Back to the "drawing board" on glacial period carbon sinks

From Oregon State University News, more news of unsettled science.

Nature study: Rising CO2 levels at end of Ice Age not tied to Pacific Ocean

CORVALLIS, Ore. – At the end of the last Ice Age, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rose rapidly as the planet warmed; scientists have long hypothesized that the source was CO2 released from the deep ocean.

But a new study using detailed radiocarbon dating of foraminifera found in a sediment core from the Gorda Ridge off Oregon reveals that the Northeast Pacific was not an important reservoir of carbon during glacial times. The finding may send scientists back to the proverbial drawing board looking for other potential sources of CO2 during glacial periods.

The study, which was supported by the National Science Foundation and the University of Michigan, was published online this week in Nature Geoscience.

“Frankly, we’re kind of baffled by the whole thing,” said Alan Mix, a professor of oceanography at Oregon State University and an author on the study. “The deep North Pacific was such an obvious source for the carbon, but it just doesn’t match up. At least we’ve shown where the carbon wasn’t; now we just have to find out where it was.”

During times of glaciation, global climate was cooler and atmospheric CO2 was lower. Humans didn’t cause that CO2 change, so it implies that the carbon was absorbed by another reservoir. One obvious place to look for the missing carbon is the ocean, where more than 90 percent of the Earth’s readily exchangeable carbon is stored.

The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean by volume. The deep water mass longest isolated from the atmosphere and most enriched in carbon is found today in the Northeast Pacific, so the researchers focused their efforts there. They hypothesized that the ventilation age in this basin – or the amount of time since deep water was last in contact with the atmosphere – would be older during glacial times, allowing CO2 to accumulate in the abyss.

“We were surprised to find that during the last ice age, the deep Northeast Pacific had a similar ventilation age to today, indicating it was an unlikely place to hide the missing carbon,” said David Lund, a paleoceanographer at the University of Michigan, formerly at Oregon State, and lead author on the Nature Geosciences paper.

“This indicates that the deep Pacific was not an important sink of carbon during glacial times,” Lund added. “Even more intriguing is that we found the ventilation age increased during the deglaciation, at the exact time that atmospheric CO2 levels were rising.”

The researchers reconstructed the ventilation history of the deep North Pacific, examining the sediments at a site about 75 miles off the coast of southwestern Oregon. There the water is more than a mile-and-a-half deep and is known as the oldest water mass in the modern oceans, Mix said. By radiocarbon dating both the planktonic, or surface-dwelling, and benthic (seafloor-dwelling) foraminifera, the scientists can determine whether the isotopic signatures of the foraminifera match “values predicted by the assumption of oceanic control of the atmosphere.”

The organisms that lived on the seafloor have older “apparent” radiocarbon ages than the organisms that lived at the sea surface, Mix said, even though both come from the same sediment sample and are of the same true age. The radiocarbon dating was performed using an advance particle accelerator by the authors’ colleague, John Southon of the University of California at Irvine.

“Different sources of CO2 have different apparent ages, depending on how long they have been isolated from the atmosphere,” Mix said. “We use these dates as kind of a ‘return address label’ rather than to establish precise ages of the events. The bottom line is that the deep North Pacific wasn’t the source of rising CO2 at the end of the last ice age.”

The study is important not just in tracing climatic history, scientists say, but in forecasting how the Earth may respond to future climate change. The Earth “breathes carbon in and out,” Mix said, inhaling carbon into sediment and soils, while exhaling it via volcanism and a slow exchange between the oceans, soils and plant life with the atmosphere.

When everything is in balance, the Earth is said to be in a “steady state.” But on numerous occasions in the past, the carbon balance has shifted out of whack.

“Because the ocean is such a huge repository of carbon, a relatively small change in the oceans can have a major impact,” Mix said. “We know ocean circulation changed during the ice ages and that is why many scientists assumed the deep Pacific Ocean was the source for rising CO2 levels during the last deglaciation.”

Lund said it “is conceivable that we are misunderstanding the radiocarbon signal by assuming it is controlled by ocean mixing.”

“These are volcanically active regions, so the input of carbon from volcanoes, which lacks radiocarbon because of its great age, needs to be looked at,” Lund pointed out. “But it is premature to draw any conclusions.”

The researchers’ next step will be to look for chemical traces of volcanic influence.

Another source of carbon could be from land, though the authors say it would be difficult to account for the magnitude of atmospheric carbon increase and the apparent radiocarbon age of released carbon by pre-industrial terrestrial sources alone.

“If we can better understand how carbon has moved through the Earth’s systems in the past, and how this relates to climate change, we will better predict how the carbon we are now adding to the atmosphere will move in the future,” Mix said.


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I thought CO2 was a bi-product of biology….
Colder, slower biology…..warmer faster biology
“When everything is in balance, the Earth is said to be in a “steady state.””
Only when it becomes limiting……………..

richard verney

First Trenberth cannot find the missing heat, and now this study suggests that they cannot find the missing carbon. Perhaps the link betwen temperatrure and CO2 is not as strong as the Team would have one believe.

Bill Marsh

Anyone notice we’ve slipped into a very mild ‘La Nina’ state from ENSO neutral the last month.

P Walker

Did they find the missing heat while they were down there ?
On a serious note , is it possible that some of the co2 came from decaying vegetation after the glaciers receded ?

Anything is possible

h/t to Johnny Nash…….
“There are more questions than answers
Pictures in my mind that will not show
There are more questions than answers
And the more I find out the less I know
Yeah, the more I find out the less I know”


How can they be baffled – the science is settled, ain’t it?

Richard G

Can I offer the obvious question: Is the premise that CO2 wags the climate change dog a false premise?
At least these guys admit that the evidence does not support their premise.


Some deep ocean volcanos? Or the ones hidden under water in the area of the North Pole?


Latitude says:
October 3, 2011 at 11:56 am
Just as an aside – you are aware that a great proportion of CO2 is not really derived from living biosmass, aren’t you?
please note this.
especially the last couple of sentences in the first paragraph.!!

Evil Red Scandi

Geez people, this missing carbon was provided by a time-traveling mission by Big Oil to create doubt in the current AGW theory. Also, the Koch brothers.


P Walker says:
October 3, 2011 at 12:17 pm
Frankly, not likely. Generally speaking after glacial retreat large deposits of glacial till would be deposited – and although the glaciers may have picked up organic matter during their scouring travels – it would be proportionately tiny relative to the masses of ground rock etc they picked up! (Think of a deepish but typical U shaped glacial valley – imagine the land was flat before glaciation and then think of how much ‘topsoil’ was on the surface before the glacier ‘cut’ the valley and carried away the rock!)

Jim Masterson

When everything is in balance, the Earth is said to be in a “steady state.” But on numerous occasions in the past, the carbon balance has shifted out of whack.
The author’s bias is showing. These carbon cycles were pre-industrial and natural. The carbon cycle can only be out of whack if there is some preconceived view of what constitutes carbon cycles that are in-whack.


every thing that needs to be hid is in what is known as dark …..take the dark hole and place every question of logic and reason ,into it and there we go ……peace ps. love the site and the input


>>Bill Marsh says:
OT. Anyone notice we’ve slipped into a very mild ‘La Nina’ state from ENSO neutral the last month?<<
Yes, in fact, I did a News search earlier today. High probability that we'll have another La Nina on our hands soon. For us Northern Hemispherians, looks cold and snowy.

Fred Allen

“When everything is in balance, the Earth is said to be in a “steady state.” But on numerous occasions in the past, the carbon balance has shifted out of whack.”
Interesting quote…has the Earth ever been in a steady state? And are we “out of whack” now?. Like Richard G says above, at least these researchers appear to be approaching their research with the intent to see what conclusion the gathered data points towards, rather than what data the gathered conclusions points toward.


another reference for Lattitude…
it’s behind a paywall – but heres another abstract explaining how significant atmospheric CO2 derives from rock.

More Soylent Green!

I wonder what the pH level of the oceans were?


You know, for a science that’s “settled”, there seem to be an awful lot of big, tough questions.
In the future we will hear a lot of people say “but nobody told us to look in this other direction”. But there is a loud and increasingly thunderous chorus of people telling them to look in the other direction.
CO2 doesn’t drive climate, it doesn’t drive a bus, it doesn’t even ride a bicycle. CO2 is a trace gas. As long as the planet has a molten core CO2 will be put into the atmosphere. As long as there is plant life at sea and on the land CO2 will be processed and removed from the atmosphere.
Again… a fundamental, simple, easily digested bit of factual knowledge that SHOULD be obvious to anyone “tackling” the CO2 question. If we had an 80% CO2 atmosphere, plant life would absolutely EXPLODE and consume it… then starve. In this sense, the Gaia theory is correct. Our planet is the way it is because of life. Our atmospheric balance is primarily regulated by life. Our planet is hospitable to us, its occupants, because of hundreds of millions of years of terraforming by our own ancestors… carbon based life.


As there is no creditable experiment that proves that the “greenhouse gas effect” exists ,it easy to understand why there is no correlation between raising or lowering CO2 levels in the atmosphere and global temperatures. The whole business of “Mann-made global warming is a political hoax” and the sooner people are ready to look at the physics especially the Bohr Model they realize that there is no such thing as “greenhouse gases”.
Here is the abstract of the G&T paper that does explain the facts and the paper of Alan Siddons- The Hidden flaw of greenhouse theory”
Falsification Of The Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects
Within The Frame Of Physics
Version 4.0 (January 6, 2009)
replaces Version 1.0 (July 7, 2007) and later
Gerhard Gerlich
Institute fur Mathematische Physik
Technische Universitat Carolo-Wilhelmina zu Braunschweig
Mendelssohnstrae 3
D-38106 Braunschweig
Federal Republic of Germany
Ralf D. Tscheuschner
Postfach 60 27 62
D-22237 Hamburg
Federal Republic of Germany
The atmospheric greenhouse effect, an idea that many authors trace back to the
traditional works of Fourier (1824), Tyndall (1861), and Arrhenius (1896), and which
is still supported in global climatology, essentially describes a fictitious mechanism, in
which a planetary atmosphere acts as a heat pump driven by an environment that is
radiatively interacting with but radiatively equilibrate to the atmospheric system. Ac-
cording to the second law of thermodynamics such a planetary machine can never exist.
Nevertheless, in almost all texts of global climatology and in a widespread secondary
literature it is taken for granted that such mechanism is real and stands on a rm sci-
entifc foundation. In this paper the popular conjecture is analyzed and the underlying
physical principles are clarified. By showing that (a) there are no common physical laws
between the warming phenomenon in glass houses and the fictitious atmospheric green-
house effects, (b) there are no calculations to determine an average surface temperature
of a planet, (c) the frequently mentioned difference of 33 C is a meaningless number
calculated wrongly, (d) the formulas of cavity radiation are used inappropriately, (e) the
assumption of a radiative balance is unphysical, (f) thermal conductivity and friction
must not be set to zero, the atmospheric greenhouse conjecture is falsified.
Electronic version of an article published as International Journal of Modern Physics
B, Vol. 23, No. 3 (2009) 275{364 , DOI No: 10.1142/S021797920904984X, c World
Scientific Publishing Company,
February 25, 2010
The Hidden Flaw in Greenhouse Theory
By Alan Siddons
Insulated by an outer crust, the surface of the earth acquires nearly all of its heat from the sun. The only exit for this heat to take is through a door marked “Radiation.” And therein lies a tale…
Recently, I chanced upon an Atmospheric Science Educator Guide [PDF] published by NASA. Aimed at students in grades 5 through 8, it helps teachers explain how so-called “greenhouse gases” warm our planet Earth.
These guides are interesting on a number of levels, so I recommend that you look them over. But what caught my eye was this:
Question: Do all of the gases in our atmosphere absorb heat?
Answer: (Allow students to discuss their ideas. Don’t provide the answer at this time.)
Indeed, that’s a good one to think over yourself. Almost all of what we’re breathing is nitrogen and oxygen — do these gases absorb heat? Lakes and rocks absorb heat, after all, and thereby reach a higher temperature. So can nitrogen and oxygen molecules do the same?
Well, I won’t keep you hanging. After allowing students to discuss it, the instructor is instructed to give them the final verdict.
Answer: No. Only some gases have the unique property of being able to absorb heat.
These are the infrared-absorbing “greenhouse gases,” of course, substances like carbon dioxide and water vapor, and not nitrogen and oxygen.
Now, is something wrong here? Most definitely, for NASA has a finger on the scale. Let’s review a few basics that NASA should have outlined.
Heat consists of vibrating and colliding molecules. The motion of these molecules jostles their electrons around, and this emits light. Heat and light are thus strongly related, but they aren’t the same. For instance, heat can’t actually be radiated; only the light that heat brings about can. By the same token, light itself has no temperature because temperature is an index of molecular motion, and a beam of light isn’t composed of molecules. In short, “heat” can be regarded as molecular excitement and light as electromagnetic excitement.
Observe how NASA describes this relationship, however.
Question: What is the relationship between light and heat?
Answer: Things that are hot sometimes give off light. Things under a light source sometimes heat up.
Utterly false. Heated masses always emit light (infrared). Always. That’s a direct consequence of molecules in motion. And while it’s true that some substances may be transparent to infrared light, it doesn’t follow that they can’t be heated or, if heated, might not emit infrared. Yet NASA’s misleading formulation implies precisely that.
There are three ways for heat (better to say thermal energy) to move from one zone to another: by conduction, convection, and radiation. Conductive heat transfer involves direct contact, wherein vibrations spread from molecule to molecule. Convective transfer involves a mass in motion: expanded by heat, a fluid is pushed up and away by the denser fluid that surrounds it. Radiative transfer arises when molecules intercept the light that warmer molecules are emitting, which brings about a resonant molecular vibration — i.e., heating.
Heat is transferred and absorbed in several ways, then, and no substance is immune to being heated, which means that all gases absorb heat — contrary to what NASA tells children.
So how does NASA go wrong? By consistently confusing light and heat, as you see in the illustration below, where infrared light is depicted as heat. Elsewhere, NASA expresses heat transfer in terms that pertain to radiant transfer alone:
The Earth first absorbs the visible radiation from the Sun, which is then converted to heat, and this heat radiates out to the atmosphere, where the greenhouse gases then absorb some of the heat.
Nowhere in its teacher’s guide are conductive and convective heat transfer even mentioned. By selective context and vagueness, then, NASA paints an impression that only light-absorbing substances can be heated. Thus, since nitrogen and oxygen don’t respond to infrared, NASA feels justified to say that “only some gases have the unique property of being able to absorb heat.”
But a mixup like this raises a deeper question: Why does NASA go wrong? Because it has a flimsy yet lucrative theory to foist on the taxpaying public, that’s why. As the space agency explains in the Main Lesson Concept, the core idea of greenhouse theory is that downward radiation from greenhouse gases raises the earth’s surface temperature higher than solar heating can.
To make this idea seem plausible, therefore, it’s crucial to fix people’s attention on the 1% of the atmosphere that can be heated by radiant transfer instead of the 99% and more that is heated by direct contact with the earth’s surface and then by convection. NASA is stacking the deck, you see. If they made it clear that every species of atmospheric gas gets heated mainly by conductive transfer, and that all heated bodies radiate light, then even a child could connect the dots: “Oh. So the whole atmosphere radiates heat to the earth and makes it warmer. All of the atmosphere is a greenhouse gas.”
Crash, boom, there goes the theory. And there goes the abundant funding that this fear-promoting “science” attracts so well. For what CO2 and water vapor emit is miniscule compared to the buzzing multitude of heated nitrogen, oxygen, and even argon, all of it radiating infrared, too. Keep in mind that thermal radiation from this forgotten 99% has never been proposed or imagined to increase the earth’s temperature, although by the theory’s very tenets, it should. You simply take the NASA formulation:
Greenhouse gases absorb heat that radiates from Earth’s surface and release some of it back towards the Earth, increasing the surface temperature …
…and make allowance for conductive transfer, too…
All gases in the atmosphere absorb heat from the Earth’s surface and radiate infrared back towards the Earth, increasing the surface temperature.
Consider too that since most air molecules are infrared-transparent, they can’t be heated by the infrared that CO2 and water vapor emit. This means that downward radiation from “greenhouse gases” can only explain how the earth’s surface might get warmer, not the rest of the atmosphere. This underscores, of course, how much the surface is heating this 99% by conduction and convection alone, since radiative transfer can’t do the job.
To repeat: Irrespective of the manner of transfer, all gases absorb heat, and all heated gases radiate heat (infrared light) in close proportion to their temperature. Major gases like nitrogen and oxygen, then, do not just radiate heat to the earth below, but the total of this radiation vastly exceeds what minor players like carbon dioxide and water vapor contribute. Ironically, another NASA publication [PDF] reinforces this point.
In solids, the molecules and atoms are vibrating continuously. In a gas, the molecules are really zooming around, continuously bumping into each other. Whatever the amount of molecular motion occurring in matter, the speed is related to the temperature. The hotter the material, the faster its molecules are vibrating or moving.
Electromagnetic radiation is produced whenever electric charges accelerate – that is, when they change either the speed or direction of their movement. In a hot object, the molecules are continuously vibrating (if a solid) or bumping into each other (if a liquid or gas), sending each other off in different directions and at different speeds. Each of these collisions produces electromagnetic radiation at frequencies all across the electromagnetic spectrum.
… Any matter that is heated above absolute zero generates electromagnetic energy. The intensity of the emission and the distribution of frequencies on the electromagnetic spectrum depend upon the temperature of the emitting matter.
Accordingly, any heated gas emits infrared. There’s nothing unique about CO2. Otherwise, substances like nitrogen and oxygen would truly be miracles of physics: Heat ’em as much as you wish, but they’d never radiate in response. 
Yet this amounts to a double-whammy. For meteorologists acknowledge that our atmosphere is principally heated by surface contact and convective circulation. Surrounded by the vacuum of space, moreover, the earth can only dissipate this energy by radiation. On one hand, then, if surface-heated nitrogen and oxygen do not radiate the thermal energy they acquire, they rob the earth of a means of cooling off — which makes them “greenhouse gases” by definition. On the other hand, though, if surface-heated nitrogen and oxygen do radiate infrared, then they are also “greenhouse gases,” which defeats the premise that only radiation from the infrared-absorbers raises the Earth’s temperature. Either way, therefore, the convoluted theory we’ve been going by is wrong.
An idea has been drummed into our heads for decades: that roughly 1% of the atmosphere’s content is responsible for shifting the earth’s surface temperature from inimical to benign. This conjecture has mistakenly focused on specifically light-absorbing gases, however, ignoring heat-absorbing gases altogether. Any heated atmospheric gas radiates infrared energy back toward the earth, meaning that the dreadful power we’ve attributed to light-absorbing molecules up to now has been wildly exaggerated and must be radically adjusted — indeed, pared down perhaps a hundred times. Because all gases radiate the heat they acquire, trace-gas heating theory is an untenable concept, a long-held illusion we’d be wise to abandon.
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Paul Deacon

Will they find the missing carbon before they find the missing heat? Or will they be chasing the missing grants?


Kev-in-Uk says:
October 3, 2011 at 12:28 pm
Just as an aside – you are aware that a great proportion of CO2 is not really derived from living biosmass, aren’t you?
Kev, it’s not a “great proportion”, it’s some yes, but not a great proportion……..that would be a gross exaggeration
The same morons that say we’re all going to die from some perma-frost methane burp, have a hard time with where does the CO2 come from when the planet warms up from an ice age……

David Larsen

How about this. When it is cold, molecules do NOT move around as much. When it is warm, molecules are moving faster and in a larger area. That is why CO2 is a lagger indicator of the suns increased activity and not a cause. Follow that. When the sun heats up, the C02 molecules become more active. Densities change resulting from the suns inactivity or increased activity.

Lee Klinger


G. Karst

Isn’t this just another case of reality refusing the model? Of course the model must be correct and our measurements, in error. God forbid, that a model derived by highly paid scientists could be wrong. Where is the profit in that?! GK

Dodgy Geezer

“..“Frankly, we’re kind of baffled by the whole thing,” said Alan Mix, a professor of oceanography at Oregon State University..”
What!! A real scientist? Get him out of there fast! Doesn’t he know that paeleoclimate is in a state of certainty with respect to CO2? All the learned societies say so…


Maybe the carbon is missing, and maybe the heat is missing, because you’re looking at the whole CO2/heat issue ass-backwards?
Heat drives CO2, not the reverse?

Gary Pearse

Frankly, I’m kind of baffled that such far-reaching conclusions – CO2 didn’t go into or come out of the Pacific in the cycle of the Ice Age based on a few shovelfuls of foraminifera from some ridge off the coast of Oregon. Gentlepersons, before you rush around checking for volcanogenic traces and other research based on the supposition that your original work is valid, how about looking at many locations around the Pacific, hey and Atlantic, see if you get corroborations on the first part. I wonder if Coca Cola ever has a problem with rogue CO2 that refuses to dissolve in the cold cola and fizz when it is dumped into a warm glass. Remember the blind person who thought a herd of elephants was a grove of beech trees (well, actually I made that up from some other anecdote about blind person and elephants)

Bill Yarber

Could it be that this area was covered by ice sheets from the ice shelf the linked Asia & Alaska during past ice ages? If so, there would be less ocean, air interaction and less photosynthesis, therefore less deposited carbon based biological residue.

Robert of Ottawa

“Frankly, we’re talking out of our arse, and it don’t smell good,” said Alan Mix, a professor of something that depends today upon supporting the climate weirdening mantra to maintain funding. … “we should search for another theory to test”
Sorry, but it’s hard not to be cynical about these jokesters. How about Alan Mix coming clean: “Frankly, this means the theory is disproved”

Mike Bromley the Canucklehead

Has anyone considered wildfire as a source? With all that water locked up in glaciers, would the subtropical zone not be a good candidate for semiarid circumstance? Seems to me I read of there being such a dateable event somewhere in the Holocene, but that was quite a while ago. Texas has been burning, why couldn’t a huge swathe of land be engulfed if conditions were right? Imagine central Asia up in smoke. Just sayin’.

Robert of Ottawa

These warmista jokesters remind me of this Monte Python sketch in getting it wrong repeatedly:


Good to see scientists doing actual science, ie; questioning the results not following the blind “alarmist” warmist pack.

Robert of Ottawa

Paul Deacon says @ October 3, 2011 at 12:54 pm
Will they find the missing carbon before they find the missing heat?
Paul, they will find their missing socks before they find their missing heat. At least the socks exist … somewhere.
Oh, I am having so much fun with this. Even when they discover they are wrong, they cannot admit it; it always must be some other angel on another pinhead. Ridicule is the only honest response now; these people have lost all credibility.

Mac the Knife

They looked, sampled, measured, and found……. the unexpected! They reported it and said “Hmmmmm… Our hypothesis must be wrong. Wonder what else could explain it?”
Sounds like basic science to me….

P Walker

Kev-in-Uk ,
Thanks . I hadn’t considered that before I asked the question and I used to live in a valley filled with glacial till . ( Was distracted by my wife and the Foxy Knoxy verdict . )


The article quotes one of the authors saying, “We know ocean circulation changed during the ice ages and that is why many scientists assumed the deep Pacific Ocean was the source for rising CO2 levels during the last deglaciation.”
I may be naive…not for the first time…but if ocean circulation changed during the ice ages, something that other studies suggest was true, then why does the deep Pacific have to be the source for high CO2 emissions? Everything I have read up to now suggests that oceans indeed stored consideable CO2 during the last ice age. The mechanism was windier, drier air blowing dusts from what is now southern Argentina into the Southern Ocean; these dusts had then and have today tiny amounts of iron. The iron causes phytoplankton to grow because it is the “missing nutrient.” The decaying phytoplankton and their planktonic predators fall into the deep, and the CO2 from their bodies stays in the deep oceans until circulation takes the water to the surface, where CO2 is released. During the ice age, the entire ocean became saturated with higher CO2 levels, pulling CO2 from the air, so that atmospheric CO2 was around 180 to 200 ppm. There was a steady state higher amount of CO2 in oceans, lower amount in the air.
If this is still the way we understand how CO2 was drawn from the atmosphere, why did CO2 have to be preferentially released in the North Pacific near Oregon, especially if ocean circulation was different?
The study seems to at least implicitly question whether the oceans because a large sink for CO2. That is a bridge too far. It seems that we need more than just a study which says that CO2 didn’t escape from oceans as much as we had assumed from one particular area, before we invalidate the idea that oceans were a very large sink for CO2 during the ice ages. Let’s wait and see on this one.


Kev in UK says:
“Just as an aside – you are aware that a great proportion of CO2 is not really derived from living biosmass, aren’t you?
please note this.
especially the last couple of sentences in the first paragraph.!!”
That paragraph says “The Himalayan orogenesis also acts as a source of CO2
to the atmosphere through metamorphic decarbonation. Direct evidences of these fluxes have been measured through dissolved and gas CO2 discharge associated to thermal spring
along the MCT (=Main Central Thrust) in Himalaya”
For your information Kev, “metamorphic decarbonation” means that limestone deposits [i]derived from living biomass[/i] carried down by mountain-building are heated at depth liberating CO2.


Perhaps the dominant land mass in the northern hemisphere (which is mostly tundra or bog) may be releasing enormous quantities of CO2 when it is NOT covered in ice.
I have often felt that this was the main reason that CO2 rises 800 years after it gets warmer and presumably glaciers have all receded. Lots of bacteria munching happily away in a massive wet tundra and exhaling copious amounts of CO2.
Frankly, I have always had trouble with the ocean warming and CO2 out gassing theory simply because it takes astronomical amounts of energy to change the temperature of the whole ocean by even one degree.


Robert of Ottawa says:
October 3, 2011 at 1:37 pm
“Sorry, but it’s hard not to be cynical about these jokesters. How about Alan Mix coming clean: “Frankly, this means the theory is disproved””
On the contrary, I’m impressed by their frank admission of their surprise, and their ongoing search for an explanation. Their work is not about the question whether CO2 causes significant warming but about where that CO2 came from! They’re doign science like it should be done, and should be applauded for it.


Good grief. First, they can’t find the missing heat of Global Warming, and now they can’t find the missing CO2 of the last Ice Age. Maybe they should look for CO2 derivatives, as in Climate Bubble Change.


Latitude says:
October 3, 2011 at 12:59 pm
yes – I was meaning in terms of past CO2 ‘supply’ kind of ‘into’ the atmosphere (from tectonic movements, volcanoes, etc) . The recycling of it via the earths biomass (via sinks or emitters) is a different issue. Many folk (not on WUWT, I should hasten to add – though I can think of a couple of possible exceptions based on their comments! LOL) seem to think that CO2 is only emitted by animals and absorbed by plants – which of course is far oversimplified and indeed factually incorrect.
All the chalk, limestone and dolomite (the main carbonates) in the world was ‘made’ by animals which fixed CO2 into their exoskeletons and deposited calcium carbonate – so these animals were net ‘sinkers’ of CO2. The question then becomes where the flip did this all this CO2 come from, that these little blighters obviously fed on and enjoyed so much? It sure as eggs are eggs wasn’t from humans burning fossil fuels or other animals – so it must have come from orogenic sources.
Methane is more complex kettle of fish (indeed, it could be so, quite literally – joke!) as it’s current levels are perhaps more likely to be from biological origin???. However, early earth is considered likely to have had significant methane Before life even began, so maybe the known trapped methane is not all of biological origin. I am personally not well read on the methane orogenic issue – but I know it’s the subject of more recent works, especially clathrates – e.g.
one year – when I have time – I’ll get up to current speed on the methane issues!

Lund said it “is conceivable that we are misunderstanding the radiocarbon signal by assuming it is controlled by ocean mixing.”

If the radiocarbon signal isn’t “controlled by ocean mixing,” could it have something to do with the Sun, the solar wind and the galactic cosmic ray flux?
Now… If the deep Pacific Ocean wasn’t the hiding place for glacial stage CO2, there really aren’t that many big enough hiding place left on Earth. Since the CO2 didn’t spend the glacial stages in outer space… Isn’t it just possible that Pleistocene CO2 levels were quite a lot higher than indicated by the Antarctic ice cores?


tty says:
October 3, 2011 at 2:23 pm
Yes and No – I think you are missing the point – that CO2 originally comes from the earth NOT plants/animals. The carbonate ‘recycling’ must have started somewhere and the biomass that created the carbonates had to have a CO2 source – so whichever way you look at it – CO2 was present originally. I think that makes sense…..?


B.Klein says:
October 3, 2011 at 12:54 pm
“Page Printed from:
at March 01, 2010 – 09:10:34 AM CST”
Thanks… It’s utterly depressing to see NASA confuse schoolkids. It’s very hard to satisfy a teacher who has his facts wrong. In school, I couldn’t convince my Biology teacher of the existence of genetic repair mechanisms. You end up learning two versions; the correct one and a distorted one for your teacher and have to do some mental bookkeeping to present the right one when asked.
It’s especially depressing when it’s NASA.


Again, the planet’s temperature during the end of the last ice-age is a guess and was most likely much higher than thought. As such, the usual suspects for increased carbon dioxide were in full tilt…


Kev-in-Uk says:
October 3, 2011 at 2:45 pm
The question then becomes where the flip did this all this CO2 come from, that these little blighters obviously fed on and enjoyed so much?
Kev, the simple answer is bacteria….
The planet could not survive without ammonification, nitrification, denitrification, etc
It’s those bacteria that liberate it…………….
The whole oxic, anoxic, sub-oxic process is driven by bacteria, and they have to liberate carbon/ates in the process or it won’t work.
Which is also why ocean acidification does not happen.


Latitude says:
October 3, 2011 at 3:00 pm
Nope – I cannot accept that. I think you are trying to imply that CO2 is a biomass generated product in its entirety (?)
If this is your point, I believe is entirely false – it’s a chicken and egg situation – which came first – and it was CO2! It is considered that CO2 was emplaced by impacting bodies, along with methane, ammonia, etc….. these created the atmosphere and this was then ‘used’ to create life on earth..,…
there is obviously a lot of speculation, but I think this is the most likely explanation – early earth had comets, asteroids etc impacting on it to provide it with the raw materials for the atmosphere as it could not be generated from the rocky iron core it started with!


Latitude says:
October 3, 2011 at 3:00 pm
sorry – it might be simpler to put it another way. …. where the flip did the carbon come from? why is there so much of it? (there isn’t really – I’m being metaphorical) and how did it get made into CO2? – I’m intrigued as to your thoughts………


Kev, says “All the chalk, limestone and dolomite (the main carbonates) in the world was ‘made’ by animals which fixed CO2 into their exoskeletons and deposited calcium carbonate – so these animals were net ‘sinkers’ of CO2.”
These animals had to eat something right? So they got their Carbon for their skeletons just like we do: from eating plants!!
Plants do the fixing.
Surely, atmospheric CO2 is just too negligible a source of carbon for animals to be using it as a source for bones or shells.


It funny they expect to find it in fossils even though it was released to the atmosphere… How can a CO2 “sinks” still exist if it was released in the atmosphere during the big melt?