Another example of clear failure of IPCC models to predict reality in the AR5 draft

One of the regular alarm stories that comes from the global warming machine is that atmospheric methane with soon run amok and cause a tipping point. We are regularly treated to scare stories like this one from The Guardian on November 27th, 2012:

UN: methane released from melting ice could push climate past tipping point

Doha conference is warned that climate models do not yet take account of methane in thawing permafrost

The United Nations sounded a stark warning on the threat to the climate from methane in the thawing permafrost as governments met for the second day of climate change negotiations in Doha, Qatar.

Thawing permafrost releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, but this has not yet been included in models of the future climate. Permafrost covers nearly a quarter of the northern hemisphere at present and is estimated to contain 1,700 gigatonnes of carbon – twice the amount currently in the atmosphere. As it thaws, it could push global warming past one of the key “tipping points” that scientists believe could lead to runaway climate change.

Note the word “could” in the last sentence. That comes from models, not observations. Note also this scary quote:

Doha conference is warned that climate models do not yet take account of methane in thawing permafrost

So how do the IPCC methane models stack up against reality? Not so hot… 

IPCC_AR5_draft_fig1-7_methane

Figure 1.7: Observed globally and annually averaged methane concentrations in parts per billion (ppb) since 1990 compared with projections from the previous IPCC assessments. Estimated observed global annual CH4 concentrations are shown in black (NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory measurements, updated from Dlugokencky et al., 2009 see http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd). The shading shows the largest model projected range of global annual CH4 concentrations from 1990–2015 from FAR (Scenario D and business-as-usual), SAR (IS92d and IS92e), TAR (B1p and A1p), and AR4 (B1 and A1B). Uncertainties in the observations are less than 1.5 ppb. Moreover, the publication years of the assessment reports are shown. Source: page 42 of Chapter 1 of the IPCC AR5 second order draft.

Clearly, nature isn’t cooperating with IPCC science as atmospheric methane trends have fallen well below even the lowest range of all the IPCC scenarios. The First Assessment Report (FAR) projection has methane at 5 times the current value, and each subsequent IPCC report lowered the projection by about half each time, and they still missed it. Once again, observations trump models. Add this to the other bombshell graph from the same chapter and you have to wonder how the AGW issue continues to have any traction.

But that won’t stop scare stories like the ones below from appearing, because as we’ve noted, alarmists aren’t good at assimilating new contrary factual data in a way that mutes their zeal in spreading the alarm.

Arctic_methane_alarm_story

Here’s one from a couple of years ago, where naturally occurring methane from decomposition gets ignited by an activist, and Dan Miller at Berkeley turns that into climate alarm:

And yet, despite these alarming stories, according to the IPCC report showing observations versus the models in figure 1.7, atmospheric methane concentration isn’t accelerating, nor is it currently within the forecast bounds of any of the IPCC climate models.

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Oh No: We’re doomed! Quick – set fire to them so they can turn into CO2 fast! Oh wait… not that!

Patrick

I always laugh when I read alarmist drivel which states things like “…methane, a gas 20 times as harmful as carbon dixoide…”!! At ~1800ppBILLION/v, and flattening out, I won’t be worrying any time soon. If alarmists are now worried about CH4 (And one alarmist I talked to once said CH4 had “…four carbons…”) then they should remove termites and healthy forests.

Hydrogen and Helium do not stay in our atmosphere as gases. They are light and they float up and away into the never-never.
Methane is a light gas, about half way between Helium and Oxygen. For comparison, at Standard Temperature and Pressure, expressed in gram per litre, we have densities of –
Helium 0.18; methane molecular 0.71; Oxygen molecular 1.42.
As a first assumption, methane should float away also, but it is reactive and I do not know its chemical rate of conversion at different temperatures, pressures, light irradiation, catalysis if present and in unspecified surroundings. I guess nobody else is really sure either. Maybe some runs the gauntlet of atmospheric chemistry and floats away. Anyone know?
However, I would think it extremely hard to assign a confident mechanistic significance to the concentrations in the above graph of about 1.8 parts per million, in the context of global change.

CodeTech

I watched the video… I wasn’t alarmed. In fact, I laughed!
These guys are hilarious! Light it! Yeah! WooHoo!
So just out of curiosity, what do they think Natural Gas is? Are they completely unaware that it used to vent, uncontrolled, from various places around the planet in very large quantities until we started locating it, capping it, and distributing it for useful purposes?
That video looks like a great opportunity – NOT for alarm – but for the oil and gas exploration industry.

Geoff Sherrington

I forgot to add that an analytical chemist reporting a methane measurement uncertainty of under 1.5 ppb at 1,800 ppb tota in the test tubel, will go blind through repetitive exercise of the hand that holds the tube. (\sarc off).

Richard111

“20 times as harmful as carbon dioxide” ,,, I have a collection of absorb/emit charts and can’t see any significant methane levels. Anyone got a link for this please. I can post a link to a NASA paper that shows CO2 has nearly 4,000 emission lines centered around 15 microns, never mind all the other CO2 bands THAT ARE ONLY EFFECTIVE WHEN THE SUN SHINES.

Geoff Sherrington

Please Dan Miller, Scientists with English as a first language note the spelling “Arctic” and do not pronounce as “Artic”.
Would you please decsribe a plausible scenario in which the oceans become anoxic? If you cannot, please don’t mention it.
Lastly, is Chemistry a subject still taught at University level? Much of what we hear is Elementary, or worse, wrong elementary.

redcords

Another one of these methane stories (in the lead up to DOHA) was here:
http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/where-even-the-earth-is-melting-20121127-2a5tp.html
Rampant scaremongering, with a poll after the article instantly asking the reader if they were scared or not.
I’ve felt that this year with DOHA it was only the most hard left media outlets that tried to once again ramp up the doomsday scenarios.

Stephanie Clague

Where would the alarmists be without their scaremongering? Hysterical predictions of imminent doom that turn out to have no substance and disappear like the morning mist only to be replaced by more scaremongering. Be afraid of the future, the future is a very scary place, change your ways and dont stop to think about it, feel guilty and feel insecure. A very useful political tool for those without the moral integrity that would prevent normal people from using it, its all in a good cause right? The road to hell paved with good intentions and lined with those who tried and failed and yet still people try and try again to walk that road, it must be a very crowded old road.
The ends justify the means right? Lie and cheat your way to a brave new world and when there the architects can shrug off the moral corruption that built it like an unwanted coat or so they have conned themselves into believing. People who use lies and deceptions to serve their own ends often deceive themselves that they can sink to the depths of moral depravity and somehow find their way back out of that sewer with a clean soul not realising that once you lower yourself into that abyss there is no coming out of it at all let alone clean. Perhaps the real socially learned truth of the ‘devil’ and his works comes in the form of a false temptation in all of us that using those methods gets quick and easy results with no negative consequences, a folk warning passed down in the only way our ancestors knew how.

Peter Miller

This alarmist scare story is so stupid because:
1. Natural gas (methane) has been escaping from deeply buried gas and coal deposits for tens of millions of years, whatever the Earth’s surface temperature is, this rate of escape will not change.
2. Almost all the methane trapped in permafrost areas was deposited/created there by decomposing vegetation since the end of the last ice age, circa 10,000 years ago.
3. During the last ice age, our planet’s higher latitudes areas were: i) either scoured clean by glaciers, or ii) because of their much higher elevation (compared to the then prevailing sea level) exposed to much higher levels of erosion.
So, almost all this methane was created by decomposing vegetation less than 10,000 years old, which in turn was created from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, also in the last 10,000 years.
Are there any indications of this supposedly huge amount of carbon dioxide taken from the atmosphere overe the past 10,000 years?
Answer: Absolutely none.
Conclusion: Typical alarmist BS.

Bill Irvine

Surely if methane, or any gas, was bubbling up through the sea-water any ship at that place would sink. The density of the water gas mixture would be too low to support flotation. Would this not be the real hazard, not the approach of some tipping point.
When ever I hear that term I think of a group of COP delegates finishing off their postprandial ports, pretending to be in deep discussion, while ignoring the waiter and the bill in his hand, hoping that some other more generously subsidised associate will cough up for both bill and gratuity

CH4 rate of Thermal dissociation?… Electron dissociation imposed by magnetosphere density created changes adapted with increases in the influx of cosmic rays?

How much of time period dependent CH4 that has escaped into the atmosphere remains as a trace feature of the atmosphere?

2kevin

I don’t know what it means to pass muster is but these UN flunkies apparently don’t know either.

Seppo Bundy

Why did the Methan survive the Minoan and Roman warming period? (and the polar bears of course too)
A question they can’t answer

gnomish

i like my climate fiction over easy
but the best i’ve ever gotten
is a scrambled narrative that’s over-ripe
and over-wroughten…
-mr.sugar

son of mulder

So if the permafrost didn’t release methane and decaying organic matter continued to decay and add to the permafrost then, call me simple, but eventually all the free carbon on the planet would become trapped in permafrost and we’d be doomed, and the lack of CO2 would not only stop organic life but would cause massive cooling. Little puppy dogs and pussy cats would all be dead.
It’s too horrid to contemplate. I hope methane continues to vent.

RES

Bill Irvine says:
December 17, 2012 at 11:59 pm
Surely if methane, or any gas, was bubbling up through the sea-water any ship at that place would sink. The density of the water gas mixture would be too low to support flotation. Would this not be the real hazard, not the approach of some tipping point.
Yes in theory
http://dsc.discovery.com/news/afp/20031020/methane.html
But no proof just modelling 🙂

Peter Miller

Another thought just occurred to me.
Methane obviously oxidises in our atmosphere to carbon dioxide and water, but how long does this process take?
Answer: About 8.5 years. See link below:
Also, CH4 has a mass of 16, while CO2 has a mass 44. So, if all the methane in the atmosphere today was suddenly oxidised, then the CO2 level would increase by: 1.75 x 16/44 = 0.64ppm.
Current CO2 levels are around 394ppm, so this would represent an increase of 0.16% – hmm, that’s scary.
So just for fun, let’s say this alarmist BS was correct and suddenly 10 times the amount of all the CH4 currently in the atmosphere was suddenly released from permafrost areas, this would ultimately increase CO2 levels by around 1.6%.
Here, the point is we are dealing with a gas CH4, which has a miniscule concentration of 1.75ppm in our atmosphere and which completely oxidises away over a period of about eight years.
http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=methane%20oxidation%20rate%20atmosphere%20earth&source=web&cd=7&cad=rja&sqi=2&ved=0CGAQFjAG&url=http%3A%2F%2Ffaculty.washington.edu%2Fjaegle%2F558%2Fox_capacity.pdf&ei=WyzQUOr5JseP0AWHkIHgDA&usg=AFQjCNHgZUeintTcP32Sfsd8kGaC_pkHZw

Richard111

“”Bill Irvine says:
December 17, 2012 at 11:59 pm “”
Hmm… I remember reading about this effect many years ago when I lived in South Africa. It was suggested that methane bubbles sank the SS Waratah.

Canman

As someone who is not as confidently skeptical as most of the visitors here, I find that graph to be a big releif!
It’s interesting that the colors in this chart descend in the same order as the four assesment reports with the observations on the bottom — certianly suggests confirmation bias or possibly an agenda.

ConfusedPhoton

What you have forgotten is that flatulent termites will breed expontentially when the missing heat is bubbles to the surface (thank goodness for that Nobel Laueate Trenberth!). You will then witness a large increase in methane which will then match the projections.

This chart is obviously not final as AR4 projections would have to match the observation in 2007 as that is the starting point. And for those who wish to pile on, I’m not saying the AR4 projections are accurate, but simply that this chart cannot be representative.

Peter Miller

Oops, I got the maths wrong – just like a climate scientist.
But unlike a climate scientist, I admit I was wrong.
If all the methane currently in the atmosphere were to oxidise, the CO2 level would increase by 1.75 x 44/16 = 4.8ppm; that’s a scary 1,2%.
My apologies.

Lew Skannen

Amazing how models which cannot get within shooting distance of the correct temperature can somehow predict the tipping points of a chaotic non-linear system with several hundred mutually dependent variables.

LetsBeReasonable

Just reading the above comments, it appears the increase in observed Methane concentrations is nothing to be worried about. I beg to differ.
I am not so worried about the mismatch between model vs actual, but the effect the increased methane concentration has on the energy balance of the earth.

Well, at least 2006 depending on the cut off date for acceptance of papers. Still no match.

Old Ranga from Oz

Richard111 says:
“It was suggested that methane bubbles sank the SS Waratah.”
Probably the real story behind the Titanic disaster as well. And the Marie Celeste. (Stop laughing)

Bill Jamison

Reality is overrated, models are where it’s at!

Jimbo

As it thaws, it could push global warming past one of the key “tipping points” that scientists believe could lead to runaway climate change.

Yeah right it could. But then again it didn’t in the past. Now let’s take a look at another type of observation and what the IPCC also say.

Ice free Arctic Ocean, an Early Holocene analogue.
A large set of samples of molluscs from beach ridges and marine sediments were collected in the summer of 2007, and are presently being dated to give a precise dating of the ice free interval. Preliminary results indicate that it fell within the interval from c. 8.5 to c. 6 ka – being progressively shorter from south to north. We therefore conclude that for a priod in the Early Holocene, probably for a millenium or more, the Arctic Ocean was free of sea ice at least for shorter periods in the summer. This may serve as an analogue to the predicted “greenhouse situation” expected to appear within our century.
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2007AGUFMPP11A0203F
[More:] here and here

Now here is what the IPCC says about runaway warming.

“Some thresholds that all would consider dangerous have no support in the literature as having a non-negligible chance of occurring. For instance, a “runaway greenhouse effect” —analogous to Venus–appears to have virtually no chance of being induced by anthropogenic activities…..”
http://www.ipcc.ch/meetings/session31/inf3.pdf

Kev-in-Uk

I am curious as to how, in the FAR, they managed to have an inflection point in the lower boundary of the projection, and also that this point seems to be mirrored in the observed data! Any ideas?

Admad

Methane again? Just so much marsh gas (lol)

DirkH

jeez says:
December 18, 2012 at 1:33 am
“This chart is obviously not final as AR4 projections would have to match the observation in 2007 as that is the starting point. ”
So what you are saying is that with each IPCC report they reset the models?
I think they don’t do that as it would reek too much of fudging even for the climate scientists of the IPCC.
But maybe you should suggest it. They need some imaginative new ideas to become the driving force of global transformation again. Don’t worry about the scientific implications, science went out the window in 1988 already.

Alan the Brit

Think of all that lovely heating gas to burn off, let’s hope the Japanese are beaten to it by enterprising Brits to extract the clathrate, yippee!!! Why is it they can never, ever, see the advantages. always only the disadvantages, am I guessing somebody’s glass is always half-empty? Natural gas is 85% methane, 10% ethane, & varying levels of between 2-3% butane & propane! CO2 is regarded by the IPCC as a “trace” gas, despite all the hullaballoo over the end of the world is nigh, so what does that make methane?

Bill Illis

Not only has Methane flattened out (it went up a tiny bit in the last few years but looks to have stabilized again) …
… but everyone interested in Methane should watch this video of Methane levels captured by the AIRS satellite covering every day from 2002 to 2008 (cool music to go with it) …
… Just search “Airs Methane” on Google Video – should be the first one that comes up.
It will change your view of Methane and where it is generated (everywhere that is) and how fast it moves around the planet with the prevailing weather systems (you can’t measure it over the Arctic ice and say the measurements came from there – they may have been generated 1,000 kms away two days earlier).

I could watch only the first couple of minutes. I was told to be very scared and that there were big things to worry about. There is just so much to worry about so I schedule time to give them my undivided worry attention. This one is scheduled for 3:00 A.M. -4:00 A.M. December 22, 2018. When does N2O become a big worry?
This guys are really silly. All there big worries and statements said to an audience of like-minded rent seekers and received with great approval. This passes for science?

“We don’t know…” this. “We don’t know…” that.
Argumentum ad ignorantiam, ad nauseum.
His ignorance is exceeded only by his overwhelming compulsion to flaunt it.
Methane + water + cold -> methane hydrate, a crystalline form of a water/methane mixture that melts at 55°F, releasing the methane. The methane will come off at a significantly warmer temperature than that required to melt the surface ice.

Carter

‘Note the word “could” in the last sentence. That comes from models, not observations’. WUWT, kindly stop playing semantics, with the word ‘could’! Because there are only two guarantees in life, that is taxes and death. Anything else is a could! There could be WMD in Iraq, Dubya could have been the best president in history, Aliens and UFOs could exist, there could be a God, but we need evidence and in my opinion there is plenty for AGW!
REPLY: The real issue is: is there any evidence for a methane induced tipping point? Show your work – Anthony

Joe Public

That Arctic methane combustion pales into insignificance compared with the giant hole of fire in Derweze, Turkmenistan – It’s a crater made by geologists more than 40 years ago, and the flames within have been burning ever since:-
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2202202/Karakum-Desert–Giant-hole-known-The-Door-Hell-40-YEARS.html

knr

First rule of climate ‘science’ deals with this, where the models and reality differ in value its reality which is in error.

Al Gore

UNFCCC trump observation and reality?

richardscourtney

Carter:
At December 18, 2012 at 4:08 am you say

we need evidence and in my opinion there is plenty for AGW!

Hmmmm.
That depends on whether you mean discernible AGW.
For three decades research costing in excess of $5 billion per year has been conducted to find some – any – evidence of discernible AGW. The search has had no success; none, zilch, nada.
If you have any such evidence then please provide it because many – including me and including the IPCC – would like to have it. At this moment we have none.
Which is not to say AGW does not exist: it probably does. But all available evidence indicates AGW trivial and is too small for it to be discernible.
Richard

I posted this on Sunday:
In a recent post UNEP Report – Policy Implications of Warming Permafrost
http://mostlyharmless-room-101.blogspot.com/2012/12/unep-report-policy-implications-of.html
I identified a major contradiction therein, and debunked claimed “increases” in CO2 and methane over permafrost areas. I’ve been digesting parts of the leaked IPCC AR5 draft report, and found this in WG1 chapter 6:
6.3.3.2 Emissions
………………
Over the past decades, however, there is no evidence for significant emission of CH4 from permafrost and hydrates (Dlugokencky et al., 2009).
…. from the horse’s mouth.
And a little further on this section:
6.4.3.4 Permafrost Carbon
Current estimates of permafrost soil carbon stocks are 1670 PgC (Tarnocai et al., 2009), the single largest component of the terrestrial carbon pool and higher than previously thought. Terrestrial carbon models show a land CO2 sink with warming at high northern latitudes, however none of the models participating in C4MIP or CMIP5 included explicit representation of permafrost soil carbon decomposition, which at a minimum requires sufficient vertical resolution in modelled soil carbon distribution and processes to separate surface pools from very old (Pleistocene) permafrost carbon pools. Including permafrost carbon processes into an ESM can change the sign of this C response to warming from a sink to a source in northern high latitudes (Koven et al., 2011). The magnitude of this source of CO2 to the atmosphere from decomposition of permafrost carbon varies widely by 2100 according to different model estimates: process-model estimates include 7–17 Pg (Zhuang et al., 2006), 55–69 Pg (Koven et al., 2011), and 126–254 Pg (Schaefer et al., 2011); estimates of uncertainty ranges suggest the source could range from 33 to 114 Pg C (68% range) under RCP8.5 warming (von Deimling et al., 2012), or 50–270 PgC (5th–95th percentile range; Burke et al., subm.). Combining observed vertical soil C profiles with modelled thaw rates estimate that the total quantity of newly-thawed soil C by 2100 will be 246 Pg for RCP4.5 and 436 Pg for RCP8.5 (Harden et al., 2012 in press). Sources of uncertainty for the permafrost C feedback include the physical thawing rates, the fraction of C that is release after being thawed and the timescales of release, possible mitigating nutrient feedbacks, and the role of fine-scale processes in determining the terrestrial response.
Note the model results for emissions from permafrost to 2100: 7–17 Pg (petagrams), 55–69 Pg, 126–254 Pg, and the consequent estimated uncertainty range of 33 to 114 Pg C or 50–270 Pg C at the 5th–95th percentile range.
What does this all mean?
They don’t know.

Peter Miller

Carter says: “but we need evidence and in my opinion there is plenty for AGW!”
It may surprise you to know that most people reading WUWT would agree with the above statement.
However, they would also not confuse CAGW, which does not exist, with AGW. The latter is a mildly interesting, difficult to quantify, phenomenon.
Difficult to quantify? That’s because man is not the only reason for the climate warming over the past century, natural climate cycles almost certainly accounted for 50-90% of the ~0.7 degrees C rise.
Alarmists like to muddle up the subjects of AGW and CAGW, as they know it helps their cause and that only well-informed sceptics can rend the two asunder. Unfortunately, the general public are likely to think the difference between the two is just semantics.
By muddling up the subjects of AGW and CAGW, you allow the huge unaccountable Global Warming Industry to exist and grow, plus support its bloated gravy train.
Perhaps the IPCC should change its name to COULD – Climate Of Utterly Ludicrous Dimensions.

daveburton

Peter Miller wrote on December 18, 2012 at 1:04 am

“Methane obviously oxidises in our atmosphere to carbon dioxide and water, but how long does this process take?
Answer: About 8.5 years. See link below…
Also, CH4 has a mass of 16, while CO2 has a mass 44. So…

A nit… 8.5 is probably a bit short. Page 11 of that source gives the directly-calculated atmospheric lifetime of CH4 as ~8 years, but identifies a feedback mechanism that (they say) effectively increases the atmospheric lifetime of additional CH4 to ~12 years.
Other sources give the half-life of CH4 in the atmosphere as 7 or 8 years, which would make the average lifetime 1.4427 times that (because oxidation is an exponential process, rather than linear), yielding an average lifetime of 10 to 11.5 years. So 10-12 years is probably a better guess than 8.5.

Bruce Cobb

LetsBeReasonable says:
December 18, 2012 at 1:37 am
Just reading the above comments, it appears the increase in observed Methane concentrations is nothing to be worried about. I beg to differ.
I am not so worried about the mismatch between model vs actual, but the effect the increased methane concentration has on the energy balance of the earth.

Interesting. Just what effect do you think it’s having on the “energy balance”? Please show us the basis for your worry. Your C02 bogeyman doesn’t seem to be working out so well.

Gail Combs

Canman says:
December 18, 2012 at 1:15 am
As someone who is not as confidently skeptical as most of the visitors here, I find that graph to be a big relief!….
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
YOu might want to look at Ric Werme’s guide to WUWT. (Found on right side panel) He has very kindly organized the threads by subject so you can read what is said about a topic of interest.
http://home.comcast.net/~ewerme/wuwt/index.html
This is the Categories button (page down once to find it or use my button to go to it directly)
At the bottom of the home page is a guide to the mark-up language for comments.

Gail Combs

Kev-in-Uk says:
December 18, 2012 at 2:26 am
I am curious as to how, in the FAR, they managed to have an inflection point in the lower boundary of the projection, and also that this point seems to be mirrored in the observed data! Any ideas?
________________________________
From what I understand they use historic data to”train” the models.
“I remember my friend Johnny von Neumann used to say, ‘with four parameters I can fit an elephant and with five I can make him wiggle his trunk.'” ~ Enrico Fermi

Bill Irvine says:
December 17, 2012 at 11:59 pm

Surely if methane, or any gas, was bubbling up through the sea-water any ship at that place would sink. The density of the water gas mixture would be too low to support flotation.

That’s been suspected in the sinking of various drilling and fishing vessels, but only in cases of sudden releases of enough methane to reduce the density of the sea water/methane mix so that it can’t support the boat. Your statement implies that any bubbles, e.g. that from a scuba diver, would be enough to sink a boat.

TimC

Apropos of nothing, if you take 1,800 ppb of the 3,451 miles geodesic distance between JFK and LHR airports you will have travelled slightly under 11 yards – about 1/7th of the length of a Boeing 747-400.
Way to go!