changes in CO2 happen over 10-50k years many animal will not be able to adapt fast enough.

  45. eyesonu says:
    August 31, 2011 at 11:36 am
    I’m not sure what to make of this.
    ———-
    The research is a sanity check for both the model and the idea that CO2 could cause an extinction via ocean acidity.
    It helps to find weaknesses in the model that might produce erroneous results when attempting to simulate current conditions.

  46. Marcos says:
    August 31, 2011 at 11:51 am
    the whole ‘acidification’ scare is making me insane! we should stop encouraging use of that word. i guess ‘ocean neutralization’ isnt dramatic enough….
    ——–
    You need to do a sanity check on the whole propaganda conspiracy theory idea. All that is happening is that standard usage of a technical term is being carried over without translation by journalists, into stories for the common public.
    The same problem occurs for terms like energy.
    And you cant really expect journalists to give you a science lesson for every story they publish so this won’t change.
    All you really need to understand is that shellfish don’t grow well if the pH is not the same that their metabolism is tuned for.

  47. Kasuha says:
    August 31, 2011 at 11:55 am
    Is there any reason why that extinction couldn’t have been caused by a widespread viral or bacterial disease?
    ———
    There is a reason: bacterial and virus diseases are species specific.

  48. Sagi says
    So oceans have had adequate means to dispose of excess carbon, and have done so.
    Makes the 750 gigatons in the atmosphere and the 6 gigatons produced annually by humans seem a bit puny, doesn’t it?
    ——–
    Yes, perfectly correct. But I suspect that you are overlooking the fact that geological processes are very very slow compared to the current CO2 increase which is very very fast.
    And I suspect that you are also overlooking the bank account principle. This says that if you add a tiny amount of money to your bank account every payday, eventually you will have a lot of money.

  49. Frank Kotler says:
    August 31, 2011 at 2:42
    This is an experiment that can easily be done. Anyone got access to a bucket of seawater and a pH meter? (ideally: materials, apparatus, procedure, observations, analysis, conclusions – that’s how we used to do “science”!)
    ——-///
    Go for it. But you will need a pretty fancy and expensive pH meter.

  50. One correction to phlogiston (31 August 2011, 3:42):
    One phylum of invertebrate evolved in the Ordovician: the Bryzoa.
    But, the comments here are correct: the Brenner model of ancient CO2 concentrations (and the most widely accepted) shows that levels varied from over 6000 ppm near the beginning of the Paleozoic, to a low around 500 ppm during the Carboniferous. To put it succinctly, the marine invertebrates faced with concentrations of 3000 ppm (give or take) would have been in their “happy place”.
    I must also take issue with the phrase ” … deep ocean ridges … “. As a scientist, I find this phrase completely incomprehensible. If something is ” … deep … “, then it is far from the surface. The abyssal plain upon which the Titanic rests is somewhat on the “deep” side, in excess of 3,000 m, if memory serves.
    Then, this phenomenon is called an, ” … ocean ridge … “, by which I take it to mean some topographical feature, which is elevated above some arbitrary base level, say, the surrounding ocean floor.
    So, wouldn’t a ” … deep ocean ridge … ” be something which is topographically subdued, and a very minor factor, in the parameter the authors are trying to represent?
    Maybe I do not understand what the authors are trying to say. What ever they ARE trying to say, they did a miserable job of saying it.
    Best regards to all,
    Mark H.

  51. It says that the GCM used in the study was developed by the University of Victoria. This U is also home to Andrew Weaver, the IPCC scientist who won the Nobel Prize along with Al Gore.
    He’s also very lawsuit happy, and is currently involved with two lawsuits against sceptics who dared to challenge his research. He has also developed several of the models the IPCC uses.
    If this is what the study is using, you can bet the model is deeply flawed.
    On a side note, it’s interesting to note their attempts to link CO2 to everything.
    Why don’t they link it to, say, life on Earth?!
    Simply put, no CO2, no life. Seems funny they forgot that.
    Next up, they’ll be blaming WW2 on CO2.

  52. The researchers ran nine simulations, using three different concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide, three modes of ocean floor topography, and two competing theories for the geography of the time.

    (9 simulations) = (3 CO2) * (3 oceans) * (2 geography)
    9=18
    Well, maybe they’re half right.

  53. eyesonu says:
    August 31, 2011 at 11:36 am
    “I’m not sure what to make of this.
    From a heretical point of view, it just shows that the science (Wild Ass Guess) is not settled on anything.
    From the religious Church of Global Warming it will prove that they were right all along.
    So many choices, so many decisions, so many contradictions, what to do? I will once again meet with a representitive of BEER.”
    eyesonu,
    My friend, we share a common friend! I have spent great swathes of time,energy, study and reflection in the Fluids Lab, observing and contemplating bubble nucleation and growth in naturally and artificially carbonated liquids! I have discovered fundamental truths during these immersion studies… but I sometimes have difficulty remembering them in the morning.. ahem.
    When I hear folks like Lazytweener, Septic, and Rickety Gates stating certainty about the dubious aspects of AGW science, I realize ‘somebody needs a beer’! Their failures to self medicate and mellow should in no way impair our enjoyments, of both their humorous contributions or the beers they have failed to quaff!
    Ahhhh, there IS a Killians in the ‘fridge! Cheers!!!

  54. Mac the Knife says
    * * *
    Your post made me laugh out loud!
    I think you might to something there. Maybe if ol Gore sat back and relaxed with a cold one once in a while, he wouldn’t be so angry.
    Then again, he did seem disturbingly unhinged, so maybe he’d had a few too many before his rants.
    Possibly it was the same with the authors of this study. A high state of intoxication certainly could cause them to forget the high CO2 levels in the periods preceding the Permian.

  55. People discussing ocean acidification are often alarmed at a pH change from 8.1 to 8.0 (or so) in ocean waters from surface to a few hundred metres below the surface.
    (Side exercise: Do a search to find the pH variation with depth in deep oceans. The first one I found, after an hour of searching, was from a WUWT post by Willis Eschenbach, http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/06/19/the-electric-oceanic-acid-test/ . Thank you Anthony & Willis.)
    I suspect it is hard to find these figues, reproduced here from my little web site http://www.geoffstuff.com/OceanpH.jpg
    because the vast mass of the ocean has a pH closer to 7.4 than to 8.0 or 8.1. A little upwelling will bring surface acidification independent of the CO2 levels of today, though the system is dynamic and some further changes happen.
    One might ask the question, which geological era produced the present day deep ocean pH and what was the atmospheric CO2 level then?

  56. The floor of the oceans are covered with powdered indigestion tablets so anyone hoping for acidic oceans has a long wait.
    But there is something else these people always leave out of their extinction theories – life itself. All these events have been against a backdrop of evolution. It’s quite possible that large numbers of older species are simply wiped out by new species. I reckon the last dinosaur egg was probably eaten by a bird or mammal rather than environmental changes being the cause. There is often evidence in the fossil record of numbers declining before these extinction events. The biggest extinction event of all must have been the ‘tipping point’ when free oxygen appeared in the oceans and atmosphere. Somehow we don’t consider that an environmental disaster.

  57. @AlanG
    It is true that mass extinction can in principle occur without a physical catastrophe. In his excellent book “Deep Simplicity” John Gribben discusses chaotic dynamics, and describes how a log-log (power law) relationship characterises non-linear chaotic systems. He proposed species extinctions as an example of a chaotic network. Some extinctions destabilise the ecosystem leading to other extinctions, while others leave little colateral damage. Modeling extinctions as a chaotic network showed that very occasionally you get mass excinctions, just from the system itself, without any external perturbation.

  58. They don’t learn, do they?
    Representation: To call up by despcription or portrayal or imagination, figure; place likeness of before mind or senses; serve as likeness of; make out to be, allege that, describe or depict; work of art portraying something, a calling of attention to something;
    Simulation: Fegin, pretend to have or feel,wear the guise of or act the part of, counterfeit, having the appearance of, shadowy likeness of or mere pretence, unreal thing.
    You probably know where these came from, my trusty Pocket OED 1925, if not. Their words not mine! Thank goodness they didn’t use the word “sophisticated”, then they would be done for 🙂

  59. Don’t these people know the neutral level of pH?
    The latest experiments with molluscs show that even in acid waters, below a pH of 7.0, they thrive provided the acidity is caused by CO2. But in the real seas as we all know the pH is kept above 7.5 by the bicarbonate feedback loop.
    And at ocean vents where the pH is around 4.5 molluscs still thrive.

  60. doug kemp says:
    August 31, 2011 at 12:13 pm
    Is it possible to be both stupid and ignorant at the same time?
    ==================
    yup Daily Proof in Aus! JuLiar and Bob.
    and then theres the IPCC and…and…and…
    proof abounds.

  61. An anoxic event in the oceans is a lack of oxygen, that land species also died out is either a lack of oxygen or a poisonous substance in the air. 6000PPM of CO2 is not poisonous so the fickle finger of fate must point else where. Some severe catastrophy must have befallen our earth, or an alternate explanation would be lack of CO2. With all its dire consequences for life on earth

  62. Response to “Lazy Teenager”, 31 August 2011, 5:40 PM,
    who says, ” … you are overlooking the fact that geological process are very very slow compared to the current CO2 increase which is very very fast.”
    So, you have a model which tells us ALL of the past rates of change of CO2 concentration in the Earth’s atmosphere?
    Really?
    Oh, please, do share with us. While you are at it, please take a look at things like the EPICA and Vostok core data; note the “rate” at which CO2 entered (and left) the atmosphere during the transitions from glacial to interglacial events, as well as the (now) well-established lag-time, of CO2 FOLLOWING temperature change.
    Loved the ‘bank’ analogy. Sorry yours fell apart so quickly; you labor under the delusion that each additional molecule of CO2 placed into Earth’s atmosphere, has the exact same effect as the preceeding molecule.
    The empirical data show that the potential warming effect of additional CO2 is exponential, and not linear. To use your ‘bank’ analogy, it goes like this:
    On Monday, you deposit $1 into your bank account, and your banker tells you that you are earning 5% on that dollar. So, on Tuesday, you deposit another dollar into your account, but on Tuesday, your banker tells you that you are only earning 4% on that dollar. Wednesday, you deposit another dollar, but the interest rate is now 3% … …
    and so on.
    Please do argue with these data; I would request that you refrain from arguing with me, as I am unable to change what the data say. It might surprise you what you can learn when you put your mind to it.
    Best regards,
    Mark H.

  63. The great extinctions: It was ET that done it. He came on this planet, saw that the live beasts of that time were a threat to this planet, and done them all in. Now we are imminently in danger of a repeat great cull by ET to save the planet again. Al Gore will be spared, taken upon a spaceship and given a new life in space where the temperature will be constant at -273C and where climate change will not happen. /sarc off.

  64. Regarding LazyTeenager says:
    August 31, 2011 at 5:40 pm.
    If you sincerely wish to support this poor study please respond to those comments which come from posters with a scientific background. The study is garbage and even such an immature teen as yourself knows it. The money part of your 5:40 post is this,…” Yes, perfectly correct. But I suspect that you are overlooking the fact that geological processes are very very slow compared to the current CO2 increase which is very very fast.” Really? compared to this from tty says:
    August 31, 2011 at 1:03 pm
    …”So what did cause the P/T extinction? Almost certainly the eruption of the Siberian Traps. That is the largest magmatic province in the world, containing at least 3,000,000, and perhaps as much av 5,000,000 cubic kilometres of basalt (that is enough to cover the entire Earth (including oceans) 20 to 30 feet deep), and it all seems to have erupted in less than 2 million years, with single eruptions being as large as 20,000 cubic kilometres.” or this from “LarryD says: August 31, 2011 at 2:06 pm
    “ocean acidification: because corals are encapsulated by live tissue within which the concentrations of minerals are controlled by the coral polyp, they are not very sensitive to acids outside. However, since their metabolism depends on that of their algal symbionts (who provide the food), they react favourably to raised levels of CO2, also producing skeleton faster. Warmth and CO2 work together, resulting in rapid growth, rather than decay.”
    Yes Lazy, methinks you are trying to hijack the thread by cherry picking what you respond to. Please respond to the posts above plus these. phlogiston says:August 31, 2011 at 3:42 pm and Mark Hladik says: August 31, 2011 at 6:16 pm This will acomplish two things. It will bring us back to determing the veracity of the study and it will show if you are both serious about actually defending it, and capable of doing so. What you have done so far is nothing more then a distraction and is indeded troll like.

  65. @LazyTeenager
    “Well it’s a good point, they would adapt, eventually. It’s just a question of how fast can animals adapt to changes in CO2 compared with how fast the change in CO2 was. If the changes in CO2 happen over 10-50k years many animal will not be able to adapt fast enough.”
    I’m sorry, but that statement shows a complete ignorance of biology.
    Epigenetics allow rapid, pronounced phenotypical adaptation in only a generation. In a 1000 years, tolerance levels for extreme conditions can radically change in any species, even mammalians, and humans. Look at the different “races” of people; those were rapid adaptations to wildly different enviromental conditions from the burning heat of Africa and Australia, to the cold Norwegian landscapes.
    Adapting to mildly less alkaline conditions is a small feat for biological organisms, as it requires only small changes in gene dosage for buffering proteins and ion pumps. It’s also why the current scale about “acidification” is all about “what could happen” considering nothing actually -is- happening to the species of the world. They can keep pace with no difficulty.
    In short, anything that moves even as fast as the time scale of decades is not going to endanger most species. Organisms are incredibly adaptive, but just like with geology and paleontology, climate science knows nothing about biology and has no regard for any of our work when they spin up their scare stories.

  66. @LazyTeenager
    Also, if you want to believe this horrific disaster of a study, please explain how almost all terrestrial species went extinct at the same time?
    96% of all species on the planet died out at the P-T transition. The 3000 ppm CO2 of that time was not even that atypical of ancient Earth. The Devonian also had atmospheric CO2 around that level, and no mass extinctions occurred: and that was a time where the majority of life on the planet was still in the oceans!

  67. If one looks at graph of extinction rate, one sees an unmistaken trend in extinction rate. Globally, extinction rate constantly decreases since PT but stays relatively high although variable prior to it. What exactly changed over that time span that caused it to behave in trends like this? Why, the only thing: _The_Life_Itself_ changed!!! Nothing else, but Life. Which pretty much answers the question of What causes mass extinctions: Life Itself does; mass extinctions are massive events of biosphere ‘willfully’ rebuilding itself, sacrificing old for the sake of new. It is more than obvious in case of PT extinction – for it was after PT that diversity trend turned sharply to the rise, and extinction rated went down. The biosphere turned much more stable after old trash has been wiped out, and even fall of Chicxulub asteroid didn’t change the trend, just put small bump in it.
    Yet there are serious reason to think that even proverbial KT extinction is a dealing of life itself, for it really started several million years before KT impact. What happened in KT event, is that biosphere weakened and started massive restructuring after Angiosperms finally conquered forest biomes in late cretaceous. Dinosaurs diversity started dropping sharply about 5 ma before KT impact. What KT impact did is just greatly increased KT extinction that has already been going on. It happened for no external reasons, it is just cycles and transitions inside biosphere, that are part of its own evolution. For biosphere is just a enormously complex, nonlinear dynamic system, so freaking complex that climate compared to it is just a linear equation.
    And just look at PT event on the graph – extinction rates skyrocketed on a straight yrend to hell already 30 million (!) years before proverbial PT event. Th PT event was just a final blow to the weakened biosphere. It is like a butterfly in chrysalis, being very weak before it turns into even stronger. Should Siberian traps have happened not during ‘chrysalis’ stage but elsewhere, the Life would not even notice.

  68. Problem – on top of the Wild Guesses, Ludicrous Extrapolations, and Unimaginable Leaps of Logic of a magnitude that I would expect from my two-year old (after reading this, her fears that the thunderstorm would eat her cookies because there is lightning when Count von Count counts and the Count hangs around cookie monster seem perfectly rational).
    This final problem is thus: Oceanic life is fine at a pH of 7.25. It’s not ideal, but the fish don’t start dissolving, and the corals don’t just die. They grow and live and breed just as normal.
    I think I’ll watch Sesame Street. At least then I have some hope for the future.

  69. How does a slightly acidic sea kill most of the life on land? Whatever happened, it would have had to have had a serious impact on both land and earth. I dont think 3000ppm co2 would have killed plants and dinosaurs!

  70. Oh, by the way, LazyTeenager, I was once the smartest person in the room, and knew everything that my elders didn’t. I was wrong. If you truly are a teenager, then at best, you have taken Freshman-level collegiate science courses and think you know everything. At the sophomore level, of engineering, physics, or anything other than lab-scale chemistry. you learn this:
    9 chances out of 10: You don’t know what you are trying to find out.
    You can get a decent estimate
    This estimate involves a lot of assumptions
    Removing each assumption can take an entire class of learning. Thermodynamics 2 is entirely about removing the “ideal gas” and “ideal liquids” assumption.
    Some assumptions cannot be removed on large scales without absurd levels of calculations.
    If you don’t know something, you can parameterize it, but while that makes things faster and works acceptably, it only works within narrow confines, and it runs upon the largest assumption of all, that you are right.
    There are many rules of design engineering, but the first is this: “Your model is wrong”, and the last is “You are an idiot”. All other rules in between can be proven false, but if you ever put too much faith in your model or your genius, you WILL get people killed. This is where Climate modeling lost its grip on reality, and they have gotten people killed.

  71. Mark Hladik says:
    August 31, 2011 at 6:16 pm
    One correction to phlogiston (31 August 2011, 3:42):
    One phylum of invertebrate evolved in the Ordovician: the Bryzoa.
    Fair enough.
    Geoff Sherrington says:
    August 31, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    I suspect it is hard to find these figues, reproduced here from my little web site http://www.geoffstuff.com/OceanpH.jpg
    because the vast mass of the ocean has a pH closer to 7.4 than to 8.0 or 8.1. A little upwelling will bring surface acidification independent of the CO2 levels of today, though the system is dynamic and some further changes happen.

    This is important – since deeper ocean water has a lower pH, then any surface observed decrease in pH might be due to increased upwelling and vertical mixing, and unrelated to the atmosphere.
    We should question our acceptance of the idea that there is any relationship at all between atmospheric and ocean CO2 concentration. How much (kg) CO2 is in the atmosphere? How much is in the ocean? I suspect the latter is far greater than the former.
    Is there any actual evidence (NOT model simulation) that oceanic pH was different in the Cambrian / early Phanerozoic to now?

  72. Geoff Sherrington says:
    August 31, 2011 at 9:06 pm
    Thanks Geoff, for the links on “pH with ocean depth” data! Very interesting and useful!

  73. k winterkorn says:
    August 31, 2011 at 3:50 pm
    Does anyone else object, as I do, to the use of the word “find” here (as in “The researchers find……”)? The results of a model which cannot be tested against the real world are not facts. One has created these results rather than “found” them.
    Bingo!
    You’ve hit on something that drives me crazy about the BBC. ANYTHING that is in tune with their particular form of statist/corporatist, leftist, CAGW worldview is referred to in such terms as “X confirms”, “Y states”, “Z reports”. Words that imply accuracy, truth and, dare I say, robustness.
    ANYTHING not in tune with, or contradictory to, this worldview is referred to in such terms as “X claims”, “Y supposes”, “Z speculates”. Words that imply hearsay, opinion and lack of credibility.
    It’s such a common tactic among certain groups, and such a powerful tool when used against the hard-of-thinking, gullible or plain ignorant (in the nicest sense).

  74. @LazyTeenager,
    Not much of a long term ‘bank account’ in the atmosphere. The flux between atmospheric carbon and earth sources/sinks is somewhere between 150 and 200 gigatons a year, depending on what reference you use. With 750 gigatons of carbon in the atmosphere, that would amount to a roughly 5 year average dwell time of a CO2 molecule in the atmospheric ‘bank account’.
    As mentioned above, oceans are particularly good at drawing from the atmosphere’s carbon bank and making huge long term deposits in sediments and limestone, deposits that are very secure.

Comments are closed.