Unsettled science: New study challenges the consensus on CO2 regulation – modeled CO2 projections exaggerated

I’m really quite surprised to find this paper in Nature, especially when it makes claims so counter to the consensus that model projections are essentially a map of the future climate.

The Hockey Shtick writes: Settled Science: New paper ‘challenges consensus about what regulates atmospheric CO2 from year to year’.

A new paper published in Nature “challenges the current consensus about what regulates atmospheric CO2 from year to year” and finds “semi-arid ecosystems in the Southern Hemisphere may be largely responsible for changes in global concentrations of atmospheric CO2.”

The authors find links between the land CO2 sink in these semi-arid ecosystems “are currently missing from many major climate models.” In addition, they find that land sinks for CO2 are keeping up with the increase in CO2 emissions, thus modeled projections of exponential increases of CO2 in the future are likely exaggerated.

The paper joins many other papers published over the past 2 years overturning the “settled science” of the global carbon cycle. 

Climate science: A sink down under

Nature (2014) doi:10.1038/nature13341
Published online21 May 2014

The finding that semi-arid ecosystems in the Southern Hemisphere may be largely responsible for changes in global concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide has repercussions for future levels of this greenhouse gas.

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature13341.html

 

more here: http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com/

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pokerguy

Can’t speak to the particulars, but seemingly excellent news that this paper has seen the light of day in the current repressive atmosphere. Is it possible things are changing a bit?

RayG

I stopped reading at the assertion that in the first sentence that CO2 is the main driver of global climate change. I also note that there are no citations to support this claim.

michael hart

1 Month 10 Days until the second-coming of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory.
http://oco.jpl.nasa.gov/

hunter

While the assertion that CO2 is *the* climate thermostat is dubious, at least this article is exploring one of the significant failings of the current CO2 obsession.

catweazle666

Ah, more “settled science”, right?

Latitude

Well, I mean really….
who was stupid enough in the first place to think an additional 2 ppm/yr would overwhelm the system

MikeUK

Nature itself (and Nature Geoscience) still look like reputable journals to me
(whoops, I hope The Team don’t read that, and send in the enforcers)
Its that “Nature Climate Change Whores” (no offense to that fine profession) that is the comic for Green coffee tables.

Alan Robertson

Better go find that little Dutch boy, because the dike has a hole in it.

Dave

RayG says:
I stopped reading at the assertion that in the first sentence that CO2 is the main driver of global climate change. I also note that there are no citations to support this claim.
Obama said it’s a fact. So it’s gotta be true, right?

Dave

oops, forgot the “sarc” tag.

Greg

Actually sounds like a dubious proposition but good to see Nature managing to publish anything other than the usual AGW fodder.

Dave Wendt

I am reminded of this from 2009
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10584-009-9626-y
Irrigated afforestation of the Sahara and Australian Outback to end global warming
Abstract
Each year, irrigated Saharan- and Australian-desert forests could sequester amounts of atmospheric CO2 at least equal to that from burning fossil fuels. Without any rain, to capture CO2 produced from gasoline requires adding about $1 to the per-gallon pump-price to cover irrigation costs, using reverse osmosis (RO), desalinated, sea water. Such mature technology is economically competitive with the currently favored, untested, power-plant Carbon Capture (and deep underground, or under-ocean) Sequestration (CCS). Afforestation sequesters CO2, mostly as easily stored wood, both from distributed sources (automotive, aviation, etc., that CCS cannot address) and from power plants. Climatological feasibility and sustainability of such irrigated forests, and their potential global impacts are explored using a general circulation model (GCM). Biogeophysical feedback is shown to stimulate considerable rainfall over these forests, reducing desalination and irrigation costs; economic value of marketed, renewable, forest biomass, further reduces costs; and separately, energy conservation also reduces the size of the required forests and therefore their total capital and operating costs. The few negative climate impacts outside of the forests are discussed, with caveats. If confirmed with other GCMs, such irrigated, subtropical afforestation probably provides the best, near-term route to complete control of green-house-gas-induced, global warming.
At the time I first saw this i did some very rough back of the envelope engineering calcs which suggested the irrigation water could be acquired more frugally by collecting icebergs shed from Antarctic ice sheets, hauling them to coastal areas of Australia, Africa, and South America and using the melt water as a source.

Londo

“I stopped reading at the assertion that in the first sentence that CO2 is the main driver of global climate change. I also note that there are no citations to support this claim.”
Perhaps that was the price to pay to get the paper through toll gate known as peer review. If there is one unsupported claim that you probably can publish in any climate journal that’s probably it.

Rhoda R

RayG says:
Ray, it may be that that statement was the only way that this study could have been published. I suspect that if the man-made, developed countries driver for C02 is shot down there will be much less interest in government funding of AGW research.

David Ball

As Don Easterbrook pointed out (do not recall the thread), a change from 300ppm to 400ppm is NOT a 30% increase in Co2, as alarmists constantly shout.
RayG says:
May 22, 2014 at 11:14 am
This is the part of cli-sci they want you to believe is “settled”. It is not.

As many of the actual scientists who have been espousing the “CO2 as Devil” meme walk away from the bad science, this paper tries to reveal that humanity may not even be the cause of higher CO2 concentrations. Those to whom Warmism is a religion will pretend not to notice.

@michael hart says:
May 22, 2014 at 11:16 am
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
The Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) was a NASA Earth System Science Pathfinder Project (ESSP) mission designed to make precise, time-dependent global measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2)
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
So, why do these Californians name the thing an “Orbiting Carbon Observatory” ?
Measuring “Carbon” and measuring “CO2” are two quite different things I should think. I guess it is just another Obamination of the new dictionary making the meaning of carbon and carbon dioxide interchangeable. So when does the “War on Carbon” begin to include carbon based life-forms?
And these are scientists? Oops. I misspoke. Grant seeking scientists. Now it makes sense. Sorry I was so dense.
(Age must be making me cynical).

Scott Scarborough

No, Its a 33 1/3 % increase in Co2.

vboring

@Dave Wendt
It does seem obvious that afforestation is a better solution than coal plant CCS – it is a venture that comes with all kinds of side benefits. Forests are certainly more useful than filling the ground with lethal concentrations of CO2. But I’d skip the RO plants and just use giant evaporation ponds. Add enough water vapor to the atmosphere and it’ll eventually rain out somewhere. Put the forests there. Aside from the forest production, you also get sea salt and clouds, which is good news for albedo.
As geoengineering experiments go, it wouldn’t be that different from when the US turned the great plains into irrigated cropland.

Eliza

Its probably a discrete “first” way out for NATURE so none of the big AGW shots notice. Its a climb down and we will be seeing more and more of this until the “norm” will in fact be the skeptic position, The whole AGW scam will only completely disappear when the funding dries out. For example, it is highly unlikely that Labor if they win the next election in Australia will pick it up again since Abbot has basically cut off all funding for AGW research and propaganda.

David Ball

Scott Scarborough says:
May 22, 2014 at 11:54 am
“No, Its a 33 1/3 % increase in Co2.”
Firstly, have the courage to address me directly. Secondly, go back to math class.
The clue is ppm. Get a clue.

richardscourtney

Friends:
I have lost count of the number of times during this month that I have been in an “I told you so” situation on WUWT.
On May 1, 2014 at 7:33 am I wrote here saying

The existing data is such that the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration can be modeled as being entirely natural, entirely anthropogenic, or some combination of the two. And there is no data which resolves the matter.
(ref. Rorsch A, Courtney RS & Thoenes D, ‘The Interaction of Climate Change and the Carbon Dioxide Cycle’ E&E v16no2 (2005) ).

Later that day, on May 1, 2014 at 2:37 pm in the same thread, I wrote here saying

The existing observations are all consistent with the carbon cycle adjusting to a changed equilibrium to provide the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration.
And if the equilibrium state of the carbon cycle has changed then the cause of the rise in atmospheric CO2 is whatever caused the alteration to the equilibrium state. Perhaps the anthropogenic emission has altered the equilibrium state. And perhaps the temperature rise from the Little Ice Age (LIA) has altered the equilibrium state. And perhaps … etc..
So, I do not know what has caused the recent rise in in atmospheric CO2. In reality nobody knows the cause because the available data does not indicate the cause, but some people think they know the cause.

I explained some of the evidence which refutes the Bern Model (i.e. the carbon cycle model used by the IPCC) during subsequent argument in that thread.
The recent paper in Nature will become very important if it induces a true consideration of the carbon cycle which is sorely needed and over the years has been prompted without success by our paper, by Salby, by and etc.
Richard

James Ard

Funny that Londo and Rhoda were composing the same post at the same time regarding the price it takes to get a study into a journal these days.

Dave Wendt

vboring says:
May 22, 2014 at 11:56 am
@Dave Wendt
It does seem obvious that afforestation is a better solution than coal plant CCS – it is a venture that comes with all kinds of side benefits. Forests are certainly more useful than filling the ground with lethal concentrations of CO2.
At the time it struck me that this would be a wonderful “Put up or shut up ” proposal to brace the Climate Catastrophists with i.e if you insist we must as a prudent “precaution” urgently address the increase in atmospheric CO2, we will stipulate to your alarmist notions and fully fund this proposal. In return all we ask is that you punt on the bird chopping windmills, worthless solar plants, ethanol, biodiesel and other biofuels, carbon credits, carbon taxes, curly lightbulbs and the entire plethora of useless non solutions. We agree to provide you each with one way transport to your choice of either the Outback or the Sahara where you can plant and tend trees to your bleeding hearts content and kindly leave the rest of us completely the Hell alone for the duration.

Sierra Rayne

@David Ball
You claim the following: “As Don Easterbrook pointed out (do not recall the thread), a change from 300ppm to 400ppm is NOT a 30% increase in Co2, as alarmists constantly shout.”
To Scott’s reply, you state: “Scott Scarborough says: May 22, 2014 at 11:54 am, “No, Its a 33 1/3 % increase in Co2.” Firstly, have the courage to address me directly. Secondly, go back to math class. The clue is ppm. Get a clue.”
Scott is correct. And no, the units are absolutely irrelevant when calculating percent changes, as they cancel out when doing this basic math.
Anyone who claims that “a change from 300ppm to 400ppm is NOT a 30% increase in Co2” is full of complete nonsense. If Easterbrook said that, he is entirely wrong.

We see little mention of the Andean Altiplano, where possibly the growth of some species is limited more by CO2 scarcity (partial pressure) than by temperature or rainfall. Current interpretation of mud cores from Lake Titicaca indicates no certain history of Holocene forestation, but oddly enough, introduced eucalyptus (from Australia, of course) has no trouble growing at 4000 meters. It has been in the region for over a century, and is used for firewood and pole wood. If I were concerned with carbon capture I would plant lots of trees up high.
Of course eucalyptus introduces the potential for forest fires, as we have seen in Oakland and recently in Valparaiso. –AGF

SCheesman

David Ball:
“The clue is ppm. Get a clue.”
OK, I give up. Give me a clue. I must need to go back to math class, because I can’t see how increasing anything from 300 to 400, whether ppm, ppb, ppt or (insert your units here), is anything but a 33 1/3% increase.
Am I missing something obvious?
Please show your math.

Here is the math: (400 ppm-300 ppm)/300 ppm = 0.333 = 33.3%
The units cancel in the numerator and denominator during the percent difference calculation.

David Ball

300/1,000,000 into 400/1,000,000 = ?

David Ball

But 33 1/3% sounds much scarier.

jeff 5778

One can only hope that when the checkmate paper is written, it starts with the words “CO2 is the main driver of global climate change”. That ensures it being published.

more soylent green!

Is it William S. Briggs who tallied a list of things caused by global warming? Is anybody keeping a list of everything missing from the climate models?

I’m sorry but claims that an increase from 300 to 400 in units of anything isn’t an increase of 33.3% are just fodder for those who claim WUWT is full of cranks. Stop it.
The paper itself looks quite interesting and is yet another nail in the coffin of ‘the science is settled’. Strange days my friends, strange days.

SCheesman

David Ball
“300/1,000,000 into 400/1,000,000 = ?”
>>>>>>
A percentage or fractional change calculation requires a difference in the numerator between the final and initial state, as others above have noted.

David Ball

Jonathan Abbott says:
May 22, 2014 at 1:44 pm
Show me the correct math then, Jonathan.
sraynesk says:
May 22, 2014 at 1:21 pm
It is not “cancelled out”.

David Ball

SCheesman says:
May 22, 2014 at 1:46 pm
Show the calculation.

Mr Ball, you’ve already been given it.
I guess (perhaps not) that you’re going to tell me the correct answer is 0.01%, but that’s the difference, not the increase.

SCheesman

David Ball
“Show the calculation.”
Google “percentage change calculation” and you will find, universally:
% change = ((final – initial) / initial) * 100%

Chad Wozniak

Worthless.

kenw

look, get rid of the fraction (convert ppm to decimal)
0.0004 – 0.0003: is the difference, aka the change
/0.0003: expressed as a % of the original value
(the leading zeros cancel, or you can still them, it matters not)
(4-3)/3 = (the change) / the original value = the % change
33.3%
geeesh…..
btw, this was done in Excel. Go tell Bill Gates he doesn’t know math……

David Ball

kenw says:
May 22, 2014 at 2:33 pm
The difference is 0.0001, which, expressed as a percentage is 0.01%.

José Tomás

Nature and other papers have obviously noticed that CAGW has no future (they are not idiots), but you cannot backtrack and save face at the same time.
So, expect lip service paid to CAGW for a long time, even while published articles go in the opposite direction.

SCheesman

@David Ball
May 22 at 2:41 pm
The difference is 0.0001, which, expressed as a percentage is 0.01%.
OK, I get it. You think a percentage change is exactly the same as the absolute difference in concentration times 100. I guess when you define your own terms you can get any answer you want.

As I stated already 0.01% is the difference between the two percentages, not the percentage increase. Atmospheric CO2 has increased by 33.3% from 0.03% to 0.04%. Anyone who is going to bother to read anything about global warming that contains any numbers at all will understand this. Claiming the percentage increase is 0.01% is fodder for those who criticise WUWT.

José Tomás

Hey, I cannot believe that half of the comments about this post relate to the difference between “percentage” and “percentage points”.
Of course when an opinion was supported by 40% of the population and now 60% of people support it, we have a “50% increase” in its support, AND / OR a “20 percentage points” increase of the same.
C’mon, guys, let’s not spend time and energy in such things.
Can we move on, now?

earwig42

Wayne Delbeke says:
May 22, 2014 at 11:49 am
(Age must be making me cynical).
And in your case age has made you wise.

Quite aside from the ado about percentages, the biggest question that occurred to me reading the top article was: Huh? I plot:
http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/esrl-co2/from:1960/to:2015
and try to see some feature in this bland, monotonic curve that demands explanation. But I fail.
Whatever mechanism they claim to have discovered doesn’t appear to be new, or rapidly varying, or exciting — given this data. Don’t get me wrong — I’m far from convinced that the Bern model is correct. But that’s because there is a near-infinity of possible explanatory models that can fit the data linked above, and there is absolutely no structure in the data that can be used to differentiate between them. That means one has to construct a teeter-totter argument on top of Bayesian priors and assumptions or independent observations (like this study) that, in the end, don’t really change the curve compared to other sets of assumptions that already do pretty well explaining it. This gives one little chance of falsifying (in a Bayesian sense, altering posterior probabilities) the assumptions of any one of the hypotheses.
What is needed is for a nice, big bolus of CO_2 to be injected into the system all at once — a good sized meteor strike on a large coal field that burns all of the coal at once, for example. The closest we’ve come to that is the first Gulf War, when Iraq torched a huge set of oil wells which then burned unchecked for weeks.
The really interesting thing is that the only real structure I can see in the plot above is that it flattens, very slightly, for almost a decade after the Gulf War. This sadly confounds any effort to try to learn something about the relaxation times of the underlying processes, at least if one reasonably assumes that there should be a POSITIVE direct response to burning roughly 800,000 cubic meters of oil a day for around 200 days — roughly 150 megatons of oil. Of course, this is still only about 1% of the annual consumption of oil and it was delivered on annual time scales, so it still doesn’t count as a proper bolus, so the dip is likely a coincidence (and due to unknown causes as I can’t imagine that consumption of carbon based fuels had anything like a mirroring flattening over that interval, and if anything temperatures were sharply rising towards the 1998 ENSO event).
So I guess that the top article is “interesting”, but I don’t see it as being at all relevant to any assertions of future warming or lack thereof.
rgb

David Ball

Ok, I get it. You guys think a change from 0.03% to 0.04% is an increase of 33.3%. I guess when you define your own terms you can get any answer you want.

milodonharlani

David Ball says:
May 22, 2014 at 3:09 pm
How about looking at it this way? The top two GHGs are H2O & CO2; the others occur in such minute quantities as not to matter for this purpose. Average concentration in the air of H2O is about 30,000 ppm or more; of CO2 now ~400, up from ~300 over roughly the past century. The GHG gain from 30,300 to 30,400 ppm equals 0.33%. Scary!

David Ball – Please allow me to clear this up for you: At 0.03% of atmosphere, there are about 2,300Gt of CO2. At 0,04% of atmosphere, there are about 3,100Gt of CO2, ie, around 30% more. Note that the 30% relates to the “2,300Gt” base. An increase from 0.03% to 0,04% is similarly an increase of about 30%, because it relates to the “0,03%” base.
Mathematical convention requires that you state explicitly if your comparison of two percentages relates to the original base, by using the term “percentage points” or explicitly referrring to the base. Thus, while an increase from 0.03% to 0,04% is an increase of around 30%, it can also be expressed as an increase of 0.01 percentage points, or as 0.01% of the atmosphere.

Now, to get back to the real subject, I see no numbers. By how much does this arid-land growth change the 3,100Gt of atmospheric CO2? I suspect that is negligible.
[Sorry about commas instead of dec pts in the prev post – my keyboard has now shrunk to the point where I can’t distinguish them. I think it’s caused by climate change.]