The bombtest curve and its implications for atmospheric carbon dioxide residency time

English: Retrieved from LOC 3a44011. Aerial vi...

Aerial view of atomic bomb test on Bikini Atoll, 1946; showing “mushroom” beginning. Part of Operation Crossroads; alternate angle of Baker explosion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Studies of Carbon 14 in the atmosphere emitted by nuclear tests indicate that the Bern model used by the IPCC is inconsistent with virtually all reported experimental results.

Guest essay by Gösta Pettersson

The Keeling curve establishes that the atmospheric carbon dioxide level has shown a steady long-term increase since 1958. Proponents of the antropogenic global warming (AGW) hypothesis have attributed the increasing carbon dioxide level to human activities such as combustion of fossil fuels and land-use changes. Opponents of the AGW hypothesis have argued that this would require that the turnover time for atmospheric carbon dioxide is about 100 years, which is inconsistent with a multitude of experimental studies indicating that the turnover time is of the order of 10 years.

Since its constitution in 1988, the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has disregarded the empirically determined turnover times, claiming that they lack bearing on the rate at which anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions are removed from the atmosphere. Instead, the fourth IPCC assessment report argues that the removal of carbon dioxide emissions is adequately described by the ‘Bern model‘, a carbon cycle model designed by prominent climatologists at the Bern University. The Bern model is based on the presumption that the increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide derive exclusively from anthropogenic emissions. Tuned to fit the Keeling curve, the model prescribes that the relaxation of an emission pulse of carbon dioxide is multiphasic with slow components reflecting slow transfer of carbon dioxide from the oceanic surface to the deep-sea regions. The problem is that empirical observations tell us an entirely different story.

The nuclear weapon tests in the early 1960s have initiated a scientifically ideal tracer experiment describing the kinetics of removal of an excess of airborne carbon dioxide. When the atmospheric bomb tests ceased in 1963, they had raised the air level of C14-carbon dioxide to almost twice its original background value. The relaxation of this pulse of excess C14-carbon dioxide has now been monitored for fifty years. Representative results providing direct experimental records of more than 95% of the relaxation process are shown in Fig.1.

 

image

Figure 1. Relaxation of the excess of airborne C14-carbon dioxide produced by atmospheric tests of nuclear weapons before the tests ceased in 1963

The IPCC has disregarded the bombtest data in Fig. 1 (which refer to the C14/C12 ratio), arguing that “an atmospheric perturbation in the isotopic ratio disappears much faster than the perturbation in the number of C14 atoms”. That argument cannot be followed and certainly is incorrect. Fig. 2 shows the data in Fig. 1 after rescaling and correction for the minor dilution effects caused by the increased atmospheric concentration of C12-carbon dioxide during the examined period of time.

image

Figure 2. The bombtest curve. Experimentally observed relaxation of C14-carbon dioxide (black) compared with model descriptions of the process.

The resulting series of experimental points (black data i Fig. 2) describes the disappearance of “the perturbation in the number of C14 atoms”, is almost indistinguishable from the data in Fig. 1, and will be referred to as the ‘bombtest curve’.

To draw attention to the bombtest curve and its important implications, I have made public a trilogy of strict reaction kinetic analyses addressing the controversial views expressed on the interpretation of the Keeling curve by proponents and opponents of the AGW hypothesis.

(Note: links to all three papers are below also)

Paper 1 in the trilogy clarifies that

a. The bombtest curve provides an empirical record of more than 95% of the relaxation of airborne C14-carbon dioxide. Since kinetic carbon isotope effects are small, the bombtest curve can be taken to be representative for the relaxation of emission pulses of carbon dioxide in general.

b. The relaxation process conforms to a monoexponential relationship (red curve in Fig. 2) and hence can be described in terms of a single relaxation time (turnover time). There is no kinetically valid reason to disregard reported experimental estimates (5–14 years) of this relaxation time.

c. The exponential character of the relaxation implies that the rate of removal of C14 has been proportional to the amount of C14. This means that the observed 95% of the relaxation process have been governed by the atmospheric concentration of C14-carbon dioxide according to the law of mass action, without any detectable contributions from slow oceanic events.

d. The Bern model prescriptions (blue curve in Fig. 2) are inconsistent with the observations that have been made, and gravely underestimate both the rate and the extent of removal of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions. On basis of the Bern model predictions, the IPCC states that it takes a few hundreds of years before the first 80% of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions are removed from the air. The bombtest curve shows that it takes less than 25 years.

Paper 2 in the trilogy uses the kinetic relationships derived from the bombtest curve to calculate how much the atmospheric carbon dioxide level has been affected by emissions of anthropogenic carbon dioxide since 1850. The results show that only half of the Keeling curve’s longterm trend towards increased carbon dioxide levels originates from anthropogenic emissions.

The Bern model and other carbon cycle models tuned to fit the Keeling curve are routinely used by climate modellers to obtain input estimates of future carbon dioxide levels for postulated emissions scenarios. Paper 2 shows that estimates thus obtained exaggerate man-made contributions to future carbon dioxide levels (and consequent global temperatures) by factors of 3–14 for representative emission scenarios and time periods extending to year 2100 or longer. For empirically supported parameter values, the climate model projections actually provide evidence that global warming due to emissions of fossil carbon dioxide will remain within acceptable limits.

Paper 3 in the trilogy draws attention to the fact that hot water holds less dissolved carbon dioxide than cold water. This means that global warming during the 2000th century by necessity has led to a thermal out-gassing of carbon dioxide from the hydrosphere. Using a kinetic air-ocean model, the strength of this thermal effect can be estimated by analysis of the temperature dependence of the multiannual fluctuations of the Keeling curve and be described in terms of the activation energy for the out-gassing process.

For the empirically estimated parameter values obtained according to Paper 1 and Paper 3, the model shows that thermal out-gassing and anthropogenic emissions have provided approximately equal contributions to the increasing carbon dioxide levels over the examined period 1850–2010. During the last two decades, contributions from thermal out-gassing have been almost 40% larger than those from anthropogenic emissions. This is illustrated by the model data in Fig. 3, which also indicate that the Keeling curve can be quantitatively accounted for in terms of the combined effects of thermal out-gassing and anthropogenic emissions.

image

Figure 3. Variation of the atmospheric carbon dioxide level, as indicated by empirical data (green) and by the model described in Paper 3 (red). Blue and black curves show the contributions provided by thermal out-gassing and emissions, respectively.

The results in Fig. 3 call for a drastic revision of the carbon cycle budget presented by the IPCC. In particular, the extensively discussed ‘missing sink’ (called ‘residual terrestrial sink´ in the fourth IPCC report) can be identified as the hydrosphere; the amount of emissions taken up by the oceans has been gravely underestimated by the IPCC due to neglect of thermal out-gassing. Furthermore, the strength of the thermal out-gassing effect places climate modellers in the delicate situation that they have to know what the future temperatures will be before they can predict them by consideration of the greenhouse effect caused by future carbon dioxide levels.

By supporting the Bern model and similar carbon cycle models, the IPCC and climate modellers have taken the stand that the Keeling curve can be presumed to reflect only anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions. The results in Paper 1–3 show that this presumption is inconsistent with virtually all reported experimental results that have a direct bearing on the relaxation kinetics of atmospheric carbon dioxide. As long as climate modellers continue to disregard the available empirical information on thermal out-gassing and on the relaxation kinetics of airborne carbon dioxide, their model predictions will remain too biased to provide any inferences of significant scientific or political interest.

References:

Climate Change 2007: IPCC Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis section 10.4 – Changes Associated with Biogeochemical Feedbacks and Ocean Acidification

http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch10s10-4.html

Climate Change 2007: IPCC Working Group I:  The Physical Science Basis section 2.10.2 Direct Global Warming Potentials

http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch2s2-10-2.html

GLOBAL BIOGEOCHEMICAL CYCLES, VOL. 15, NO. 4, PAGES 891–907, DECEMBER 2001 Joos et al. Global warming feedbacks on terrestrial carbon uptake under the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) emission scenarios

ftp://ftp.elet.polimi.it/users/Giorgio.Guariso/papers/joos01gbc[1]-1.pdf

Click below for a free download of the three papers referenced in the essay as PDF files.

Paper 1 Relaxation kinetics of atmospheric carbon dioxide

Paper 2 Anthropogenic contributions to the atmospheric content of carbon dioxide during the industrial era

Paper 3 Temperature effects on the atmospheric carbon dioxide level

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Gösta Pettersson is a retired professor in biochemistry at the University of Lund (Sweden) and a previous editor of the European Journal of Biochemistry as an expert on reaction kinetics and mathematical modelling. My scientific reasearch has focused on the fixation of carbon dioxide by plants, which has made me familiar with the carbon cycle research carried out by climatologists and others.

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milodonharlani

The Bern Model is clearly false, since not all the increase in CO2 since 1850 is attributable to humans. Natural warming associated with recovery from the LIA must constitute the major fraction of the increase.

Gunga Din

“When the atmospheric bomb tests ceased in 1963, they had raised the air level of C14-carbon dioxide to almost twice its original background value.”
=====================================================================
So if they dig us up in 1,000 years they’ll think we’re all only half our age?
(Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

Ursus Augustus

Thanks for this post Anthony and to the “guest Blogger”.
Not quite a “hasso” moment but getting there.

Corroborates findings of Humlum et al, Frölicher et al, Cho et al, Calder et al, Francey et al, Ahlbeck, Bjornborn, and others that anthropogenic CO2 does not control atmospheric CO2:
http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com/2013/07/swedish-scientist-replicates-dr-murry.html

Natural warming associated with recovery from the LIA must constitute the major fraction of the increase.

And I would expect that if temperatures were to stabilize at today’s levels, it would take about another 700 years for the ocean to reach equilibrium. It takes about 800 years to ventilate the ocean and only a little over 100 years has passed since the end of the LIA.
In other words, outgassing from the oceans will continue for about another 700 years if temperatures were to stabilize. Should we enter a pronounced cooling period akin to the LIA, that would probably reverse or at least greatly slow. Same with the reactivation of muskeg and other boggy sub-arctic regions.

Chris @NJSnowFan

OT AGW Activist already out of their ground hog holes linking climate change to forest fighters deaths.
Knew it would not be long..
http://www.climatecentral.org/news/the-climate-context-behind-the-deadly-arizona-wildfire-16175

The text states: “During the last two decades, contributions from thermal out-gassing have been almost 40% larger than those from anthropogenic emissions.” However, the blue and black curves in Figure 3 indicate a greater contribution from emissions.
Otherwise, fascinating post – will have to read those papers.

Point them to this link:
http://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/nfn.htm
Very quiet fire year so far. Least since 2004.

Brian H

800 yr oceanic ventilation reminds me of the 800 yr lag in changed CO2 levels after temperature spikes and dips. Just a co-incidence, of course. ?:-p

Natural warming associated with recovery from the LIA must constitute the major fraction of the increase.
If CO2 caused atmospheric warming is any where near the IPCC claimed amount then that is a powerful century scale positive feedback.
We know that in the last 2 millenia the Earth’s climate hasn’t warmed much beyond its current level. Which means, either the warming effect of CO2 is close to zero, or there is a negative (cooling) feedback triggered at about current temperature levels, probably a cloud albedo effect.

Willis Eschenbach

Dang … another person who conflates residence time (the average time that an individual CO2 molecule remains in the atmosphere) and pulse half-life (the time it takes for a pulse of excess gas injected into the atmosphere to decay to half its original value). NOTE THAT THESE MEASURE VERY DIFFERENT THINGS. The author is completely wrong to try to compare these two very different measures of atmospheric CO2.
Residence time” measures how long an individual CO2 molecule remains in the air. This can be estimated in a variety of ways. It is generally agreed that this value is on the order of five to eight years.
Since what the author is discussing is particular individual carbon atoms, he is talking about residence time.
The pulse half-life (or “e-folding time”), on the other hand, is the time constant for the exponential decay of a single pulse of CO2 injected into the atmosphere. This does not measure how long an individual atom stays in the atmosphere. Instead, it’s measuring changes in the overall concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere.
And this is what is claimed to be estimated by the Bern model. I’m not a big fan of that model, so I’ve run the numbers myself some years ago. I get about forty years for the half-life of the CO2 pulse, which is less than the Bern Model value, but was supported by the subsequent publication of Jacobson. See my post The Bern Model Puzzle for more discussion of these issues.
So sadly, I fear that the central thesis of this study is based on a fundamental misunderstanding. This is the conflation of two very different ideas—residence time (measured by the bomb tests and estimated by carbon cycle calculations) and pulse half-life (estimated from the emissions and atmospheric levels data).
I hate to do this when the author has obviously spent so much time and effort on his post, but it’s just plain wrong.
w.

“The Bern model is based on the _presumption_ that the increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide derive exclusively from anthropogenic emissions.”
Since virtually all warmists cite the recent growth of atmospheric CO2 density as “proof” of AGW (“What else could it be?”), then proof of AGW appears to be based on circular logic. A concept cannot be proven by a presumption of the concept.
“The Keeling curve establishes that the atmospheric carbon dioxide level has shown a steady long-term increase since 1958.”
But 1958 is also the year that Keeling first began his observations of atmospheric CO2 concentrations: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keeling_Curve
Could it be that the Keeling Curve is some kind of observational paradox?

tgmccoy

Chris @NJSnowFan said:
July 1, 2013 at 8:07 pm
“OT AGW Activist already out of their ground hog holes linking climate change to forest fighters deaths.
Knew it would not be long.
http://www.climatecentral.org/news/the-climate-context-behind-the-deadly-arizona-wildfire-16175
———————————
Chris-
As a former and hopefully current, Aerial firefighter, This is urinating on brave men’s graves.
How dare they. We do not know all the facts. I hope they catch the return fire they deserve.
Grrr….

cohenite

That’s it; if the increase in CO2 is not due to ACO2 it doesn’t matter whether CO2 is the monster gas which is going to cook the world because humans are not responsible.
Knorr’s work on the AF started this ball rolling, along with Essenhigh, Segalstad, Bob Cormack and Salby.
There are many reasons why AGW is a dud but if humans are not producing the CO2 then it is even more of a dud.
I wish Ferdinand was here.

Nick Stokes

Yet another post refusing to understand the difference between residence time and replacement time. Let Freeman Dyson explain:
Lord May and I have several differences of opinion which remain friendly. But one of our disagreements is a matter of arithmetic and not a matter of opinion. He says that the residence time of a molecule of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is about a century, and I say it is about twelve years.
This discrepancy is easy to resolve. We are talking about different meanings of residence time. I am talking about residence without replacement. My residence time is the time that an average carbon dioxide molecule stays in the atmosphere before being absorbed by a plant. He is talking about residence with replacement. His residence time is the average time that a carbon dioxide molecule and its replacements stay in the atmosphere when, as usually happens, a molecule that is absorbed is replaced by another molecule emitted from another plant.
Another way of describing the difference is in terms of the total amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. His residence time measures the rate at which the total amount would diminish if we stopped burning fossil fuels. My residence time measures the rate at which the total amount would diminish if we replaced all plants by carbon-eaters which do not reemit the carbon dioxide that they absorb.

Dyson says it is easy to resolve. It is if you want to.
And as to endless claims that all the new CO2 in the air has nothing to do with us – I’m sure Ferdinand Engelbeen will once again try to convey some sense on that. But the basic question – we’ve burnt about 400 Gt Carbon, and put it in the air. There is about 200 Gt more there than there used to be. If it isn’t ours, but came from the sea or wherever, then where did ours go?

Could it be that the Keeling Curve is some kind of observational paradox?

Possibly. We have no idea really what happened with atmospheric CO2 from say 4kya to 3kya when we had a serious drop and recovery of global temperatures. We don’t know what atmospheric CO2 was during the MWP. We don’t know what happened to atmospheric CO2 as we went into the little ice age. It is as if we are seeing a very small portion of a roller coaster ride and attempting to extrapolate from that what the entire ride is like.

Chris @NJSnowFan

OT yet another one. Just sick using fire fighter deaths to promote futer large fires.
@michaelemann just tweeted this an hour ago
“Experts See a New Normal: A Timber Box West, With More Huge Fires”
http://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/07/02/us/experts-see-a-hotter-drier-west-with-more-huge-fires.html?smid=tw-nytimesscience&seid=auto&
My prayers to the families who tlost a loved one
Chris

cohenite

Hi Nick; expanding sinks is the answer and that makes the distinction moot.

There is about 200 Gt more there than there used to be. If it isn’t ours, but came from the sea or wherever, then where did ours go?

I think buried in there are two assumptions that might not be true. The first assumption is that without human emissions, atmospheric CO2 would be stable. I don’t think we know that. There is no doubt that climate has changed during the recovery out of the Little Ice Age. Those changes include the reactivation of what has been permafrost in many areas into summer bogs. This would release much more CO2 in those areas that was released during that event. Same with ocean warming since the end of the LIA which will likely continue for several hundred more years. We don’t know what atmospheric CO2 response was the last time we experienced a cold event anywhere close to the LIA (probably the late bronze age collapse / Greek dark ages period).
The second assumption is that carbon removal from the atmosphere is constant over changing concentrations. That might not be true either. Carbon fertilization of plant life increases the rate at which it is scrubbed out. In the sea, some of that carbon falls to the bottom, on land, some of it is converted to very stable charcoal and is sequestered and overall you end up with more biomass. The delta of biomass would remove a corresponding amount of CO2. We also see much greater density of forestation in many areas than we find naturally without human forest management. Also, there is erosion. With more CO2 dissolved in water, we might see an increase in the production of insoluble carbonates from erosion.
So in summary: we don’t know how much of the increase, if any, is natural due to changes in ocean temperature and bioactivation of tundra and we don’t know how much the increase in CO2 changes the rate at which CO2 is scrubbed. Ice cores can’t give the resolution that we need that far back in time, as far as I know.

Edim

“But the basic question – we’ve burnt about 400 Gt Carbon, and put it in the air. There is about 200 Gt more there than there used to be. If it isn’t ours, but came from the sea or wherever, then where did ours go?”
Not this straw-man again! You said it, in only one year more than half (some years much more) doesn’t stay in the in the atmosphere. The residence with replacement is very short – the atmosphere is in direct contact with world waters.

Nick Stokes says:
“But the basic question – we’ve burnt about 400 Gt Carbon, and put it in the air. There is about 200 Gt more there than there used to be. If it isn’t ours, but came from the sea or wherever, then where did ours go?”
That is not the basic question. The basic question is this:
‘Does the rise in CO2 cause any global harm?’
The clear answer is “No.” There is no scientific evidence of global harm from the increase in CO2. The added CO2 does not cause any measurable global warming. Even if it did, warmth is good; it is cold that kills people, and harms the biosphere.
So the basic question has been answered: The added CO2 is not a problem. Further, even at the maximum projected concentrations, CO2 is not a problem. The “carbon” scare is predicated entirely on the rise in CO2, therefore we have dodged a bullet.
Once the basic question has been answered, we find that there is nothing whatever to worry about. And that is entirely a good thing, no?

This is a graph of estimated Northern Norway temperatures from cores of permafrost. You will clearly see the 8.2ky event and the event at about the time of the late bronze age collapse. We have nothing that gives us the required resolution of atmospheric CO2 before, during, and after those events. This was the most significant cooling period prior to the LIA.
http://nipccreport.org/articles/2012/nov/Lilleorenetal2012.gif
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305440312000416

Nick Stokes

Edim says: July 1, 2013 at 9:06 pm
“The residence with replacement is very short – the atmosphere is in direct contact with world waters.”

Yes, there is constant exchange with the ocean. And through the photosynthesis/respiration cycle, as Dyson said. That swaps molecules, but not total mass.
Retail banks exchange huge amounts of money through deposits and withdrawals. But you can’t identify the inflow of deposit funds with profit rate. If a bank raises a billion dollors in shareholder funds, and pays out a billion dollars a week in withdrawals, you don’t expect the funds raised to be gone in a week.

dp

Nick Stokes scribbled – If it isn’t ours, but came from the sea or wherever, then where did ours go?

Better to ask and easier to answer: Where can it have gone? How about because it is a fine fertilizer it went into a still expanding plantae biome? That can also explain a warming pause owing to a global shift in albedo. If you’re half as bright as you would like us to believe you should also be able to think of expanding sinks. How about it is trapped in the accumulating of ice at Antarctica? Or pulled into the CO2-scarce water that is being removed from aquifers and which are not being replenished? Or Trenberth’s missing heat that is plunging unseen to the bottom of the sea – surely as surface water it would be both warm and CO2-rich and that CO2 will precipitate out as clathrates, never again to be seen or a bother.
Give it a try – I cheated and suggested ones we already know about. Who is looking for things we don’t know about? You won’t find them by pissing away your science money on models.

Phil.

Willis Eschenbach says:
July 1, 2013 at 8:24 pm
Dang … another person who conflates residence time (the average time that an individual CO2 molecule remains in the atmosphere) and pulse half-life (the time it takes for a pulse of excess gas injected into the atmosphere to decay to half its original value). NOTE THAT THESE MEASURE VERY DIFFERENT THINGS. The author is completely wrong to try to compare these two very different measures of atmospheric CO2.

Well said Willis you saved me a long post!
One other thing: “Paper 3 in the trilogy draws attention to the fact that hot water holds less dissolved carbon dioxide than cold water.”
This is only true for constant partial pressure of CO2 in the atmosphere, which we know is not true. In fact the atmospheric pCO2 is increasing faster than Henry’s Law allows so the [CO2] in the ocean increases as well!

Why has the airborne fraction of CO2 [the ratio of observed atmospheric CO2 increase to anthropogenic CO2 emissions] declined over the past 50 years, especially since 2000?
http://ej.iop.org/images/1748-9326/8/1/011006/erl459410f3_online.jpg

milodonharlani

Hockey Schtick says:
July 1, 2013 at 9:59 pm
Why has the airborne fraction of CO2 [the ratio of observed atmospheric CO2 increase to anthropogenic CO2 emissions] declined over the past 50 years, especially since 2000?
http://ej.iop.org/images/1748-9326/8/1/011006/erl459410f3_online.jpg
——————-
An excellent, trenchant question.
I’m sure there are better answers than this, but IMO it might have to do with the greening of the planet through higher plant & other photosynthetic productivity in fields, forests & waters.

Edim

“Why has the airborne fraction of CO2 [the ratio of observed atmospheric CO2 increase to anthropogenic CO2 emissions] declined over the past 50 years, especially since 2000?”
It will decline much more when the cooling really kicks in. The change in atmospheric CO2 is controlled by climatic factors. I hypothesise that it’s the annual (seasonal) temperature cycle that causes the change. The net annual flow of this ‘CO2 pump’ is temperature dependent.

Ian W

It is rare to see Willis and Nick Stokes making the same incorrect argument.
Their erroneous assumption being that the capacity of the natural carbon dioxide sink is static and can only reabsorb carbon dioxide at a particular rate. Yet we have (as dp says:July 1, 2013 at 9:35 pm,) a satellite identified increase in plant life worldwide and a greening of the deserts. Nature is hungry for more carbon dioxide it will be absorbed at an increasing rate with increasing atmospheric abundance.. Worse still, is that rate is unlikely to be identifiable by back of the envelope maths as it will be influenced by the numbers and types of plants that respond to the new increase of carbon dioxide and their growth rates . The presence of plants will also alter the hydrologic cycle and lead to more plants (as we have had described on WUWT). This is not a simple ‘Henry’s Law’ equation.

milodonharlani

Ian W says:
July 1, 2013 at 10:42 pm
——————————-
Science really has little clue as to the nature & extent of carbon sinks on our homeostatic planet. But they are sure to be beyond the ken of activists who try hard not to imagine what they might be, for fear of discovering inconvenient truths.

Thanks willis. Thanks Nick.
There are some good skeptical arguments let me list them
1. C02 warms the planet, but not as much as the consensus thinks.
Opps there is just one.
When skeptics put their shoulder to this stone, they make a difference> See Nic Lewis.
When they make simple mistakes like this post, they waste time and energy on problem that has been solved. See that extra c02.. Its ours. Want to destroy your credibility on the one good argument? make a bunch of mistakes on issues like the one in this post.

I am a long-time admirer of Willis Eschenbach’s work and so I have to explore the argument he has presented. I find that the neither the Bern Model nor Willis’s estimate matches the precision that Bruce Buchholz has achieved. [Bucholz’s paper discussed below.]
Petterssons Figure 2 shows for the Bern Model 50% of concentration reached after about 35 years, the same as Willis estimated. Bucholz estimated 16 years. Pettersson estimated 9 years.
Bucholz: Theory and observations
What Willis discussed is pulse half-life, described in a paper by Bruce A. Buchholz of the Lawrence Livermore Lab. Based on observations, by 2010 the precision in measurement in timing of the bomb pulse was down to about one year.
[For me this clinches Bucholz’s estimate of 14C concentration within a very small margin of error.]
Bruce A. Buchholz, Carbon-14 Bomb Pulse Dating, Wiley Encyclopedia of Forensic Science, 2007
URL: https://e-reports-ext.llnl.gov/pdf/356050.pdf. The paper includes several references.
“With a radioactive half-life of 5730 years, the radioactive decay of 14C is minimal within the
time periods of interest in medical forensic cases…”
This means that the background 14C may be ignored for time periods shorter than a human lifetime. This also means that the decay of the 14C in the bomb-pulse may be ignored.
“Atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons during the 1950s and early 1960s doubled the concentration of 14C/C in the atmosphere (Figure 1) [2]. From the peak in 1963, the level of 14CO2 has decreased with a mean life of about 16 years, not due to radioactive decay, but due to mixing with large marine and terrestrial carbon reservoirs.”
Buchholz estimated 16 years for concentration of bomb 14C/C to reach 50%. This refers to the ratio of 14C to C. Since C is for practical purposes constant, this is equivalent to the concentration of 14C having declined by 50%.
In the paper by Pettersson, the time was estimated empirically to be 9 years. He stated, “There is no kinetically valid reason to disregard reported experimental estimates (5–14 years) of this relaxation time.”
The problem is not mainly one of kinetics, but a problem of estimating the transfer of 14C from the atmosphere to biological sinks. Nevertheless, it is kinetics that enables the 14C to enter a sink. i.e. the physical process must occur for the biological process to occur. If the efficiency of the biological process in capturing the 14C is less than 100%, the estimate based on kinetics alone will overestimate the amount of 14C that enters the sink and will underestimate the time for reducing the concentration to 50%.
I agree with Willis about the methodology: Pettersson’s estimate of 9 years is not correct. Possibly Pettersson could apply a correction base on the efficiency of the carbon sinks, essentially the biological sinks.
However, the 16 year estimate by Bucholz is confirmed by precise observation and measurement.
What we need is for someone to apply the Bucholz estimate to the outgassing hypothesis. The purpose would be to determine if Salby’s CO2 outgassing hypothesis still holds.

Louis Hooffstetter

“Atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons during the 1950s and early 1960s doubled the concentration of 14C/C in the atmosphere.”
Sorry to be thick, but how did nuclear testing do this?

Edim

“That swaps molecules, but not total mass.”
Nick Stokes, as we emit CO2 into the atmosphere, what’s there to stop the oceans and other world waters from absorbing it? A demon?

Stephen Wilde

Whilst noting the apparent conflation of residence time for individual molecules and pulse half life for a volume of CO2 I don’t see it as fatal to the point the article makes which is that our emissions disappear far faster than the IPCC accepts.
The evidence now seems to show that our emissions get quickly absorbed by an energised biosphere (a sink) locally and regionally and that the main cause of atmospheric changes is sea surfaces subjected to more (or less) sunshine as a result of changing global cloudiness and albedo.
See here:
http://climaterealists.com/index.php?id=9508
“Evidence that Oceans not Man control CO2 emissions “

Ian W says:
July 1, 2013 at 10:42 pm
It is rare to see Willis and Nick Stokes making the same incorrect argument.
Their erroneous assumption being that the capacity of the natural carbon dioxide sink is static and can only reabsorb carbon dioxide at a particular rate. Yet we have (as dp says:July 1, 2013 at 9:35 pm,) a satellite identified increase in plant life worldwide and a greening of the deserts. Nature is hungry for more carbon dioxide it will be absorbed at an increasing rate with increasing atmospheric abundance.

And this has been elucidated and discussed many times on WUWT. Yet Willis and Nick never, ever, address this issue and admit it reduces the proportion of airborne co2 attributable to anthropogenic emission vs temperature dependent natural increase.
Despite the evidence that it exists:
http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2012/09/12/is-the-airborne-co2-fraction-temperature-dependent/

The real point here is not the argument about the residence time vs he e-folding time raised by Nick and Willis. The point is the quality of the match between the Keeling curve and the sum of the quantifications of human emitted co2 and temperature dependent natural increase.
The plain fact is that the combined curve fits the Keeling curve far better than human emissions alone. To get around that fact, the warmista have an unpleasant databending tendency to fudge the data splice between direct atmospheric measurement of co2 levels and the ice core proxies by eliminating the 1940’s co2 atmospheric data hump noted by the late Georg Ernst Beck.

Paul Carter

Steven Mosher,
You missed at least one other good sceptical argument:
2. Warming of the planet isn’t necessarily bad.
A large portion of credibility comes from open discussion and honest appraisal. That is exactly what you see in this thread, unlike the closed door shenanigans we see from alarmist ‘science’.

Willis Eschenbach

Ian W says:
July 1, 2013 at 10:42 pm

It is rare to see Willis and Nick Stokes making the same incorrect argument.
Their erroneous assumption being that the capacity of the natural carbon dioxide sink is static and can only reabsorb carbon dioxide at a particular rate. Yet we have (as dp says:July 1, 2013 at 9:35 pm,) a satellite identified increase in plant life worldwide and a greening of the deserts. Nature is hungry for more carbon dioxide it will be absorbed at an increasing rate with increasing atmospheric abundance.

Now, Roger Tallbloke claims above that I have “never, ever,” addressed this issue … Roger, either point out where I declined to address this issue, or go away. Your vague uncited and unsubstantiated attacks grow tiresome.
In any case, Ian, you say that I’m assuming that “the natural carbon dioxide sink is static”. Please quote my words where I’ve made that assumption, and what kind of error you think it produces. And if you can’t find anyplace I made that claim, you can accompany tallbloke out the door for all I care.
Guys, the kind of unsubstantiated mudslinging that you are engaging in is reprehensible. If you disagree with something I say, at least have the huevos to quote what it is that has you upset.
Because I certainly don’t recall making any such assumptions, or avoiding this strange issue in the past … why and where would I have claimed that the carbon sinks are static? Nothing on this planet is static.
w.

AndyG55

Increased CO2 levels are GOOD !!
Towards 700ppm . 🙂
Let the Earth PROSPER.

Nick Stokes

Edim says: July 1, 2013 at 11:27 pm
“Nick Stokes, as we emit CO2 into the atmosphere, what’s there to stop the oceans and other world waters from absorbing it?”

Nothing. That’s where the non-airborne fraction goes, at a limited rate. But the nett flux is into the sea, not out of it. And not into the land biosphere, where the total mass of C, at about 700 Gt, is not that much more than the 400Gt we’ve burnt. And no, not into ice or other imaginative places.

Willis Eschenbach

tallbloke says:
July 1, 2013 at 11:57 pm

The real point here is not the argument about the residence time vs he e-folding time raised by Nick and Willis.

That’s not an “argument”, tallbloke. It’s a stupid mistake made by the author of the piece.

The point is the quality of the match between the Keeling curve and the sum of the quantifications of human emitted co2 and temperature dependent natural increase. The plain fact is that the combined curve fits the Keeling curve far better than human emissions alone.

I’ve never seen this argument made before, that the fit is better including the natural increase. It’s an interesting point. However, I don’t think that the dataset is long enough to distinguish such fine details. It’s a problem with gentle curves like the CO2 curve, you need lots of data to distinguish between similar situations.
The “temperature dependent natural increase” in atmospheric CO2 is a doubling of CO2 for every 16 degrees C temperature rise … which is quite small when we’re talking about a temperature rise of half a degree or so per century. If the starting CO2 level is 350 ppmv and the temperature goes up half a degree, the CO2 level only goes up by about 7 ppmv … tiny compared to the total. As a result of this effect being so small, we’d need many more years of data to determine if “the combined curve fits the Keeling curve far better than human emissions alone” as you claim.
So no, I’m not ignoring or avoiding this issue. I hadn’t thought about it, but now that it’s mentioned, it’s a second order effect.

To get around that fact, the warmista have an unpleasant databending tendency to fudge the data splice between direct atmospheric measurement of co2 levels and the ice core proxies by eliminating the 1940′s co2 atmospheric data hump noted by the late Georg Ernst Beck.

Citations or examples of all of this would be very useful. Without them, it’s unclear e.g. what “warmistas” you’re talking about, and exactly where and how they “fudge the data splice”.
w.

Add me to the contrarians like Willis and Nick: the basic point of this article is completely wrong. The residence time has nothing to do with the decay time of some injected extra amount of CO2. Two complete different things.
It is like comparing the residence time of capital and goods in a factory (that is the throughput or turnover) with the gain (or loss) of the same capital. While they are remotely connected, the turnover of capital/goods says next to nothing about the gain or loss of that bussiness.
Some discussion about the real excess decay time was already done at the late John Daly’s website by Peter Dietze:
http://www.john-daly.com/carbon.htm

There is a degree of correlation between main climate indices and geological data in the N. Atlantic (AMO), N. Pacific (PDO) and the equatorial Pacific (SOI).
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/GT-CI.htm
Apparent correlation was reversed during 1950’s and early 1960s, in both the north and equatorial Pacific but there was not such reversal in the N. Atlantic. Apparent correlation was restored after the limitation of the atmospheric tests in 1963.

Willis Eschenbach says:
July 2, 2013 at 12:05 am
Actually Willis, you’ve just substantiated my point by once again avoiding the substantive issue. I didn’t make n attack on you, I made an observation, which is backed up by your response.

Willis Eschenbach says:
July 2, 2013 at 12:26 ams.
The “temperature dependent natural increase” in atmospheric CO2 is a doubling of CO2 for every 16 degrees C temperature rise … which is quite small when we’re talking about a temperature rise of half a degree or so per century.

Hi again Willis, and thanks for addressing the substantive point this time.
Henry’s Law (which is what you get your 7ppm from) is not applicable to the situation, since the outgassing of co2 due to the heating of the surface of the planet is a much more complex affair than the uniform increase in T of a body of water in a test tube. Increased sunshine hours on volcagenic soils for example will exponentionally increase the amount of co2 released from their decay.
I don’t think that the dataset is long enough to distinguish such fine details. It’s a problem with gentle curves like the CO2 curve, you need lots of data to distinguish between similar situation
This is true. SO it’s a shame the papers the IPCC prefers chuck away the data inconvenient to their narrative.

Edim

Nick, why do you (and others) keep repeating that the net flux is into the sea? Nobody is saying it’s not. The claim is that the change in atmospheric CO2 is controlled by temperature. d(CO2) = C*T. Integrating, any accumulation is proportional to the area under the temperature curve.

Willis Eschenbach

tallbloke says:
July 2, 2013 at 12:27 am

Willis Eschenbach says:
July 2, 2013 at 12:05 am
Actually Willis, you’ve just substantiated my point by once again avoiding the substantive issue. I didn’t make n attack on you, I made an observation, which is backed up by your response.

Rog, you said …

And this has been elucidated and discussed many times on WUWT. Yet Willis and Nick never, ever, address this issue …

This is an attack. You have accused me of avoiding some issue. I don’t do that. I take them head on.
Not only that, but I’ve invited you to put up (quote where I avoided the issue) or shut up.
In response, you don’t provide a damn thing to back up your big mouth. Instead, you claim you just made an observation …
Pull the other leg.
w.

Willis Eschenbach says:
July 2, 2013 at 12:26 am
tallbloke says:
July 1, 2013 at 11:57 pm
The real point here is not the argument about the residence time vs he e-folding time raised by Nick and Willis.
That’s not an “argument”, tallbloke. It’s a stupid mistake made by the author of the piece.

It’s not a mistake (stupid or otherwise) if, as the empirical data indicates, the residence and e-folding times are substantially similar.