The 'worse than we thought' model

From ETH Zurich: Underestimated future climate change?

25.11.2013 | Fabio Bergamin

New model calculations by ETH researcher Thomas Frölicher show that global warming may continue after a stoppage of CO 2 emissions. We cannot rule out the possibility that climate change is even greater than previously thought, says the scientist.

Polar ice
A change in ocean heat uptake in polar regions has a larger effect on global atmospheric temperature than a change at low latitudes. A fact that has not been given enough consideration until now. (Photo: Courtesy of Eric Galbraith, McGill University)

Many scientists believe that global warming will come to an end if, some day, human succeeds in stopping the release of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. It would, indeed, be hotter on Earth than before industrialisation, but nonetheless it would not get even hotter. Climate physicist Thomas Frölicher questions this notion by using model calculations and creates a more pessimistic picture in a study published in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change. According to his model calculations, it is very possible that the Earth’s atmosphere could continue to warm for hundreds of years even after a complete stop of CO2 emissions, and that temperature levels stabilise at an even higher level at a later stage. 

“In the long term, the temperature increase could be 25 per cent greater than assumed today,” says the scientist, who carries out research as an Ambizione Fellow of the Swiss National Science Foundation in ETH professor Nicolas Gruber’s group.

A more realistic model

Frölicher and his co-authors from the USA use one of the world’s leading climate models for their calculations, the ESM2M model that was developed at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton. It represents physical and biogeochemical processes – such as the exchange of greenhouse gases and heat with the oceans – at a far more detailed level than many previous models. “The model is closer to reality,” summarises Frölicher.

In this model, the researchers simulated an Earth on which 1800 gigatons of carbon are emitted instantaneously into the atmosphere. By way of comparison: 1000 gigatons are believed to lead to a global warming of 2 degrees Celsius. Frölicher’s model calculation corresponds to an extremely simplified scenario. In reality, greenhouse gases are released over a period of several decades or centuries. The simulations, however, are well suited to illustrate fundamental principles, explains the climate scientist.

Regional ocean heat uptake is the key

“Much of the CO2 released into the atmosphere and the heat trapped by the CO2 goes into the ocean sooner or later – approximately 90 per cent of the excess heat has been taken up by the ocean over the last 40 years,” explains Frölicher. The regional uptake of heat, however, is crucial. To date, not enough attention has been given to the regional heat uptake of the world’s oceans in climate research. With the help of the ESM2M climate model, the scientists are able to show that a change in ocean heat uptake in the polar regions has a greater effect on the global mean atmospheric temperature than a change near the equator. The researchers use these differences to explain why their calculations contradict a scientific consensus that global atmospheric temperature would remain constant if emission were suddenly stopped.

Frölicher acknowledges that his calculations are based on a single climate model and it should not be ruled out that different results might be obtained if other climate models are used. However, it is evident to him that the magnitude of global warming in the next few centuries is less clear than previously thought. Rather, we should consider that climate change could turn out to be even greater than we have thought until now, says the scientist. “If our results stand up to a repetition with other modern and detailed models, this would mean that global warming considered beyond the end of this century has been significantly underestimated to date.”

A 25 per cent increase in global warming would also mean that humans could release 25 per cent less greenhouse gases to achieve climate goals such as the two-degrees Celsius target. In its assessment report published a few months ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC assumes that limiting the global warming to less than two-degrees Celsius will require cumulative CO2 emissions to stay below 1000 gigatons of carbon. Since preindustrial times, humans have already consumed around half of this budget, i.e. 500 gigatons. If Frölicher’s results were correct, the “emissions cake” would be only three-quarters, i.e. 750 gigatons instead of 1000 billion tons of carbon. Thus, limiting the warming to 2 degrees would require keeping future cumulative carbon emission below 250 gigatons of carbon, only half of the already emitted amount of 500 gigatons.

Literature Reference

Frölicher TL, Winton M, Sarmiento JL: Continued global warming after CO2 emissions stoppage. Nature Climate Change, Adavance Online Publication 24 November 2013, doi: 10.1038/nclimate2060

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davidxn
GlynnMhor

“The simulations, however, are well suited to illustrate fundamental principles…”
It’s unfortunate that the simulations are proving not well suited to illustrate the real world.

Stuart Lynne

If, as many scientists now think, CO2 has little effect on what we perceive as global warming, then the very obvious conclusion is that eliminating our output of CO2 will have no effect on global warming. Up or down or sideways.

Gil Dewart

Climate and weather are full of “lag effects”. Hottest time of day and of year, for example. Perhaps many of the “climate change” effects we see today are “lagging indicators” from the end of the “Little Ice Age”.

Richard G

As usual, no mention of the Biosponge thT SOks up CO2.
“Today, the average rate of energy capture by photosynthesis globally is approximately 130 terawatts,[8][9][10] which is about six times larger than the current power consumption of human civilization.[11] Photosynthetic organisms also convert around 100–115 thousand million metric tonnes of carbon into biomass per year”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photosynthesis

Jeef

This story requires the classic English response: “Oh, for f***’s sake”.
Apologies in advance if mods think this is OTT.

Eliza

I am surprised that WUWT would want to give any attention to drivel like this

Bill_W

I’m glad that they published this important work based on a single climate model. Now they can try the other 75 climate models one at a time and publish 75 more papers. I presume that they picked a model in the middle so they can publish 38 more papers saying it is even worserer than we thought in the last paper. Then if it does get cool, they can start on the climate models on the other end and work backwards. It’s called climate simulation masturbation. And we pay for it.

R. de Haan

Just another scientific report that deserves a permanent place in the round dossier after you run it through the shredder. This is all horse sh?t of course smoked in the ETH Zürich’s crack pipe.

benpal

“Much of the CO2 released into the atmosphere and the heat trapped by the CO2 goes into the ocean sooner or later – approximately 90 per cent of the excess heat has been taken up by the ocean over the last 40 years,”
There are two subjects in this sentence, thus what they say is:
1. “Much of the CO2 released into the atmosphere goes into the ocean
2. “Much of the heat trapped by the CO2 goes into the ocean
To 1: It is also true that much of the CO2 in the ocean is released into the atmosphere. There is a continuous exchange in search of the natural equilibrium. Has nothing to do with warming.
To 2. I don’t think that heat is “trapped” by the CO2, it is radiated by the CO2. And how does that radiated heat force itself into the ocean? By convection? Certainly not by radiation.

Bill Illis

We shouldn’t have let them get away with the ocean heat content uptake / 4 Hiroshima bombs per second line.
Extrapolating the miniscule trends out over 100 years still leaves us with no real warming that anybody could notice.
The theory is based on significant harmful warming, not miniscule barely measureable trends.
Too late. All the warmers are on board with the “line” now. It is working with the non-objective followers.

Stuart Elliot

This evokes the Fecal Interrogative. “What is this sh!t?”
To take this model seriously means dismissing all lesser previous models, which is a nice start. But there is still a leap of faith…”those were rubbish but this one isn’t”
Still, nice to hear the science ain’t settled.

Hang on… Every time I point out to people that the Earth has had far more CO2 in the past, the universal response has been “yes, but that happened gradually, today it is happening rapidly”. That, according to every warmist I have encountered, has been the CRITICAL difference. And here we are now, assuming, not merely a quick change, but an INSTANTANEOUS one? The effrontery of the dishonesty is even more appalling than the dishonesty.

Louis Hooffstetter

“Frölicher and his co-authors… use one of the world’s leading climate models for their calculations…”
Garbage in, garbage out.

John West

“We cannot rule out the possibility that” this is all just a dream I’m having and when I wake up it all goes poof!

Billy Liar

I think I’ve got climate model fatigue. I couldn’t care less what’s happening in the dream world of climate models. Uncannily, they never predict the only thing we know that is almost certain to happen – the next glaciation

LdB

Ok I am calling foul and garbage on this most excess heat is going into deep ocean physics says so.
If heat is hiding in the deep ocean in the arctic then there is a mechanism that is doing it because you have a large amount of heat concentrated into a small area distant from where the energy arrived that is a driven process. If the process wasn’t driven it would quickly establish a new equilibrium and then you have a problem because you would get something that looked exactly like “the pause”.
If sensible heat was trapped by a driven mechanism it has to radiate IT’S THE LAW OF PHYSICS. Lets see those dipsticks that believe this garbage can work out how long even just the units of time would be enough to tell them something. Guess what you would be able to measure it because it has a very clear fingerprint … of dear not so hidden now and the theory is testable 🙂

Steve O

A planet with frozen poles strikes me as inherently unstable. How do we know that the global temperature would not self-stabilize at a higher level all on its own? Perhaps what we see in the historical record as global climate cycles were set in motion by extraordinary events such as major asteroid strikes. Maybe the earth is occasionally getting rung like a bell. If this is the case, then no amount geoengineering or carbon mitigation is going to prevent the earth from finding its natural level.

Bernd Palmer

“approximately 90 per cent of the excess heat has been taken up by the ocean over the last 40 years,”
Heat flux for dummies:
http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/la-ninas-do-not-suck-heat-from-the-atmosphere/

Truthseeker

“The model is closer to reality,”
Well it would be almost impossible for these models to get any further away ….

RoHa

Now this is a relief. We’ve been having story after story that cast doubt on our portending doom. It’s a comfort to know we really are doomed after all.

Two Labs

Model outputs are not data.
Will this madness ever end?

jones

Well I think it’s even WORSE than they’re saying…..
Why?
Cos I says so….

jones

WORSERESTERER actually….
Now where’s my yoghurt and lentil soup?….

davidmhoffer

Don’t mock this paper. Embrace it.
What it says is that most of the heat is going into the oceans. Well, with a heat capacity 1200 times that of the atmosphere, we have pretty much nothing to worry about then. Then it says that warming will exhibit itself hardly at all at the equator but more at the poles. Well, I’ve pointed that out many times in this forum. In other words, of what little warming is left after the oceans absorb most of it will show up mostly in the coldest places on earth where it will do the least possible harm. Then the paper goes on to argue that warming will take place perhaps for centuries after the CO2 increase. Well hooray, we’re saved! With warming spread over that great a time period, we have many, Many, MANY generations to adapt to the teeny amount of warming that will show up mostly at the poles.

Brian H

different results might be obtained if other climate models are used.

Yaass indeed. The only one that would come close is one with [an] ECS of 0. Funny how they never dare try it, because it would work too well.

Brian H

typo: an ECS

Katherine

Frölicher and his co-authors from the USA use one of the world’s leading climate models for their calculations, the ESM2M model that was developed at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton. It represents physical and biogeochemical processes – such as the exchange of greenhouse gases and heat with the oceans – at a far more detailed level than many previous models. “The model is closer to reality,” summarises Frölicher.
Really? Just because it has more variables to fiddle and tweak? Just because Frölicher says so? I noticed there’s no mention of validation. But let’s see. I deduce from that verbiage that the model is the GFDL-ESM2M, about which Willis says, “there very large year-to-year variation in the the GDFL results, up to twice the size of the largest annual changes ever seen in the observational record …”
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/11/21/one-model-one-vote/
Closer to reality, huh? I don’t know about that. Frölicher talks about ocean heat uptake, but the GFDL-ESM2M violin plot matches the land-only CRU and BEST plots better than the HadCRUT plot.

Strange how this turkey thinks that atmospheric warming is likely to continue for hundreds of years after CO2 emissions cease, yet that warming seems to have ceased already even though CO2 continues to rise. Is there something I’ve missed here, or is he totally delusional / irrational?

scarletmacaw

The state of what used to be science these days is disheartening.

With the help of the ESM2M climate model, the scientists are able to show that a change in ocean heat uptake in the polar regions has a greater effect on the global mean atmospheric temperature than a change near the equator.

For the same amount of energy (heat) there will be a greater temperature difference if the heat is radiated from the poles rather than the tropics because energy is radiated as T^4. This is basic physics. Because ‘global mean atmospheric temperature’ is an average, the more the heat manifests as polar, the higher the average for the same amount of heat.
I wonder how much these guys got in grant money to publish such an obvious result based on the input assumptions.

Why is the newest one always worse than we think?

David Riser

The stupid, it hurts!

SAMURAI

“The model is closer to reality,” summarises Frölicher.”
Ah yes, reality…..what a concept…..
Of course “closer to reality” is a reductio ad absurdum logic fallacy given that 73 out of 73 CMIP5 climate models (that’s 100.00% for you math majors out there) are above reality and the projection/reality model gap only gets worse from here….
Need I remind this, umm.., “scientist” that 1/3rd of ALL CO2 emissions since 1750 have been made over the last 17 years with no increase in the global warming trend and actually FALLING temperatures since 2001… Oh, my..
Oh, right… the “missing heat” has all gone into the oceans… Even if this were true, the a priori assumption is that this “missing heat” was almost all created by increasing CO2 levels, while empirical evidence makes it painfully clear that: cloud cover, solar activity flux, ENSO flux, Galactic Cosmic Ray flux, AMO/PDO flux, “natural variability”, Jet Stream flux, etc., have all been substantially underestimated by climate models, as evidenced by the huge descrepancies between the models and reality…
Under any definition/application of the Scientific Method, CAGW is a bust. The CAGW zealots may “catch a break” with an El Nino cycle next year, but the La Nina to follow will make 20+ years of no warming trend.
By 2017, solar activity will be at its lowest level in centuries and the next solar cycle starting from 2020 could well be the start of a Grand Solar Minimum, based on the continued collapse of the Umbral Magnetic Field and other falling solar activity metrics. On top of that, the AMO enters its 30-yr cool cycle around 2020 and the PDO has been in its 30-yr cool cycle since 2008.
I think the scientific community (outside of the realm of the IPCC gatekeepers) is reaching a point of singularity, where more and more prominent scientists will have to come out against CAGW, lest they lose any semblance of credibility and, more importantly, government funding.
Historians, psychologists and sociologists will debate the mass hysteria/delusion created by CAGW for centuries. How embarrassing for our generation. Hopefully future generations will learn from our mistakes, but given the government-run educational system, perhaps even this cautionary tale will be squandered away.
“He who controls the past, controls the future.”~ George Orwell, 1984.

hunter

What an ignorant scenario these alarmists use to make the completely predictable, disreputable refrain: “it is worth than we thought”.
Why not a scenario that shows what would happen instantly if 1800 gigatons was removed from the atmosphere?
These rent seeking clowns are just trying to keep the $ billion per day of tax payer money flowing to their community.
It is almost as if they are just going through the motions.

Jquip

“The model is closer to reality,” summarises Frölicher. — OP[1]
Physics models are strange beasts. Back in the days of Mario Bros., Joust and other video game classics, each issue of an object moving about was the finest hand-rolled hackery. If you could find any proper relation to F=ma, friction, or other common notions that you were a devout follower of Timothy Leary. It was utter and complete nonsense from the most basic principles. But it worked, it matched what people intuitively expect about the way things move about. And the profits flowed.
And then came the ‘proper’ physics models. They were all much closer to reality; not least of which for starting with F=ma. And they did produced the most absurd and unrealistic behaviour you can imagine. But the profits flow when the game is fun, and bad physics make a bad game. So there were heroic efforts involved in getting ‘proper’ physics proper. The consequence of getting ever closer to reality is that the ‘normal’ cases in the physics engines did, in fact, get quite good at a rapid pace. But the edge cases, long running cases, and asymptotic cases got disasterously worse. In the end it took about 20 years of profit driven motives and capitlistic culling of bad behavers until the ‘proper’ physics got themselves back to the level of some 8-bit plumbers fighting flowers that shot fireballs.
Stating that the model is ‘closer to reality’ is almost always a guarantee that the results are more absurd than if they’d just faked it in the first place.
[1] Haven’t tried italics yet, hope it sorted out right.

cynical_scientist

Brought to you by the
“we’re all doomed anyway so why bother”
department.

jorgekafkazar

“…the heat trapped by the CO2 goes into the ocean sooner or later…”
Applesauce, balderdash, baloney, bilge, blarney, blather, bosh, bull, bunk, claptrap, codswallop, crapola, drivel, drool, garbage, hogwash, hokum, hooey, horsefeathers, humbug, malarkey, moonshine, muck, piffle, poppycock, punk, rubbish, tommyrot, tosh, trumpery, twaddle, whatlysenkospawned.

Timo Kuusela

“Single climate model”,and if others are used, the result is different.Good grief…

john robertson

Could well be that warming might continue even if all manmade emissions end.
Sure why not, as the team has failed to establish any measurable effect on global temperature caused by anthropogenic CO2, it is very likely some other agencies are warming us up from the last mini ice age.
So as AGT does not correlate well with co2 concentrations, so future warming may not correlate well with co2 reductions.
These guys will not voluntarily return to reality, it is going to take pink slips for most and criminal investigation of a few.

magicjava

Frölicher acknowledges that his calculations are based on a single climate model and it should not be ruled out that different results might be obtained if other climate models are used.
—————————–
An example of a different climate model being one that vaguely resembled the climate of Earth.

Pippen Kool

David Riser says: “The stupid, it hurts!”
Indeed.

Quote from the article:
“We cannot rule out the possibility that climate change is even greater than previously thought, says the scientist.”
The stupid, it hurts!

Owen in GA

Sounds like this model did exactly what models do…spit out the exact bias of the modeler. GIGO.

Mike Smith

OMG. It could be worse than we thought. And it could just as easily be a whole lot better than we thought.
If we magicked 1800 gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere (totally implausible hypothetical) and our model is reliable (and we know it isn’t even close) then it’s possible that Bad Things might happen. This is just stupid pandering to the alarmists and those who rejoice in alarm.
It is a million light years away from science. It is shameful.

AJ

Albert Einstein (as an ETH Zurich Alumnis) must be turning in his grave to see such a debasement of the term Science from his old university…

Pippen Kool

Dbstealy says: “The stupid, it hurts!”
Indeed.

AndyG55

I’ve often wanted to ask these guys..
In a bushfire, there must be a massive CO2 concentration in the atmosphere above the fire…
So it must trap all that heat… right.. 😉
until its GONE !!
Haven’t these guys EVER heard of convection ???????

Meanwhile, it’s 33 degrees and raining in East Texas tonight.
but the long term models said that today was supposed to be 64 degrees. Oh, but I know, this is just “weather”.

RoHa

@davidmhoffer
“What it says is that most of the heat is going into the oceans. Well, with a heat capacity 1200 times that of the atmosphere, we have pretty much nothing to worry about then.”
But it will wake up Godzilla!

Magicjava

Historians, psychologists and sociologists will debate the mass hysteria/delusion created by CAGW for centuries.
——————————–
No, they won’t. They all have their snoots buried in the government’s trough too. They won’t say a word to rock the boat.